Category: Learning

Mermaid, Siren, Harpy, or Banshee? (part 2 of 2)

To read more about the historical differences in physicality and abilities between mermaids and sirens please see part 1 of this ratified research series –> Mermaid, Siren, Harpy, or Banshee? (part 1 of 2)

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Harpies are physically similar to sirens although there is some debate on whether the human sections were beautiful or hideous and foul-smelling like the harpies in the tale of Jason and the Argonauts or as Celaeno in Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn – described as “…a creature with the body of a great bronze bird and a hag’s face…deadly talons…but down her scaly shoulders, mingling with the bright knives of her plumage, there fell hair the color of moonlight, thick and youthful around the hating human face.” Beagle’s story makes a connection between Celaeno and the Greek tale in which Zeus sent harpies to punish King Phineus for revealing a secret gift by stealing and befouling any food set before Phineus before he could eat it.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Tamora Pierce’s stormwings, first introduced in The Immortals quartet, were inspired by the harpies that harried King Phineus as they befouled bodies on the battlefield which they also consumed, and their plumage cuts as Celaeno’s did the unicorn in Beagle’s story.

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Harpies were originally wind spirits and extensions of the whims of the gods via the weather in Greece. Perhaps in future literature an author will attribute harpies with the ability to affect the weather and generate great gusts of wind with their wings. Another task of the harpy was to snatch up evildoers and deliver them to furies, the deities of vengeance.

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In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing Benedict calls Beatrice a “harpy” in the way of an annoying woman (at one point a harpy was also slang for ‘street prostitute’). The original meaning of harpy is “snatcher” from Latin origin and seen from the tale of King Phineus. On a side note there is a very real, gigantic eagle known as a harpy eagle that ranges across Mexico and Argentina. It is the heaviest and most powerful bird of prey and the females, almost twice the size of males, are outranked in size only by the Andean condor. It’s legs are the width of a small child’s and its deadly talons are 5 in (13 cm) – that’s larger than the average grizzly bear claws!

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The last figure is of Irish and partly Scottish origin and is known as a shrieking herald of death: the banshee. A banshee is human in form and can change her appearance. While she is most often depicted as a disheveled old hag she can also appear as a beautiful young woman. The wailing originates as a traditional part of mourning in which sometimes professional keeners would be paid to mourn a death. Women who were murdered or died during childbirth could become a banshee. A banshee’s wailing would be heard by someone who’s family member has died no matter where the family member is located. If the person who died was greatly revered or holy then more than one banshee would appear and wail. You can see some of this folklore used in the TV series Lost Girl where the writers also elaborate on the origin and abilities of the banshee. Scottish origins told of banshees whose cries were so piercing they could shatter glass and they could also be seen washing bloodied clothes and armor of those persons who were to die soon.

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Irish folklore tells that the first banshee was Irish battle goddess the Morrígan, who is also associated with the Valkyries in Norse mythology who decided who may or may not die during battle. She may be the first banshee because in W.M. Hennessy’s The Ancient Irish Goddess of War she predicts the death of a prominent warrior. The Morrígan would appear as a crow and fly over the battlefield. When her presence was noted by the warriors she could inspire fear or courage depending on whose side they were on. Banshees and valkyries can influence the outcome of a battle simply by appearing and becoming a symbol of imminent death.
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That is it! Thank you for hanging out for two consecutive posts after a long spell of no posts. If there are any other comparisons you are curious about let me know, I’m always looking for more topics for future ratified research blogs. If you want to learn more some of the images above actually like to other articles. You may also want to check out the sources I have linked below as they also have sub-links that will let you expand further on the information I provided.

 

Sources:

Other Ratified Research posts:

  1. What Colors do Horses See?
  2. The Purple Heart
  3. another link coming soon
  4. another link coming soon

 

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Level Your Skills

I took a major leap towards doing something I have been wanting to do since about 9th grade and it was nothing short of exhilarating! I definitely want to get more involved to both learn and share knowledge in but it’s going to take some time to make the factors of people, situation, and money come together. However, now that I have the idea in my head it’ll probably tickle me until it comes into being, like when I felt it was time to get pet fish or when I wanted to teach horseback riding lessons or become a name for personalized art and jewelry.

you can see everyone but the dwarf frog
you can see everyone but the dwarf frog

It got me to thinking that since before I understood what a career was a young Kiri would think, ‘I want to learn everything!’ Now when I’m older I have the most fun when I am learning and experiencing something new (or something old in a new way). I learn the most surrounded by a positive atmosphere. I both want to be highly proficient in some areas and to be capable of executing a multitude of tasks. While I do already have a broad spectrum of knowledge I still come up feeling useless sometimes. After a while of pondering that I came to the following assessment:

Skill proficiency will never become obsolete even as machines take over a lot of our jobs. Examples? Take note that power fails even with generators, surge protectors, transfer switches, and the like. Any machine plugged in or operating on battery power will need maintenance. Those maintenance teams need to learn to read and write in order to understand manuals and make accurate reports. As people begin to rely more on autonomous machines their body language will become more automatic so learning to understand and navigate social circles will depend on your knowledge of people and their tell tale signs. Understanding your skills and how to relate it to people can help you a lot on a team as well.

