The Marvel-ous Stan Lee

Anyone who knows me, or who has read some of my previous blog articles, will know that I’m a huge Marvel Studios fan. I recently did a school project which involved creating a presentation about a successful entrepreneur that I admire. Naturally, I chose Stan Lee, the creator of the original Marvel comics, so here’s my take on his life story. 

Who is Stan Lee?

Stanley Martin Lieber was born in New York on Thursday, 28 December 1922. He was a comic writer and is best known for his Marvel comics and films. After finishing school at the age of 16, he got a job with Timely Comics and in 1942, became an editor there. He started writing his own comic books in the early 1960s and started working with Jack Kirby there too. He married Joan Boocock on Tuesday, 5 December 1950 and they had two children. Sadly, he died on Monday, 12 November 2018, aged 95.

What did he create, and why?

Stan Lee created the comic book company, Marvel Comics, with Jack Kirby in 1961 after creating the characters, The Fantastic Four. He also created the famous characters, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, among others. In total, he inspired the creation of around 37,000 different Marvel comics over a period of 80 years. From those comics, he created films series like Iron Man, Thor and The Avengers.

He created the Marvel Comics company in 1961 with Jack Kirby because he was interested in creating comics and wanted to share them with the world. He also created the company because, when he created his first few comics, people were saying “you can’t make a company out of this” and “these comics are no good”. He didn’t let these people ruin his idea and, as a result, he was motivated to keep going.

He started creating these comics because he was very interested in writing and making stories. He also had a lot of skills and these helped him to create a highly successful company. Some of his skills and characteristics included creativity, artistry, positivity, persistence and ambition, which he used to make his comics more interesting and exciting.


Excelsior is a Latin word that means “ever upward” and “still higher”. Stan Lee said this all the time because he truly believed that the phrase summarised how he felt about his life in general. The word is very positive and he often used it to motivate people to do what they’re interested in, instead of what other people tell them to do.

When he was younger, his family did not have much and they struggled a lot. That didn’t affect Stan’s dream and he also used this word to describe how he got to where he was in life.

Voluntary Work

Stan Lee donated a lot of money to the American Heritage Centre at the University of Wyoming from 1981-2001. He was also asked by the National Institute of Mental Health to use an anti-drug theme in some of his comics, and he did duly so in many of them because he believed it was worthwhile and informative for the younger generation.

Another good thing that Stan did was to create a superhero of African descent, Black Panther. This was something that had not been done before and he was heavily praised for it. He also created the Stan Lee Foundation in 2010 to promote diversity, national literature, culture and art.

Modern Day Marvel

Marvel Comics is still a huge company today, selling lots of comics and making lots of money. The Marvel Comics HQ is in California, USA and Kevin Feige is the current President of the company.

Their movie division is called Marvel Studios and this has become even more popular for them. There are about 50 Marvel movies in total and the most famous ones are set in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), such as Spider-Man and Iron Man. Avengers: Endgame is currently the biggest box office movie and made $1.2 billion at the box office in its first weekend.

Interesting Info

Here are another couple of facts about Stan Lee that I found interesting:

  • When he was younger, he wrote obituaries but left the job because he felt it was too sad.
  • He made a cameo appearance in every single Marvel movie (before he died in 2018) and these scenes have become really famous.
  • He was inaugurated into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.
  • He gave the keynote speech at the 2017 Graduation Ceremony in the University of Los Angeles. His advice about believing in yourself is one of my favourite videos of him.
  • He took the name Stan Lee when he started writing comics because it was shorter and easier to say than his real name, Stanley Lieber.
  • The parent company that he created is now called Marvel Entertainment, is now one of the largest companies in the world, and was bought by Disney in 2009.

Closing Thoughts

In my opinion, an entrepreneur is someone who creates a company from a simple idea and, while knowing that there are risks in doing so, they do it anyway because they believe in themselves. In his lifetime, Stan has shown that you can achieve things and do the things you want in life, while being successful and happy and proving people wrong along the way.

