Movies

Dunkirk Is Not for the Faint-hearted

I watched Christoper Nolan’s Dunkirk the other day. It was a movie that I never would have wanted to watch if it weren’t for Y suggesting it. War movies have never been my thing. Too much machismo, too much violence, too many guns, and too much brawn. That being said, I thought Dunkirk was a brilliant movie and the best movie I had watched that year. My only qualm with the movie is that it felt like an hour and forty-seven minute long panic attack but Nolan is a genius for it.

IMAX is loud but Dunkirk is louder

I know what you’re thinking. No, I did not expect the movie to be quiet but I didn’t expect the movie to be as loud as it was. In one of the Reddit threads I was browsing through, a commenter remarked that he could physically feel the sound move through him. I agree with that wholeheartedly. The sound was overwhelming. Almost every single time a gun went off, even if it was obvious that it was coming, I jumped in my seat. It came to a point where I held my hands to my ears for the majority of the movie. At times when I withdrew them, I was completely enveloped in sound. It was a bit much for me and usually I grit my teeth to bear with gun scenes in other movies I see in the theaters.

Hans Zimmer creates constant tension

This is actually one of the biggest things I both love and hate about Dunkirk. The soundtrack is endless. It’s a constant ticking of a clock and constant chugging that perpetually heightens up to a climax until it doesn’t. The music never climaxes. You’re keep in a constant state of anticipation, just waiting for something to happen and even if something does happen, it’s not satisfying and the music keeps trekking on towards the next thing. This is the best thing about this movie. While watching it, the viewer is thrown into the mindset of the soldier. There’s a persistent feeling of impending doom that follows the characters around.

You gain knowledge at the same time of the characters

Although there are multiple timelines in the movie, the knowledge of what happens in each timeline does not give you an advantage over the characters (for the most part). You are limited to what the characters experience and you never really know what could happen next. Their fate is always up in the air which just adds to the suspense.

But I loved it

Basically, I was glued to the edge of my seat the entire time. I was kept in a constant state of anxiety. Although a lot say the movie lacked characterization, that didn’t stop me from worrying about the characters and their fate. In a situation like Dunkirk, you just want as many people to make it. The ending scene where the civilians show up in their boats to take the soldiers home is a testament to that. These civilians didn’t need to know each and every soldier coming onto their boat to care for them. I think that’s the most beautiful thing about Dunkirk: love for your fellow countrymen.

Life

Nominated for the Liebster Award

I remember a couple of years ago I thought it was so prestigious to be nominated for the Liebster award. Now I realize it’s less of an award and more of tool to interact with fellow bloggers, which I enjoy a lot more! I got nominated by Sakura @ ViolinStar.NET!

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  3. Write a 150-300 word post about your favourite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.
  4. Provide 10 random facts about yourself. (This year I’m making this optional. If you wish to engage with your readers it’s a great idea to include random facts about you.)
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  6. List these rules in your post.
  7. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post.
  8. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  9. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

My Favourite Blog

Honestly, I don’t know if I have a favourite blog because I like a lot of different blogs for different reasons. I will have to say however that the blog that I enjoy the most at the moment is Crochetbug which is run by Leslie. I love how she seamlessly weaves in her crochet with philosophical musings about life or events in her life. Her anecdotes are very heartfelt and touching which I think comes from a place of wisdom and experience that I sometimes don’t see with the younger bloggers. Her posts also have a weirdly calming effect on me. The contemplative nature makes me feel like I want to slow down for a bit to smell the roses.

Of course, I love looking at the process behind her creations. Leslie is very talented and endlessly creative. Her crocheting is inspiring and I always want to pick up my latest work in progress after reading her posts!

I won’t lie, I aspire to become a craft blogger like her but at the same time, I love blogging about other topics that kind of make it hard to tie into crafts. Maybe I’m just not innovative enough!


1. When did you start blogging?
I don’t remember the exact date. I first started blogging on geekstinkbreath.net, which was a Green Day fansite where members could post journals about their day. I never saved my very first postasts, I wish I did. However, when the admins for the site opened up a writing website, I started to save those journals. The oldest post I could find is this one from January 2007 but it is definitely not the first!

2. What is your current motivation to blog?

At the moment, I blog because I want to document my life. I know a lot of people blog because they have something important to say, want to share resources, or make sweet cash. However, to me, blogging is a journaling medium. This is the main reason why I am so bad at networking with other bloggers. The main audience I’m writing for is my future self!

3. How long have you been blogging?

It’s been over 10 years now, almost 11 years. I can’t believe how fast time flies.

