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Amparo Bertram

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08:20 am: A tale of two fans
Certain people have been reminding me that it's about time I posted an update. First, my training in passenger baggage is nearing its end. Starting this week, rather than requiring a trainer to tell all the trainees what to do, we have been written into the daily assignment schedule so that we are expected to show our initiative in keeping ourselves busy. Once we've done that for two weeks, we will be finished with our baggage training and can be put on the regular work schedule. The main benefit of this is that we will be able to work overtime, which we currently aren't allowed to do. The drawback is that we aren't guaranteed weekends off. In fact, for the first couple weeks in March, I will have Thursday/Friday off and work on the weekends.

My tae kwon do classes have been going well. I broke my first board last week (and couldn't help thinking "but I'm not being attacked by a tree..."). Apparently breaking boards is a requirement for advancing to the next belt. I have also been practicing something called a poomse (kata in Japanese) that consists of a punch and a block repeated in various combinations. I've been told this is also part of the belt test.

My first fan tale is about the fan in the furnace of my apartment. It was just installed in December, so it's brand new. A couple weeks ago, it started making a strange noise, which sounded like a motorboat or helicopter...or the sound you get when you hold a piece of paper up to the blades of a revolving fan. After being awakened in the middle of the night repeatedly by this rather loud noise, I told the building manager about it. He showed up one day to see what the problem might be. First I had to convince him there WAS a problem, because he wasn't able to hear the noise until I took him to one of the rooms where it echoes through the vent. After fiddling with the furnace for quite some time, he decided that the filter was loose. He didn't do anything about it that day.

Yesterday I came home after work to find that the noise had grown even louder. I opened up the furnace to see that the building manager had come in some time during the day and had attempted to hold the filter in place with duct tape. However, the tape had worked loose and was flapping around wildly. I wasn't about to sit through all that noise, so I ripped the tape out...and lo and behold, when I pulled out the piece of tape that had gotten one end sucked into the fan, that end had stuck itself to a piece of paper. Once the strip of paper came out, the sound vanished, and all was well.

The second fan tale is about mangaroo, who has recently become a fan of the animated series Avatar. She invited me over to her house on Saturday so we could watch a marathon of the first episodes. From what I've seen so far--which, I've been told, is not the best part of the series--it is a show with interesting characters in a world that displays evidence of both Japanese and Chinese influences, among others. The animation, although it has a few oddities here and there, is attractive to look at (thank goodness) with some well choreographed action sequences. I found it fascinating that, despite the Asian influences with the clothing, the fighting styles, the architecture, and the zoology (unagi? koi? flying bison that could be straight out of Totoro?), the facial expressions of the characters are done in a very American (Disneyish) style.

Of course, me being me, I couldn't help wondering about some of the logic behind various plot devices and twists. For example, why can earth benders use their powers on coal (an organic compound) but not metal (a mineral that comes from rock)? What would happen if an earth bender tried to bend a stone with, say, a vein of copper in it? Who has dominion over lava? Would it be a fire bender (because it's hot) or a rock bender (because it's merely rock in liquid form)? Why is an earth bender unable to use his powers when his arms are incapacitated, while a fire bender can shoot flames from his feet or mouth (or conceivably elsewhere)?

Why did the fire army make earth bending against the law, but not water bending?

And the really big question is, how come the flying bison can zip back and forth across continents in an east-west direction (as we saw illustrated on a map of their movements) in a matter of hours or days, and yet it will supposedly take WEEKS to get to the north pole for water bending training? ...Assuming they ever get around to heading that direction, which seems doubtful if things keep going as they are.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing what becomes of the characters in future episodes.

Note: This would have been posted Tuesday evening, but my internet service went out.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:manga_crow
Date:February 11th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)

Re: outlawed bending

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Yay! Avatar is a really great show, probably the best thing american TV animation has put out in a decade. Great characterization, interesting (if sometimes predictable) plot, and some really great art.

I think that pretty much all of your questions are somewhat answered throughout the series, but here are a few (as non spoiler as I can make them) answers:

Why did the fire army make earth bending against the law, but not water bending? - It is, but no ones looking for water or air benders right now. Remember, they're traveling through the Earth Kingdom, both occupied and unoccupied parts; but since, as a rule, benders tend to stick to their own geography, the focus is earth bending here.

why can earth benders use their powers on coal (an organic compound) but not metal (a mineral that comes from rock)? - In theory, they could, it's just that in practice they can't. The more rigid the structure, the harder it is to bend. You don't see very many earth benders working with crystal, either. This question i covered in depth later on though^^

Who has dominion over lava? Would it be a fire bender (because it's hot) or a rock bender (because it's merely rock in liquid form)? - Earth primarily, though a skilled fire bender could deal with the heat of the magma.

Why is an earth bender unable to use his powers when his arms are incapacitated, while a fire bender can shoot flames from his feet or mouth (or conceivably elsewhere)? - as wednesday said, this has mostly to do with the skill level. Zhuko, and especially Iroh are probably two of the greatest living fire benders right now, whereas most of the earth benders you see (with the exception of Bumi) are fairly weak.

how come the flying bison can zip back and forth across continents in an east-west direction (as we saw illustrated on a map of their movements) in a matter of hours or days, and yet it will supposedly take WEEKS to get to the north pole for water bending training? - well, we are dealing with some ancient cartography here I don't think the map is quite to scale :p

Anyway, glad to hear you're enjoying the show; keep us updated =)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 12th, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)

Re: outlawed bending

(Link)
Thank you for all the answers. I'm sure I'll have more as I continue to watch.

It is, but no ones looking for water or air benders right now.

What perplexes me about it, though, is that if waterbending were outlawed, there would be no need to pretend to be an earthbender to get arrested. Waterbending would work just as well.

The more rigid the structure, the harder it is to bend.

So, where does ice fit into that pattern? It's also a crystal, and yet it doesn't appear to be any harder to bend than liquid water for a waterbender.

[User Picture]
From:manga_crow
Date:February 12th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC)

Re: outlawed bending

(Link)
"What perplexes me about it, though, is that if waterbending were outlawed, there would be no need to pretend to be an earthbender to get arrested. Waterbending would work just as well." -

But the actual point wasn't to just be arrested; she wanted to be sent to the earthbender prison camp to find Haru; the water bending prisons are quite different. (ie. not in the middle of the ocean)

So, where does ice fit into that pattern? It's also a crystal, and yet it doesn't appear to be any harder to bend than liquid water for a waterbender. -

Can I just be a punk and say you have to watch and find out? :p Seriously though, ice is harder to work with than water, but the relative difficulty is less than earth to metal. And I don't think I can go into more detail without giving stuff away, or launching into pure speculation =)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 13th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)

Re: outlawed bending

(Link)
she wanted to be sent to the earthbender prison camp to find Haru; the water bending prisons are quite different.

That sounds reasonable. I probably would have been more worried that they would keep male and female prisoners separate...
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