Coco (2017) Thoughts and Review

I just watched the movie ‘Coco’ and it was awesome!

It wasn’t the best animated movie I’ve seen, but it’s such an easy to watch show! Recently, I realise I like those adventure kind of shows, whereby you journey from point A to B, but it is only good because of the process, not the destination. I mean, the show ending can be predicted, but it didn’t matter in this case because I enjoyed the ‘how did they get there’ part of it.

Anyway, I loved the plot and the execution of the movie! The animation is on point man. And although the day of the dead was explored in another animated movie (The Book of Life), this doesn’t take away the magic of the movie. The idea that people enter their final death, after they are being forgotten is scary and cool. Just think about it – Hitler can never die, and those people who live in isolation from the world e.g. high up in the mountains or something – what happens, then?

In addition, I love that dementia is also shown in the movie – Coco, Miguel’s great-grandmother has it. Coco was also the movie title and it makes sense especially after watching the ending — despite appearing only for a fraction of the movie, she is the one that ties everybody together. I teared towards the end, when Miguel was singing ‘Remember Me’ to Coco – reminded me of my late grandma who also had dementia (Alzheimer’s). Also, kudos to the writers because music (which is a form of audio, echoic memory) is scientifically thought to be stronger than visual memory — and since there are many with dementia that can remember the past very vividly, this is surprisingly accurate and as a psychology major, I like this part hahaha. On a more emotional level, I like that Miguel still accepts his great-grandma, talking to her daily despite her dementia, and shows a very loving family side of him.

I also liked the witty humour, and one liners – such as Ernesto telling Miguel that he “hopes you will die soon” — so that he can join him in the afterlife since Miguel is such a good grandson and no.1 fan (before the big reveal that Ernesto is a big baddy), and Imelda’s “love of my life” line.

Watching this movie also made me want to learn Spanish even more. I was like proud of myself for understanding the super simple basics in the movie (e.g. hola/amigos/el nino/la nina/contigo etc) HAHA. I did try learning it on Duolingo, and reached level 9 hahaha but after going to exchange and learning Swedish, I just abandoned this project of mine. But I know if there’s any language I want to take up in the future, it’s Spanish. Maybe one day, I’ll try watching it in Spanish.

The music was good, but it wasn’t great. Maybe because I watched The Greatest Showman before this, so some unconscious comparing could’ve been done. The main song is ‘Remember Me’, but I liked the song Un poco loco (Miguel’s performance song cuz Remember Me was too cliche) and La Llorona (where the great grandma + Ernesto sang at the stage) too.

ps: Didn’t realise until I watched it a second time, that the small little cheeky bit where Dante (the dog) and the big cat protector are revealed to be a couple at the end, where the big cat turns out to be a little kitty!

Review: 4.5/5 – I’ll put it along the ranks of Inside Out, Zootopia and Frozen.

Signing off,

The Sloth Explorer

#exploringmovies

 

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NUS Module Review AY17/18 Sem 1: PL4223

Okay, since I’ve googled for reviews regarding NUS modules for the past 3 years (and actually a lot are from this guy’s blog called “this is alanz blog” LOL! so thank u alan. i rmb bonding over random psych majors by talking abt u), I’ve decided to try and give back and write a little about my own experiences regarding the modules I have taken- hopefully this will help anyone who chances upon this blog!

Since my memory of the most recent sem is still fresh as compared to previous years, shall start with that.

PL4223: Introduction to Clinical Neuropsychology

Professor: Simon Collinson

Professor Review: He’s quite a chill and sometimes funny guy, and I think he is rather experienced in his field. I actually took PL3236 (Abnormal Psychology) under him before, and what I can say is that he is much more engaging in this module than in PL3236.

What is it about?

I actually took this module because I did not get any modules that i MPE-ed, and only had 1 module after round 3B. [When I needed like, 4? (!@#$%^&*) *rants about NUS CORS and undersupply of Psych profs/mods. I wasn’t even being choosy. There were literally ZERO psych mods for me to take*] So I appealed in, cause the IVLE description looks quite interesting which I shall quote here, but you can just google it also la:

“They are also provided with site visit opportunities to increase their appreciation for the work of the helping professions among people with neurological impairment and psychosocial dysfunction.”

Wah, like interesting right?!! Site visit sia! But unless I have been dreaming that I was sitting at my favourite spot at UTown SRC-GLR for all 13 weeks, this is untrue.

But anyway, the module is still quite interesting (sometimes) despite that. Each seminar usually consists of the prof talking about a topic in neuropsychology (e.g. Parkinson’s disease), showing us videos about patients with neurodegenerative diseases sometimes, then from Week 5 onwards, after prof talks finish, the group presentations will take the rest of the seminar time.
Prof also showed us a movie for the last seminar (Week 12), and I kind of liked it! It’s called Awakenings (1990) in case you are interested.