4. What are you favourite sports?

I don’t have a sport that I like to do, unfortunately. I’m pretty averse to physical activity despite the fact that I’ve been trying to go the gym more regularly. However, I love watching figure skating! It’s the winter sport that I am most passionate about.

5. What is your favourite hobby at the moment?

Right now I’ve been crocheting up a storm! I love crocheting and I love the act of creating.

6. How do you spend your free/off days?

There’s really no rhyme or reason to how I spend my free time. Sometimes I crochet and knit. Sometimes I play video games. Other times I go and hang out with my SO. Right now my free days are a combination of all the above!

7. Do you play any instruments?

Yes I do! I play the flute. Well, I guess you could say I used to play the flute as I haven’t touched it since I graduated high school. I’m not sure if I’d like to take it up again. Playing the flute was sort of forced upon me.

8. What is the last gadget that you bought for yourself?

My laptop! I even wrote a post about it.

9. Eye, lips, cheeks, foundation makeup – what do you like the most?

I don’t wear foundation so I wouldn’t know… I’ve been trying to get into makeup but it’s very overwhelming and the initial investment is too much for my meager budget. When my income isn’t $0 then I’ll consider it.

10. Are you the daydream or realistic kind of person?

Strangely enough, I’m both, if that’s possible! I love to daydream and fantasize about extremely unrealistic scenarios. For example, meeting celebrities and living the fancy rich life of an actress even though I can’t act to convince a small child! At the same time, when it comes to goals that I really want to pursue for myself, I’m pretty much realistic and know my own limits.

11. Do you like shopping?

This is a big resounding yes! I used to say I didn’t, especially for clothes, but unfortunately I’ve become a little more materialistic since then. I do like shopping around for cute clothes, cool gadgets, soft yarn, household appliances, etc.


Honestly, I don’t have anyone to nominate that hasn’t already been nominated recently! So to whoever is reading this now, you’ve been nominated!

My Questions:

1. What is your song of the moment?
2. How many times do you usually blog in a month?
3. What is the hardest thing about writing a blog post?
4. How long do you spend walking on a typical day?
5. What’s one thing you wish you could start doing more regularly?
6. What is the last thing you’ve tried to do and didn’t like?
7. How would you describe your blogging style?
8. What colour gives you the most comfort?
9. How many glasses of water do you drink in a day?
10. Do you use streaming services like Spotify, Netflix, Crunchyroll, etc.?
11. What is your favourite place to go to (can be a city, shop, place in your house, etc.)?

Websites

Moving Servers

Update:

I was having trouble with permalinks in WordPress but it is all fixed now!

My .htaccess file was correct and had the right permissions. mod_rewrite was enabled on my Apache server. It turns out that I had to edit the /etc/apache2/apache2.conf file to allow overrides.

Here’s what I changed:

<Directory /var/www/>
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride All
    Require all granted
</Directory>

I reloaded the Apache server and everything went back to normal. 🙂


So my free DigitalOcean credit is running out and I decided to switch this blog over to Ramnode.

I’m encountering a few permalink problems so commenting won’t work at the moment.

This is perfect timing because I just started exporting all of my WordPress posts over to Hugo.

So please bear with me!

Crochet

FO: Seashore Market Bag

FO stands for “finished object.” It is a term used by knitters and crocheters.

My gym bag broke on me over the weekend, ripping along the zipper. I wasn’t extremely devastated because I received the bag for free. Synopsys came on campus one day to give a talk and gym bags were one of the many freebies that they were giving out. I thought this was a great opportunity to start my own bag, especially since Michael’s was having a 50% off coupon and a buy two get one free sale.

I ended up buying one large skein of Bernat Handicrafter in Coral Seashore. I knew it was a tad too much for just one bag but I really liked the colour scheme. I’m a very big fan of salmon orange-y tones combined with blue. The subtle gradient from the salmon to the icy blue revealed a little bit of brown which really pulled the whole sea theme together.

As always, it took me a while to find a pattern for a bag that I liked. I was torn between a couple of bags. While looking on Reddit I saw someone testify about how much the Go Green Market Bag could hold and withstand. Two 1L bottles is a lot to carry in a bag! So ultimately decided on that one.

It took me only two days to finish and the pattern was extremely straight forward. The base is doubled up for extra support, which was a huge plus. I made a mistake one on of the handles and accidentally twisted it. Thankfully that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me too much. My only regret is that I made it a little too short. I crochet very tightly which made it a little small. However, it fits all of my gym things perfectly and it’s super cute. I couldn’t ask for more!

