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Zatth Blag


"When you build the Game of Thrones..."

Posted by Zatth , Apr 12 2015 · 239 views

"you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
- Aegon the Conqueror (at some point probably)

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(In case you're wondering, yes, I did procrastinate all of my classwork for three days and turned my dorm room into a studio where I made a fully modular Iron Throne that can be disassembled and rebuilt on any dorm chair, as well as making the Valyrian steel sword Ice. Because procrastinating for Game of Thrones is always worth it.)


On Friends, Art, and Life

Posted by Zatth , Apr 08 2015 · 233 views

So this has been a crazy good week and a half.

For those who didn't know, we had our National Forensics tournament in Portland this past weekend. We flew from DC on Tuesday, and arrived that night. Unfortunately, we spend our days leading up to the tournament in a hotel preparing, so I knew from the get-go I'd be stuck inside a hotel with no chance to visit or see anything. When I got a message from Micah (Kakaru) I sadly told him this, and let him know that I'd be stuck at the hotel.

Micah, being the wonderful human being that he is, said he wouldn't mind driving down to meet up with me at the hotel. A few hours later that Wednesday night, and Micah and I were catching up at the lobby of the hotel. We spent an hour talking about BZPower, BIONICLE, LEGO, making art, and a lot more stuff. If nothing else, I got to improve the first impression I made at NYCC (I was so excited at the Bonkle booth that I stumbled into a fake potted plant and some BZPers and looked like a total buffoon). Micah also gave me a Hero Pack like it was no big deal, and I have to admit that the visit kept me elated the entirety of the prep days at the hotel. It reminded me the kind of wonderful people that BIONICLE fans are, and just how wonderful some people are. Micah totally rocks.

However, this was also going to be a bit of a weird and important final tournament for me. Forensics is a unique activity, because it allows us to perform and speak about topics that we're passionate about. For me, this took the form of my Program Oral Interpretation on Jaime Garzon. For those who didn't know, I started off this year with a piece on a Colombian comedian and historical figure that was murdered in 1999 for not only speaking the truths others didn't want to hear or couldn't say, but also for working for peace and understanding between all Colombians.

For me this was an important project, since Jaime's story is very intimately tied with mine. When I was four, my parents brought me to the front out our building, giving me a white handkerchief, to wave at the black car carrying his casket. Fifteen years later, that grown up boy was about to lay to rest this year-long project. Over the past year, I watched all of Jaime's material online. I did research on him at the Library of Congress. I called and interviewed Jaime's brother, a close family friend. I became an advocate for the peace process in Colombia, and did all this because I knew Forensics would allow me to teach others about this wonderful historical figure, and about my hurting country. For me, the Nationals tournament wasn't about wining awards or accolades. It was about the last time I'd bring Jaime to life, the last time I could present my art to others, the last time I could be an advocate for this cause I cared so deeply about. My friends and team knew how much this meant to me.

I don't say this to brag, but I am happy to have advanced to Quarterfinals in POI at the National tournament, and being given the chance to perform my piece in an outbound. Though I dropped after Quarters, I had one audience member come up to me and ask me more about Jaime, telling me he'd look him up later on and watch his material. That to me was the best way to let my piece to rest; I knew I'd reached at least one final person, let someone else know Jaime had existed, and had become more of an advocate for Colombia.

But the end of the tournament was also so important for our entire team. Last year, we barely made it as the 5th school in the nation. Under any other circumstance, this would be amazing no matter what, but last year there was a toxic and sour attitude within the team, and the post-tournament dinner was quiet and filled with tension.

This year, 35 of our 66 slots broke to outrounds, breaking the university's record. We rose up from 5th to 3rd place, even after we lost a third of our team in December. This was a team that was united by self-realization and love for every team member. We were there for each other, as a true family that was passionate about its message and everyone in the team. By the time the tournament was over, every single team member was happy and glad with what we'd done. We'd turned around a failing program, and individually and collectively overcame these difficulties to show the nation that when we fell down, we got back up and rose higher than before.

Finally, I got confirmation of another big event in my life. Right before the tournament, I applied to study for a semester at Oxford University. I got an e-mail the day before the tournament letting me know I'd been accepted. This mean I will, for the first time, spend a semester away from home. For someone with a rare illness, who has been coddled by his parents and relied on a heavy support system, this means that the next semester will force me to grow up and live, truly for the first time, independently. I am scared but excited, as I know that this semester will bring me great personal growth that I have been lacking and yearn for.

