Tag Archives: featured

BIG ISLAND (A DREAM)

 The grass on the hilltop bids me sweet goodbye as I run to you— what looks like you—, swaying back and forth like in Japanese films. My shirt billows a little behind me while you take my picture; we laugh when the wind steals your straw boater as fare. The beach shines green under my bare feet—our own little Innisfree.


For a small eternity, I stand at the ocean’s edge and think about dead writers. When it’s time to turn back to you I pick up a handful of sand and hold it to my chest; your eyes crinkle in a rare smile. Olivine, you say, and I repeat it in my head until it sticks.

******

Originally published in MoonPark Review (Spring 2018).

General Motors Bicycles? Yes, They Are Real And They Are Coming Soon

When you think about GM, full name General Motors, you think about current brands like Buick Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC, and old names like Pontiac and Oldsmobile. Would you have thought GM would be producing a bike? Most may have said no, but a GM bike is becoming a reality.

GM is releasing an electric bike next year as an alternative to a motor vehicle. Actually, GM is releasing two different types of electric bike in order to compete with rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, and rival automaker Ford, in an attempt to enter the new market in urban electric bikes.

The e-bike is not a normal bicycle that you have to pedal just to get around town. The e-bike will provide a small battery-powered electric motor to help people with pedaling when going up hills and traveling long distances on flat terrain. Supporters of the e-bikes say it provides a realistic alternative to driving and a sweat-free alternative to traditional biking.

Along with GM’s announcement on Friday about the e-bikes, they also asked the public to name the bikes for the chance to win $10,000.

This is not GM’s first rodeo with electric products. They currently have the Chevy Bolt, and they came out with the e-bike concept in 2015.

The e-bike will be lightweight and also foldable, which wlll be useful for urban commuters.

As of right now, GM has not and will not say where the bikes will be produced and where they will be sold, only saying that all of those details will be released soon enough.

The First Week of November

The phony cobwebs are swept away,

But the carved pumpkins have yet to rot

And still sit on the steps in front of many houses.

The leftover candy, marked down after Halloween,

Has been cleared from the stores,

Their festive designs gone for another year,

But the children who spent their night walking

From door to door now have their own hoards

And like dragons they stand guard over their goodies

Waiting for their parents to turn their backs,

So that they can grab another piece of chocolate,

And keep their sugar high going strong.

 

Meanwhile, families make plans for Thanksgiving,

Searching for recipes to flaunt in front of friends and families,

Or thinking up excuses to avoid visiting in-laws.

There are still pumpkin spice variations of every product that could manage it,

Including those that should never have tried such a crossover.

The trees are still mostly covered in red and gold,

Though more leaves fall with every breeze,

And the ground is in desperate need of a rake.

Football season is in full swing,

And every sports bar is playing at least three games on any given night.

Charlie Brown will be making his way onto the small screen once again,

Forever famous for falling while trying to kick a ball.

 

Fall is heavy in the air.

Halloween has barely faded,

And Thanksgiving looms on the horizon.

And yet as I listen to the radio I can already hear them,

Christmas carols, playing through the first week of November.

First impressions on Red Dead Redemption 2

NOTE: This will not have any spoilers until the author of this story has completed the game.

Rockstar has finally released the most anticipated game of the year in Red Dead Redemption 2. It took 8 years before gamers around the world got to play as Arthur Morgan, a thief and lead enforcer of Dutch Van Der Linde’s gang. This gang has gone through anything and everything, and now, you can experience it yourself.

However, most people are very impressed with the graphics of the game and how the characters act towards you. Here are a few things that RDR 2 does differently from other open world games.

The world that you are playing in:

I can’t even begin to talk about how your interactions in the open world in this game can affect your playing experience. The way that you hunt to what you eat and how you dress for the weather—it feels like you are living in a real-life simulator and I freaking love it. Rockstar has finally produced an open world game with factors like these. This stuff matters to a gamer who wants to live like they were in the late 1890s and not have to deal with the real life heat.

The animals in the game

I don’t remember ever playing a game that shows the diversity of the animals in the world that you are playing in. I have seen animals as big as bison and bears and as small as songbirds and rats. And by the way, you can hunt all of them. This is one of my favorite parts of the game. You don’t need to hunt them, but it is fun to explore the different animals in the game.

