Post 23: September 9th, 2016

Like usual, I started off with Art History. Finished off looking at the ancient near east civilizations with… the Persians!

First of all, they had a big empire. Really, really big, and they actually did something interesting with the people they conquered. They didn’t try to change them. They let them keep their culture, language, writing, etc, and even allowed them to keep official records in their own language, not the Persian’s. The Persians did however require tribute, but the tribute was up to the people giving it, allowing Persia to have resources from all over the empire, including stuff for making art.

 

Next up, Game Design. Today, I moved on to the next section of the course, creating a game called Bull and Cow. It’s basically a word guessing game, wherein you enter letters, and the system will tell you if you got a correct letter in the right space, or a correct letter in the wrong space. The core of what I learned today, however, was setting things up. Namely, projects and solutions. Projects are contained inside solutions, and projects themselves contain different files and sub-folders. It’s a bit complicated, and took me a couple of tries to set up properly.

 

Lastly, I am proud to say that I have finished reading Monkey. The end can be summarized as follows: Tripitaka and the group go back to china, share the scrolls, and are brought up to heaven. Monkey and Tripitaka are made in Buddhas, Sandy is made into an Arhat, the horse is made into one of the heavenly dragons, and Pigsy… is appointed altar cleaner. It’s better than what he was doing before.

I’ve gotta say, it was really interesting to read. I think that the story was good, although the writing style was a little odd by modern standards. Some of the morals and examples of good behavior are a little odd by current standards. For example, Pigsy and Sandy. Both of them were banished to earth after once living in heaven, and for different reasons. Pigsy got drunk at a banquet and slept with a fairy girl, while Sandy… broke a glass dish. Monkey had a pretty good reason for his banishment and imprisonment, in that he was incredibly powerful and tried to rebel against heaven.

I recommend reading it, if you’re ever in the mood for a long book about going westward with a bunch of animals.

Post 22: September 8th, 2016

First order of business was, as usual, Art history. Today, I finished with the Babylonians, and moved on to the Assyrians. Fun fact time:

The Towers of Babel were originally a ziggurat, a religious building.

Babylon kind of took a break for a couple hundred years, but came back strong during the neo-babylon period.

The lions, dragons, and ancient ox were shown on the Ishtar gate in order to show the king’s power.

One of the customs among the Assyrians was for the king to hunt lions, both out in the wild and in arenas. Nobody else was allowed to hunt lions, and by killing them the king showed that he protected his people from the danger of nature.

 

Next up, Marine Biology. Today, I learned about some of the history of marine biology from this handy webpage. It had some interesting stuff mentioned in it, like how Aristotle was the first person that referenced specific marine life. James Cook also did a lot of marine investigation in his explorations, and Charles Darwin himself was the resident naturalist on one scientific expedition, and spent years catching and studying marine life.

Closer to modern day, Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gangan created a regulator, so that divers could safely breath compressed air. Hans Hass was one of the first people to interact with a sperm whale, and he invented an underwater flash camera. Pretty useful, because the ocean can get really, really dark.

 

Lastly, Monkey. Today’s chapters can be summarized as follows: The group goes and rescues Tripitaka, or at least tries. They manage to lure the monster to the surface, but he retreats before they can finish him off. Monkey goes off to request help from Kuan-yin, and she comes back with him while carrying a basket. She lowers the basket into the water, recites a spell, and lifts the basket, to reveal that there is a golden fish in it. She then explains some things.

First of all, the fish was hers. And it’s not like the last time a pet left their divine master, this time the fish got out on it’s own. She takes it back, and leaves for her home. Monkey gets Tripitaka, and they end up crossing the channel on the back of a giant turtle whose home was taken by the fish. Since Monkey got Kuan-yin who got rid of the fish, the turtle felt indebted to him.

Anyways, they get across the channel, continue on the journey, and make it to the Buddha’s palace. They climb into heaven, Tripitaka sheds his mortal body and becomes divine, they try to get scriptures, are screwed out of it by some guys that were expecting tribute from those who were literally a bunch of beggars, and then get it properly after Tripitaka gives them his begging bowl.

After some conversations between the Deities, including Kuan-yin, they decide to have 8 Vajrapanis take the group back, with the journey back spanning 8 days. Why 8 days? Because they’re taking 5048 scrolls back to China, and the trip there was only a mere 5040 days. 8 days back, it’ll all match up. 10 years to get there, 8 days to get back.

