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A Journey of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step

Hey everybody!

First off, let me welcome you to my blog! It’ll cover a wide range of topics and lots of cool stuff.

As the saying goes, you learn something new every day. And hopefully my posts on here will help contribute to that learning process. Besides, learning something new is never a bad thing! 🙂

White: A Poem

I can go to the store on the corner
And grab myself a bite
And safely return home again…
And whether it’s wrong or right

It’s because I’m white

I can go for a run,
To blow off some steam
And I won’t get shot
My skin is the same as yours, you see

I’m white

I can pay with cash
Without so much as a thought
And leave the store without you
Calling the cops

Because I’m white

Won’t get shot in my bed
In the middle of the night
Because the cops made a mistake
And couldn’t get the address right

Because I’m white

There are no knees on my neck,
No bullets in my back
I know that to my family, I’ll make it back
And why?

Because I’m white

I’m the lucky one
Of that I’m aware
Because of the colour of my skin
I have no worries or cares

Because I’m white

But know this my brothers and sisters
I join you in your fight
And I won’t stop fighting until we make this right
And we all get treated fairly
Whether we be black or white

Into the Deep: A Maritime Controversy

Replica of the Titanic telegraph room.

This past week, the Titanic has become a topic of controversial media discussion. After major debate in US federal courts, the R.M.S Titanic salvage firm has been given permission to conduct a mission to retrieve the Titanic’s Marconi telegraph machine.

In July 2000, a US federal court order forbade the cutting into the ship for salvage purposes, excluding the search for diamonds and other treasure within the ship itself, but allowing the retrieval of artifacts from the debris field surrounding the wreck. But the latest court ruling, made by federal judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the US District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, made changes to allow an expedition to take place this summer. Given the fact that bacteria have greatly corroded the hull of the Titanic to the point where it could be completely gone by the year 2030, the salvage company sought to loosen the restrictions imposed by the 2000 court ruling in order to try and save the telegraph machine before the ship has completely disintegrated.

The R.M.S. Titanic salvage company argued that an expedition to retrieve the Titanic’s Marconi telegraph machine would open up new research about the ship’s sinking in April 1912, and the telegraph messages that were sent out as the ship went down. As Judge Smith wrote in the recent ruling, “The Marconi device has significant historical, educational, scientific and cultural value as the device used to make distress calls while the Titanic was sinking.”

While cutting into the ship’s hull would be a last-resort measure that the company will try to avoid if possible, the salvage team will attempt to retrieve the telegraph machine through an open skylight by using ROV (remote operated vehicles).

However, despite the fact that this expedition would have great historical significance and would give the opportunity for new research, it has instigated a huge debate and controversy. A number of organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have voiced their fierce opposition to the expedition. Representatives of the organizations in opposition to the planned dive voiced their arguments at the court hearing, stating that wreck of the Titanic should be left undisturbed and respected as a grave site rather than as a museum supply location.

Marine archaeologist James Delgado, who helped map the shipwreck in a 2010 expedition, stated “Titanic has always been a singular case of passionate, strongly held opinions. For some it’s a memorial, for some it’s a historic site, for some it’s where a family member died. For others, it’s an ultimate tourist destination, and for others it’s a business opportunity.”

The statements made by Michael Kingston, vice-chairman of the Irish Cultural Center, and Ciaran McCarthy, an Irish lawyer who specializes in maritime law, reflect those made by Delgado. To them, “The ship is therefore not just an enormous grave site, but a monument to such wider family tragedy and hardship given that those who died were the hope for all family members back home and that is the starting point — our moral obligation to the victims and their families.”

And given the fragile condition of the wreck, the R.M.S. Titanic salvage team might decide once they’ve dove down to the site not to proceed with the recovery of the Marconi telegraph machine for fear of damaging the ship further and the collapse of the telegraph room’s ceiling.

While I’m not a historical expert by any means, after reading articles stating both sides of the argument surrounding the planned expedition to the Titanic, I am honestly on the fence about it. While I agree that the retrieval of the Marconi telegraph machine would open up the opportunity for historians to make new discoveries about the sinking of the Titanic and add to the numerous volumes of research about the ship, the Titanic wreck is the site of a significant maritime tragedy which resulted in the deaths of over 1,500 passengers and is a gravesite that should be left in peace.

And the debate begs the question of should the expedition go ahead, despite the historical significance, is it worth the risk of potentially damaging the wreck further in order to attempt retrieving the telegraph machine when the wreck is already in such a fragile state? Only time will tell…

Not Just A Difference In Opinion

I debated long and hard on if I was going to write this piece or not, as it’s a very controversial subject at the moment. But in the end, I decided that it’s too important a topic to not discuss, so here it goes.

