Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My new home for 6 months... in the Everglades! On January 11, 2010 I start a six month field technician research position with Florida Atlantic University in the avian laboratory under the direction of Dr. Dale Gawlik. This is a big change for me and a very exciting opportunity. Not only will I be flying into different, interesting parts of the Everglades on a daily basis, but I will be supporting a study that is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, a major (and probably the most significant) ecosystem conservation plan by the State of Florida. Although I am sad to leave my current position at Malcolm Pirnie, as an Environmental Scientist, I know that this is an opportunity that I cannot pass up. I hope that it will allow me to refocus my environmental passion on scientific research and ultimately, the pursuit of higher education. I will keep you all updated on what's going on and there should be lots of pictures to show! Thanks again for all of your support as I move to the east coast of Florida to pursue my dreams and passions.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Directions

Hello all,

I want to thank all of those who have supported me throughout the years. As most of you know, I'm a free-spirit, a dreamer, and a drifter. I strive to love everyday and live my life full of passion. Now, don't take this the wrong way. I'm not a it's-always-greener-on-the-other-side kind of person. I know when I'm happy somewhere and I'm more than willing to put down some roots when the time is right. But the time is not right for me at the moment, so I've decided to take a new opportunity. I've been so fortunate to be blessed with it and I will not laugh in the face of an open door. Want to know where I'm going, what I'm doing and how you can visit me at the new and exciting place I'll be?

Come back tomorrow for the big news! And don't worry, I'll still be very close to a computer, so the blogs will keep coming (hopefully with more frequency).



Monday, November 23, 2009

Caladesi Island Necklace Pod

I recently took a trip to one of Florida's most beautiful and last remaining natural barrier islands with the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. The island, called Caladesi Island, was voted the nation's best beach in 2008. It was originally settled by a Swiss man named Henry Sharrer in 1883. It is now part of Florida's State Park system and is preserved without development. How lucky! The island is accessible via a short ferry ride from another barrier island to the north called Honeymoon Island.

View Larger Map

While on Caladesi, we observed a large population of a native Florida shrub known as Necklace-Pod (Sophora tomentosa). It is a dense, multi-trunked shrub with beautiful rounded leaves, yellow pea-like flowers, and the neatest seedpods. The day we were on the island, a storm was threatening in the Gulf of Mexico and thankfully stole all the moisture from the air, leaving us with a perfectly sunny and extraordinarily calm day on the island. The plants in the understory of a pine and oak canopy were easily viewed in the sunlight. Although I've seen Necklace-Pod before, I've never noticed the brightly colored, symmetrically aligned orange petioles of the leaves. As you can see below, a petiole is the part that connects the leaf to the stem of the tree. This tiny nuance of the shrub was so beautiful!

The pods look like the picture below. Seeing these pods, I excitedly cracked one open, expecting to see large beanlike fruits. This was not the case. Instead, a flurry of extremely small brown seeds poured out into my hand. Although I have a tendency to try to eat things in the wild, these didn't look so appetizing, so I dropped them to the ground. Good thing! Turns out the seeds are dangerous to eat. They contain an alkaloid called cytisine which causes nausea, vomiting, and acts as a laxative. None of those things sound good on a hike!

The bright yellow flowers bloom in a bright clump toward the end of the branches throughout the year. Apparently, they are well liked by many insects including this Monarch butterfly we saw feeding madly on these sweet flowers. The Monarch butterfly populations are on their fall migration pattern to Mexico where they will spend the winter. This individual wanted one last succulent taste of Florida before moving on.

I hope you too are enjoying all the wonderful plant and wildlife happenings of this fall!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oyster Domes

I just realized that I never went about explaining to you what my previous pictures at MacDill Air Force Base showed. Well, these are what we call Oyster Domes. They are concrete structures with holes and porous areas to which oysters can readily adhere and grow. They are used heavily in the Tampa Bay area, especially by a group called Tampa Bay Watch, that uses them along seawalls and shorelines to restore hard bottom habitat, improve water quality and reduce shoreline erosion. These are being used in new and innovative ways to help restore oyster habitat in Tampa Bay. The hope is that once oysteer habitat is restored, other species that depend on similar habitat types (such as seagrass and larger fish species) will also recieve habitat benefits. This is a positive solution to habitat degredation in bay that will ultimately help the local fishing community, commercial fisheries (by providing a nursery habitat), the shipping industry (by reducing erosion to the navigational channels), and to all tourists and residents (by improving water quality). Big props to MacDill Air Force Base that is working on finding ways to integrate Oyster Domes into their shoreline features!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oh the beauty in Beautyberry!