I believe that Stan Lee is therefore a superhero in his own right because of the things he has achieved in his life, and because of how his creations have been such a positive influence in my life, and in the lives of my friends and family.

Skateboard Restoration Project

I was out walking one day and found an old skateboard abandoned near my home and I decided to try restoring it to see what I might learn about how skateboards are actually made. Seeing as I didn’t know all that much about the parts of a skateboard, I first did some research on that. There’s lots of places online for this but I found YouTube videos to be the best way to learn about it.

Damage Limitation

Removing the old parts from the skateboard was actually harder than I thought, partly because it was so rusted and damp, but also because I probably didn’t have the right tools. I bought some basic skateboard tools in a local shop, along with some white vinegar to help de-rust some of the other parts, and I eventually managed to disassemble it fully. Gladly, I was able to salvage most of the parts, except the wheel bearings which were not designed to be opened so could not be reused. Instead, I used the bearings from a few spare fidget spinners that I had lying around and they actually did the job nicely.

Replacement Parts

Because the outer rims of the wheels were also badly worn (with large chunks missing), I decided to treat myself to a replacement set. I also bought a replacement grip tape as the old one did not come off the board in one piece. Apart from some art supplies (including primer, paint and varnish), these were the only replacement parts I had to buy.

Dampness Control

I tried sanding down the board but quickly realised that it was still very damp, from having been outside in the rain for so long. I did a little more research here and tried leaving the board in my hotpress for a couple of weeks. This didn’t really help all that much so I next tried leaving it in my Dad’s shed where he had a dehumidifier that keeps his old motorbike dry. This helped a lot more.

After trying to sand it by hand a couple times, which was very hard going, I took a trip to my uncle’s house to try out his electric sander. This made a big difference but he also had some white spirits and a heat gun in his garage which helped a lot too. Here is what it looked like at this stage.

Design Ideation

In the days and weeks while it was drying, I also began to think about what design I might like to put on it once it was finished. I knew I’d need a primer first because you can’t apply acrylic paints directly onto wood anyway and the primer would also shield the acrylic pains from any remaining dampness in the wood, which there was some. I actually ended up applying a total of 3 coats of primer before I was fully happy with the foundation for the next layer, after which it looked like this.

Painting My Design

The final stage (before reassembly), which was also the most enjoyable part for me, was to paint my design on the underside of the deck. I went with a mixture of different patterns and shapes, with strong colours, inspired from some ideas I saw on Pinterest. After some trial and error, I found a handy way to apply my design onto the deck using a B6 pencil with some A4 paper sheets and an iPad (where the design I was tracing was being displayed).

After tracing the design onto one side of the paper sheets (which were taped together), I turned over the pages and applied a heavy layer of dark pencil lead on the other side. I then flipped the page back over again and retraced my original design, which imprinted itself onto the deck via the lead layer underneath. I then applied the acrylic paint layer in the right places, after which I applied a few layers of varnish in the days after.

The Finishing Touches

In terms of reassembly, this started with applying a new grip tape. I wanted to put a design into this too and used a screwdriver to etch out my design as a pencil was too light. I then cut the tape into two halves and placed them on the deck, slightly apart, to get the effect I wanted. The reassembly finished with the installation of new trucks and wheels. Here is the finished product.

While it took a lot longer than I thought, I’m really pleased with the outcome and would definitely consider doing it again (hopefully in less time with all that I learned). If I do, I’ll be sure to add some details about them to my blog as well.

A Soldier’s Story

I wrote a short story in my English class earlier this year, which was based on the 2017 war movie, Dunkirk. I really enjoyed the movie (but in a sad kind of way) and, because I had typed it up before handing it in, I’ve decided to share it here as well.

While the story may appear disjointed at times, this is deliberate to convey the mixed emotions that the main character was feeling throughout their journey and it was also written in present tense. I hope you enjoy it.


The smell of blood and the sound of pain is beginning to become very familiar. It has been two days since the enemy declared a pause for its soldiers to take a break from the war in France, and right now I’m hiding with a group of about 150 of fellow soldiers in an abandoned borough. I am trying to sleep but the hunger won’t let me. I keep thinking of my mother’s cooking at home; how she would always burn the sausages when making a full-fry dinner, but my three brothers and I would always eat them anyway. My father tried to cook once but he couldn’t even turn on the stove so it didn’t really turn out too well.

