To be sure, unsure, etc.

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I don’t know much about most things, but I do know that some things are just supposed to happen, and some are not –

I know that the moon is supposed to rise in the east and that dogs are supposed to bark at each other through chain link fences and that pomegranates are supposed to stain my shirt sleeves

and I know I would never want to be inside when they sky looks the way it did tonight.

But I’m not so sure that things are supposed to be like this;

I am not so sure that the pepper tree I stopped at today is the same type of pepper tree that I grew up with. It didn’t remind me of home in the same way they usually do. It should have been familiar to me, and it wasn’t.

I’m not at all sure of people like you, and I am not sure that the world should be melting and that we should all just be okay with it.

How should I be allowed to miss things before they’re gone? How can I possibly miss you when my hands are on your face and you’re standing directly in front of me? I’m not sure how that is even possible, and yet I do.

I must remind myself to look up every once in a while.

Does shampoo cause cancer?

We use shampoo in our everyday life. “Dove,” “Head & Shoulders,” “Suave…” There are over 10 categories of different shampoo, but often times we’d use shampoo without investigating what we’re actually putting on our head. 

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Cocamide diethanolamine, or cocamide DEA, is a kind of emulsifying agent used in the making of shampoo products. According to the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), cocamide DEA is an IARC Group 2B carcinogen, which means it has the potential of causing cancer. 

However, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has declared that there is no need to worry. In a document that gets updated only when needed, and hasn’t been updated since the March of 2018, it says “FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be alarmed based on the use of these substances in cosmetics” because the NTP‘s (National Toxicology Program) study result in 1998 didn’t find a connection between DEA and cancer. Plus, if the customers still want to avoid using carcinogen-related products, they can do it simply by “reviewing the ingredient statement that is required to appear on the outer container label.” 

So, it would be overreacting to panic. Nevertheless, checking the ingredient statement of the products that we eat, use, spray, and wash with, is indeed important. We use shampoo everyday, but do you check what you use, everyday?

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The Smoking Reaper

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Worried about the potential health damages cigarettes might do to him, my father quit smoking a couple years ago. Before his abstinence, he had been smoking for over a decade. Cigarettes were a major category of his life for all those years, but he still abandoned it steadfastly. Why? Because smoking kills. 

Many are unaware of the damages that come with smoking, whereas the others are unable to stop smoking. As a hobby, people don’t see the harm; as an addiction, people find it hard to abstain from. How is cigarette-smoking such a bad thing? To begin with, smoking jeopardizes your health, the health of the people around you, and the health of the planet. 

If you were a smoker, smoking cigarettes can induce lung diseases by damaging the airways and the alveoli located in your lungs. The regeneration in your lungs is slow and according to the studies of stem cells in the past few years, there is little to no effective way to regenerate lost bronchioles or alveoli in humans. Smoking damages your lungs while you have little chance to regrow.

Nicotine is a major part in the making of cigarettes. The nicotine-intake from cigarettes decreases the amount of oxygen your heart gets and elevates your heart rate. More stress is put on your heart because of smoking. That’s how smoking induces heart diseases. However, that’s not all cigarettes bring you, they also bring death.

The statistics speak volume. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), more than 1 in 10 deaths worldwide from Cardiovascular Diseases in 2000 were attributed to smoking. “Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States,” the CDC stated. 

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In total, diseases that can be caused by cigarette-smoking are: lung cancer, heart diseases, strokes, aortic aneurysm, oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, diabetes… There are many other symptoms triggered by smoking. However, it’s not just the smoker that’s affected by smoking, secondhand smoke kills as well.

According to the CDC, More than 41,000 people die in a year because of secondhand smoke exposure. All these people are going to be gone because there is a smoker in the office, in the hallway, or in the family. You are slowly killing your family if you smoke next to them!

Cigarette smoking also leads to environmental pollution as it releases pollutants into the atmosphere. The cigarette butts are littered everywhere—you would often see them on the ground. The leftover chemicals in cigarettes would also seep into the ground or waterways, inducing further pollutions. By the way, cigarettes can also be an environmental hazard as smokers often fail to put out cigarette thoroughly. When they dump the still lit cigarette butts on the ground, it’s a dangerous fire hazard. In a report from the Los Angles Times, on Nov. 8, 2018, a wild fire in California killed 85 people when it ripped the Butte County apart. 