 

How’s the workload?

The workload is actually quite manageable and lighter than my other modules in the sem. We had a closed-book MCQ quiz (30%) that tested on week 1 – 4 readings – it’s kind of like a mid-term but in week 5; there were 30 MCQs. Class participation was at 10-15% (Can’t rmb), I think I spoke like once. The room wasn’t very conducive for class part though, so not much people spoke up. I think Prof did take attendance, especially in the last few weeks when he noticed people started to go missing lol. After the MCQ quiz in week5, one group will present each week, after his ~1hour lecture. The groups are allocated, and each group had about 6-7 people. Group presentation (25%) is about 30-40min (with Q&A): topics can range from METS syndrome, CADASIL to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and CJD, where you present about it (e.g. the cause/diagnosis/treatments/research/controversies).

Finals(30%) was in week 13 – it was five short questions (max. 500 words for each). You are given an article to read and digest in week 12, which will kind of relate to the five questions. It was like open machine/laptop. Can use internet to check for answers. But I ended up not really using the internet that much, surprisingly. Technically, you can just google the answers if you have no time to study for it.

Share some tips leh?

I think in general, there is minimal readings for this mod. Its only the week1-4 readings for the MCQ quiz, then after that, besides the article for the finals, there’s no readings liao. But it will be good to remember some of the group presentations’ topics so you can use them as examples when writing for your short answer questions in the finals.  Also, for the group presentations, I think roleplay is a good way to present stuff. However, I also realised that after a few weeks of presentation, roleplay becomes quite repetitive/predictable as well.

Aiya, so should I take it anot?!

If you are interested in neuropsychology, I think this module will suit you. I chose this module partly because I have never done neuropsychology stuff before and wanted to see if I like it, and even though some of the stuff can get quite boring(e.g. some of the readings), I still think it’s an ok module to take. The readings are little too, so can consider this if you pairing with other heavier mods. Its like clinical psychology but applied to the neuro parts. I like it when the prof talks about Alzheimer’s too, and his stories about his experiences with his patients.

Predicted Grade: B/B+ cause all my grades were like around the mean/median range
Actual Grade:
A-

//Other modules that I took this sem: PL4228, PL4226 and PL4235.

will edit in the future when I have time to talk about my other modules.

PL4228: Criminal Forensic Psychology

Professor: Gwee Kenji

A grateful Christmas.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year! This year, I feel a little lonelier. Perhaps it’s because my social circle shrank by quite a lot, and somehow I feel alone, even though I’m not really alone? Haha, hope I’m making sense. Yet, I’m still very grateful and love the festive vibes it brings!! 😊

It is also a good time for me to reflect on the year as well.

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a great 2018 ahead!

My 2017.

“Take me back, but bring me forward. I want to stay put, but I gotta go. Learnt new things, but left old friends. I find myself stuck in a pattern, desperate to get out of it. Yet, when I experience change, I want to go back so badly. The people that interest me, no longer do anymore. I never had to do it all alone. New faces are hard to remember, but it’s never too late, even in November.”

Sums up my 2017.

It was mainly a year of self reflection, and facing & head butting the consequences of change is no doubt, the biggest obstacle of the year. Despite going on exchange, it was far from the best years of my life. Yet, I dare say this is the year I learnt a lot. And I’m proud of that.

Looking ahead to an awesome 2018!

Storage space. Cloud. WHICH IS THE BEST?!

I always have a problem. I am cheap.

I do not like paying for storage. That goes for photos too.

No, I am not willing to pay for iCloud or Google Drive.

What I can compromise on though, is the quality of the photos.

…I had quite a headache after coming back from exchange. So many photos, but no where to store them?! So after researching and trying out different storage options such as Flickr, OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, Facebook, Dropbox, and more specifically, Google Photos, I’ve decided to do it this way:

Keep all my photos to Google Photos, all my documents on Google Drive.

 I love Apple, but their storage space is just too expensive for a cheap bloke like me. (Actually, it sounds quite affordable at 50GB for $1.28, 200GB for $3.98 and 2TB for $12.98) Maybe it’s the Singaporean in me — not wanting to lose out, being kiasu — or maybe it’s just me.

But when I found out that Google Photos has UNLIMITED storage, my brain lit up. Well, my brain was the one that found it out too but yeah… ok I need to stop with the “everything is actually by/from your brain” thing.

The only catch? The quality of photos can only be stored up to 16MPs and for videos, up to 1080p. (I feel like I’m doing a promo for Google Photos HAHAHA).

Okay, actually there are other concerns too such as privacy. What if the government legislates laws that require Google to send all your photos to them?! Or what if Google decides to close down Google Photos like they did for many of their other products?

