Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Timeline (Michael Crichton)


7669In an Arizona desert, a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world, archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology. Now this group is about to get a chance not to study the past but to enter it. And with history opened up to the present, the dead awakened to the living, these men and women will soon find themselves fighting for their very survival -- six hundred years ago.
-Goodreads


I hadn't known who the author was until much later. Despite not knowing about Michael Crichton, I'm sure the Jurassic Park series is a bit of a household term. I had also read The Lost World but the author had not registered to me then either. Anyway, written by the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline is a similar mixture of science, history and fiction. Science because there is an awful lot of explaining of quantum physics and diffraction and waves. History because the content of medieval descriptions, whether the architecture, the people or the events, comes to par with the science. And fiction because... well... it's clearly fiction.

To be honest, I had expected the novel to be as fast paced and gripping as the reviews at the back said it would be. I wasn't disappointed while I was reading the book, but in retrospect, I found some aspects of the book to be lacking. The characters seemed to shift too much to be realistic while some did not change at all. There were moments when I would pause and say "Really?" in response to something a character did.

Besides that, the story carried too many elements of Jurassic Park. There was the same theme of 'entertainment', where the technology in Timeline was supposed to be used to give people a chance to personally experience history by sending the present to the past- while Jurassic Park simply brought history to the present. Perhaps this book was also written to be turned into a movie, however I have a feeling that the movie would have been a ridiculous flop.

To sum up, I would give Timeline a rating of 3.5/5. It's interesting enough to keep reading (especially if you make it past the science parts- those are pretty hard to understand). The ending is not as nice as I thought it would be and I felt as though several characters were written 'out of character'. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable few hours spent on reading.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Second Year

It's been a week since the new academic year started! I didn't want to talk about this initially because I was still waiting for my result for my first year exams. I hadn't been worried about my result throughout the duration of the exams and the breaks, but I always find myself anxious a week before exams (where I feel as though I did not study enough to pass) and the week of the result (where I suddenly remember all the stupid things I did throughout the year and on the exam that could disqualify me from passing).

This entire week was spent in a sort of frozen agony- people were pranking their friends with "The result is out!" and other heart-attack inducing phrases of the like. It didn't help that we had the new first years at the college too- we were so used to being first years that it was hard to adjust being called second years.

I go to college with two of my classmates and friends so we're all usually in one boat on several situations. For this Friday, one of my friends was debating on going home herself, leaving only two travelling companions, including myself, so it wasn't a surprise that, when it was announced that the result would be out that day, we both immediately conspired to wait in campus until we knew we had passed.

The lobby was absolutely full with the constant ruckus of conversations and discussions. People flitted from group to group to talk about the result, whether they intended to induce panic or to calm their fellows. I, for one, did my best to calm my friend by talking about an interesting nursery rhyme type of story that my mother had shared with my siblings and I- it was about a bird who had it's mate taken by an evil Raja and so set out to rescue her, gathering many companions on the way who would travel in the bird's ear.


I had run out of other stories to tell so I decided to tell her about how my brother was a simulated patient for an examination that took place at the conference my father arranged. Basically, he had to act as a patient while all the doctors took turns to role play and examine him. Examination etiquette require you to ask for the patient's name and this was where his mischief would begin. He would name himself the oddest of names that no one would be able to pronounce, let alone remember. The cause of his make-believe injury would change from a knife fight to a hippogriff slash. It was all very entertaining, but I can't imagine how the doctors examining him must have felt.


I had now effectively run out of anything that would keep my friend's mind away from impending doom. Fortunately, I was saved by one of the many people who were literally floating around the place, inserting their opinions on whatever conversation they chanced upon. Our new companion was a kind soul who tried to smooth out worry lines by explaining the math of the situation. It was told that there were 10 people who failed, so she explained how these people would obviously be of the lower percentile group and that neither of us were below 20, effectively reducing our chance of being one of the class failures. Her conclusion was appealing and certainly put my anxiety to rest for the time being. I can't exactly say the same for everyone else.


We'd been sitting for at least an hour, despite rumors saying only half would be needed. The thing about worrying and anxiety is that once you reach your limit, it just falls apart and you start getting either very angry or just really tired. I was really tired and we decided to just forget about and go home- the result wouldn't change, whether we were there or not. Nevertheless, the whole way home, my friend was busy texting the people who were still on campus- many had left earlier that day and returned only for the result. Her phone rings suddenly and she picks it up, listening intently before exclaiming "I've passed!"

