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This story originally featured on Field & Stream.

We’re sitting at the dining room table as my mom recalls my love for fishing and when it started, as if I’d caught my first fish just moments ago. “I can’t remember a time you didn’t have a fishing pole in your hand,” she tells me. “The earliest memories are of Indiana, always Indiana.” My grandmother has a lake house in Indiana, where we had just visited for a vacation. “You loved everything and anything we introduced you to in nature. It was usually Grandma and I, because the three of us spent a lot of time together.”

I can hear the pure joy in her words. I might as well be back in the boat, five years old once again. For my mom, it’s a precious moment—and one that, as an adult, I had hoped to emulate with my children.

But what if a good memory doesn’t stay that way? I’m not talking about the elation of watching a child hook and fight their first fish only for the moment to end in tears after the fish gets away. Rather, instead of my mother’s joy from a memory that she’s cherished for the rest of her life, I faced the possibility of heartache as walked toward the same Indiana lake where I learned to fish with my two-year-old daughter, Gigi, fishing rod in her hand, and her brother, Milo, trailing just behind us.

Would this be a moment that I would, one day, look back on fondly? Or would it be a painful memory of a life snatched away?

Navigating the foster-care system

Our foster-care journey began three years prior. After seven years of perplexed doctors and ludicrous copays and tests, my wife and I had gone to an informational meeting for California’s Foster-to-Adopt program. We left with the paperwork to become foster parents. We couldn’t have known what was in store for us just a short time later.

When you sign up to be foster parents, it comes with all the joy of becoming a parent—a parent with every intention to adopt a child—only to receive a cold, indifferent call that your baby, the one you bonded and fell in love with immediately, will be taken from your care. Sometimes from 6,000 miles away, as happened with our first child Parker. Others with the child still in your arms, your tears falling onto their cheeks as you rock them and yourself to sleep, as happened with Teo. And others still, like Gigi, who was placed in our care, removed, returned, and put into legal limbo with no definitive outcome for so long that we welcomed her new baby brother Milo into our care a year-plus after.

There’s nothing that prepares you for foster-to-adopt. Just like there’s nothing that prepares you when becoming a parent. You try, for sure. You read the books and articles; you talk to others involved in the process. You lean on your social workers who remain steadfast in their belief that everything’s all sunshine and roses. It isn’t. It’s not so much a rollercoaster as it is falling down a mountainside—one littered with prickly bushes and sharp rocks. Maybe there’s a rope that’ll arrest your fall. Maybe there isn’t.

And that’s what makes this moment, this first time I decided to take Gigi fishing—to the same spot where I learned how to fish myself, no less—so utterly anguishing. Am I going to have to repress this memory in order to get through the day? Will I regret taking my daughter fishing every time I return here? Will my decision tarnish so many of the good memories I associate with this place?

A child’s first fish

At the water’s edge, I set down my rod, then string a bobber onto the line of Gigi’s rod and bait a small nightcrawler onto the hook. “Aw, baby worm,” she says innocently. A twinge of guilt runs through me.

“Let’s cast!” I tell her.

She instinctively grabs the rod and starts swinging. I duck for cover as the hook swings near her brother’s face and mine. I get a hold of the rod, and take Gigi in my arms and show her how to open the bail, grab the line, and cast. She makes a short cast, but then, we’re not going for tarpon here. Our sights are set far smaller—bluegills, crappie, and perch, the perfect first quarry for a beginner. And we’re in luck. Almost immediately, the bobber starts to, as Gigi puts it, “Boing, boing-ing.”

Gigi gently handles her catch. Jonathon Klein

The rod is in both of our hands, so we set the hook together. Reeling, though, proves to be a bit of a struggle. Cranking the handle clockwise doesn’t exactly come natural to a two-year-old who’s never fished a day in her life. Gigi grunts and furrows her brow before she ultimately says, “You, Daddy,” handing me the rod to reel in the fish.

I land the fish and bring it into my hands. The light hits the sunfish’s scales perfectly and it reflects onto Gigi’s smiling little face. She coos at its gold, orange, and green colors. As I unhook and get ready to place it into Gigi’s hands, I keep asking myself, Will this stay a good memory?

