Monday, September 26, 2016

Story: Women Who Kill

[The television screen slowly fades in, displaying a tall, middle aged, grey haired man standing in a dimly lit studio.]

Dennis: “Hello.  My name is Dennis Farina, and welcome to another chilling episode of ‘Women Who Kill.’”

Photo made using Canva

Dennis: “This week we will explore the gruesome story of the woman known as the Jealous Wife, who intended to murder her sister-wife’s child, but instead made a grave error. On May 18, 1995, Kenan Sudi prepared to embark on his biannual sixth month journey to trade.  He would leave behind his two wives, Naki and Iman, and their young sons.”

[Naki appears on the screen. The clip is obviously from a pre-recorded interview.  She is wearing a blue, longed sleeve shirt and a yellow, silk covering over her hair.  She is seated in front of a dark cloth background.  Her dark, almond shaped eyes look sadly but matter-of-factly into the camera as she speaks.]

Naki: “I remember like it was yesterday.  Iman and I always dreaded Kenan’s trips out to the bush to trade, but they were necessary, especially after the birth of our sons.  My son, Zere, had just turned eight, and Iman’s son, Edet, was ten.  I remember them crying, begging their father to stay.  Kenan left us a month’s worth of food, but when we ran out, Iman and I had to take turns going out for two or three days to fish; we couldn’t take the kids, it was too harsh for them.  Iman went first, so I stayed behind to care for Zere and Edet.”

[Dennis reappears on the screen, still in the studio]

Dennis:  “Iman returned after three days with plenty of fish, so it wasn’t until late July when Naki had to take her turn fishing at the river.  She had done this a few times before with no complications, and she did not expect this time to be any different”  

[The clip from Naki’s interview resumes.]

Naki:  “I left for my trip early on a Sunday morning.  I kissed both boys goodbye, and waved to Iman.  I had gone through this ritual several times in the past, but I still hated to leave my son.  I missed him every second I was gone.
Zere was an exceptionally bright boy, whereas Edet was a little slower - we thought it may have been due to a developmental issue.  Of course we never spoke of it. We loved both boys, or… at least - *quiet cough* at least I did.  Sometimes I felt like it bothered Iman - that my son was smarter than hers - but she never said anything about it, so I thought nothing of it.”

[The camera is back on Dennis in the studio.]

Dennis:  “Naki had no idea of Iman’s intentions… but the day after Naki left, Iman put her plan into action.  She sharpened a razor blade, and crept into the boys’ shared room.  She approached the place where Zere usually slept, and began violently slicing the boy all over his body.  The autopsy report indicates the boy was cut over 60 times; the deep gash in his neck proved to be fatal.  As she attacked the boy she thought was Zere, the other boy ran out of the house and took refuge at a neighbor’s house, who called the police.”

[A police officer appears on screen, in a similar looking room that Naki was shown in.  He is a middle aged man with a thick brown mustache; only half of his mouth seems to move when he speaks.]

Officer Dabir: “It had been a slow day at the station, so when we got the neighbor’s call – about a young boy possibly being murdered – we weren’t prepared for what we were about to encounter. Eight other officers and I kicked down the door, guns and flashlights extended.  We heard a noise in the back bedroom, and went inside.  We found a woman, who turned out to be Iman, crouching over a small body; her clothes and the carpet were soaked in blood.  It was awful… the boy hardly looked like a human.  It was a sight that’ll be burned into my memory forever.”

The Crime Scene.  Courtesy of Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons

[Dennis reappears on the screen.]

Dennis:  “Iman intended to kill Naki’s boy, but mistook her own son for Zere."

[Naki reappears.  She is in the same setting, but is now sobbing.]

Naki:  “Wh-when I came back… I- I just couldn’t believe it.  I am so fortunate that Zere is still with me, but I mourn every day for Iman and the loss of Edet… Jealousy turns people into monsters.”
[The studio reappears.]

Dennis:  “Iman was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and after confessing, she was sentenced to death.  She was executed on April 13th, 1998, but the horror of her crime will never be forgotten.  We reached out to Kenan, who has since divorced Naki and moved to South Africa.  He refused to be interviewed or to comment on the case.

That’s all for this week’s episode of Women Who Kill.  Goodbye and sleep tight.”

[A soft, eerie song plays as white credits roll over a black screen.] 

Author's Note: This story was inspired by The Jealous Wife from Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort by Richard Edward Dennett, 1898.  I kept my version fairly true to the original, which tells the story of a wife who is extremely jealous of her "sister-wife's" son, because he is so much brighter than her own son.  While the other wife is out fishing, she attempts to kill the boy with a razor blade during the night.  It is dark in the room, so she accidentally ends up killing her own son.  The evil woman is killed at the end of the story, when the husband finally believes that she is the one who killed the boy.  I wanted to keep the same grisly story, but give it a "true crimes" essence, instead it feeling more like a fable.  I also wanted to bring it a little more into the future, but not too recent to where the characters would have cell phones or anything like that.  I also wanted to ensure that I illustrated an immoral quality, which is jealously, in case I want to include this story in my portfolio.   

Reading Notes: Stories from Congo Part B

These reading notes are from part B of Stories from Congo, from the book Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort by Richard Edward Dennett, 1898.

The Gazelle and the Leopard
I really liked the ending of this story; the gazelle is brutal, tricking the wife of the leopard into eating her deceased husband's head!  This story also has a few immoral themes I could include in my portfolio, including revenge and wrath.  If I were to rewrite this story, I think I would want to make it more simple.  I'd probably write it in the "one syllable" style, or perhaps rework it into a series of haikus.