"Check mine!" I said eagerly to her, wanting to get this wait over and done with.

Within two minutes, I got the crude picture of the verdict: QUALIFIED. By how much? I didn't care- not for now anyway. Passing was enough for me and I found this ridiculous grin on my face as I sauntered home and announced that I was now truly a second year med student

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Knit and Purl

I'm not exactly the most dedicated knitter out there but I have my phases of getting back into the habit. Usually these phases last for a month or two before I move to something else- the cause of this is usually tackling a project that is too large for me to handle. The last time I got into the knitting phase, I had tried to knit patches for a quilt. I had went out and bought different skeins, all sober winter colors that I imagined would look nice on a knitted blanket. Warm brown, inky black, light grey and a creamy white. Suffice to say, I only ended up making one patch before giving up. It would take forever to make multiple patches and it was actually starting to look hopeless. So yes, I gave up, for the time being.

With a two week break after my annual exams, I pulled out my skeins and needles and decided to try something small. A bit of Googling followed by browsing through multiple galleries of photographs with captioned instructions, I came across this project. Fingerless gloves? Super cool! Only a few hours to knit? Even better!

The first glove didn't turn out as well as I liked- it was too large. The second (the pair of the first) was just right but I still had to fix the first one. I took pictures of the next pair I knitted- the yarn was different so it ended up a little smaller than I wanted but my mother suggested small was better since yarn stretches anyway!


Behold, the fingerless glove by Kanra

I've been given a suggestion to knit the fingers too but that's a little tricky and not something I'm comfortable trying yet! For now, I'm knitting another pair (this time it's black!). I was thinking about making it a little longer (up to the middle of the arm) but again, I don't think I've mastered this project yet! Nevertheless, I'm really glad I finally found a project that is simple, easy and can be varied from glove to glove. I definitely recommend this for beginners like me!

Have a nice day!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

One Year Blog Anniversary!

That's right! It's 6th December, bringing the first year of The Lunar Descent to a close! There's a couple of ways to celebrate this one year anniversary, so I'll try pulling together as many interesting things as I can!

The Lunar Descent is most certainly not my first blog and will probably not be my last. My first blogs were all messes that could not last even three months. Next came "the emo wolverine writes"- the blog still exists as I am using the URL but the name and face has changed. The emo wolverine writes is the predecessor of the Lunar Descent, the content and style is mostly the same but with the Lunar Descent, I try to take a more serious role. The Lunar Descent is not a dump file for all the pictures I take on trips, it is not for abstract soliloquies that make sense only to me. I write here to reach out to you, the reader, and expand both of our horizons.

On this blogging journey, I have made a variety of friends, the first and foremost would probably by Kashaf- thanks for dragging me into this virtual world. She was a regular blogger and as much as I admired it, I could not find the same motivation to write- not for a few years at least. We even tried to write a joint blog, one that remains a speck in the digital sea and has not been updated for quite a long time. That blog too was quite abstract and it took several more attempts before the emo wolverine writes was made. The first friends I made would be Tiger Lilly and Maine Lyn before I stumbled on Teenage Blogger Central and found myself a new blogger gang with F, Envy Fisher, Bryleigh McCarty and Riley. It didn't take long for #spacepoliceradio to be born either, with a wonderful addition of Katyayani, Shubhaish and Dian!

The point of this is to say that blogging has opened a new sphere of social media for me- one that is not as flimsy as friendships forged on Facebook (those tend to be non-existent), Twitter or tumblr. I have enjoyed my experience blogging and I hope to continue- not just for myself but for all of you as well.

Before moving on to the future, it's only fair to give a glance to the past. I present to you my favorite posts of 2015 and your favorite posts of 2015!

Maybe the game is just popular, but you guys seemed to have liked this post too, despite the horrible rating I gave to it and the overall frustration I described about playing this game!

Another popular blog post where I wrote about how the seemingly hardest module was going. My favorite part of this post was definitely the letter to the cadaver that I shared!

This is definitely my favorite blog post. I spent a lot of time drawing these little Jerkweens and I had a lot of fun making up the acronyms! I'd say that How to turn Your Life into a Pakistani Drama: The Jerk Mom Edition comes close, but falls behind on my list :)

I poured my soul into writing this post and I feel like it came out pretty well! I just really wanted to condense what I learned in this first year and if I could send a letter to the me of a year ago, this blog post would have been it.