My wife and I had submitted Gigi and Milo’s adoption paperwork ahead of our time here at my grandmother’s Indiana lake house. Weeks had gone by and nothing was relayed to us. After years of court battles, legal issues, reunification services, and a five-day reunion with her biological family—one that would end with her back in our care after dangerous circumstances—we were once again at the mercy of the state. Close to the finish line, close to the kids being ours forever, close to never feeling helpless, despondent, and vengeful toward the world for once again putting us through what was tantamount to a living nightmare, but still unclear what the future held.

Gigi studies the fish, running her fingers across its colors, touching its fins, and looking into its eyes. I could see that she understood the fish was alive—not a toy, but something to be handled with care. Maybe I’m putting too much into the situation, but she seemed to connect with the fish, and how it came to be in her hands.

I briefly take the fish back and give Milo a chance to check it out. Then Gigi turned to me and said, “Bye, bye, fish. Go back to your mommy!” And with that, I put the fish back into her hands. She gently drops it into the lake, waving goodbye as it swims away.

No more fear

“I loved to fish, and you loved it as much,” my mom tells me at the end of her recollection of when I first started fishing. “It was wonderful to see you with Gigi and Milo here in Indiana, doing the same thing we did together.”

Three weeks later, I would get an email—three sentences long: “We finally have the adoption order for the Klein family. The adoptions were complete on 9/28/2023. Have a great weekend.” Nothing more. No congratulations, no fanfare, just three sentences. There was, however, relief.

When I walked down the hill toward the lake with Gigi in tow—when I baited her hook and taught her how to case and helped her reel in that first fish—she was already ours. Which means the memory we made, the one I’d been so afraid would betray me, would stay happy memory. A memory that, like the one my mom has of me, I will treasure forever. A memory I can hold onto for the day when my daughter asks, “Dad, when was the first time you took me fishing?”

I can’t wait to tell her.

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11 Best Fishing Games On Ps4 And Ps5

Bonding with your family, relaxing in nature, and accomplishing a difficult feat is part of the activity. But if you don’t want to go out or don’t have the proper gear, why don’t you try the best fishing games on PS4 and PS5? 

These games can hook you instantly, pun intended. But the options for consoles are pretty similar to one another. Fishing games are often part of the simulator genre, just like hunting games. 

Selecting Games On PS4 And PS5

Because the title is self-explanatory, we don’t need many rules to select games on the list. Moreover, there’re not many games available for the sport.

Still, we’re keeping an eye on various key characteristics. Namely, we’d want games that either stand from the crowd or deliver a set of refined gameplay for realistic gameplay.

And as I said, fishing games are mostly realistic sims. Others include arcade elements, open-worlds, or multiplayer.

Fishing Games On PS4 And PS5 Fishing Sim World: Pro Tour

Developer: Dovetail Games

Publisher: Dovetail Games – Fishing

Release Date: September 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox, Windows

You can play alone or online. Multiplayer admits up to four players in closed competitions. You decide the rules, such as rounds, time limit, and species to catch. And if you play alone, the experience revolves around playing in tournaments.

The offline tournaments take you to 10 distinct locations. As you progress, you can get gear from 50 real-life brands, like RidgeMonkey and Korda. And your goal is to catch the 29 fish species, each featuring behaviors, and habitats. 

The mechanics are easy to understand. You play in a third-person perspective. You select a fishing spot, launch the rod, and control the reel speed. You can also activate the “Troll Mode” and select different rods according to the situation.

Fishing Sim World: Deluxe Edition

Developer: Dovetail Games

Publisher: Dovetail Games

Release Date: September 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox, Windows

Fishing Sim World is similar to the “Pro” version regarding mechanics. The setting is wider, though. You travel across the U.S. and Europe to experience an extremely detailed fishing simulator.

The mechanics are easy, and the experience is relaxing. This gamer is easily the quietest of the bunch. There’s nothing complex to learn and no economy to manage. Instead, you select a map, go to a fishing spot, and have a calm time in virtual nature. 

Even though the action is subdued, you can learn neat skills to catch the bigger fish. Some of these animals can offer a trophy and action segments that make it more rewarding. Also, the animals, habitats, and challenges are different depending on the map you find. 

We recommend the Deluxe Edition, as the standard game is no longer available on the PlayStation Store. The bundle offers various deluxe boats, hooks, baits, rods, shirts, hats, and more specialized gear. 

Fishing: North Atlantic

Developer: MISC GAMES

Publisher: MISC GAMES

Release Date: October 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows

Fishing: North Atlantic offers a commercial fishing experience in the North Atlantic Ocean. The setting is between Canada and Scotland, which offers a vast expanse of sea life, treasures, boats, and gear.