Raffle Prize: Boys Night In

Every fantastic series you are watching right now no matter what it is (Arrow, Flash, Doctor Who, Gotham, Once Upon A Time) are all results of a team of highly skilled people, a lot of which worked very hard to get where they are now – some of them have been working for as long as we have been alive. My point is a great story takes many great characters put together by great writers and brought to life by great actors who are captured by great cameramen and producers who are then exonerfied by a great audience.

Do you have an idea in your head you want to bring into your life? Are you not able to earn enough money doing what you love for a living? So you have a certain hand of cards. Work with it. Take a day job, pay your bills, and in your spare time work on your passion. Start now. Every master had to start somewhere and one day someone – hopefully several someones – will want to pay to learn your knowledge. Sure, a lot of material is posted online but there will be those who learn best from hands on experience. Never settle. Let your spirit thrive and your energy reverberate as it does best when your heart and soul are happy.

Have a great weekend my dears!

Raffle Prize: Sarah Locke

Thoughts On Spending Your Life

I do not want to spend my life being entertained by TV instead of actively bring imagination to life.

click to read an article on "In Digital Era, What Does 'Watching TV' Even Mean?"
click to read an article on “In Digital Era, What Does ‘Watching TV’ Even Mean?”

I am concerned that we are being encouraged to become lazy – that more people invest too much of their happiness on external things – on being in on a cool show or hobby to make them happy because of the attention they get from others to be exact. Then, when that thing is over (the person leaves or the series is finished) they realized that they are still drowning and are scrambling at twigs to keep them afloat. We swim in an ocean where thousands of branches float around us but few are investing the patience and fortitude to fashion even a schooner.

Click for an article to "Too Much tv can make children 'mentally ill'"
Click for an article to “Too Much tv can make children ‘mentally ill'”

That said there are a growing number of television series with a great writer or writing team and I am so happy because it shows that it is not just up to the actors being attractive. It is important to know how to develop a body of work, not just have a fancy idea. That is also not to say I hate watching TV (I enjoy Numb3rs, The Flash, Doctor Who, Flashpoint, Arrow, Dream High, Coffee Prince, and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho among many others) only that when I find myself starting to binge I feel the desire to be outside become stronger. I have a long list somewhere on my computer of series I still want to watch more of – but I am painstakingly pacing myself because enjoying all the TV series of the world is not my life priority.

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With the amount of video content output we have now and the peer encouragement, shall we say, to watch this or that series we could literally do such a thing as spend our lives watching TV. I am extra sure of this because for a point in my life I worked for an international media market research company where I developed online brand assessment content – which broken down to the bare bones basics meant I watched a lot of TV and wrote surveys. Hold on, before you reprimand me and flourish about what a cool thing it would be to get paid to watch TV let me tell you this: I did not get a choice on what I had to watch. Some of you must know the teeth-grinding pain of having to sit through an entire show you did not like and give it your entire active attention from beginning to end. What did I have to do with all that attention? I had to pull every single shown brand in the show and break it down into a survey question incorporating content to assess viewer recall for placement of a company’s brand. Too much of that brainwashing awareness nonsense and I felt my brain starting to slosh.

Group Of Teenagers Sharing Text Message On Mobile Phones

It is probably because of the time holding that position that I’m acutely aware of what I allow myself to ingest visually and how much of it I’m exposed to. I spent a lot of my early childhood running around with cousins, on the swing in the backyard, or tobogganing down the park hills. Imagination became one of my favorite hobbies and fortes between all the time entertaining myself or my younger sister. I bare TV I watched was creative in nature, featuring Neil Buchanan in Art Attack. By the time I was allowed to watch TV I preferred the sizzle my brain received from reading and self-learning.

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Then again with all these distractions we’ll be able to see more prominently the difference between class, money, and the people who really want something and are willing to work for it versus the ones who say and rarely do. We’ll also become more attuned to the core of what makes a well developed series.

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Perhaps I also miss making the time to read. Have a lovely weekend my dears and smile. We can find way to make the time to do the things we want to.

