Day #11 – Why I commemorate Remebrance Day, not celebrate Veterans Day

So today marks the 99th anniversary of  World War I Armistice on November 11th, 1918 at 11 am (the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour).

Since I don’t have a way with words, I’ll be including bits of War Poems here and there which I have always found to be incredibly powerful in humanizing the war and honoring those who lost their lives.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.”

~ Robert Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen

And here is something that has always bugged me about how the USA treats the day ever since I moved to Hong Kong.

Growing up as a kid in the USA, it was seen as a very celebratory holiday.

Flags fly high (well more than they usually do, which is saying a lot considering USA schools have a flag in every classroom for the pledge of allegiance – something else that is weird about the USA if you think about it too much), discounts for veteran are given for everything and there is a general patriotic sense in the air as you celebrate the heroes fighting for our rights abroad.

There are parades, there are picnics, basically, it is a bit like a toned down 4th of July was more “soldier-ified”

I never realized the significance of that date. November 11th.

You could make the excuse that I was too young to know then, after all, I was 12 when I left.

But that excuse rings hollow.

It’s because I never had a reason to wonder. It’s a holiday to celebrate our troops, what else would it be for?

And now that I do know the importance of the date, the way the USA celebrates what should be a sacred, hallowed day feels….

Sinister to say the least.

Actually no, it’s downright disturbing.

In Hong Kong (and more former/current commonwealth countries), it is a day where you remember those who lost their lives and say “Lest we forget”

Lest we forget the devastating path of destruction conflict leaves behind in its wake.

Lest we forget the human cost of war, not just of our fellow countrymen, but of all of mankind.

Lest we forget the dangers of excessive patriotism and blind faith in those in command.

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
~Wilfred Owens

Poppies are worn to symbolize the ones in Flanders Fields.

In class, you read war poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Thomas, John McCrae…

Two minutes of silence were observed at 11am in the morning for reflection.

In essence, Veterans Day disturbs me so much because it reminds me a bit of District 2 in the Hunger Games. If you have built up a culture where the military is glorified to the point that the cost of conflict is forgotten, then you get people so eager to leap at the chance to fight, instead of sit down and sort through a slower, yet longer lasting diplomatic option.

So today, I will commemorate those who lost their lives, rather than celebrate the troops fighting wars.

I’ll probably catch some flack from people who think I’m disrespecting our troops by saying that, but I believe war should always be the last option, the worst case scenario, rather than something overtly celebrated and glorified.

I just hope more people in the future (especially to my fellow Americans out there, whether you are still stateside or live abroad like me) understand the significance of Novmber 11th and choose to see it as a sombering reminder of our past.

Because those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.

poppy_field_1_28470946719029

-Rebecca


P.S.

Prepare for complete tonal whiplash:

I will make up a post for yesterday at a later date, was busy yesterday… busy procrastinating that is, did all the Common core essay stuff today. Will likely skip tomorrows post as well, since I have a lab due tomorrow.

Also not sure if this post is over 500 words but I’m over the time limit anyways. Will make the post look nicer at a later date. etc etc. See you on Monday if I can’t find time to post tomorrow.

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Day #5 – A Half-Dozen Random Facts About Eggs

So yesterday’s post was a bit long and drawn out, so today’s one will be shorter, based on a daily post prompt, since those posts tend to be more popular on my blog.

 Today’s theme is: Egg!

Egg
Image from Pixabay, Thanks!

Therefore, here are half a dozen short facts about eggs that you probably didn’t know about this food item, with sources of course.

Because as Confucius once said: “A wise person should never trust inspirational words or enlightening facts from others when they fail to provide a source, especially from a random person on the internet because anyone can make a top 10 list or put random words in quotes. Just sayin’…”

So without further ado, here we go!


  1. Contrary to popular belief, an unfertilized 1.4kg ostrich egg is not the largest single biological cell. That honor instead belongs to either the 12m long nerve cell of a Giant Squid, or large algae under the genus Caulerpa that can have over 200 fronds in a single cell with multiple nuclei, depending if you are determining “largest” by length or by volume. Source

  2. Eggs in the USA are sold (and legally required to be) refrigerated, while eggs in HK and many other nations across the world such as the UK are not. This is because USA eggs are power washed and sprayed with a chemical sanitizer to reduce the risk of salmonella bacteria entering the egg, a process that removes the natural protective coating of the egg so it needs to be refrigerated. Meanwhile, places where chicken husbandry regulations are more strict focus on making sure the hens don’t have salmonella, and so can sell unrefrigerated eggs as they still have the enact coating on them. Source

  3. The Guinness World Record for most eggs cracked in one minute with one hand is 32, a record currently held by Washingtonian Ross McCurdy, broken (pun not intended) on the 16th of June 2011 (he owns a breakfast restaurant) Source.

