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My PC Specifics - Part 2.5 of 4 on How to Build a Computer: Advice from a Local Big Sister

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking out my last post on Planning and Buying Parts for your pc build where I give more detailed advice on the what, where, when, and why of pc part research.

This is going to be a breakdown/introduction to my computer build as an example for you to use for your build. As an FYI, my budget was $1,000 so the parts you are looking at may be more or less expensive depending on what you are willing to spend. This build was also a combination of a gaming build merged with a graphic design build. I’ll be sure to call out which parts were nicer quality for which build below.

This is a photo of my computer’s guts

This is a photo of my computer’s guts

So without further ado, it’s time to meet my technological daughter! <3

After all the work, research, and money I’ve put into her, she feels a bit like what I assume Doctor Frankenstein felt when his creation first came to life. And as an added bonus, my computer can’t attack local villagers like his creation did.

I built her with function over form in mind - meaning that I didn’t focus on all the parts being similar colors or getting LEDs to show off the guts. I just focused on getting good quality parts that were within my $1,000 budget. I could definitely see myself getting into the design and coloring of my pc later in life, but for my first build I wasn’t too concerned with that.

Her Specs/Guts

Processor (CPU): Intel 8th Gen Core i5-8400 ($170) -- I opted for a nicer CPU due to graphic design programs tending to be harder on CPUs. If you were going for a straight gaming build with the same budget, you could opt for a cheaper CPU.

Graphics Card (GPU): MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti ($200) -- Better quality GPU since I use this computer for gaming. If this were a graphic design only build, a simpler GPU would be fine.

Motherboard: MSI ATX Z370-A Pro ($100)

Memory (Ram): 8GB DDR4 ($87)

Solid State Drive (SSD): Crucial MX300 275GB ($110)

Power Supply (PSU): EVGA 500 B1 ($50)

Case: Fractal Design Focus G ATX Mid Tower ($50)

Fans: Set of Two 120mm Case Fans ($6) -- Two nice fans already came in my case so I only bought two more.

WiFi Adapter: Netgear Wireless AC Adapter ($60) -- I actually forgot to buy this until after I built the whole machine so it technically wasn’t in my budget, but seeing as you’ll probably also use one, I added it to the total cost below.

Monitor: Acer 23.8 inch Monitor ($130) -- I already had this to use with my laptop so I didn’t have to add this into my budget, but I will add it into the total for this exercise.

Keyboard and Mouse: Logitech MK520 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo ($30)

DVD/CD Drive: Asus DVD-RW Drive ($20)

Operating System (OS): Windows 10 ($100)

Total Cost: $1,113 (without monitor, $983)

Remember to add in the cost of your security system, design programs, and anything else you know you will need to get your computer build set up. I didn’t add them here because those will differ from person to person and can vastly change your total cost. And another reminder, I got these parts during Amazon Prime Day 2018 so they were likely cheaper than they are now.

In the next part of this series I’ll go into Building Your PC, such as where parts should go, fan set up, and in depth tutorials that I recommend. That’s coming out on Nov. 26th, around when your purchases will probably be arriving from Amazon and Newegg, so stay tuned!

I hope you enjoyed meeting my computer! What kind of setup are planning to build? Have you giving your computer a name?

Until next time,

Caitlin

Planning & Buying Parts - Part 2 of 4 on How to Build a Computer: Advice from a Local Big Sister

Now that you’ve decided to build to a pc, we can move on to the next step, research.

Although research is the most time intensive parts of building a computer, I’ve compiled most of the resources and information that I used below to save you some time. (As a warning, this post is pretty long, as I’ve tried to give you a full catalogue of information to work with.)

When planning out your computer, the first thing you need to do is:

Young woman (hopefully) researching computer parts by Rawpixel from Unsplash

Young woman (hopefully) researching computer parts by Rawpixel from Unsplash

Set Your Overall Budget

Before you look at anything you need to know how much you can spend, because that will determine what parts you should get. You can definitely build a decent computer on a budget, or you can plan out to buy pieces one at a time as you can afford them instead of all at once. Either way, it’s important to use your budget as parameters otherwise the vast selection of parts can be a bit overwhelming.