Ponders on Colorful Breeding

orange and white koi
orange and white koi

I had a dream in which I took a glittering white and orange koi fish from a pond. It allowed the parting from its translucent home without complaint yet watched me, unblinking. After waking I was immediately curious on how the different colors are carried across generations of koi – and what extent human aesthetic breeding played a part. Reverence for this fish began in China and Japan so let’s start at the beginning.

Legend has it that in 533 B.C. Confucius’s son was gifted a common black carp (magoy) on the day of his birth by King Shoko of Ro. Upon this honor Confucius named his son after the only fish that managed to swim up the falls of the Yellow River and become a dragon. I have not been able to find too more in depth about this yet but enjoy the link above to the legend of the koi fish.

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Koi were brought to Japan when the Chinese invaded, where it was bred in the gardens of the main house for food, especially during winter when the rice could not be grown. It was not until after WWII, when air travel brought a surplus of foreigners who admired the auspicious fish and coveted it as a symbol of wealth, that selectively breeding the koi fish became prominent. They were bread not only for their traditional symbolism of positive energy but also for beauty. There are dozens of colorations for koi fish and interpretations vary across many who appreciate the species. These are the most popular and most common: red coloration is for the mother, for fire, strength and power; black coloration is for masculinity, the patriarchal role; blue and white coloration is for the son and tranquility; and gold koi symbolized prosperity and wellbeing (especially in business). It makes more sense now why in movies I saw these in ponds of the eastern Asian upper class. Of course you have the implication of financial superiority but I so love this delve into the layers behind the selection. It could have been deer or a beetle but someone somewhere decided the koi was gorgeous and convinced others who carried it over generations – all the way to us, here, now.

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Bear in mind that subjective selection is not necessarily evolutionary healthy. Some animals appear to breed for beauty (butterflies, horses, peacocks, wild cats, etc.) but what we admire as beautiful is always subjective. Indications of ‘beauty,’ such as a thick mane on a horse or the vibrant colors on butterflies and peacocks, are indications of healthy genes and a those that can fend for themselves (and therefore others as a mate or to produce strong offspring).

How we look doesn’t always belay what is under our surface, however.

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The most prominent example I can give you is albino animals. They are popularly considered exotic – an association socially used to connote beauty but nominally inaccurate, by the way. Albinism comes with high (and sometimes fatal) ocular problems and drastically increases the susceptibility to sunburns and skin cancers. Why? Well, what’s the prominent feature of albinism? White pigment – or lack of pigment. Albinism results from inbreeding where the offspring has the highest chance of receiving both alleles that do not produce melanin in the corresponding chromosome dedicated to coding the body to generate color in the skin and eyes.

Koi Breeding Tree
Koi Breeding Tree

Now, in modern science we have of course realized this and even zoos will trade residents in an attempt to increase the diversification of a species genes. This is especially crucial for those that cannot be widely released back into the wild to live out their own natural selection. Artificial selection can only go so far, though, and the records the zoos keep do not yet have the length of time and research put into, say, the Arabian Stud Book the Sultans of old kept close at hand. It makes me wonder what mutations may now be absent – and what is yet to come.

Fun Fact: The koi manifestations of the ocean and moon spirit in Avatar: The Last Airbender have colorings based on a Tancho koi coloring which originated from the Kohaku, meaning “red and white” (see linked breeding tree above).

Yin Yang by Moni158
Yin Yang by Moni158

All this pondering and research for a dream about a koi fish, what am I thinking, right? I feed my curiosity and encourage you to humor yours, after all it must exist in sentient organisms for a reason. Now come on, move those fingers and look up the things I know you have more questions about!

 

Sources; for more information:

 

Other “Ratified Research” posts:

  1. The Luck Dragon
  2. Purple Heart
  3. Headless Horseman
  4. Glaucus atlanticus: The Blue Dragon

 

Questions on the Personal Level of Stress

I think I’ve found a new level of stress during this apartment move, something I did not think possible. It makes me wonder why we have so much noise in our lives, why we let so much of it in, why we make so much of it, and which kinds are good vs bad for us.

I know there are plenty of people who learn to deal with the buzz of drunkards late at night and the growls of traffic early in the morning. I also know there are those who can never get used to that noise or city people who can’t sleep with country noise and vice versa. What makes some of us have that capability while others do not? Maybe it’s because of the difference in types of sound, maybe it has something to do with dislike of being disturbed from one’s natural cycle, I’m not sure.

“Silence” by Kiri Ramdeo

 

Rest is a part of healthy recharging and revitalization and I wonder sometimes if we pay enough or too much attention to designing it into our lives? I admire old buildings for their sturdiness and the history tied to their construction and location. However, I am impressed with the technology of new buildings and some of their technological innovations with insulation – especially for noise. At what point do we start paying attention to how close to roads we build our homes? Apartments? Office buildings? Home should be a place of rest and recharge – how much attention do we pay to decoration (how it looks to impress visitors) vs comfort (prioritizing our relaxation and healthy rhythms) when setting up anywhere? How long is right is it to stand the noise and vibrations that stress us out? Is it really worth as much stress as it can be if we make it out in the end?

