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Slippery slope thoughts: my neck, mitosis, and climate change

11 Apr

Oops this was published too quickly…

I woke up this morning thinking about my neck.

Specifically, as you might imagine, wrinkles.  Those horizontal lines which shout and share my age.  A seemingly  inauspicious way to begin a day, right?  That same day which only ‘ages’ from dawn till dusk, yet is the same ‘age’ from year to year.  The birth of the new (calendar) year spawns a growth spurt resulting in longer days until the summer solstice, when as if exhausted by the hullabaloo of summer’s start, begins a steady decline to wizened daylight until after the winter’s solstice and the whole cycle starts again.

My neck, as luck would (not) have it, does not follow this same rule of nature.

The decline and rebirth of the day (and year) has an external cause:  the earth’s rotation and tilt around the sun.  But my aging neck is internal…..

The visible signs of aging across living organisms isn’t equal.  Talk about ringing in a new year:  no species ages like trees, growing taller, more majestic and more productive with each passing year.   Trees’ years may be imagined by their height, yet they have to die and be cut open to count  the rings marking their lives.  I know trees are vital to keeping me vibrant – even more than my skin care regiment – but it’s still not fair.  It’s certainly a slight from nature that trees alone not only increase oxygen output as they age – and are more valuable for their beauty.

Spite:  is this the reason humankind is out to kill all the trees on the planet?  Because they age effortlessly and gracefully and the cosmetic companies (and climate change deniers) don’t want a reminder they are not keeping up?  No, that sounds too ridiculous even for this early in the morning.

 

listverse.com Ah, talk about a species who ages well!

listverse.com
Ah, talk about a species who ages well!

I sometimes think the strides in anti-aging treatments far exceed those in alternative energy sources and cancer cures.

Nora Ephron's spirit was as solid as a redwood and she still felt bad about her neck….

Nora Ephron’s spirit was as solid as a redwood and she still felt bad about her neck….

 

As reason pulls me from mirror to computer, I remind myself aging is simple science.  It’s mitosis or mitotic imbalance or epidermal (cell) retirement.  I possess as many names for mitotic  decline as anti-aging oils in my bathroom.

But it’s not just that my skin cells up and die – it’s that there are no new ones to take their place.  It’s the imbalance of out with the old, but no new ones to plump back in their face – I mean place.

Simple science is all about equilibrium.   If new cells don’t replace old cells than aging occurs.  Matter cannot be created nor destroyed has nothing to do with skin cells – we’re talking biology not physics here.

Our aging all about the balance of new cells replacing old cells due to mitosis.

Simple science is the reason for trees regal aging:  the oxygen/carbon di-oxide cycle or balance of trees taking our carbon dioxide waste and exhaling out oxygen.  The same oxygen we need for vitality and life is because of the trees that take in our exhaust carbon dioxide.

Our faces mirror the need for balance everywhere in our lives.  Economically, if more money goes out of our wallets than goes in, we experience a financial ‘death’ = debt.  If we take more than we give to friends there is relationship death.  If we eat more calories than we burn, our skinny jeans are buried in the donation bin.

Life is all about balance and getting what we need.  Trees remind us our age on the inside is (and can be) projected out.  Regardless of age, we can still bloom and give life.

Of course we need trees for more than reminders about graceful aging.

 

The oxygen/carbon-dioxide cycle is a normal cycle (like mitosis).  Destroying the planet’s forests  unnaturally destroys this cycle.  Cutting down trees is aging the planet (aka climate change) and plaguing our health.   But this we can do something about.  Really.  Restoring this balance is the simplest thing we can do to combat global warming.

Personally, I can live with wrinkles….  Without oxygen, not so much….

Earth day is weeks away.  Let’s celebrate by planting trees.

Do you care what gets chopped? Hair or trees….

4 Dec

‘Terrorists Probably Knew About My Haircut’: Jennifer Lawrence Admits Short Crop Making Headlines Was One Of Most Surreal Moments Of Her Year

Hunger Games star chopped off her locks…

I laughed yesterday when I saw a sign asking for people’s opinions about Jennifer Lawrence’s haircut (and no, I didn’t catch the twitter address….)

Now I think Lawrence is a great actress.  Yet….

How is it that her haircut occupies so much interest and energy, when cutting carbon dioxide emissions or the cutting of forests (even the rainforest) attracts so little?

www.hikingartist.com  How brilliant is this?  Check it out!

www.hikingartist.com How brilliant is this? Check it out!

Actresses provide entertainment – trees provide life.  Trees provide oxygen.  Trees provide the resources to win (real life) hunger games.