How The Fetish Sunga Punished My Great-Uncle's Twin Brother, Basa.
The first thing I noticed about this story is its long and descriptive title.  This story was very strange, as the main character would catch a bunch of fish, then lie about it.  He didn't make use of the fish either, he just let them rot in his room.  I found that to be very strange.  He continued to lie about catching the fish though, and was soon punished by the fetish Sunga.  Sunga took away his ability to speak.  I think it would be neat to rewrite this story, but have a cat take away the main character's ability to speak, adding a twist to the common phrase "cat got your tongue?"  This story also would give me an immorality, lying, to work into my portfolio.

This is what I image Sunga would look like.  I'm not too sure about the information regarding this image, as the website I from which I obtained it is in a different language.  Wikimedia Commons by user Sailko

The Fetish Of Chilunga
This story was my favorite from part B of the reading.  I have a few of ideas for reworking it as well.  I was thinking I could make the fetish a real person who ties up those who mock the fetish, instead of it being some magical occurrence, but no one knows who is doing it.  Perhaps they are even wearing an invisible cloak, which keeps the magical element of the story, but still is focused around an actual person instead of a fetish.  (Perhaps a fetish gave this man the cloak, and ends up punishing him in the end?) I'm also considering writing this story in the form of a diary, written by the fetish.  In each entry, the fetish could describe the wrongdoing of a person, and discuss its thought process when deciding how to punish them.  Another good option for this story would be making it into a "choose your own adventure" type story.  You can arrive at the fetish and either provide a sacrifice or not.  If you get tied up, you can choose what to do then, too (call for help, struggle, apologize).  This option may be good for incorporating immoralities as well.

Reading Notes: Stories from Congo Part A

I chose to read Stories from Congo, taken from Notes of the Folklore of the Fjort by Richard Edward Dennett, 1898. I thought it was awesome that the author was a part of the Congo Reform Association and protested the British colonial treatment of the Congolese.

These stories actually reminded me a lot of the reading I did last week.  Many of the stories are centered on wives, death, and resurrection of the dead.

How the Wives Restored Their Husband to Life
This story in particular reminded me of my reading from last week (Twenty Two Goblins).  Three wives bring their dead husband back to life, and they argue about who deserves him according to what they contributed to his eventual resurrection. At the end of the story, they all cook the husband a pot of food, and whichever he likes the most would be considered the most deserving.  That immediately gave me an idea to write a story about a reality cooking show, where the stakes are the same - whoever makes the best food gets the man.  It could even be similar to the Bachelor, in a way.  Although I like this idea for a story, no immoralities are really sticking out to me in this story, so I would probably have to incorporate a couple into my reworked story, if I want to include it in my portfolio.

Another Vanishing Wife
This story is absolutely full of immoralities that would fit wonderfully into my portfolio.  Unfortunately, I'm not getting much inspiration for a story at this point.  I may revisit this story later, and see if I can come up with some ideas.

The Jealous Wife
Well would ya look at that - an immorality right in the title of this story!  Jealousy isn't the only immorality I could write about in this story; murder, anger, and hatred are all present in this story as well.  I actually have ideas for a story here too.  It's a pretty twisted story, where one of two wives wants to kill the other wive's child, but ends up accidentally killing her own.  I'd write my story in the style of either a trial in court, or perhaps a television show called something like "Women Who Kill",  Both would be a sort of investigative approach to this story.

The use of a casca, which is seen in the story "The Jealous Wife". Source

Monday, September 19, 2016

Story: Life & Death, Horror & Theft.

T is for theft.
It violates the norms,
Yet it comes in several forms.
Robbery and theft,

Reveal a life so bereft.

M is for murder.
The state of living:
Once taken, never regained.


The monk traipsed through the dark, foreign woods. The sound of the autumn leaves crunching beneath his boots was the only thing distracting him from the sinking pain in his chest.  He wiped a cool bead of sweat from his forehead and perched on a mossy rock.  He had been walking for what felt like an eternity, desperately trying to escape his village and the harrowing events that he witnessed merely hours ago.  He closed his eyes, but his eyelids only showed him the image of what he was trying so hard to ignore.  He saw Coral’s face - her smooth porcelain skin and her long brown eyelashes framing her twinkling blue eyes.  He savored her image for a moment, inhaling deeply in hopes to catch a whiff of her delicate perfume.  As he exhaled, a sharp gust of wind rushed past him, mimicking Coral’s soft giggle, and he winced as it stung his face.  He shut his eyes tighter and tucked his face in his arm, but the peaceful image of his wife was suddenly replaced by a replay of her last moments - drenched in sweat, quivering under pounds of blanket and wool.  Despite the freezing air, he felt the warmth of fire on his cheeks as he pictured her burning corpse. The monk slumped to the ground in sorrow. He forcefully opened his eyes to rid himself of the nightmarish scene, releasing a frigid stream down his cheeks.  He carefully stood up and continued to walk north, hoping to find a warm place to sleep.  Eventually he caught a glimpse of a dim light in the distance, and began to trek toward its source.  He approached a cabin on the outskirts of a small village and quietly peered in a window.  A small family bustled around the kitchen, preparing for dinner, so the monk decided to knock.

The forest, courtesy of Moyan Brenn on Flickr

The door cracked open and a lanky, bearded man craned his neck through the opening and peered at the monk. The monk explained that he was traveling to the monastery to become a bhikkhu after the death of his wife, and that he needed a place to sleep.  Before the man had a chance to reply, the door swung open and the man’s wife greeted the monk and ushered him into the warm house, insisting that he join them for dinner.  The monk glanced at the lamb cooking over an open flame, breathed in the aroma of freshly baked naan, and gladly accepted. 