My stomach pain is starting to feel normal too, probably because my body has simply decided to ignore it. I wish my brain could ignore all the pain I feel, though, like the pain in my right leg from getting shot with an assault rifle, the headache from the sound of machine guns and, most of all, the pain in my heart from seeing all three of my brothers being killed in battle, right in front of me. I decide to try taking a nap to forget about life for a while and hopefully get a little bit of energy.

I have no idea what time it is when I wake up but I guess time doesn’t really matter when there is nothing to do and you’re so bored that counting to infinity feels like fun. The sounds of dying men in this small cabin isn’t soothing so I decide to go outside for a walk. Our commander had said we are not allowed to go outside but I’ve been watching for two days now and not a single soul has come past this tiny town. It’s quiet outside, so quiet that I can hear the leaves brushing off each other as the gentle wind blows them like it is the first warm breeze of summer.

As I slowly stumble further outside, I squint as the sun hits my eyes and I suddenly feel as though I was back at home playing with my brothers in the garden, wishing that school would never return and that summer would last last forever. I wish for that feeling again now.

I then begin to sing the song that my mother sang to my brothers and I when we were younger. As I get to the chorus, I hear a low, soft husky voice join me. I turn around to see a short, fragile old man with a friendly smile. His hair is winter white and he is wearing the uniform that I have on but he has a lot more medals than me.

Wallace Jacobs

“That’s a beautiful song you were singing, don’t let me stop you. I was just looking to get some fresh air”, the old man says. He looks at me and, as he does, it is like I can see his whole past in his eyes, which look the eyes of someone who is used to seeing death but doesn’t like it. 

“Thank you very much. My mother used to sing it to me and my brothers when we were younger”, I tell him with a sad smile.

“You are still young, boy, don’t let this war age you,” he replies. His voice is rough but I can still clearly understand him. I look at his trenchcoat to see a badge that says, “W. Jacobs”.

“One of my brothers was called Jacob,” I say gloomily.

“Was?”, he asked and I replied, “Yes, he and my two other brothers died a few days ago”.

“I’m so sorry to hear that”, he says, putting his hand on my shoulder, “I lost my only son in this war too and that’s why I joined the army again”.

“I’m so sorry, that must have been hard”, I replied.

Then I hear the commander telling people in the cabin to wake up. “We better get back. We aren’t supposed to be here”, the old man says as he turns around and starts to wander over towards the small house that I have started to call home now.

For the rest of the day, the old man and I share stories about our families. His name is Wallace Jacobs and his wife’s name is Elizabeth. She had their son, Thomas, when she was 24 and Wallace was in the army at the time. He came home for most of Thomas’ childhood and then, when Thomas died in battle a few weeks ago, Wallace enrolled in the army again in memory of his son. I then realised that we are very similar – we both have older brothers and we live pretty close to each other.

“You remind me of my son – you are both handsome, brave and always know what to say, and when to say it”, Wallace says, giving me a little smile. 

“Thank you, I’m sure he was all of those things, and more”, I said, returning a smile too.

The commander does the last scout outside and spreads out some very small rations between all of the soldiers. Wallace tries to give his piece to me but I know he needs it more than I do, so I decline saying, “No, you eat it, you need it”, pushing his hand back towards him.

After everyone has finished eating their rations, most people try to go asleep. I look outside, into the darkness of the night, to see the stars. The only light is the small ray of moonlight shining in through the old wooden planks on the wall. Every time I look at the moon I feel at home. My mother used to tell me that, if I ever feel alone in the night, just look at the moon and know that she will be looking at it too. If we both see it, then it’s like we are there together, she would say.

The Letter

Everyone wakes up late today. The sun is already high in the sky but it’s not clear exactly where it is with all the clouds. Maybe the smoke from all the bombs that were dropped in the last few weeks is finally rising up so that everyone can see the real pain that this war has caused.

