Did You Know That?

 

I love the fourth of July, otherwise known as Independence Day, but there comes a point when shooting off tons of gun powdered fueled pellets becomes, well, ridiculous. Five fireworks equals a whole show of them. What is it about the colorful bursts of powder in the sky that excites us humans? What is taken from this? Sure, it makes for a spectacular light show but at the end of the night, the only thing that really happened was pollution of the environment. The different colored fireworks contain metallic compounds that are known to cause problems in humans and animals and shoot off harmful substances into the atmosphere. Some common elements on the Periodic Table are what account for the different colored fireworks. Those aren’t just pretty colors.

Here’s something to consider the next time you look up at a fireworks show. It will make you realize the incredible science behind fireworks. I made this neat infographic:

elements

Repeated exposure to these elements is known to cause some health issues, including cancer. Generally, you’re pretty safe at a fireworks show because of being so far away from the launch zone, but it’s best to know how to protect yourself. Don’t breath in the smoke if you can help it.

Now here’s a challenge for you: the next time you’re at a fireworks event, whether it be a local event or one of the big shows like the Boston Pops, try to name off the element associated with the color as they shoot off. It’s like a colorful musical with the elements as the notes.

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Not Writing A College Essay

I don’t want to think too hard today, since my mind is currently at ease, so that is why I am deciding to forgo the tedious task of presenting a two sided argument for something in the news that I really have no interest in writing about. It’s not that it doesn’t concern me but the overall post that would be written afterward would be a strained effort from my mind and something that would feel out of place with some of the happier, more lighthearted posts that I have written – my poems and photography that attempt to present a personal side of myself and discover the all around human spirit within. I hate these kind of prompts – they’re a challenge that I never can quite grasp:

Pick a divisive issue currently in the news. Write a two-part post in which you take on two personas and approach the topic from both sides. Bonus points for a creative format (roundtable discussion, debate transcript, etc.).

Sounds rather complicated. And what are these ‘Bonus points’ going towards? No, I’m not in college anymore and definitely have had enough of these analytic essays. Debate club was never for me.

6b

Dinner tonight was Banquet chicken, iceberg salad, corn, stuffing, and fish sticks. A mini-Thanksgiving on this quiet day of college basketball and NASCAR. A side of vodka induced OJ washed down the meal well and prompted the featured image today. Later on, I indulgently slurped down a green food-colored shamrock shake, leaving the cherry the last thing in the bottom of the container, a tradition of mine – like the worm at the bottom of a tequila glass minus the alcohol.

Since I’m turning away from writing the proverbial college essay, my twist on ‘A House Divided’ must be if I am to return to college or not this fall.

The pros are there: I can start my Bachelor’s degree program and have a better shot at getting a job. I won’t be sitting around the house anymore and would actually be making progress again. I could finally make some money and move out, having more space for my little production studio that seeks to expand.

But there are also the cons: I only have a few years left before financial aid will not support me anymore and I will have to pay for my classes and tuition. And I have become so comfortable at home doing my own thing and suddenly having to go to classes again week by week would be tough.

So what should I do? Continuing my education either at Baker or perhaps Western Michigan University would be a great idea and a worthwhile decision. My job hunt with an Associate Degree in my back pocket hasn’t panned out that well (a lot on my behalf of being lazy) and I suppose learning more in the engineering field, or perhaps something more of my interest would be beneficial. That something else could be trying to go for a Bachelor’s degree in video production, since I am already an avid hobbyist of it and have bubbling aspirations to really become great in the field. I didn’t spend all that money on production equipment just because. I absolutely love making movies – amateur yes, but all the same – and the decision to continue to learn new tricks and techniques would be great and might actually land me a job somewhere, say perhaps working behind the scenes at a news station. In August 2014, I attempted to start my own wedding/special events production company but didn’t have the necessary funds or actual equipment to do it. And it was a rather silly and absurd idea anyway, going off of my family’s excitement for a little graduation video slideshow I made for my sister. I even had a website made that cost me a fortune and later on had to be cancelled and the money refunded in order to get my bank account out of the red. And to this day I still get phone calls asking if I’m the owner of that now nonexistent website; I should just say it was cancelled months ago but I instead hang up or wait for the call to mysteriously drop.