This is my favorite post in terms of photographs. The commentary on the year of 2014 and my personal achievement only serve to complement the photographs and I can see myself flipping back to this post every now and then.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Well, that's all for this post! If you're interested in giveaways and other awesome stuff, you can always join A Little Yarn Blossom's 2nd blog anniversary giveaway

There's also a blogger event that is on it's first stages- it's like a secret gift event, to a blogger, from a blogger. Interested? Comment your enthusiasm here to join!

Have a great week!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Get Motivated!

Motivation is a lot like fire. You have to keep feeding it if you want to keep it around. Sometimes you feed it achievement, sometimes you feed it criticism and sometimes you run out of things to feed and you're left staring at dying embers. It's not fun when you run out of fuel. You might sit for hours or days or weeks, just waiting for something else to feed and reignite your motivation. Waiting isn't the answer- nope! You're going to have to head out of your comfort zone and look for your metaphorical fuel instead of waiting for it to magically appear!

Here are some of the things that I dug out of the internet. They've motivated me to start something new (which I'm not telling- not yet!) and hopefully, they'll motivate you too!











Have a nice day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Game Review: SCP Containment Breach


SCP Containment Breach is an indie game based on the SCP website. Before I tell you about the game, I'll tell you a bit about the background. What is SCP?

SCP is basically an acronym that stands for Special Containment Procedures. The SCP Foundation is a fictional organization that works in the shadows, collecting anomalies that would otherwise horrify mankind into mass hysteria and possibly the end of the world. The Foundation's motto is simple: Secure. Contain. Protect

The very first SCP- the thing that started this whole fictional world is a man-made monster, termed as SCP-173. The objects that the Foundation contains are given serial numbers of three digits and are to be referred to their serial classification only. Apart from that, there are other classifications for the objects as well, for example, some are sentient and some are violent. SCP-173 is a Euclid class object that is violent: it will not move as long as it is in someone's range of sight but once it is no longer being watched, it will seem to teleport to it's target and proceed to snap it's neck.


This SCP is the origin of the Foundation. Apparently, the picture was posted on Reddit forums which created the SCP creepypasta before becoming it's own legend. As a result, this very important SCP is the first SCP to be encountered in the game: SCP Containment Breach.

SCPs are classified into three groups, Safe, Keter and Euclid. Safe SCPs are those that are harmless, for example SCP-860 is a key that can open the lock of any door. Keter class SCPs are those that are extremely dangerous and need special containment procedures, for example SCP-682 or SCP-106. SCP-682 is a monstrous lizard that does not physically appear in the game, but it's roars are heard throughout the facility along with tremors associated with it's attempts of escape. SCP-106, also nicknamed as Radical Larry is a dwarfed humanoid SCP which chases it's prey to either throw it into it's pocket dimension or just...kill it. Both of these SCPs are classed as Keter due the threat they pose, the mystery that still surrounds them and the difficulty in their containment. The last class is Euclid which contains every sentient SCP that can still somehow be contained. An example of a Euclid class is SCP-173 and SCP-096. SCP-096 is a tall, thin humanoid that is usually docile and can be contained, however, if it's face is seen whether directly, by video feed or by photograph, it will enter into a fit of screaming and/or crying before hurtling it's way to the offender and brutally killing them, regardless of where they are. 

Okay, now to the game.


Before I start, here are some things you should know. 
  • This is a free game and can be downloaded here
  • I have not played this game personally due to the error of "Memory Access Violation" despite my attempts of bypassing this glitch. Therefore, my opinions are based on the SCP wiki and SCP Containment Breach game plays and walkthrus on Youtube. (most particularly; MARKIPLIERRRR)
  • This is a horror game: there are loud noises, dark environments and monsters out trying to kill you.
SCP Containment Breach is a first person game. You are among D-Class personnel, the lowest of the low and easily disposable, therefore, the introduction of the game starts off with you entering SCP-173's containment cell for research. Two others enter with you to keep SCP-173 in line of sight to prevent any casualties. However, all hell breaks loose when the door to the containment is jammed and the facility has a power outage. With complete and utter darkness, albeit for a few seconds, SCP-173 has enough time to kill your fellow D-Class and the guards and escape through the ventilation ducts.

It is dark. You are alone. SCP-173 is out there.