You know, considering how much danger they went through and how long it took them, I’d expect them to be a little annoyed about it. I mean, Tripitaka was given a divine task, and risked life and limb, nearly dying multiple times over the course of the trip, I’m able to think of 5 times off the top of my head, and he spent ten years on this. If he’d known that he could’ve just been taken there in 8 days, and back in 8 more, I would’ve thought he’d been kind of angry.

Then again, maybe it’s for the best. The palace was really far away, it took him 10 years to get there… how would people react if he just showed up under 3 weeks later?

Tripitaka: “Hey, I’m back, got the scriptures. A LOT of them too.”

Emperor: “You must be lying! You’d need to spend, like, a decade getting there! I thought you were the man for the job…”

Tripitaka: “I swear, I actually went there! How else did I get 5048 scrolls?”

Emperor: “I mean, you could’ve written them yourself…”

Tripitaka: “With what paper? With what ink? I have no money, and even then there’s no way I could’ve written all this in 2 weeks!”

Emperor: “Well, alright… but I still find it a bit suspicious.”

Post 21: September 7th, 2016

Art history was the first thing I did today. The main thing that stuck with me was Hammurabi, and a Stele in which is his law code was inscribed. Also on the stele was an image on Hammurabi receiving symbols of authority from one of the gods, in order to show that his rule was divine. Apparently, he was also a notorious micro-manager, which isn’t too important but I think it’s a cool little bit of information.

 

Next up, game design. I learned about Unreal engine a bit, and learned how to change a project so that a level will always show up when you open the program, instead of having to load it up when you click on the project. Pretty useful to have. I also did the most important thing… download more updates! Joy…

 

Lastly, Sociology. Today, I looked at the meaning of gender in society, agents of socialization, and how the world around us affects our development.

First, Gender socialization. Basically, learning the role of a gender in society, with the help of agents of socialization. Basically, anything that teaches or reinforces a gender role. Friends, family, mass media, and everything.

Then, development. People tend to be influenced in different ways depending on how they were raised, like how people will raise their children in a way that would suit them for the parent’s career, like working class parents raising their children to follow orders.

Post 20: September 6th, 2016

First order of business today was Art History, as usual. I learned about the Akkadian Empire, and I saw a stele (basically a large carved stone used like a monument) which depicted one of the Akkadian kings triumphing over his enemies, with the composition of the piece implying that he was godlike, or assuming the role of a god.

 

Next up, Oceanography. I’ve started looking into what I’m going to be doing next, and I’ve also learned the 6 kingdoms of marine life. They are…

Bacteria, single celled organisms that are basically everywhere, and break down organic material.

Protozoans, bigger single celled organisms that may or may not produce their own food.

Chromists, which go from small organisms like plankton to seaweed. Generally, they are producers.

Fungi, which break down organic material for sustenance, and include mushrooms, slimes, molds, all that fun stuff.

Plants, multicellular and producers, that make food from sunlight. There aren’t too many plants in the water, and seaweed used to be considered plants.

Animals, which should be obvious. Multicellular, consumers, and a whole bunch of different varieties. Fish, squid, dolphins, starfish, sea cucumbers… odds are if you can see it with the naked eye, it’s not a fungus, seaweed, or plant, it’s probably an animal.

 

Lastly, more Monkey! In the chapters that I read today, Tripitaka and his disciples left the kingdom with the immortals and got to a very, very wide river, so far that even monkey’s super vision could not see the end of it. They took refuge at a nearby town, and found out that every year, the town was blessed with rain and a fertile harvest, but they had to sacrifice one boy and one girl to a deity. Monkey and Pigsy take the place of the boy and the girl, respectively, and when they reveal themselves, force the child-eater to retreat.

He then hatches a plan in order to catch Tripitaka with the help of his subordinates, by freezing the river he lives in and tricking Tripitaka into walking over it. It ends up working, and the disciples + horse go back to town in order to prepare to go rescue Tripitaka.

Post 19: September 2nd, 2016

Well, Today wasn’t really that eventful. In art history, I learned about the hierarchy in very early societies, and some of their art. Like a piece of art that had different rows, with more important subjects being placed at the top.

 

And then… there was game design. Yes, I’ve decided to start a game design course on Udemy. Link is Here.