But I guess that concern is the same for any cloud storage. Unless you tell me that there’s something like BitTorrent or Bitcoin (Urgh was researching about it and then it suddenly spiked up from $7k to $18k) and even then, I’m not sure if I can trust that my uploads online will be forever protected and preserved like a museum or heritage. (Which occasionally gets destroyed). In addition to cloud storage, of course, get an external hard drive or USB. I got mine (64Gb) at about $15 LOL but it probably isn’t gonna last long.

Another concern that I have yet to solve is that Google Drive only has 15 Gb of free space. That is A LOT of free space compared to other options but my documents are piling up…

Quick notes and comparisons between the cloud storage platforms: 
Note, I’m only comparing the free options. 

  • Flickr: Good amount of space – 1 TB!!! Would probably last me for at least 10 years. But!!! The annoying thing is that I always forget my yahoo password. I’m sorry. And also, I can’t share that easily as compared to say, Google Drive.
  • Google Drive: Decent amount of space – free 15 GB. But that’s not gonna last you long. Solution that I did: Only upload documents, and that’ll probably last you 5 years. I like this over other options such as OneDrive because I am a frequent Google user, using Google Docs/Sheets/Slides often, so it kind of integrates easily.
  • Google Photos: THE solution (for now). But if you’re an avid photographer that wants to store a higher quality photo (e.g. 4K videos or DSLR types) then forget about this. Also I like that they allow you to search for keywords e.g. ‘Castles’ and all the photos that have castles inside will pop up. And they have a neat timeline. I was quite worried when I mass uploaded my photos there but they sorted it out neatly (and accurately) so it really is a trip back down to memory lane.
  • OneDrive: Used to have more free space iirc, but it’s reduced to 5GB? I guess this is a good alternative to Google Drive for documents and stuff.
  • Facebook: I actually still use this. Some of my travel photos are there, privately stored in albums. It’s unlimited too! I think. There’s however a limit on the number of photos in an album (although in a shared album the limit is greatly increased).
  • Dropbox. Good for sharing stuff easily, but again, storage space is too little for me.
  • iCloud: I am an Apple fan but the free option is barely enough for me. I use it to backup my contacts, calendar events and notes though.
  • Others I have yet to try: Box, Mega and more

I am a simple human. I see free storage, I click. I used to (attempt) to use DSLR, point-and-shoot cameras for my photos (especially for travels). However, I’m an avid iPhone user (4 to 6 to currently 8) — and I find that taking photos using my iPhone is so much more convenient. (Beside the times it died cuz it was so cold in Sweden/Northern Europe. My friend’s Xiaomi didn’t though. Maybe cuz the cold cooled down the phone LOL).

Anyway, since GooglePhotos is very compatible with my iPhone (can autosync it and works on a Mac/PC, with easy sharing options + helps to sort out your photos very easily, its the clear winner for me. For now…

 

Signing off,

The Sloth Explorer
#exploringcloudstorage

 

 

 

Suicide – cowardly or brave?

I’m back again, and I’m sorry that I completely failed to update about my exchange experiences on this blog. I would, but it just isn’t my priority now.

Instead, I wanna write about a particular topic today: suicide.

Is it a taboo? Everybody knows what it is, but not everyone agrees on why it happened, and there is much debate about how to combat it.

The reason why I suddenly wanted to blog about this is because I just found out that Kpop idol Jonghyun from SHINee, has apparently committed suicide due to, in very general terms, depression.

I’m shocked, I’m sad, and it reminded me of another recent death- my grandmother’s. Just last year, around this time as well, she passed away. I’m not sure if it was a suicide, since her death was due to falling from a high building, but nevertheless, I felt like suicide awareness needs to be promoted, and mental health issues in general.

Why do people commit suicide? That is the question everyone has their own answers to.

Mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, substance abuse, as well as major life stresses such as financial difficulties, losing loved ones, troubled relationships and bullying. All these contribute to a higher risk of suicide. Other causes of suicide may include religious or extremist issues.

No matter the reason though, I think more importantly, is how we react to it. When I told my mum that Jonghyun had committed suicide, she immediately said that he was weak. Cowardly. Selfish. Why did he do it, when obviously, so many people loved him?

When I told my mum that Jonghyun had committed suicide, she immediately said that he was weak. Cowardly. Selfish.

Now, about five years ago, I might have agreed. I had felt before, that the person who suicided was selfish for abandoning all their loved ones and a shit of mess, for not trying to overcome it, at least for their loved ones, if not for themselves. For running away, for taking the easy way out. For not hanging on. Some people argue that the basic human instinct is to survive, to live. So suicide is obviously an “unnatural” act in that sense.