What a wonderful start to a horror game. You now wander around the facility, trying not to get your neck snapped by SCP-173 while looking for new areas and trying to piece together the mystery of the Breach. There are also lots of other SCPs to see and you can even check out their containment cells, while even managing to contain one yourself! Here are some of the best SCPs who can be found in the game.

Also known as the Plague Doctor, SCP-049 can be found in the basement along with one of it's surgery patients, which are reduced to zombies that try infecting the player. SCP-049 also tries to 'cure' the player by following you around and trying to touch you. Touch alone is sufficient to carry out the effect of SCP-049. On the bright side, SCP-049 walks kind of slow (just as fast as the player, actually, so you can sprint ahead). SCP-049 also speaks English and generally stays in the basement. Generally.

Also known as Radical Larry (I have no idea how that nickname came about), SCP-106 can either kill you or transport you to a pocket dimension with circular rooms, lots of corridors and a walkway of death. Getting out of the pocket dimension is kind of random I guess, and usually takes you to a different area in the facility. Sometimes, it will drop you off in SCP-106's containment area where you can actually capture SCP-106 and put him away for the rest of the game. The whole containment procedure is really creepy though! You find yourself in a control room with a video feed of the inside of SCP-106's containment where you can just make out a person inside. Beside the video feed are three controls labelled "Femur Breaker", Sound Broadcast and Magnet Power. Turning on the sound will let you hear the confused cries of help from the human. Pressing femur breaker does exactly that; it breaks his femur and screams of pain flood the broadcast. If you keep watching the video feed, you can make out the black puddles that cue SCP-106, or Radical Larry's entrances. Changing the magnetic power feed to generator will cause the containment cell to levitate. The video feed is cut off and SCP-106 is contained.

SCP-096 doesn't really have a nickname! This SCP is essentially the opposite of SCP-173. Looking at it will result in death, albeit somewhat delayed. The game let's you witness it's containment breach by viewing a clash through a window. SCP-096 is in the middle of the room, hands on it's face and writhing in agitation; clearly someone has looked at it. A guard expresses surprise by questioning how it came out of it's containment before SCP-096 leaps at it. There are flashes of gun shots and blood is sprayed on the window. Nothing is visible anymore. Now here's the tricky part. You have to get inside that room to turn the elevator power feed to generator. You must navigate through the room while keeping your view either on the blood stained ground or the walls and try your best not to bump into the humanoid. If you did look at it, on purpose or by accident, you'll know. SCP-096 has this odd, musical screaming that slowly turns into a crescendo before leaping after you. Nothing can stop it- no amount of turns or closed doors will throw it off your trail. But if you don't look at it, you can safely navigate out of the room and be on your merry way.


SCP-939 is a freaky lizard type of thing that you can hear before you see it. It mimics the voices of it's victims and "talks" in an attempt to lure you towards it. The funny thing is, the mimicry is quite responsive. Coming close to SCP-939 causes it to try and make you come closer "Who's there?" is the first panicked cry. "Show yourself!" and if you make the horrible mistake of doing so, SCP-939 will crawl to you with lightening speed and attempt to bite you to death. Apparently, it takes two bites before you die... Anyway, this SCP lurks in the basement as well and is your hurdle between two elevators. You must navigate across the room to the other door and manage to get it open in time for you to get in. 


Death in SCP Containment Breach is common. You will die several times, whether it's by a cervical fracture by SCP-173, or getting punched to death by SCP-106. If you progress through the game long enough, thanks to saving your game often and reloading, the intercom will announce the entry of Nine Tailed Fox into the facility. Nine Tailed Fox is a type of military task force specialized in containing the breach. So during the second half of the game, not only do you have to worry about getting killed by SCPs, you also have to worry about getting shot by the military task force who will treat you, a Class D, as something anomalous that must be exterminated. 

(Actually, there's a lot of things you have to worry about in the game. There are Omega and Alpha nuclear warheads that are scheduled to destroy the facility, as well as finding the exit gates and trying to figure out how to get past the surrounded exits.) 

All in all, this game is more about the horror factor of exploring the SCP Foundation Facility and less about actually making it out alive. There are several SCPs that you can find and interact with (whether by running away or by death) as well as rooms, offices and containment cells to explore. The game may not exactly be considered enjoyable- but it certainly does give you jump-scares and general panic attacks as you try your hardest to run and escape. I really recommend playing this game!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Welcome to Med School

You've worked super hard. You've given several tests and spent countless nights studying and now, you're finally into medical school! Are you excited? I sure am! Here's a list of things of things that I think are super important for someone's first year in med school.