Decide How Your Computer Will Be Used

Gaming? Video editing? Surfing the web? Depending on what you use your computer for, different parts will be more or less important (which affects what percentage of your budget you should spend on them).

For instance, with gaming builds you want a higher quality graphics card so that the games not only play well but also look nice. Meanwhile, a computer built for graphic design will need a better CPU to process the large design programs properly. I’ve linked to some example computer builds (including mine) below if, like me, you’re not sure where to start.

Where & When to Buy

The two best places that I found for buying pc parts were Amazon and Newegg. Newegg tended to have better prices than Amazon, however I have an Amazon Prime account so occasionally the difference was close enough that Amazon’s free shipping made it cheaper.

If you can wait, I would highly recommend buying during a big sale event. I bought most of my parts during Amazon Prime Day, which Newegg competed with by having their own big sale event on the same day. I ended up saving about $200, which meant I was able to get a few slightly nicer parts than originally planned since my budget now had more wiggle room.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up soon, you likely won’t need to wait long for a big sale event. But if you happen to be reading this after November, Amazon Prime Day (July 16) as well as Amazon and Newegg ‘Daily Deals’ tend to have decent savings. I’d also check Clark Howard’s website for deals you might not know about.

Close-up of a motherboard taken by Aler Kiv from Unsplash

Close-up of a motherboard taken by Aler Kiv from Unsplash

Basic List of Parts & Info on Each

Processor (CPU) -- The CPU is the brain of the computer and is what your programs will be running through.

Graphics Card (GPU) -- As you decide what you want your computer for, that will determine the size and cost of your GPU. Depending on what you need, your GPU could range from a small card that is included with the motherboard, or a large card that has to be specially attached because it is too heavy to stay hooked in by itself.

Motherboard -- Your motherboard helps all your other parts talk to each other. Therefore you want to make sure they are all compatible (especially your CPU) to your motherboard otherwise they won’t be able to talk.

Memory (Ram) -- Memory, also known as Ram, is comparable to the short-term memory of your pc. When you are actively using a program on your computer, like a web browser or Microsoft Word, it runs through your Ram to temporarily store what you are doing.

Hard Drive (HDD)/Solid State Drive (SSD) -- HDDs and SSDs are like the long-term memory of your computer. That’s where any programs, music, pictures, etc. that you save onto your device will be stored.

Power Supply (PSU) -- The power supply is essentially the battery of your machine (although it consistently has to be plugged into a wall). It makes sure to draw enough power from a wall outlet so that your system can run smoothly.

Case -- What holds all your pieces together! The case also protects the sensitive parts of your set up safe from damage. Most cases are pretty good, just make sure that everything you’re getting will fit. The only cases I’d warn against are Mini Towers since you usually have to buy special small parts to make sure it all fits.

Fans -- Fans keep the inside of the case cool, clean, and at a proper pressure level. (I’ll go into this more once we start building.) Most cases will come with a few fans, but I’d aim to have four unless you have a crazy big set up, then I’d search online for suggestions.

WiFi Adapter -- This allows your computer to link with WiFi in the area. You can also always go old school and use an ethernet cable if you prefer. Ethernet cables tend to be a more consistent connection, although obviously you then are limited how far the computer can be from the WiFi Router. Also, I’d make sure not to skimp on this as a poor quality WiFi Adapter can mean a bad connection to the internet, which most of you will probably be consistently using.

Operating System (OS) -- If you don’t have a preference, I’d suggest Windows 10 as your operating system as it has the widest range of support and compatibility. Almost all games and programs will work on Windows, however there are a select few that only work on Apple or Linux, so be sure to double check that if there is a program you have to use.

Anti-Static Wrist Strap -- Not technically part of the computer, but necessary for building. I’m only mentioning it hear so that you don’t forget to buy one when you get everything else.

A sleek photo of someone’s pc build taken by Luke Hodde from Unsplash

A sleek photo of someone’s pc build taken by Luke Hodde from Unsplash

Parts You Might Already Have

Monitor -- Some people have monitors lying around from old desktops or because they wanted a bigger screen when on their laptops at home. If it’s either a new TV or a computer monitor, I’d recommend buying the computer monitor and using it as a TV screen when needed because monitors tend to have higher quality graphics. Also, be aware that not all monitors come with built in speakers, so you might need to add in the cost of that as well.

