Summer road trip destinations

By: Daniela Fernandez and Maddie Baggenstoss

As summer approaches, we are all tasked with finding fun and interesting ways to spend our precious summer months. If you don’t want to or can’t go on a long and expensive overseas trip, these road trip destinations are the way to go – literally.

South Dakota is a very common and enjoyable road trip. It is very easy for Minnesotans, especially those of us in the Twin Cities area. Some of the most popular stops along the way include: the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse, and strange tourist attractions such as Wall Drug and the Corn Palace. Overall, South Dakota is a good option if you enjoy beautiful trails and outdoors.

Duluth, Minnesota is also a fun destination (although it isn’t exactly a road trip, it is only a two hour drive away from the Twin Cities). Canal Park has many hotels and restaurants along the shore of Lake Superior, and if you’re brave enough you can swim in the frigid water. You can also shop local businesses, try new foods, and explore historical sites including Split Rock Lighthouse and the Glensheen mansion. Remember to pack extra layers – it can get chilly!

Chicago, Illinois is another popular drive for many Minnesotans. In the city, there are a lot of cool things to do, many of them in the water. There are boat rides in lakes and rivers as well as Navy Pier. There are also many beautiful parks and museums. Chicago is also home to Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play. It is the second oldest ballpark in the Major League.

St. Louis, Missouri is a cool place to go. It’s known for the Gateway Arch, which is a very popular place to visit. Standing 630 ft tall, you can view the entire city from the top. While at the Gateway Arch they offer riverboat tours that take you along St. Louis to look at many different sights the city has to offer. In St. Louis you can also visit the beautiful Missouri Botanical Garden and Forest Park.

Another fun place to visit while on a road trip is Cleveland, Ohio. While in Cleveland you can visit the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Glass Pyramid, with signed artifacts from your favorite rock stars. What’s not to love? While there you can take a tour of the museum looking at iconic artifacts from bands  and artists like: the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Stevie Nicks, Aretha Franklin, and many more. While there you can also explore Lake Erie, and the International Women’s Air and Space Museum.

Road trips are always fun. Getting to discover new places and having adventures. These road trip destinations are just a fraction of what’s out there to do. Whatever you choose to do, the important things is to have fun!

Coral reefs

Coral reefs stretch over 280,000 km in tropical areas. The reefs act as a “home,” and also is known as a shelter for many different species. Many people call the coral reef the “rainforests of the sea.”

Coral reefs help out the environment as well as us humans. The reef protects our shores from the impact of waves and from storms. They also help humans in the form of food and/or medicine. They also provide economic wealth to communities from tourism.

The World Meteorological Organization says that the reefs have more than $30 billion (U.S. dollars) in global goods and services.

The past few years, the reefs have seen many global threats increase.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature produced the “Red List of Threatened Species,” which highlights the species that are extinct, critically endangered, or vulnerable.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the most managed reefs in the world. In 2009, a report made by the Australian agency fears the future and that “catastrophic damage to the ecosystem may not be saved.”

The State of Coral Reefs Around the World says that 205 of the world’s coral reefs are destroyed and show no immediate prospect of recovery. Approximately 405 or 16% of the world’s reefs, were seriously damaged in 1998, and are either recovering well or have recovered. 60% of the earth’s coral reefs are threatened by just human activity. For more information about reef recovery statistics, please visit: globalissues.org

Some threats coral faces would be: bleaching (which is when the water temperatures increase), over fishing and over harvesting which disrupt the ecosystem of the reefs, boat anchors and divers can also scar the reef. Another thing is that invasive species, like the lionfish, can also caused a threat. Threats like lawn runoffs, sewage, cities, and farms all feed algae into the ocean, which can cause the reef to be overwhelmed according to  ocean.si.edu.

According to oceanservice.noaa.gov, there are 10 ways you can help protect the coral reefs:

1: Choose sustainable seafood.

2: Conserve water; the less water you use the less runoff and wastewater will find its way back to the ocean

3: Volunteer to help with local beach or a reef cleanup.

4: Corals are already a gift. Don’t give them as presents.

5: If you dive, don’t touch. Coral reefs are alive. Any stirred-up sediment can smother the corals.

6: Practice safe boating. Anchor in a sandy area away from coral and sea grasses so that the anchor chain doesn’t drag and damage nearby corals.

7: Don’t send chemicals into our waterways. Nutrients from excess fertilizer increases algae growth that blocks sunlight to corals.

8: Be a marine debris crusader. Besides picking up your own trash, carry away the trash that others have left behind.

9: Educate yourself about coral reefs and the creatures they support.

10: Long-lasting light bulbs are a bright idea. Light bulbs reduce greenhouse gases.

