Sweater Weather

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re doing well and staying warm now that we’re into December.  It may be tempting in these colder months to simply crank the heat up, but I’m sure you’re aware that it wastes energy.  It’s an argument we’ve all heard time and again, but what exactly is so bad about wasting energy?  Where does it come from?  We’ve grown up in a society where it’s so easy to just plug our appliances into an outlet and watch the electricity do its job.  We never seem to question where this electricity comes from or why some people (like myself) flip out when someone forgets to turn off the lights when they leave the room.  What could possibly be so bad about such a simple action?

As a child I always just assumed that electricity was this magical substance that inexplicably sprung from the walls of everyone’s houses.  It was just there.  It was an unlimited supply.  We would never run out.  Of course I eventually figured out that this wasn’t the case, but I still didn’t know where it actually came from.  It was only a few years ago that I learned where it really is produced:  for most of us this is a factory that burns coal.  The heat from this is converted into electricity and sent to our homes to help keep us warm through the frigid winter.  An unfortunate byproduct of this is that burning coal produces CO2, one of the main contributors to climate change.  By leaving the lights on when we leave the room we are forcing these factories to burn more coal.  Some of us are lucky – we might live in a place where, instead of a coal burning factory, our energy comes from a dam or wind turbines.  Green energy such as hydro-power and wind-power have much less averse effects on the environment.  Even then, however, it is still a good idea to unplug appliances and turn off lights when they aren’t in use.

A little known fact is that any piece of electronic equipment continues to burn energy if it’s plugged in, regardless of whether or not it’s on or off.  Let’s show the earth some love this winter by unplugging our electronic devices and resisting the urge to turn up the heat.  Your laptop can stand to run off of just its battery for a few minutes,  and sweaters are an incredibly fuzzy (as well as fashionable) alternative to raising the thermostat a few degrees.  Plus, you’ll avoid getting any environmental freaks annoyed by turning off your lights!  Imagine how much CO2 we can keep out of the atmosphere if everyone works together to do these small things.  It will make a difference.

Wear fuzzy sweaters everyone!

-Joan

Rock some awesome sweaters like these two dapper fellows.

Rock some awesome sweaters like these two dapper fellows.

Old friends pas…

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.
~His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Hello all!

Finals are looming over Laura and me so unfortunately we just have time for a short post this Monday.  I love this quote, and I thought it might be inspirational to those of you out there who are having difficulty keeping your spirits up during this rainy winter.  Make your day a little more meaningful by helping a friend – sometimes just a smile and a wave can brighten someone’s day.  Spread the love everyone!

Happy holidays,

Joan

Change the World

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When I used to think about changing the world, I thought of a scientist developing the cure for cancer, or some similarly huge task. These big tasks are often accomplished by a few, or even just one brave soul(s). That is amazing in itself, but that common idea leads us, the public, to believe that we can’t make a difference in the world – that we are powerless. How?
There are over 7 billion people in the world, and we think that we are powerless? We can’t allow that mindset. If we change our outlooks to be positive, if we laugh more, if we smile more, if we lend a helping hand to those around us more… We are powerful.

By respecting and loving ourselves, we are respecting and loving others…genuinely. The change starts with you.

What Wildlife Conservation Really Looks Like

Hello everyone!

I’m sorry I broke our promise and didn’t update on Monday.  It is possible that my updates will be coming primarily on Thursdays because those are the days when I actually have free time!  Now that I’m in college I have embarked on the journey of independent life, but I want to take a moment to look back on this most recent summer, and share with you guys the amazing experience I had.

I was privileged enough to be able to work with the endangered Oregon Silverspot Butterfly at my local zoo.  I got to be a part of a real wildlife conservation team and I am proud to be able to say that I contributed to making a difference for this species.  Now I’m here to tell you firsthand what wildlife conservation really looks like.

It looks like piles of bins filled with frass (commonly known as caterpillar poo), waiting for me to wash them.  It looks like row upon row of violets – the only thing the caterpillars eat.  It looks like empty buckets that I must spend three hours filling with leaves.  It looks like my coworkers bending over a caterpillar that I’m not allowed to touch because I’m just an intern.  It looks like a sterile lab with bins carefully stacked on shelves, housing precious members of an endangered species.  It looks like yet another boring day stretching out ahead of me.