Keyboard and Mouse -- If you are building your pc for gaming you might want to look at keyboards that are recommended for that, but overall, you can just use whatever you have. Just make sure the motherboard you are getting will attach to your mouse and keyboard plugs.

Gaming/Design/Microsoft Suite Programs -- Whatever programs you will need to get your set up to where you need it to be. A lot of these programs have free alternatives so if getting Adobe Photoshop is going to break your budget, maybe try out Krita.

Controllers/Headset/Tablets -- Whatever you need to be successful in your programs.

“Add on” Parts

DVD/CD Drive -- If you are on the fence about getting one, I’d recommend it. It gives you more flexibility when buying games, movies, or music so that you don’t have to always buy the online version.

Security System -- I’d highly recommend a security system for your computer, that way all your time and work won’t be destroyed accidentally. If nothing else, I’d suggest Avast Antivirus’s free version. It’s well ranked and offers a lot of free features to keep your system safe. But again, I’d suggest paying for one on top of that once you are able.

LEDs/Lights -- Not necessary, but some pc builders like to add in lights to add some flair and excitement whenever their system is on.

Resources I Recommend Checking out

Tom’s Hardware -- Tom’s Hardware ranks parts based on several intense criteria pieces and shares all of their findings with readers for free. It’s one of the best resources when you just aren’t certain which piece is the best bang for your buck. Great resources for anything computer related, not just gaming. They also have a catalog of recommended builds based on budget.

PC Gamer -- This site discusses all things related to gaming on your pc, including how to create a budget gaming computer. They also have a nice tutorial that walks you through the actual building process, which is getting a little ahead of ourselves, but I’ve included it here just in case you’re curious.

One of my favorite streamers, Dexbonus, has her computer specs listed on her website (PressHeartToContinue.com), there is even a discount code that could help you save money.

One of my favorite streamers, Dexbonus, has her computer specs listed on her website (PressHeartToContinue.com), there is even a discount code that could help you save money.

Creative Pro -- The Creative Pro website is mostly about graphic design in general, but they do have some suggestions for building a graphic design heavy computer that I’d recommend if you are building yours for design.

Your favorite gamer, designer, etc. -- Most “internet celebrities” like artists, video editors, and video game streamers will have a section of their site that lists their computer build and parts. They likely will have a much larger budget than you or I, however if you take a look at their parts and can see what pieces they spent the most money on, it will likely give you an idea where to spend your money (assuming you are going for a similar build). If you ask nicely, they might even share the information for one of their first builds!

Clark Howard -- Although technically an advice website on saving money, Clark Howard usually has really good posts on what types of technology are on sale at different stores, especially around Black Friday.

Other Helpful Hints

Make sure everything hooks up to your motherboard. Almost everything will attach to your motherboard, so make sure everything from your keyboard to your CPU are compatible. If you need some help making sure it all fits together, check out this awesome motherboard guide from Tom’s Hardware.

Get a Bronze or better power supply. Bronze PSUs and better have been regarded as better power supply units and tend to work a lot more efficiently, giving you more power for less electricity.

I’d recommend Solid State Drives over Hard Drives. HDDs have a small part in them that spins. This part will eventually break, rendering the HDD unusable. SSDs don’t have this spinning piece so they last a lot longer. However, HDDs are cheaper and won’t break immediately, so they could be a good purchase for now to them replace later.

Definitely buy an anti-static wrist strap. A lot of the parts in your computer will be sensitive to static electricity (so sensitive that wearing socks on carpet can fry them), so having an anti-static wrist strap assures that everything will stay safe and not electrocuted.

This post is already plenty long, so you can check out my personal build in another post as another example to work off of. Part three of this series is going to be about actually building the computer, so stay tuned for that on Nov. 26th.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about building your own computers? Are there any other resources you’ve found helpful while planning your build?

Until next time,

Caitlin

Should I Build a PC? - Part 1 of 4 on How to Build a Computer: Advice from a Local Big Sister

Before we get into whether or not you should build a pc, I want to bust some myths that I know I personally hear all the time:

“It’s really difficult to build a computer. You can’t do it unless you have some sort of degree in it.” -- I’d really like to pretend this was true and give myself a pat on the back for being “so smart”, but it’s really not that difficult. Even if you have very little computer knowledge, many websites and kind souls across the internet break down exactly how it all works,goes together, and what to get.