Don Cherry’s comments on Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday night was not just a difference in opinion. It wasn’t free speech. It was thinly veiled racism at its finest, and it’s really puzzling to me that there are people who can defend what he said.

“You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” Cherry said Saturday night. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.” – Don Cherry

I’ll give him this much. We should respect our veterans for paying the ultimate price for us. We are free because of the sacrifices that they made for us. But that’s where the similarity is thought ends. What I don’t agree with is how he went about it. Maybe he just had the best of intentions when he made the above statement, but it’s clear that he did not think of the repercussions that would follow.

You see, it’s not just a difference in opinion or freedom of speech when you direct anger and hatred towards a particular group of people. They are as Canadian as you and me at the end of the day. It matters not where they came from. In this great country of ours, the only people who are not immigrants are the native people. That’s it. Unless you are of Native descent, you and your family are immigrants too. We all came to this great country from somewhere else. Diversity is what makes this country great.

So when you attack the very fabric of what makes this country great, you can sure bet that people are going to have something to say about it. Doesn’t matter your status or position. People are going to call out racism and hatred when they see/hear it. Most will not let such commentary go under the guise of “free speech”. Racism/hate speech is not what our veterans had in mind while defending one’s right to free speech.

The Cute and Quirky Quokka

The quokka: this little creature which seems like something straight out of a fantasy novel has recently become a viral internet sensation, deemed “The happiest creature on earth” due to their cheery smile and inquisitive personality. But what exactly is a quokka anyway?

The quokka (pronounced kwo-ka (rhymes with “mocha”)), is a cat-sized marsupial from Rottnest Island in western Australia, measuring 16-21 inches in length. Mainly nocturnal, they live in the thick vegetation, swampland, and thickets of Rottnest Island and in the eucalyptus forests and riverbanks on the mainland, digging tunnels and caverns. Once night falls, the quokka emerges from its subterranean home to find food. As herbivores, their diet is made up of bark, leaves and stems from their habitat’s plant life. If food is scarce, the fat stored in their rat-like tails help them survive. And they don’t just forage on the ground; they are also good at climbing trees to forage for succulent leaves. But they aren’t strict about being active only at night; they sometimes spend time in the shade during daylight hours.

While they can be found on the Australian mainland, the quokka is mainly found at Rottnest Island. Those on the mainland breed year-round, but those found on the island only breed from January to August. After a month’s gestation, the quokka joey will live in its mother’s pouch for 6 months, and then relying on milk for another 2 months following leaving the pouch. The quokka can breed once it reaches a year and a half old, and is capable of having two joeys per year. They also have a fairly long lifespan of up to 10 years in the wild. On Rottnest Island, there are approximately 12,000 quokkas. Sadly, these creatures are considered vulnerable to extinction due to predators such as foxes and the destruction of their natural habitat through the logging industry.

Due to the scarcity of natural predators on Rottnest Island, the quokka are not very fearful of humans. And thanks to photos that some of the over 500,000 visitors to Rottnest Island have taken of/with the quokka, such as the photos below, these cheery marsupials might not become extinct after all..

The viral photos posted online by Rottnest Island’s numerous tourists has brought awareness to the until-recently, relatively unknown marsupial, the quokka. Since there are relatively few quokkas living in the wild today, conservationists are working to preserve the species and their habitat, controlling the predators (including foxes) and managing the quokka’s natural habitat.

Caesar: The Dog at the Funeral

Dogs have been known worldwide for their loyalty to their masters. Stories such as Hachi and Greyfriars Bobby come to mind. And dogs have been loyal companions to people of every level of social status, right up to kings. The British royal family are especially known for their dogs, particularly the iconic Pembroke Welsh Corgi. But prior to the rise in the popularity of the corgi after Queen Elizabeth II acquired her first corgi at age 18 in 1944, there were other royal canines wandering the palace.

In the final years of King Edward VII, a feisty little wire fox terrier named Caesar arrived at the palace. He was given to the king as a gift from Lord Dudley in 1902, following the death of the king’s previous dog. Caesar came from the kennels of the well-known dog conformation show judge and breeder Kathleen, Duchess of Newcastle. The dog was born in 1898, being given the name Caesar of Notts, coming from a long line of fox terriers. Given the fact that he came from a duchess’s kennel, one could say that Caesar was an aristocrat from the start. Before long, Caesar and King Edward VII became close companions.