Self Care


Med school is tough! I sure wish someone had sat me down to explain what I would need to do be able to craft myself the necessary sword and shield required to slay my brand new demons, the most notable of which would be anxiety, depression, loss of self esteem and lack of motivation! Now, before I tell you what you should do, I'm going to insert a disclaimer here.

I'm not saying an expert, I'm just here to give you my experience and my feedback. The methods may or may not work each and every time- I'm still trying to figure my way around even now! In fact, I'm probably going to be using these methods for next year myself!

There will always be someone better than you. You used to top your class in high school? Forget it now, med school is where the cream of the crop goes so your class dynamic is going to be a universe away from what you're used to. You'll come across geniuses who score effortlessly and even bigger geniuses who post their studying on a variety of social media

(I'm not talking about studyblrs who function to motivate others to study, I'm talking about people who post useless updates like "I just finished reading a week ahead of class" or "Have any of you read this amazing book on pathophysiobiochemhistology that I issued from the library" or "I can't wait to give the USMLE- I already bought an online membership for an exclusive question bank" etc etc)

And the thing is, that's okay! It's okay if you're not doing as good as you thought you could do, or if your performance seems to have fallen. The problem can be rectified if you just take a deep breath and let go of focusing on other people and focus on yourself instead. Don't worry about your class position, worry about how much you understand what you're studying!

Know that you will run out of motivation. This is a fact. There will be so many things going on and so much pressure on you that you feel like you'll burst and you just want to sit in a corner and play video games- which sounds like a horrible idea to do at the time. You're going to have to pick yourself up and keep going. All the motivation you had the first few months of med school seem to have evaporated and you wonder what had possessed you at the time?

Well, I always wish I had a bottle of sorts that I could collect my feelings in. Imagine keeping a refrigerator of emotions. Feeling super happy? Bottle some of that up for a gloomy day. Now, there's no such actual bottle available in any sort of market, but there are other things you can use instead. Here's a small list I came up with:
  • Make a motivation board on Pinterest or a specific tag on tumblr. Find an inspiring quote? Book mark it. Found a beautiful passage on medicine that ignites your passion? Copy and save image as. Gather those pixels and megabytes and store them for the gloomy days.
  • Are you feeling so happy about something, so proud of yourself, that you have no idea what to do? Write about it in your notebook. Gush about it in a video. Record your happiness in its purest form and place it close to your heart. Do this once. Do it again. Do it every time you feel good about doing what you're doing.
  •  Proud of something small? Managed to give a presentation in class? Answered a question correctly? More than writing the event, write about how you feel about it and how you want to keep improving and doing better!
People will keep trying to knock you down, whether it's just a look from your classmate or a hurtful remark from your professor. You're so used to being the best that it's hard to adjust coming back down to level zero. That's right, level zero. You are now the lowest level in this medical role playing game and it's no surprise that better players will try snubbing you. The thing is, you can't take what they say very seriously. Sure, they probably mean well, but to be honest,  you don't need extra negativity in your life. Listen, extract the useful, toss everything else out into the past.



Academic Purchases


Buy a decent notebook and an arsenal of pens. This will be your shield and sword for classes. Make consistent notes for each and every session you attend. I really wish I had done this- keeping a record of every class would have helped me to figure out how important each topic is. This is something you can't gauge from uploaded powerpoint slides (they make everything look important actually) and at the end of the year when you're having exams, you don't have the time to go through everything.

Buy original editions of your textbooks. Please don't buy second-hand or pirated copies! I know the textbooks seem really expensive but it's a valuable investment! These books have to last you five years- buying anything less than the original will have you forced into buying the original before even one year is over. Here's a list of must have textbooks:

  • Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton and Hall
  • Netter's Atlas of Anatomy
  • Snell's Clinical Anatomy
  • The Developing Human, Clinically Oriented Embryology by KLM 
  • Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry
  • Junquiera's Basic Histology, Text and Atlas 

I also highly recommend buying the Board Reviews Series (I haven't bought it yet, but I plan to because I spent like, quite a lot of time reading the PDFs, I've come to realize how useful this series is and plan on using this for second year).