A fire roars from within the house. Courtesy of Pixabay

The wife began serving everyone as they sat around a small kitchen table.  She filled her husband’s plate, the monk's, and lastly the plate of her son, whose young eyes were fixated on the monk.  Halfway through the meal, the boy became unsettled and began to whimper.  The boy’s whimpers soon turned into wails and his legs began to flail.  The parents tried to comfort the boy, whispering in his ear and patting his head and shoulder, but their efforts were futile; the boy continued to sob.  The mother looked over at the monk and mouthed an apology.  Before the monk could reassure her, the woman forcefully yanked the boy up by his arm and slung him into the roaring fire.  The monk watched in horror as the boy drowned in the flames.  The smell of burnt flesh filled the house, and after what felt like an eternity, the only remaining noise was the crackling of the calm flames.  The mother noticed the monk’s terror and laughed, the father slowly stood up and walked into the next room.  The monk began to tremble; he felt that his fate was sealed.  The man walked back into the kitchen holding an old ivory book.  Frozen in fear, the monk grimaced as he saw the parents of the boy walk over to his ashes. He began surveying the home for the quickest way out.  Before the monk could dart, the man and woman began chanting strange words and dancing around the boy’s remains.  Slowly, the ashes began to rise and swirl about the room.  A dark cloud filled the room, causing the monk to cough uncontrollably.. 

When the air cleared, the monk looked at awe as the little boy stood up, appearing unharmed but slightly confused.  The man and woman revealed the secrets of the ivory book, explaining that it could bring back the dead.  The monk masked his bewilderment as he listened to the couple, frequently looking back at the boy, who was now playing with a toy.  Soon it was time for bed, and the monk knew he had to flee, but he couldn’t stop thinking about the powers of the book.  When he was sure they had drifted to sleep, he quietly got up, gathered his things, and then began searching for the book.  He eventually spotted the book, grabbed it, and then quickly snuck out of the front door, eager to get back to his wife’s remains. 

The Ivory Book of the Dead. Found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Wikimedia Commons

As he exited the house, the monk heard a loud shriek, so he began to run.  The noise followed him, but gradually became quieter and eventually stopped as the monk got further from the house.  When he felt he was a safe enough distance away, the monk held the book to his chest and sat down.  The monk soon dozed off, but was suddenly awaked by a familiar voice.  He looked up; it was Coral.  The book started to feel warm on his chest - it continued to grow hotter.  The monk stood up, but as soon as he opened his mouth to call out for her, he burst into flames.  The monk yelled in agony.  The image of Coral disappeared as the flames consumed him.  After the monk took his last breath, the blaze dissipated; the only trace of his presence was the ivory book lying on the ground unscathed.  

Author's Note:
I pulled this story from Twenty-Two Goblins: The Three Lovers translated by Arthur Ryder.  Twenty-Two Goblins tells the story of a king who sets out to help a monk recover a body from the woods.  Here's the catch: the body is possessed by a goblin, who makes the king answer riddles in order to transport him.  If the king answers the riddle correctly, the body/goblin are transported back to where they were originally found, and the king must go back to retrieve them.  If the king does not know the answer to the riddle, he can continue to carry the body to the monk, who is also waiting somewhere in the woods.  If he king does know the answer, but lies and says he doesn't, his head will explode.  What a fun game!  My story is based off of one of the goblin's riddles, where he describes the death of a beautiful woman with three lovers.  Each man reacts to her death differently.  One man becomes a monk and travels around and encounters a family who offers him dinner and a place to stay.  The mother ends up murdering her son during dinner, but then uses a mysterious book to bring him back to life.  The monk steals the book in the middle of the night, and goes back home, where he eventually uses it to bring his dead wife back to life.  A bhikkhu is an ordained male monk in Buddhism.  

The two immoralities in my story are theft and murder.  The monk steals the magical book from the family in order to attempt to bring his wife back from the dead.  He's only made aware of this book's magical powers due to the demonstration of the woman using it to bring back her dead son that she brutally killed in front of him.  Although the boy brought back to life, this is obviously not possible in real life, hence my haiku.  The theme of an immoral alphabet comes from A Moral Alphabet by Hilaire Belloc, 1899. The letters T and M are courtesy of Maelle K on

Reading Notes: Twenty-Two Goblins Part B

Bibliography: Twenty-Two Goblins translated by Arthur Ryder.

Part B of this story had some interesting "riddles", but the real twist was at the end of the story!  I saw something strange like this coming from the beginning... Although some of my questions in my previous post weren't completely elaborated on, I still got some much needed answers, giving me some more story ideas for this week.

The Girl and the Thief
In this story, a beautiful girl (woman) is not interested in marriage, until she encounters a ruthless thief, with whom she falls in love.  Of course, this is at the dismay of her family (and her village).  Sparing the details, the woman eventually gets her wish, the thief reforms, and they live happily ever after.... boring!  If I choose this story to write about, I will definitely give it a twist ending.  I don't know quite yet if I should make it subtle or outright, but I want the thief to remain evil.  I'm thinking he could either rob the wife's family blind and flee, leaving her heartbroken, or I could write about it from the angle that he stole the woman's heart and either hid her away or morphed her personality into something unrecognizable by her family.  There are a couple of good immorality themes I could use for my project in this story: theft and lust are the two that stand out to me the most.