The weapons and maintaining them

Of course, the weapons in a western game are very important for your survival. Another new thing that has started in this game is the cleaning of your weapons. If they get too “dirty” then you need to clean it; otherwise, it will affect the strength of the bullet and the path of the bullet as well.

I am looking forward to playing more of this game and finishing the story mode on there, but so far, so good for Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2.

 

Requiem

We offer sympathies to those who’ve lost someone.

We have to stay strong in the wake of this tragedy,

This one, singular, unpreventable event.

We lower the flag for a day, then return to our lives.

Everything will be fine.

It keeps on happening though, doesn’t it?

More and more often.

And again and again,

We offer sympathies to those who’ve lost someone.

We have to stay strong in the wake of this tragedy,

This latest, recurring, preventable event.

And nothing changes.

And the victims shout for change

For help

To just be heard

Over the finger pointing and the blame

Over the lies and the insults

Over the constant redirection of our attention.

11 dead in Pittsburgh.

That makes 294 shootings in 2018.

2017 had 346.

And what have we done about it?

We offer sympathies to those who’ve lost someone.

We have to stay strong in the wake of this tragedy,

This far from the last, cyclical, starting to be expected event.

We pledge to never forget,

But when do we remember?

Because no matter what pretty words we say,

We always fail to enact any real change.

And there are so many things we could be doing.

We don’t, but we could.

No more sympathies.

No more sorries.

They do nothing, change nothing, and are nothing.

It’s time to remember the dead,

And it’s time to do justice to their memories.

It’s time to stop those numbers.

Time for these people to be more than statistics to be ignored.

There are too many who have been lost already.

Increased Use of Marijuana Leads to More Car Accidents, Studies Say

We have heard of the benefits that marijuana has for people with glaucoma and seizures, and of its usefulness in stopping cancer from spreading, but it does have its disadvantages.

In March of 2017, a bus crash that killed 12 people in Texas was caused by a 20 year old man who was under the influence of marijuana. A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that there has been a increase in drug-related crashes, and that something must to be done to address it.

Even though the released report does not show an increase in deaths caused by legal use of marijuana, it does however show an increase in car crashes in general in correlation to the legal use of drugs.

The first study that was released by the Highway Loss Data Institute  found that crashes are up as much is 6% in states with legal weed use compared to neighboring states that haven’t legalized the drug’s use. This was done by study of insurance claims, with other studies also utilizing accidents reported by the police.

Other research found that drivers who smoke weed before driving display slower thinking, perceptual skills, and reaction times. These skills are of course are very important for someone who is operating heavy machinery, and are similarly impacted by those under the influence of more common drugs (such as alcohol) as well.

The NTSB said in their final statement that police across the country need more training and tools to handle situations like these.

Currently, there is no national standard nor standardized tests to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana in the way that we have for alcohol. Eventually, a system will need to be created to hopefully stop accidents like the one in Texas.

 

What If We Only Used Wind Energy?

It has become common knowledge of the lack of sustainability in humanity’s current answers to meeting energy needs. Eventually, we as a species will run out of those resources upon which we rely. For this reason, scientists have been looking for renewable resources that work, and would provide the world with a cleaner, more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Among these ideas, wind power has done very well for us in certain areas. However, on its own, even a resource as plentiful as wind may not help us.

A study done by Harvard University applied physicists, Lee Miller and David Keith, found that if the United States was able to produce 0.46 terawatts of electric power (the amount currently used) using just wind turbines, that area would be much warmer than normal.

Miller and Keith were able to do this study using a parallel world between the years of 2012-2014. They made the central United States as location of the 0.46 terawatt wind farm.  They found that the center of where the huge wind farm would be, the temperatures would rise as much as 1 degree Celsius or about 2 or 3  degrees Fahrenheit give or take. The temperature in the United States would rise 0.24 degrees which is would about a 1 degree Fahrenheit increase. The 0.24 figure is figure of our current rise temperatures. By 2030, the United States’ average temperature would have risen 0.24 degree Celsius.

Wind turbines peek above the low clouds, providing clean, renewable energy and a path forward… but even they can’t be the only way to a sustainable tomorrow.