All in all, this has been a crazy week and a half. A month and a half ago I was in a hospital, with my stomach burst open for an operation, not knowing what Forensics or life would herald for me. I am now feeling emotionally elated, having seen performances that changed my way of thinking, seeing friends from both the BIONICLE and Forensics world that reminded me that there is good in this world, and knowing that the future looks at least a bit brighter than usual.

tl:dr: Happy Pablo is at peace :)


Just a quick reminder

Posted by Zatth , Mar 25 2015 · 263 views

Smile back at someone today
Give someone a compliment

Help someone out in some way
Hug your loved ones, tell them how glad you are for them to be here
Give yourself a few minutes of the day just to yourself
Our time here is limited, so spread the love, y'all :)


Back from Barcelona

Posted by Zatth , Mar 17 2015 · 297 views

I have returned! The trip was fun, and yes, there will be pictures below.

We arrived on Friday at 11:45 pm, and spent the next two days in the Hilton Barcelona preparing for the tournament. Monday and Tuesday we competed, and we did well (we Sophomores crushed it, having five of our six class members winning 1st place in one of out events).

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(Pictured above: the Sophomores of GMU 4N6, and the people I love the most on the team)

By Wednesday, though, we were finally free to travel and visit places!

We walked for an hour and a half to the Sagrada Familia, and I was not prepared for it. Wednesday I focused just on the outside, but even that was astounding.
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We then returned back to our new apartments (conveniently located literally in front of Camp Neu), and prepared for Thursday.

Thursday I had a group go with me to the Sagrada Familia Archives for my project; we also used the time to visit the cathedral itself. Two things I want to highlight; the first being the stained glass and how the light made the inside literally change colours
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the second being how amazing and gorgeous the inside looks (and how it does replicate a forest)
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Needless to say, I cried. (I also got sweaty palms, but that was when we went up one of the bell towers. Fun fact: I discovered then that I have a fear of heights!)

We then spent the evening in the Gothic District, where I found the chance for a literary inside joke that only true (15)90s kids will understand:
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Spent the next day again in the Gothic District, which conveniently is right next to the beach
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(Look at these nerds)

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The last day we went to Els Quatre Gats (and I began writing a meta short story right there and then, which I might post here in the future)
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We then ended the day by going to the Picasso Museum and taking some vague, heroic photos
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(Pictured here: a fool who thinks he looks cool).

In all seriousness, this was a wonderful trip. I got to see one of my fave buildings in the world, spent a week with my friends, and ate amazing. I can't stress enough how lucky I am to belong to such a great program, that dazzles me every day and lets me be thankful for what I have.

PS: While there, we filmed the pilot for our new sitcom, Pablo & Pablo. Below are two promotional images:

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"...One of the most hideous buildings in the world."

Posted by Zatth , Mar 04 2015 · 301 views

That's what George Orwell described the Sagrada Familia as in his Homage to Catalonia.

Well, on Thursday night we'll (me and the Forensics Team) be traveling to Barcelona and staying there for a week and a half for the International Forensics Association tournament. The tournament sounds cool and all, but the reason I'm really excited for the trip is because I'll get to see said "hideous building".

Not that I think the thing is terrible; I'm a bit of a Sagrada Familia fan myself. So it only made sense that our head coach, who offers a class called COMM 307: Field Study in Communication, gives team members the option of, every year, writing a paper on an aspect of the country we travel to that year and compare it with something in the U.S. As an excuse to learn more about architecture and symbology, I proposed that my paper became about the Sagrada Familia and the Library of Congress (Sumiki might have something to say about that). Specifically, I'll be examining the juxtaposition of the symbology of both buildings, how the Sagrada Familia as a temple intertwined with Catalonian identity, and the Library of Congress as a temple intertwined with the nation's founders and early American identity. Yes, it's a mouthful.

Lucky for me, my hospitalization gave me a week to curl up next to Gaudi's biography by Gijs van Hensbergen (highly recommend it), the Taschen book on Gaudí, as well as two books on the Library of Congress. It's weird to think that almost a month ago I was having my stomach cut open, and in two days I'll be hopping on a plane (I actually fought to be operated as soon as possible so I could make the trip).

And over the past week I've been absorbing everything about Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia. There are so many factoids bustling in my head I feel like the unofficial tour guide of the group. I'll also get to interview members of the Sagrada Familia Archive, and maybe get a behind-the-scenes look at the Archives and other documents. For a myriad reasons I think the Sagrada Familia is one of the most gorgeous buildings on the planet, and these past two weeks have just made that conviction stronger.