One of my favorite native plants to see the field is the Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). Not only does this shrub flower like this in spring summer, but in autumn each of these flowers along it's stem will explode into a shimmering feast of bright red berries. This simple and wide spread plant is a tasty treat for all kinds of wildlife including over forty species of songbirds, deer, raccoons, opossums, armadillos, and rodents. And I just discovered something new and exciting about it!

According to research done at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, Mississippi in 2006, beautyberry leaves contain compounds which rival DEET as insect repellants. This study and subsequent studies found that oils distilled from beautyberry leaves repelled fire ants, mosquitos and black-legged ticks for up to 3 hours!! Crushing the leaves and rubbing them on yourself or your pets works almost as well as the scientifically distilled oils. Although there is still reserach needed to test toxicity and potential dangers of using the plant this way, no side effects are expected. Beautyberry has been used in traditional medicine and for folk remedies for much longer than we even know with no ill effects.

So what does this mean for me? Since I don't use DEET due to the chemical carcinogens, you might see me in the woods rubbing myself down with beautyberry leaves. And you may think I'm crazy, but at least the bugs won't find me as appetizing!

What is that?

What is that? To find out come check out my guest blog at

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How was your day?

How was your day? Here's how mine was...

I'll explain those last three soon!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Hour Power Shower

Well, I tried. On the night of Earth Hour I had just finished a long day of cleaning, organizing and bringing things to the Salvation Army. I was still organizing things, while my roommate, Karen, was watching the end of the basketball game. It was 9:00pm and all of our lights were still on. Woops! Right about then, we remembered it was Earth Hour and it was already half over!! Oh no. So we quickly switched off all the lights and electronics. We wanted to be part of this, even if we had already messed it up. So we lit some candles and went about things as always, just a little dimmer. Well, that proved to be harder than I had thought.

I was ready for a night out after working so hard on the apartment, so I grabbed my margarita (I had bought some limes at the Oldsmar flea market and needed to put them to good use) and headed to the shower. As I got to the bathroom, I realized that I needed at least a little bit of light to bathe. So I grabbed a couple candles and went back for another attempt. Let me just say, that showering by candlelight is very very romantic. Sure, I was alone, but it was very relaxing and sexy. Who doesn't look great by candlelight? Then the trouble started. Three things I learned:
  1. for some unknown reason, I cannot get the water temperature right in the dark...I'm either scalding or freezing
  2. the candlelight was enjoyable, but maybe a little too nice...the shower got a bit longer than normal and considering the major drought we're having in Florida, I feel bad about using so much water
  3. shaving in the dark is crazy hard...and somewhat dangerous!
Ok, next step...shower done, time to get dressed. I almost burned down my closet by holding a candle really close to my clothes to try to pick what I wanted to wear. To avoid a fire, I settled on the first t-shirt and jeans combo I felt with my hands. Ok, I was pretty much ready. By this point it was already about 10:00pm, but since we missed the first half of Earth Hour we felt that we needed to redeem ourselves by extending our lights-out time.

My next challenge was to give Karen enough light on her face to put on makeup. The small tealights I have weren't giving off much light, so I had to hold them pretty close to her face. I was a bit worried that the hairspray in her hair would burst into flames, but we did ok and she looked good (not just in the candlelight!). After blowing out all the candles, we headed out into the well lit night.

So I tried. I'm not sure how successful my Earth Hour was considering that even though I saved some power by turning off the lights and supported the movement, I wasted some precious water and almost started a few small fires. Is there a candle training course?

Did you participate? Check out these great pictures of landmarks that did.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour

Did you hear about Earth Hour last year? It's a great idea that was initiated by the World Wildlife Fund in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to raise awareness for the need to take action against climate change. On the last Saturday in March, the World Wildlife Fund asks people to turn off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the movement grew from 2.2 million people to 50 million people participating. Everyone from individual citizens to businesses and even to global landmarks such as the Colloseum in Rome, the billboard in Times Square and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Franscisco participated last year. Oh, yeah, and my mom participated last year too! I think she told me about it, but I forgot when the time came to switch the light switch. But this year I'm doing it too! And this year it's going to be bigger than ever! Already, 1,189 cities and towns across 80 countries are committed to turning off their lights for Earth Hour. Who else is participating this year?
  1. Great Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
  2. Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  3. the Eiffel Tower
  4. Cathedral of Notre Dame
  5. the President of France
  6. Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro
  7. Table Mountain in Cape Town
  8. Sydney Opera House
  9. CN Tower in Toronto
Will you do this with me and the rest of the world? Tomorrow, Saturday, March 28 at 8:30pm local time, switch off your lights and enjoy living for an hour without electric lights!