This game is the sequel to Fishing: Barents Sea. AS before, you play as the captain of a fishing ship. So, you can explore the ocean, fish, buy gear, customize your boat, and more.

All of the mechanics work with realistic mechanics. You play in first-person perspective, and mostly, you’d be roaming around your ship. You command the boat, select fishing spots, manage the engines and light, etc. 

You also have a team of fishers, as well as machinery. You manage these elements with various in-game menus. And as you fish, you can trade your cargo to keep improving your boat and gear. 

Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition

Developer: Misc Games

Publisher: Astragon

Release Date: December 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows

Barents Sea is the first part of the saga, so it features similar mechanics but less powerful graphics. The Complete Edition adds all the available DLCs (King Crab and Line and Net Ships).

You play as the captain of a fishing ship. From a first-person perspective, you can steer the ship, manage the engines, check the GPS, and go to any location you want in an open sea.

The setting is around the Norwegian sea. Your goal is to find the best fishing spots with your grandfather’s boat. You can sell the ships you catch for money to improve your boat and your gear.

Lastly, you manage various systems within your ship and other crew members. The managing game plays a key role during fishing segments, environmental challenges, and trips. 

Fishing Planet

Developer: Fishing Planet LLC

Publisher: Fishing Planet LLC

Release Date: August 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS

Fishing Planet is a free-to-play first-person fishing simulator. It’s a multiplayer-only game, so you can’t play it offline or without a PlayStation Plus account. Moreover, the game will constantly ask you to buy the premium account, which could be a nuisance for free players. 

That said, you join servers with up to 64 players. Then, you select your map, but each “travel” costs money. Moreover, each map has its own species and weather. You also need to buy licenses to fish each species on the map.

Across all maps, you’ll find over 170 fishes. Each has its own behavior and habitat. And when you fish them, they feature weight and a price. You can sell them to buy your permissions, pay for your travels, and get fishing gear.

Overall, the title looks gorgeous, plays great, and features a lot of fishing locations. For example, you can fish on kayaks, motorboats, lakes, and ponds at night or during the day. Alternatively, you can compete with other players alone or as a team. 

Pro Fishing Simulator

Developer: Sanuk Games, RingZero Game Studio Ltd

Publisher: NACON SA

Release Date: November 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

The game delivers nine open-world areas. The developers used real-life places worldwide to create the settings, so the maps look like the Colorado Black Forest or the Corcega islands. Alternatively, you can face over 100 challenges and weekly and online competitions. 

You can dominate six fishing techniques through different game mechanics. These include fishing with hooks, on boats, with a net, with different kinds of baits, and more.

Lastly, there’re over 79 fish types, each featuring realistic behaviors and intelligence levels. There’re also hundreds of real-life gear from brands like KastKing, 13 Fishing, and Strike King. 

Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure

Developer: Natsume Inc

Publisher: Natsume Inc

Release Date: September 2023

Platform: PS4, Nintendo Switch, P.C.

You’ll start fishing with simple in-game tutorials. But as the game goes on, you’ll be able to improve your skills. Additionally, you’ll be able to change and improve your gear, such as hooks, rods, and decoys.

Lastly, there’re “battles” against some of the bigger fishes. These are intense struggles and tug-of-war moments where you must prove how much you have learned. 

Legendary Fishing

Developer: SIMS Co., Ltd.

Publisher: Ubisoft, Ubisoft Japan

Release Date: September 2023

Platform: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS

Legendary Fishing is a blend of a realistic fishing game and an arcade. In particular, the game rates every catch with a scoring system, so the competition is against you.

Here, you play with a first-person perspective. But rather than seeing the hook from above the sea, you actually control the hook above the sea. Then, you move, lure the fish, and catch it through various game mechanics.

The game includes over 20 types of real fish, like the Royal Salmon. And as you play, you can unlock gear, missions, challenges, maps, and more. You also have various skills to improve your chances.

Lastly, you can play alone or co-op with up to four people. Either option can happen in three game modes or across the main playtime with 80 missions to face.

The Catch: Carp & Coarse Fishing

Developer: Dovetail Games

Publisher: Dovetail Games

Release Date: June 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

Carp & Coarse is a third-person fishing simulator game. The game happens in matches, either online or offline. The multiplayer aspect supports 4 people on the server, but you need the PlayStation Plus subscription to join on the console.