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In my eyes, smokers are reapers. They come not with a sickle, but with the smoke that chokes, with a fire that burns. If you are one of them, listen to me: the one that’s eventually get reaped is yourself.

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Burned Bridges

The United States has a complex and deep rooted relationship with the rest of the world. We stood beside Europe on the march to victory in the first two world wars. But then the 60s and 70s yielded economic and political corruption centered in Latin America, casting us in a malicious light. Then the 1980s saw the fall of the Berlin wall/ Soviet Union, which the US had a large part in. We were the heroes – until the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan, when we invaded places where there was no need to invade, while withdrawing from regions at crucial, inopportune points. Now, in October of 2019, we burned a bridge that had been forged with blood and brotherhood, united under a common desire for justice and peace. For decades, the Kurdish people, an ethnic group living between Syria and Turkey, helped the United States with intelligence, manpower, and resources. In turn, we drove radical insurgents from the surrounding area. But as of this week, the Kurds no longer see us as the ally we have always been. Despite strong warnings from various agencies and the pentagon, President Donald Trump ordered American troops out of a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria, which had for years stopped the Kurds from fighting with the Turks over land. By essentially opening the gate for the Turkish Army, the United States turned its back on the Kurdish people, which has resulted in a plethora of problems. Two issues that stand out greater than the rest are the fact that we betrayed a long standing and loyal ally, and that because of Turkey/Syria’s concentration on the impending conflict, large amounts of prisoners that belong to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have escaped from prisons that as of recent lack security. Many fear that an old and strong bridge has been destroyed, and that the future of the western Middle East may be drastically changed for the worst. The events that are to unfold are likely to be harrowing and unpredictable, so please read from reputable sources if you wish to learn more.  

Image result for kurdish fighters
Credit: The Times of Israel

The Coffee Dilemma

Many people prefer beginning their day with a cup of coffee. One of the most famous coffee shops in the world would be Starbucks. To some people, nothing really compares with fueling themselves with warmth and energy with a tasty drink. However, it’s proven that coffee causes cancer. 

I went to a Starbucks shop last week and discovered a notice sign that put me in shock. The notice sign’s title was “Proposition 65 Warning” and it indicates the existence of acrylamide in coffee, baked goods and other products of Starbucks. 

Acrylamide is an organic compound that’s often found in food where sugar or amino acid is present. The American Cancer Society have stated that acrylamide is likely to be a carcinogen—a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue. Although it is also mentioned that dietary acrylamide is unlikely to induce cancer, the fact that it has the potential to be a carcinogen panics many. Starbucks claim that their products are without acrylamide at first, whereas it’s the process of baking them that leads to its existence. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t risk my health for coffee.

It is indeed a dilemma, that coffee-drinkers should either forgo the beverage they enjoy for health or drink for pleasure. Whilst we should indulge in the joy of consuming coffee sometimes (which is the drink some of us need to survive), our health weighs much more. So, it is necessary for us to find a balance in what we put in our bodies. The coffee dilemma isn’t much of a dilemma when you side with health.

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Food in boarding school

Derived from my experiences from boarding schools, food delivery is inevitable. Boarding school’s rigorous schedule is demanding for students. I was wondering if my thought applies to other boarding school kids, and from their testimonies I could say for sure that boarding school’s food is insufficient for students. I believe that to boost boarding school kid’s morale , the school is responsible for better quality of food.

I acknowledged that the food can’t be perfect, but if school at least tries to satisfy students by communicating with them, I’m pretty sure that in result students will achieve greater performances, for instance, in academics, sports, and involvement. Also by better quality of school food, the trash caused by delivery will reduce significantly, which diminishes one of the big concerns in our school. In conclusion, I believe that if school communicates with student for better quality of food, the benefits will outweigh the negative effects.

How to make a better OVS

OVS for sure is a great school, however, I believe there are some parts that could be better in future perspective. For example, breakfast check in. In my opinion, breakfast check in is inefficient for both boarders and teachers. Derived from my experience, it is hard to finish the school work within study hall period, so I would stay up late to finish my work. However, OVS requires borders to check in by 7:35. As a result, students who stayed up late struggle to make it to check in. Students would have to wake up super early to get ready for school.

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If school gets rid of breakfast check in, or if school could make breakfast check in as punishment for misbehavior. Student would start off day lively and they would better perform in school by focusing more in classes. Therefore school should not force students for breakfast check in for students, which would benefit the school as a result.