Yes, I should return to college to get my life back on the track of progress, instead of the rut it is kind of stuck in now with job prospects being so low where I live. It would be a fun experience and I would feel better about myself – even more if I happened to move away to the aforementioned WMU and actually live on campus, enjoying all the amenities of a real college student. Yes, the costs are a concern but nothing in this world comes free. And if I am ever going to reach my goals that are starting to take shape and become more solid and realistic I really need to reach for the stars, instead of dwelling on the ground staring up at them, hoping for a miracle that one would fall down to me – and hit me straight on the head, leaving me in a confused state like a cartoon character.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: A House Divided

If Morgan Freeman Says So…

There comes a point in every person’s life where they wish they could do more. They wish they could take the world by storm and call it their own, could claim countries, buy entire islands, build skyscrapers named after them. Unfortunately, the average person does not have the money and power to do that but what if they did? By unlocking the full potential of your brain, the other 90%, wild and exciting things could be bound to happen.

If I could use all 100% of my brain, I would probably open up doors, real and figurative ones, that I thought would be locked forever. I could control my destiny in ways unimaginable to the mortal being. Imagine me being able to manipulate the skies to my desire, or get the job I want by using the power of persuasion and a little bit of mind control (it’s possible). I believe that hidden within the unused percent of our noggins is the ability to learn multiple languages, from Spanish to Russian to Swahili, in as little as an hour. I would become an instant genius, able to solve any problem with relative ease, able to play the stock market brilliantly and become a rich, rich man – a wolf of Wall Street.

“This just in – a group of tourists have been blocked inside a cave by a pile of massive boulders. Rescue workers are on the scene trying to free the captives. Everyone is calm as the situation is being approached, family members holding their breath and – wait…who is this? Oh my God, this is incredible. This man…is moving the boulders…with, do I dare say telekinesis?

“Amazing! The tourists are now crawling out through their entrance to safety. It is unbelievable what we have just witnessed. A miracle. This man’s a God send, this –

“Please. Save it for my book”, I say, walking away from the scene ever so nonchalantly as if this particular ability of mine was as normal as ketchup on hamburgers. The press flash their cameras at me as I pass, begging me for information about my super power.

The only thing I say?

“I’m using 100% of my brain, 70% of it to save the world, 20% to beat the odds, and the last 10% to finally remember where I parked my car.”

Now all of this sounds fine and dandy. But let’s get real here – I’m basing this post, and all of the wonderful gifts discussed, on some science fiction lore; movies such as “Lucy” and “Limitles that break all kinds of scientific laws, only make sense when not taken seriously, not nitpicked and compared to the real world.

The truth is, according to a PRI article from July 2014, that we are already using 100% of our brains – just not all the time though, that would cause a massive seizure. That 100% is used for processes such as “transcribing DNA, making proteins, and moving around ions.” Like any organ in the body, the brain, or more specifically the cells within, is working at full volume to keep us alive and well. If it did less, we wouldn’t function properly.

So while we might not have the ability to make the world bow before us or bend steel with our mind, we have potential to achieve great things if we try our hardest, use everything we have. That’s the only reason why most people are mediocre at best – they choose not to use their brains effectively, not to tap into its full potential because they are just plain lazy.

The 10% statement is a misquote that has found its way into the money hungry veins of Hollywood blockbusters – take it with a grain of salt the next time you listen to Morgan Freeman say it in his Godly voice.

“I have no idea.”


In response to The Daily Prompt: “Brain Power.”

My Toughest Critic

Treat me with kid gloves? No way. I prefer the cold hard truth. Come at me bro. Spit in my face. I’m not afraid of your criticism.

Good honest criticism helps me become better at what I do. Break me down, build me back up, you might say. It challenges me to reach my full earned potential.

A time I faced harsh criticism was back in my first year of college. I had just turned 19 years old and was a few months fresh out of high school. I had an introductory English class with a teacher who was probably the toughest critic I had faced in my academic career at that time. Of course I was a little intimidated when he said to the class that he had a Master’s Degree in Language and Literature and here I am thinking, “Oh, this guy sure thinks he’s hot stuff. I’m totally screwed in this class”. Which I wasn’t completely – it just felt like an uphill climb for me because I wasn’t sure how tough the English class would be.

There were about five papers we had to do during the course and they all required a lot of peer editing and blotches of red ink. I believe they were a literal analysis, descriptive essay, informative essay, narrative essay, and one other I can’t remember the type of. My first few papers did not receive very good grades, sub par at best and I instantly became worried that I would have a tough time passing the class. The first ever college essay I wrote was, now in my mind, an embarrassing piece about my first girlfriend in high school. I cannot believe the chummy stuff I put in there, some of it so silly I felt like it was better suited being read by children than a college professor. This was my narrative essay. Soon after that paper, which received an okay but not superb grade, I got more serious with my essays, especially the research papers. There arose a nagging thought in my head that I would have to submit an exceptionally well-crafted paper if I ever wanted to receive top marks because, according to the professor, that first paper was rubbish. A lot of other students had a tough time ‘cracking the code’ as well.