To put into perspective how wind turbines could affect something as drastic as the weather, turbines alter the climate by increasing the atmospheric mixing that is within the boundary layer–the layer of our atmosphere just above the Earth’s surface. Numerous turbines would pull the warmer air from the boundary layer’s upper part down towards the cooler air.

The turbines would also redistribute moisture and heat. According to another recent study featured in Science News, it was found that a wind farm with the amount of terawatts required by the United States could result in more precipitation and vegetation in the Sahara Desert itself.

In the end, the temperature rise with the wind farm would be spontaneous, but it would still take a century to even see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to even counteract the rise in heat from the turbines.

While this study scenario is very unlikely, getting rid of fossil fuels altogether would need a mixture of wind, solar, and geothermal energy sources (and maybe even nuclear), and as we all know, a reduction in fossil fuels would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

While having a single massive wind farm may answer the call for better renewable energy sources, it is ofttimes worth taking a step back to see if something new could be even more disastrous than the status quo. While wind energy may not be a singular savior, it nonetheless will continue to help in humanity’s way towards a greener tomorrow.

Summer’s End

Held within the tender palm

Of her sister, seldom seen

Did the brightest of them all

Feel the strength within her ween

 

Shudder, shiver, glow within

Shining bright against Autumn’s slow dance

The doe and the fawn found solace in last

Of warm days to come, and meadows to prance

 

A smile did cross Sister Summer at last

As meek Sister Autumn found strength to then stand

Her time had now come to lead the year’s cycle

The seasons together, to dance hand in hand

 

As Summer closed her eyes, so too did the sun

Its warm rays cooling as sky fled to night

Autumn turned away, but gave final glance

To the land stretched before her; a sister’s last light

Sony to Release a “New” PlayStation

We all know what you are here to read about—a “new” PlayStation. It can’t be, right? Can it really be the PlayStation 5 that everyone has been looking forward to for the past few years? Well… maybe not. While many may be getting their hopes up for something new from Sony’s most successful gaming platform, but this newest update to the PlayStation family is going a slightly different direction.

All of the accessories of the PlayStation Classic including the console itself. Photo from blog.us.playstation.com
All of the accessories of the PlayStation Classic including the console itself. Photo from blog.us.playstation.com

Sony has announced a throwback version of the PlayStation 1 to celebrate 24 years of PlayStation and to follow in the same path that Nintendo has done for the past few years now.

This new version of the PlayStation 1 will be called the PlayStation Classic and will feature 20 games from the PS1’s original library that will be built into the station. The system will be updated in order to work on a modern television, and much smaller than the original PS1—so small, in fact, that you could hold it in your hand.

Sony has only announced five of the 20 games to be on the PlayStation Classic, including Final Fantasy 7 and Tekken 3.

On a video posted to Sony’s YouTube channel, the PlayStation Classic will not be able to play games from the original PS1, but only its 20 pre-loaded games. The PlayStation Classic will come with two retro controllers, will not have an AC adapter, and only possess HDMI for audio and video and a micro-USB for power.

Sony will be releasing the PlayStation Classic on December 3, the same day that the original PS1 was released 24 years ago, for $99.99 to buy—to compare, some games with bonus features, additional content, and free virtual cash (much like the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2) will have a roughly similar cost all its own.

 

Notable News in Science From This Summer

While everyone was enjoying their vacation, including the staff here at Whim, science didn’t take a break for anybody. Here are some of the biggest stories in science that happened during the summer.

A wildfire that occured in 2016 in California; photo from nbclosangeles.com
A wildfire that occurred in 2016 in California; photo from nbclosangeles.com

 

Does Mars have water? Scientists say yes: One of the most important findings in the pursuit of life on other planets, scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission announced back in July that they had found a 12 mile-wide underground liquid pool, not just the normal damp spots that have been seen in the past. The water was detected in Mars’s south pole using radar.  As of now, there’s plenty of more plans to research the area for possible life and if it’s ever possible, to drill at the area. But that won’t happen until Earth gets humans on the Red Planet.