Are you going to do it?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Want a laugh?

Ok, this website is hilarious and if you need a good laugh today with some sarcastic humor then go read a few of these entries. You'll be in tears! Plus there are cute animals on the site too!


Here's an excerpt from the blog that had me rolling!

"The Tibetan fox thinks he's better than you"

"I just want you people to drink in this world-class douchebag known as the Tibetan Fox. Have you ever seen such a holier-than-thou fucking look on a non-dolphin before? I'm not one for slapping foxes, as I generally think they know what they've done, but this one really has that look, like the asshole boyfriend of the girl the main guy wants in an 80s movie. Unsurprisingly, he is extremely rare. That's probably because he thinks if he has too many babies, some of them will turn out to be commoners and he wouldn't be able to show his square face at the country club anymore.

How's your ivory tower, Tibetan Fox? I'm sure it must be terribly stressful to stand in judgment of the rest of us little people, so why don't you just retire to your cabin and play lacrosse? You know what, on second thought, WHY DON'T YOU WANDER THE DESERT LOOKING FOR RODENTS. Some of us have to work for a living, Tibetan Fox. We don't get everything handed to us by a lifetime of hunting and scavenging, you stuck-up snob. "

If this has a rolling on the floor, go see more here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Are you green today?

Happy St. Patty's Day! Even if you're not Irish, today is a day most Americans celebrate purely for the joy of wearing green and drinking. So pull out that green t-shirt and grab a pint of dyed green beer...or not. What exactly makes your beer green? We've become so accustomed to associating the color green with healthy or environmentally friendly things that it's pretty easy to gloss over that question. But on St. Patty's Day we find quite a few things dyed a neon green that are typically very different colors. It almost turns me off from the beer that flows on this day...almost.

So, really, what is that green dye made of? Green food coloring is also known as FD&C Green No. 3 or Fast Green FCF or E143 or Sea Green. It is one of the seven dyes that were originally approved in 1906 in the Pure Food and Drug Act. Yes, that's right, it's that old! But is it safe?

Well, that's relative. The US Food and Drug Administration would have you think so. But a study conducted in 1969 by Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (did you even know this existed?) found that injections of small amounts of the green dye in rats caused fibrosarcoma, a malignant tumor derived from fibrous connective tissue, and inhibited growth. But, then in a study in 1978, no tumors formed in hamsters that were injected with the green dye. In a study in 1966, rats were fed the green dye instead of injected, and they did not show growth or mortality effects. The result of the 1969 study reported that there was no evidence of green dye causing cancer if eaten and digested. However, they did state that the study was not thorough enough and results may have been inadequate to prove this, so another study would have to be completed by 1985. Additionally, the study assured us that the green dye is poorly absorbed by our bodies and most of it is excreted in our feces (yay!). Ok, sounds like we're in the clear!!

Or are we? I checked an MSDS safety sheet for the green dye and according to it's toxicology status, Fast Green FCF in solid form is considered an animal carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and it is a mutagenic substance. Mutagenic means that it actually changes your genetic material. It specifically states "mutagenic effects have occurred in humans" but it doesn't list what they were! It is also considered a skin, eye and respiratory irritant! Yikes. Here's another study conducted in 1984 that confirmed these scary findings!

Ok, ok, so maybe we'll be safe if we only have a little green beer on St. Patty's Day and then avoid green jelly beans for the rest of the year. But what else is Fast Green FCF found in? Well it comes in doses of up to 100mg/kg in typical things like:
  • candied fruit
  • fruit purees and toppings
  • coconut milk
  • fruit fillings for pastries
  • hard candy
  • pastas and noodles
  • cereal and puddings
  • frozen fish
  • fried fish
  • custards
  • herbs, spices, condiments
  • mayonnaise and salad dressing
And get this, Fast Green FCF has been prohibited in the European Union. Don't be too alarmed, 10mg/kg is a very small amount, but who knows how much bartenders are pouring into their beer concoctions for today!

So spit out your green beer and grab a draft of something else less dyed, put down Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, and just wear green instead! Here are a few more ideas for St. Patty's day from one of my favorite environmental blogs, TreeHugger. And six green hangover remedies too!