Chopping trees down around the globe has created bizarre weather patterns – draught – and hunger.  But it’s not a game and it’s not a movie even though we see the results on TV.

catching fire

And btw, Catching Fire is really wonderful.  So get entertained, then contact one of these organizations to plant a tree in someone’s name (a gift that keeps on giving!).

www.jnf.org/support/tree-planting-center

www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com/tree

www.growforests.org

www.americanforests.org

www.treesforthefuture.org

www.nwf.org/trees-for-wildlife/about/tree-bank-information.aspx

What do you care about?

Read more at http://www.entertainmentwise.com/style/133262/1/Terrorists-Probably-Knew-About-My-Haircut-Jennifer-Lawrence-Admits-Short-Crop-Making-Headlines-Was-One-Of-Most-Surreal-Moments-Of-Her-Year#SXVG4vvdziJi8Es4.99

Ecotourism on the Serendipity Trail

16 Oct

It’s one of my odd fears:  ringing the doorbell, bottle of wine in hand, only to find I’ve shown up on the wrong day.

Last Wednesday was one of those days.  Only I wasn’t going to a party, rather the Science Cafe at the American Museum of Natural History.  It’s the  Museum’s brilliant ploy to convert the curious and wannabe’s into card-carrying nerds.

It was a perfect fall day, comfortably cool as my walk through Central Park accelerated to the distant strumming of guitars.  Turns out it was John Lennon’s birthday and Strawberry Fields was playing host to a rocking jam session of musicians and a swaying crowd of back-up singers.

strawberry fields

I’m still singing ‘Nothings gonna change my world…’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN9n1bAahg4

This was one of those perfect NYC moments of peace,  joy, and connection.  Even the undercover cop/parks department garbage picker I overheard talking to his command had nothing to report.

Entering the Museum for this after-hours event was a whole other matter.  Like solving the Rubik’s Cube, it took rounding the grounds a few times before finding an open door and receptive guard.   Following an arrow landed me in a closed exhibit filled with 3 foot hominids.  It was a bit freaky.  Lost, I was easy prey and hoped the Neanderthal’s in their dinosaur bone hut didn’t come alive like in the movie  ‘Night at the Museum’.

Pointed in the right direction by the now laughing guard, I was still lost – kind of.  Entering a half-filled lecture room with name tag wearing young people  was not the buzzy wine/beer-swilling space I normally associate with the Science Cafe.    But safe from Neanderthals, I slunk into a comfy seat to play scientist and observe.mack-lipkin-man-and-nature-series-panel-discussion-2013_large

They say, you always end up where you are supposed to be.  I had ‘crashed’ a Conservation Conference lecture on research and action led by four brilliant panelists.

We regular folk don’t always think conservation amidst environmental debates.  Anti-frackers seek to shatter beliefs that drilling is the best way to secure future energy sources (an on-going NY ‘action’) – but not necessarily about using less.  Meanwhile many of us are just overwhelmed by the effects of climate change and global natural disasters from raging forest fires to never-ending draughts to tornadoes twirling in unexpected places to devastating hurricanes like Sandy having the audacity to slam into NYC.  Victims are left shaken and outraged over the result of climate unrest.  At least till it’s all over.

They say: when climate conditions gets tough, the tough travel as ecotourists.   Here’s my packing tip to include along with hiking boots and organic snacks (I greatly modified – but hopefully not too much) from Stanford’s Rodolfo Dirzo when asked about ecotourism:

  • It’s a great thing:  indigenous people make a living while maintaining their environmental culture – it’s an ecological win-win!
  • And yet… young people employed as van drivers, wait staff, guides, etc. in the hospitality ecosystem are trading in their knowledge about the environmental ecosystem for customer service skills.

They no longer need to know  how to care for/understand/support the flora and fauna tourists pay to see.  Which may not be bad – until the realization hits: who will know when a species is threatened – and when an ecosystem or species is at risk, how to nurture it back to health?

And who can blame these new drivers and front desk clerks?  Don’t we all follow the money trail?

Costa Rica, according to Wikipedia had 2.2 million visitors in 2011!  Imagine the money and ruts that trail leaves.  Imagine the impact even if visitors live the mantra:

“Take Nothing but Pictures, Leave Nothing but Footprints and Waste Nothing but Time”

 Ecotourism saves threatened environments and local knowledge, so what’s the answer?

Personally I think it comes back to education and making it as sexy to know about the ecosystem as to know how to drive a van.  Imagine if every adventure traveler swooned over that same van driver sharing her knowledge about the local flora and fauna along with the local watering holes.  And she shared how a traveler’s lifestyle impacts the local natural wonders with the same verve as recommending the best dinner spot.

It seems it’s all about following the money trail crafted by hiking-boot-gortex-wearing ecotourists.  If these same tourists want flora-fauna ecosystem knowledge, the locals will learn.    Bottom line is: with preservation of land and learning we can get what we all want:  to travel forever uncovering the secrets of the serendipity trail.

Optimistic and naive, maybe.  But what do you think are other options?