This was the first class that my writing really got critiqued and scrutinized. The teacher, Greenman his name, covered and crossed out my papers with lots of markups and red ink the few first times I turned a paper in, while also adding short notes on the back page critiquing my work. At first I was getting frustrated each time my papers came back with grades that I was not satisfied with and I could not figure out what I was doing wrong (fixing those occasional fallacies in my papers took some trial and error). But through a little bit of hard work and effort I did manage to receive a decent, but not perfect, grade. The discussions and group editing also helped with my essay writing and getting them up to the teacher’s tough standards. I’m glad I got a chance to take this class because soon after my writing greatly improved and I learned that accepting harsh criticism would only make me better. I did not break down at all but kept on taking the prof’s advice and learning from my mishaps. And look where I am now, blogging like a champ on WordPress!


In Response to the Daily Prompt: Handle With Care

I Only Came For the Cheesecake…

The Internet is an unruly, untamed beast – everyone should know that by now; no one has control over the Internet and it should stay that way. No other idea conceived by human minds has managed to encompass our everyday lives anywhere we go and bring millions of people together to post and share content for the entire world to see in just a matter of minutes. The amount of information on the Surf is enough to fill more than ten swimming pools and it just keeps growing exponentially…there really is no end in sight.

As King Leonidas famously said, “This is madness!”

Have you ever searched for something specific on Google or Bing, clicked on a link, and suddenly got bombarded by a flurry of information that just kept begging you to click here and there and read more and more? Ever get those pages where you scroll down and articles just keep appearing non-stop with interesting, catchy titles, one after another? I’ve come across a couple of those pages where I often open multiple links in new tabs, getting up to as many as five at a time to read later. The content I find is often so engaging and delightful that I would want to look up more information about things discussed in the article. A simple search for information on the new iPhone 6 led me to a number of articles relating to the world of technology that would lead me to informative YouTube videos and then suddenly find myself watching bizarre videos of animals doing human tricks or Barack Obama singing popular songs made from words put together from his speeches. And then I’m like, “What was I here for again?” A single search on one of the popular search engines turns into an Internet journey of epic proportions or an Internet breadcrumb trail.

An example of an Internet trail goes like this:

I went to look up information on the baseball movie 42 that I had just recently watched, and maybe find the movie poster. This led me to clicking on a link to Harrison Ford, which led to Indiana Jones, which led to George Lucas, which led to Star Wars, which led to a list of the highest grossing films of all time, which led to Harry Potter, which led to the book David Copperfield, which led to the illusionist and to Musha Cay, then to Google co-founder Sergy Brin, Don’t Be Evil, Googlization, the book on Amazon, and so and so forth…

Searching for anything on the Internet is like taking a can off the delicately stacked pyramid in the store and having them fall all over the place. You just wanted one can; now there’s a bigger mess on your hands. That’s what happens when you search for something online – you often get sidetracked and before you know it, you have forgotten all about your initial search idea. There’s always something new and worth looking at around the corner and some of the most visited sites on the “super highway” such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are portals for interesting content that can entertain, educate, or just simply annoy us. That’s how I have come to view the Internet as it has progressed into the far reaching, lightning fast, and ever so dependent entity relied on by human beings. Ten years or so ago the Internet didn’t really matter to me much but now I feel I can’t go without it for even a few days without getting frustrated and impatient.

Back to what I said about the Internet being an untamed beast – well clearly Google has gotten a couple of chains around it with their ongoing mission to organize the world’s content and make it accessible to everyone.Their search engine bots roam the streets and alleys of the net everyday looking…looking…looking. Nothing runs wild out in the yonder anymore – if it is open to the public it can and will be found somehow, someway.

To continue the title of my post – I only came for the cheesecake…but ended up getting so much more. I soon got the entire restaurant and soon after that the entire block of stores and shops. Then I thought to myself, “Why not the entire city? Or state? Or country? World? Universe?.” What I am getting at here is that you go to search the Internet for one thing (the cheesecake) but soon are not satisfied and want to find more information about other stuff and it escalates from there until you are confronted with tons of information – OVERLOAD ALERT!

