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Settlement (March 2021)

by Kevin Mercurio

Welcome to my monthly blog series. As a way to catalogue the happenings of the world, this blog will serve as a memento for its state at the time of publication. What I hope is that by clearly writing out top personal, local and global news, along with resources that can help us to develop skills, we can sift through the noise together. Let’s grow into our greatest potential.

Top Personal News

This month served as somehow both the impetus of anxiety and also the sedentary setup of training. Let’s start with the former. Coming out of my 14-day quarantine after arriving in Dublin back in mid-February, the beginning of this month was a race to find an apartment that was not only decently priced for someone choosing to live by themselves, but located within a reasonable distance to Trinity College. Not only that, but the apartment also needed to permit pets (I brought my cat Mila across the pond with me, don’t worry she’s less stressed now) and in a building/neighbourhood deemed calm and safe (something a writer needs in order to escape, funny enough, inside one’s own premises). Four out of five apartments viewed did not allow pets, so as soon as one did (which was a generous favour by my current landlord), I jumped on that chance. I will say this, the amount of kindness I’ve already witnessed here by Irish people, working with them and conversing with them, really does rival my Canadian roots. Other examples were my AirBnB hostess making me breakfast on the morning I was departing, and a kind stranger at the post office allowing me to use his phone to call my Canadian bank since I could not find a payphone anywhere. Sorts of things I strive to not take for granted. Now onto the latter. Many days have been spent reading papers and completing online training modules to work with animals in the lab. I very much appreciate the level of detail these courses provide, and how dedicated lecturers and course directors are in instilling an idea of animal respect. But as someone who spends their free time writing, at their computer, the exponential increase in the time of sedentary activities has been a curse on my poor back. Perhaps I need to invest in a less wooden, cabin-esque chair.

AirBnB hostess made me this breakfast! So kind!

Top Local News

Dublin is still currently in a Level 5 Lockdown and just recently announced that the lockdowns will “hold firm” for another six weeks, well into the month of May. Gauging the pub scene and having true, authentic Irish food will have to wait, but don’t worry, I will make my own goddamn Irish key dish and it’ll be grand.

I will visit you, glorious Guinness Storehouse.

Top Global News

I’ve kept track of what I believe to be the most interesting global news stories of the month. I wrote about the coup d’etat by Myanmar’s Tatmadaw military force, also called the Junta, which is still an ongoing killing spree at this very moment. In fact, current estimates have driven the death toll of civilians killed to above 100. Please keep yourselves informed of this story. I will turn to a more seemingly innocent story that captivated people’s meme-content over the last several days, that being the blockage of the Egyptian-controlled Suez Canal by the Ever Given Cargo Ship. Let’s get the memes out of the way. Here are my two favourite solutions to the crisis: the Pivot and the WD-40 Trick. Now that we’ve had a collective laugh, let’s learn some shit about why this is actually serious (alright, one more). The ship is a Japanese ship that spans 1300 ft. To my Canadian bahds, that’s almost three quarter’s of the height of the CN Tower, and to my Irish boyos/jackeens, that’s over six Wellington Monuments stacked on top of each other. This moving township blocked the Suez Canal on March 23rd. The canal itself is quite interesting, an approx. 200 km artificial waterway controlled by the Egyptian government (getting upwards to $700,000 USD per passing ship in tolls). The ship has blocked over 300 boats thus far for their passage. The canal is estimated to handle about 10% of global maritime traffic, and the holdup led to a halt of $10 billion USD per day. Let me repeat that, PER DAY. Ramifications for this event will surely impact prices of commercial products in Europe, and affect oil prices at a global scale. As of March 29th, the ship has been freed. However, though still at the early stages of a new decade, is it not surprising that one stuck cargo ship could lead to worldwide consequences? More information can be found here. Runner-Up: The Killing of Sarah Everard. To me, as terribly tragic as this is, the reality of women being unsafe at night has been voiced for years, in every major city around the world, developed or developing countries alike. The fact that worldwide news seem to sensationalize this particular story, makes me question the bias we still possess regarding race.

Most Interesting Article of the Month

“The Quantum Internet Will Blow Your Mind. Here’s What It Will Look Like” published in Discover Magazine by Dan Hurley. This was, again, not published this month, as my Pocket app backlog is slowly but surely catching up to the present date. I’m choosing this article because its contents, both in text and video showcase, was so mind-blowing I shared it with my friends (which I honestly don’t normally do, though I should do more often). The concepts of superposition and entanglement are already quite difficult to wrap one’s head around. However, think about what this could mean regarding the delivery of information, which is essentially what internet is (oversimplifying, I know). Here’s my understanding of this insane idea: If you can entangle two particles together, such that by knowing the state of one particle allows you to automatically know the state of the other particle, and create the infrastructure to send this particle (carrying information) vast distances, imagine how that would revolutionize telecommunications. Also, the idea of quantum memory to slow down said particles so that they arrive at their destinations in sync is just, like, wow. Read the article here (I promise its complexity will be worth it).

Most Interesting Video of the Month

This one was easy. I’m going with the SpaceX Starship SN10 prototype reaching an altitude of 10 km and landing back on Earth. Although, yes, it exploded shortly after landing, the fact that it was able to reach such a height and return to dock is a feat which cannot be underestimated. Remember, maybe not in our lifetime, but in our kids’ lifetimes, perhaps they will have the opportunity to explore, at the very least, our beautiful solar system. Watch the video here

Monthly Book Club

“The Anatomy of Story” by John Truby. This book is very meta in regards to how one could formulate an engaging story. To fellow fiction writers out there (as Truby himself said, all work is essentially fiction), I would recommend this book. However, I disliked how formulaic he makes it seem, even though logically it all makes sense. How great stories like anything by Homer or James Joyce, follow a specific rhythm. My biggest takeaway, like Chehkov’s Gun, is that everything you put into a story must have some sort of meaning, some purpose, for it being written, even the weather. You can actually read a digital version of it here.

Movie/TV Show of the Month

I’m adding TV shows because I don’t believe I watched a movie this month… I did start and finish a Japanese Netflix TV Show called “Alice In Borderland”. If you like international cinema, and also like bizarre premises, this show is for you. The plot centres around a lowlife youth who, along with some friends, end up in a deserted form of Tokyo. Among them are other “players” who are forced to play life-or-death games in order to extend their “visas” and live another day. It’s a mix of Alice In Wonderland, Saw, Japanese-horror, and weirdly Sherlock Holmes. Trying to solve the solution to each game with the players as they get picked off one after the other is the real prize of this show. I also very much appreciate how Asian-Cinema seems to give zero fucks about the “main” characters and will eliminate anyone in order to serve a greater plot.

Podcast Highlight

I forgot to add this section (I feel this blog is going to be hundreds of sections by next year). Anyway, I’d like to highlight the podcast that most influenced me in making mine. Yes, it’s the Joe Rogan Experience. Why highlight one of the biggest podcasts out there? Rogan made long-form discussion not only mainstream, but actually desired by all types of people. Despite the origins of this show, and some of the crazy notions this man has, his positive influence has greatly outweighed any negative effect. Like his YouTube Intro, he’s plays the monkey, and asks questions most people are too prideful to ask, and has the network to probe these questions towards the greatest minds of today. One of my favourite episodes:

Monthly Earworm

“Edge of Midnight” (Midnight Sky Remix) by Miley Cyrus with Stevie Nicks.

Quote of the Month

“What? Who is having that conversation with you? What?”

- Oprah Winfrey (Watch highlights of the Meghan and Harry interview here)

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