Now what am I going to do with the rest of the yarn? I’m not entirely sure yet. Maybe I will make another bag!

Life · Organization

Forever Tinkering with My Productivity System

I follow the blog baty.net in which Jack Baty continuously finds new tools and new ways to improve his productivity. While I usually scoff at people who are always changing things up, I will admit that I am the exact same way. It would be great to just stick to something tried and true and never have to think about changing but there is just so much out there that it’s hard for me to resist the temptation to not try everything I can see. I have gone through Filofaxes, Bullet Journal-esque planners, Google Calendar, regular paper agendas, post it notes, back to Bullet Journals, etc.

“Bullet Journals” and Paper Planners

In it’s simplest state, the Bullet Journal is an analog system for rapid logging. You have a thought or task, you write it down, and (hopefully) come back to it later to deal with it. Without a few tweaks, it’s not the greatest for future planning. It’s real use case is capturing at the moment. I have tried both minimalistic Bullet Journal and all out “unrecognizable as a Bullet Journal” planning and I found it too hard to keep up with and check on regularly, especially with the latter. I would write something down and never look at it again or I would be too daunted with drawing out daily/weekly/monthly layouts.

For a period I did somewhat automate dealing with layouts by printing a whole year during my Winter break. I would meticulously design a layout in Photoshop, export it to a PDF, print it, cut it, and punch holes. It was a lot of effort for a system that I only ended up using for a couple of months but when I did use it, it worked well for me.

I also had success with store bought planners. My second year of university I used a planner for the entire year. However when the school year ended, I was bored with the system and wanted to try something new. I was lured in by the Filofax craze and fantasized about using a planner that could also be my wallet. Even now as I look at the Filofax website after not visiting it for so long, I’m drooling over the pretty planners (someone please take my wallet away from me). However that was even more short lived and I converted my would be planner-wallet into just a wallet.

Google Calendar

What I loved about Google Calendar was seeing my entire week at a glance down to the last hour. However, the way I used it, it was unsustainable and lacked the detail I needed. While it was easy to change things around, sometimes an unexpected event would throw off my entire day and a result, throw me off from my productivity. Taking away time from something else gave me a little bit of an existential crisis that I didn’t have with other productivity systems.

Still, it was great getting those notifications and being able to sync across device and basically have my entire life without me wherever I go. I haven’t forgotten my phone at home for many years now and I recently got data in my phone plan and a rechargeable battery pack so it really is with me 24/7. Eventually though, I just stopped using it and went for a while without using any sort of productivity system at all.

Org mode

As I have mentioned before, I recently started using emacs and got sucked into the world of Org mode. The customizability of Org mode excites me and I love having everything in plain text and available at the terminal. Like Google Calendars, it’s pretty much with me everywhere I go, with the help of Dropbox and SSH-ing into my private server. I love the task and habit functions built in and while it was daunting to learn at first, I quickly got the hang of it.

So, for now, I am using Org mode. It’s working well for me but who knows what ship I’ll jump onto next? Maybe one day I will find the one that works for me until the end of time but I doubt it.

Crochet

FO: Candy Print Alpine Nights Beanie

FO stands for “finished object.” It is a term used by knitters and crocheters.

I recently finished a hat that my cousin asked me to make for her daughter. At first I wanted to knit a hat but I decided to crochet it instead. I looked through many different patterns and had trouble finding one that I liked the most. I settled on Alpine Nights because the pattern seemed not only simple but also very pretty. It also came with a child sizing which was perfect.

The yarn I used was Red Heart Super Saver in Candy Print. My cousin’s daughter specifically requested pink and I figured this would be quite a cute colour combination and not too boring if it was just one solid colour.

It took a couple of hours for me to finish it. The pattern is very straight forward. I made a mistake in not turning (switching direction) every row so I had to restart a couple of times. I did make it a couple of rows shorter than the pattern specified because it was getting a little bit too big.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. Even though I made it shorter, I’m afraid it’s still big for my cousin’s daughter. Since it seems like she grows each time I see her, I hope it would be okay for her to grow into it. We’ll see if she likes it as much as I do!

Books

Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, decides to become a vegetarian, prompted by grotesque recurring nightmares. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision is a shocking act of subversion. Her passive rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, leading her bland husband to self-justified acts of sexual sadism. His cruelties drive her towards attempted suicide and hospitalisation. She unknowingly captivates her sister’s husband, a video artist. She becomes the focus of his increasingly erotic and unhinged artworks, while spiralling further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming – impossibly, ecstatically – a tree.