It also looks like the promise of a trip to the Oregon coastline.  I still remember how excited I was at the prospect of getting to see live butterflies in their natural habitat.  The car ride was long and cramped, but the trek up to the site where we would release our fully fledged butterflies was misty and included a beautiful view of the ocean.  My coworkers were grumbling about the lack of sun, but I didn’t mind seeing as how I’ve always preferred rainy weather.  I had a feeling this was going to be good.  When we reached the top of the hill we could see little boxes dotting the field.  The butterflies were housed in these.  Unzipping the mesh around the containers we peeked inside.  Most of the chrysali were still intact, but a couple butterflies were clinging to the mesh, fanning their newly formed wings.  Because my fellow intern and I had gotten all the boring tasks over the summer, our supervisors suggested that we be the ones who got to release them.  Gently, oh so gently, I leaned over and nudged one onto my index finger.  Straightening, I held it to my face and studied it.  It was beautiful!  It’s orange wings seemed like fire against the grey sky, and the little silver spots on the undersides of its wings gleamed with new life.  I was standing here on this Earth with an endangered species perching on my hand, and I had been one of the key contributors in giving it life.  Suddenly, in a burst of energy, it fluttered away.  In that moment I knew that no matter how mundane my job had been over the summer, it was all worth it.  I was an active participant in giving hope to a species that had been on the decline.  I could call myself a wildlife conservationist.  A few minutes later the sun burst through the clouds, and as if on cue the field was suddenly filled with butterflies.  They danced through the air, courting one another, promising a new generation of an age old species.  And I was happy.

It was an amazing experience, and if you guys want to help the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly, one easy way is to buy the Silverspot IPA made by the Pelican Pub and Brewery.  (But only if you’re 21 or older – despite the fact that I’m in college I can’t condone underage drinking!)  Part of the proceeds of this beer go towards my zoo’s conservation program.  If you can’t find this beer in any stores near you, then do some research on endangered species in your area and see if there are any easy ways to help!

Enjoy the beautiful fall colors,

Joan

One of the beautiful creatures I released into the wild.

One of the beautiful creatures I released into the wild.

The Ricochet

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

It’s a Gloomy Day…

Some look at the world and see a world full of hate, crime, violence and just plain u-g-l-y. Having a healthy (or not so) perspective on life can drastically affect everything around you. If someone did see a world full of hate, crime, violence etc., perhaps they’d never go outside – they wouldn’t get together with friends (if they considered anyone to be a friend), they wouldn’t take their time to enjoy anything; simply because there wasn’t much to enjoy besides an alternate reality. Prepare for a hypothetical situation…

If this grumpster spent their entire life never looking forward to anything, never appreciating anything, every person they ever met would be impacted by the things he/she said or did in most likely a negative manner. What if (say it was a guy) this guy woke up mad because he realized he had to mail some overdue paperwork. He gets in his car and drives to the Post Office, tailgating the small blue car in front of him, cutting off a cyclist when turning right at an intersection. Upon reaching his destination, he gets out of his car, walks to the door and sees a woman trying to exit through the same door. Instead of waiting for her to leave, he opens the door which forces her to move out of the way with a grimace on her face. He drops his mail in the slot and leaves, with a feeling residing between doom and relief.

In his journey to mail his papers, he encountered at least 3 people (considering the cars surrounding him and bystanders). The first person, the driver getting tailgated, felt threatened and angry. Due to this, he/she drove in a panic with a hint of paranoia about having someone ram the end of his/her car. This panic caused him/her to run a red light at full speed while looking in the rear-view mirror, getting into a “T-bone” accident, critically injuring his/herself and killing the driver of the impacted vehicle. This affects the family of the red-light runner, as well as the deceased victim of the impact, and the witnesses of the scene. It goes on and on, and we’re still just at the tailgated car driver. Our guy doesn’t know what happened to the accident victims. Next? The cyclist! The cyclist is cut off and has to slam on the brakes to avoid being smacked by the metal body of a car. “What a jerk – I could’ve gotten hit,” He thinks. He continues safely on the road home. Upon reaching home, he logs onto the computer and updates his Facebook status: “Those A-holes on the road are at it again.”  Not only does this further his own anger by expressing it to a larger network of people, but it affects those who read the status as well. Who knows, what if one of the people who read the status wasn’t obeying the rules of the road the same day, or the day before? Last, the woman at the door… When she’s nearly pushed out of the way to avoid the opening door, she’s surprised at the lack of chivalry this grumpy man has. He didn’t even apologize, who is this guy? She quickly walks out and to her home, where she sits thinking about what happened. She doesn’t dwell on it too long, with the thought in mind that she has entire life to live – that was just one experience. Why let that drag her down?

Reversal

Some look at the world and see a world full of love, equality, balance and just plain b-e-a-u-t-y. If someone did see a world full of love, equality, balance, etc., it’s possible that they’d always be outside enjoying the wilderness, photographing, sparking new friendships and kindling old ones. They’d be doing whatever they please, because there’s a whole world out there for them to enjoy right here – no alternate one. That same guy that we had earlier, the grumpster, affected a lot of people in negative ways, despite the last woman who wasn’t going to let anyone rain on her parade. What if.. he wasn’t so stressed out about his paperwork being overdue? What if.. he recognized it was his own responsibility, and just accepted the situation? Let’s turn over the page, and start again.