Coral reefs play a vital role in sustaining the health of our oceans and economy so it is in our best interest to protect them.

Teen Summer Spark

By: Vivian S

Do any of you remember participating in the Summer Spark program at the library before? Reading some books and then going to library and getting a prize? Well, this year there is another Teen Summer Spark with a new list of books to read.

There is With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, which is about a teen mother who is trying to balance completing high school and her dream of being a chef.

Then there is The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. The story takes place during the 1969 race riots in Malaysia, which I have only quickly researched. It seems to be that the Malay and Chinese populations there have always had tensions, but after an election, which afterwards, many Malays marched in Kuala Lumpur (a predominantly Chinese city and where our story takes place), and that march devolved into violence. During this, a sixteen-year old teenager is trying to find her mother, but must first get through prejudice, violence, and her own OCD.

Another is Lovely War by Julie Berry. This story is told by the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and it’s about 4 people who fall in love during the First World War, and the challenges they face.

There is Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka. This book is a graphic novel, and it is all about the author’s life. It is about his mom, who is an addict, his grandparents, who he lives with, and his father, who he does not know.

Also, there is On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. A follow-up to The Hate U Give, this book tells the story of a sixteen-year old rapper, who pours her emotions into her first song, and ends up in the center of a controversy.

There is Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams. About a thirteen-year old girl who tries to lighten her skin many times, thinking that her dark skin is the source of all her family’s problems, before she finds reasons to love herself as she is.

Finally, there is We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai. This not only tells the story of Malala Yousafzai herself, but also of many other people she met in refugee camps and other places during her journeys.

You can read and rate any of these books, or your own choice books, and by filling out a slip, you can a win a book, a journal, and an opportunity to spin a prize wheel (which you can only do in August).

To find out more, please go to: https://sppl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/1165043747_sppl_teens/1397988357_teen_summer_spark_2019?_ga=2.67466577.1190286460.1556283232-6556837.1536076982.

Fishing

Fishing is an all year activity that can be done at any time. There is regular fishing during the Spring to Autumn seasons and during winter, there is ice fishing. As we are approaching summer, as the temperatures are getting warmer, and now that the ice is gone, there are more opportunities to go fishing.

The best times to fish during the summer are in early mornings and late evenings. There is a moon positioning theory that was made by John Alden Knight. The moon positioning theory states that bass bite the best during certain tidal activities. For more information on the times to fish, visit the website shopkarls.com.

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and may have more if you continue to count after 10,000. Each lake has its benefits of catching fish such as: bass, walleyes, muskies, pike, and many more. Areas you are able to find fish are: narrows, bay entrances, weed beds, sunken islands, and points.

According to www.minnesotalakes.net:

Some of the best lakes to fish bass are:

  • Lake of the Woods
  • Lake Winnie
  • Rainy Lake

Some of the best lakes to fish northern pikes are:

  • Leech Lake
  • Class Lake
  • Lake Minnetonka

Some of the best lakes to fish muskies are:

  • Detroit Lake
  • Lake Minnetonka
  • Lake Vermillion

Not only are lakes great to fish in but also rivers. Though Minnesota has twice as many lakes than rivers, river fishing is still enjoyable at these rivers:

  • Red River
  • Root River
  • St. Croix River
  • St. Louis River
  • Minnesota River

Fishing can help create bonds with family or friends. From my own perspective, I have relatives who loves to fish and are closer to one another because they share this in common. My siblings, and our friends, take time out of their days to spend time fishing with their friends. So, when summer begins, and we are out of school, consider going out to spend some time fishing.

Eid

Eid al-fitr (festival of breaking fast) and Eid I’d al- fitr are the two festivals of Islam. Ei-al fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and is celebrated during the first three days of Shawwal. And on the day of Eid we perform the communal prayer.

Eid al-fitr doesn’t begin until the moon is first sighted, and technically that means across the world Eid al-fitr starts at different times and different days; depending on the location. The festival traditionally last for three days.

On Eid morning, Muslims cleanse their bodies and put on news clothes. Before leaving to perform morning prayer, Muslims wake up to cleanse their bodies with a ritual called ‘ghusl.’ Muslims often get new clothes to pray with and is obligatory that all Muslims do this. Some people wear the traditional prayer clothes and women decorate their hands with henna.

After getting dressed and ready, Muslims gather for prayers in a Mosque and/or outside locations. On that day, Muslims greet each other with, “Eid Mubarak,” which means “Have a blessed Eid.” It is a pretty common thing to say on Eid day to celebrate the ending of fast.

After the prayer, some Muslims go home, or visit close relatives and eat Eid lunch. Or they drink some tea or coffee, eat cookies, sweets, or go out to eat. Younger children get Eid money from older relatives; that varies from $5 or more.