  4. Egg cartons were invented by Canadian newspaper editor Joseph Coyle in 1911 and first sold as Coyle Egg-Safety Carton to replace the straw or sawdust padded boxes that eggs were originally sold in Source

  5. Moving away from bird eggs, the egg cases of Chondrichthyes (that’s cartilaginous fishes like sharks, skates, rays and chimeras) are rectangular in shape thus are nicknamed mermaid’s purses. They are made of collagen, so often lightweight enough to be washed up to the strandline of beaches. Source

  6. Lastly, in the realm of history and art, only 50 Imperial Fabergé eggs were made between the years 1885 to 1916. However, they weren’t the only Fabergé eggs commissioned, as notable people such as Dr. Emanuel Nobel, nephew of Alfred Nobel, were some of Peter Carl Fabergé’s clients as well. Source

So hope this odd tangent was entertaining, or at least entertaining!

(Side note, the NSA or any future historians looking through my google search history must think I have gone mad as it is now just full of websites dedicated to random egg facts… oh well! One must do what one must for the sake of a random blog challenge and daily post prompt)

I’ll probably add a few more photos here in the coming few days since the post is quite text heavy but until then, hope you have an Egg-cellent day! 😀

(oh come on, I had to sneak an egg pun somewhere in this post)

-Rebecca

Day #1 – Und so beginnt es!

And so it begins!

In German for the title because why not, I know how to say it (have been learning the language for about a year now) and it makes for a more interesting title. Plus the explanation bumps up my word count slightly since to be perfectly honest 500 words per day is a bit… ambitious for 30 days, but I don’t want to fail this challenge before it even really begins 😛


I titled this challenge the “ Sudo-wrimo” after the Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge I would normally do during November, where people across the world attempt to write 50,000 words in a month (see the previous post).

Note that it is spelt “Sudo” rather than “Pseudo”. Why? Well because I am a terrible speller and have always been annoyed by silent letters, so it is spelled phonetically and since “Sudo” is much shorter and reminds me of the Pokemon Sudowoodo, so hey.

pokemon-1513925_640
Couldn’t find a photo of Sudowoodo labeled for reuse, so enjoy this generic pokeball courtesy of  Pixbay

 

This entire introduction pretty much shows the tone of the rest of this challenge, very casual and not formal at all, with barely any editing – just me practicing quick turnarounds of thoughts -> words on a page/ screen, since that is quite a useful skill and I need to practice my writing skills.

I’ve been typing for a while and am still only at around 250 words…. Great….


 

Since I didn’t do an 🎃 October recap 🎃 last month due to midterms, I’ll use my remaining words to give a short overview of my classes and other things that have happened since my last goal update (not giving the course code at the moment since I’d rather not have this be one of the first things that pops up when you search “HKU-course code” )

Biochemistry – Did a midterm few weeks ago, 1 point below average so not great in the grand scheme of things, but considering it is one of my weakest subjects and I felt as though I failed it after the exam, I am pretty dang pleased with how I did.

Economic History – Got the same score in both the Book Review essay and the mini quiz (A-). Was hoping for a better score on the essay, but did a lot better on the quiz than I thought so I’ll take it!

WWII Pacific History – Finished and turned in the midterm document analysis essay, haven’t gotten it back yet, but really should not have procrastinated on it. Still think I did okay on it, but we will see.

Common Core – No real midterm, just a bunch of assignments here.

Ecology – I went on a field course trip during reading week and IT WAS AWESOME! I’ll probably write more about it sometime later, but have started updating my formal website portfolio with a lot of photos I took on the trip. Felt I did really well in the midterm MCQ in that “the-test-felt-a-bit-too-easy-not-sure-if-is-because-I-studied-well-or-because-I-crashed-and-burned” kind of way.

So that is all for today, be sure to check in tomorrow for another 500 words in my Post A Day “Sudo-wrimo” challenge this month!

-Rebecca

 

Day 6 – Am I a Hobby-Hoarder?

