Renee's Blog :) Posts

Question: Where in our solar system should NASA focus future missions?

NASA should focus future missions on Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

Newsela Article: “Scientists review data that points to water plumes on a moon of Jupiter”

  • Given the suspected abundance of warm, liquid water under its thick ice shell, the moon is considered a “top candidate” by NASA for life on a solar system body other than Earth.
  • the subsurface ocean “is likely the most habitable part of Europa because it is warmer and it is protected from the radiation environment by the ice shell.”
  • “If plumes exist, and we can directly sample what’s coming from the interior of Europa, then we can more easily get at whether Europa has the ingredients for life,”

Since there has been evidence of plumes coming from Europa, future missions could go collect samples from the plumes which would then give us clearer sight as to whether Europa harbours life. This is combined with the fact that Europa has habitable places. Therefore, NASA should focus future research missions on going to Europa because it has a higher chance of harbouring life.


This month’s post is on a topic we know very well – ourselves.

I’ve decided to do a mind map for this month’s non-fiction book. It is about the book Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us by Will Storr. It covers the main ideas from chapters 2, 5, and 6.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t interested in non-fiction books. I was not interested in this topic or anything that had to do with it. This book turned out to be a surprise – it follows a personal journey and connects history, psychology, economics, neuroscience, and more to explain… us. This truly is an intriguing book that makes you think.

Also, here is the link to the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). You go through the “quiz” and it will rank you on a scale for narcissism and compare your results to others. This is just an interesting thing that was mentioned in the book. It makes you realize just how narcissistic (or not) you and others are.

The blue bubbles show quotes and explanations. The pink bubbles are connections to my own life.

Click on the image for a clearer version and to be able to zoom in on the image! Enjoy!


A lot has changed in Russia since 1905.

For one, the political system changed from a monarchy to communism to socialism. Additionally, the state now offers universal healthcare and education. Education doubled with the new political system and the industrialization of Russia ensured that individuals could improve their own statuses and living standards. Also, there were New Family Laws. It was now difficult to divorce and to have abortions. Instead, there is better welfare for those with more children. We also had to worship Stalin instead of having our own beliefs. Lastly, all art created had to be dedicated to Stalin and show Russia in a good light. The Russian Revolution changed almost everything. But not quite.

On the other hand, Russia was still the same. There were millions of people working and living their lives. We still had an army. The New Russia is, in essence, Old Russia with more equality.

As for Sergei? He’s definitely not the same soldier he was back in the day. But the army is still similar. It’s just the leaders that are different, that’s all. He trains. He fights. He enjoys life.

That won’t ever change.

(above) Sergei and his brothers before the revolution.

(below) Sergei and his comrades after the revolution.

Image sources:

“Children Soldier of the Russian Imperial Army.” A Selection of Photos, FELDGRAU,

“[Video] The Russian Revolution and the Kornilov Coup.” [Video] The Russian Revolution and the Kornilov Coup, In Defence of Marxism,



Hubble Deep Field was more humbling and awe-inspiring. Hubble captured an image that showed over 10 thousand galaxies, with each containing millions of millions of stars, and each star has the possibility of planets orbiting it. Planets that could harbour life. There is so much more out there, so much that we don’t know about. The thought that there could be millions of planets like Earth in the universe makes us realize how small we are. Moreover, the image Hubble captured only gives us a taste of the universe. It is barely a piece of the universe itself. This truly makes us realize just how unimportant and insignificant we are. To conclude – Hubble Deep Field was more humbling and awe-inspiring.


In the small town of Crestmont in America, a girl called Hannah Baker commits suicide. Hannah left cassette tapes explaining her 13 Reasons for suicide. Hannah was all about setting – she gave the receivers of her cassette tapes a map of the town, hoping they would follow in her steps and “walk in her shoes”. Hoping the receivers would experience her thoughts even more realistically, and truly understand her reasons for suicide. The time and the 2 locations of Rosie’s Diner and Monet’s Café all impact Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher, and they all contributed to Hannah’s suicide.

13 Reasons Why is set in modern day, and that’s an important part of the story. Nowadays, with social media, school pressure, and most importantly, peer pressure, suicide is all the more… desirable. And that’s depressing to think about – people willing to disappear so they don’t have to deal with issues in life. “The thought of disappearing like that – so simply, made me so happy.” (Asher, 252). If this story was set in different times, we would not care so much about suicide. We would simply think: “Oh, it’s not happening right now. It’s not that important.” But it is. The setting shows that there are “Hannah Bakers” in our world TODAY. Suicide is an important issue that needs more attention. And it is up to all of us to give help to those who need it.