Another bad year for wildfires: While science does tell you that it is good for the ecosystem to have some wildfires, it does get to a point where too much is way too much. Wildfires have spread across the western United States, from California to Montana. Because of the wildfires, the northwestern part of the country has experienced the worst air pollution in 30 years according to a July 16 report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This is even worse when considering that when we have wildfires, the fires release chemicals like sulfate and black carbon which do not hurt the environment in the long run but are harmful in the current time period.

Spiders do have a “spider-sense”: Research done by Erica Morley and Daniel Robert of the University of Bristol in Britain found that electrical charges in the air give spiders a cue on when to fly. This signal will most likely explain why the timing of a spider’s takeoff is so unpredictable. In order to fly, spiders use their web and they have to wait for gentle wind conditions in order to take off.  For more about this, Morley and Robert’s research appeared in July’s issue of Current Biology.

Uranus Smells like Rotten Eggs

 

It’s bad enough that Uranus is the “butt” of all jokes, but now, kids all over the world can now say that Uranus smells like a “butt.”

Uranus’ upper clouds are made of hydrogen sulfide, the same molecule that gives rotten eggs that awful smell. This was discovered Leigh Fletcher and his colleagues detected the chemical fingerprint of hydrogen sulfide at the top of the planet’s clouds. The team issued their reports in the April 23 issue of Nature Astronomy.

This discovery wasn’t a complete surprise, though—observations from the 1990’s showed hints of the chemical lurking deep in the atmosphere of Uranus, but the gas wasn’t conclusively detected.

As it turns out, the clouds are not just the smell of farts, but they may have helped in discovering some details of the early solar system. It is likely that frozen hydrogen sulfide ice crystals would have been abundant in further reaches of the early solar system, suggesting that Uranus and Neptune were born farther from the sun than Jupiter and Saturn.

Fletcher says that “this tells you the gas giants and the ice giants were formed in a sightly different way.”

Fletcher and his team now are planning to send a spacecraft to the ice giants of Uranus and Neptune, the first since the Voyager spacecraft, which visited in the 1980’s.

So while all of the crude humor surrounding this planet may have grown stale, none can now deny the irony of its atmosphere, nor the wonders that such distant bodies still dangle before our scientists today.

Looks like Uranus was in on the joke this whole time.

 

Photo from Nasa.gov

Line of Gemini – Part 15

His wrists shackled together, burning his skin, Eli shuffled along, prodded forward by a Leo. He winced when the man pushed him a little too hard onto the platform, forcing him to his knees. Eli had been captured by one of the Cassiopeia, and of course without Tod, he’d been helpless to fight back. And if Tod wasn’t here now, he was done for.

He saw a pair of polished knee high boots appear in front of him, spurs flaming, sparking with electric energy. He looked up to see one of the Cassiopeia with the long sword they’d used for executions since the beginning of their realm. It wasn’t often that they performed public executions; the phenomenon had started quite recently, just after the Great War. The woman, Isolde, tipped his chin up with the sword to stare into his eyes. “Hm,” she said, and there was an odd smile on her face. “What a shame.”

She handed the sword to the executioner, the Leo behind him and Eli braced himself, when they were interrupted by more footsteps. Eli glanced out of the corner of his eye to see to his surprise, Tod and Sunny. Sunny? How had she gotten here?

The executioner spoke in a gruff voice: “No one else is allowed up here.”

Tod crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m ruling with Isolde, and this is my…assistant” – he gestured to Sunny – “so I think it’s perfectly fine. I help make the rules around here, right?”

Isolde’s mouth dropped open. “Just – just get on with it!” she snapped at the executioner.

But before he could, a bolt of light arced through the air, hitting the executioner squarely in the chest. He moaned and fell to the ground. Eli met eyes with one of the Cassiopeia, hand still raised. Immediately, some of the other Cassiopeia attacked her, beating her to the ground.

“What on Dross!” Isolde cursed, scrambling for the sword.

Just as she picked it up, Eli leaped to his feet, and joining hands with Tod, felt the familiar energy pulsing through him. But there was something wrong – Tod was weaker than he’d been before. Eli pushed past it and summoned all the strength he had. Isolde raised the sword, and Eli fired a wave of white energy, what looked like shards of broken stars, in her direction. She was blasted off her feet and fell dizzily to the ground.  