If this happy-go-lucky fellow spent his entire life looking forward to everything, appreciating everything, every person they ever met would be impacted by the things he said or did in most likely a posative manner. What if he woke up worried because he realized he had to mail some overdue paperwork? He gets in his car and drives to the Post Office, continuing at a safe speed and allowing plenty of room for the small blue car in front of him, giving the “OK” to a cyclist to turn with the wave of his hand and a bright smile. Upon reaching his destination, he gets out of his car, walks to the door and sees a woman trying to exit through the same door. Instead of waiting for her to open the door, he beats her to the door and holds it open, surprising the young lady as she walks through the door-frame with blush on her cheeks; “Thanks,” with a smile. He drops his mail in the slot and leaves, with a feeling of relief, knowing he did the right thing as soon as possible.

In his journey to mail his papers, he encountered at least 3 people (considering the cars surrounding him and bystanders). The first person, the driver in the small blue car, enjoyed his/her drive listening to his/her favorite album. He/she drove for another few miles and safely arrived at home, being welcomed home by his/her family. The previous “victim” of the It’s a Gloomy Day… accident remains unharmed, shopping at the local thrift store. Our guy is still driving to the Post Office. The cyclist turns and continues safely on the road home. Upon reaching his apartment, he logs onto the computer and updates his Facebook status: “Man, it’s sure nice to come across kind people when out on the road. ”  Not only does this further his own happiness by expressing it to a larger network of people, but it affects those who read the status as well. Maybe a couple of his Facebook friends were wondering how safe the roads are, and are now confident to go on a bike ride. Last, the woman at the door… When the man opens the door for her, she’s almost a little surprised because she doesn’t experience that much anymore. Chivalry! What a nice guy. She quickly walks out and to her home, where she sits smiling about how pleasant her day turned out to be. She mailed her friend a letter, got the door opened for her, and now she can have a nice warm dinner.

When we commit an act, whether it be good or bad, we don’t necessarily think about the “cause and effect” of it all. We may intend for this act to only affect one person, but they have their own network of people. Things spread. We have to be careful. This world is beautiful, but it is struggling. The solution is being a conscious being, being aware of one’s own actions, and acting in a positive manner toward everyone. It’ll ricochet, bounce from person to person, and eventually will spread from just your small neighborhood to the entire country, then from country to country, to all around the world. One fish may not seem like a lot, until one  more joins, and one more, and one more…until they form a giant cloud, appearing as a giant beast of its own.

 

Keep your chin up.

Love, Laura

A Small Miracle, Often Overlooked

We’ve just hit midsummer in our neck of the woods, and yesterday, for the first time in weeks, it actually rained!  Of course the majority of the population in our town grumbled about how the sun was gone and everything was dreary and grey again, but I’m one of those few people who adores wet weather.  As those sunny dry weeks had dragged on I’d been drinking more and more water (dehydration doesn’t suit me well at all), and fretting over my poor basil plant that I kept forgetting to water (over the years I’ve discovered that I didn’t inherit my mother’s green thumb).  The sun returned today, and it’s forecasted to stay for at least another week, but even that one day of rain lifted my spirits.

It also got me thinking.

We live in a world where it rains.  Isn’t that amazing?  No really, think about it – water is the lifeblood of our world, the very thing that allows life to flourish here on Earth, and we live in a place where fresh, drinkable water literally falls from the sky!  Does that not astound you?

“But,” you say, “it’s simple science.  It’s just the water cycle.”

And yes, I am aware that there is a perfectly logical scientific explanation as to why we have rain.  But nevertheless this phenomenon continues to astonish me.  It is also why I think water conservation is so important.

About 75% of our Earth consists of water, but only about 1% of that water is actually safe to drink.  Of course, most of this water is in our oceans, but since it isn’t economical to purify ocean water, we get the majority of our clean water from glaciers.  If climate change continues as it has been, those glaciers will all melt.  And where will all that fresh drinkable water go?  The oceans.

As Ismail Serageldin once said:

“If the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water.”

Not only will we begin to see less and less available drinking water, but these melting glaciers will also pose a problem for coastal cities.  As the sea level rises, coastal flooding will become more common, until millions of people will likely have to relocate.

On top of all this, there’s also the trash problem that we currently have, which I think this Climate Quickie illustrates better than I can:

http://www.grindtv.com/action-sports/surf/post/surfing-paradise-has-a-serious-trash-problem/

And just in case you’re wondering, no, those photographs aren’t photoshopped.

So though I know you’ve all heard this before, I’m going to encourage you to take shorter showers, turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth, and recycle and compost rather than throwing things in the trash.  It really does add up to make a difference.  Just imagine how many gallons of water you’ll save if for the next year the showers you take every day are five minutes shorter than normal.  See?  You will make an impact if you do that.

So what changes will you make to help conserve water?

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Love,

Joan