Fraught, disturbing and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

I remember one time I participated in a blog hop where one of the prompts mentioned seeking out diverse voices, usually cultural. I was a little shocked that a lot of people said, “I don’t seek it out or make a point to find authors with a different point of view from mine.” I think there is a lot of different voices out there that you need to seek out because their voices need to be heard.

One of my friends started up a book club, #milliesbookclub, that would explore Asian American authors and their works. Being Asian American myself (Asian Canadian to be exact), I was extremely interested. For minorities, it can be easy to have your voice drowned out. In general, it’s easy to get lost in the literature industry regardless but it seemed important to intentionally seek out these Asian American authors. So out of this book club, The Vegetarian was chosen.

My first impression of this novel was that it was extremely Murakami-esque. Haruki Murakami almost always features peculiar women and these women almost always serve as some sort of motivator for the male protagonists. Murakami is frequently accused to using the manic pixie dream girl trope again and again and it was a little bit disappointing to see this again in another Asian author.

The male characters in this book were no different from how Murakami portrays his male characters. Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law is obsessed with her to the point of his destroying his marriage and taking advantage of her mental vulnerability. Yeong-hye’s husband forces himself upon her and selfishly only thinks of how her antics affect him. Yeong-hye’s father was abusive to her for her entire life, even displaying physical aggression towards her in her adult life. It’s no wonder that Yeong-hye retreats inward and pursues the notion that becoming a tree would bring the ultimate state of nirvana.

While I did find Yeong-hye’s passion a little ridiculous and self destructive, I have finally come to the conclusion (with a little bit of help) that it boiled down to a form of escapism and served as a great foil to Yeong-hye’s sister.

It maybe be obvious that Yeong-hye wasn’t so keen on the life that she lived due to all of the not-so-great males she had around her. I still don’t see the significance in becoming a tree but I do love how this demonstrates a positive attribute that Yeong-hye possesses which her sister does not.

Despite everything, Yeong-hye is true to herself. Compared to her sister, she is not a subservient and too obedient woman who is too polite to the point of irritation. Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law makes this observation as he wonders why his wife would not lash out at him for his absenteeism in the family and instead becomes a little bit too accommodating. This is also shown when Yeong-hye’s sister has a strong sense of duty towards her son which keeps her from succumbing to her depression whereas Yeong-hye is eager to let go of what little life she has left regardless of her obligations. Yeong-hye is more willing to break conventions as she only answers to herself.

Interestingly enough, most of the other members of the book club didn’t like this novel. I can see why. The male characters are disgusting and abhorrent. The fragile and subservient Asian woman stereotype is tiring. It’s a frustrating read that reminds you that society is pretty much still patriarchal and misogynistic. It isn’t empowering in the slightest, one of the aims the book club was created to begin with. Honestly, it’s the last book that I would ever thing Millie would like to read. However, there was something fascinating about this book that never let me put it down until I finished.

I became invested in Yeong-hye and her sister. I could have skipped all the sections about Yeonh-hye’s husband and brother-in-law easily. These two women wronged by the most important men in their lives struck a chord with me. The book made me want to know what became of the two sisters and how they could possibly rebuild their lives. I wanted to know what really went on their minds while we saw their husband’s points of view and who they really were behind who the men thought they were.

Ultimately, I think Han Kang made the right choice using male narrators for a good portion of the book because it really painted an accurate picture of the situation. However, it feels like she barely scratched the surface with the female characters but there was some sort of sense of redemption for the female characters.

If you can look past the social undertones in the book, I think it would be a good read. Most reviews I’ve seen focused on the oddity and weirdness of the situation and less on the characters, which is fine but you’ll never know how you feel about the book until you read it for yourself.

Crochet · Knitting · Life

I’m a Little Behind

A couple of days ago I was behind on my granny squares for my temperature blanket. If you don’t know, temperature blankets consist of one square a day and each square represents the temperature of that day. Thankfully, it’s easy to catch up with temperature blankets! Even though I’m caught up with the squares, I still haven’t woven the ends in yet nor have I joined them. Eek!

Last week I was babysitting my little cousin and he was playing with my yarn. He made a “bunny” and asked me to give it eyes and a nose. I tried my best with what I was given. I wasn’t satisfied but my cousin was so impressed. I love how innocent he is.

Lately I’ve been thinking how fast he’s growing up. He just recently turned 11 and he’s already almost as tall as me! Now that he’s older he’s less receptive to my affections which is a little disheartening to me since he is still so cute and sweet!