That thief isn't even cute though... From The Girl and the Thief

 The Old Hermit 
This story also has a few themes that are pertinent to my portfolio, but they are less obvious, and I feel like I already covered one last week.  Anyway, for this story I could write about the life of the old hermit after he inhabits the body of the young boy.  It could be comedic, like he says strange things that older people generally say, which in turn confuses the family.  

Other story ideas I have include writing a sequel to the entire story.  This may be the hardest, but most fun, option, because I could really do whatever I want with it.  What if the king brought the goblin back to his castle?  What if the king made his daughter marry the goblin?  There are all kinds of crazy things I could do with this.  I could also simply give the story an alternate ending, where the monk suffers in another way besides death.  Perhaps the monk is subject to some sort of riddle-related punishment?

Reading Notes: Twenty-Two Goblins Part A

For week 5's reading, I chose Twenty-Two Goblins translated by Arthur Ryder.

The King and the Goblin, from the Introduction of Twenty-Two Goblins

I chose these stories because the concept of them piqued my interest.  A king must carry a goblin on his back through the woods, while answering the goblin's riddles.  Who doesn't love a good riddle?

For part A, I have a few ideas for some stories, but many questions that I'm pondering.  What does the goblin want?  If the king answers the riddle correctly, the goblin goes back to hanging on the tree, and the king must go fetch him again.  If the king knows the answers, but refuses to say, his head will explode.  The only way for the king to transport to goblin to his destination successfully is if the goblin stumps the king, and he does not know the correct answer.  So, does the goblin want to stump the king?  Why or why not?  What does the monk want to do with the goblin?  If the monk wanted to the goblin brought to him quickly, why not pick a foolish man instead of the wise king, so that he would be quickly stumped?

Some stories I have in mind for part A of the reading are incorporating more "modern" riddles into the story, instead of the original riddles, which are hardly riddles at all, but more of opinions...  I could have the goblin ask the king riddles like "what gets wetter as it dries?" and other silly, short riddles.  The only other specific story I could see myself writing about is The Three Lovers.  I'm drawn to this story because of some of the immorality present, which I could use for my project.  A monk in the story steals a sacred book, and a mother of a distraught child throws him in the fire - both examples of some pretty immoral behavior, if you ask me.  If I chose to write about that, I honestly would probably write a grossly detailed description of the scene at the house.  I'd describe the boy's cries, the smell of his flesh as he burned, and the swift hand of the monk.  I'd probably write this as a narrator, or from the perspective of the monk.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Famous Last Words: Let's Get Back on Track

In my previous week's Famous Last Words post, I did a lot of venting. This week, I'm creating a plan for next week, in hopes that things will finally go back to normal for me.

Monday I'll finally have a cell phone again.  It's crazy how much we rely on those things, not only for communication, but entertainment as well.  Not having a phone for the past week and a half has been somewhat nice, but also pretty stressful.  I've felt very out of the loop with friends and family, and I'm also worried I missed some important calls or texts, but I don't think there's any way for me to find out. I'll be glad to be back in the loop, and be reachable by the "general public" again.

I also hope to get back into my regular routine this coming week. Last week was crazy because in addition to not having my phone, my best friend also had her baby! It was a moment of excitement and overwhelming happiness, but that mid-week trip to Tulsa definitely threw me off my game. Now that Piper is finally here, and I was lucky enough to get to go meet her, this week I can concentrate on school, and getting back into the normal swing of things.

Although I got a late start today, I'm trying to prepare for next week by reading for all of my classes, doing some extra credit for this class, and doing some household chores (boo), like laundry and dishes. It's weird going from such a hectic two weeks to a relatively calm and somewhat boring upcoming week, but boring is good, at least for now. I had fun getting to see my friends and family, but for this week, the less excitement the better.  Now back to work!

Andrea and Piper, immediately after birth! Photo courtesy of the Sawyers family.


Tech Tip: Creating Graphics

This week's tech tip is my favorite so far - creating graphics with

All you have to do is click the link, sign up, and follow the incredibly easy step-by-step instructions to create a graphic.  They've got tons of things to choose from, including: invitations, thank you cards, blog headers (could be useful if you're doing a storybook for your project), and many more!

I chose to make a simple graphic with a quote from my favorite TV character of all time. Enjoy!

Perhaps Omar Little of The Wire's most famous quote. Made using canva

Feedback Focus

After reading about and experimenting with the three different techniques of staying focused while reading stories, I was surprised to find that I was already employing one! Each week, when I read through my chosen story, I take notes by hand after reading something that catches my attention.  After I've read through all of the stories, I go back and look at my notes, think about which I liked the best, and then go reread my favorite stories and take additional notes.  I take notes both on what elements of the story I liked, and techniques for writing the story that I may end up using.  Sometimes an idea comes to me quickly, other times I have to really ponder how to approach the story.  I find that physically writing down my notes helps me stay focused, instead of worrying about typos and copying/pasting/deleting.

I did find that reading the story aloud at a slow pace helped me stay focused.  I think this would be a good technique to incorporate when I read and take notes, either the first or second time I read a story. (I will have to try both!) I wish I had someone to read the story aloud to, but luckily my cats are pretty good listeners (usually).

I didn't find the timer technique of much use, but I may give it another try when I read my stories this week, especially since I've started my portfolio project, and thus have more of an idea what I'm looking for in each story.

