The Edmund Fitzgerald

People don’t seem to ever realize how important and how BIG the Great Lakes are. They aren’t so much lakes, they’re a lot more like inland oceans. They have their own tides, currents, patterns, etc, and when weather gets intense, they can get just as rough as the open ocean. This is exactly what happened to the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Edmund Fitzgerald was a lake liner built in 1958 for the purpose of carrying iron ore from Duluth to other great lakes ports like Toledo, Detroit, Marquette, Ashland, and others. She was one of the largest lake liners built; having a length of 729 feet and a depth of 39 feet. The liner made voyages between lake port cities for 17 years, earning a loving reputation amongst the people working in the trade in the area. Captain Peter Pulcer was known for always playing music through the ship’s speakers while passing port cities and towns, always announcing the Fitzgerald’s arrival with music. But, as I said earlier, weather on these lakes can get rough. On November 10, 1975, the Fitzgerald found itself stuck in a storm and sank in Lake Superior. All 29 crew members died with the ship. The exact cause of the sinking is unknown. Scholars speculate that it may have been a combination of shoaling, swamping, overloading, and many other potential causes. No matter what caused it, it still sunk and now lies 530 feet below the surface.

The Great War

A few years ago, and still now to some extent, I was completely FASCINATED with the first world war, or The Great War if you’re a purist.

I realize that openly stating that I was fascinated with the first world war could paint me as some kind of warmonger, gun-nut, etc, but that’s not where my interest stems from.

In the right lenses, the first world war can be traced back as the cause of almost all the modern issues we face today. Not only that, but it was the point where the age of “empires” begun to collapse, it gave us revolutionary new technologies, and it completely changed borders, countries, markets, people, art, poetry, and so many different aspects of life.

It’s no secret that the first world war caused a lot of things to change. Looking at the issues we face globally in the modern world, we can see a lot of them taking root in the first world war. For example, look at the ongoing issue of terror groups coming from the Middle East and Africa. Though there are many factors as to why these people do what they do, a lot of this can be traced back to the Sykes-Picot Agreement at the end of the war. This agreement carved up the middle east and africa into different countries that would benefit Europeans, without taking into account the different peoples in the regions and their cultures, beliefs, values, etc. This one agreement has led to so much violence in the modern era simply because it chose to ignore the people it was affecting, which seems to be a big theme in the past 200 or so years.

Though this is a big stretch, another issue that can be argued to have been affected or at least made worse by the first world war is climate change, specifically because of the new technologies of cars, planes, and other vehicles. People saw how effective these vehicles were, which led governments to want them for their militaries as well as people wanting them for their own use. This led to increased production of vehicles, and with more people buying cars, more emissions go into the atmosphere.

There are many other things that changed because of the first world war. I think that there needs to be a lot more discussion of this in schools because it really gives a perspective as to how things like world war 2, the cold war, vietnam, etc happened, and all of that lends itself to a better understanding of how we got to our current political climate and understanding what the heck is going on. For more info about all of this, I highly recommend a youtube channel called “the great war”. The series just ended, but from 2014-2018 a group of historians and actors would follow what happened in the war and how it affected the world week by week (for the 100th anniversary) and it gives an amazing in depth description of it all and applies it to the modern era and explains how everything is connected.

rain and weather

Have you guys ever really thought about the weather? what happens up in our troposphere is really cool. Here on Earth, our weather can do some crazy stuff. Powerful winds, big storms, things falling from the sky, and sunny days are things we have all seen in our lives, but I think very few of us have ever put serious thought to it besides the occasional “wow what a lovely day!” or “what’s the weather going to do today?”

Basically, in my very un-professional, furthest-thing-from-a-meteorologist view, the weather phenomena that happen on Earth can be divided into two categories: things falling from the sky and things not falling from the sky.

Both of these categories are pretty self explanatory, and anyone who has spent at least a month on Earth has seen examples of them. But how do they happen? What goes on to make things fall or not fall?

More often than not, things that fall from the sky are some form of water, whether it be liquid or solid. Rain, snow, hail, sleet, etc are examples of this, obviously. Personally, I think it’s crazy that this is just something that naturally happens on Earth. This one random chemical that all life depends on just happens to quite literally just fall from the sky sometimes, and people never seem to take a moment to stop and say “woah”.  Sadly, being in the rain almost always means moving as fast as you can to not be in it. But with that said, that is understandable, no one wants to be wet.

