Monthly Archives: November 2016

Here Unappreciated Value of an Enemy

By “enemy” I mean the person or persons other than us who we feel or think are hurting us or, at the least, wishing us ill. Also, an enemy can refer to something bigger than persons, such as a whole nation or group of nations-which I hope to be able to talk about later in this post-but what I have in mind when thinking about how valuable an enemy can be are more or less limited to dynamics that arise from interpersonal relations. If we suspect that the enemy is so driven by hate that he or she wants us physically dead, that can be addressed by another article, but probably not here, or not now. Another word of caution: it is possible that the one we tag as enemy would likely have the same thought about us: we are rubbish to him or her. In other words, emotions of mutual disdain are likely to be shown by persons who imagine themselves to be having enemies.

In that context I wish to proceed to say that one of the most obvious benefits we can have from an enemy is we-defamed and all-get to know (in high definition and on large screens) what our weaknesses and shortcomings are.

For free.

With that contention I wish to elaborate on three things.

One, although we know who we are and what we do, we often need confirmation from other people to feel secured or to reach a certain level of comfort. If there is issue about our negative side, we hardly get this confirmation from friends. But with enemies, we get it for free. A basic example of how this process of confirmation works: I know I am arrogant, condescending and hard-headed. With friends, I am likely to get 4-star, instead of 3-star, ratings or reviews. I feel good and continue to live my life being arrogant, condescending and hard-headed, confident in my belief that I am doing great by being what I am. But with enemies, the world get to know that I am not only arrogant but also a bully, a spoiled brat and one who has violent tendencies; not only condescending but one who is more like an idiot; not only hard-headed but one who bristles when challenged.

The painful words we hear from people who speak ill of us are, from our perspective, often libelous. How we react to them can neither be right or wrong, but will probably indicate how we appreciate the value of an enemy. Examples:

  • File a lawsuit, in defense of our honor;
  • We can always reject and return insults (with added venom) to the sender; or
  • Accept the “gift,” no matter how outlandish the content or outsized the wrapping.

That last point brings me to the second argument for why we derive benefits from enemies at no cost. As suggested at the outset, enemies are in pain. When they bring out caricatures of people they hate, they often exaggerate. This means that what people say about us may not necessarily be inaccurate; but their use of figurative speech (either in Latin, Greek, English, Tagalog, etc.) may make them baseless or even repugnant. Otherwise, exaggeration, when used positively, is music to all. Example: “Happy birthday to the best daddy in the world!”

Thus when an enemy calls me names and tells me I made a life-long career out of being a prostitute, he or she is probably stressing the fact that at some point in my life I offered false testimonies in exchange of a high position in government.

That said, I am glad that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, through Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas, its President, has recently called the Catholic Church to critically self-examine itself in view of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirade against the institution.

And that “self-examination”, said Archbishop Villegas, must begin among the Church leaders.

This represents a slight departure from gestures of recent months where bishops would quickly dismiss Mr. Duterte as a publicly-decorated nuisance, or something that looks like it. This, to me, is a sign of acknowledging that in a dump of cabbages and kings, something good can come out of an arrogant, condescending and hard-headed enemy.

The third point is about subjecting ourselves to a process that can make us better persons. Studies about organizations show that there is value in “criticism and self-criticism.” For example, researchers Dan Lovallo Olivier Sibony have suggested that nominating a “Devil’s Advocate” is one of three elements that constitutes an effective decision-making process.

They explained:

the most effective decision-making processes embraced contrarian critiques. Yet in many executive boardrooms dissension can be viewed as analogous to treason. An effective way to circumvent this very human reaction is to institutionalize the role of Devil’s Advocate. Essentially, someone should be nominated to poke holes in the team’s assumptions and strategies. By re-framing dissent as valuable, the Devil’s Advocate can help the team arrive at better decisions without becoming a pariah. Doing so also has the added benefit of normalizing useful but critical feedback by mitigating the fear of reprisal.

With this further advice:

Clearly, the sort of decision-making process outlined above can be demanding and time-consuming. The recommendation then is to employ it only when faced with those infrequent, non-routine, strategically significant decisions with which executive teams are confronted from time to time – in other words, the decisions that pose a significant opportunity for, and threat to, the organization’s future.

More on the Devil’s Role

Many successful organizations spend good money for the services of an “enemy”, one who says nothing but negative things about them. The idea is obvious: when we know everything that can be said negatively about ourselves, we have the option of addressing any which way we like whatever perceived issues there maybe about us. If we are in commerce, this puts us ahead of the competition.