Then, the game features a hefty interface to customize and study the area of each map. You get to change and see the map, the setting, the type of environment, and the difficulty level. Similarly, you see the time of day, weather, and other environmental conditions. 

The campaign takes you to several maps to collect small and big fish worldwide. There’re over 35 different specials featuring different difficulty levels. There’re also “boss” fishes on each map, forcing you to refine your abilities.

The gameplay is slow-paced, though, which is to expect. You choose the fishing spot carefully, and you have to determine the proper time of day and weather to choose. Then, take the perfect gear, which you can buy and upgrade, and take your time to capture your prey. 

The Fisherman: Fishing Planet

Developer: Fishing Planet LLC

Publisher: Nacon SA

Release Date: October 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox, Windows, macOS

The Fisherman is a sports fishing title. It’s perhaps the most complex because it blends specific item stats, a tough in-game economy, and various fishing tactics and strategies. 

The game thrives on its interface, as it’s, in fact, the focus. Through a wide menu screen, you select your mission, customize your gear and shop items, and select various game modes or maps. The items have a ton of specific stats, such as durability, recovery, capacity, and weight.

The stat system, plus the fishing mechanics, delivers a realistic simulation. The simulation starts on the “Shop” menu, as you must buy fishing licenses for each map you visit. That said, the worldwide map features areas in various countries, such as the Czech Republic, Russia, and the USA.

Lastly, you select a location within a map and play from a first-person perspective. There’s not much you can do aside from launching the rod and waiting patiently for your prey.  

Rapala Pro Fishing: Pro Series

Developer: Gamemill Entertainment

Publisher: Gamemill Entertainment

Release Date: October 2023

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch 

Rapala Fishing is a first-person fishing simulator. It offers relaxing playtime, easy-to-learn mechanics, and gorgeous realistic graphics. Also, the experience happens via its campaign mode.

You play as an amateur fisher, and your goal is to rise through the ranks of the sport. The brand “Rapala” is looking to sponsor a great fisherman, and you can fill the role they need.

You play in a third-person perspective on tournament missions. In each tournament segment, you must find and catch a different fish. Mostly, you drive a boat or hike to the spot where you would find the fish.

There’s a timer, though. So, after driving the fish, you need to catch your prey as fast as possible. You aim the rod, select the strength (like a bowling game), and launch the hook. Then, you see the hook below the sea and move it to catch the animals you need.

The Best Way To Pack Your Car For Any Road Trip

For most people, summer means vacation and traveling. As temperatures rise, 80 percent of Americans plan on changing their everyday scenery, and most of them will do so by taking a road trip. And it makes sense since driving is more flexible and cheaper than flying.

The trunk of your car has a lot more room than a single carry-on, but it’s definitely limited and you’ll need to make the most of it. Packing for the road isn’t just about the satisfaction of winning a complicated game of luggage Tetris—safety is important, too. 

The importance of packing right

If you think that as long as you manage to squeeze in every last thing—up to and including the kitchen sink—you’re good to go, think again. Bad packing can quickly turn a summer vacation into a frustrating experience, like when you can’t find the sunscreen or luggage has shifted and smashed your tasty loaf of banana bread. But an errant water bottle or an unsecured grill grate can have even more devastating and dramatic effects.

At best, items shifting and spilling are a distraction. If you’re constantly checking the rearview mirror to make sure that board game on top of your luggage won’t slide off and scatter pieces everywhere, your eyes are not on the road, creating a hazard to passengers and other drivers.

[Related: Organize and accessorize your board games with 3D printing]

“Properly packing cars mitigates these dangers and also helps keep all passengers safe and organized,” says Thomas McIntyre Schultz, who’s in charge of technology and product communications at Volvo Car USA.

But at worst, loose items can be deadly. According to Volvo’s loading recommendations, an object weighing 44 pounds can reach an equivalent projectile weight of over 2,200 pounds in a head-on collision at just 30 miles per hour. At that speed, if the item hits the driver or one of the passengers, it may cause serious injuries or even death. So packing is about more than comfort and convenience—it could literally save your life.

Packing tips

“Packing a car is a blend of art and science that helps protect everyone on the road,” says McIntyre Schultz.