If you are a med student in Islamabad, here's a bookstore that caters specifically to medical students: Prince Book Depot, Basement Shop 4, City Arcade Plaza, I-8 Markaz Islamabad. Remember to buy a histology practical notebook and haemotoxylin/eosin pencils (basically, pink and purple expensive color pencils, don't even ask)

Study Methods


Invest now and save time later. Don't leave studying for the last minute. There's just so much information, it's going to feel very easy to postpone studying, but in the end, you're going to have a mountain to conquer and you will probably die at the end- the point is, don't procrastinate! Clear your concepts as they come!

Personally, I like making notes- a lot of notes- and I just had my professional examinations for first year and guess what? My notes are concise and give me everything I need to know- I didn't open any of my books for the text (diagrams are a different story). And let me tell you, it's much less stressful having three pages in your notebook summarizing a ten page chapter!

Watch videos. There are lots of videos available to cater to medical students. Watching these videos will help give you the bigger picture and let you see the relevance of your topic to other topics. Two of my favorite YouTube channels that I've subscribed to are KhanAcademyMedicine and Armando Hasudungan. Both of these channels have a large database of videos for a variety of topics. I really recommend going through these channels, subscribing and then using them to keep your concepts together, especially for revision, whether at the end of the week or before a test.

These are the main pieces of advice that I, at the end of first year, would have given myself when I started first year! I hope this, or some parts of this help you out as well! Have a nice week.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Welcome to the North

It's been such a long time since the last post about my travels and road trip, but here I am, with the next segment! At first I was going to title it "New York City, New York" but that would've been mildly misleading in the sense that we only spent 24 hours in New York and that I have literally no pictures of New York. No decent ones. At all. But anyway.

We went to Washington DC and visited the National Museum of Natural History. I've been there before but it seems they keep changing it.

Random other buildings that look super cool.

Geology! Yay!

A rainbow of minerals!

Egyptian stuff!

More Egyptian stuff!

Camels!

Kanra trying to be photographic!

After visiting the museum, we went to Great Falls National Park (Virginia). There was a super long line at the park entrance and there were lots of fire trucks and ambulances going in and out. We didn't really get to see anything interesting (related to the fire trucks) considering how we were stuck in the car line for almost 45 minutes.

Great Falls, VA.


People liked climbing the rocks and cliffs and stuff and meanwhile, we were trying to get into the river and soak our feet in it. The river was dangerous though- there were pamphlets that were handed out at the park entrance that talked about the river carrying people away, therefore don't even try swimming and be super careful while fishing!


George Washington Bridge

Pakistani flag in Pennsylvania.

Dulles Airport.

First time I thoroughly checked at the airport. It was the weirdest thing ever. Okay first they're like "walk through this funny elevator thing" that had this swishing revolving doors. Then security pats you down super awkwardly and you end up feeling sorry for them like:

"Do you wanna do this out here or somewhere else?" the nice lady asks me.

"Here, so I can get over this faster"

She just has this tired smile like 'I know what you mean' and then tells me that she can't wait for the night shift to come so she could go home.

Look at how pretty New York is!

And that's how we flew from Dulles to Abu Dhabi, and then Abu Dhabi to Islamabad. It was great to be back.

Friday, October 16, 2015

BookShelf: No Rest For The Wicked (Dane Cobain)


22088645When the Angels attack, there’s NO REST FOR THE WICKED. Father Montgomery, an elderly priest with a secret past, begins to investigate after his parishioners come under attack, and with the help of Jones, a young businessman with an estranged child, Montgomery begins to track down the origin of the Angels. The Angels are naked and androgynous. They speak in a dreadful harmony with no clear leader. These aren’t biblical cherubs tasked with the protection of the righteous – these are deadly creatures of light that have the power to completely eradicate. When Jones himself is attacked, Father Montgomery knows he has to act fast. He speaks to the Angels and organises a final showdown where he’s asked to make the ultimate sacrifice. -Goodreads

This book was provided to me in return for an honest review, so without trying to spoil it, I will tell you exactly what I thought of this book.

First of all, it's a short and enjoyable book- there's no unnecessary pages and the story continues at an even pace. This is the kind of book that a busy person can read and enjoy themselves without spending too much time and especially as a medical student, I thought that was a plus point in itself. The concepts presented were also explained in simple terms and I did not find the need to re-read chapters and passages except to find my place after taking a break.

If I was to talk about the plot, I'd say it was a unique and interesting plot. I always enjoy science fiction and the added shade of religion made it much more captivating. The additional content presented in the form of articles gave the novel a bit of a journal feel coupled with the occasional flashback chapters. Everything that seemed unrelated ended up falling into place right before the finale, which in itself was not as climatic as I thought it would be but made a lot of sense in hindsight. 

