While on the NESA Expedition in South Africa, Ethan and I explored and surveyed numerous caves. Perhaps the coolest part of this experience, was the promise from the Wits team that they would choose one of the caves we visited and name it after us! Here is the map of my cave:
It came as quite a surprise as they only mentioned this to us in the last few minutes of our time on the University campus, and to be honest, I thought they were mostly joking at the time. However, a month or two after returning, Ethan and I now have our own caves! I guess this will just give us one more reason to go back for a visit.
Speaking of our own caves, I think it is a very interesting tendency we have of naming things after people in general. The logical way to name something would be based off of its attributes or location, rather than who discovered it. However, we have been naming things after ourselves, our leaders, or historical figures for centuries, if not millenia. Does it have something to do with our pride, or a feeble attempt to inflate our own egos? Regardless, I think it important to take a moment's pause and consider why we name things in the manner that we do.
Here is a map of Ethan's cave:
I asked Ethan for his thoughts, and he wanted to share his musings on the subject:
"I agree with Noah for the most part. I do believe naming places after ourselves and others inflates or ego and adds to our pride, but I think the underlying reason why really breaks down to our need to be recognized and praised and also commemorate certain relationships. In this instance with the caves, I see it more as a commemoration rather than a reward for discovery. Especially since both caves had clear indications of mining and therefore had been utilized in the last few centuries.
The naming of the caves after us Scouts also aided the cave mappers in remembering the cave in order to assist them in making the maps. In a more historical context it appears to me that naming places adds a piece of ownership or a piece to that person's life to the place they ‘discovered’. For instance there’s been numerous occasions where waterfalls are named after the loved ones of those who supposedly found them. Outside of just the ownership and commemoration this does add a personal tie in our brain, making the location easier to remember and thus find again.
In a sense, naming it makes it a monument to that person and assists the adventurer in relocating it. I can’t say I’m willing to state whether its good or bad, as I believe it's part of human nature to explore and have pride in one's ‘discoveries’."
Well, by the time this post goes live, I'll have completed my first week of living in Chicago. Hope everyone back in Pittsburgh and Hamburg is doing well. I miss you all and wish you the best in wherever life is currently taking you.
Photo is of my favorite geological formation in one of the caves we explored.
We sat in the tiny passageway, exhausted. Our muscles were fatigued from overuse. We were over a mile deep into the cave, hours away from the surface, hours away from food, and hours away from water. Had our curiousity finally gotten the best of us? For the first time ever, I was worried for my life. I couldn't imagine dying, but making it out of the cave seemed even less likely.
It started months ago. After exploring the small caves at Enchanted Rock, we were eager to tackle something a bit more challenging. A search on the internet led us quickly to Airman's Cave - perhaps the most well known cave in Austin. What we didn't know at the time was that it was also an advanced level cave. Few members of the caving community in Austin would attempt the cave. With an average ceiling of 18", Airman's cave was a full 2.5 miles long. But we didn't really know that either. In fact, we knew nothing of caves or caving.
To access the cave, we had to take a hike down a dry creekbed and search for it. After wandering around for a while we spotted a large opening on the hill. That was it.
Grab your spangly feather boa and your rainbow flag; it's pride season!
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Many places around the world have already celebrated pride this year, with many events taking place in the UK over the next month. Belfast Pride takes place this weekend and for the first time in a couple of years I'll be attending. There is an almost carnival atmosphere with some great events lined up every year and it never fails to disappoint on an entertainment level, but pride never fails to cleft me in twain; and here is why.
I have a major issue with the name of the event: Pride. Remember when you were younger, and you'd mention a recent achievement and that one sarcastic person would retort, 'What do you want? A parade?' This is very much how I feel about pride events. What do we have to be proud of? I'm not proud of the fact I'm gay, but that doesn't mean I'm ashamed. What it means is that I don't consider my sexual orientation to be a defining feature of my personality. It almost feels like we're flaunting our innate homosexuality at everyone else going, 'Hey, hey you! See me? See all these colors? I'm different from you. My people are so special we need an annual parade!' To me that isn't pride, that's arrogance. We should be remembering the years of hardship people had to endure to allow us the freedoms and rights we have now. We should be continuing our fight for the rights we don't yet have. We should not be ogling at semi-naked men dressed as angels and disco balls atop ridiculous floats and treating the day like a mini-festival. When it comes down to a basic level, we are no different than anyone else, so please stop pretending we are.
If the suffragettes marched today, do you think they would do so out of vanity? or the promise of some mediocre Gaga tribute at the end? Of course not. They marched to make change, it seems pride parades these days march to get laid, or at least drunk. I'm not saying do away with pride. I'm saying lets refocus and actually use it to get our voice heard further, to bring about change. If we're gonna be proud about something, why can it not be something actually worth being proud about?