An etching from my favorite story I read, "Why the Dog and Cat are Enemies" by R. Wilhelm. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Story: Ra Turns to Social Media for Help

Author's Note: I did something very different this week.... a social media based story! This "story" is based off of the Ancient Egypt reading The Secret Name of Ra from Egyptian Myth and Legend from Donald Mackenzie, 1907.  In this story, the ancient Egyptian sun god, Ra, has many divine powers which stem from his secret name that he holds in his heart. Isis, a goddess who wants to harness Ra's name's power, uses Ra's saliva to create an invisible serpent that stings Ra. The sting confuses Ra, and causes him great pain, but he has no idea what caused it.  He calls upon his "children" to advise him on what it may be and what to do, but the only person to offer up a solution is Isis.  In return, Isis wants to know Ra's secret name; at first Ra is reluctant, and even laughs at the idea, but soon the pain overwhelms him, and he reveals his name to her.  Surprisingly, Isis follows through and cures Ra after being given his secret name, but now she has the divine power, which she passes on to her son.

Isis asking yahoo answers for some assistance before she executes her plot

Ra is also seeking some help for an unrelated problem; Isis cleverly using a fake account to answer.

Ra is the sun god of Ancient Egypt, hence the profile picture. Ya can't rely on yahoo answers for everything, Ra.
Now Ra is asking facebook when he should really be going to the doctor. Other commenters are his godly children.

Hope it was worth it, Ra.

Isis' profile picture: Wikipedia
Ra's Yahoo Answers picture: Mr. Sun by carlitos on OpenClipArt
Ra's Facebook profile picture: Wikipedia
Hathor's profile picture: Wikipedia
Bastet's profile picture: Wikipedia
All images were created using

Reading Notes: Egyptian Myth and Legend Part B

The Two Brothers, Parts 1-4 from Egyptian Myth and Legend, Donald Mackenzie, 1907.

This story is broken into 4 parts, and try as I might, I couldn't pick just one to write about.  The problem with that is so much happens in this story, that writing about the entire thing would probably be pretty difficult without resulting to summarizing.  If I end up writing about this story, I think I would choose to summarize it in Haikus, my favorite type of poetry.  Haikus are a great way to express emotional events in a concise manner, and I feel like that would be appropriate for this story.  I think it would be appropriate to write a haiku or two for each main character for each part of the story.  It would add another dramatic element to an already dramatic story, but also give the reader an idea of what main events took place in the story.

Tomb of Nefermaat I and his wife Itet depicting oxen helping plow a field and what could possibly be two brothers?! Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Tale of King Rhampsinitus

This story was very interesting, especially the ending.  Quite a few ridiculous things happen to the main character, so I think an appropriate way to reflect on them would be in diary entries.  We are given a glimpse of how the main character feels about performing some of these outlandish deeds, but I think it would be fun to explore his deeper emotions and inner thoughts about the situations he kept finding himself in.

Another option for this story would be to write it from the perspective of the mother of the two sons. She didn't play a huge role in this story, but the small part she did have stuck out to me quite a bit.  I would probably write this in first person as the mother.  I'm sure she would have a lot to say about her children's crazy antics, but an opportunity to write about her raw emotions after she lost one of her sons would be an interesting approach too.

Reading Notes: Egyptian Myth and Legend Part A

The first half of my reading was from Egyptian Myth and Legend from Donald Mackenzie, 1907.

Worshipping Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Unknown Author from the Wikimedia Commons

The Death of Osiris and The Journey of Isis

In The Death of Osiris, Osiris - the king of Egypt - is murdered by his brother Set.  For this story,  I think I'd like to rework it into a murder being solved by a detective or forensic anthropologist.  In The Journey of Isis, Set cuts Osiris' body into many pieces, one of which is swallowed by a fish.  I think it would be really interesting to have the detective look at the injuries, determine the cause and the murder weapon, and also hunt to uncover the lost body part that the fish swallowed.

Another idea for these stories would be to turn some of the events into a game show.  In The Death of Osiris, Set brings a special coffin to a party, and challenges people to get inside and see if they are a perfect fit - that could be one of the games.  Another contest could be recovering the pieces of Osiris' body after Set chops him into 14 pieces.  This could be written like a scavenger hunt, and clues and/or riddles could be given along the way to help locate the pieces.  Each body part could be hidden in a famous Egyptian landmark or place of significance.

The Secret Name of Ra

This story of trickery by Isis could be told in the form of fake Facebook status updates.  There are two main characters in this story, but a few others make appearances, which would be good for a Facebook style format in my opinion.  Isis' posts would be more cryptic, and Ra's posts would eventually turn into asking his facebook friends for help.  I would probably use a decent amount of hashtagging and slang in this type of post.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Famous Last Words: A Crazy Week

Week 3 of school, why you gotta be so crazy?

It started off on Tuesday morning - I was sick. Not with a cold or stomach ache, but with a UTI (gross, I know).  If you've ever had one, you know how horrible they are.  And unfortunately for me, I've had a few UTIs develop into full blown pyelonephritis, or a kidney infection.  Those are not only excruciatingly painful (as one of my professors put it - comparable to childbirth), they can be dangerous as well. Luckily, it did not turn into a kidney infection, but I was definitely in some pain, and distracted by my fear of impending back pain!  It took several calls back and forth to my Dr. in Tulsa to get some labs scheduled, which was another pain to deal with.

Kidney pain is the WORST. Credit: PlacidWay Medical Tourism on Vimeo

Cut to Thursday - I'm finally feeling back to normal, and I dodged having to get antibiotics! That was a relief.  When I'm ready to get back to having a normal week, my phone screen decides to quit working! Hooray! Now I'm out of a cell phone. Normally it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but the grad student in charge of my project is out of town, so we are relying on iMessage to communicate problems and questions with my project at the lab.  So that sucks. Oh, and to add to it, my best friend is due with her second child literally any day now, so I'm somewhat out of the loop with that.