The search for knowledge is endless, especially on the Internet where it literally is one mouse click away. You’ll be sucked into a black hole in now time at all if you’re not careful as Jennifer Lawrence once quoted: “The internet to me is kind of like a black hole, and I never really go on it.”


In Response to the Daily Prompt: Overload Alert

Swinging With The Spainards

Hola, amigos. It has been quite a while since I have blogged and I am excited to get going again. Since I last left there have been quite a lot of adventures that I have partaken, some in particular were me posing with a jay-hawk and slipping on the ice and landing on my tush, rather comically. Going off on a tangent…

Image

Learning another language is a major challenge. Just ask me, who still can’t manage to get that fantastic “rolled r” sound down. I just sound ridiculous when I try. In particular, I have been trying to learn Spanish which I seem to be more comfortable with learning than other foreign tongues. It’s not just about memorizing a long list of words translated from English. You have to speak the words in complete sentences and try to have a fluent conversation. In real life you aren’t going to have the luxury of having the conversation slowed down so you can understand what is being said. No, in reality, those frigging Mexicans and what nots seem to speak a mile a minute that you wonder if the people native to that language can even understand. Like speeding up a song so that it is barely comprehensible. And unlike English, if you say a word a particular way, for instance, it could mean something else and possibly offend someone. And in some of the most ruthless countries that most likely means getting stabbed and left to die alone. Oh, the horror.

Anyways…it is a work in progress and by no means will I succeed at having the trusty weapon of a second language tucked under my belt in a matter of weeks. It might take months or even years to finally watch a movie in Spanish without the English subtitles on. Spanish is a beautiful and artful language that is more flexible than standard American-speak. Words can be rearranged to convey different meanings, unlike English which follows strict guidelines unless you are Shakespeare or Yoda (Different ways, arranged these words they be). I’m getting into the meat and potatoes of an independent at home Spanish course online. It seems to be helping me and I have managed to string a couple of sentences together without the help of Google Translate. Hooray for me. I’m off to a nice start but doubt I will get to the point of speaking effortlessly without paying top dollar for the whole deal, the whole lesson package. If I bought that then I could learn the lessons on the go or when I’m out for walks, instead of being tied down to my computer. One night while my dad was snoozing I was repeating words from the Spanish course in a normal speaking voice. He overheard me and said, between chainsaw snores, “Be quiet”.

Another fantasy of mine has been to visit another country such as China and immerse my self in the language of the land. I’ve heard that’s the most effective way to start building up your confidence because I would be among people of different culture and background. As soon as I got used to their ways the language portion would not seem like such a challenge to me anymore. It would become an extension of myself in a sort of way, another part of me that I can switch on and off whenever the situation calls for it.

Then again, getting dumped into a country I have no experience with would feel like a nightmare for a while. I wouldn’t know what was being said or if people were saying things about me that weren’t very nice. I guess it would be helpful to have a translator on my side. I could be like Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, learning Chinese rather quickly and fluently and then fighting a huge hoard of angry Chinamen and living to tell the tale. Nothing like a fish out of water, eh?

Well, next time I talk I should be able to go a restaurant and order my meal in Spanish – to the annoyance of the waitress who I might impress and score a date with. Or not.

See you later. ¡Hasta la vista, lectores y seguidores!

A Two-Way Mirror of Events

People like me, that have a life desire of pursuing the near infinite answers of the universe, often sit bored on the couch or in front of the computer on Google and think like a philosopher, wondering about the alternative, parallel side of father time, where events in history took a different path. Bizarre scenarios such as one where the United States doesn’t even exist or where humans have built spacecraft in the 1800s and colonized on Mars.

So in the midst of time it is always nice to think…

What if?

This is the type of question that the world begs to know the answer to but, sadly,will probably never find the answer to, unless we can find a Doc Brown who can supe up an old station wagon with a Flux capacitor. Which, to tell you the truth, is not worth the effort. If time travel were possible, wouldn’t it have already been invented, in the future? We should have people from the future in our time right now, telling us of events to come, helping us avoid tragedies. And if they are here, they sure haven’t helped the world much seeing that all of the what ifs we bring up haven’t been reversed,for better or worse. It’s kind of like asking Santa for that toy you’ve always wanted but never getting it at Christmas, even if he does promise you. And let’s be honest, there is no man in a red suit traveling to millions of houses in 140 countries dropping into random peoples houses in the middle of the night to deliver rather expensive presents that are seen on the shelves of Wal-Mart and other stores year round. Even Superman couldn’t do that. Shoot, I just ruined Christmas for a bunch of kids…oh,well…they need to be taught young.