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Guest Blogging at "2B4 the World"

One of my good friends from back in home in Maryland, Andrew (aka, Byron) Banghart, recently contacted me about his new website/business venture. His business mission is as follows:

"The mission of 2b4theWorld is to bring environmental responsibility to the forefront of political, commercial, and educational action so as to influence current and future decision-making."

He asked me to become a regular blogger on his site (yay!). So check out his site, 2B4 the World, and see what I've been blogging about over there. Speaking of decision-making, my first post is entitled Connecting Scientists and Politicians and talks specifically about climate change decision-making and the role of the federal government. Keep an eye on his website, hopefully it will grow into something amazing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Beauty in the Glades

I recently had the privilege of stepping foot into the amazing part of Florida called the Everglades. When my friends asked why I was so excited about the opportunity to go camping and hiking with the Sierra Club in the Everglades, I explained it like this; for an environmentalist/nature lover, the Everglades are on our list of the 7 Wonders of the World. And it's so close to me that I'd be a fool to miss the chance to go see this amazing place before humans disturb it even more.

Part of our adventure took us through the Picayune Strand State Forest. We had a beautiful hike through an area that is very obviously wet during the rainy season (probably with about 2 feet of standing water) that is currently bone dry. There we saw bald cypress, pond cypress, air plants/bromeliads, hatpins, and so many more beautiful plants and lots of birds as well. Here are a few pictures from just this one 3-mile hike. Oh, and another fun fact...there were two panther cubs just born in this park (unfortunately or fortunately we did not encounter them)!

Cypress leaves emerging
Hatpin - this one looks like it grew around another plant...check out that squirrely stem!
Bromeliad hanging/hovering on the site of a cypress tree.

The Big Squeeze

Are you feeling a little squeezed out these days? Too much competition? Well, we all know that in the current economic climate competition is stiff and too many people are losing their jobs, being edged out and leaving other employees with much too much work to handle!

Here's a photo I took down in the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve of a Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto) being squeezed out by a few Slash Pines (Pinus elliottii). Unfortunately, these tree don't have much chance to fight back or pick up and move, so they're stuck together for the duration.

Is it just me or does life feel like this every now and again? Sometimes you're the palm, sometime you're the pine. Which one are you today?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend Adventures and Cooters

Wow, this was a fun-filled weekend!

Saturday morning I woke up earlier than I typically do on weekends. I was trying to make it to a 10:30am yoga class at the YMCA. Unfortunately, even at 10am I'm still struck by the morning sloth syndrome, so I didn't leave the house until 10:20. What made me even later was the fact that I really wanted to ride my bike to the gym considering it's only a 2.5 mile ride and it was a gorgeous day! Well, needless to say, I was zooming through the streets of South Tampa and made it to the gym 5 minutes too late. I would have snuck into the yoga class anyway, but they did the entire class with the lights turned off, so I assumed me walking in, bumping into 2 or 3 people in funny bendy positions, and then un-velcroing my yoga mat, might be a little (just a little!) distracting to everyone's centered energy. So I passed and worked off my frustration by lifting weights in the gym instead. I felt much better after that! I biked north again, stopped at the library (this was a great idea, but those books definitely added some weight to the bike ride), and then headed home. It was about 70 degrees outside and perfectly gorgeous!
Sunday, I decided to continue my relaxing weekend of alone-time, and while Simon headed off to ultimate frisbee, I headed north, in my car this time. I went to the Sweetwater Organic Farm Sunday Farmer's Market where I purchased a few beautiful things (can't tell you, Mom, it's a surprise!) and some amazing mixed greens, yummmm! I swayed to the band playing and watched some hula hoopers before moving on.
Next on the agenda for the day was a little bargain shopping at a place called $5fashions that was recommended by a local blog. The place had somewhat decent clothes, but no dressing room. That's just as bad as shopping from a catalog. I put all the clothes back when I found that out...unfortunately clothes never fits me the way it does on the hanger and I'm not driving back up there to return stuff, because you all know I won't make the trip and then I'll end up with a purple tube top that only fits as a hat. Stop #3 of the day was the Oldsmar Flea Market, recommended to me by Simon's mom Penny. What a cool place! Perfect for this economy. I got there at 3:30 (the produce market closes at 4pm), so I made it just in time for the produce bargains. Everything was $1!!! My final loot from the flea market included onions, mint, tomatoes, mangoes, and three necklaces. Woohooo! I'm definitely going back there. Reminds me of a combination of the small town flea markets/yard sales from Maryland and a mini-carnival (there was funnel cake and lots of stuff no one needs!).