“Insanity” by Kiri Ramdeo

I am the type of person who functions and performs best on restful sleep about 7 or 8 hours, but I know some of my friends can go on 6 hours of restless sleep and still wrangle difficult tasks (such as training horses or keeping up a busy teaching schedule) the next day. Of course they need sleep after that or naps towards bedtime but I don’t know how they do it. Some people work 2-3 jobs on only a few hours of sleep all to keep food on the table or to put ourselves through school or to move on to something better. The lack of sleep is sometimes held up as a badge of honor. What about those in the same situations (who are struggling to move forward with their lives) who cannot do this? Those who the lack of rest takes such a toll that they reach the end of their rope – yet to stand up and say they need the time to rest to keep going means they’ll be fired, their weekly hours reduced – that they loose their livelihood? Is it such a wonder then why people loose their minds at the end of their rope? How then can we throw “you should have taken better care of yourself” in their faces? At what point are we rated weak or strong?

“Speak no Truth” by Kiri Ramdeo

There are wonderful quotes about finding out what we are made of and how strong we are when we are alone or are pushed to breaking point and have to deal with it on our own. If one person can handle a situation that another person cannot, does that mean the later person is really weak or less equipped? I believe it is a mark of strength to both pull a heavy load when working towards a goal you believe is worth it but it is also a strength to speak up and stand up for yourself to take care of this vessel for your soul. If there is no you there is no goal to work towards in the first place. The drive and purpose comes entirely from you.

“A Starry Night” by Kiri Ramdeo

Well, how equipped are you mentally and physically? What do you think actually makes a breaking point in a person?

 

You Should Be Writing!

When I was in high school I wrote often. At first it was only school work, poetry, stories, and keeping up a dream journal. I also wrote when I became angry and upset. Turns out this is very beneficial.

Writing when I was upset helped me the most, even if at first I was writing with bad form and in all caps in frustration. The key at first was to just get the strongest emotions out at first and then work my way through the jumble of thoughts bouncing around in the aether of my mind. Doing it this way I was able to figure out what I wanted and provide options for myself for how to go about getting it. How? Tara Parker-Pope explains this well in “Writing Your Way to Happiness.”

” The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health. “

I believe writing to organize your thoughts and perspective like this can lead you to better health. Maintaining good health is not only in the body by exercise and good food but also in the food we feed our mind and souls. For me writing helped me lift myself out of a self-defeating way of thinking – not to say having bad thoughts at all means you have failed. It’s okay to be upset about things, to be vulnerable or bothered or sad. What matters is how you deal with the situation and work through it. Did you learn anything? Can you improve? Most importantly, can you move yourself forward?

Writing has done a lot of good for many of my friends and associates. Not all of them are writers but you don’t have to be a novelist to write for yourself. You write every day. Some of you write text messages, others emails, role play, nonfiction essays, journals, etc. The best part about self help writing is that no one has to see it – it is all for you.

Whether you have done it before or this is your first time trying it out I encourage you to open a new file or pick up a pen and start writing. It does not have to make sense right now, the meaning and interpretation can come later. Take the first steps to a happier, healthier you~

A preview of things to come!
A preview of things to come!

On Silence

My usual commute process for the past few years has included constantly playing music. Recently I’ve made the transitions from obsessively playing mostly dance music, to only instrumental music, to playing any music – to recently playing no music at all over the past three to four months.

The quiet was really loud.

Let me clarify: sometimes music helps me focus, sometimes it boosts my creative process and personal energy, but it seems that recently it’s just been noise that fills my head and leaves very little room for me to process as I usually do to balance. At first it was uncomfortable being washed over with everything I was putting off sorting through but as I made my way through the mess and resorted what I can only describe as endless boxes of content in my mind the silence turned from bombarding to calming.

I forced myself to keep the music silenced on my commute for about a month and I’ve noticed that, a little after welcoming a balancing and meditative silence, I’ve started humming several ‘older’ scores that have not come up on my playlist for a long time. Sometimes they were dance songs, sometimes they were instrumental pieces, sometimes they were cycles of my favorite songs. One thing was similar about them though: whatever I was humming at the moment coincided with whatever inspiration I was working my way through at that moment.

My suggestion to you for the next week is this: try going a whole day without listening to your regular music. What do you hear? What do you find yourself suddenly humming as you work, walk, read, sleep, etc?

What are your thoughts on the sound in your life?