Yet, as I grew older, and took up psychology, and learnt more about mental health in general, I started to see suicide in a different light. I still see it as an extreme form of act, but I no longer immediately condemn those who do it. Perhaps the turning point was when I was in a state of depression, and yes, I did consider suicide. I know it was unlikely and just a passing thought, but in that state of mind, thoughts about it just crossed my mind. And that was only when I had a mild form of depression. For people who were pushed to their limits, to their wits’ end, to a state where they can only see suicide as not an option, but the only way out, how could you blame them for being “weak, cowardly, or selfish”? You do not know the circumstances that led them to that decision, you do not know how many times they may have reached out, you do not know what they know, and what they don’t. Just think for a moment: Why would a rational person choose suicide over the many other options that could’ve been possible? If suicide was really the easy way out, then everybody would’ve taken it. But the fact is that it isn’t “the easy way out”, but the only way that people in a certain state of mind can see. Is it unnatural to feel suicidal if you feel alone, if you lost all your loved ones, if you had nothing to live for, if you had no purpose or meaning in life? Many argue that, life always has a purpose. Well, duh, if you think so. But obviously the person feeling suicidal don’t think that way. Kids and teenagers being bullied. People shamed for being fat or gay. Soldiers or even civilians who feel immense guilt for not saving their comrades. What do they have in common?

People say suicide is never rational. Well, there are many instances of people taking their life with much consideration and plans. Killing yourself so the rest can have enough food to survive. Is it an act of courage? Or stupidity? Circumstances probably matter, but it is easier to condemn than to think about the reasons and thoughts that led to a suicide. Why should I waste time listening to a person’s reason for their suicide, when I can assume that all suicides = wrong?

Circumstances probably matter, but it is easier to condemn than to think about the reasons and thoughts that led to a suicide.

Perhaps we should feel blessed and lucky that we will never understand why people commit suicide.

The point of this post is not to promote suicide or see it as the norm, nor accept suicide as it is. It is to hopefully bring about much needed discussion about suicide and mental health, and to reduce it as much as possible. Once you understand the thoughts and behaviours behind a suicide, can one then reduce it.

My tips when you think someone is feeling suicidal?
1. Stay calm and listen to them attentively. Be non-judgmental and accepting.
Always, always listen actively. Do not disrupt them unnecessarily, and do not listen just to come up with an argument or reply in your head. Just listen.
2. Paraphrase to them what you just heard.
After listening, this is the time for you to talk. Repeat or paraphrase what you just heard to them. This helps to lead to a better understanding of what you think you gathered from them, and also to assure them that you have heard their words.
3. Offer hope.
I think this is immensely important. Let the person know you care, and that they are important to you.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit https://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention.htm because they have a much more comprehensive guide and offers a much better explanation than I do in this post.

Suicide is something an outsider would not understand. Be inside it. Help tackle it.

// On an unrelated note, I have been feeling empty and finding meaning in my life again, ever since a few months ago. I’ve read http://milkthepigeon.com which proved to be helpful, especially since I am currently in a “lost period” right now. And I was just thinking, helping to prevent suicide is one of the very meaningful things that one can do. https://sos.org.sg/

Apparently, at least in Singapore, you have to be at least 23 years old in order to volunteer to be a listening ear for their suicide prevention hotlines, but this would be one thing I’d be willing to do and consider once I am of age and of emotional maturity.

 

 

// Other notes: I felt like I had mild depression for a while, and I was relieved to see a counsellor. I told one of my friends, and I guess he didn’t really care. I mean, I know, he’s probably tired of my rants already. I told another, and he told me that my life had nothing to be depressed about. I know both of them care for me very much, and did try to reassure me of their support. Yet, I realise, these words could kind of harm people if said carelessly. So yup, just my experience. A learning point, because lol I get to kind of see from the perspective of what it is like to be depressed, yet blessed enough to recover from it.

 

FINALly over

So finals are over. This semester’s over, and now I’ll be tied up by work for 2 weeks, before I’m really free.

Anyway, it feels different, once again. I feel like I just woke up from a dream, (technically, I just did). Can I say I’m not ready? I really want to. But I know that isn’t the solution. Maybe a few days of vacation might put my mind to ease, but I know it’s a temporary fix.

IDK, I can’t pinpoint what my problem is this time accurately. I never felt like this before, like this sense of meaningless, and even loneliness. Urgh, typing that out in a public blog (although I didn’t really tell anybody about this blog) feels vulnerable. That’s how insecure I am HAHA. In a way, I am kind of thankful I’ve been blessed for the past 21 years of my life, but in a way I also hate that I’m not well-equipped enough to handle this.

Yet, in the past month, I am proud of what I’ve done. Not academically, not socially, but in the form of self-care. And I’m excited (ok not really) for what’s to come! Making baby steps I thought I’d never take. Then again, I realise, those steps are usually the ones paving the way for me. I can’t remember shit in my earlier childhood, but I know it did, in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 and now.

The war isn’t over, but like what Rachel Platten would say, “I’ve still got a lot fight left in me”.