View Larger Map

The final adventure of the day was a trip to the Upper Tampa Bay County Park. I didn't have much time to see the park because I was in a rush to get back to meet Simon to take his parents out for dinner (which was also fantastic!). So I walked around the visitor's center and took a walk to some of the piers surrounded by bay and mangroves. It's definitely someplace I want to go check out again. It's a small park at the northern tip of Old Tampa Bay, but it has some trails and it's a welcome break from the strip malls that surround the area. Here's what I found along some of the trails:
The seedhead from a Bushy Seaside Oxeye (Borrichia frutescens) whose leaves are surprisingly somewhat succulent.

Beginning of a propagule on a red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). If you want to see more pictures of this plant and others, check out Shirley Denton's awesome photography!

The leaves on black mangroves (Avicennia germinans). The plants grow in salty water along the shores of the bay. How do they tolerate high levels of salt in the water? They have evolved to excrete excess salt through pores on their leaves! Plant, you're so smart!

I typically enjoy the trails more than what the visitor's centers have to offer, but I'm so happy I still ventured into this one because what was inside was really well set up. There were about 10 fish tanks with fish that can be found in the area by habitat and well labeled. There was also one with turtles in it that was my favorite. There were two species in the tank. The Ornate Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) and the Florida Cooter (Pseudemys floridana). That name makes me giggle! But I got my mind out of the gutter and looked it up. According to an entry in Wikipedia, the name "cooter" comes from the word "kuta" which means turtle in some african languages. I'm glad to hear that!

The Florida Cooter (top) and Ornate Diamondback Terrapin (bottom). What a cute pair!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tampa Nightlife

On a crisp night a few weeks back I ventured out on my new bike to try some night photography. My brother and sister-in-law had just given me a really cool birthday gift (thanks!), a remote control for my camera. I was hoping to try some long-exposure night photography from Bayshore Blvd across the bay. The remote control comes in handy because you can step away from the camera and push the button to begin the long exposure without shaking the camera as your pushing the button. Well, since I'm still in the experimental phases with the camera, I've got a lot to learn. According to the fine print on the remote control, you can only use it when the camera is on auto focus. Unfortunately, the photos I was trying to take would only work on manual focus, so I had to scrap the remote control at least for these pictures (don't worry! I'll use it again soon and I'm still really psyched about it!). So instead I put the camera on a delay so it would take a photo after 10 seconds and I put it on 15 second shutter speed. Here's what happened:
What do you think for my first try?

Naked but Green

In what I think was an attempt to clear the Swiss people of their naked reputation (see previous post below), my mom recently sent me a link to another report about the Swiss people. Based on the 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Switzerland is the greenest country out of the 128 countries that were ranked. Woohooo for the cleanly swiss! So I guess that means that even though we go naked hiking, we're clean in the process. Well, that's probably the best thing you can wish for naked people, squeeky cleanliness!
Streetcleaner in the streets of Locarno, Switzerland (Jan. 2009)

Basically, the Environmental Performance Index is a set of criteria that rates each nation on things like environmental health, ecosystem vitality, environmental politics, and lots of related quantitative indicators. It was developed in a collaboration between Yale and Columbia University. You can see the results in on an interactive map at the EPI website. Switzerland came out on top with a score of 95.5 out of 100!! Sadly the USA sits at #39 with a score of 81.0. The US lost points big points in all of the following categories
  • Ecosystem Vitality (reducing the loss or degredation of ecosystems and natural resources)
  • Climate Change
  • Air Pollution (effects on the ecosystem)
  • Fisheries
  • Emissions per Capita
  • Emmisions per Electricity Generation (greenhouse gas emissions vs. electricity output)
  • Agricultural Subsidies
  • Critical Habitat
  • Marine Protected Areas
Come on USA, we can do better than this! Stop being so greedy!

If you want to read what other people had to say about the EPI take a look at these blogs too:
P.S. Thanks Mom for pointing this out. It's actually much more meaningful than the naked post. Thanks for keeping me on track!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Funny News

I'm a first generation American and my entire family (mom and dad's side) are Swiss. Since I was a little kid, we've taken a trip every year to see the extended family (only my Mom and brother live in the USA). I am so so proud of my heritage! The Swiss people are awesome and the country is extremely beautiful, clean, and breathtaking. I just found a very odd, yet hilarious, piece of news from Switzerland...

Naked hikers face fines in Switzerland

Can you believe that stuff? I find it funny that they blame the Germans too, that's not very nice!

