Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Laughs for today

On a lighter note, come watch this funny and somewhat intense reading of Where's Waldo by Werner Herzog, a German actor, producer, and director. I stumbled on this video on a blog called The Debonaire, a really cute blog with lots of things to make you smile. I used to love Where's Waldo. Are these books even being published anymore?

I've been trying to read and listen to more German lately in preparation for my master's study program at the University of Zurich. Sometimes the language is a little extreme and harsh. Hopefully I don't come back sounding like this!

A Hairy Situation

As I reported last week, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is still flooding our waters with a plume of toxic chemicals. Based on the most recent Coast Guard estimates, 4 million gallons of oily water have been recovered from the spill and no one actually knows how much more is still dispersing across the Gulf of Mexico. One blog says that 3.5 million gallons of oil have spewed into the Gulf since the oil rig exploded and sunk. For up to date, first-hand accounts by the Coast Guard, check out this website.

So what can you do to help? Well, one small nonprofit out of San Francisco has come up with a really fascinating idea to clean up oil spills. Matter of Trust collects hair from salons, individuals, and even fur from animals across the US, Canada and other places. Then they stuff the hair into recycled pantyhose that people also send in. The resulting hair "booms" look like funny sausages but are great at soaking up oil. Check out this info brochure. Hair naturally soaks up oil, that's why we find ourselves taking showers and using shampoo, which degreases our hair. Think about it, this is also one of the reasons why wildlife are so terribly injured during oil spills - the oil adheres to their fur and feathers. So why not use our hair to soak up some of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico? Here are instructions on how to help out. And this video is absolutely amazing! I can't believe the demonstration part of it when they show how the oil is soaked up! This is so cool and simple.

I'm not sure that I'll be cutting my hair for this. I cut off about 11 inches of my hair over 5 years ago for Locks of Love and had a blast running around in Costa Rica sporting super short 3-inch long hair, but I don't think I'm ready just yet to do that again. Here's what that looked like:

But I do have some old nylons that I could donate! Will you help?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Track me!

So I just added a new feature to the blog so that you can track me on google maps. If you go to the right column of this page you will see a list that says "Pages." The second link under that header will say "Where am I mucking about?" If you click that link it will take you to my google map to show you where I have been lately. Just under the map you will see a link that says "view in a larger map." If you click on that you can see details of where I have been lately.

Come check it out. Let me know if you like this feature or not. I think it will help a lot for my road trip plans...more to come.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Everglades Bound

Remember last year when I saw the Everglades in person for the first time? Well, now it's become much more familiar to me and I'm so excited to share the experience of the swamp with others. So this weekend I'm taking a few great friends out into the wilderness and we will be exploring the primitive areas of Big Cypress National Preserve.

I went a month ago to scope out the area and make sure it was suitable for taking a group of people. Camping and hiking alone at a primitive camp site and in remote areas of the park was amazing! It may not have been the safest thing that I've ever done, but I at least alerted a few people of my whereabouts so they would know where to look for me if something happened. But the solitude I got out of only a night of camping and one full day of hiking felt like bliss. It freed my mind of all the clutter from work, life, and yes, even love. When you're alone in the wilderness and the sun goes down you begin to use your sense of sight less and your other senses much more. I could hear small and large animals surrounding me and some that were probably over 500 meters away. I could smell the freshest humid air. I could even see in the dark to find small sticks to burn. My soul was released from it's cage for 2 blissful days. I walked out smiling and safe.

Here's the little brochure I put together for the invite email I sent out a few weeks ago. Click on the images to read the info. Should be fun!! Wish us luck with the mosquitos, gators, snakes and all the wilderness we've been dreaming of.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oil, Oil, Toil and Trouble... burn and oil bubble.

Have you been paying attention to the latest disaster news? Well, this one isn't a natural disaster. It's a big ol' man-made disaster brought to us by the oil industry. On April 20,2010, a fire and explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. This oil rig is located 50 miles south east of the Mississippi Delta in New Orleans, Louisiana. Reports of the incident have been a little mixed and sometimes confusing, so I've tried to get the best info out there. Deepwater Horizon is a drill rig operator for British Petroleum (BP). BP is now on the hook for cleaning up this mess...that is, if it ever stops leaking. Tragically, 11 people died in the explosion (out of 120 crew aboard). I am so sorry for those who lost their loved ones. Not only did this explosion affect human lives, but it has and will affect the economy, the fishing/boating/watersport industry in the Gulf of Mexico, many threatened and endangered species, sensitive coastlines, and many other resources in the Gulf. This map shows the extent of the plume thus far.