And as with any masterpiece or scientific experiment, he suggests you start things off with a plan. Before you toss things in the trunk, make sure everything you intend to bring with you is present and accounted for. That way, you’ll avoid the frustration of packing the whole trunk only to realize you forgot a duffle bag and have to start the process all over again. 

First, disassemble or collapse large items like strollers, for example, so they pack down as small as possible. Then, to make sure you’re making the most of the space in your car, pack anything especially bulky or with sharp edges in its own box. Fill in any nooks and crannies with soft, pliable goods like blankets, pillows or jackets. This will make packing easier and protect your luggage from getting scratched or dented.

Once everything in the driveway or garage is ready, visualize how it might all fit together before you start loading. Place heavy bags at the bottom of the stack to prevent them from sliding around or crushing more delicate items. For especially large or awkwardly shaped things like bikes, scooters, or sports equipment, consider installing a bike rack or roof rack outside your vehicle. Make sure to follow the manufacturers’ installation instructions carefully to ensure the racks are secure.

Once everything is in place, take a photo so you can reference it and replicate the results when you head home.

For convenience’s sake, keep handy items like first aid kits, snacks, and entertainment devices in the passenger area. Keep them in baskets or boxes and try to secure them to seats, or wedge them tightly on the floor between rows to keep them from sliding or spilling.

Be mindful of your car

What you’ll need to make your ride safe before hitting the road will depend on what you drive. McIntyre Schultz explains sedans—cars with separate enclosed trunks—don’t require as many safety measures as other vehicles.

 “A trunk provides a natural separation for passengers from luggage, heavy, or loose gear and can minimize distractions caused by items shifting mid-drive,” he says.

If you’re driving an SUV or hatchback, things are different. To avoid a flying suitcase ruining your trip, stow heavy items at the bottom of the trunk and away from people. This will make them easier to pack while preventing them from falling on passengers, crushing other items or, in case of an accident, turning into deadly projectiles. For added safety, use rope or bungee cords to strap down heavy objects to your vehicle’s built-in tie-down anchors. If you have luggage piled in the backseat, secure it with a safety net. This simple barrier can will also prevent cargo from flying forward into the front seats.

[Related: How airbags work, and how they can fail]

If you’re piling high, don’t let luggage bang against the windows—avoid any breakage or damage to the glass by leaving a 4-inch space between it and your gear. Also, don’t forget to leave enough space so you can see out your windows and through your rearview mirror. 

Finally, make any changes your car needs to handle the heavy load, especially if you’ve attached a hitch-mounted rack or trailer. Check your car’s specs carefully and look into whether you’ll need to adjust your tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight. You’ll find all that information in your car’s manual.

Strapping in all your goods and gear in place (and yourself, too) will make your road trip a safe one, so you’re more likely to arrive at your destination healthy, happy, and ready to enjoy a well deserved summer vacation. 

Bacteria And Fungi Are The First To Start Rebuilding Charred Forests

Wildfires have a multitude of impacts on an ecosystem. While many are negative, some animals thrive after fire, from the charred remains serving as shelter for insects and small animals like the black-backed woodpecker and spotted owl.

In a study published February 6 in the journal Molecular Ecology, researchers from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) examined how the 2023 Holy Fire in California’s Orange and Riverside countries affected bacteria and fungi over time after the flames were extinguished. The fire burned more than 23,000 acres of land and destroyed 24 structures.. 

[Related: Wildfires are burning away snow in the American West.]

Sydney Glassman, a UCR mycologist and co-author of the study, led a team of researchers into the burn scar or the noticeable mark on the land left by a wildfire. “When we first came into fire territory, there was ash up to my shins. It was a very severe fire,” Glassman said in a statement.

Signs of microbial life in the 2023 Holy Fire burn scar in California. CREDIT: Sydney Glassman/UCR Sydney Glassman/UCR

Over the next year, the team visited the scar nine times, comparing the charred earth with samples from unburned soil found nearby. The mass of microbes dropped between 50 and 80 percent and didn’t recover during that first year post-fire. But some species found a way to live on. 

“Certain species increased in abundance, and in fact there were really rapid changes in abundance over time in the burned soils,” Glassman said. “There were no changes at all in the unburned soils.”

Multiple microbes took turns dominating the burned soil in the first post-fire year, with distinct shifts in microbes over time. “As one species went down, another came up,” Glassman said.

The organisms that could consume charcoal and post-fire, nitrogen-filled debris tended to be most dominant towards the end of the year. 

