The Goodness in Human Nature

Featuring NEW writer Carolyn Han!

Have you ever read Lord of the Flies? It can be pretty depressing – the novel is about a group of schoolchildren stranded on an island. As time passes, order is lost and the boys end up killing each other in a bid for power. This novel reflects the idea that in their nature, humans are greedy and ruthless. However, a real-life case involving a group of boys being shipwrecked on an island (sound familiar?) points to a different outcome.

The island of ‘Ata, where the boys were shipwrecked
Picture by David Burley

The year was 1965. Enter 6 boys at a boarding school in Tonga (located in the South Pacific) deciding to go on an adventure. They get on a boat and aim to sail off to Fiji, or even New Zealand. However, they end up lost at sea and eventually reach the unpopulated and rocky island of ‘Ata, considered inhabitable by scientists.

Though stuck in a what would seem like a bleak situation, the boys stayed and worked together. When one of the boys broke his leg, the others set his leg with what they could and helped him get better. That boy’s leg ended up healing perfectly. In times when the group’s spirits needed lifting, one of the boys would play a guitar that he made from wood, half a coconut shell, and wires from the broken boat. Most importantly, the boys maintained a constant small fire, in hope that they would be saved.

At the end of their 15 months on the island, the boys had fashioned a food garden, a chicken pen, places to store rainwater, and even a badminton court and gym of sorts. Previously thought dead, the boys returned home with great celebration.

In light of our current situation, the real Lord of the Flies story holds much significance. The boys’ perseverance and care for each other underlines how in times of crisis, we can come together and support each other, helping all of us get through this experience. After all, we are all in this together.

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Pay it Forward

Picture by Melinda Modisette

Dohatsuten, a Japanese restaurant in Palo Alto, California, is one of many businesses in the bay area that was struggling to keep its head above water in recent months. With the pandemic preventing customers from dining out, Dohatsuten could hardly stay afloat. One day however, they unexpectedly received a check for $100,000. The check was written by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who had picked eight of their favorite restaurants – Palo Alto Sol, Fuki Sushi, Vesta, Sushi Sam’s Edomata, La Ciccia, Chef Chu’s, Dohatsuten, and The Liberties Bar & Grill – and donated a hefty sum to each. It was just the relief these restaurants needed; not only can they stay open for longer, but many of the restaurants in question plan to cook free meals for essential workers in California. Although many of us do not have $800,000 to give out to our favorite restaurants, we can all find something, a small act of kindness maybe, to pay forward today.

Check out more at: https://sf.eater.com/2020/5/12/21255846/mark-zuckerberg-priscilla-chan-facebook-cafe-jacqueline-wine-tasting

https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/restaurants-receive-100k-donation-from-facebooks-zuckerberg-and-chan/2289219/

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Fizzling Out

Picture by Melinda Modisette

Although many countries are struggling to contain the Coronavirus, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and some other nations have managed to keep their numbers impressively low. As of a few weeks ago, Hong Kong, remarkably, had zero new cases to report! Though this does not guarantee that the virus has completely fizzled out within the country (due to unreported or asymptomatic cases), it is undeniably a sign that things are returning to normal for residents. In New Zealand as well, only around 1,000 total cases were reported, and last week, the country lifted many of its strict precautions due to the lack of new cases. Hawaii and Montana likewise are approaching the end of lockdown as the growth of the virus slows to a halt. Even though these are only a few nations out of many, we can certainly learn from their success and derive hope that all nations will soon see the same developments.

Read more at https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/states-cities-and-countries-report-no-new-cases-of-covid-19/

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A Graduation in Quarantine

Picture by Pixabay

While the strangest school year is winding down to a close, students and their families are wondering about graduation. Many states are still locked down and the prospect of gathering a whole class of students for commencement doesn’t seem likely. However, people around the country are working around this problem. Just recently, a Twitter post asking former President Barack Obama to make a commencement speech for the Class of 2020 caught the attention of the nation. In response to the post, an event was planned on YouTube for June 6, titled “Dear Class of 2020” that will include appearances from both the Obamas, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai. This year’s end of school has gone from a stay-home event, sans prom dresses and graduation hats, to a one-of-a-kind festival as an internationally united Class of 2020. Though many students are disappointed to be missing the classic image of graduation, it will be replaced with an event that no one will forget. Congratulations Class of 2020!

Read more at: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/obamas-to-give-virtual-commencement-speeches-for-2020-graduates/

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Mother’s Day in Quarantine

Picture by Melinda Modisette

Many families were more connected than usual on Mother’s Day this year, with college students at home, nobody going to work or school, and lots of time to enjoy each other’s company and relax. For some mothers, however, it was hard to spend time with their families; grandmothers in retirement homes were unable to visit their children while mothers who were nurses and doctors were busy working in hospitals. Luckily, several organizations made sure that these mothers still had something special in their day.

Local flower shops around the nation, Uber drivers, and Lowe’s department store worked together in delivering flower baskets to thousands of mothers. They surprised nurses, doctors, and seniors in the most severely hit states in the US. For Mother’s Day brunch, several San Diego restaurants offered special take out meals, including one distillery which made tea party sets to-go. Thank you to all the moms out there!

Read more at https://www.10news.com/news/coronavirus/san-diego-distillery-offers-mothers-day-afternoon-tea-to-go-boxes

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/lowes-mothers-day-deliveries-in-2020/

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Ingredients

Picture by Melinda Modisette

The closing of restaurants and long-term quarantine has pushed most families into perhaps an unfamiliar territory: home cooking. According to The Simple Dollar, the average American eats 4.2 commercially prepared meals per week. Locally, Business Insider states that the average New Mexican spends $2,560 per year dining out. For me personally, this time away from fast food and restaurant dining has compelled me to collaborate with my parents on making new foods with whatever ingredients we have in the pantry. For example, when we ran out of brown sugar, we found out that we could make our own by simply adding molasses to white sugar. Unique times like these call for unique measures. Spend some time this week making your favorite meal with whichever ingredients you have! It might just turn out tasting delicious.