The idea of creating an enemy in the person of a Devil’s Advocate (Advocatus Diaboli) came from the Catholic Church in its “human” effort to enhance its beautification and canonization process. Although in practice since 1524, the Office of the Promoter of the Faith (Promotor Fidei), the official title of the Devil’s advocate, was formally established only in 1587 by Sixtus V. The Promotor Fidei took a juridical position against the canonization of any given saint, in effect taking the devil’s part in the proceedings, which then gave rise to the monicker Devil’s Advocate.

Prospero Lambertini, who assumed the role of a Devil’s Advocate for 20 years before he became Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758), highlighted the level of scrutiny candidates were put under. He explained that there might be a need to ask whether a candidate for sainthood had any serious character defects, suggesting that inquisitors should see if they might be selfish motives in even their good deeds. Affirmed by Church tradition, he further insisted that every act and motive must be questioned, no matter how slight. While no saint is absolutely perfect, the Promotor Fidei’s job was to insist that those raised to the sacred dignity of sainthood should be as perfect as possible.

John Paul II (1978-2005) abolished the Office of Promoter of the Faith in 1983, but the rigor of the process remains until today.

As aspiritual mortals, we find it hard to understand what Jesus Christ meant when he said “Love your enemies.” And yet, as everyday experiences can tell us, we sometimes realize that enemies can make us stronger and better persons.

Putting this basic teaching into action is even harder. Mahatma Gandhi of India (1869-1948), whose country was being ravaged by Christian British colonizers, said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Former US President Barack Obama, then a Senator, was once reported as having suggested that the Christian faith cannot hold a country together.

Obama referred to the Sermon of the Mount, “a collection of sayings and teachings credited to Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew (chapters 5, 6, and 7). The Sermon is the longest continuous section of Jesus speaking found in the New Testament; it includes some of the best known teachings of Jesus, such as the Beatitudes, and the widely recited Lord’s Prayer.” In Matthew 5:43-28:20, the Lord urges his followers to love their enemies.

If Obama is correct, one wonders why countries can’t be brought down to the level of a community where its members live like friends or, yes, enemies.

Maybe what we need is to erase all ideas related to a country or nation, and replace them with one where all peoples simply consider themselves “citizens of the world.”

Dress Up Costume Play Is A Popular Hobby

Do you like dressing up in costumes for Halloween or a special event? Would you like to be able to attend more functions with costumes? Then Cosplay is for you. This is the “hottest”creative and imaginative hobby being enjoyed by amateurs and professionals.

No, there are no lines to memorize and you do not have to act in a play or any type of theatre performance. Select a character that you would like to be and become that personality for a period of time.

People who participate in this activity can be found at celebrity, sci-fi, and other types of conventions which welcome costumed personalities. They can also be found at promotional events such as books or movies.

Costume ideas:

  1. Space creatures
  2. Robots
  3. Military and other combative characters
  4. Fantasy creatures
  5. Monsters
  6. Mythical characters and creatures
  7. Movie characters
  8. Super heroes
  9. Puppets
  10. Cartoon characters
  11. Sexual fantasies
  12. Toys
  13. Distorted human appearances
  14. Original creations fabricated by your imagination

The participants of this activity enjoy making their personal creations whether it is original or copying a favorite character of their choice. These people take great pride in their talents and skills which are needed to assemble a costume.

Regardless if the costume is purchased, rented or made by your skillful hands, cosplay is a lot of fun.

In addition to entertainment for self or others this interest may:

  1. Jumpstart a new career
  2. Photos of your costume may win contests, modeling, or a movie invitation
  3. Satisfy your need to portray various characters
  4. Meet celebrities and other famous people at the conventions and costumed promotions
  5. New social life with people who share your interest
  6. Travel
  7. Satisfy your creativity and imagination

Various talents used in arts and crafts are utilized in making these costumes. Copying and duplicating a simple character can be easy or an ordeal depending on your skills.

A monster or a military costume will involve crafts from plastics, foam, wiring, electronics, metal assembly, and more which may be needed for the costume and the props. In this example sewing fabric, fur, feathers, skins, leather, and other garment needs may require a sewing machine or hand stitching may be the solution.

Regardless if the costume is purchased, rented or made by your skillful hands, cosplay is a lot of fun.

This an up and coming “hot” hobby for everyone to enjoy. There is a niche for any interest, talent or skill which you may possess and wish to keep active.