To read more about human impact on climate change:  http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Population-growth-increases-climate-fear-4781833.php 

Flash to Fallow: Mother Nature’s 5 Financial Lessons

4 Oct

This post originally appeared on blogher’s ‘Diary of a Single Professional Woman’

Nature is rich – in resources – just like I want to be.

I often say ‘Everything I need to know about the economy and life I learned from Mother Nature’.   As fall sends nature’s flash into fallow (or dormancy), it’s the perfect time to learn from her (save, spend, grow) sustainability plan.   After all, she’s been around a long time – so what does she know that we don’t?  And more importantly what can we learn so we spring open along with the crocuses come April?   Here’s my simplistic, and metaphoric thoughts on ‘environmental economics’ to kick around along with the leaves.

seedling

Fall may feel like an end rather than a start – look out the window and nature looks like it is dying.  Ha!  Mother Nature is transitioning from her extroverted spring/summer flash to a well-deserved introverted fall/winter recovery time.  Her withdrawal of energy allows time to reflect, rejuvenate, and save for spring’s big bloom roll-out.

Shorter days likely darken our mood.  Especially as color leaves our external environment.   Green, in particular colors our thoughts – and the U.S. dollar or greenback, that universal currency.  Simply:

Lush, rich, life = Green

Green = Money

Green = Nature

Nature = Resources

Resources = Money

Money = Nature

Nature = Resources = Life

Yet, when it comes to linking the economy with the environment, it seems we are colorblind, too often living in the red.  I think we need to ask: which resources are needed for life?

For a brief period of time, I thought it was a ‘red handbag’.  As you’ve read,  it was a temporary want.  Sure, I love ‘stuff’ that makes my apartment home.  But honestly, I don’t need it – I just want it.   The only resources any of us really need for life are oxygen, water, and food.  Resources only nature can provide contrary to food package’ ingredient listings.

I say our challenge is working with Mother Nature for our needs while satisfying our human nature with our wants.

It’s asking:  What Would Mother Nature Do (WWMND) for economic success?   She’d say begin with her 5 steps:

1.  Balance:    Mother Nature has obviously spent plenty of time on a playground seesaw.  She understands the need to maintain balance even while going up and down.   She uses what she has – while saving a little for the future.    Mother Nature foregoes debt, once her bottom line turns from green to red, she catapults into endangerment/extinction.

Lesson:   We may become morally, emotionally, financially bankrupt overusing resources, causing our internal peace (balance) to become extinct.  Live under your means to keep your personal seesaw going.   Debt drives your energy, emotions, finances and goodwill into the red.  And remember: There is no plastic – no credit cards – found in nature.

Maintaining balance, like on a see-saw can seem like child's play.
Maintaining balance, like on a see-saw can seem like child’s play.

2.  Save:   Mother Nature saves everything including those piles of leaves in your yard.   This is not hoarding.  She reduces those dead leaves/blooms by recycling (decomposers de-clutter causing decaying leaves to smell like a frat house bathroom on a Sunday morning) and reusing (notice those leaves are gone by spring – broken up and back into the soil like using old clothes to make a quilt).  All this saving leads to new blooms – and a reminder that the future is no predictor of the past.

Lesson:  use what you have to grow your future – like with an IRA.    And don’t bother raking those leaves in your yard!

3.  Spew seeds:  Seeds are nature’s C.D.’s (certificates of deposit), little packets of possibility to ensure future growth.   They even sound similar!   Seeds, like C.D.’s only open at the right time, in the right place, and the right conditions – and they are supported by all those unused seeds and leaves that ‘die’.  There are even special seeds that open during a forest fire to ensure that tree species survival.  Kinda like emergency C.D.’s/funds.  

Lesson:  save for emergencies as well as the future – though the stock market provides better returns than C.D.’s.

Nobody would touch this funky burr-covered seed till it was already  open (like all CD's should be!)
Nobody would touch this funky burr-covered seed till it was already open (like all CD’s should be!)

4.  Diversification: The healthiest forest and gardens are filled with diverse trees that play host to lots of different bugs, and are called home by lots of birds.   Having only one species like Dutch Elm (on decorative paths) found one ‘sick’ tree caused them all to die.

Lesson:  Diversification of your holdings maintains balance and growth so even if your ‘Dutch Elm’-like stock tanks/dies, other stock species survive.

5.  Be sustainable:  Mother Nature thrives because everything she has is used and supports everything else, even though it may seem to be in conflict.

Lesson:  Invest in things that feed your future.  Material things that overwhelm you and end up in landfills throw you off-balance and leave nothing to decompose – unlike the leaves left in your yard that will decompose to nurture spewed seeds.  Experiential investments always leave you with seeds or kernels of thought and growth.