All in all, this book was a pleasant read. Despite seeming like a horror novel at the start, I felt that it discussed controversies and the science religion clash more than any actual sort of violence. It was a novel story and if you are the kind of person looking for a short but entertaining book to read that contains mystery, science with a twist of religion and what it is to be human, then this is the book for you.

I give No Rest for the Wicked 7/10 stars.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Why You Should/Shouldn't Play DOTA 2

Defense of The Ancients 2- a popular game in the geek world, filled with your classic characters, the tanks, the mages, the support and the thrill of battle between the classes. I got hooked up to this game by my brother earlier this year (sometime after summer) and I'll admit, the game is enjoyable and fairly easy to conduct. However, there are a couple of downsides to this game too. 

What is DOTA2 about though? Basically, it's a game set in a closed arena. You'll have five characters on each side with a base and a couple of towers, making ten characters in play. You have creeps spawning after every few minutes. Your job is to take your creep wave into the enemy land and destroy their base (called Ancient, thus Defense of the Ancient). 

If I had read an article like the one I'm going to write- before I had started playing- I probably would have thought twice about downloading it and stopped playing without thinking twice. But that's just what I would have done and what a lot of people wouldn't do. Nevertheless, here's all you need to know about-


Let's talk about why you should play DOTA2 and what is it exactly that makes this game enjoyable and addicting? (I'd ask my brother but he's kind of busy in a match at the moment) DOTA noob Kanra is here to do some game promotion!

First of all- the graphics of this game are amazing. From the characters, to the creeps, to the entire arena, the look of everything is amazing. You'd think such a detailed game would lag and go really slow but actually, game play is smooth and you can just sit and watch your character run here and there and be amazed. The characters (called "heroes") are produced to appear lifelike- while standing, they appear to be breathing and if you leave them alone too long, they'll probably do a tap dance to entertain themselves. (Oh and if you write LOL in chat, they actually LAUGH OUT LOUD). (I just had to say that).

The arena, or the battlefield has great graphics too. Change between day and night causes the arena to appear completely different during the respective time. Heroes running over water creates ripples and if you happened to have used a tango on a tree, you can watch it disappear and then suddenly shoot up in a rapid replay of growth several minutes later.

Developers don't make games for beauty though. They make it so that you find yourself challenged. I said, earlier, that conducting the game is fairly easy- you direct your Hero to a location with a mouse, move the camera with the keyboard, select spells and target with your cursor. It sounds easy but the game is dynamic. You have five Heroes on each side (ten players in all, including you) and each of them acts individually (whether playing against Bots or against Players). Then you have the Creeps who come out wave after wave, trying to push into enemy territory. Oh, also, remember how everyone is individual? That means they have a Hero who also has their own unique powers which they can use whenever they want and maybe end up killing you over and over and not letting your Hero do anything heroic. (see what I did there)

The game isn't that simple, we conclude. There are lots of things that compound to this fact. There is no easy way to play the game. You must fight if you want to level up and get money- but if you die, you lose a whole chunk and your respawn time increases after each death (along with the cash needed if you want to get out early). However if you manage to kill a Hero, you might get a substantial increase in cash (depends on how much the Hero was carrying) along with a boost in experience. Each character has different stats- mages are squishy, tanks are tanky and carrys love to gank. But guess what- there's a shop in the game and you can build up your character in ANY way you want. You could take the squishy Crystal Maiden and make her a tank by boosting her strength stats, increasing her health and raising her defenses (provided you manage to hoard enough money without getting killed- which would be really difficult considering how squishy she is, but okay).

Point to be noted? DOTA2 has a variety of characters and playing styles to choose from. You could turn a support based character into a carry, or a mage into a ganker or whatever, really. You take your character and you build it up the way you want. There are three major stats in each character, being strength (increases health points) agility (increases the number of attacks per second) or intelligence (increases your mana pool). Personally, I'm a big fan of agility characters- I like watching my Heroes hit rapidly and pull down someone's health points. But you could give your Hero lots of health and have them survive longer in fights (and maybe be able to get out alive, thus saving you money) or give them intelligence based items and have an enormous mana pool to spam spells from without burning out! The choice is completely yours.