Though it may not seem like it, there is just as much diversity in the weather in the category of things not falling from the sky as there is with the former category. The weather can be cloudy, sunny, windy, foggy, many others, and also any kind of combination of these weather types.

This much appreciation for the weather may seem trivial, but consider this perspective- we only see our weather as “normal” and what happens in our atmosphere as “normal” because it is something that we have just accepted as something that naturally happens, and that’s also just exactly what it is. Something that just happens. But imagine having the perspective of someone from another planet, where their weather is something completely different from that of Earth’s. Weather on other planets can mean huge, years-long dust storms, raining liquid methane, carbon falling from the sky, and many other things. Hearing about weather on Earth would most likely blow their minds.

But at the end of the day, whether you’re an alien or not, our weather can do some crazy stuff. And even when it’s not doing anything particularly crazy or unusual, the normal stuff is still pretty cool and it’s amazing that it’s just something that happens.

“mythological”

throughout my years at school, I have often spent time in different classes learning about ancient myths. In my freshman year latin class, I very distinctly remember a whole unit on greek and roman myths. Before the class started learning about them, the teacher gave a full disclaimer about how these were firm beliefs that people had and that while people may believe different things now, these were still the beliefs that people once had. In studying the classics, I think that this is something that is sometimes not remembered. I think that this can even relate into the term “mythological”, giving it a connotation that implies that these beliefs are simply fallacies and no more than just some stories. I think that these ancient societies can become idolized  to the point that people forget that these societies were made up of people just like people now. In calling something a “myth”, I think that that implies that the story told is not a valid part of what was once, and technically speaking, still is a legitimate religion, and people should realize this. With this said, I don’t think calling these ancient beliefs “myths” is a bad thing, as long as what is meant is that they are simply the polytheistic beliefs of ancient peoples, but people should remember that these beliefs are no different than the beliefs of a modern day christian, muslim, jew, buddhist, etc.

confrontation

Confronting people and things that are sources of stress and problems in ones life is always a hard thing to do. Nobody likes it and many people hate it. This has been on my mind a lot this week because a friend of mine is being treated like actual dirt by her roommate. Everyone goes through their lives and has different struggles to deal with, but many people are afraid to deal with them. They may accept that theres nothing they can do, that they deserve to be treated that way, or simply they’re just too afraid to speak up. I understand being afraid to speak up for yourself, but i think that shying away and electing to not confront something is the dumbest choice for situations like these. People will only continue to treat you how they want to and in ways that only benefit them until you speak up and prove that you arent a door mat. It’s always hard to do, but confrontation is always necessary. it keeps the issue from going on any longer and getting worse, it makes people realize you have a spine and you deserve to be treated like a person, and it makes you a stronger person for it.

VCU and its food desert

Food deserts are a new phenomenon in the modern world. They are defined as regions of cities that are usually low income, underserved, and impoverished, and do not have access to healthy, fresh, and nutritious food. VCU and the area around it is a food desert. The options for fresh produce in this section of the city are more or less limited to Croutons, the salad bar at shafer, and kroger. Kroger even upcharges most of its produce too, so many students and residents of this area are unable to afford it. I think it’s incredibly ironic that a university like VCU that puts so much of an emphasis on learning and educating also does very little to give its students healthy, fresh, and nutritious options. The university’s dining service seems to only buy low quality produce that is closer to going bad than it should be.

A bigger issue that relates to this is the corporate lobbying to fill universities with junk food and fast food restaurants for profit. When I first came to VCU, i heard someone mention that it is a “pepsi campus”, meaning that everything here is a pepsi product or relates in some way to the Pepsi corporation. I imagine that there are also campuses that are like this for the Coca-Cola corporation, and personally, I think this is awful. Companies should not be profiting off of the health of students whose only options for food are limited to what they can get with fake money on their student IDs.

These two issues are part of why the “freshman 15” is such a big thing in the US, and it is almost like a right of passage for kids in america these days. Thankfully, it seems to skip over a lucky few, but the lack of nutrition in universities all across the country is not healthy for the next generation and something needs to change.

who would win: a trillion lions or the sun?

preface: this post may seem irrelevant, but I argue that this is an interesting exercise in abstract thinking.