“Attention!”, our commander says as he walks in holding a piece of paper that looks like it was freshly printed. Most of the soldiers stand up but some can’t because they are too hurt or too sick. 

“I have just received a letter from the Government announcing that they are sending every ship, boat and water transportation that they have to us. They have already departed and will arrive this evening at 6pm. They want all soldiers to be at the beach at 6:30pm so that the small boats have time to help everyone they can”, he said.

There was a pause and then I heard the words I thought I would never hear, “We’re going home, boys!”. Every man and boy of every age shouts and cries with joy. I look at Wallace with a tear in my eye and say, “this is a miracle”.

Beach Bound

The beach is approximately an hour away but that’s if we are not spotted. We leave everything in the old town, except for rations and valuables like photos of our loved ones. We leave for the beach in groups of 50 with armed men in each group to protect the others.

As we walk through trees and along roads, my injured leg starts to get weaker and weaker. I drop to the ground in pain and try to get up. Two boys help me up and I look under the bandage on my leg to see that it’s now badly infected. I keep going anyway because the army taught me never to give up.

It’s been around 45 minutes and I hear a distant rumbling sound. I look up but the sun makes my head hurt. “Get down! Enemies!”, I hear the gunman shout. An enemy plane passes by and on it’s entry, it releases hundreds of bullets. Men become still all around me after being shot. The sound of the gunman shooting back beside me stops and I look up to see that he is now dead too. I pick up his gun and aim it towards the sky but the plane has now gone.

The men that are left slowly stand up and we group together. I look for Wallace and then spot him behind the commander. “OK, boys, we are in enemy territory now and that means we have to stay low and get to the beach as fast as we can. Once we get there, we’ll be safe”, he says with an unsure look on his face. Three more planes pass overhead but they don’t see us.

As we approach the beach, I have an uneasy feeling like I’m not going to make it and like I’ll have the same fate as my brothers. The smell of the salty ocean hits me as soon as we arrive and the view is incredible but also horrible at the same time. Thousands of dead soldiers lying on the sand but also hundreds of others standing, waiting for the boats to pick them up.

The Medal

The small boats begin departing the beach with at least 30 soldiers on board and I can see the last of the bigger boats appearing on the horizon. I smile at Wallace and he smiles back but nobody knows what to say. I thought we were the only soldiers left alive in this country but it turns out, there were thousands of others in our position too.

We walk towards the shore to where the final group of men are queuing to get on board the last of the bigger boats. We join the queue and every step I take, I feel closer to home. I see friendly planes pass overhead and I hope they clear all the skies so we can have a safe passage home.

Suddenly, my hopes are dashed when I hear the familiar sound of the enemy again. All the soldiers turn around, look up and then start running towards the last boat. As the enemy gets closer, I fall and get trampled by all the boots of scared men. A hand grabs me and drags me towards the wooden jetty. It’s Wallace.

“Thank you”, I shout with fear, as I look up to see the enemy planes approaching.

“Here, take this and when you get home, give it to Elizabeth”, Wallace tells me, as he takes off one of his medals that has his name on it.

“What?”, I say as the planes get closer, “but you’re coming with me, Jacobs”.

“No, you go”, he replied.

I get pulled along with the crowd of men and we board the ship. I try to reach Wallace to help him on board too but it’s too late. The enemy planes have already released their bombs and they explode where I was standing before, and where Wallace is standing now. I shout but no sound comes out.


After every bomb is finished being dropped, I look back at the beach and the amount of lives that have just been lost in one place at one time. Everyone else on the ship goes below deck to get some rations that were prepared for us but I stay out on top of the deck, watching the sunset that I never appreciated as much as now. I want to cry but no tears will come out. I wish that I wasn’t happy to be going home – nobody should be, after what happened to all the innocent people. 

I then open the hand that I had kept tightly closed since Wallace gave me his medal. I look at it and see that it was his very first medal, given to him for bravery. I begin to think about who else he saved to earn this medal, and how I could ever repay the bravery he just showed me too. I then promised myself that, from that day forward, I would do everything in my power to be as brave as him in my lifetime, so that his memory would never be forgotten.