My family, we usually celebrate by praying, going out to eat at a restaurant, and going to play at a amusement park. Many Muslims celebrate the holiday differently: some Muslims play at a park, some stay home, some eat at home, some eat at a restaurant, etc.

Some Muslim families sacrifice an animal and share the meat with the poor, and some exchange gifts.

The process of MEPS

What is MEPS?

MEPS is the Military Entrance Processing Station. MEPS is a two day long process; the first day is when you’ll have to take the ASVAB test and the second day is where you go through a physical examination to see if you’re physically fit for the military.

What is the ASVAB?

ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. It is a multiple choice test that everyone must take when trying to join any branch of the military. The ASVAB is timed, meaning that for each section of the test you take, there will be a timer and time limit for that section. The time limit varies each section, so maybe the science section will have a time limit of 15 minutes, and the math might have a time limit of 20 minutes. Overall, the test should be around 2-3 hours long.

What happens after the ASVAB test?

After taking the ASVAB, the person in charge will tell you your scores and give you a sheet to look at and sign then put all the documents into a folder specifically for you. After the first day, you are required to sleep overnight at a hotel that has a program with the MEPS. The reason for this is that people working for MEPS want to make sure that everyone wakes up on time, and gets to the Department of Defense at the same time, so that there won’t be any inconveniences. The required time to wake up is at 4:30am, as the process will take up the whole day. Depending on how many people are also joining on the same day as you, you might have a roommate or you might not.

What is the physical examination like?

Once you get to the Department of Defense, you have to sign in using your social security number and your fingerprint. During the examination, you’ll have to take: a urine test, eyesight test, hearing test and a blood draw. After you do all of the required tests, you will be put into a room with people of the same gender, and in there you’ll have to do some physical activities to make sure your arms and legs are working fine. Some examples are: flapping yours arm, touching each of your fingers with your thumb, and doing the duck walk. Once you finish, you’ll meet individually with the doctor.

Afterwards:

Once you finish with the physical examination, you’ll meet up with a counselor from your branch and go over your paperwork. After that, you meet with another counselor working at MEPS to go over your papers and make sure everything you have on your files is real. Once you go through all of these steps, it’s time for you to swear in and make an oath. Swearing in will take about 15-20 minutes, then after that, you’re done at MEPS and officially a part of whichever branch of the military you’ve applied for.

Detective Pikachu review

Detective Pikachu was released May 10th, and oh boy was it a mess. A fun mess, but still a mess. Beware of light spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

Let’s talk about the first scene. It was very sloppy. Our main character, Tim, is walking through the woods with his friend when they run into a Cubone. Tim gets upset that he’s friend set this up so Tim could catch it, and finally get a Pokemon partner. It was like they wrote the movie but then went “Oh shoot, we have to address that Tim doesn’t want a partner,” and sloppily threw it in. They immediately transition to Tim getting an awkwardly written and preformed phone call telling him that his dad was in an accident and. . . dead.

Tim goes to Ryme City. This is where his dad was stationed as a police officer, and in this city, catching Pokemon and battling them is a thing of the past. Here, Pokemon and humans are friends, much like dogs and humans in our world. The whole city design is well done, and really beautiful. The neon colors and tall glass buildings are amazing visuals.

Tim goes to his dad’s apartment, and eventually runs into Pikachu, played by Ryan Reynolds. Pikachu’s character is. . . tricky. Before this moment, it was pretty obvious that this was a kid’s movie, but with the introduction of Reynold’s character, the line between kid’s and teen movie becomes extremely blurred.

One big problem is that Ryan Reynold’s starred in the 2016 film Deadpool. Deadpool is rated R, but yet Deadpool’s character, and Pikachu’s, is very similar. A lot of the jokes in the first half hour of the film are adult. Adult jokes in kid movies are nothing new, and are totally fine, and can add charm to your film, but it does not work for Detective Pikachu. It leaves so much to be desired. The movie steps so close to the edge of PG-13 territory that it leaves you wondering why they just didn’t take it.

When you realize this, it makes you realize another problem this film has. Why is it for kids? I went opening weekend to this movie, and saw maybe only five kids. The Pokemon franchise is for kids obviously, but this movie was mostly appealing to adults and teens who played the games growing up. It seems the writers knew this too, since there were so many jokes aimed at adults. The movie just seems so empty, and pulling towards something it wanted to do but couldn’t.

After you meet Pikachu, you get introduced to the next character. I honestly forgot her name, she was so forgettable, but after a quick Google search, I found out her name was Lucy. She was written as a fun sidekick/love interest, and that’s it, despite the fact that she solved most of the mystery. She is still written off as a sidekick just because Tim got to fight the big bad super villain at the end. It was a pretty disgusting treatment of a character, and even though I did not find her very appealing, she deserved so much better.