Who would win: 1 trillion lions or the sun? this question has puzzled scientists for decades, ever since the sun was invented. The sun, at the center of our solar system, is a massive ball of fire and energy. At any given moment, the sun produces 3.86 x 10^26 Watts of energy. This energy is sent off into the solar system in the form of light and heat. Compared to a lion, it is a menacing foe. However, lions are not to be underestimated. These felines are arguably some of the most deadly predators on Earth, and their pack mentality gives them an intrinsic bond to each other like a family. If there were ever to be a battle between the sun and lions, here is my hypothesis as to what might unfold.

First, I think that the lions would get near the sun by stacking themselves on top of each other. The distance to the sun is 92.96 million miles. Given that the average length of a lion is about 6.5-7 feet, this would require 70,118.4 lions, which is easily feasible when you have 1 trillion at your disposal.

One could argue that if the lions even got to the sun, they would burn up before being able to battle with it. Here is why this is wrong: I think that lions, like all animals on earth, know to stay a safe distance away from fire and heat so that they do not get burned. The lions would maintain a safe distance from the sun, which would most likely place them near the orbit of Mercury.

There is also the question of how the lions would battle the sun. The sun is a ball of heat energy and fire. On earth, we know that fire requires fuel, oxygen, and heat, and removing one of these will put out the fire. I doubt that the lions would be able to bring water with them to put out the fire as they live in semi-arid plains regions of sub-saharan Africa, so I imagine they would attempt to battle with the sun by attempting to suffocate it. To do this,  I think the lions would link themselves together, much like how fire ants link together, and create a sealed chamber around the sun. This sealed chamber would prevent oxygen from getting to the sun, which would suffocate the fire and eventually snuff it out. During this process though, the lions would have to endure lots of energy pushing them away from the sun and potentially breaking the seal, but these strong apex predators would pull through and continue to battle.

I think that the force of 1 trillion lions would be an equal match against the sun. The two opponents would fight fiercely, but I would like to make the claim that the lions would be the superior of the two and would emerge from the battle as the victor, simply because of their power in numbers.

The Ralphster

The governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has recently come under fire for a scandal surrounding a racist image. The image is of a person in a Klan uniform and another person in blackface. supposedly, one of these two people is ralph Northam. Personally, I sense that this whole thing seems very strange. when the news first broke, Northam admitted that it was him, but then proceeded to take that back and deny that it was him. Politicians are known to be fickle, but what adds more to the strangeness of the situation is that both the lieutenant governor and the attorney general,  Justin Fairfax and  Mark Herring respectively, have also had scandals arise in a very short time span. Fairfax has been called out with claims of sexual assault and Herring has admitted to wearing blackface. All three of these politicians have handled these issues very poorly too. I don’t think that they need to resign, and frankly I think they shouldn’t either. let me make myself clear- I am not condoning or advocating for racist or sexually aggressive actions at all, but i do think that these politicians are very strong and important figures, especially in the current political climate. They all bring a strong left-wing presence to the mid-atlantic region of the country. Furthermore, they bring this left-wing presence to a state that borders DC, keeping the thought that the democrats are right on his doorstep in the back of Trump’s mind. However, with that said, I would much prefer a leader who has not had a racial or sexual scandal. The best thing these politicians can do right now is releasing a completely transparent statement that explains, in clarity and in depth, their side of the issue. If they are actually guilty of these actions, I think whatever backlash that would ensue is completely warranted and legitimate. This issue is very hard to have opinions on, at least in my perspective, because it is important to have these democrats in office, but at the same time, do the citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia want potentially guilty people in office? I think these scandals have been handled poorly, I think that these politicians need to be honest with their constituents whether they are guilty or not, and altogether, I think that these 3 scandals happening so close together to the top three politicians in Virginia is very strange and I doubt that they are simply coincidental. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and surely this will have a lot of an impact and historical significance in the years to come.