What are the best Marvel movies, and why?

As part of English class during the 2019-2020 school year, I had to write a fictitious blog about any topic and I chose one of my favourite topics: Marvel Movies. Seeing as I now actually have a blog, I decided to publish this here as well (with some minor tweaks), so here goes.

Let me also say that, if you’re not a fan of Marvel movies, then this isn’t the place for you. 


Personally, I think that all 23 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies are amazing. They all have great story lines and keep the viewer interested and excited throughout the whole movie. The directors and producers also know how to make us fall in love with the characters and their relationships with others, and this makes fans like me committed to watching all of the movies, and even sometimes make up our own stories about what could happen next.

So, what are the best Marvel movies? It’s a tough question because they are all so great, but I think there are definitely some that are better than others, as you’ll now see.

5. Spiderman Far From Home (2019)

Spiderman Far From Home (2019), as the sequel to Spiderman Homecoming (2017), is a funny teen drama, but also an action packed movie, and deserves to be in my top 5. It teaches us that everyone has a responsibility and we can’t run away from it sometimes. It also has a huge plot twist that I never saw coming and that makes the movie so much more interesting. Finally, the humour in this movie makes it very enjoyable and reminds us that the characters are still very young and relatable.

4. The Avengers (2012)

As the first in a series of four great Avengers movies, The Avengers (2012) is definitely one to watch. In this movie, we see the six heroes that we know and love come together to create a team that will protect the earth from any threat that comes their way. This classic had to be in my top 5 because I would watch it on repeat if I could. We see the extremely different characters and personalities come together and work to save people’s lives against a threat from outer space. We also see the importance of the end credit scenes as we are briefly introduced to the newest and most dangerous villain, Thanos. This scene (revealing Thanos) becomes a lot more important as the other movies are released.

3. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

As the third of three Thor movies so far, I was very surprised by how good Thor: Ragnarok (2017) was. I was not a huge fan of Thor (2011) or Thor: The Dark World (2013) and didn’t find the plots very interesting (I would have loved if the director of Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi) directed those). Waititi did an amazing job on Ragnarok and it shows throughout the whole movie. The plot is very interesting and exciting, and it really shows off all of the original and some new character’s skills very well. 

One of my favourite things about the movie is the use of colourful settings, makeup and costumes which give the movie a lot of character and brightness. The use of dark colours in costumes and makeup for the villain gives it a negative and dark theme to contrast with the bright and happy theme at the start.

2. Black Panther (2018)

Coming in at number 2 is Black Panther (2018). I believe this movie deserves the second spot because it is so unique. The storyline is so exciting and different, and I think you could definitely watch it without watching any other marvel movies first. The high-tech suits and machinery of the future in this movie are amazing and I’m sure the costume designers and prop makers had a lot of fun using their imagination to make them.

This movie is also very different from the rest of them because it has a very unique setting and the characters have very strong characteristics and relationships. This keeps the MCU from going stale and keeps the fans interested in their movies. I really hope the next Black Panther movie, which is due for release 2022, is as good as this one and will do it justice.

1: Iron Man (2008)

Finally, coming in at number one, Iron Man! Lots of people say that you can never beat the originals and the first movie is always the best. I think that, in this case, it is also very true of Iron Man. Out of all the movies in the Iron Man trilogy, I believe that the first one is definitely the best. I also think that it is the best out of all of the MCU movies overall.

Actor, Robert Downey Jr., plays the genius billionaire playboy Tony Stark like nobody else ever could. It jumps straight into the action in the first two minutes of the movie and you never get bored at any time while the story develops. The director also does an amazing job at giving just enough information about the character so that we can enjoy the movie, but also not telling us his whole backstory (which is revealed is later movies).

It has just the right amount of humour and quotes that are said again in future movies that give the OG fans a really nostalgic feeling. I think it was the perfect movie to start off the journey of so many characters and I think Stan Lee (creator of Marvel) did an exceptional job.