“Building a pc is soooo expensive. You shouldn’t even bother unless you have a lot of money.” -- I’ll talk about this more later, but actually building your own pc will save you a lot of money in the long run, especially if you’re just going to buy a pre-made desktop instead. Plus, if you’re that strapped for cash, you can just buy your parts individually as you save up money instead of one big purchase.

“People only build computers for video games.” -- First of all, video games are great, so there’s no problem if you are building a computer for better gaming. However, that’s not the only reason one might be good for you. I myself use my pc for a lot of graphic design work, and lots of people use them for video editing and other intensive software needs - all of which are fine reasons to build your own pc.

But all that being said, maybe you’re still on the fence as to if you want to build one or not. If so, let me break down some of the pros and cons of building your very own desktop computer.

I promise you building your own computer is not nearly as difficult as people would have you believe, photo by Umanoide on Unsplash

I promise you building your own computer is not nearly as difficult as people would have you believe, photo by Umanoide on Unsplash

Pros

Easy to Update

In essence, a pc that you build yourself can grow with you. As you save up money or as your needs for a computer change, you can switch out sections of your pc for newer and better pieces while keeping it overall the same. This will also save you money in the long run, because if your CPU dies, you won’t have to go out and buy a whole new computer, just a new CPU. Pre-built computers (laptops especially) tend to have pieces that are soldered together to save space and money, meaning that if one of those pieces dies, you might have to just replace the entire machine.

Better Parts for Less Money

A good chunk of the cost of a pre-made computer goes to the labor of the computer being built for you.That means that when you buy a $1,000 computer, you are actually getting parts that are equivalent to around $600 - versus if you build it yourself you can spend all of that money on the parts, giving you a machine that is actually worth the $1,000.

The Price Is Right

Let’s be honest, computers are expensive, especially your ideal version of one. However, that is true of all computers, not just ones you build yourself. And since a pc you build yourself isn’t pre-assembled, you can work on buying one piece at a time as you are able, instead of putting down the one large lump sum you would have to do for a pre-built one.

Bragging Rights & Technical Skills

This probably isn’t something everyone thinks about, but when you build your own computer you are investing in a new skill that many other people don’t have. While it may not be something you put on your resume, being technically savvy is only a positive in our current “digital” age.

Cons

Difficult to Travel with

Travel-ability is probably the biggest weakness of building your own computer, since laptops are difficult to build yourself and you can probably imagine how awkward it would be to drag a desktop computer into a coffee shop with you. That being said, if you had a laptop already, you could remotely access your desktop computer, in essence, using your fancy computer on a different computer. But unless you have a laptop available to use, it would be difficult to use your computer anywhere outside of your home. If mobility is very important for you, building your own computer might not be the best idea.

“All I Do Is Surf the Web”

If all you use your computer for is occasional web surfing and listening to YouTube playlists, then building a computer probably isn’t necessary for you. You can definitely still build one if you want, but you could probably buy a cheap tablet or laptop and get great use out of that for a lot less money. It all just depends on your computer habits, needs, and interests.


Hopefully this has helped you decide if you should build your own pc or not. Either way, I hope you enjoy the next part of this series on Planning and Buying Parts.

Until next time,

Caitlin

Can Telepaths Read Animals' Minds?

A telepath is someone who can communicate with their mind, whether it's projecting their thoughts into another's mind or listening in on someone else's thoughts. They can do all of this without ever needing to make a sound. Some telepaths can even communicate over great distances or control their subjects, like Professor Xavier from X-Men.

Most people with telepathy however, are just shown to have the basic package of reading other's thoughts and projecting their own.

But what are thoughts?

How can you read or hear a thought?

Professor X using telepathy, image from the X-Men Wiki

Professor X using telepathy, image from the X-Men Wiki

Our thoughts are made up of chemical and electrical signals sent from one part of our brain to another. Together they construct our personality and memories, but when one is thinking, they aren't reading or listening to their thoughts, they are experiencing them.

