A Cherry Red Signature

Ever since I was younger, music has been one of things that I have enjoyed the most and is something that I’ve tried to make a big part of my life. My first introduction to music most likely occurred from a very young age with music played by my parents, however the first time it actually was of great interest to me occurred in 4th grade when it was time to choose an instrument to play in the elementary school band. While I was really interested in learning the alto saxophone or the trumpet, I was assigned the clarinet, which of course led to the obligatory jokes referencing Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants. Being assigned the clarinet kickstarted my interest in learning instruments, and I went on to learn the alto saxophone, viola, piano, guitar, drums, and the ukulele. While I enjoy all of these instruments, one of my favorites is the cherry red Fender Telecaster (Image 1) that I received from my cousin after her father died. Even though my uncle was a psychiatrist, he managed to collect many electric guitars, amps, and records with the purpose of learning how to use them once he retired, which he unfortunately was never able to do before his death. His collection consisted of many different types of guitars, from electric to steel and from well known guitar brands like Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, and other, as well as the associated amps.

While the cherry red Fender Telecaster was given to me by my cousin after she finished cataloging my late Uncle’s guitar collection, my uncle most likely purchased the guitar from a music/guitar store like Guitar Center or directly from Fender itself. When the guitar was purchased by him is most likely information that I will, unfortunately, never be able to find out since my uncle isn’t around to tell me, what I do know is that the guitar was made in Mexico (Image 2), which can allow me to learn more about its manufacturing process.

Image 1: My cherry red Fender Telecaster

One of the first steps to learning more about my Telecaster involves determining when it was manufactured, which should be a little easier since I already know the “where.” According to reverb.com, most Fenders can be dated by looking at the neck and body of the guitar. For most of Fender’s production history, the date that the guitar was manufactured is provided. However, finding this date requires the guitar to actually be physically taken apart, which is something that I am not comfortable doing, nor is it something that I currently have the time to do. In the future maybe I will “take the leap” regarding finding out this information, but right now doing so seems unnecessary. Neck and body dates are also somewhat unreliable when trying to determine when a guitar was made. The other, and much simpler and more appealing, option is to use the serial number on the guitar. My guitar’s serial number is located at the top of my guitar’s neck by where the tuning pegs are located, and it reads “MSN607475” (Image 2). 

On the same website where I learned where to locate the manufacturing date of a Fender guitar, I also found a series of different serial numbers and the dates associated with them. However, when I went through these my serial number was not found. I then decided to make up for this by making a quick google search of the first couple of letters of the serial number, “MSN”, which led me to a website that only provided the serial numbers of Fender guitars made in Mexico. This discovery led me to learn that my Fender Telecaster was likely a part of one of Fender’s signature series, which I then learned was indicated by the “S” in the serial number, where guitars were part of different collections “curated” by different well known guitarists, one of which being Jimmy Vaughn. I also learned that the “MSN6” in the serial number meant that my guitar was made between 1996 and 1997. 

Image 2: Serial Number and Made in Mexico label

Upon closer inspection of my guitar I noticed a signature on the top of its neck that I hadn’t noticed previously (Image 3), and my new knowledge that my guitar was part of a Fender Signature Series made me believe that this signature likely belonged to the guitarist that my guitar was associated with in its series. To determine who this signature belonged to, I decided to make another google search, but this time I decided to focus on the Fender Signature Series itself and decided to look up Fender’s Signature Series from 1996. One of the results from this search was a guitar listing on reverb.com for a guitar that looked exactly like mine from 1996 that belonged to the 1996 Fender James Burton Signature Collection. Immediately I was led to believe that I had discovered which signature collection my Fender Telecaster was a part of. To confirm that this theory was actually true, I decided to look at the look-a-like guitar’s serial number, and was glad to see that the first few characters of the serial number were the same as my guitar, “MSN6.” I also decided to take another look at the signature on my guitar’s neck, and the signature was a match to James Burton. 

Despite the fact that all of my questions regarding my guitar’s origins had been answered, I knew that it had been made in Mexico and was most likely manufactured in 1996, I decided to look into James Burton and find out more about him. So, I made another google search. This Google search was much easier than the other ones that I had made, and my questions were immediately answered rather than me having to search through multiple different webpages to find the information that I was looking for. This search allowed me to learn that James Burton was a guitarist who has been a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2001. However, my search didn’t just end there, I also learned that James Burton was Elvis Presley’s guitarist until 1977, a member in Ricky Nelson’s band, and that he has also been featured in a number of different recordings from well known artists, like Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash.

