How to Build An Impossible Bottle

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“Bottlenose dolphins are a higher-order predator. They’re often referred to as ‘ocean sentinels of health.’ So when our bottlenose dolphins are healthy, it would probably indicate that we have a fairly healthy ecosystem. When our bottlenose dolphins are not healthy, it may very well indicate that our ecosystem is not healthy,” Susan Barco, research coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center describes in Salon.

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n 2008 dolphins began a summer vacation in New Jersey’s Navesink River, feasting on plentiful fish stocks. The dolphins were an unusual site and tourist attraction, but fears arose when temperatures dropped, the river began to freeze and dolphins did not leave. Months later news reports showed dolphins retrieved from the shore; many of the same dolphins cheered by tourists and residents drowned over the winter, never swimming back out to sea like their bait.

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In “How to Build An Impossible Bottle,” Lucas Monahan’s summer vacation plans run aground after dolphins return to his local river over July Fourth weekend. The previous summer he celebrated the dolphin pod swimming in the river, but was horrified when they froze during winter. He can’t let the dolphins die trapped and starved there like last year. He can’t let that happen, and it would be bad karma for surfing.

When he investigates the river he’s shocked to find Addy, a girl his own age, injured and startled like a wild animal on the shore. He tries to help her, but she slips away just after intriguing him with a strange silver machine and hints of a mysterious mission.
Addy is on a completely different rhythm than Lucas. He’s accustomed to summer off and no work for his parents on Saturday and Sunday. She has a whole different perspective on this and asks him to try imagining the day is Monday on Saturday to prepare for a harsh reality and the threat of “mayday.” He agrees and is shocked when his whole summer vacation is upended. What did he agree to? He doesn’t think the same anymore. Has he been cursed? And what is mayday?

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The karma only gets worse: dolphins are still trapped, the ocean is eerily empty of swimmers and surfers, and he’s stuck inside doing algebra. He has to find the odd girl and learn her secret to restore his summer vacation, but the closer he gets, the more he sees how complicated and dangerous her circumstances are, just like the trapped dolphins.
Can he free them all to ride the waves? Addy is determined to confront mayday. But what actually is mayday? She won’t explain.
How can he think he’s brave enough to take on mayday? He’s not even sure what it is. He has to learn more about mayday and the concept, but is he still prepared to confront mayday when mayday is never fully defined?

How would a young resident who celebrated the dolphins feel? What combination of feelings would a young person experience? What type of rhythms do we have in nature? What type of rhythms do humans respect? How can economics, class, and education affect someone’s rhythms? What examples from the news show disruptions of rhythms? What technological advances impact these rhythms? How can we tell the difference between a natural rhythm and a man-made rhythm? How do emergency management and disaster response personnel look at rhythms? What is the importance of understanding these rhythms?