She groaned in pain, and then tried to get to her feet, but she was hit again, what felt like flames attacking her face.

“No!” she screamed. The last thing she saw before she blacked out was her father’s face staring worriedly down at her, and his voice mixed with hers echoing in the distance.

Line of Gemini – Part 12

Exhausted the next day, Sunny chugged a cup of coffee and hit the road. When she’d opened her eyes that morning, she’d managed to convince herself for a few minutes that she was in Nashville with her normal family. However, that didn’t last long when she saw that she was entirely alone. She called her parents and said that everything was fine. Both of her parents were on their way to work so they didn’t talk long. Somewhat relieved, but still feeling like garbage, she stared out at the road ahead of her. “Great, here’s hoping I don’t get attacked,” she muttered to herself.

Even though she turned on her music, she couldn’t get Tod and Eli out of her head. She was angry at them, angry at Tod for keeping it a secret for so long, angry at them for arguing. But more than that, she missed them and she wanted to help them. She remembered Eli had said something about granting wishes. Maybe she could wish for something and they’d hear her. She cleared her throat, even though she wasn’t even going to say her wish out loud, and thought hard.

*** Continue reading Line of Gemini – Part 12

A Space Hotel in Real Life? It’s Sooner Than You Think

Forget about staying at a five-star hotel when you can stay at a hotel that’s actually “sitting on” five stars (AKA space).

Orion Span, a start-up company based out of California, is planning on building and launching a space hotel called the Aurora Station in late 2021. They plan to accept guests the following year.

The hotel will be 43.5 feet long by 14.1 feet wide and will have a pressured volume of 5,650 cubic feet. It will be orbiting at an altitude of 200 miles or around 1,164,000 feet.

Founder and CEO of Orion Span, Frank Bunger, described the Aurora Station as “the first-ever affordable luxury space hotel” at the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California.

However, to a normal person, “affordable” might as well be a metaphor. The price for a stay at the Aurora Station is roughly $800,000 a night, and you will be paying more than $9.5 million for the required 12-day stay.  Previously, it would cost over $20 million to travel to the International Space Station under the Virginia-based company, Space Adventures. Only 7 people took this trip between 2001 and 2009.

Bunger’s goal for his company is “to create that innovation to make simplicity possible and by making simplicity possible, we can drive a tremendous amount of cost out of it.”

Aurora Station will be able to hold four guests and two permanent crewmembers which would likely be astronauts, and as long as the demand is there, Orion Span will continue to expand their station.

While Orion Span is currently not the only company planning on sending a hotel into space, they are the only ones to have laid out a plan for the future that has a good chance of succeeding.

 

Featured Image from Krone

School’s Almost Over, Now What?

As this semester comes to a close, many students will be wondering what to do for the summer, or if you are a graduating senior, what to do for the rest of your life. The students that are not yet graduating will need to be looking for short-term occupations for the summer. Part-time jobs will most likely be high up on that list. A little bit of extra cash will always be helpful for a college student; if nothing else, it will give them a bit of pocket change for when those exams get tough. A night out or a good meal can be just what the doctor ordered. Internships are another good opportunity for the summer, though those can be difficult to achieve and maintain. To realistically be able to hold one, you need someone who is willing to financially support you, which is a lot easier said than done. The real trouble comes for the graduating students though.

First of all, every student has to decide what to do, whether or not they are going to go on to grad school, or head into the workforce. That in and of itself can be a pretty drastic decision, and can be cause for a lot of concern. Graduate school can significantly increase the amount of debt a college student is in already, but it can potentially mean more money. However, there is also the issue of financing graduate school, which can be difficult after spending all of that money on four years of regular college.

Going into the workforce is not much easier nowadays. For all of the emphasis on getting a diploma, many employers also want their applicants to have years of job experience that no one fresh out of college realistically has. Job experience can be difficult to gain because no one will hire you in the first place without job experience. It is a vicious cycle, one that is made even more dangerous by the fact that recent graduates will soon have to pay off their accumulated debt. The best option is unclear, and it is a decision that is ultimately different for every person. There is not an easy way out, even though many of us may want that.