While my guitar definitely did not belong James Burton himself, it was a part of the Fender Signature Series that he had been associated to. Information located on the guitar itself, like the “Made In Mexico” and serial number written on the back of its neck, allowed me to make further searches to eventually learn the year that the guitar was made in. 

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757066866/elvis-guitarist-james-burton-i-went-professional-when-i-was-14

https://reverb.com/item/8231135-fender-telecaster-james-burton-signature-model-1996-candy-apple

A Simple Phone Call

With the advent of cell phones and social media, the use of phones for actual calls rather than texts has decreased. While this might not be true for everyone with a cellphone, it has definitely definitely true for me, in fact any time I do get a phone call from someone that isn’t a family member, I usually let it go to voicemail. For the most part I reserve phone calls for family members without cellphones and for holidays and birthdays, which I believe warrant a phone call rather than a simple text because of the sentimentality that it holds. Any time I talk to my friends the conversation takes place via iMessage or on a social media platforms like Instagram or Snapchat. This simple fact has led me to call one of my friends for my analogue experience. For my phone call I decided to call one of my friends who lives in Virginia, and subsequently is one that I haven’t seen in a while due to the difference in our schedules which has led to most of our communication being in the form of texting via iMessage and Snapchat. 

Because phone calls require more attention, one of the first things that needed to be done was to actually schedule the call. This first step was proven to be a bit difficult. As previously mentioned one of the main reasons why my friend and I haven’t seen each other in a while has to do with the differences in our schedules, which is a difficulty that doesn’t necessarily need to be considered when texting, because texting is something that can be done at any time of the day. Texting can be considered much more convenient in this instance, because the message doesn’t expire and therefore can be responded to whenever the person receiving the message has the time to type a response. Phone calls don’t have this luxury and need to be planned at exactly the right moment so there aren’t any time restrictions and so both parties can give the phone call their full attention. This first and essentially only step was one that was proven very difficult. The first phone call that we scheduled was while I was driving home from school. I had wrongly assumed that I would be able to give the phone call my full attention and that my car’s Bluetooth system would allow for both of us to hear each other. This was not the case and the phone call was ended shortly once we both realized that we could not hear each other due to multiple reasons, including the road just being too loud which prevented both of us from hearing each other and the fact that my Bluetooth allowed me to hear my friend but wouldn’t let my friend hear me. In all honesty, planning the phone call while I was driving might not have been the smartest idea in the first place because of the attention that driving requires, the failure of this first phone call attempt was fully my fault. On this very short phone call that involved both of us unable to hear each other, we decided that we would call each other when I had gotten home. This plan was foiled by my friend being on another phone call that lasted too long preventing us from having the time to call. Over text, we decided that we would call sometime over the next few days because both of us were off from school due to our Thanksgiving breaks. When we were finally able to schedule a phone call it was later in afternoon the following day when both of us knew that there wouldn’t be any external factors that would prevent us from talking.

While on the phone call one of the main things I noticed is that there were many instances where I was unable to hear what he was saying and where he couldn’t hear what I was saying, leading to the next problem that occurred during phone calls that didn’t occur while texting: difficulties in hearing what the other person was saying. In these instances, we were left to saying, “What did you say?” and “I can’t hear you,”which are perfectly fine to say, but caused lags in the conversation that wouldn’t normally be there because texting avoids this issue completely. Despite this issue, the conversation still went on and lasted around 2 hours, which was an amount of time that both of us admitted as feeling much shorter than it actually was. I found that during these 2 hours we talked about many different things, similarly to when we text each other. The phone call didn’t create any actual limitations to what could be discussed, we talked many different things, including the movies that we had watched recently and our dream vacation locations. The only real limitation that the phone call had was that any little thing, like a movie title, that we talked about that could be easily forgotten, mostly due to my bad memory, wouldn’t be saved. However, this problem was easily addressed and anything that we needed to remember, like a TV show one of us had recommended to each other, was just sent as a text message so it couldn’t be forgotten.