I hope you enjoyed my assessment of these five movies because I really enjoyed writing about them. This decision was really hard to make and I think that shows how amazing all these movies are. I look forward to revisiting my favourites as more movies are released in future, but will admit now that it’ll take something special to knock these ones off their top spots.

Status Pages for Online Games

I was using Xbox Live one evening and when I tried to invite my friends to an Xbox Live Party, it did not work. I knew they were already online because they had just told me via text, but yet the Xbox said they were offline and I could not hear them talking when they joined the party.

I restarted the Xbox, checked my Internet connection (both on the Xbox and using my phone) and asked my friends if they were having any similar issues, which they were. Once I discovered that, I knew the fault wasn’t on just my Xbox or on my home Internet connection. 

As I quickly ran out of ideas for what else to try, I decided to ask my Dad for help. This is sometimes a risky strategy as his answers tend to go into some detail, especially when it comes to technology and the Internet 🙂

He told me about something called a “status website” (which I had never heard of before) where companies publish up-to-date information about any issues they are having on their systems or networks. To my surprise (and relief), we found one for the Xbox Live service and it turned out they were, in fact, having a problem at that very moment, so I duly called off the search for the mystery problems I was having.

We then went in search of other status websites and found some for other games I play too. It looks like some companies also use a dedicated Twitter account to publish status updates. Here are some of the others that we found:

So, if you’re having issues playing online games or using any other gaming console apps, have a look and see if the company has a status website and you might save yourself some time and stress thinking there’s a problem elsewhere.

iPhone 6s versus Samsung Galaxy A40

I’ve been using an Android phone (Samsung Galaxy A40) for the past year or so, having used a couple of different Apple devices (iPod Touch 5 and iPhone 6s) for 2-3 years before that. The main reason I switched to Android was because the price of the iPhone I wanted (iPhone 8) was more than double that of the Samsung phone, and because the specs seemed pretty similar, I decided to give it a try.

However, now that Apple has launched a new iPhone SE, I’m wondering if it might be worth switching back soon, so I got thinking about comparing the two types of phones I’ve been using to see if that might help me decide.

While this comparison is based on just two specific phones (instead of all Apple phones versus all Android phones) and the iPhone 6s is now quite old (and quite slow), I still hope it might be helpful for anyone trying to decide whether the pay the extra for an Apple phone or not, which is what I was trying to do last year and am trying to do again now.

I’ve divided the comparison into different categories too, so people interested in different things about the phones might find this more helpful. I’ve also given some items that I care more about two stars instead of one.


Look & Feel (incl. icon design, shortcuts)
I personally prefer the layout and the design of the apps/icons on the iPhone 6s a lot more.
Most Stylish
I personally think the exterior design on the iPhone 6s is a lot better.
Screen Size
The screen size on the Samsung A40 is a lot bigger.
Battery Life
The battery life on the Samsung A40 lasts a very long time whereas the iPhone dies in less than an hour.
Screen Recording
The Samsung A40 did not have any screen recording features.
Value for Money
The Samsung A40 is a lot cheaper but is still a brilliant phone.
Wake-up Speed
The wakeup speed on the iPhone is much faster.

If you’re someone who is looking for a stylish, general purpose phone (and are able to pay more), then choose an Apple phone. However, if you’re someone who will take lots of photos and needs lots of storage with a good battery life, for a cheaper price, I would recommend an Android phone.


AirPod Integration (incl. Battery Life, Pause, Siri)
On the iPhone you can see the battery life etc. of the AirPods, but you can’t on the Samsung A40. 
Phone Cover Selection (in shops)
Shops are always full of iPhone covers, in particular iPhone 6-10 and it’s very rare that you see a great selection of Samsung phones, especially the Samsung A40.

I know you can get accessories for lots of Android phones but, based on my experience in most phone shops I’ve been to, there’s always a better selection of accessories for Apple phones.