Fabiola Pulido-Chavez, a UCR plant pathology PhD candidate and co-author of the study noticed that the genes involved in methane metabolism doubled in post-fire microbes. Methanotrophs are microbes that regulate the breakdown of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. 

“This exciting finding suggests post-fire microbes can ‘eat’ methane to gain carbon and energy, and can potentially help us reduce greenhouse gasses,” Pulido-Chavez said, in a statement.

The team tested whether the fungi and bacteria could thrive at different points in time based on their individual traits or if another reason was behind the shifts in dominance in the soil.

[Related: Fires can help forests hold onto carbon—if they’re set the right way.]

“We think one organism can’t be good at all the skills necessary to thrive in a burn scar,” Glassman said. “If you’re good at tolerating heat, you’re probably not as good at growing fast.”

The process in the post-fire soil is similar to what happens in the human body under stress. For example, when a patient takes an antibiotic, the medicine destroys gut bacteria and new organisms begin to show up that either weren’t prevalent or weren’t there before at all. Eventually, the gut bacteria may return to pre-infection state, but that’s not guaranteed. 

The team is working to understand what processes help the land return to the pre-fire state. This knowledge could change older theories on how plants adapt to wildfires, since microbes like these were not factored into them. “To me, this is exciting, as microbes have long been overlooked, yet they are essential for ecosystem health,” Pulido-Chavez said.

A yet unanswered question is whether plant and microbe adaptations that have developed here could adapt again in response to another megafire or recurrent fires in the same area. Future research could look into how rising temperatures, earlier snowmelt, longer dry seasons, and increased wildfires caused by climate change has on natural burn recovery. 

“Things can recover, but it takes time, and whether or not the land recovers after super-frequent megafires is another story. Can recovery time keep pace with megafires? We don’t know yet,” Glassman said.

Quantum: The Story Behind The World’s First Nft

Despite what many may believe, NFT art didn’t start with the Bored Ape Yacht Club. It also didn’t start with CryptoPunks. So what was the first NFT, and who created it? Ultimately, this singular honor goes to Quantum, a generative piece of art that was created by digital artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. After its creation, Quantum was subsequently turned into an NFT by Kevin in 2014.

And the reason he minted this particular piece of art? It’s really rather simple. He did it for ownership.

The birth of NFTs

After he and his wife created Quantum, McCoy wanted to develop a way to sell the piece in its digital form. The problem? He didn’t have a way of establishing the provenance of a digital piece of art.

For the uninitiated, “provenance” is the documentation that authenticates the creator, ownership history, and appraisal value of a particular piece of art. Unfortunately, provenance documents for digital art didn’t exist at the time. In other words, there was no way to verify the creator and ownership history of digital works. After mulling over his options, McCoy joined forces with tech entrepreneur Anil Dash to solve the problem. Eventually, the duo started to explore blockchain technology to see if it might provide a viable path forward.

In the early 2010s, blockchain technology was still a niche field. Bitcoin was only valued at $630 (its price at the time of writing is just over $16,500), Ethereum had just launched, and coin creators regularly overpromised, underdelivered, and got sued into oblivion. But McCoy and Dash weren’t dissuaded, and the decision paid off — to put it lightly.

Quantum. Credit: Kevin McCoy

As is widely now known, blockchain technology contains several properties that are conducive to buying and selling digital art. With it, individuals have a trustless way of identifying the creator and tracking the ownership history of any item on a blockchain. This served McCoy and Dash’s purposes perfectly, and McCoy registered Quantum on blockchain. “I had an idea to use blockchain technology to create indelible provenance and ownership of digital images of this kind. Quantum was the first ever to be recorded in this way,” McCoy later said.

Shortly after that first minting, McCoy and Dash demonstrated how “monetized graphics” like this could be used to establish provenance and sell digital art. Their demonstration occurred during a live presentation for the Seven on Seven conferences. During the presentation, McCoy sold a digital image to Dash for $4 using blockchain. And with that, McCoy and Dash unwittingly set the foundation for what would grow into a multi-billion-dollar market less than a decade later.

Quantum rediscovery and controversy

Unfortunately, Quantum was forgotten following its 2014 mint. This was largely due to its original home on Namecoin, a pre-Ethereum Bitcoin offshoot. Specifically, Quantum lived on Namecoin Block 174923, and that’s where it stayed for years — until the 2023 NFT bull market.

