Polymer Project – Design Journal #1

Polymers are substances that have a molecular structure consisting of numerous similar units bonded together, these similar units are individually called monomers. Polymerization is the process that monomers go through to form a polymer. Natural resources are materials that come directly from nature, such as wood pulp and petroleum. There are also examples of polymers that exist in nature, such as wool and cotton. Synthetic materials are substances that have been chemically processed and synthesized by humans, such as rayon and nylon. Rayon comes from cellulose, which is a form of processed wood pulp, Rayon can be found in numerous places, such as towels, blankets, and apparel. Nylon comes from petrochemicals, which are refined from petroleum. Nylon is a chief material in parachutes, as well as in ropes and also apparel.

Sources:

https://www.journals.elsevier.com/polymer

https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/plastics/The-Basics/

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/nylon.html

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Rayon.html

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Archway Through Time

Through the archway,
A land lost in antiquity.
In these harsh lands,
It reigns supreme,
Soaring walls of stone,
Built by a great emperor,
To fend off an ancient enemy.

Even in the vast expanse of space,
It is visible,
In its stoic and ancient glory.
It penetrates the landscape,
Over soaring mountains and into the sea.
A structure of primordial power.
In a land lost in antiquity,
Framed within the archway,
The Archway through Time

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Down the Snow Covered Track – a Found Poem

“In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters.”(Krakauer,1) Into the Wild by John Krakauer tells the story of Chris Mccandless, a young man doing well in life who unexpectedly donated all his money to charity and hitchhiked across the United States. Within this novel, John Krakauer recounts Chris’s misadventures which eventually led him to Alaska. All the while analyzing what led such an externally placid and successful man to march into the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer extensively interviewed many of Chris’s acquaintances during his trips and managed to glean a relatively clear view of Chris’s personality. A defining aspect of Chris’s personality was his determined and stubborn self. Gallien, the man who last saw Chris as a hitchhiker disappear into the Alaskan woods, tried to scare Chris out of leaving with stories of bears and deaths within the woods. “But he wouldn’t give an inch. He had an answer for everything I threw at him.”(7) This was the aspect that I attempted to focus on within this found poem.

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The Journal of the Syrian War

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The Syrian War: In Plain English

With more than 450,000 thousand people dead, millions of refugees displaced, and two world superpowers backing opposite sides. The Syrian war is arguably one of the bloodiest revolutions in history, as well one of the most influential events of the century. Caused by an abundance of dictatorial oppression within the country, the Syrian War is a conflict between rebels, such as the Free Syrian Army, fighting against Bashar Al-Assad’s national forces. Many external groups, such as ISIS and the Kurds have joined into the battle and began carving their own land out of Syria. This war is ongoing, so predicting the exact effects of the conflict will be impossible; however, it is definite that many more lives will be lost, we can only hope that Syria can rebuild.

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The Quest for Happiness

“Everyone, when they are young, knows what their personal legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible to realize their Personal Legend.” (Coelho, 22)
We all have aspirations, dreams of what we want to do with our lives. Sadly, not many people realize these dreams. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho is a book that carries the theme of seeking your dreams out despite the risks, instead of living a safe, but unhappy, life doing something you do not enjoy. This theme is exactly what I have attempted to capture within my book trailer, to reflect how only the pursuit of your true goals can make you happy in life, after all, ” it’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” (11)

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What is Real? What is Magical? What Happens when you Combine the Two?

Consider these two concepts, “magic” and “realism”, these dual words represent the clashing of two obscenely different realities, one of all things imaginary and mystical and the other of the everything firmly rooted in the happenings of the real world, they just don’t quite seem to match, do they? What if I told you that there is an entire branch of literature dedicated to the combination of these two supposedly contradictory ideas: Magical Realism, a literary concept that is expertly woven into the story of The Alchemist by Paul Coelho.

Magical Realism is essentially the integration of magical or mystical things and events into an otherwise mundane world. Within the pages of The Alchemist, set around the time of the middle ages, Santiago is a young shepherd, who herds sheep among the Andalusian mountains of Spain. At the beginning of the book, he does relatively normal things that one would expect for a boy in his position, he lounges in the grass, plays among his sheep, and entertains himself by daydreaming as he covered great distances across the mountains. As the reader ventures deeper into the book, things gradually become stranger.

The boy encounters a gypsy woman who reads his dreams., “I was in a field with my sheep, when a child appeared and began to play with the animals. […] And suddenly, the child took me by both hands and transported me to the Egyptian pyramids. Then, at the Egyptian pyramids, the child said to me, ‘If you come here, you will find your hidden treasure.’” (Coelho, 13) The gypsy woman interpreted the dream as the language of the world, calling towards him to seek his own personal legend, she advised that there could be a great reward for following his legend. After that, the boy ventures across the Mediterranean towards Africa, in search of the pyramids.