Remember what I said about there being ten players in all? And each of them being individual and unique? DOTA2 is a game based on strategy and teamwork. I've seen some of the Bots of DOTA2 play really cleverly- luring a player with a loner Hero deep into enemy lanes to have the rest of the team gank on it and wipe you out (and I've been wiped like that, honestly). This is a game where, along with your own playing, you have to keep an eye out on what your team mates are doing and lend a hand in if possible. Everyone's Hero is different and has different abilities- there's definitely a time for each of them to shine- provided you know what you're doing. Also, if you've done teamwork sort of work, you'd know how hard it is to get everything just right- so it's going to be doubly hard doing that, whether it's with Bot teammates or Player teammates, adding to the challenge of the game.

What are my favorite Heroes in DOTA2? Well, I'm biased towards long range characters. I love the way I can stand outside the fight and get a few hits and run away before I get killed (which doesn't happen that much, sadly). At the same time, I like female Heroes. (I'm incredibly biased, amn't I?) Nevertheless, here are top three heroes in my list who are..
Female
Drow Ranger (Agility based Long range Hero), Legion Commander (Strength based Melee Hero), Lina (Intelligence based Long Range Hero)

Over Powered
Bloodseeker (Agility based Melee Hero), Viper (Agility+Intelligence based Long Range Hero), Sniper (Agility based Long Ranged Hero)

Personal Favorites
Legion Commander (because she's so awesome), Viper (because he poisons and how cool is that), Sniper (because running away with him sounds easy and he mega kills around level 15ish)

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We talked about the dazzling side of DOTA2 but I promised to write why you shouldN'T play as well! And that's exactly what we're going to talk about now. The game sounds amazing and intriguing but- why shouldn't you play it?

First of all, this game is highly addicting. You'll be having so much fun building up your character in each game and trying to kill other people and dying that you won't realize how much time you've spent on one game (which is an average of at least thirty minutes to a full hour- if we're talking about the shortest time span). Think about it. You need to level up your character, carry your creep wave to the enemy, destroy towers, kill Heroes, advance deeper in and then raid the base- while your enemy is doing the absolute same. It's definitely going to take quite a bit of time.

On top of that, since every game starts with all the characters at level one, it's going to add to the addiction. How about I build this character in that way now? How about I take another character? How about I play as a jungler and just farm next time? There are a variety of Heroes, build up styles, playing styles and not to mention the situation itself, making each and every game you play unique. The possibilities of game play is endless and just as engaging as the first. 

On the other hand, DOTA2 can also get extremely frustrating (doesn't that happen in every game?). It is difficult to "learn" to be a pro player- even by practice- so if you're a newbie who didn't click in to the set up, chances are you'll never click in (yeah, that's me). If you mess up in a game once, chances are that you're going to be targeted (whether by bots or players) because your mistake will make you look vulnerable. Even if you're strong, all your enemies are going to go for killing you first because you'll look easy and against a big group, you will be the first to fall. All because of that one tiny mistake.

So you frequently mess up your game and keep getting targeted and you want to improve your playing style. Let me tell you something- I've been playing for a while and I haven't figured out how to level up my own playing so I can't advise anyone on that. Also, I don't like admitting I'm a really bad player. Conclusion? More frustration while badly playing a game you're already bad at and can't improve in.

Last but not least, DOTA2 has the option of online play. Oh, let me warn you. The DOTA2 community is harsh and unforgiving. Online rules aside, I'm talking about the players. If you die, you're stamped as a noob loudly and if you repeat that mistake (even after repeatedly announcing your own noob-ness) there are high chances of being abused. Oh and you know what I do? I mute all my team mates and don't get to see what they're saying and then I do whatever I want and make the team lose. This is going to happen every single time so I just stick to bot games nowadays.

But if we decide to put aside the issues put up by players in online play, we end up with two other problems. First of all, while playing online, you cannot PAUSE the game (because there's other people playing and they're not going to like the pause) so forget playing online casually. You would really have to sit down and dedicate a solid hour to your game, playing online. Next, if you lag, you can say "Game Over" for you because not only does only YOUR game stop, but your character is going to be stranded and (1) miss out on experience and loot (2) become easy killing targets if abandoned near your area frontier. Easy solution to online play would be to just play offline with bots. Much less hassle.

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So here's why you should and shouldn't play DOTA2. I've put my reasons forward, coupled with my own experiences and now it's your turn to decide on what you're going to do. Are you going to dive into this rich world of Heroes and battle or just do the smart thing and walk past?

this is a re-post article that was originally on my previous blog. the content is solely the work of the author.

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