To conclude this convoluted mess, I found out while at the hospital that I might have much more to thank this building for; my mom mentioned that in college she'd taken an Art History class, and spent hours poring over pictures of the Sagrada Familia, and she too became obsessed. A few years later, my mom went on a first date with my dad, and as he pulled out his wallet to pay for something she noticed a little torn-up photo of the Sagrada Familia. She said she fell a bit more in love with him then. And just as she said, when my dad passed by the hospital that evening, he pulled out the same picture, so many years later but unmistakably the building that towers over Barcelona.

I hope to bring many pictures from the trip, as well as a more fair (thought probably very biased) report to counter Mr. Orwell's.


Rare Disease Day

Posted by Zatth , Feb 28 2015 · 270 views

Hey friends!
Today is Rare Disease Day. For those of you who don't know, Rare Diseases are those that (in the U.S) affect less than 200,000 people. Nonetheless, there's over 6,000 Rare Diseases, and this is an important issue for me because I suffer from Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome Type 1. Yes, it's the reason why I seem to spend half my time in a hospital.

These diseases are called rare, however, because we don't understand them. Because we don't get as much funding as other better known diseases. Because there's such lack of knowledge doctors don't know about them. Because so little people know about them we can be called liars, or hypochondriacs, and all because of an illness that's not well understood. And for every Pablo that that survived to this day and can live a relatively comfortable lifestyle, there are ten of me who have never been diagnosed correctly. Who have never had the financial access to support them. Who, like me, may have started in a third-wield country, but unlike me, didn't live past three due to the lack of awareness.

I write this all today because I recognize how lucky I am. I know it sounds horrible to say, but I don't deserve it. So I use the little time I have to speak out about these issues; so that twenty years time a child with a rare disease can know, so their families don't treat them like a shameful secret that must never be discussed, so they can have one specialist that knows what they have and treats them. John F. Kennedy, Pope John Paul II, Stephen Hawking, all suffer(ed) from rare diseases. And look at what they did. How many have we lost because of our lack of awareness?
If anything, I hope you read this and do a bit more investigation on rare diseases. As long as you know we exist, as long as you know that we are present, as long as you know that we suffer but push through, then I feel like my advocacy will have educated a bit more on this issue.


It's Times Like These

Posted by Zatth , Feb 22 2015 · 342 views

When a performance of "Everything Is Awesome" is featured at the Oscars, when LEGO is called the world's most recognized brand, when BIONICLE has come back, that I want to shout into the annals of history...



On Those Delays...

Posted by Zatth , Feb 12 2015 · 256 views

This is mostly for the few of you who follow A Mystery Explored, but it also applies to anyone who felt my presence or productivity decline over the past two weeks.

I had an operation on Tuesday of last week for the removal of a polyp in my small intestine. Long story short, they snipped off a part of my intestine, sewed it back together, and I've been recovering since.

Nothing to be alarmed over, I had great medical care, a very high pain tolerance which has the doctor and my parents amazed (and angry), and good spirits that have carried me through.

I didn't mention anything before the operation because, well, to be honest, I was given the date the Sunday before the operation, and Monty Oum's passing was announced on a Monday. I'm not lying when I say I tried to keep myself as awake as possible after the anesthesia, making it to seeing the lights in the operation room, because my sense of mortality was that much heightened, and so only close family members, friends, and my professors knew about the procedure.

But hey, now I'm out and recovering well! I go back on campus on Monday, and though I can't lift anything over 10 lbs for the next four weeks, my gut hasn't burst open and that's all we can ask for.

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Deciding On A New LEGO Project

Posted by Zatth , Jan 31 2015 · 177 views

I think it's a blessing and a curse to want to switch things up while simultaneously one-upping myself.

Anywho, I've delved into mosaic building. I've made models of the Hagia Sofia, the Poporo Quimbaya, and the Cathedral of Barichara (these last two are Colombian in origin).

So of course it makes sense that I now want to devote myself to a quasi-microscale model of a theme park in Colombia.
A theme park which, I might add, includes a 1:25000 scale raised-relief map of Colombia, an actual Colombian destroyer that fought in WWII, a 1:1 scale replica of the Taj Mahal, mini replicas of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, castles that depict the Divine Comedy and the 1,001 Arabian Nights, a self-titled "Museum of Man", and an entire section of the park which is a zoo.

Please. Send help.


BOM Podcast

Posted by Zatth , Jan 06 2015 · 199 views

So if you've been following the BIONICLE: ANP, you might know that, eventually, some other kind of project would spring out of that.

Here/s the link:

I believe that after this, I now have to proceed with my BIONICLE Parody Songs EP, including tracks like "Do You Want To Build a Boxor?", "The Plan", and everyone's favourite, "Some Story That I Used To Know"

i may or may not be joking about all of the above

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