Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Upcycling climbing rope

Have you heard of upcycling? It's the process of turning waste materials into something of better quality. Basically, instead of throwing away or putting something into the recycling bin, upcycling is a fancy word for reusing something that is otherwise useless. Do you do this?

The Englishman* is a climber and even though I got into climbing before him, he really got me to enjoy the sport and push myself to get better. Recently, he decided that for safety reasons, it is high time to buy some new climbing ropes. Great! But what do we do with the old ones? He's got over 10 years of blood, sweat, mud, rock and a bit of groaning soaked into these ropes. The memories are too precious to let go of. The ropes are actually still in great condition, they just are not deemed safe enough to hold a falling climber anymore. Here's what we decided to do with at least one of them:

The instructions for making this rug are super simple with the illustrations shown by Animated Knots by Grog. And I love that this still captures the essence of climbing (and it reminds me of knots in sailing too!!). It's the perfect doormat!

If you want to find more fun things that you can upcycle check out UpcycleThat, this upcycling pinterest board, and this from TwistedSifter. Do you have any other ideas?

*The Englishman - I'm trying out nicknames for my wonderful boyfriend. But for privacy purposes, I don't want to share his name online. After a terrible stalking incident a couple years ago, I am much more protective of my personal information and that of those around me. I hope you can all respect that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Naked mole rats do not get cancer!

Naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber) has suddenly become very interesting! Mole rats bodies contain a substance called Hyaluronan, which acts as a lubricant for soft tissues. Humans apparently also have this polysaccharide, but it is composed differently and present in the human body in much smaller concentrations. Doctors already use human Hyaluronan for arthritis, chronic knee problems, and eye surgery. The most exciting new discovery is that naked mole rats do not seem to get cancer and Hyaluronan is credited with preventing it! Wouldn't it be great if we could find out a way to prevent or treat cancer with this substance? (but please don't harvest naked mole rats to do it!)

Here are some quick facts about mole rats:

The naked mole rat is found in arid areas of East Africa. They live in colonies with complex family structures.
Size relative to a tea cup:
Illustration: Mole rat compared with tea cup
Here is more information about naked mole rats.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane...spewing carbon

Have you ever been given the option to pay the carbon offset for your flight? Have you ever chosen to pay it? I am on my way to the airport now for a flight to the US to visit my wonderful family. I wasn't given the option when booking through United Airlines, but I wonder if I would have paid it even if I was. Whenever I fly, the tiny environmental activist on my left shoulder starts wagging his finger at me and lecturing on the huge amounts of carbon emissions I am adding to the environment just because I have chosen to live so far from my immediate family. But then, the tiny underpaid accountant sitting on my right shoulder pulls out his calculator and tells me that my finances simply won't allow it. I defer to my seeping bank account.