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Musicians in Quarantine

Picture by Melinda Modisette

Featuring NEW writer Sofia Taylor!

Like all of us, musicians especially have been impacted by the shut down. Whether it is a solo piece or a symphonic work, classical music relies on communities coming together to make, appreciate, and listen to music. Even though art and music have been deemed “unessential,” it is one of the most resilient communities. Adapting and thriving for hundreds of years, musicians have already shown us that they can adapt to these changing times. They’re using the internet like never before. Arguably, musicians are uniting even more people now, all under lockdown, through music’s ability to break countless barriers, such as language, culture, race, age, and now even physical distance. Orchestras and chamber ensembles are still playing “together,” by using software to compile videos. Not only are soloists giving concerts from their apartment balconies, they are also streaming live concerts from their homes, for free and giving all donations to relief funds. For example, Renaud and Gautier Capucon, brothers in different homes, post a virtual concert daily, each going on day 51. Musicians are turning to social media platforms to gather others and put together videos. Yo-Yo Ma has started an entire movement, called #SongsOfComfort, inspiring musicians everywhere to follow his lead and continue to share their music with the world. Although we are all very far apart (six feet, at least), we are still united, just in new ways. If you doubt this, here are some videos to feel inspired:

Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia plays Elgar’s Nimrod: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dRYiPRqQKs

A similar video, from Rotterdam, Netherlands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eXT60rbBVk

Cellists from around the world play Saint-Saen’s The Swan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE1enPDh3nM

I recommend checking out this entire channel, called Playing For Change. Street musicians from around the world play Chan Chan (although it was not filmed during the pandemic, it feels so much more relevant now): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAjRmHODjyQ&list=RDWAjRmHODjyQ&index=1

ClassicFM’s compilation of musicians in quarantine: https://www.facebook.com/ClassicFM/videos/215113272888486/

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A Jack of Some Trades

Picture by Melinda Modisette

Featuring NEW writer Julia Ross!

During the time between my zoom classes and studying, I have been picking up and dropping new hobbies to distract myself from boredom. Sitting in my room, I am often struck with fits of creativity and energy that disappear within an hour. 

When my mother and I went to Lowe’s to buy flowers for our flower bed, I was in awe of the sheer number of tiny plants that I knew would look beautiful perched on my dusty windowsill or suspended from my ceiling. After buying numerous cacti and succulents in strange containers (one of the containers is a glass bulb with a woman’s face painted on the front), I realized that I had no idea how to suspend objects without tearing irreversible holes in my ceiling. So, I now have a variety of plants sitting on my bedside table–just another unfinished project that I have started during quarantine. Not only do I now have a small nature reserve in my bedroom, but I also have unfinished poems, drawings, and sheets from a therapeutic coloring book scattered about. On my desk is a vegetarian cook-book, with a tab on a vegetable lo mein recipe that I know I will never make. 

Outside is my skateboard that I bought when I was ten — the skull painting on the bottom of the board a constant reminder of my month-long rock phase. Once a day, I head out to our little cement patch that functions as a basketball court and attempt to achieve an ollie, a beginner trick that allows you to jump up with your skateboard. My journey has been long and tedious. 15 to 20 minutes a day of practice for the last 19 days has been just enough time to allow me to improve at a bizarrely slow rate; what started as a jump that sent me about one inch into the air has now become one that sends me about two inches into the air. If I continue at this rate, by this time next year I should be able to complete a standard ollie of about 1 foot!

In addition, I now have a new repertoire of half-learned songs on the ukulele. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley and “Ripple” by The Grateful Dead are just two songs that I can now say that I know, but when playing in front of friends I will have to find some excuse for making 20 consecutive mistakes.

So, I think from all of this I learned that completing projects is not my strong suit, but I have fun with them anyways. I can call myself an extremely amateur cook, decorator, skateboarder, poet, and musician.  And, maybe if I could just gather enough motivation to focus on one activity rather than 10 different ones, some great work could be done.

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Potential Treatment

Picture by Melinda Modisette

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, the FDA has yet to approve any drugs for treatment, despite many organizations trying a wide variety of drugs, looking for a cure. A recent Government funded study, however, has shown beneficial effects from remdesivir, an experimental drug developed by a private company. Testing over 1,000 patients with the virus indicated that, although the drug did not cure patients nor guarantee that they would survive, it did reduce their recovery time from 15 days to 11 days, on average. Perhaps more importantly, it also reduced the average mortality rate of the tested patients by a few percentage.

While the world is still far from creating a cure or vaccine, any improvement in treatment is important. As time passes, our scientific knowledge and our ability to fight the virus will continue to improve.

Read more at https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/29/health/gilead-sciences-remdesivir-covid-19-treatment/index.html

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Beekeeper Makes Music From Bee Noises

Picture by Simon Matzinger

By Megan Blackwell

An anonymous beekeeper in London who goes by the name Bioni Samp has been making music out of the noises bees in his beehives make. While bees communicate to each other through dance-like movement, the beating of their wings creates that familiar buzz. By using his own equipment to record, Samp combines different pitches and patterns of sound bees make to create songs. Samp hopes that the music made from the bee noises will raise awareness for the endangered species!

Thanks to recent media attention from news sites like BBC, Samp is gaining traction and spreading his (and his bees’) message: the world needs bees. If you find yourself in need of new songs to listen to, consider checking out his YouTube, Bioni Samp.

Learn more at:

Listen to his song, “I Love Honey”:

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