As babies who couldn't speak, we still had thoughts. We couldn't express them in words, but we still knew when we were hungry or tired or happy, even without these words to communicate.

Almost like a translation guide from Chinese to French, language has allowed us to turn our thoughts into words and complex ideas that others beyond ourselves can then also understand.

But if you concentrate and think about what your thoughts are really like, you'll start to notice that they are almost shapeless. They make no sound and don't look like anything. When thinking of a past experience, one might attribute a voice to specific phrases or have images of places they've been, but generally most thoughts are just simply ideas floating in a void.

So if thoughts are in essence formless, how can one listen in on them?

I honestly don't know.

And since telepathy has yet to be proven, there may just not be an answer. But if someone could listen in on other person's formless thoughts and make sense of all the swirling ideas and feelings, wouldn't they then be able to do the same with animals?

Animals obviously have thoughts, from the most basic being 'I'm hungry' to some animals, like dolphins, having rudimentary languages to communicate with each other. And most of the time you don't even need to be a telepath to tell what an animal is thinking (they tend to have very bad poker faces). This means we as human have the ability to tell what animals are thinking in one setting, so shouldn't it work in the other?

Aquaman asking whales for help with his mind. Do you think he can talk to babies? Image from the Super Friends Wiki

Aquaman asking whales for help with his mind. Do you think he can talk to babies? Image from the Super Friends Wiki

Basic human thoughts, like when we are babies, would likely resemble animal thoughts a lot, as they would be very rudimentary and based around instinctual, basic needs. Meaning, if a telepath can understand a baby's thoughts they should be able to understand most animals. Heck, it might even be easier to read the mind of babies and animals than an adult person!

Although, I don't think I've ever seen Professor X try to read a baby's mind, so maybe telepath's need the collected, more advanced thoughts of someone who understands language and can use that language to communicate with others. Perhaps the mind read-ee has to give and explain their thoughts to the mind reader?

All I know is that telepathy sure seems like an OP (over powered) ability the more I think about it.

Do you think telepaths can read the thoughts of animals? Have you ever seen a telepath read a baby's mind?

Until next time,

Caitlin

Is Everything Fanfiction? Probably

One day my cousin came home from school to announce: "On the bus to school, I always ride next to a girl who is really quiet and usually writing in her journal. I finally got a look at what she is always writing and it's steamy Harry Potter fanfiction."

We all took a moment to laugh at this and tried to find out more details. But here's the thing, teens writing fanfiction is not that uncommon. And honestly, putting effort into writing, even if it's someone else's characters and setting, is still showing an interest in writing and thinking creatively, right? So why is there such a negative connotation with it?

This is because fanfiction is broken up into good and bad, just like TV shows or artwork. And there are different sites that are known for good or bad pieces. Sort of like ABC Family (or I guess it's Freeform now?) versus HBO.

However, most people just know of the poorly written fanfiction that used to be hosted on Quizilla or LiveJournal, and don't think about how fanfiction is actually prevalent in all forms of media. For instance someone might write a short story about Sherlock Holmes based in modern day London, which would be considered fanfiction, but what if an international company made it?

The modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes from BBC America

The modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes from BBC America

The BBC show 'Sherlock' is just that, a present day version of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Why isn't that considered fanfiction? It's definitely not canon (a piece of a story that's considered to be part of the original work), as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn't write the TV show's script. Does that make it fanfiction? Or since it is popular, does that make it something different?

Perhaps the term fanfiction can only be attributed to pieces of work that are currently copyrighted or if you don't own the rights? Such as 'A Very Potter Musical' that was produced a few years ago. That was considered fanfiction, even if it was well received by fans and the writer alike.

Fan made poster for “A Very Potter Musical” from deviantart.com/zersen

Fan made poster for “A Very Potter Musical” from deviantart.com/zersen

And along with that, the recent Lord of the Rings movies aren't considered fanfiction, even if characters that never appeared in the book, appear in the movie, such as Legolas in the three Hobbit films. Even though that was clearly fanservice (writing parts of a story in to please fans/readers) no one calls the films out as being fanfiction, they just consider it to be an adaptation of the books (AKA the definition of fanfiction), even if JRR Tolkien didn't give the films his personal blessing. However, the Lord of the Rings films did buy the rights, and perhaps that is the line that constitutes what is fanfiction or not.