About Slush Casting for Hollow Objects

Mold making is a wide-ranging art form which invokes varied materials as well as techniques. The choice of mold making procedure depends as much on the model as the skill and dexterity of the mold maker. So is the case for the mold making materials.

The simplest form of mold is a block mold where you simply pour the mold making material over the object or statue to be replicated. Intricate shapes may require the mold to be made in two or even more parts. More complex techniques range from blanket molds and glove molds to injection molds and more.

And once the mold is ready, the artist moves on to making the final cast from the mold. Again, the choice of the techniques and materials varies from artist to artist and application to application.

A lesser known technique of making casts is the slush casting. This is a traditional method of permanent mold casting wherein the liquid casting material is not allowed to completely solidify in the mold. Once the desired thickness is obtained, the remaining material is simply poured out.

This technique comes in handy for casting hollow items such as toys, decorative pieces, statues, ornaments, components, etc.

The procedure is pretty simple in fact. The mold is placed on a flat surface so that the opening is on the top. The casting material is slowly poured into the mold opening. This could be clay slip, liquid latex rubber, molten metal (usually zinc, tin or aluminum) or even something else. The mold should be rotated a bit so that the material swirls around and completely coats the sides and bottom.

Once the material starts cooling or setting in the mold, it is turned over and the remaining material is poured out of the mold. A thin skin is left behind and this will solidify to form the hollow cast.

To form a thicker shell, the casting material simply needs to be left in the mold for a longer period. Alternatively, if the cast seems to be too thin, the pouring in and out process is repeated until the desired thickness is built up.

The cast is then removed and allowed to set properly. The cast will turn out accurate and have a smooth outer finish as well. As it is hollow, the cast is definitely much lighter than a solid metal or clay object would be.

Slush casting is usually used to make decorative bowls, vases, lamp bases, candlesticks, miniatures and so on, without the use of cores. The same process is successfully adapted to create a latex mask and other thin skin latex products as well. Cosplay costumes, props and even helmets are made using similar techniques.

Sometimes, closed molds are used for slush casting. The mold is broken apart to reveal a uniquely beautiful cast that cannot be replicated again.

And now that you know how to make molds as well as slush casts, what is stopping you from creating your own hollow ornamental objects?

The Cure Time of Molds and Casts

Every mold making and casting material comes with its own specific range of cure time. This is nothing but the time that the material will take to get completely cured. It can range from just a few minutes to hours or even a few days. The mold or cast has to be left to air dry on its own and there is nothing much that the artist can do in the meanwhile.

Similarly, the pot time or working time is the time on hand to work with the product after it is mixed until it starts to set. After this, the material will not work properly.

For instance, alginate is renowned for its quick setting and curing time, whereas materials like latex rubber require days on end to cure before they are ready for use. Most silicones have a cure time between 18 to 24 hours.

What to do?

Artists use various measures to speed up or prolong the cure time. In fact, delayed-setting and quick curing options are available for alginates, plasters, silicone and other materials. Sometimes, fibers, fillers, talc or magnesium oxide (for plaster) are added to achieve the same effect.

For certain materials like silicone, fast catalysts are also available. These can be added to the silicone rubber to significantly reduce the cure time, sometimes to even just an hour! Care is needed as adding too much catalyst may make the material start curing even before it can be applied.

Alternatively, techniques like hot air dryer, dehumidifier or baking in an oven are used to hasten the cure time. In fact, plaster casts are often baked to reduce the curing time to 12 to 24 hours. However, too much of the hot air can also cause the mold or cast to crack or spall. Also, silicone does not react very well to heating from dryers or lamps; it may just break out in unsightly bubbles all over the mold or cast.

Temperature variation

It should be noted that the pot time and cure time is generally measured at normal room temperature. It will definitely vary depending on the atmospheric and climatic conditions prevailing at the time of working/curing. For instance, cooler temperatures tend to increase the pot time and cure time while warmer weather is sure to reduce both working time and cure time.

This phenomenon can be easily used to vary the pot/cure time to suit your convenience when trying how to make molds. All you have to do is gently warm the material (both base and catalyst for two-part materials) before using them. This will speed up the chemical reaction and the mold or cast will take lesser time to cure. But keep in mind that the working time is also reduced and the material will start setting much more quickly. Do not overheat the materials either.

Similarly, cure time can be easily increased by refrigerating the material (both base and catalyst again) prior to use of how to make molds. This will give more time for working with the material per se.