Between all of that, I've had an incredibly stressful week.  I'm hoping next week will be better, and that I can focus more on school, but who knows?  Andrea will be having her baby (probably) on Tuesday, so that means I'll be making the drive up to Tulsa ASAP, which unfortunately isn't until Wednesday night.  And I still don't have a phone.

Sorry it's a bunch of complaining, but I had to get it off my chest!


Tech Tip: Google Translate Widget

Hey guys!

Here's a quick and easy tip for translating your page to and from other languages on blogger.

1) Go to your blog, and at the top, click "Design"

2) On the left side of your screen, you should see a tab that says "Layout". Click it.

3) On this page, you'll see a general layout of your blog.  There should be a couple of places that say "Add Gadget". Click on that in the appropriate box, where you'd like the translate option to appear.

4) Search for Google Translate and follow the step-by-step instruction to add the Google Translate bar to your blog. Don't forget to save!

Here are the steps in (crappy) German! See if it works! 

1) Auf dein Blog legt das Wort "Design". Klick es.

2) Auf der Linken siehst du "Layout". Klick es.

3) Hier ist die Anordnung des Blog. Such "Add Gadget" und find Google Translate vor Liste. Befolg die Richtung zu Google Translate beitragen.

4) Vergiss sichern nicht!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Story: The Shortcut to Treasure

D is for deceit -
it's more than a trick.
For when you're a cheat
you're also a dick.

G is for greed,
wanting more than you should.
When enough you exceed,
you are doing no good. 

John rushed to Paul’s hut, eager to show him what he discovered during his shift.  Paul’s eyes widened as he realized the significance of the tethered piece of parchment – it contained coordinates.  These weren’t just any coordinates... they appeared to be the coordinates to the fabled map that led to King Henry’s treasure. Legend has it that many decades ago, a thief stole old King Henry’s gold and jewels and buried them in the woods.  Before the thief could return to retrieve his spoils, he was caught and hanged.  Although many have searched for the treasure, it has never been found, and it soon became a legend in the surrounding villages.  John and Paul were impoverished young men, both with families and low-paying jobs digging irrigation ditches, so a chance for riches enticed them.  They were fortunate enough to have some time off, and both had a few coins to spare, so they didn’t think twice about embarking on the journey. They packed a few things and left.

After a long day of travel, the men approached a village that matched the coordinates. The parchment contained a sketch of a tree, which the men were sure was the spot containing the map.  They searched for the old, enormous tree with a large knot in its center, which they eventually found behind a small tavern. It was late and the men didn’t see anyone lurking around outside, so they began to dig.  They quietly dug for several minutes before Paul’s shovel finally struck a wooden box.  They opened the box and gazed at the crudely drawn but surprisingly well preserved map when they suddenly heard a voice behind them.  John and Paul quickly turned around and attempted to conceal the map without appearing suspicious.  In front of them stood two men who appeared to be around their age, dressed in raggedy tunics, their faces dusted with soot.  Paul and John quickly surveyed the men and determined they were not dangerous.  The men all began chatting; the strangers seemed friendly enough.  Eventually the men all went into the tavern for some drinks where they shared stories of their lives and struggles.  Paul and John empathized with the two men, and after a few drinks, they began discussing their quest for the legendary treasure.  The discussion soon became an offer for the young men to join them on their journey, as they were also in need; what could just two men do with so much treasure anyway? The men - David and Frank - happily agreed, and the next day the four men set off.

The Treasure Map. Credit: Mario_ruckh on Flickr

After three long days of walking, the men were about halfway to their destination.  Although they were eager to reach the treasure, they were tired and felt like a drink.  They stopped in a small town and found a bustling tavern. After several whiskeys, the men were having a grand time, laughing and sharing their fantasies about what they’d soon find.  Frank excused himself and walked out back toward the outhouse, not noticing that he was being followed.  After Frank exited the tavern, a crippled, ancient man grabbed Frank’s arm and began whispering to him.  The man told Frank that he knew of a shortcut to the treasure – he claimed the legendary thief was his great-grandfather, and that by taking this shortcut, he could arrive at the treasure in a mere day.  Frank was hesitant, but the man went on about how much better it would be to split the treasure between just two people, and that he was never able to make the trip due to his disability.  Frank had always been greedy, so he convinced himself that he was the worst off of the four men, and that they didn’t deserve the treasure or his help finding it.  The man drew Frank a map, which Frank recognized as the same destination as Paul and John’s map, just with a different, much shorter route.  With a wide grin, Frank slipped the map into his shirt and slid back into the tavern.

The next morning the men awoke and saw Frank’s bed empty.  They found a note on the pillow, which explained that Frank had turned back because he felt homesick and was worried about his wife.  David confirmed that it was Frank’s handwriting, but he was confused by his sudden disappearance.  The men spent an hour searching the town for Frank, but decided to move on without him.  Meanwhile, Frank followed the old man’s map to the treasure, working to get there as fast as possible.  After a full day of walking, Frank reached the chest, overgrown with moss and ivy.  Frank eagerly opened it, but found nothing.  He frantically scoured the nearby area in hopes of finding even a few gold pieces, but alas, nothing.  He plopped down in defeat.  The next morning he followed the shortcut back to the town.