It wasn’t long after his arrival at the palace that Caesar became a regular sight at the royal court. And he was quite the character there! He quickly became popular with the nobility. And he didn’t care one bit about manners and propriety. That inevitably got on the nerves of the courtiers and the royal visit hosts, who gave Caesar the nickname of “Stinky”. And even though the pooch caused quite a stink (both literally and figuratively speaking) at the royal courts, King Edward VII didn’t mind at all. In fact, he found the dog’s antics rather amusing.

The King absolutely loved Caesar, and the dog responded to that love with extreme loyalty. Caesar was the king’s devoted traveling companion; they were always seen together wherever they went. And he was quite a pampered and spoiled pooch. He was known to sleep in a comfortable chair beside the king’s bed, and he even had his own servant to care for all his needs and wants. And just in case he wandered into an unsafe place or if people didn’t recognize him, Caesar wore a collar with a gold tag that read “I am Caesar. I belong to the King.”

Caesar absolutely loved his master, the king. Anytime the dog caught sight of Edward, the dog would excitedly greet him. And when Caesar was naughty, the king was known to shake his walking stick at the dog, although he never struck the animal with it.

The dog’s antics were always a source of amusement for the king and those around him. Charles Hardinge, 1st Baron Hardinge of Penshurst was a regular visitor to the king. His account of the dog while on a visit on the royal yacht is particularly amusing: “Whenever I went into the King’s cabin, this dog always went for my trousers and worried them, much to the King’s delight. I used not to take the slightest notice and went on talking all the time to the King which I think amused His Majesty still more. The dog’s antics were always a source of amusement for the king and those around him.”

As much as the King loved Caesar, the pup could be quite the troublemaker and cause a lot of mischief. And sometimes those actions caused some difficulty for the king in his political dealings. Once, while in the (now) Czech spa town of Marienbad, Caesar escaped and chased a peacock. On another occasion, a hungry Caesar killed some rabbits belonging to the daughters of Lord Redesdale. Caesar’s mischief and antics didn’t prevent the king from loving the dog. And in case the king passed away before the dog did, the king’s personal attendant Lawrence Wrightson was asked to care for the dog.

The King passed away on May 6, 1910. The grief-stricken Caesar mourned the loss of his master in his own dog-like way. He refused to eat and would spend time whining at the door of the king’s bedroom. When the dog did sneak into the room once, Queen Alexandra found Caesar hiding under the king’s bed. Caesar felt lost without the king.

Since Caesar was so devoted to the King, it was decided that the dog should attend the funeral as well. At the funeral, the dignitaries and heads of state were in for a surprise. Led by a Highland guard, Caesar was in the funeral procession, walking behind the gun carriage that carried the king’s coffin. The heads of state and dignitaries were placed behind the dog in the procession. This fact apparently greatly offended Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. He certainly wasn’t pleased to be upstaged by a dog at the king’s funeral.

After the king’s death, Queen Alexandra took it upon herself to care for Caesar. She managed to coax him to eat again, and she spoiled him with treats. Although the queen had previously disliked Caesar, she became quite fond of him. On one occasion, the queen said that the king didn’t spoil Caesar with enough treats, so she had to compensate for that.

Following a complicated surgery in April 1914, Caesar died at the ripe old age of 16 years. A sculpture of Caesar was added to the king and queen’s tomb, with the dog’s sculpture placed at the king’s feet. Caesar himself was buried at Marlborough House.

2:20

2:20. A single moment in time. A rather significant and, it turns out, coincidental one.

It was at that time, in the wee hours of the morning of April 15, 1912 that the ship deemed unsinkable, the RMS Titanic, sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic, 2 and a half hours after hitting an iceberg. Over 1500 of the 2,224 people on board perished in the tragedy, leaving 705 survivors.

The tragic event has been immortalized in numerous films over the years, with the most well-known one being the Academy Award-winning 1997 James Cameron film “Titanic” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as the star-crossed lovers Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater. And it was the ending of that particular movie that has some rather significant, hidden details…

In the above video showing the closing scene of the movie, after dropping the Heart of the Ocean necklace into the water at the Titanic site, at the 2:20 point in the closing scene, the elderly Rose dies in her sleep on board the research vessel. Later in the video clip, it shows a young Rose being reunited with Jack on the Titanic in all its glory. But take a look at the time that the clock at the grand staircase says…. What time does it say? Yup, you guessed it! 2:20. And that, as we know, is the time that the Titanic sank. Coincidence? I think not..

But I must admit, that bit is definitely a rather clever (and quite well-hidden) detail that James Cameron had tucked into the movie’s ending.