If I never have kids, I’d think I’d be content with it because I am surrounded by kids in my extended family and I’ve already watched many of them grow up. We celebrated my cousin’s birthday over the weekend. She just turned 19 and I still marvel over how it seemed like she was a small little girl just yesterday. The same goes for her brother. He’s going into grade twelve this year and I just can’t believe it. We went to a night market at our mall recently and my brother, cousin, and I just walked around by ourselves talking. It’s amazing to me how he has grown into his own person. Of course, while we were there, we got to chow down on some delicious food. I got a burger at Bandit Burger and it was absolutely delicious.

The next day we went to the park to celebrate my cousin’s birthday and we spent almost eight hours there. There was a lot of eating and we took a walk and just chatted together. We even took a nap under the tree from the food overload. It was pretty relaxing and I even sat by the water’s edge to knit for a little bit.

One of my older cousins saw me knitting and asked if I could make her daughter a hat. I said yes! I’m a little nervous because I’ve never had anyone ask me to make anything before but I would love to make my second cousin a hat. My cousin’s daughter requested that it be pink. I have no pink yarn! I guess I’ll be shopping around for pink yarn soon.

Programming · Websites

Tempted by Static Pages Again

I recently started learning how to use emacs, which is a text editor and a Lisp interpreter. During my quest for resources, I came across a number of developers and their blogs. Since I’m always intrigued by what sort of tools developers use to make their blogs, I did a little snooping. A shocking number of people who didn’t use WordPress as their blogging platform opted for flat files instead.

Now I had dabbled a little bit in static pages before with BoltWire but ultimately abandoned it to go back to WordPress. I think where I went wrong with BoltWire was that it simply did not have a big enough community (although they are an extremely dedicated community) to keep me reassured that I had made the right choice.

However, I know flat files in general is a real and upcoming thing. Since I’m planning to use emacs and Markdown files as my main way of documenting things, it would be easy to use it in my blogging as well.

So my main reasons for switching to a flat file system:

  • Better security
    WordPress was giving me so much trouble when it came to security. Yes, Jetpack did help in reducing spam and MySQL doesn’t randomly stop working anymore but you have to admit that using WordPress on a Digital Ocean server makes you a target.
  • Version control
    Yes, WordPress does have versioning for content however it would be much easier to have version control for settings, themes, etc. over the WordPress kind.
  • Less bloat
    I don’t need everything that WordPress offers and honestly sometimes I feel like it might be a bit overkill. Since the server I’m on has limited RAM and disk space, I need to be careful about the amount of resources I use. It helps that I don’t have many visitors to begin with but still!
  • Faster loading times
    While I’m unsure if this is too much of a concern for me but loading times do make me a bit worried. Fetching from a database can be quite slow.
  • I want a more future proof blogging system
    There are options to export your content into XML files in WordPress however it can’t beat readable Markdown, which many static file systems use. The fact that everything is file based is future proof in itself. Migrating from one server to the other wouldn’t be too much hard work.

My concerns:

  • What comment system to use
    I do not like Disqus. I dislike the fact that I have to register for yet another site and people can’t click on my name on a comment and go directly to my website. I also don’t like the fact that the comments don’t stay on my server. I want to be able to have my comments.
  • Learning curve
    This would be a little more technically involved at first to get everything installed, just due to the nature of it not being a one-click install.
  • So many choices!
    There is no shortage of flat file systems out there. Like I’ve said, I’ve dabbled in BoltWire before and wiki systems but it’s so hard to find one that will work for you when there’s a breadth of options.

One of the main frameworks I’ve been looking at is Hugo which is used by Baty.net, Modern Emacs, kieranHealy.org, but she’s a girl…, and more. I am very attracted to this option because it seems like it could work pretty well with an emacs workflow.

Thankfully, I finally recovered my previous website, erzadel.net and now have access to my old blog posts. I’ll be tinkering with that this weekend and try to have a clone of my old blog up and running on my local machine. We’ll see how it goes!

Crochet

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I finally finished one Bernat Blanket Stripes cake! I am going to move onto cake number two for my afghan ripple blanket. I don’t really know yet who this blanket will be for. My mom keeps asking me and I can’t make up my mind. I am pretty happy that I am making progress on this blanket. I might need three cakes for this though and not the two that I have.

Unfortunately, my progress on the Moon Blossom afghan square is not going as well. I decided that I will frog the entire thing because I missed a petal. Usually when I make a mistake, I can power through it without too much of a difference in the final product however a whole missing petal would have changed it drastically. So, I frogged it. Here it is before it was frogged. Sometimes you just have to make the tough decisions.