Before this experiment, I assumed that there would be more than just one or two lags in conversation that would create awkwardness, but I was pleasantly surprised when this wasn’t the case. While there were instances of quiet, I found that these periods would be present in a normal face to face conversation and therefore were not an issue exclusive to phone calls themselves. I also came to realize that these periods were beneficial, since they had allowed both of us to think about what we would say next and had allowed us to formulate our thoughts. There can also be a comparison made between the silence during a phone call and an extended period of time without a text response, both allow the people having the conversation to think about what they are going to say next, however breaks of silence while texting have the ability to last longer periods of time, because there isn’t the feeling of there being a time limit. Lags in phone call conversations usually need to be resolved quickly or else the phone call ends, however breaks in texting still allow the conversation to pick up where it left off because both parties are able to look back and see what they were talking about. I also found that this made us talk about things that held more weight and value or the things that we would discuss in person. I have found that text conversations tend to be about things that don’t necessarily hold a lot of weight or personal value, but phone calls always seem to be more personal. I attribute this idea to the other idea that phone calls can act as a face-to-face conversation and almost replicate the closeness that occurs in those situations.

From this phone call “analogue” experience, I have come to the conclusion that while phone calls require more planning and more time, I may prefer them to texting. For me personally I have discovered that my best conversations occur when I talk to someone face to face, and while phone calls aren’t exactly face to face, they give off the illusion that the conversation is occurring this way. Before this analogue experiment, most, if not all, conversations with my friends had taken place via text message, phone calls were kept to parents and family members whenever there was a holiday or other special occasions. While I won’t make every conversation I have with friends occur via phone call because of the convenience and simplicity text messaging has, I will definite integrate them more into my day to day life because of the “closeness” and illusion of being a “face-to-face” conversation that they have. 

Medicine in the 19th Century

The way medicine has been approached throughout history has changed many times and is still currently changing with new advancements still being made. A ledger of medications from  1825 from of New Paltz provides an inside look at what kind of medications were used to treat illnesses, despite the fact that the ledger only contains prices of the medications prescribed as provided by a man, presumably the physician documenting the medication record, named John Bogardus. The difference between the medicines that can be assumed to be the most common for the time can be seen as being completely different than what is used today, which leads to the question: What was medicine like in the 19th century? 

Compared to Europe, medicine in the United States was not nearly as regulated as it is today. During the 1700s, most physicians dispensed their own drugs with the shop to do so attached to their office. Medicines could be bought at stores and from apothecaries, Apothecaries not only served as a place where one could purchase drugs, but they also sold regular goods and provided patient care. Once again apothecaries were not regulated and it was not a requirement for them to be educated and therefore they had the ability to call themselves whatever they want and could pick and choose which parts of the profession they wanted to practice. This lack of regulation on medical practices has been attributed to the fact that at the time the United States was still developing, but also on the prevalence that individualism and the idea of laissez-faire economies had in society at the time which made any idea of regulation be marked as unnecessary. 

Prior to the 19th century, the idea of medicine was based on the idea that illness is caused by the imbalance of “humours” within the body thus leading to medicinal treatments to revolve around the idea of restoring balance to the body. However in the 19th century, a more scientific idea of the body and illness was developed; illness/disease was caused by some type of failure of internal body parts. This idea and the development of anatomy led to a person’s symptom being attributed to a change with in the body and also allowed pharmacists and doctors to start to learn how drugs work within the body, which they learned they do so by targeting a specific system within the body rather than the body as a whole. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that actual knowledge on how the process actually occurred was developed, and therefore drugs in the mid-19th century had been classified by the reaction that they had within the body. It is because of this that drugs were given to restore the body to a normal state and didn’t get at the true root cause of whatever was causing the illness. 

During the 19th century, interest began to be put towards utilizing native herbs and plants for pharmaceutical reasons after the Revolutionary War. The introduction of herbs and plants as ways to treat illness can be clearly seen in the Ledger of Medications, one of which being Kino which was obtained from tropical trees. A lack of regulation can also be seen during this time period allowing for medical and pharmaceutical practitioners to flourish, including groups known as Thomsonians, eclectics, Reformed Practitioners, and homeopaths. Despite the introduction of these groups, most medicines were still left to be dispensed by apothecaries who still maintained their 18th century status of prescribing and dispensing medicines which created confusion and ultimately led to the of wholesale drug manufacturers. Wholesale drug manufacturers were a commercial enterprise with no medical training and had become responsible for making, mixing, and selling drugs to those who practiced medicine. 