Line of Gemini – Part 9

They rolled into the hotel around 10 o’clock and after they checked into their room, Sunny flopped down on one of the beds. “Man, I’m exhausted. I hope this silly eclipse is worth it.”

Tod sat down on the bed opposite and pulled off his shoes. Eli stayed standing. Do you really like Sunny…in that way? Eli’s thoughts were harsh and cold.

Hey, none of your business. And so what if I do?

We need to go back. I’m serious about this. You don’t know what it’s like up there. You can’t just run away from who you are.

Watch me.

Sunny tilted her head. “I’m sensing some tension in this room,” she proclaimed. “What’s going on? Talk it out.”

Eli just shrugged his shoulders, turning away from Tod and moving aside the curtain to stare out at the Nashville skyline.

“Don’t you need each other to use your powers?” Sunny tried. “What if more people try to attack us?” She got to her feet. Her voice was higher than she meant for it be, but she didn’t care. These boys were driving her crazy.

“It’s fine, Sunny,” Eli said, his tone turning cold. “Just stay out of this, okay? It doesn’t concern you.”

At his words, Sunny shrunk against the nightstand, rubbing her thumb against her knuckle. “Okay. Geez.”

“Eli – ” Tod said.

“Just shut up,” Sunny said, not even knowing why she said it. She knew Tod had just been trying to stand up for her. For some reason, she felt close to tears and she angrily turned away, staring at a picture of a purple river cutting through silhouetted trees, a sliver of a moon pasted in the upper right-hand corner. She stared at the stars sprinkled around the moon and then looked back at Eli and Tod.

Tod looked up at her, and Sunny saw the helplessness in his eyes, but she didn’t stay focused on him long before turning straight to Eli.

She looks right through me, Tod thought. Like I’m invisible.

“Of course she does,” Eli said aloud.

Sunny didn’t bother to ask, even though her stomach ached with not knowing. “Well, I’m going to bed,” she said. “Do you sleep?”

Eli nodded. “Some – “

Tod said, “We’ll just stay up and make sure that no one else is coming after us. Go to sleep.”

Sunny saw the softness in his gaze, the tender look that she must have missed a thousand times. She nodded thankfully. “Okay. Um, I’ll see you tomorrow.” After she went to the bathroom to get dressed she slipped under the covers. She’d never been afraid of the boys before, but now everything was different. She felt like she was in a room with two complete strangers. And looking up at the blank ceiling, she didn’t feel like sleeping.

Did Self-Driving Cars Hit a “Pothole?”

While a lot of us want to see the revolution of self-driving vehicles, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially after what happened a couple weeks ago.

This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com
This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com

A woman in Arizona was killed when a self-driving car from Uber hit her while she was crossing the street at night. She “could have” been to blame for suddenly walking off a median or jaywalking in front of the car in the night. However, the street was well-lit and the woman was making an attempt to get across the street before the car hit her.  This shows that there is work to be done by Uber and state governments.

Self-driving cars would save many lives in the future but as of now, at least 30,000 to 40,000 people every year in the U.S. die in auto accidents (human-driven cars).

The provider of Uber’s laser technology, Velodyne, said that their technology was “more than capable” of identifying her before the collision which would have stopped the car.  Police in Arizona stated that the car didn’t slow down until after she was hit.

Velodyne is blaming Uber and its test driver for the incident and they have a point. Uber’s driver, who is supposed to take the car over if the autonomous system fails, didn’t even have their hands on the steering wheel. Uber’s cars have had a hard time lasting 13 miles before a driver has to take over. In comparison, Waymo’s cars (Google) can last over 5,600 miles.

Uber has also cut down its Lidar system from seven units to only one. The remaining one does have a blind spot according to employees who have worked on the car. So in other words, Uber is cutting corners to lay claim as the first company to sell a self-driving car.

States across the U.S. have taken action and have made regulations for the self-driving cars which is why Uber is in Arizona (they don’t have many regulations for the self-driving car business). Arizona could have a problem on their hands if this becomes a common theme.

While self-driving cars are touted as the future of driving and they would cut down on many deaths, there is more work to be done before they become a common feature in someone’s driveway. States have to be tough on regulation so we get the best product, and don’t end up with a product that has been cutting corners like Uber has.