Charlotte County Pine Flatwoods

I had the privilege of going in the field last week to a site in Charlotte County, Florida. It was a beautiful day which started out quite cold, but by afternoon I was stripping off my jacket and scarf and basking in the sun while looking for endangered species on the site. These are not endangered species, but they were part of the beauty I found on the site.Swamp fern - Blechnum serrulatum

Largeflower Rosegentian - Sabatia grandiflora

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Direction

When I think about this blog I get excited and I feel like I want to write about everything. But then, that kind of screws up the "environmental" theme of the blog. But, let's be honest, I've never been good with sticking to that theme anyway. So I've decided that I'm going to open up this blog a bit and go in a new direction. I still want to write about things that make me passionate, like the environment. My dilemma is that some days it's not nature or the environment that got me excited, it's something else. Some days it's music, a photograph, a new gadget I never knew existed, or something in the news. I want to be able to blog about those types of things. I'm still going to put up lots of pictures and cool things I find in the outdoors, but unfortunately it's not everyday that I get to be outside and enjoying the beauty of the more wild places.

Oh, and another reason, life is short. Even though some days aren't the greatest and some days I get blue, I want to be able to find something beautiful or exhilerating about every day. Now, that's a really hard thing to do when you're having one of "those days," but I'll do my best. I live without regrets...and not enjoying at least a moment of every single day is something I would regret, looking back on all this.

Ok, enough of the seriousity (new word)!

In the gym today I put my iPod on shuffle and came up with this really fantastic song that kind of describes how I'm feeling (but in a good way!):

Justin Townes Earle - I don't care

(P.S. sorry I can't post music here, or at least, I don't know how to legally, so I'll send you to another site where you can listen to the song and even download it if you want to.)

And here's some info about the guy - I really like his other songs as well. He's only 25 years old (doh!, that means I'm already a year older than him!), and he has an interesting history of troubled days.


Although former President Bush did everything in his power to stall science and refused to admit that climate change was actually happening, we're finally making some progress! President Obama appointed Steven Chu, a nobel prize winner in physics, as our new Secretary of Energy. Let's just say, he's a pretty bright guy. On Tuesday (my birthday!), he had his first interview since he took office. He not only admitted that climate change is a real thing, but he also says it's something that is really going to affect us very very quickly. Within this century, of which there are only 91 years left, he predicts major water shortages in agricultural areas such as the Mid West and California. That's scary considering we get pretty much all of our food from those places. He estimates that 90% of the Sierra snowpack will disappear. Not only is that bad news for tourists and the skiing industry, but, even worse, it's bad news for the major water source for California farms. Now where will we get our lettuce? Either way, I'm really excited that our government is planning to address an issue that I consider to be one of our most important, rather than sweeping it under the rug (eh-hem, Mr. Bush!).Read the whole article here.


So I'm pretty darn excited about our new president. We all have high hopes for him, considering how we're on our knees crying about the economy at the moment, we're still in a war, and our policies and values are all scrambled. I try not to watch too much TV (although it's so darn tempting now that my roommate got us cable), but if you've ever seen MTV shows, you'll find this to be an entertaining and somewhat accurate portrayal of President Obama's first month as a president. Watch this video over at I*Heart*You (a really cute blog I read regularly).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl Steeler Success!

After graduating high school, I had a loose connection to football and had learned the rules of the game from some very patient friends from Fallston High School and C. Milton Wright High School, but I couldn't pledge my allegiance to any one team. Of course once I started school at Penn State, they became my college football team (and what an awesome team to claim as my own!). As a student at Penn State you had an obligation to pretty much choose between the two major Pennsylvania rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles. And my choice...the Steelers! This came about for several reasons:
  1. some of my friends were big fans and took the time to acquaint me with the players and the amazing defensive line
  2. I really like Pittsburgh as a town and the people are super friendly and hard working
  3. and there were too many nights when really inebriated Eagles fans were up at 4am shouting the annoying Eagles chant "E.A.G.L.E.S, EAGLES" at the top of their lungs just under my bedroom window (that's just uncalled for!)
And thus, the Steelers became my NFL team. And boy did I pick right! The Steelers won the Superbowl this weekend which was coincidentally held in Tampa. Now, although there was no way I was getting tickets to the game itself, I decided that this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. When would I ever have this kind of luck again...not only was the Superbowl in the same town I was living in, but my favorite team was playing in it. I had to go out and support them. So with a little help from my landlady and a lot of help from my boyfriend and his friend, Rebecca, I made it to a Tampa Superbowl tailgate!! Woohoo!!