It’s pretty good so far, although it does have a lot of downloading that needs to be done. Multiple hours worth of stuff, including installing and restarting your computer. I also went through the first real programming task, making a computer program that says “Hello World”. It took me a very long time, because apparently I was using C# instead of C++, which are close to each other in the menu. My thought process was “C-something, let’s go!”

That took up a lot of my day, but I am excited to continue with the course.

Post 18: September 1st, 2016

A new month, and… not a new week of school. Just the middle of the week. Not even really the middle since it’s Thursday… not a very eventful start to the month.

However, there is a big event… I’ve finished the Open2study Oceanography course!

*Fireworks of various shapes and colors that aren’t nearly as spectacular as you expect*

It was pretty good overall, and it had a lot of good information. The last things I learned were about tagging and tracking animals and how that translates to figuring out the total population, species of animals that migrate a lot for reasons like mating, and managing resources in the arctic.

 

Before that, I did more art history. Most important of that, I learned about Cuneiform. What is Cuneiform, you may ask? Why, it’s the first written language. Made by pressing into wet clay, it’s purpose… was to manage resources, like heads of cattle or wheat. It does look kind of cool, even though it’s completely incomprehensible to me.

 

Lastly, which I need to say because of the weird order this time, Sociology. Today, I learned about emotions. Emotions are very useful for impersonating┬ábeing an absolutely normal human being. There are 6 emotions that are believed to be universal among the human race, those being anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. We know that they’re universal in part because even blind people will make the same facial expressions that others would when feeling the same emotion. I also learned about the development of reasoning and how it advances as time goes on, from very basic to understanding abstract concepts.

Post 17: August 31st, 2016

Today’s first matter was art history as usual, and I’ve finished up Prehistory. Now, we move onto the wonderful world of earth after written language, when we know the names of stuff. It is the time… for the Near East! Or is it the Middle East? It’s interchangeable as far as I’m aware. Anyway, that’s the area where a lot of civilizations really got started, including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Sumerians, etc.

 

Next up, Oceanography. I got 3 more things done today, mostly focusing on fishing, and how a lot of fisheries can be poorly managed, leading to a lower yield than there should be. It is rather encouraging to find out that there are a lot of places which have a minimum size limit, so that fish can get big enough to be profitable.

 

Lastly, more Monkey. Today’s chapters can be summarized as follows;

The immortals enter the dark temple, and Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy pretend to be three gods of Taoism, and the immortals ask for immortality elixir.

Since the three of them don’t have any of that, they piss in urns and give it to the immortals to drink. Upon drinking, one of the immortals proclaims that it tastes like pig urine.

One has to wonder how he knows what that tastes like.

Anyway, they get found out, and Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy flee back to Tripitaka, telling him nothing of what they did. The next day, they go to the palace to get passports, and the immortals proclaim that they’re the ones that have been causing a bunch of trouble around the place. Of course, they are right, but Monkey and the crew never admit it. Things happen, and the immortals end up challenging the group to see which religion in superior.

 

The trials begin, and Monkey cheats like there is no tomorrow! Of course, the immortals try to cheat too, although monkey continuously foils them. Eventually, they get fed up with how the group continuously beats them, and challenge them to see who is more immortal. One proclaims that he can chop off his head and call it back to him, one proclaims that he cut his stomach open, clean his intestines, and put himself back together, while the last claims that he can rest in a vat of boiling oil.

Monkey beats them at their own game each time. The chopped head immortal binds monkey’s head in place after it is chopped off, so monkey grows a new head. When the immortal tries it, monkey turns one of his hairs into a dog, and has it run off with the immortal’s head. The immortal soon dies, because his head is chopped off.

The gut cutting immortal doesn’t cheat, and monkey is just fine. When the gut cutter does it, monkey has a crow swoop down and tear out the intestines. The immortal dies.

The boiling oil guy doesn’t mess with monkey, and monkey comes out fine. He does, however, cheat when it’s his turn, by having an ice dragon curl up in the vat of oil so that it’s cold instead of boiling hot. Monkey gets rid of the ice dragon, and the immortal boils to death.

 

That takes care of those pesky Taoists, I suppose.

Post 16: August 30th, 2016

Today’s first matter was Art History. Specifically, Stonehenge. Rather impressive, and kinda cool how it lines up with the summer solstice. I do find the construction a bit humorous though. They start making it, decide it’s good enough, and that’s the end of that. A hundred years later, they add onto it, making it more impressive. Five-hundred years later or so, they add even more onto it, remove some pieces, and bury their dead.