opinion: gyms/recreation centers should be government-funded

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that people’s natural rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. This means that you can make your own decisions, you’re allowed to exist, and you can do whatever you want to do, within reason. People who promote universal healthcare use the argument that since the right to life is a natural right, then shouldn’t access to healthcare also be a right and not a privilege? I agree very strongly that access to healthcare should be a right and that every citizen should be able to receive it, but that is not the point of this post. I think that a very important part of life and healthcare is exercising regularly, as most people also think, and that the government should fund gyms and recreation centers. This would be beneficial because it would give access to a gym to all people, not just those who can afford a gym membership. If more people have access to a gym, then the health of the american citizenry, which is widely regarded as anything but healthy, would vastly improve, and Michelle Obama’s dream would be achieved. The creation of these government gyms would not be hard, either. The government, whether it be local, state, or national, could buy out gym companies, keep the employees and equipment, and then move on. Realistically, nothing in government happens that smoothly, but ultimately this transition would not have to be a huge ordeal. Finally, look at libraries. Libraries all across the nation are government funded and they serve a great purpose. If citizens can go to a building and read, study, learn, and improve their knowledge, then why can’t they go to a building and improve their health? I also think that offering gym access for free would be a huge motivator to make people exercise, as well. One could argue that in this rapidly advancing and increasingly digital world, the need for libraries is not as great as more and more people can access worlds of information on the internet. That being said, libraries offer the opportunity to walk around books and discover something you may not have expected, but that is besides the point. The need for libraries could be diminishing, but there will always be a need for people to exercise an be healthy, and I think that the government should provide that as a right and a public service and not let it be held by those who can afford it.

effects pedals

lately this week i have been thinking a lot about guitar and bass (and other instruments as well) effects pedals. Coincidentally, the winter NAMM, or the National Association of Music Merchants, festival/conference/convention is happening in california this week. these little boxes with buttons and knobs and lights may seem irrelevant or trivial to most people, but I argue that they are to a musician what different kinds of paints, pencils, pastels, pens, markers, etc. are to an artist.
Currently, the pedals I use are the Diamond J-Drive MK3, the classic Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, the MXR m234 Analog Chorus, and the Electro-Harmonix Canyon delay and looper. This setup that i have is subject to change, but for right now I enjoy the tones I can get and the easy use of 4 pedals on a small board. This will most likely be the setup I run for a while, likely until I get a new amp. When that happens, I would like to add some kind of preamp pedal like the Xotic EP booster, another thicker-toned distortion or fuzz pedal like maybe the Stomp Under Foot Ram’s Head or the ZVex Double Rock, and some more modulation effects like a flanger or tremolo. However, I still want to be careful and keep my tone how I want it. I like to have it fairly clean with some grit and enough gain to hit my amp strongly. I want to have that base tone, but then work to replicate the guitar tones of bands like Chastity Belt, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Dinosaur Jr., Courtney Barnett, Naked Giants, Together Pangea, the Strokes, etc.
A lot of interesting things are happening in the music gear world right now. One cool thing that has happened in the past few years is the huge explosion of “boutique pedals”. these pedals are made by companies like JHS, Earthquaker Devices, Red Panda Labs, Stomp Under Foot, ZVex, Walrus Audio, and Death By Audio. These companies have been producing a lot of WEIRD effects. Earthquaker is well known for their echos, reverbs, delays, etc. Pedals like the Spatial Delivery, Avalanche Run, Transmisser, Ghost Echo, and many more are loved by musicians across genres. Contrastingly, Death By Audio, ZVex, and Stomp Under Foot pedals are mostly employed by musicians playing some kind of hard rock, dreampop, or shoegaze. An acquaintance of mine, Elliot Malvas from Swirlies and You’re Jovian, is a die hard fan of Death By Audio and ZVex. He often uses the DBA Reverberation Machine, DBA Fuzz War, and the ZVex box of rock to produce some very dark and ambient shoegaze tones.
A lot of interesting things are happening in the music gear world right now and I am very excited to see what happens next. Huge innovations in technology that have revolutionized the world are being employed every day by electrical engineers who are committed to their craft and spend their days creating new circuitry to make weird sounds. These weird noises and sounds are being employed by musicians in every genre from goth rock to jazz fusion and these little boxes have completely changed the way music is played and created. Next time you’re at a concert, look at what the musicians are stepping on, it’s far more interesting than you’d imagine.