Rising Sea Level = Competition for Space

Global warming and climate change.  Regardless of what your stance is in the issue, read this article about Kiribati.

Kiribati is an island nation in the south Pacific with a population 103,000.  All of their land is only mere meters above sea level.  With the gradual rise in sea level, soon their entire land will be submerged.

With no indications of sea levels receding, President Anote Tong has been trying to address this issue so that his citizens retain a home.  In September 2011, The Telegraph reported that Tong was considering converting the entire nation to a nation on stilts.  Now, almost a year later, Tong has reconsidered this option of creating new land to using existing land: purchasing land area from Fiji.

Like the more recent article mentions, with the transfer of the Kiribati nation to another land, they will inevitably lose a part of their cultural heritage and identity as they must implicitly adopt and assimilate.  Therefore, it is not only the death of their islands but a toll for the people as well.

The important thing to realize that neither of Tong’s suggestions is a solution.  They are merely an immediate response to accommodate a problem that, for the moment, affects Kiribati more extremely than any other nation.  If sea levels rise even more, all countries will be scrambling for higher ground and overcrowding cities inland.  (Use this map to see how a rise in sea level will affect our islands and coasts).  Being here in southern California and seeing all the mansions scattered  along every bit of the coastline, I worry that if this time of chaos arrives, the competition will become one of wealth.

For the preservation of the world’s cultural richness, biodiversity, or beauty for our children to admire and enjoy…. Whatever the reason, let’s convince our individual nations to change out current way of life and seek a solution together.

Advertisements

Summer is here!!

The weather is hot! Farmers Markets have begun! (DC Map of Farmers Markets) Everyone is outside! It is summer!

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby

It’s only Saturday. You still have Sunday! Go enjoy the weather!

National Bike Month

It is an understatement to say that I love biking.  No, I’m not one of those people wearing jerseys, spandex, and aerodynamic helmets.  Since middle school when my brother and I would make trips to the grocery store for my mom for a loaf of bread (and a chocolate bar), I have used it in place of walking, public transportation, and driving.  It’s a great way to travel -especially now with gas prices more expensive than ever and climate change continuing its drastic course.  So do yourself a favor and test out biking as a mode of transportation this month.

From bikeleague.org

Mark your calendars for these special biking days and find an event in your neighborhood!

National Bike to School Day (May 9)
CycloFemme, the International Day of Women’s Bicycling (May 13)
National Bike to Work Week (May 14-18)
National Bike to Work Day (May 18)
National Bike Challenge (May 1-August 31)

You can also get stats on how your city compares to others in miles of bike lanes and the number of residents who are bikers on the League of American Bicyclists website.

And why stop biking after May?  Make it a regular mode of transportation! Ryan Wood presents his 10 reasons to start biking to work.

Happy (Unofficial) Earth Day!

Ok, Earth Day is not until tomorrow (the 22nd).

Image from NASA

BUT, in reality, EVERY DAY SHOULD BE EARTH DAY!!

Since I started working at an ecology non-profit, I have learned many details in evidence of climate change that go beyond global warming and carbon dioxide particles in the atmosphere.  If we continue to live as we are and do not act now to stop our harmful routines, the planet will surely accelerate its progress towards a projection of dire Darwinian competition and struggle for survival.

In order to see change, leaders need to make the environment their top priority.  However, the lack of unified action, including a failure to reach an agreement for a universal plan at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, shows that leaders either refuse to acknowledge the issue or are preoccupied by politics, national security, and other legislative issues.  As Yann Arthus-Bertrand stated in his TED lecture that “we don’t want to believe what we know,” perhaps leaders are aware but secretly house a sense of helplessness or being overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the problem.  Regardless, climate change is real and is happening whether we observe or experience drastic change from yesterday and today.  Every moment of inaction is only allowing the problem to grow bigger.  

However, the solution is not all dependent on our world leaders and political officials. Stewardship of each individual, above all, is of utmost importance.  We, the people, have power in expressing issues that are of importance to us.  Through the public emphasis of concern over climate change, the movement may influence leaders to seek globally collaborative efforts and start addressing this issue that effects all life on the planet and aspects of society as we know it.