When NFTs started to gain mainstream attention and sell for millions of dollars in 2023, McCoy realized he might be sitting on a golden egg. So he started to promote Quantum, turning to media outlets like Axios to discuss his work and its role in NFT history. Thanks largely to this publicity push, Quantum eventually went up for auction at Sotheby’s. And in June of 2023, it sold for more than one million dollars at auction. The winning bidder was sillytuna, an anonymous NFT collector.

But legal issues soon followed.

Shortly after its million-dollar sale, experts noted that a specific quirk about Namecoin called into question who exactly owned Quantum at the time of the sale. As explained by Ledger Insights, Namecoin requires users to renew whatever is minted on the Namecoin blockchain every 250 days to retain ownership of the digital item. Notably, McCoy never renewed Quantum. This allowed a completely separate entity — veteran collector EarlyNFT — to scoop up the ownership rights to Quantum before the Sotheby’s auction.

In an ironic twist, EarlyNFT secured these rights just a day after the piece about Quantum was published on Axios. Eventually, EarlyNFT contested the validity of Sotheby’s auction through a lawsuit.

Who won? Thankfully, the artists who created and minted the work. In March 2023, a New York federal Judge dismissed the lawsuit. While the Namecoin blockchain was controlled by Free Holdings, the judge noted that Kevin McCoy went on to mint it on Ethereum, essentially creating two different NFTs in the process.

While the controversy surrounding Quantum’s legacy is far from the perfect way to honor the historical NFT and its creators, both Jennifer and Kevin McCoy continue to innovate in the space. In April 2023, the pair are releasing their first NFT collection with a Web3 platform. Read our interview with the McCoys to learn about the project and hear their thoughts on how Web3 has changed since they helped start the digital revolution.

Genius Items For Your Next Big Road Trip

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Road trips so often are more fun to plan than they are to experience. Sleeping on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere always sounds kind of romantic until you have to do it. Eating Taco Bell and fruit snacks all the way through Tennessee sounds whimsical and fun until you’re stuck with pieces of garbage for 100 miles.

Below, choice items that will help in an emergency, keep your car (somewhat) tidy, and provide little extra juice for your devices.

Keep backseat drivers—or your children—occupied with their own entertainment station. This polyester backseat organizer holds tablets and other devices, and comes with mesh storage pockets that keep the car organized. There is a bigger, polyester pocket for bulkier items, too. The back of the organizer is waterproof, so any leaking bottles (or whatever) can’t stain the back of the car seat.

Be prepared for the worst with this 42-piece AAA road assistance kit. The kit comes with emergency supplies like a flashlight, a poncho, an eight-gauge booster cable, and a 19-piece first aid kit.

The Strata Cups camera lens mug is modeled off of a Canon Lens Model EF 24-105mm. That might not mean anything to people that aren’t photographers, but, hey, it looks cool. The cup holds nearly half a liter of liquid and has a stainless steel interior.

Don’t let the rain—or Niagara Falls or whatever—ruin the device holding all those photos you took at the world’s largest rubber band ball. This waterproof camera case is UV-resistant, dust-proof, and allows for zoom control while in the case. It uses a roll and velcro zipper system to keep seepage levels at zero.

I’ve been on my fair share of lengthy road trips. If you are alternating driving duty with a friend and want to catch some Zzzs after your shift is done, make sure you have a place to rest your head and way to keep the sun out of your eyes. The GOSLEEP is a two-in-one memory foam travel pillow and eye mask that will keep your head from bobbing around.

This is particularly necessary for the forgetful types. If you leave your lights on overnight and kill your battery, don’t let it destroy the timing of your perfectly planned route. Be able to jump your car on the spot without having to wait for a friendly stranger to give you a hand or for AAA to arrive. This 1000-amp jump starter—which can jump your car up to 20 times on a full charge—will have you back on the road in no time.

If you like reading in the car, don’t bother the driver with the passenger side light. It is bright and distracting. And they will hate you. This lamp-shaped light diffuser uses the flash from your phone to create a soft reading light. It is made of silicone and slips around your phone.

This BESTEK power inverter is about the size of your smartphone, plugs into your cigarette lighter, and gives you two 110V AC outlets and two USB ports for charging. The metal housing protects it from getting damaged and it has a built-in fan to keep it from overheating.

This 20000mAh power bank from AUKEY will charge your iPhone over four times. It’s also got two USB ports so both driver and passenger can keep their devices fully charged.

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