Face (selfie) Camera
I thought the selfie camera on the iPhone was a lot clearer and the colour was more saturated on it.
Widescreen Photos
For some reason the iPhone 6s never did widescreen photos whereas the Samsung A40 has multiple widescreen photo choices.
Front-facing Camera
The front facing camera on the Samsung is a lot clearer and can capture colour and details a lot better.
Burst Mode Camera Speed
The burst mode speed on the camera is a lot faster on the iPhone and it starts a lot quicker when you press the button.

It was hard to decide which camera options I prefer, although I definitely like having widescreen photos because I look at them on my laptop and TV a lot (which are widescreen too). I could definitely see a big difference here based on the age of the phone too, so maybe a comparison with a newer iPhone would have been different.


Selection of Apps
I think that the selection of apps on both phones are the same because sometimes there won’t be a phone in the Play Store but at the same time there won’t be other apps available in the App Store.
Free App Purchasing Experience
There are more steps to purchasing an app from the App Store and it’s a lot easier in the Play Store.
App Install Experience (can see it downloading sooner)
I like the way you can see the apps as their downloading and how much is left to download on the iPhone.

Most apps are available for both iOS and Android and while there are small differences here and there, I think I prefer how apps are installed and managed on Apple phones.


External (Expandable) Storage
You can expand the storage on the Samsung A40 and it also has a lot more than the iPhone to begin with even though it’s a lot cheaper.
General Storage Consumption
The iPhones general storage takes up a huge amount of the space on the phone and it’s very difficult to reduce.

Apple phones don’t allow you to add any extra storage and the iOS system files seem to take up much more space, so if you think you will be storing lots of things on your phone, then Android phones are definitely a better choice here.


Thumb Print Sensor Location
The thumbprint placement on the iPhone is a lot easier to access and makes it faster to open the phone.
Face Recognition
There is face recognition on the Samsung A40 which is useful when you want to open your phone quickly or unlock your friends phone while they are sleeping 😉

Both types of phones have good security features so there’s little to separate them here.


I can definitely see why some people prefer Apple over Samsung, or the other way around, but if I had the choice (and won the lotto in the morning), I think I still prefer Apple phones (sorry, Dad!) because they’re just a little nicer to look at and that little bit easier to use.

Living Through a Pandemic

Like a lot of people, I got a little bored during the Covid-19 Global Pandemic in 2020, so I decided to keep a diary of what that was like. Maybe, at some point in the future, someone will find it interesting to look back at how I lived through a small piece of new history in the making.

When I looked back at my diary, I realised that most of the things I saw there fell neatly into a couple of categories:

  • Virtual Learning
  • Social Distancing
  • Cancelled Events
  • Other Highlights

I’ll use these to tell my story below.

Virtual Learning

Online Classes and More Homework

This basically involves me sitting at my laptop (which is a Chromebook), doing a lot of “listening” 🙂 and I may or may not have been slightly amused by seeing some of my teachers struggle with using a microphone for the first time.

It wasn’t actually all that new to me because my school had already switched to using a digital learning system (using Microsoft Office 365) last year. I guess that made it easier for us to adjust to the home-based classes.

It was actually a lot more comfortable than going to school too, because:

  1. I could get up later
  2. I didn’t have to wear the itchy school uniform so I stayed in my PJs all day 🙂
  3. I could have my lunch at home and take breaks when I finished my work early.

However, I also got loads of homework in the first two weeks of online classes because I think the teachers found it so easy to send out homework using Office 365, Fortunately, they realised this after a while and stopped giving as much, so I then had more spare time to do nothing 🙂

Home School Hub

One of the national TV stations, RTE 2, then started broadcasting school classes for younger school children and it was called Home School Hub. The main teacher for the younger kids there was called Ray and he was quite funny. My 4-year old brother enjoyed watching this most days, although sometimes the content was a little too old for him.

Social Distancing

No Friends or Family

Because of the quarantine and the social distancing that was put in place in Ireland, I could not have any sleepovers or go out with my friends (Siún, Laoise, Molly, Sasha, Alethea and Oran). I also couldn’t visit my extended family. That meant that we called them nearly every day and sent them pictures and videos instead, usually involving my brother doing something silly, which he seems quite good at 🙂

Shopping and Food Deliveries

Me and my Mam did the shopping for my Granny and then delivered it to her because she was not allowed to go outside. This was called Cocooning and everyone in Ireland over 70 had to do it.