Santiago’s journey towards the pyramids lead him to many places, he was scammed in a bar, worked in a crystal shop, and ventured into the desert in the midst of a tribal war. On his trip through the desert, the boy meets a man who obsesses over the arts of alchemy. The man believed that a certain entity existed called the Soul of the World, “In alchemy, it’s called the soul of the world. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force.” (82) After that, the boy reached an oasis, in which they took shelter during the tribal war. Here he meets a true alchemist, who agrees to accompany him into the desert in order to reach the pyramids. However, they are captured by a tribal army, here one of the strangest scenes in the book takes place.

The alchemist strikes a deal with the leader of the army, saying that if the boy could turn himself into the wind within 3 days, they would need to let them go. The tribal leader agrees and the boy, incredibly skeptical of the possibility of success, begins to meditate on a rock. On the rock, he sat straight for two straight days. On the third day, he truly demonstrated the clashing nature of Magical Realism. In this relatively normal world, where people live as shepherds, crystal merchants and tour guides through the desert, the boy began communing with both the desert, the wind, and the sun. First, he began speaking with the desert asking for it to turn him into the wind, but it couldn’t. So, the boy spoke to the wind, asking for it to do the same. But when the wind tried and failed, erupting into a sandstorm in frustration. Santiago then asked the sun. And when even the sun failed, he turned to the Hand That Wrote All (God). When touching the hand, something happened to Santiago, “The boy reached through to the Soul of the World and saw that it was part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.” (160) As the sandstorm ground to a stop, the boy was no longer on his rock but instead was on the other side of camp.

The paradoxical idea of Magical Realism may be confusing at first, the unique style originated in Latin America, giving The Alchemist, a book translated from Portuguese, a somewhat unique style that can be perplexing. To better introduce the idea of Magical Realism within The Alchemist, I will be drawing connections between this book and one of the most read books in high school, Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Although the Animal Farm was essentially a giant metaphor criticizing the Russian revolution, when reading the book, many people likely questioned the legitimacy of the novel’s setting. At the beginning of the book, Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, gets drunk and is annoyed by the noises his animals are making in the barn. He gets out his rifle and begins shooting at his farm to quiet down the animals. While a bit extreme, this scenario is entirely possible within the real world. What is not possible, however, is the scene that follows. The animals on the farm were not simply making noise, they were actually cheering in response to a speech made by the prize boar on the farm, Old Major.

Believe it or not, sentient talking animals are a major aspect of Magical Realism. Inside Animal Farm, every animal can speak, and even though some animal is smarter than others, even the dumbest of animals can easily speak and the smartest, which are mostly pigs, can easily interact with others on the same level as humans can. The pigs have even undergone trade with humans from other farms, demonstrating that they have an understanding of basic economics and can effectively communicate with humans.

The pool of books incorporating Magical Realism into their stories is ever growing, and books such as The Alchemist, as well as Animal Farm, have achieved global recognition. When reading Magical Realism, anything can happen. Will the character your reading about, who is currently washing dishes at home, traverse to the land of the dead? Or will the cat of your favorite protagonist morph into a giant beast? The potential of this genre could be limitless, the only question now is not ‘if’, but ‘when’ the next best novel comes from this new frontier.

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August 25, 1939: Through The Eyes of a Russian Soldier

This unit, we took a look at the Russian Revolution exploring the viewpoints of either a Russian soldier or a peasant worker in Russia. Our task was to write a journal entry through their eyes, and I chose to write for a soldier called Sergei. The facts and key vocabulary are underlined in the essay.

August 25, 1939

My boots echoed as I walked down the halls of the Kremlin. As I walked past, younger soldiers saluted. Reaching the end of the hallway, I walked into my office to find a new stack of papers waiting for me on my desk. I sighed, though years have passed since my last real battle and despite the aching in my joints, I still longed for the call of the battlefield. I wearily glanced down at first paper on top, it listed that Stalin and Hitler had a signed a Non-Aggression Pact. I muttered a few words in surprise.

“What was that?” a man stood in the doorway, his clothes marked him as one of the NKVD.