The US Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have responded quickly and appropriately to the situation. The Coast Guard is currently trying to contain the spill with floating booms, skimmers, tugs, barges, and chemical treatments. There were three places that the oil was leaking from the rig after it exploded and sunk (one was just plugged yesterday). By the way, "leaking" is a weak word for this, because estimations say that there may be anywhere from 1000 to 5000 barrels (or more) "leaking" out of the drill rig daily (that's upwards of 210,000 gallons/day!! This volume in any other context would be considered a flooding!). Some sources are predicting that the scope of this disaster may exceed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

The oil spill plume is currently heading toward sensitive shorelines in Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama. Already, fishing has been restricted in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico directly adjacent to the area closures. Fishermen in the area are devastated by this issue and you know I won't be eating shrimp or fish from the Gulf for a while!!! Would you like pink or black shrimp today ma'am?

According to many news sources, the US government (the Minerals Management Service, specifically) exempted BP from an environmental impact analysis last year. They gave them a "categorical exclusion" from the NEPA they should have completed in 2009 for this rig. By definition, a categorical exclusion means "a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment." Hmmm...really? Do you sincerely believe that oil rigs drilled into the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico have no potential significant environmental impact? What's the worst that could happen, right? It's unfortunate that the lobbying efforts of big business like BP have encouraged the government to turn a blind eye to bending the rules. Sure, we need domestic oil sources...I get it and I'm not totally against it. But there is a process that needs to be adhered to to get the permits to build things like oil rigs. And that process should be followed correctly. Shortcuts and exemptions should be examined more carefully. Yes, we need business and there will be environmental impacts for the sake of progress in the US. Even I can admit and accept that. But let's do it right. If there was a way to avoid this massive "spill," then those steps should have been taken. Is it better to put down the capital for safety and double shut-off precautions during the building process, or is it better to pay upwards of $8 billion to clean up this calamity...not to mention possibly affect hundreds of beaches, preserves, wildlife species, marine species, and human jobs?? I wonder how BP would answer that question now?

So I'll give you an update of some of what is being affected by the spill so far:
  1. Brown Pelicans and their hatchlings as well as many other birds in bird colonies and shorelines
  2. Beaches and shorelines from Louisiana all the way to Miami!
  3. Wildlife within the loop current
  4. Oil-dispersing chemicals used to clean up/disperse the massive oil spill may endanger marine creatures
  5. President Obama has put a moratorium on offshore drilling expansion
  6. Desperate times for fisherman and sea turtle deaths
For more info check out this link for a straight forward Q&A about the disaster.

Also, take a look at the NOAA website for up-to-date information about the oil spill plume and efforts taking place to control the damage. I'd like to thank my friend Mark for all of his hard work flying NOAA aircraft to take photographs and gather data from the spill. I know you're not sleeping much right now, but it's good to know that people like you are out there assessing the issue. Be careful!

Now it's our turn. I'm trying to figure out the best way that I can help right now too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to Post a Comment

Hello folks! It has come to my attention that some of you would like to post comments but can't quite figure out how to do so. Let me give you a quick and hopefully painless tutorial. If you read a particularly exciting post and you can't wait to comment, scroll to the bottom of the post, where you will see something that looks like this:

When you see that, click on the "0 comments" link (hopefully the number won't always say 0...that is if you start posting comments!!). Once you do so, you'll see a screen that shows this box on the right hand side:

Simply type your comment into the box at the top. Then choose an identity. If you are already logged into a google account (because is a google product), you can sign your comment with your google account info.

Most of you will probably want to simply click on the "anonymous" button and then click publish your comment (or you can preview it first if you want). This way, you can post comments without signing into anything. Just remember, that if you click the Anonymous button, I probably will have no idea who the comment is actually from. I'm cool with that. I like a little mystery every now and again. Secret admirer or secret spy style. But if you want me to know who you are (which makes me pretty excited! I like knowing that people I know or people I hope to eventually know are saying hello and giving me feedback), then put your name at the bottom of the comment, even if you click the Anonymous button. Pretend like it's an email, but that I can't see or recognize your email address.

Much love everyone! Thanks for checking in on me from time to time. I'm so excited that you read this!