 

Secondarily, Oceanography. I learned about a couple different things, like how good sustainable development means that you can do what you need to do in the present, without screwing over people in the future. Also, certain things can make species very vulnerable to extinction, like little reproduction and maturity, and not being very widespread. If something happens to the area they live in, they don’t have any relatives elsewhere to carry on the species.

 

Thirdly, Sociology. Today, I looked at a fair bit of “nature vs. nurture”, essentially whether inborn traits are stronger or weaker than learned characteristics. My conclusion?

Eh. Both play a part, from what I can see. Twins were raised in completely different circumstances, ended up having different political and religious leanings, but they shared some of the same hobbies, like sneezing in crowded elevators to scare people. Also, a different set of twins that were separated, and became firefighters.

 

Lastly, Monkey. To summarize today’s chapter, the quartet get on with their journey to the west, and come across a country ruled by Taoists where all the Buddhists are essentially treated like slaves. Why? A bunch of years ago a drought came, and both the Buddhists and the Taoists prayed for it to be fixed. Then 3 Taoist immortals/magicians came, solved the problem, and said to the king of the country “Ay, yo, those Buddhists suck. They asked for an end to the drought, and nothing happened. We fixed the drought. They’re worshiping false gods, so tear down their temples, paint portraits of them so that they can’t run away, and make them do all the hard labor in the kingdom.”

The king agreed to this, and Monkey found out about it from the Buddhists. To make a long chapter short, Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy enter a Taoist temple after interrupting a celebration by making the lights go out, and eat all the offerings. However, someone that forgot something at the temple goes back, hears them in the dark, and tells the 3 immortals about the infiltrators in their temple.

Post 15: August 29th, 2016

New week, more schoolwork. First order of business today was, as usual, art history. I learned about Neolithic art today, and we’ve recovered a lot more of that than we have paleolithic art. One of the kinda weird but also kinda cool things that people in the neolithic era would do sometimes was sculpt over a person’s skull, adding shells for eyes and paint for hair.

 

Secondarily, oceanography. I’ve started the fourth and final unit, Stewardship of the Oceans. First lesson, and I took this away from it: What we do to the ocean, we do to the whole ocean. There’s not a single spot in it that is unaffected. Actions have consequences, which lead to new actions, which lead to new consequences, so on and so on. We really need to be careful about what we do, in regards to the ocean.

 

Lastly, more monkey. To cut to the chase, as it was a rather long two chapters, Monkey and Pigsy recover the body of the real emperor, and monkey brings him back to life with some help from Lao Tzu. The group of Tripitaka, Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy, and the real emperor go to the palace, meet the impostor, and have a very long and drawn out fight scene. To cut to the chase, turns out that the impostor was actually the lion of a Bodhisattva, who sent the lion to kill the emperor, take his place, and then have him revived 3 years later as punishment. Punishment for what, you may ask? Trying to kill the Bodhisattva who had disguised himself as a priest.

The moral of this story? Never mess with a god. Or anyone that could possibly be a god. Which is everyone.

Post 14: August 26th, 2016

First up, art history. Learned about the Venus of Willendorf, a very, very early sculpture of a nude woman. The only reason it was named as such is because it was interpreted by the people that found it as possibly an idol meant to symbolize a fertility goddess. The goddess Venus was not known when the figure was created.

 

Next, Oceanography. Finished part 3 of the course, and I learned about how ocean life can adapt to the environment, or even change environment if it becomes unsuitable. Additionally, I learned about how that kind of thing affects us as people. Certainly makes it harder to eat sea life if it moves away.

 

Last, more monkey. Tripitaka, upon spending the night in a temple, has a ghost visit him in the night. It’s the ghost of an emperor that has been disposed by a wizard that killed him in cold blood, and the wizard transformed himself into the emperor to take his place. The emperor mentions that since the wizard has a lot of friends in the underworld, he can’t go to them for help. So, he instead goes to Tripitaka and his group after being advised by another spirit, The Spirit that Wanders at Night. Cool name. Anyways, dream ends, Tripitaka and the group hatch a plan to convince the prince’s son that his father has been replaced, and it goes off successfully. The prince sneaks back to the palace to see his mother, and… that’s where the chapter ends. Ah well.