As the 19th century progressed, wholesale drugmakers began to sell more of their drugs to the general public from a storefront, a development that led to what we know today as the drugstore which is likely how John Bogardus provided his medicines. It is with the development of the “drug store” that the responsibility to provide consumers with effective medication that actually will provide them care increased and the profit motive that came from this allowed for there to be pharmaceutical expertise shared throughout the trade. While this may seem like professionalism within the pharmaceutical industry was beginning to take place, it was not until the mid-19th century when pharmaceutical societies in schools, states, and nation wide were formed that this professionalism occurred. It is during this time when the idea of regulation became more widely accepted leading to national regulation of the pharmaceutical industry to take place later in the century. 

The majority of medicines/drugs used in the 19th century came from herbs and plants native to the area, a use that dates back to the 1500s. In the 1500s, once a medicinal use was found for an herb/plant it was documented in a pharmacopoeia leading to a more scientific approach to medicine. Pharmacists used pharmacopoeias as a reference for many centuries, and it wasn’t until the 19th century when the birth of chemistry and the Enlightenment period when these medicines began to be more understood. Chemistry allowed pharmacists and chemists to isolate and identify the active ingredient in the herbs and plants that acts as a drug which then allowed them to identify how they actually affect the body. As more drugs were discovered throughout the 19th century, the production of medicine moved from small drug stores to industrial facilities allowing for many drugs to be discovered, including strychnine, emetine, morphine, quinine, and caffeine. While the use of quinine was not explicitly stated in the Ledger of Medications, it was repeated multiple times throughout the ledger. Since the use of synthetic chemicals in drug production wasn’t common until the late 19th century, it is likely that the drugs documented on the Ledger of Medications were from herbs and plants. The distribution of drugs throughout the 1800s was in the form of powders, pills, tablets, gelatin capsules, lozenges, tinctures, and mixtures. From this is it likely that whatever drug was provided by John Bogardus held the form of one of these, however the ledger doesn’t state which was used. 

Sources:

“Drugs and Their Manufacture in the Nineteenth Century.” Omeka RSS, https://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/exhibits/show/apothecary-jars/nineteenth-century-drugs. 

“Ledger of Medications Dispensed and Payment Rendered.” Hudson River Valley Heritage Exhibits, https://omeka.hrvh.org/items/show/2893. 

Frankenstein, Geneva, and Mount Tambora

Throughout the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Geneva, Switzerland is marked as a location that holds significance in Victor Frankenstein’s life. The significance of this location led me to wonder why Mary Shelley chose that specific location, why Geneva? Why not a more widely known and recognized city like Paris or London or even Berlin? Was choosing this location purposeful or was it just chosen randomly? With these questions swirling around my head I decided to find out more so I could finally understand Mary Shelley’s thought process in choosing this location. 

Geneva as a key location to the story of Frankenstein was presented in the very first chapter of the story when Victor Frankenstein “introduces” himself to the reader for the very first time. This introduction begins with Victor saying “I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished in the republic” (Shelley 64). From this statement I learned that Geneva is the location of the Frankenstein family’s “legacy,” and is Victor’s original home. Later in the story Geneva also serves as the location where William and Justine’s murder by Victor’s Creature takes place. Sure this provides the reason behind why the location is repeated throughout many points of the story due to the personal connection Victor has to the location, however it doesn’t provide the reason why Shelley chose this location out of all the possible cities in Europe. My questions have still been left unanswered. This then led me to dig deeper to  find out whatever I could about Geneva as a location, and hopefully I would discover the true significance of this location. 

My first step to discovering the true significance of Geneva involved a quick Google search of Geneva’s climate. Throughout the novel images of ice and cold and talks about arctic weather are repeated at multiple different parts. This lead me to my first hypothesis: maybe Shelley chose this location because it went along with the very prevalent ideas arctic exploration seen throughout the story with Walton’s arctic exploration and Victor Frankenstein’s own Arctic Travels. However upon looking at a map of Europe (Image 1), it became exceedingly clear that Switzerland was not located anywhere near the Arctic. If fact it was a landlocked country located in-between France, Germany, Italy, and Austria. Geneva’s climate also doesn’t match that of the arctic locations that Victor and Walton venture to throughout the story, however it does have cold winters that can reach freezing temperatures (https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/switzerland/geneva). Despite the fact Geneva has cold winters, that still didn’t answer my question of why did Shelley choose this location. There are many places in the world that have cold winters, so why did she choose Geneva?

