Flesh-Eating bacteria in Australia

Mycobacterium ulcerans smear

In Australia, there has been a surge in cases of a flesh-eating bacteria named Mycobacterium ulcerans that form ulcers (also known as Buruli ulcers) in one’s skin. This bacteria is in the same family as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Tuberculosis) and Mycobacterium leprae (Leprosy). If left untreated, the deformity can lead to the need for an amputation. This bacteria originates in the tropical locations of West and Central Africa, which makes scientists wonder why it is popping up all the way in Australia. In Australia, this bacteria is thought to have been around since 1948. In 2016, there were 182 recorded cases of Mycobacterium ulcerans in Victoria, Australia’s most densely populated state and its second-most populous state overall.

It can affect almost anyone, including animals and children, unlike the strain in Africa that usually mostly affects middle-aged people. It’s also unknown in how this bacteria spreads from person to person, which makes contagion efforts much more difficult. One theory is that it spreads via mosquito bites. It also affects people more during warmer months, when more skin is susceptible to the bacteria.

Mycobacterium tend to typically live in water (even if it’s water treated with chlorine) and food sources. Some, including Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Mycobacterium ulcerans are known as obligate parasites, meaning that they require a host in order to finish its life cycle and reproduce.

Village School’s Annual “iHop and Bowling Trip”… But a Bit Different

Danielle and I become blurs while we celebrate a particular frame!

Every year, Village School goes on the “iHop and Bowling” trip. This year was different though, as we decided to go to a proper Long Island diner instead of iHop before heading to bowling. It was a bit unfortunate, since at the day of the trip I was actually craving a nutella crepe, which they served only at iHop.

At the diner, my table ordered different things to eat; even though it was just after 10 AM, we all went for lunch items rather than breakfast. I ordered buffalo wings and mac and cheese, Taylor ordered mozzarella sticks and a tuna melt, Arielyn ordered an empanada, and… Emma ordered the same thing as Arielyn (they’re best friends though, so this was expected). I personally thought the mac and cheese was terrible, but at least it’s very hard to mess up buffalo wings, so not all my faith was lost. Taylor said her tuna melt was gross and too cheesy, and Arielyn complained about too many onions in her empanada. Emma didn’t say anything about her food. Overall, we were kind of disappointed about the diner experience, but we still had high hopes for bowling.

Arielyn, Emma, and Taylor arguing over… something…

When we arrived at the bowling alley, I was at Lane 10 with Phoebe and Danielle, and Emma, Arielyn, and Taylor were in Lane 9. Emma kept winning multiple times in Lane 9, and Danielle won twice on my lane. I struggled with the bowling ball because I kept picking up the really heavy ones (I struggled with anything over a few pounds). At least I managed to get a strike at some point, though!

The trip wasn’t my favorite, but it was still fun to spend the day with friends without the stress of actual school classes.

Cutest Stationmaster Of All Time

Tama the cat, wearing her stationmaster outfit.

In Japan in 2004, an electric railway station named Kishi Station was on the brink of dying out. But when a stray calico cat showed up by the station, it soon became adopted as a ‘mascot’ for the railway station because of how often she showed up there. Thanks to her status as a ‘stationmaster’, the railway station avoided being shut down because citizens and fans of the new mascot demanded to keep it open. Tama’s presence caused an increase of 17% in passenger attendance, and added 1.1 billion yen ($10,260,285) to the local economy.

Even though she is just a ordinary cat, Tama has had a lot of merchandise created in her name and image. Many fans buy plushies of her, and she was featured on Animal Planet in an episode of, “Must Love Cats.”  As her popularity grew, so did citizens’ respect and admiration for her.

Upon her death in 2015, she was elevated to a ‘Shinto Goddess’, and thousands of people attended her funeral. Not to worry though, next in line for the stationmaster status is Tama’s apprentice cat, Nitama.

Helicopter Crash in NYC

Photo by John J. Magers, of the helicopter crashing into the NYC East River.

On Monday the 12th of March 2018, a helicopter crashed in New York City’s East River. Passengers onboard were Brian McDaniel, Trevor Cadigan, Carla Vallejos Blanco, Daniel Thompson, and Tristian Hill. 

All five passengers aboard the helicopter were killed, and the pilot survived. Reasons for the crash are still unknown, but this is Liberty Helicopters third crash in 11 years.                                                         

According to JJ Magers, one of the witnesses and recorders of the crash, the helicopter was flying unusually low even before the crash. The pilot claims it was due to an engine failure, but evidence is still being collected to find the reason behind the crash.