The Empty Treasure Chest. Credit: Christopher Porter on Flickr

It was day six of Paul, John, and David’s journey, and they estimated they had but a day left of travel before they reached the treasure.  As they were walking, Paul wandered off the trail to use the restroom, and tripped over what he thought was a rock.  After he fell to the ground, he realized that it wasn’t a rock, but a skull covered in moss and leaves.  He called the others over, and the men hesitantly uncovered the body. They were shocked to discover that the body was lying on top of a large velvet bag brimming with gold and jewels.  The men decided that it was best to assume this was the treasure, split it evenly, and head back to their villages; perhaps what lay ahead was responsible for this man’s death, and they did not want to find out.  John, Paul, and David lived happily ever after, their financial troubles over forever, while Frank was never heard from again.  The last place he was seen was the tavern where he met the old man....  

Author's Note: This story was initially inspired by The Ass and His Driver from Aesop for Children with illustrations by Milo Winter.  In this story, a stubborn ass wants to take a shortcut down a cliff, but his driver tells him no.  The ass is stubborn and attempts to take the shortcut anyway, which results in him tumbling down the cliff, presumably to his death.  The moral of this story is "they who will not listen to reason, but stubbornly go their own way against the advice of those who are wiser than they, are on the road to misfortune."  Although the story is more about listening to well-intentioned advice, I wanted to focus more on the "taking shortcuts" element.  As my story went on, I noticed it involved another theme too, which was partly inspired by The Ass, the Fox, and the Lion.  In this story, a fox attempts to betray a donkey into being killed by the lion, but the lion sees through his tricks and kills the fox instead.  The moral of this story is "traitors may expect treachery."

Two immoralities in my story are deceit and greed, both demonstrated by the character Frank.  He deceives his friend and fellow travelers because of his greed - he'd rather split the treasures with one other person instead of three.  In the end this does Frank no good, and in fact may have caused him harm.
The theme of an immoral alphabet comes from A Moral Alphabet by Hilaire Belloc, 1899. The letters D and G are courtesy of Maelle K on

Reading Notes: Aesop for Children Part B

Aesop for Children, Milo Winter. Source.
Part B of the Aesop for Children reading was interesting; many of the stories were quite strange with even strangers morals. I chose a few stories that struck an idea.

The Heron
When reading this story, I couldn't help but think of the plethora of dating shows that have been and are still on television.  I'm inspired to write about a man or woman who so desperately wants to fall in love and/or be married, but is too picky to find a suitable mate.  I would write about how this person found a miniscule flaw in every person he or she dated, and eventually ends up alone and depressed.  I feel like that type of attitude is pretty common on these dating shows; they nitpick every flaw they can uncover about an individual, and then discuss them to no end.

The Cat, the Cock, and the Mouse
Being a cat fanatic, this story made me want to write an ode to the beauty of felines, from the perspective of the little clueless mouse.  Perhaps an english sonnet would be suitable?

A lovely kitty. Credit: Kristina Kuncevich on Flickr

The Goatherd and the Wild Goats
This story immediately made me think of the story idea I wrote about in my previous blog post, about a poor girl who chose a new group of friends over her old friends, and ended up betraying them.  This story actually seems to fit my idea even better, so I suppose I just have the same idea for this story as I did with The Wolf and His Shadow.

The Quack Toad
This story really made me want to write about the internal struggles of people who dedicate their lives to helping others.  I could write about a therapist or psychiatrist, haunted by his or her own mental and emotional problems, who hopes to fix his or herself by helping fix others.  Although this isn't necessarily in tune with the moral of this story, I think one does not have to be perfect in order to want to help others.

The Animals and the Plague 
I would definitely write a political-type piece about this story!  It's practically begging for it - the more "powerful" animals do much worse than the weaker animals, yet it is the weaker animals who must suffer.  That is definitely parallel to the world of politics...

Bibliography: Aesop for Children: Milo Winter

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Reading Notes: Aesop for Children Part A

For this reading assignment, I read part A of Aesop for Children by Milo Winter. For this assignment, I chose my 3 favorite fables, and brainstormed some story ideas from them.

This is a classic story with an important underlying moral - do not be greedy.  I think there are a lot of ways to expand on or reinterpret this story about a boy refusing to let go of his very large handful of hazelnuts in order to take his hand out of the jar.  If I chose this fable to write about for my week 3 story, I could write about a man who discovers a lamp housing a genie. Naturally the man would get 3 wishes with no restrictions; thinking he's clever, he wishes for a million more wishes, which the genie grants.  Perhaps then the man could then spend so much time thinking about what he could wish for, how he could make himself richer, more popular, more handsome, that it completely consumes his life, and he forgets about his family and friends, and ends up dying alone.  

A Magical Lamp. Credit: j4p4n on

This story makes me think of the potential disadvantage of shortcuts.  Yes, you may get to your destination quicker, but what do you miss along the way?  An incredible journey filled with lessons? Or does the end product simply suffer due to the shortcut? I could write a story about peasants who hear a tale of wonderful treasures in a far away land.  They go on a journey to find the treasure, but one peasant learns of a short cut that would cut the length of the trip in half.  The peasant ditches his friends and gets to the treasure first, only to find nothing, but his friends find their own treasures throughout the journey that the greedy peasant missed out on. 

For this story, I had the idea that I could write about a group of friends who are not very well off, but are working to save money to do something fun or buy something they can all share.  One of the friends finds a brand new, very expensive designer purse (or something similar), but instead of selling it for money for her friends, she hides her discovery from them, but flashes it around the nice part of town, bragging to others about it.  Her flashy purse catches the attention of a wealthy, affluent group of friends, who invite her to join their friend group.  The girl is excited, she's always wanted to be wealthy and admired, so she takes them up on the offer.  Soon she realizes how much money it costs just to hang out with these new friends.  They go out to eat at fancy restaurants and do expensive things, so the girl has to sell her things to keep up, and soon starts secretly taking money from her friends' savings.  She runs out of money, her new friends don't want her, and her old friends reject her for stealing from them and caring more about money and influence than the friendships. 