My next step was to find the answer to my next hypothesis— Mary Shelley chose Geneva Switzerland to be a key location in her story because she had some personal connection to it. This led me to my next Google search: “Mary Shelley and Geneva.” This Google search was far more successful, with the first search result being a history.com article titled “‘Frankenstein’ Was Born During a Ghastly Vacation” written by Erin Blakemore. This article begins by mentioning how Shelley wrote the novel while on a vacation to Lake Geneva which is located in Geneva, Switizerland after the 1815 eruption of Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora, which had a death toll over 100,000. What does a volcanic eruption have to do with a novel?

Image 1: Map Location of Switzerland
Source:britannica.com

As an environmental science major I have learned about volcanoes and how in the past they have contributed to climate change in somewhat significant ways, however I would have never thought that this eruption would have led to one of the major pieces of literature. Before reading this article I already knew that large enough volcanic eruptions can create volcanic ash cloud cover covering enough of the atmosphere to the point where it blocks any sunlight from making its way through causing a cooling effect that can last for several months. 

As I continued to read the article, the reason why Shelley chose Geneva, Switzerland became quite clear. From the article I learned that Shelley had arrived in Lake Geneva in May 1816 where she became immediately trapped due to bad weather that had been caused by the Mount Tambora eruption. This poor turn of events most likely provided Shelley with inspiration to write due to there being limited things to do, writing could be used by Shelley as a way to escape the current situation she was in. The reason for Shelley’s “vacation” to Lake Geneva goes further than just the desire to go on a vacation, in fact the main reason had to do with an affair. Mary Shelley went on the trip to Geneva with her husband Percy Shelley and her stepsister Claire Clairmont who had become pregnant with poet Lord Byron. Once it became public knowledge across Europe that Lord Byron had been having an affair with his half sister, Lord Byron exiled himself and left Europe. This then provided Claire with a good enough reason to go on a vacation, which Mary Shelley and her husband accompanied her on, without the knowledge that Lord Byron would also be there. Due to their status as writers, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron became close friends and acquired bought property on Lake Geneva where they spent immense time together at Villa Diodato where they became stuck due to rain, likely to be caused by the cloud cover from the Mount Tambora eruption. 

As most could imagine, being stuck with each other led to conflicts between those staying in Villa Diodato leading them to read horror stories. It is at this point of the article when it became clear that the main reason that Shelley chose to have one of the key locations in the article be Geneva was the fact that it was where she developed the inspiration to write the novel after Lord Byron gave his vacationers a prompt to write a scary story she saw terrifying man assumed to be dead show signs of life. Immediately all my questions were answered, and whether or not I believe this story is to be determined, however in some ways it makes sense. Mary Shelley just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right conditions to write one of the most famous and well known pieces of literature, Frankenstein. This story also makes senses especially when you consider how rainy and “gloomy” weather is presented as a very present theme throughout the story. So in conclusion, Geneva was used as a location of great importance throughout the novel because it was essentially where the “birth” of Frankenstein as a story and idea was formulated.

Source:

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, et al. Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus. Broadview Press, 2012. 

https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/switzerland/geneva

https://www.history.com/news/frankenstein-true-story-mary-shelley

Telling You About Telecaster Strings

Ever since I was younger, music has been one of things that I have enjoyed the most and is something that I’ve tried to make a big part of my life. My first introduction to music most likely occurred from a very young age with music played by my parents, however the first time it actually was of great interest to me occurred in 4th grade when it was time to choose an instrument to play in the elementary school band. While I was really interested in learning the alto saxophone or the trumpet, I was assigned the clarinet, which of course led to the obligatory jokes referencing Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants. Being assigned the clarinet kickstarted my interest in learning instruments, and I went on to learn the alto saxophone, viola, piano, guitar, drums, and the ukulele. While I enjoy all of these instruments, one of my favorites is the cherry red Fender Telecaster that I received from my cousin after her father died. Even though my uncle was a psychiatrist, he managed to collect many electric guitars, amps, and records with the purpose of learning how to use them once he retired, which he unfortunately was never able to do before his death. 