Activism and advocacy on the individual level can be done through protests and campaigns on the more formal end of the spectrum.  Alternatively, an easier approach is to reflect on the effects our actions have on the environment and do our part to minimize your negative impact!  (You know…Reduce, reuse, and recycle; turn off lights when not in use; use public transportation; etc)   Also, educate ourselves more in the ecological status of the world, and we will be alarmed by the urgency of the matter that is downplayed in society.   Then, we can educate our friends about climate change by including it as a topic in conversations.  The more people know about climate change, the more of a presence the topic has in the mind of the public as a collective whole.

So make Earth Day the beginning of our more environmentally conscious selves.  To get started, use this map to find an Earth Day event or volunteer project near you!

Cross country road trip: DC to LA via bike!

Not to post about bikes again, but……

A few weeks ago, my roommate was voicing his restlessness and suggested that we do a cross country road trip to California.  My automatic thought was “That is crazy!”  However, I was surprised that what escaped my mouth was “Yeah! Let’s do it!”  Given a moment to think about the response, I realized that I did want genuinely do this.  Why not? This is the perfect time because I have no constraints of a permanent job, school, or kids to complicate my ability to take a couple months off and bike with pit stops along the way hanging out with couchsurfers and friends, sightseeing, camping, and making many visits to the landromat.

The Adventure Cycling Association website is a great resource for long-distance biking routes all over the continental US.

The proposed route:

Tidewater Potomac –> Underground Railroad –>Southern Tier –> Pacific Coast

So….September 2012 – DC to LA.  It’s a while away, so hopefully, it will happen.

Dreams of Night Rides on a Glowing Chariot

Like many people living in cities, my bicycle is my main mode of transportation.  Biking is great.  It’s convenient and often faster than public

My current ride: 5-speed free wheel gear Schwinn cruiser

transportation.  You can park it virtually anywhere for free.  It’s very cost effective and easy to maintain with some chain lube and the occasional tire tubes for flats.  You get a bit of your exercise for the day.  Plus, it’s eco-friendly and you won’t have to grovel at $4/gallon!

Map of DC Bike Routes, including Bike Share stations

Okay. Okay.  For the amount of biking I do around DC, I know I should wear a helmet as everyone should -regardless of where you are riding, how far, if you use bike lanes, whatever.  Why am I being reckless by opting to not wear one?  Well, it’s not by active choice, per se.  Nor is it an issue of “being cool” for me (because I accept that I am incapable of being cool no matter what I do.  My Dorkiness > My Coolness.  Always).  It’s just that I don’t have one readily available, so I never wore one since midway in college when I acquired a bicycle through volunteering at Community Bikes.

Even worse, I guess, is that I have no lights on my bike.  Now before you shake your head in contempt and mutter something like “What the…This girl is a dumb….”, I DO HAVE LIGHTS!!!  I did use them regularly before…. Then, my bike with the clips to fasten the lights was stolen, at which point I rode on my new bike holding the front light in my hand as I steered and the back light clipped to the belt loop of my pants.  Then, the batteries in my lights died.  Because none of the 5 remotes in our house had a supply of AAA batteries for me to “borrow,” this has led me to where I am now.

I realize the above paragraphs make me sound really lazy, which is quite the opposite from reality.  Scorn me as much as you want, concerned blog readers.  Just don’t tell my parents of my ignorance!  Haha.  I promise, world.  I will be responsible for my safety and get a helmet very soon.  As proof, I will model it for you here when it arrives!

Anywho, whenever I think of bike lights, my thought wanders to dream of these bikes featured in the Blackberry Bold commercial.

Bright bikes and a critical mass night ride?!?!? A hipster’s dream come true!!!

Unfortunately, these bikes are indeed a dream.  They are the product of some image manipulation by computers. Sigh.

From my google searching, it turns out I was not alone in the quest to becoming a human-size firefly.  The closest alternative to achieving a neon vehicle are these products by BikeGlow that you can wrap around your bike for illumination.  My friend, who also recently converted to a helmet-donning biker as his gift for his mom’s birthday, just announced that he ordered these lights.

Somehow, I am just not excited about these as I was about the bikes in the commercial. Not only are there too many patches of black that make an observer not look in awe but more in confusion as he/she squints to discern if a bar is on wheels (which very well could exist), these lights are associated in my brain as stairway decoration in frat houses for 80s parties.  (No offense. I loved them back in the day).  I guess I want the real thing -bright, ostentatious, and visible by anyone driving at night.