Additionally, an important location in the book is Rosie’s, which was the local diner. It was where Hannah had defended herself against sexual harassment. In fact, Rosie’s was quite an interesting restaurant – “To me, Rosie’s had an aura about it. A mystery. In the stories I heard, it seemed like things were always happening there.” (134) “With all the stories, it seemed that Rosie turned a blind eye to anything going on as long as cones were being filled and burgers were being flipped.”(135). Hannah had gone on a date there hoping for fun and excitement that surrounded Rosie’s reputation, but what did she get? Stood up by a date and harassed by another student. This shows that reputation does not define a person or a place. Rosie’s was known for mystery and secrets, but instead, it is a place where a blind eye is turned to sexual harassment. It’s a place where hunters go to find prey. Reputation is a core theme in 13 Reasons Why, and Rosie’s is a sufficient example of it.

The Monet’s Café was also a crucial location in 13 Reasons Why. Hannah had also deemed it important by pointing it out on the map. “E-7 on your map. Monet’s Garden Café and Coffeehouse.” (58) In her experience, “Monet’s garden was our safe haven. If one of us had a hard time fitting in or meeting people, we’d go to Monet’s.” (62) More importantly, “But Monet’s truly filled whatever void needed filling at the time. For all of us. But don’t worry… it didn’t last.” (63) Monet’s was where Hannah could be open about her thoughts and truly be herself, unburdened by her reputation. But as her friends stopped going to Monet’s, she too stopped. Since then, Monet’s has turned from the “safe haven” into a place reminisced about. In other words, Hannah was only ever at Monet’s to be with her friends. This illustrates the importance and influence of friendship. Your friends can change your experience and memory of a location forever. Loyalty and betrayal was part of the 13 Reasons Why Hannah committed suicide, and Monet’s Café serves to “drive the point home”, so to speak.

To conclude – the time and the 2 locations of Rosie’s and Monet’s Café all impact 13 Reasons Why. They enhance the story and brings out the theme into clearer light. I’ve realized that analyzing the setting has taken my understanding and thoughts about 13 Reasons Why to a completely different level. It’s not just about a girl who committed suicide – it is a piece of art about reputation, friendship, and suicide.

NOTE: I’ve touched on how setting influences the themes of 13 Reasons Why. Here’s the link to my podcast addressing the themes of 13 Reasons Why in more detail.


I’ve decided to do this month’s blog posts on 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

A brief summary of the book – Clay Jensen returns home to finds a package full of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker who had committed suicide 2 weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice explains her 13 reasons for suicide. Clay becomes a witness to the truth of Hannah’s life and pain – and how he himself was one of the 13 reasons why.

You can probably guess why I’m doing this Thematic Post using a podcast/ “cassette tape”. That was what Hannah did in the book to record her reasons.

The main theme of 13 Reasons Why is the impact of repercussions, and lesser themes are the effects of reputation and respecting women. All of these themes are part of the 13 reasons.

Some quotes from the book that I mentioned in the podcast are:
A Stop sign fell backward in front of your headlights.” (Asher, 242)
There was no Stop sign on that corner. Not on that night. And one of them, one of the drivers, died.” (246)
And once again, I could have stopped it . . . somehow.” (246)
You’d like to forget what we did – what happened with your car and the Stop sign. The repercussions. But you never will.” (249)
Because it may seem like a small role now, but it matters. In the end, everything matters.” (13)
It’s about those things you didn’t plan – things you couldn’t plan.” (42)
Everything . . . affects everything.” (202)
And everyone knows you can’t disprove a rumour. A rumor based on a kiss started a reputation that other people believed in and reacted to. And sometimes, a rumor based on a kiss has a snowball effect. A rumour, based on a kiss, is just the beginning.” (30,31)
I let my reputation catch up with me – I let my reputation become me” (265)
A cupped hand smacked my ass. And then, he said it. Best Ass in the Freshman Class, Wally. Standing right here in your store!” (47, 48)
I’m only playing, Hannah. Just relax.” (50)
Alex, am I saying your list gave him permission to grab my ass? No. I’m saying it gave him an excuse. And an excuse was all this guy needed.” (52)

Made with GarageBand

Background music source/citation:
“Dreams Become Real” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


This is a documentary about the Boxer Rebellion.