While the cherry red Fender Telecaster was given to me by my cousin after she finished cataloging my late Uncle’s guitar collection, my uncle most likely purchased the guitar from a music/guitar store like Guitar Center or directly from Fender itself, and from the serial number on the back of the neck it is likely that the guitar was produced in either Mexico or the United States depending on the production year, which I don’t know. I can’t find out how my uncle actually purchased this guitar, I can find out the history of the guitar and how specific parts, like the tuning pegs, strings, and body, are made. Coming directly from the Fender website, the introduction of the Telecaster allowed musicians to have a guitar that was well designed, easy to play, and that had great sound, among other good qualities. Fender describes the Telecaster as having many of the same features of the Hawaiian steel guitars they had already been producing (fender.com), including the guitar’s bridge covers, knobs, and tuning pegs.

My telecaster has a Cherry Red colored body with one singular pick up and three knobs that I have yet to completely understand the use of. The guitar’s neck is a light tan color and the tuning pegs are silver. The shape of the pegs are flat and rounded, making tuning easy. While there are many different parts of the guitar, I wanted to look more into how guitar strings are made.

When I first started researching guitar strings, the complexities of what seems to be an incredibly simple object surprised me, however the more I looked into the more sense these complexities made because different strings produce different sounds and different musicians want different sounds. While there are different types of strings for acoustic guitars and electric guitars, I decided to focus on electric guitar strings. 

Electric guitar strings can be made of materials, including nickel plates, nickel, stainless steel, chrome, and the can be polymer coated. Each of these materials produces different sounds, with stainless less steel strings being used for hard rock due to the sharp sound that they produce and chrome strings being used in Jazz. My guitar uses nickel strings, one of the most common strings for electric guitars.

Most nickel is mined in the Sudbury region of Ontario, Canada and is mined specifically from the mineral pentlandite, which has the chemical formula NiS 2FeS. While not known for sure, it is likely that this specific nickel deposit was the result of an ancient meteor impact. While there are different brands that produce nickel electric guitar strings, I use Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings which nickel strings, which are made from nickel plated steel wire that has been  wrapped around a tin-plated hex shaped steel core wire (www.ernieball.com).   

Sources:

https://www.fender.com/articles/gear/the-one-that-started-it-all-a-telecaster-history

https://primesound.org/how-guitar-strings-are-made/

https://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele028.html

https://www.ernieball.com/guitar-strings/electric-guitar-strings/slinky-nickel-wound-electric-guitar-strings/8-12-string

Magnifying Family History: My Mom’s Panzer Binoculars

For this assignment I have decided to research the history/family history behind a pair of Panzer Tank Binoculars. Before starting this assignment I had wrongly assumed that my family didn’t have many family heirlooms, due mainly to the fact that anything I know about my family has come from stories told to me by my mom and that any heirlooms we did have were given to my Uncle or in the possession of my Grandma. However, when I asked my mom if we had any heirloom, she said yes proving my assumption incorrect and told me that she had tons.

Upon doing my research about the Panzer Tank Binoculars I was able to learn that they had been used by German Tank Crews during World War II. Finding this out immediately led me to wonder how my family had gotten in possession of a pair of binoculars used by Nazi soldiers during WWII. Prior to my research, I had already known that my great grandma, on my mother’s side, had left Germany to come to America, right as Hitler had been taking power before WWII. She had been worried , rightfully so, about what Hitler would do, which was sadly not the case for many others who had eventually been affected by the hatred that Hitler had spread throughout Germany and the rest of Europe. It is from this, and from further confirmation by my mom, that I know that the binoculars hadn’t been in my family’s possession due to their involvement as Nazis during WWII. In fact, my mom has always told me that my great grandmother wouldn’t teach her German because of what had happened in Germany making it clear that my family was not in support of anything that Hitler had done prior to and during WWII.