The Wolf and His Shadow. Credit - Milo Winter, Aesop for Children

Growth Mindset: Learning From Others

I decided to explore what other students are writing about the Growth Mindset, and here are some of my favorites:

"Never Give Up", video posted by Heather

I thought this video Heather posted was really cute, but also really inspiring.  I think everyone has felt like giving up at one point or another, I know I have; whether it's because you're scared to fail or you're struggling or some other reason, I think giving up is the only way you can really fail.  School can be hard, especially when you're forced to learn about new and challenging concepts, but like they say in the video, you can get smarter with practice.  This is true for me and Organic Chemistry, a notoriously hard class.  At first it was overwhelming and frustrating, but the more I practiced the problems, the better I got at it!  I eventually made an A in my OChem 1 class, and hope to make an A in OChem 2 this semester!

Amanda's post about Growth Mindset

I related to the image on this post, but also the content that Amanda provides. I also tell myself that I'm not a "math person", and would get frustrated when having to work out long math (& physics) problems, but really they are something to appreciate.  Math is an incredible subject, but a subject that doesn't necessarily come naturally.  Like the aforementioned video, practice makes perfect, and I think this especially applies to mathematics.

Rand's Post, Specifically the Image

I loved the image that Rand posted in his post about the Growth Mindset.

Improving Your Thinking Habits - Image from Rand's Post
I think learning to think more positively can have a huge effect on one's self esteem and productivity.  It is important to try to see things from a positive point of view, instead of a harshly critical one.  I saved this image to my computer, for those days when I may need a reminder!

Famous Last Words: Already Falling Behind?

I have to say, I'm a little disappointed with myself.  I'm already starting to "fall behind" in this class, when my intentions were to stay at least a week ahead.  It's still very early in the semester, so I don't think I'm doomed, but I'm going to have to prioritize my time better in the coming weeks.

I've been spending quite a bit of time in the research lab - my grad student is going out of the country for a couple of weeks, so she's been eager to teach me as much as she can before she leaves so that I have plenty to work on while she's gone.  For me that has meant spending twice as many days in the lab as I intended.  Though I'm enjoying everything she's teaching me, it has taken somewhat of a toll on my other classes, specifically this class.  She leaves this coming week though, and I will go back to my regular schedule, so I really hope that gives me more time to work on this class.

Besides taking 16 hours, which is the most I've EVER taken, I also need to stay ahead in school for another very exciting reason... One of my best friends is very very pregnant with her second child, and she's due basically any day now (she's already dilated to a 3!).  I want to be able to get up to Tulsa to see her and her new baby, hopefully the day she has her.  If I'm behind in my classes, I know I won't be able to make enough time to drive the 2 hours there and 2 hours back, plus several hours of visiting, so I need to get ahead for when that day comes.  I'm really excited to (possibly) have another "godchild"! I use quotes because her first child, Preston, is considered my godchild, though Andrea is not religious, so it's not technically official, mostly symbolic. Either way, I'll definitely be an honorary aunt!

Andrea's First Child, Preston, & Me! Preston is wearing the onesie I made him, hehe. Photo Credit: Andrea, taken with my iPhone; Summer of 2014

Feedback Thoughts

Giving feedback is a hit or miss with me. When dealing with people with whom I'm close, I can easily give helpful, constructive feedback, but I dread giving feedback to people I barely know. I'm always afraid my advice will be taken the wrong way, and that it will somehow damage the relationship. I particularly do not like criticizing someone's creative work - I feel as if it is not my place, especially considering I'm not very creative myself. 

Lately I've developed even more negative feelings about feedback, and I feel that it is because of my job. Don't get me wrong, I love my job! I have great coworkers and a great boss, but it's just that sometimes the feedback my coworkers and I get at work is a little... nitpicky. We will get critiqued even over small things, and even when they are simple oversights, like forgetting one piece of tape in preparation for a surgery. It is also frustrating sometimes because all of the employees will get critiqued when one person makes a small error. We have a coworker who only works 1 of every 6 weekends, and that's it, so he's very rarely there. He doesn't restock the clinic when he works, and sometimes leaves a mess for us to deal with the following week, but he never gets critiqued, and in fact has critiqued the rest of us to our boss, causing everyone to get "a talking to"! That is just one of many examples, but it's caused me to be somewhat resentful toward critique in general, but I digress...

The articles I read provided helpful information on both giving and receiving critique. I found the most helpful article about giving feedback was Be a Mirror: Give Readers Feedback that Fosters a Growth Mindset by Gravity Goldberg. The most important point, to me, was taking yourself out of the feedback. Instead of saying things like "I think..." or "I like how you...", you focus on the author and say things like "when you..." I also liked the point about not talking about what they may have missed, as "a mirror cannot reflect back what is not there." The author also discusses the importance of focusing on the author's process and appreciating their effort. 

I think I will have a far easier time receiving feedback rather than giving it. I don't mind if someone likes or dislikes my writing. I doubt I will be particularly proud of anything I write creatively in this class, because it's just such a hard process for me, and something that I find hard to improve on, especially with so little free time. 

One thing I'm a little confused about is the fact that things articles don't really highlight giving criticism, but mostly deal with how to praise someone in a healthy way. Not that I want to go around slamming other students' work, but what if I don't really like it? Should I only focus on what I DO like, and not what I think could be improved? Because if so, what is really the point? 

The False Mirror by cea + on Flickr