Passengers within the helicopter were unable to cut themselves free from the safety harnesses and therefore drowned due to being stuck underwater in the helicopter, unlike the pilot who had cut himself free.

Academy Awards 2018

Guillermo del Toro, winner of the awards for best director and best picture for “The Shape of Water,” poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

This year’s Oscar winners were  interesting, but not surprising, as many of this year’s winners had already won in their categories at shows leading up to the Academy Awards. This year’s Oscars were held in Dolby Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. All Academy Awards have been hosted there since 2002. The winner for Best Picture was “The Shape of Water,” a film about a mute woman who falls in love with a government laboratory specimen. The Director of the film, Guillermo del Toro, won the Director award.

See complete list of Academy Award winners below:

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Earthquake Strikes Southeastern Mexico, Many Homes Destroyed

On Friday, February 16th, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter Magnitude scale struck southeastern Mexico. The epicenter was in Oaxaca. No deaths or injuries were reported from this earthquake, but many homes were damaged.

13 people were later killed when a helicopter carrying Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete Prida crashed in a town near the earthquake epicenter.

A building that was destroyed by the earthquake.

Mexico is a frequent hotspot of earthquakes due to its location – the country sits right on top of Earth’s three largest tectonic plates. During seismic activity, multiple areas are affected – especially Mexico City, due to its foundation being a lakebed.

Many in Mexico fear the earthquakes after the 2009 quake that struck in September killing over 200 people and leaving buildings in disarray.

Class Spotlight: Village School’s Cooking Class

Village School’s kitchen since 2015

At Village School, there are a wide array of electives offered that are usually intensive studies of a specific topic.  Some are serious and others are a little more fun, as is the case with this semester’s offering, Cooking, which is taught by Ronni.  The combination of her cooking and math skills lead to some very fun food ideas and precise techniques that students would probably not have tried on their own.

The class, in different variations, has been offered at Village for many years and was always a fun one, but it lacked kitchen space to efficiently teach and experiment.  Therefore, in 2015, Village School’s kitchen space was expanded and outfitted with state- of- the art equipment, which improved the class experience. 

Students Ben and Margaret cleaning kitchen items

“Cooking class has been around for many years,” stated Ronni. “The only difference now is that we have gotten a better kitchen to work in. It really has made a huge difference for the class.”

According to Ronni, the point of the class is simple. “Getting students to try out healthier new things and opening them up to a less meat and dairy-based diet is what we’re striving for here. And most importantly, not using meat and dairy will give ingredients a longer shelf life.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

There was just so much hype for this movie, and in the end, all fans got was disappointment. Following the massive success of 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” which was directed by J.J Abrams, “The Last Jedi,” which was directed and written by Rian Johnson created a lot of hype for Star Wars fans. Many characters who returned in this sequel from the other movies were extremely out of character, such as classics like Luke Skywalker and even Leia Organa. It’s unfortunate, because this movie could have been so much, and instead delivered so little.

“Rose Tico” played by “Kelly Marie Tran” in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The movie’s plot is very muddled and it isn’t until almost an hour an half to actually get going (thanks to Rey’s unnecessarily long “Jedi training scenes.”) The First Order knocked out the Resistance’s hyperspace drive (which is what would have let them get away) which meant that all their ship could do is go forward and direct all the remaining energy of their main cruiser to the back shields. So far no problem– in fact, this sort of thing is not foreign to the Star Wars series at all. It all starts to go sour when the control room got blown up, causing Leia to get flung into space. And she survived by using the Force to get her back into the ship. Alright. Characters usually die within milliseconds the moment they’ve gotten into space without any air and heat support, and Leia was out there for at least a minute and twenty seconds. This is forgivable though– not a big deal, right? Well, this isn’t the only time that characters in this movie seem to accomplish some extremely miraculous feat that nobody in the entire Star Wars series has ever accomplished before up to that point.

Luke Skywalker seems to have the ability to ‘astral project’ by using the Force, meaning he can be on multiple planets at once. It is an extremely strong power, and to add it now within the movie franchise completely makes certain scenes from previous movies feel foolish in nature. And finally, there is the problem of Rose’s character. A lot of fans can agree on the fact that Rose’s character was dull and that she added almost nothing to the plot. Then there was the line where she says, “war is about saving those you care about.” On the contrary. That is not what war is about at all!

In so many ways, this movie failed to deliver. I’m hoping that with the next, a lot of these issues are remedied. Otherwise, the franchise will suffer a heavy blow.