The binoculars are extremely heavy and weigh about 20 pounds, holding them is like holding at least 2 big science textbooks at the same time. They are made of metal and have a rubber guard surrounding the two eyepieces that protrude out from the binoculars. At the base of the eyepieces are visible adjusters, mostly likely for adjusting the focus of the binoculars. On the top of the binoculars is another adjustor knob, but I am unsure of its use. The binoculars appear to have been painted gold over top a brick red color, which has started to come through in multiple places. The bottom of the binoculars is flat, most likely to allow for the binoculars to rest on a surface without being wrecked. The lenses themselves take up the whole front of the binoculars. The binoculars at the lenses are approximately 8 inches wide and are almost a foot long, 11.5 inches, from the base of the eye piece to the lenses,

On the right side of the binoculars is an engraving reading, “D.F 10X 80, cxn, 76532, 51117, F.” While conducting my research I was able to learn that the D.F stands for Doppelfernrohr, a German word meaning “double telescope”. I was also able to find out that “cxn” isn’t just some random engraving, it’s the manufacturer’s code standing for E. Busch, Rathenow. This engraving is also able to tell me that these binoculars were made post 1942, and they were used by Luftwaffe Flak Artillery ground crews who had used them to spot and identify enemy aircraft. They had also been used on the battlefield for tactical observation.

After completing this research and learning who the binoculars had been used by and when the binoculars were used, I am still left with more questions, mainly why did my family have these binoculars that had been used by a horrible group of people, why did my family have binoculars that at one time had been used by Nazis? I know that no one in my family had been Nazi sympathizers or Nazis themselves, my great grandmother left Germany because of her fear and worry surrounding Hitler, proving that my great grandmother hadn’t received these from her involvement in the war or as an heirloom from a family member or friend that had been involved. This doesn’t answer the question of why and how my family had these. 

When I asked my mom why we had them, I received a disappointing, but also somewhat relieving, answer cutting my research short significantly: she had bought them as an addition to her military collection, which I wasn’t aware was so expansive until doing this research. So while the historical significance behind these binoculars is a dark one and one representing severe hate, my family had no role in perpetuating this hate. The fact that the binoculars had just been an addition to a military collection also makes sense when I think about it, because my family has this immense interest in history and my mom and uncles often share different books on history with each other. The binoculars are no longer a vehicle of hate, but now serve as a reminder of a horrible period of time in history that sits in the library of my childhood home.

Source: https://www.panzeraufgd.co.uk/optics.html

My Grandma’s Engagement Ring

For this assignment, I have decided to describe my maternal grandmother’s engagement ring (image 1 and 2), which she randomly gifted me recently.

Image 1: Grandma’s engagement ring compared to a quarter

The ring is most likely from the 1950s, however I am unsure of its exact age but this is an approximation based on the information that I do know. The ring itself is a little bit smaller than the size of a quarter (Image 1) with the diamond being smaller than a pencil eraser. The ring has two separately twisted pieces of gold metal making up the band. I am unsure of what the band is made of, but upon closer inspection of the ring it looks like there is a “14k” engraved on the bottom of the inside of the band (Image 2) , which is most likely an indication that the band is 14 karat gold. 

Image 2: Close up of the engraved “14k” on the inside of the band

Like previously mentioned, the band has two separate twisted pieces of metal that stay together along the sides and the bottom of the ring, but as the twisted pieces continue towards the top of the ring they begin to separate allowing for the diamond to be placed right in the center (Image 4). The twist in the band can be compared to when you twist a piece of yarn between your fingers, not two pieces being twisted together, but just one to give off the illusion that there is more than one piece being twisted. While the whole band is made up of these twists, the bottom of the ring includes a small section where the band flattens out (Image 3), which is either an indication of wear and tear or something that just happened in the production process. 

Image 3: Visual of the diamond’s placement on the band

The color of the band is a light gold color that is very similar to the color of the chairs in Element 93 or, to provide a more widely known comparison, it is an almost pale yellow tan color with darker sections where the twists in the metal are.

The diamond itself is about less than half the size of a mechanical pencil eraser, allowing it to fit in-between the two sections of twisted metal perfectly. The diamond itself is not placed directly between the two sections, instead it is slightly risen above the band (Image 4). While the diamond lacks any sparkle out of direct light, it sparkles more when is placed in direct light and comes alive, allowing for the simple beauty of the piece to show. 

Image 4: Image of the separation of the diamond’s placement in the band and the diamond’s rise.

While the reason for my grandma’s gifting of her engagement ring is unknown, the family history behind the piece is significant. The ring was given to my grandma by my grandpa during their engagement. While the beginning of their marriage was good, as time went on the love in the marriage began to dissolve, and this unhappiness of course led to a divorce. After time went on both my grandma and grandpa got remarried to better people who fit each of them better. So while the ring is connected to a mixture of unhappy and happy memories attributed to a failed marriage, the ring meant enough to my grandma that she wanted to gift it to me rather than sell it.