Speaking of the film’s mystery, it was terrible. You could see almost all the twists and turns from a mile away, and the ones you couldn’t where just so bad that you didn’t expect the movie to take that turn.

Okay, I’ve gotten most of the negative out of the way. One last positive thing about this film is the Pokemon designs were phenomenally done. They adapted each and every one that appeared in this movie very well.

I gave this movie a 4/10. I think it’s a fun movie, but once the first hour is done, it becomes very tiring to sit through.

Top 5 smart speakers 2019

With new smart home speakers coming out frequently, the public needs a guide to the pros and cons of the different brands. You’ve probably seen ads for these speakers (Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomePod, and many more), but which one is actually the best?

Coming in at 5th place is the Amazon Echo Plus. It has an attractive fabric design, and has good audio drivers. It also has a temperature sensor. This speaker does have some cons, like it sometimes doesn’t work with Fire TV commands, and it has a premium price of $150.

The next best smart speaker is the classic Google Home. This speaker is great for music lovers, with it being connected to YouTube’s massive song library. It also has a customizable base, along with an affordable price of $99. A few downsides to this speaker are it misses some of Google’s own services and it sometimes requires precise phrasing for the speaker to pick up what you’re saying.

In 3rd place, the Amazon Echo has a great new look and a cheap price. It also has some new Alexa features, but it is pretty close to the old generations. Customers also have said that the Alexa app could be better, with some features being slow or sometimes not working.

The 2nd best speaker is the Apple HomePod. It’s compact, has spectacular sound quality, and has built in Siri (which is very responsive). There are a few cons though, including no Bluetooth feature, no Apple Music support, and a high price tag of $350 (or more, depending on where you go to purchase it).

The first place spot goes to the Sonos One, with a clean look, fantastic sound quality, built in Alexa, and an affordable price tag of $150. The only con that I found was there’s no Google assistant support.

All pictures taken from: https://www.techradar.com/news/best-smart-speakers

Bullet trains

As Japan has just tested the one of the  world’s fastest bullet trains, the ALFA-X, which clocks in at 400 kilometers per hour/249 miles per hour, I thought it would be a good time to revisit bullet trains. How were they invented? How fast are they? Why are they some places but not others?

Bullet trains were originally designed in Japan. The first bullet train that opened for commuter service was the Hikari bullet train which opened October 1, 1964, and ran until 1999. Hideo Shima was the first designer of the bullet train and finished his plans for Japan’s high speed railway in 1959. Japan then built the the train and tracks in just five years, in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

After Japan’s success, countries such as Austria, France, Belgium, Germany, China, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom built similar high speed bullet trains.

The fastest train in the world is the Shanghai Maglev, in China, which can reach speeds of 267 miles per hour. The second fastest train in operation is the Fuxing Hao, also in China, which has gone as fast as 236 miles per hour. The originator of the bullet train, Japan, has the world’s third fastest train, the Shinkansen, which can go 224 miles per hour.

The fastest trains outside of Asia are housed in Italy and both can reach speeds of 220 miles per hour. They’re called the Italo and the Frecciarossa and are made by competing companies.

In America, there are no high speed trains, at least according to world standards. There are trains in America that can reach speeds of 125 miles per hour, which is considered by the U.S. to be a high speed railway, but according to world standards the minimum for a high speed train is 160 miles per hour. California has planned the first high speed railway in the U.S., but it is not planned to be completed until the year 2040.

FFA’s annual Ag Day

You know spring is here when FFA hosts their annual Ag Day. Ag day is a day for all students to go outside, see animals and learn about different aspects of agriculture. This year Ag Day was held in front of the school.

This year wasn’t too different from the previous years. When you walked out to the area in front of the School House, there were tables lining the walls with different organizations and students ready to inform and entertain. The animals were in one corner and the John Deer was in the other. The classic vanilla ice cream booth was very popular; the line didn’t die down until the last 10 minutes of the period.

This year though, they did have some different animals. Besides the adorable dogs roaming around, this year they brought in a calf and snakes, along with the sheep, the goats, chickens, and roosters. The snakes were in a different area than the other animals. Everyone took turns showing off their bravery by holding them.

Some people said they would like to see demonstrations or skits at next year’s Ag Day event. They felt that the event is more like a fair, and there wasn’t much to do after they made 2 laps around to see the booths. Others were happy that they could use this time to see what they want, and have time to relax and socialize after.

The event lasted 2nd through 6th period. Some students went almost every hour, while others didn’t even get a chance to participate. But anyone who wants seemed to have a good time, even the teachers. It was nice to see that the teachers got to use that time as a break from their stress and relax. Hopefully, next year everyone will get a chance to go.