But if having the rights is all you need to not be considered fanfiction, then anything written about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland cannot be considered fanfiction as the story is now public domain, such as Once Upon a Time's spinoff: Wonderland, or the recent Tim Burton films on the same subject.

Which leads me to the question: can authors write fanfiction of their own work? Once Upon a Time is a Freeform show that focuses on the lives of many fairytale characters and how their lives intertwine, such as Elsa from Disney's Frozen. However, Elsa's story in Once Upon a Time is very different from the one told in Frozen, such as Elsa's mother having a sister with ice magic who they cast out of the land, which is never discussed in the original story. Is this story arch canon since it came from the same company (Disney)? Or is it considered fanfiction since the writer of Frozen did not write it themselves?

I personally like to believe that everything in Once Upon a Time is just Disney's giant crossover fanfiction, but since the line between fanfiction and canon is so gray it is hard to tell.

Do you have any ideas for what makes something fanfiction or not?

Until next time,

Caitlin

Achievement Unlocked: You Bought a House!

If you're interested in video games, you've probably heard of the very popular sequel to the Elder Scrolls franchise: Skyrim. It is named after the island-country that you play in and was one of the largest open world video games ever made.

The game has many features that allow you to customize your personal journey through the game, but one thing I find really interesting are the houses in the game.

There are four houses you can choose from in the original version of the game (later versions and mods allow you to purchase others). The houses are spread out and range in price, size, decoration, and even rooms that can be added on.

At first I was caught up in the idea of purchasing the best house. I researched all four and read up about what made each one unique, like I would if I was going to purchase a house in real life (unfortunately?). My character was a thief and a member of the Thieves Guild, so I ended up purchasing Honeyside in Riften. It wasn't the biggest but it was the most convenient and was the only house that allowed you to skip a loading screen if you exited the back door.

Image of the house you can purchase in Riften from the Elder Scrolls Wiki

Image of the house you can purchase in Riften from the Elder Scrolls Wiki

Only after dumping all of the various junk I had been carrying around did I realize the main reason houses were added: to be a giant storage shed.

Most chests reset after a period of time and delete everything inside, but your character can only hold about 300 pounds at one time. So you have to think really hard about if you need that Dwarven Bow of Scorching before you pick it up, because if you pick it up and then have to leave it somewhere, you won't be getting it back. Or conversely, if it makes you tip over the 300 pounds you can carry, then you become encumbered and are forced to move at the slowest speed known to man.

Therefore, houses were added to allow you to drop off your stuff so you can do more exploring. And isn't that what real houses are for?

Sure, I hang out in my real house and it gives me a place to sleep that's safe, but it also holds all of my junk. Do I really need fifteen paintings of flowers? Or a dining table for six when there are generally only three people in my household? Or a grill I use five times a year?

No. But hey, I got room so may as well.

If houses were strictly for beauty then they would have intricate carvings and paintings directly on the wall and giant bay windows to get the best light. And conversely, if they were just for functionality, then they would be small and just have a bed and maybe some boxes for your most important things. However, they are neither because they are made to hold us and our junk. Hence why attics, closets, and basements are popular in houses: so you have places to hide all the junk you don't want other people to see.

Until next time,

Caitlin

Mythical Biology and How it Works

In high school I, like most students, took biology to learn all about plants and animals and the systems that help keep them alive. I really enjoyed the class, but I ended up with a lot of questions that my teacher, for “some reason”, would not/could not answer.

I always had silly questions, such as 'is a ghost a vertebrate or invertebrate?', which my teacher found amusing but irritating. However, for me and my friends, they helped us get more excited about the subject and remember key bits of information.

I've outlined some of these questions below and my thoughts on them, although I'd love to hear your thoughts as well. These ponderings are obviously for fun since we can't go out and find the answers ourselves, but if considering the anatomy of mythical creatures interests you, then you're definitely at the right place.

An early photograph said to capture a ghost from Wiki Commons

An early photograph said to capture a ghost from Wiki Commons

Are ghosts vertebrates?