Until the day when I do find this (solar power-generated) glowing bike frame, I suppose I must be satisfied with the conventional bike lights.  Maybe I’ll weave some glow necklaces through the spokes for special occasions.  Whoa!

Of course, I’ll wear a helmet regardless -day or night.

Body Language

My friend and I went to a birthday party Saturday night at Rock N Roll Hotel on H Street.  The place was packed! Rock N Roll Hotel is a really big bar with three floors: the first is often a venue for concerts, the second is a bar and dance floor, the third is the rooftop bar.  If you like 90s music, definitely go there and stay on the second floor. I was belting out songs that I sang along to during my middle school dances! That level also has several sections for private parties.  One was reserved for a group of people who were deaf or hard of hearing.

In DC, it’s not a rare sight to see a group of people signing to each other while you grab a cup of coffee or push your cart down the cereal aisle of the grocery store.  DC is home to Gallaudet University, the world’s only university where all the programs are designed to accommodate students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The first time I learned about sign language was on an episode of Reading Rainbow where LeVar Burton.  (You kids born since the 90s won’t have a clue what I’m talking about).  LeVar introduced his friend who is deaf, and she taught him words and phrases throughout the show.  Afterwards, I went to my local public library (like the kids at the end of each episode advise) and checked out a book on the ASL alphabet.  Somehow, since learning the alphabet as a middle school student, I retained the knowledge to this today.

I love learning languages, and I was very excited to learn that Martin Luther King Public Library offers free ASL classes.  I had gone to a few sessions about a year ago.  After having had to use pen and paper to communicate with patients at the primary care clinic where I work, I was coincidentally thinking about how I should start going to them again a few hours before the party.

The classes are hosted on the second floor in the lobby.  In these classes, there is no formal structure. Anyone is welcome.  You attend and pick up whatever you can.  To be honest, it’s daunting.  However, there are always people dropping in for their first time, so you will not be alone.  As with any class, the amount that you learn will depend on the effort you put into it.

Also on the second floor is the Adaptive Services Center where you can find large print books, books in Braille, and computers with programs designed for those with hearing or visual impairment.  A staff member named Patrick (? It was a year ago) introduced me to ASL Pro, an online resource of videos for you to learn how to sign.

Along with some words and phrases like “Can you go to the store for me?” and “tomorrow,” I learned that sign language is not just about your hands.  It  relies on your facial expression, body position, and the strength, speed and size of your signs or gestures to fully communicate your thoughts.  The language is very much an art form of dance or theatrics.

On a dance floor where the music is so loud I resorted to screaming in my friend’s ear for conversations that turned into impromptu games of telephone, my other dance buddies did not strain at all -signing, laughing and enjoying the night. Maybe next time, I will spare my vocal cords and follow their route.

World Water Day!

Today is World Water Day!

Go to a participating restaurant of the Tap Project and donate $1 for the tap water usually served free.

For more information on the event and development projects surrounding sanitation and water accessibility issues, click on one of the links below.

Mittens!!!!

My supervisor is having a baby, and as a last minute gift for her surprise baby shower today, I decided to make mittens -no instructions and with just two needles.

For the improved project, I casted on eleven loops for the base of the two mitten halves.  When I thought the mitten base was long enough to cover the wrist, I left three loops for the thumb and continued knitting the eight loops until I decided they were long enough for the fingers.  I tapered off the end by combining two loops on either end and treating them as one (k2tog, in knitting language).  After binding off the finger part of the mitten, I went back to the thumb.  I continued knitting until it was about halfway to the rest of the hand. Finally, I made two other halves, knitting the ends of each row into their partner.  They turned out better than I thought!

Image

My mom had taught me how to knit while I was in high school, where my friends and I started a knitting club. (Yes, I was kind of nerdy).  To our surprise, the club took off, and we had about 30 members each meeting!

Since then, I have expanded from doing variations of rectangles, decoded the knitting language, and finished blankets for my grandmas using lace patterns.  Lace is definitely my favorite.

A link below to help you decode:

http://www.knittingonthenet.com/learn/abbrev.htm