Check out my Text Message Conversation !

There are many different conflicts in They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. The main 2 that was mentioned in the book were Man vs. Man and Man vs. Society. I decided to show conflicts through a text message conversation between a Death Cast Worker and a Decker (someone who’s going to die). I tried to show a decker’s desperation and anger towards society, along with an explanation from a different perspective (Death Cast) to illustrate the full story. Additionally, I used an Alarm icon and Do Not Disturb icon on the top of the images to show that the decker had a time limit and that he didn’t want anyone talking to him in his last day. The time, amount of battery and signal strength (located at the top bar of the images) was used to show time wasting and the decker coming closer to death. The ending, of course, was when there was no signal and the battery ran out.

NOTE: None of the above work actually happened in the book – I was inspired by things in TBDATE. “I’m trying to stay shut ’cause I don’t wanna take my problems out on some guy doing his job, -” (Silvera, 17) . Also “”Yo, Victor, be a person for one minute. – Doesn’t it piss you off that I’ll never go to college? Get married? Have kids? Travel? Doubt it.”” (19) which was replied with “I feel for you, I do. But I’m not at fault for your death, and I unfortunately have many more of these calls to make tonight. Can you do me a solid and cooperate?”” (20)

Made with   Check it out here


“Live every day like it’s your last.” We’ve all heard this quote before. We know that death is inevitable. Immortality has been sought but is not (yet) possible. The truth is, no matter what, you, me, everyone will one day leave this world. We just don’t know when. But if you received a call telling you that you had 24 hours left to live, how would you live it? This has been taken to the extreme in the book They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. (It’ll be referred to as TBDATE) The theme of They Both Die in the End is to live life to the fullest. To enjoy and cherish our lives and to fill it with extraordinary moments.


“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde.

In order to live life to the fullest, you must make real moments, not fake ones. Deckers (people who are going to die) try to cram a lifetime’s full of memories into a mere 24 hours. Since the greatest memories always involve some risk, in TBDATE, there are organizations that allow deckers to experience, well, everything, through virtual reality and simulations. Deckers can complete their bucket list without fear of dying. There are 2 main organizations – Make-A-Wish and the Travel Arena. “- the gigantic screen listing all the regions you can visit, and the different kinds of tours available: Around the World in 80 Minutes, Miles of Wilds, Journey to the Center of the United States, and more” (Silvera, 281-282) It all sounds great, but the reaction? “Did you actually like that? No judgement except yes judgement.” (186) No matter how realistic the simulations are; it doesn’t compare to authentic experiences. Moreover, it just makes people realize and regret wasting time on artificial moments. And when you have less than 24 hours left to live, every second matters.


“Life has more meaning in the face of death.” –Robert Greene.

TBDATE is similar to When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (WBBA). WBBA is an autobiography that illustrates Paul’s journey from a final-year medical student to a stage IV cancer patient. He went through processes he had been through many times before – but from a different perspective. Everything Paul accomplished for suddenly vanishes, leaving him helpless. This is alike to TBDATE. A simple phone call turns a decker from a typical person to someone living with a time limit. Both suddenly realize just how fleeting life is, and they try to make the most out of it. Yes, the main character(s) in both books passed away. But they learned to live life to the fullest. After all, you never know when everything will change and, eventually, come to an end.


“People living deeply have no fear of death.” –Anais Nin.

There’s a lesser and slightly irrelevant theme that I want to address. We’re all part of a big story where no one’s the main character.  In TBDATE, we get a glimpse of different deckers or people related to the decker’s perspectives and stories. It also helps show the devastation and helplessness of deckers. Their concern for friends and family. The hate for the unfairness of… everything. The frustration and anguish of family and friends. The hope that maybe, just maybe, they’ll make it out. This adds a depth in the entire story and makes the reader cry even harder. Moreover, it confirms that everyone’s lives and stories entwine in some way. You’re the main character in your own story, but in someone else’s you’re nothing but an insignificant role. Most importantly, TBDATE illustrates that no matter who you are, your story is important.


“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” –Mark Twain.

To conclude – The theme of They Both Die at the End is to live life to the fullest. Death isn’t the opposite of life. It’s a part of it. But death shouldn’t cause us to live in terror, but rather remind us to live our lives to the fullest. Life’s too brief to waste. But if you have to waste your time, waste it on amazing things.