Okay, enough of my ranting. Here are some frequently asked about what if scenarios and my best answers as to what would happen, leading to the present day:  

If the attacks on the twin towers on 9/11/2001 had been avoided…

Pro: About three thousand lives would have been spared and the kids today would still have living family members and friends.

Pro: George W. Bush’s presidency wouldn’t have been remembered as so much of a joke but the man could have been respected and even gotten to speak at the 2012 Republican convention (where he was heavily shied away).

Con: America wouldn’t have beefed up security at airports and elsewhere and wouldn’t have been more prepared and aware against future attacks.

Con: Bin Laden would still be out there, America unaware of his devious plans, probably cooking up something even more destructive seeing that his “master plan” had been defeated.

Con: America would sink into total destruction and nuclear fallout, with severely mutated humans and animals (according to an episode of Family Guy).  

If John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated or Lee Harvey 

Oswald was caught in the act…

Pro: JFK would definitely have been reelected to another term, but…

Con: The Civil Rights Act wouldn’t have been put into action by Lyndon B. Johnson, making it quite tougher for blacks to win the racial movement (and JFK was not for equal rights).

Pro: The Vietnam War might have ended sooner.  

If Abraham Lincoln had cancelled his trip to the Ford theater on that fatal night and was still alive…

Pro: Lincoln would have gone on to teaching as a professor at a college after his presidency.

Pro: He would have likely lived into his 80s.

Pro: As a mentor, Lincoln would have stayed in the White House with his son Robert.  

Con: He would have wanted to ship the slaves back to Africa or to a small remote island, taking an emotional stand for the blacks being his strategy to win the people’s approval all along and to keep the Civil War under control.

If the Titanic had cleared the iceberg and not sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic…

Pro: The passengers, especially the steerage, would have gone onto America to live their hopes and dreams and find good paying jobs

Pro: Many of the well accomplished would have continued in their fields and gotten more fame, such as John Jacob Astor IV. Some of these people could have had fledgling businesses over in America, that might have continued on today

Pro: Perhaps the ship could have been sailed again and could have survived to this day and be put into a museum, fully intact

Pro: I wouldn’t have sat through a pointless 3D version of the film.

Con: Obviously, there wouldn’t have been a movie about the disaster, and we might not have heard of Leonardo DiCaprio for that matter.

If the Challenger space shuttle had not broken apart, and had successfully gone into space…

Pro: The teacher/astronaut Christa McAuliffe would have been celebrated for being the first teacher in space, not mourned for the loss of her.

Pro: NASA would have taken the developmental successes of Challenger and have applied them to future space shuttles

Pro: There wouldn’t have been a 32 month hiatus between missions, maybe allowing for another mission (possibly to the moon again?).

Con: Since there would have been no disaster, NASA wouldn’t have known how to react against possible future failures and wouldn’t have known what works and what doesn’t.

If the Internet existed a long, long time ago (Jesus’ time perhaps?)…

Pro: What we think we know now we would know for certain (If Ben Frankin really did fly a kite in a thunderstorm or if it was Christopher Columbus who first discovered the land that was to be called America.)

Pro: Things could have been done a lot quicker and efficiently, such as searching on Google for how to treat infections (not bleeding them out)

Con: People’s privacy and freedom would have been severely limited, especially back in the days of powerful empires. No one could have hid and the most powerful figures could have controlled and influenced people over the Internet in ways unimaginable for those days.

If dinosaurs had not gone extinct (damn you, meteorites or whatever did it)…

Pro: We could do more research on the dinosaurs and find ways to breed different types, leading to scientific advancements but…

Con: We surely wouldn’t be living like we are now because dinosaurs would have us literally backed up into a corner and…

Con: Other mammals (such as us) couldn’t have evolved and wouldn’t even exist  

If Steve Bartman had kept his hands to himself in 2003…

Pro: The Cubs would have been 4 outs away from the Promise Land.

Con: They would have made it to the World Series against the New York Yankees, but the curse would still have rung true with the Cubs being overwhelming over matched. Yankees win series 4-1 and Bartman is still unknown.

These are basically edumucated guesses, and rather pointless, but it is fun to paint a picture of an alternate history where everything is turned upside down. And until some crazy scientist comes up with a way to travel back in time we will never know for certain whether Galileo was smoking weed while gazing at the stars or if curiosity did kill the cat.