And because I am a renegade blogger, spoilers: contrary to Betteridge’s law of headlines / Hinchliffe’s Rule which states:

Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no.” The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.[1]

The answer to the question is Yes.

But since I am also a history student, I can’t be so definitive with my answers, so the question should be re-framed as “To what extent is Rebecca of A Pondering Papaya a hobby-horder?” with the conclusion being ” To a large extent, though only for xyz period of time, with consideration to various external factors”.

Actually no, I wouldn’t be able to do that either, since its too recent for us to know the effects of what I am doing, thus not considered history until…

Sorry, I’m getting off track… where was I ?

Right, hobby hording. I got a major problem with it.

I mean it is one thing to try out things until you find one that sticks, but I seem to have a problem with starting activities and droping them off a few years later. My room is just a graveyard of past projects, littered with stuff from…

  • Sports:
    • Running – The phase I’m currently in. Besides running shoes, I’ve got my 10km bib from 2017 Standard charter marathon, the uni running team shirt and a few other things strewn around here (including my watch).
    • Swimming – Still have my swimming stuff, but haven’t gone to the pool in forever… probably should get back into in, since I made it to the level just before the swimming team and stopped…
    • Karate – Did this when I was still living in Texas, so most of the stuff is still back there. Have some photos and one of my puzzle cubes was from there and karate themed
  • Arts:
    • Music – I played flute and violin, so my room has my two flutes (one is from middle school and really beaten up, the other is the professional looking nice one) and a violin (which I share with my brother, who plays piano but has actually stuck to it for 10+ years, unlike me who keeps going off and on)
    • Book binding – A few summers ago,  I thought this would be a good use of my time. Sewed several text blocks but never got around to finishing them off with a cover and book cloths etc.
    • Crochet- Did this for IB CAS (see my CAS blog HERE for more about it). I still have the stuff and a lot of left over yarn + some stuffing , just haven’t gotten back into it for some reason.
    • Macrame / Chinese Knotting – Yes, these are technically different but they use a lot of the same techniques so I’m grouping them together. Luckily the stuff for this doesn’t take up much room (about one pencil case full) so its stuck around for a while, just that inspiration of stuff to make hasn’t struck me yet
  • Actually useful things:
    • Coding – I haven’t done this in a while, which I don’t really have an excuse for since you know, its all on the same computer I spend bing watching shows on… sigh
    • First Aid –  Need to get my certification renewed some time this year…not really a hobby though, so I’ll just leave it at that
    • Reading – So many freaking books in my room… I’ve been trying to cull some of my physical books, but like the hydra they keep bloody coming back. Perhaps a post for another day though!
    • Writing- The only hobby so far I haven’t dropped yet (fingers crossed!)
  • Everything else
    • Cubing – I’ve got five 3x3x3, one 4x4x4, one mirror cube, one megaminx. Still sticking with this hobby since its quite relaxing to just sit down and solve them. Now just need to learn OLL
    • Crosswords – Again, like the music stuff, this is a very off and on hobby, both making crosswords and solving them. Good thing is that its mostly confined to my phone and laptop, since otherwise.

So now that I am a self confessed hobby-holic, what now?

Well since this post is getting long….

I’m making this a two parter (not necessarily completing it tomorrow since I still need time to think, but sometime within the 30 days).

Also for the record, first time I have finished this post before dinner (4:10pm) whoop! Probably because it is raining for the 4th day in a row… HK weather wtf…

Rebecca

Let’s talk about Politics, shall we?

Well that didn’t take long didn’t it? I was hoping for this blog to remain relatively neutral in terms of political things, but… well it is a bit hard to stay quiet about what is going on in the USA right now.

And since in it occurred to me that no one is reading this blog at the moment, and I have had several days now to collect my thoughts, I felt it was as good of time as any to voice my opinion on the matter.

So without further ado… Trump’s recent travel ban.

Note:This post will be mostly my present thoughts on the issue, rather than a nonbiased analysis of the exact wording of the order etc. Also this is based on the information from late January, early February.

If you are looking for an overview of what the ban exactly entails….here is a quick video overview about the whole kerfuffle by Vox News:


So onto my thoughts

While most of what I am about to say has been said before by people far more qualified than I (if one can even be said to be “qualified” to talk about issues concerning these sorts of things), I feel it still bears repeating.

Why?

Because of history.

Because even if this blog fails and no one except me sees this, even if my words get drowned out in the outcry surrounding the issue or even if Trump’s Travel Ban becomes nothing more than a minor factoid in the future when we look back on the 45th POTUS’s tenure…

I want to have my current thoughts on record.