Most days, when we tried to drive to her house, the police were stopping everyone to see why they were coming to and going from my hometown. This felt really weird because I never thought I’d be stopped by the police for doing the shopping!

Video Calls and Netflix Parties

To keep in contact with my family and friends, we would sometimes have a video call with them, as well as normal phone calls. Me and my friends started using a new feature that Netflix brought out, called Netflix Party, which meant we could all join a virtual group and watch a movie together at the same time. There was also a chat box at the side which meant, when a jump scare would happen in a horror movie, the chat would erupt in a frenzy of “agghhhhhh” and “hbudgbuyhwjdkkbi”.

Going Outdoors

We spent a lot of time in the garden during the pandemic because we couldn’t go out that much, or very far if we did. We did some gardening and we cleaned my Grandad’s motorbike too. We also cycled to the beach a few times and stopped to throw stones into rock pools with my brother, and ate Haribo jellies on the slipway. This was fun for me because I remember doing the same thing with my Dad several years earlier.

Cancelled Events

A number of events that I would normally have attended were also concealed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

All of the St Patrick’s Day Parades were cancelled due to the virus so we had to make do at home. We put up every green decoration and Irish flag we had, from the hallway to the sitting room, and wore every shade of green. My brother then led the world’s shortest parade through the house.

He also did a version of Riverdance with my Mam and then we made our own green ice cream because it’s not a proper St. Patrick’s Day in my house without that!

Blanks’ Concert

On the 19 April 2020, I would have been going to a Simon de Witts (a.k.a. Blanks) concert in Dublin with my friend, Molly. However, it was postponed until the 11 October so I’m glad it wasn’t cancelled altogether. We will be in 4th year by then and hopefully won’t have a lot of homework, so I can’t wait to see him then instead.

Junior Cycle

I found out on 19 March that all Junior Cycle practical exams were cancelled and that we would be getting 100% in each of them. I was pretty happy about this, for obvious reasons, but I guess I was a little disappointed because I had actually prepared for it and I had practiced my songs a lot.

Then, on 10 April, I got even bigger news, when I found out that the Junior Cert exams were postponed (until September) and so we’ll have no exams in the summer. My phone was buzzing like crazy all day with my friends talking about it and celebrating 🙂


Normally we would go to an Easter Egg hunt in my hometown (created by the scouts) but, with the quarantine and social distancing in place, we had to make our own. While my brother was beating my Dad in a game of Draughts, my Mam and I “went to the toilet” and suddenly saw that the Easter Bunny had been to visit 😉

We went outside and he started finding the eggs around the garden and putting them in the bag. He had found them so fast that, while he was at the side of the house, I tried to take some out of his bag and re-hide them, but I heard him coming back so I had to launch them out of my hands and pretend they were there the whole time. I’m sure if he reads this in future, I’ll be in trouble.

Other Highlights

Xbox Games

I started playing games on my Xbox One a bit more during the Pandemic. My favourites were Apex Legends, Sims 4, Roblox, Call of Duty Warzone and Minecraft. My brother also got hooked by Cars 2, Disneyland Adventures and Disney Rush. He was actually so good that my Xbox score was thousands more than my friends and they were amazed by how many achievements he had gotten.


I nearly broke the Internet after Disney+ was finally released in Ireland on 24 March 2020, because I had waited several months. I could finally watch nearly all of the Marvel movies and my brother could watch all the Pixar movies that he knew from the game, Disney Rush.

Grandparents PPE

My Grandfather (a.k.a. Dan Dan) started taking social distancing and cleanliness very seriously from the moment quarantine was put in place. He did this by developing his own range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which involved wearing multiple layers of hats, scarves, masks, gloves and coats. That resulted in only being able to see his eyes when he went on walks and walking like a crab going into the utility room when he got home.

All in all, it’s been a very interesting experience to have lived through a pandemic, so I hope you enjoyed reading about it here.