“Nothing,” I immediately replied and explained that I was trying to deal with a difficult logistical problem. The man nodded and walked off glancing back suspiciously while doing so. I hated men like this, who showed no real bravery and used trickery and deception to achieve what they want. I hated them, but whenever I saw one of the NKVD, chills ran down my spine. I knew that each and every one of them could look you right in the eye and kill without so much as a flash of emotion. Looking at the paper declaring non-aggression, I mused over the workings of the pact, skeptical of its success. As I wondered, memories flashed through my head of all the things I had been through. My mind drifted back to memories buried from years ago…

First, memories of the famine burst into my mind. Us soldiers were always well fed, but the food we were given was the same every day, rough bread with portions of hot oatmeal or stew. I remember walking down streets with peasants simply lying on their side on the curb of the road, too weak to move. Their ribcages were strikingly shown, and hawks and vultures were already circling above, waiting for them to die. Then, memories of the gulags filled my mind, I remember hearing about the horrid conditions of the Kolyma camps, where zeks were literally worked to death in the subarctic cold of Siberian tundras. Finally, I remembered the Great Terror. I remember living in fear of everyone around me, developing a caution of people that I carry to this very day. The NKVD reigned supreme as panic permeated the land, from the halls of power to the fields of the lowliest peasants. Gunshots rang through my mind as I recalled the deaths of my fellow soldiers, lined up and shot for outrageous accusations. The USSR was no longer the mighty nation it once was, and our military was no longer feared, we had become a backstabbing squabble of once-brave soldiers.

I snapped out of the trance, old age was making me delusional. I speculated on the state of the USSR, industrial outputs were dropping lower every year, we were draining every last drop of resources out of our land at the expense of our own people, and food shortages threatened to destroy the foundation upon which our society was built on, the peasants working for industry and collectivized agriculture. It seemed the USSR was soon going to grind to a halt, the once-fierce Russian bear was wounded, and it would never last in a fight, much less a war. We needed this pact more than ever right now, but I felt that the ambitious Nazi Germany would not stop at Poland.

Images Sources:

Kremlin

Non-Aggression Pact Signing

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PE Swimming Unit Reflection

Within this PE swimming unit, I have learned many things, how to improve my strokes, how to better tread water, and even how to play water polo. In this post, I will be reflecting on how I progressed in the unit, despite missing half the classes because of my trip.

At the start of the unit, everyone made individual SMART (Sustainable, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals that they would try to meet by the end of the unit. My goal was to not only improve my strokes but to also experience new water sports such as water polo and underwater hockey. I got to play water polo, but sadly, we weren’t allowed to play underwater hockey. Even though I couldn’t play underwater hockey, I still believe that I improved my strokes. This was because my stroke became smoother and my time improved. We also got to play Water Polo, which was fun and exciting.

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Freezing Blizzards, Precipitous Cliffs, Starvation and Some Pretty Amazing Memes

Antarctica is a barren and unforgiving place, it is a wonder that humans can survive there for even a few hours. There is no life that is supported by this landscape, turbulent seas surround it, and freezing blizzards rage across its surface. The book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage recounts the real story of 28 brave men in the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition that endured all of that and more. It is even fitting that their ship was named the endurance after all that these people have endured. I have packaged this legendary tale of these men and the barriers that faced them in one of the most popular forms of communication of this age, memes!

Each of the four memes I have created tells of a different obstacle that these men faced. The first mountain meme shows what is probably the taxing barriers of them all, physical challenges that these men faced. These 28 men pushed through freezing blizzards and stormy seas, they trekked through miles of snow and climbed unclimbable mountains. The jaw-dropping things that these men faced were truly astonishing.

The second meme about rations, tells of the food shortages and starvation that the men of the Endurance got through. There were many points in time where all that they could eat was meat, on other occasions their sled dogs’ biscuits, and even, in the end, their own dogs. As Greenstreet, the first officer aboard the Endurance, observed, “The food now is pretty well all meat. Seal steaks, stewed seal, penguin steaks, stewed penguin, penguin liver.” (Lansing, 115)

The third boat meme was a representation of their situation of supplies. This shortage of supplies was also the largest contributor to the situation seen in the second meme. In all honesty, they had quite a lot of supplies, but there was no hope that they could move all of them with them, seeing as they would also need their boats to cross the ocean once they reached Antarctica’s edge. Ernest Shackleton, the leader of the expedition, wanted to travel as light as possible. In fact, his desire was so extreme that “each man, he said, would be allowed the clothes on his back, plus two pairs of mittens, six pairs of socks, and two pairs of boots.” (Lansing, 64)

The final meme about followers arguing could have been the deadliest obstacle of them all, it relied on the morale and emotion of the crew. As could be imagined by anyone in such a precarious situation, there were some pessimistic thoughts within the crew. Many complained, and this threatened to divide the men into factions. In such a dangerous environment, along with all of the other situations described in the memes above, such a behavior would undoubtedly lead to death.

Image Source: Google Images

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