Because if pouring through my old tattered diaries in the comfort of my own room or reading though primary historical accounts by people long ago have told me anything, it is the importance of knowing, not by personal recollections or fact interpretations, but through records written by someone who was there what happened.

Since this event, like POTUS’s inauguration was a “I am witnessing history in the making” moment.


In between my swearing to let off some steam and explanations to non-American friends about the severity of the ban (such as explaining Green Cards and the like) I typed out the following sentence on Whatsapp.

Idk anymore, like im angry, sad, confused, afraid and alarmed all at the same time

Which while not the most enlightening sentence to come out of my 18-year-old mouth,  I feel as though it sums up my thoughts quite well.

  • Angry –
    • This was primarily what I was feeling at the time. I was angry, not at Trump or his cabinet or even the people who voted for him per say (though there was a smidgen of that), more that I was angry with the whole idea of the racism and bigotry, that us as humans can sink low enough where we choose to discriminate against people due to their religion.
    • It was also at how we politicise people we don’t even know personally, that after the Quebec City shooting, we choose not to think about the families affected or those who died, but to go on a witch hunt, hoping that the shooter fits our “teams” ideology, to the point of even publishing false information portraying a witness as the shooter

 

  • Sad – 
    • Self explanatory. I have friends who are Muslim and the thought that Islamophobia has gotten to the point where executive orders are signed, where there are laws in place that expressly forbid them from traveling to or even visiting certain places that I could go to freely is really upsetting. That the order tore up families, prevented people from continuing their education and slammed the door in the face of people who had given everything to start a new life or flee persecution.
    • Listening to the news about children being separated from their mothers and detained for hours on end, it reminded me a bit of the Ahmed clock incident from a few years back (looking it up, it was from 2015, wow time travels fast) how something simple gets blown out of proportion because some people view Muslims as a “threat” or “others”.
    • I remember early last year, when the USA primaries had just gotten started, I asked one of my Muslim friends (the smartest guy in the whole year, no question) about where he was planning on going for Uni and being surprised when he only mentioned local schools, not any of the well known universities abroad in the USA or UK, before he explained how he felt it was unsafe for him abroad citing things such as Charlie Hebdo, Trumps rise in the primaries etc. And it just hit me that the freedom to choose a university without consideration to these factors was something I had taken for granted, that despite my scores being much lower than his, I had more options available to me.

 

  • Confused – 
    • Bit of back story, I was born in raised in the USA (specifically Texas) and as a child, one of the things we would do each and every morning in Elementary School was the Pledge of Allegiance to the USA and Texan Flag, followed by a minute of silence. Even though it has been nearly 8 years since I have said the words, I still remember them clearly. I grew up with civic classes where we learned about country and state symbols, with history lessons that taught me about the Bill of Rights and Constitution or learning about the various backgrounds of my fellow students from different cultures etc Just the whole idea of a melting pot where no mater where you come from or your background, you can be an American without giving up your cultural heritage
    • And while I have never been a “rah rah” patriot of the USA, I still consider myself an American and a Texan. It just confuses the hell out of me (though I’m sad to say that it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest) how people can claim to uphold these lofty ideals when these sorts of things happen. It makes me a bit confused as to what it means to be an “American” now if this is how we treat people. I’m just glad that the American tradition of protesting and helping others when the are down  is still alive and well with the airport protest people.

 

  • Afraid –
    • What’s next? Its been less than 2 weeks and already to POTUS has alienated the USA from many of our closest allies (Mexico and Canada come to mind, though strangely Theresa May seems oddly quiet about everything, probably due to Brexit forcing the UK to play nice with the US or something).
    • I am terrified of what the next 4 years will bring, given how flippant Trump is accomplishing his campaign goals without concern about anyone other than himself and his closest advisers. Also Steve Bannon… yeesh

 

  • Alarmed
    • Keeping this one short since the wall of text is a bit overwhelming, but this is related to the one above. It scares me how much power Trump has and what he is doing with it, especially since he gets a supreme court justice to nominate and a party majority in congress, basically giving him control over the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of government.

 

So if you have read this far, thanks for letting me rant and get my thoughts down. Hopefully future posts will be less “wall o’ text” and short enough to be readable without dragging on. As well as more editied. And about things that are less political. Yeah.

That’s all for now!

-Rebecca