Depends on what type of ghost, I would assume. Ghosts tend to appear as either transparent humans, glowing orbs, or ectoplasmic blobs.  I would say both the orb and blob varieties are invertebrates since one is pure energy and the other is basically jello. They both also tend to be in shapes not even resembling a living human or animal, so why should we assume they retain the same kind of bone structure?

'Transparent Human' shaped ghosts however, are a bit trickier. Technically they do not have any mass so they couldn't have a rigid backbone, but they also retain the shape of their living counterpart, who did have a vertebra. Perhaps they have a misty, ghost version of a backbone somewhere in their transparent bodies, but does it really count if is not made of matter?

I would say that unless ghosts can return to physical form, then they are all invertebrates.

Are mermaids really half-human, half-fish?

If mermaids are half-human and half-fish and the fish half was the lower half, that would mean they likely laid eggs. I would also assume that they would have a lot of health problems since fish and humans have very different circulatory, respiratory, etc. systems in their bodies.

I believe it is more likely that mermaids are half-human, half-porpoise. Since porpoises are mammals, the same as humans, they would have much more similar regulatory systems in their bodies, making their chances of survival more likely while still looking very similar to the current depictions of them as being half-fish.

If a werewolf landed on the moon would they constantly be transformed?

Assuming they were always on a section that was facing the sun, so as to reflect that light back up at the werewolf, then it would seem likely that they would constantly be transformed. This is because being on the moon, they would never have different phases; it would just be a constant 'full moon' from their perspective.

A werewolf begins his night out in this image from Wiki Commons

A werewolf begins his night out in this image from Wiki Commons

However, this also brings up the question why werewolves don't transform during the day. A full moon is necessary for a werewolf to change, but the light from the moon is just a reflection of the sun. Therefore wouldn't a sunny day at noon create the same effect? In werewolf lore, werewolves obviously don't transform during the day, but it does seem a bit odd they don't. However, the original creators of the myths, I'm sure, weren't aware of the moon's and sun's lights being one and the same.

If a werewolf was on a different planet, like Jupiter, would its moons make them transform?

Since all we know about werewolves are based on the Earth's moon and its phases, it's hard to say how being on a different planet would affect their transformation cycle. Especially since most other plants have several more moons than Earth. Jupiter, for instance, has at least 67 moons, that means that there could be a full moon almost every single night or possibly even multiple full moons each night. (Would a werewolf's transformation be even more powerful if there were multiple full moons at one time?)

However, being on a different planet could also negate the effects of the transformation, assuming that there is something specifically special about our moon that effects werewolves as opposed to just any moon. And considering that werewolves don't transform in daylight, even though the light of the moon is just a reflection of the sun's light, this would most likely be the case.

Are Ents and Dryads plants or animals?

Dryad exploring outside of her tree, from Wiki Commons

Dryad exploring outside of her tree, from Wiki Commons

It would seem obvious to call them animals over plants since they have humanoid features and mannerisms. However, they do also photosynthesize, communicate with trees, and have 'skin made of bark'. Some can even change in and out of being a literal tree at will. This, to me, says they are in fact plants and not animals.

Many plants can move on their own. Some parasitic plants and vines don't even have roots, and will move based on where they can sense their next host is based on chemicals that the host plant creates. Using these chemicals that plants give off, they can also communicate with each other. Plants with symbiotic relationships with ants, for instance, can signal to their ant friends when they are under attack so that the ants can protect them.

However, Ents, Dryads, and the like could also be parasitic fungi, such as Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, or the zombie fungus. (And yes, fungi is technically different than plants.) The zombie fungus operates by infecting an ant with it's pathogen and then possesses it to climb to the highest leaf it can find, bite down securely so it won't fall off, and die. The fungus then can grow out of the dead ant to make more spores and infect more ants.

This especially makes sense for Dryads since Dryads have such a strong connection and will to keep their tree or forest from harm by any means. Couldn't the Dryad have at one point been a person who was possessed by a fungi to serve it? This would also explain why they have abilities and features similar to a plant and an animal, because they would be both a plant (fungus) and an animal.

Where's Hagrid when you need him?

Do you ave any crazy mythical questions that your teachers won't answer? What do you think about werewolves being astronauts?

Until next time,

Caitlin