Part of the Coney Island boardwalk by the NY Aquarium
Part of the Coney Island boardwalk by the NY Aquarium

 Mother Nature’s 5 lessons keep you blooming in all seasons:

  • This holiday season, stay green and out of the red by matching  spending with your values (http://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/values-activity/) and keep you growing.
  • Make every day is your special Valentine’s Day by making black the new red.  Love yourself by loving your finances and living under your means to live fully in the future.

And really, just one more thing to think about:  We may say money is the root of all evil, and we should add, resources are the cause for conflicts personally and globally...

Meanwhile, what steps will you take to support your spring blooms?

Going up! Running express from 350 ppm to 400 ppm: Is it worth the risk?

8 Jul

You’re running late.  Standing at the elevator, you push the button what feels like a bazillion times, fully aware that it won’t make it come any faster.  The familiar ping of the arriving car brings a wave of relief – until the doors open.  The elevator is packed tighter than  proverbial sardines in a can.  There’s a sliver of light between sweaty bodies and bulky briefcases –  just enough inches for you.

basia961-webd-pl.

basia961-webd-pl.

Fitting 12 oz. in an 8 oz. glass, there’s need for those compression storage bags to fit you all in comfortably.  Arranging your body in an uncomfortable angle, you mumble apologies and giggle, your eyes avoiding others.  Your bodies are  superimposed in intimate configurations.  For distraction, you fixate on the weight limit warning, boldly posted in the upper right hand corner.  Involuntarily your eyes, the only part of your body able to move, dart around the two square foot space, mentally adding up real vs. driver license weights.  Horror mixes with fear: realistically, you should all be crashing to your deaths right about now.

So when the door opens do you run out screaming for safety?  Or do you inhale and sidle up even closer to those nameless weighted bodies from the 7th floor to make room for the next dangerous addition to your safety violating can?  After all, this is a daily occurrence.  Besides, how often do overweight elevators crash at warp speed to a deadly destination for its inhabitants?  Your worries dissipate with thoughts of Chicken Little-like elevator inspectors.

Arriving safely at your destination, a bit late, a lot rumpled, you mentally run through all the warnings that never come to pass:  the 2012 Mayan calendar,  the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, the hazards of eggs or is it coffee this week?

Then there’s those environmentalists crying ‘wolf’, or rather:  global warming! global warning!  Is there any real difference between an elevator holding too much weight and the atmosphere holding too much carbon dioxide?

The CO2 limit in the right hand corner of the sky reads 350 parts per million (ppm).  That’s the safe amount of carbon dioxide in the mix of ‘air’ to allow life to continue as we know it.  But climate scientists lecture our ‘weight’  is now at a rip-roaring 400 ppm.

That air you’re breathing is CO2 obese.  Can we blame CO2 for personal obesity too?

400 ppm – we should be grabbing our chests and grasping for oxygen.  If the scientists are more accurate in their predictions than elevator inspections.  Which clearly they are not.  Because we are still here, sweltering in triple digit temps, disaster weary after hurricanes and tornadoes rip through formerly safe havens.

Global Warning!

Yet we can each make the choice to step off an overweight elevator.  When it comes to a safe gas mix in the air we breathe, there is no escape.  Though we escape from record-breaking heat in air-conditioned shelters, in air-conditioned cars.  AC that inches up the CO2 reading further.

It’s about risk.  We can always take the stairs.   In fact taking stairs and walking will reduce obesity.  Using less AC (the smallest of starts) will reduce CO2 levels.  (And wouldn’t it be nice to do away with plastic!)

There is no substitute for oxygen and healthy breathing air.  No substitute for balance in the CO2 cycle.  Not unless we want our species to go crashing down.

We might be safe for now.  Are you willing to risk your kids or grandkids future?

Speak up for alternative energy.  Recycle.  Support environmental groups.  The earth has taken care of us, now it’s time for us to take care of her.

350.org

Sierra Club

World Wildlife Fund

Heifer International

These are just a few…. share your favorite group and what they do!

Too much of a good thing: 3 things to learn from corn

27 Jun

“Americans are already paying the price of inaction,” he (President Barak Obama on coal power) said.

“Our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all humankind.”

corn

It’s hot.  I mean really hot and I walk around feeling soppy.   I have to admit I’ve never gotten the whole ‘ain’t summer grand’ thing.

Growing up, it didn’t feel as hot as it is now.  We survived with fans – even in  out cars.    Though things always feel different when you’re a kid.

There’s a reason fans were enough back then:  since 1970, the earth’s temp has risen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit.  If you like this hotter world we’re melting into, stick around another 80 years or so.  Global scientists predict the temperature will rise about 11 degrees F – IF we keep burning coal, oil and fracked natural gas.

Of course not every area will suffer equally:  small Pacific islanders won’t suffer – they’ll just no longer exist.

It’s hard to imagine the power of a rising ocean level sweeping away cities, though hurricane Sandy gave us a sneak preview.   Honest now:   have you bought additional rain gear in the last year?   Will building big, big sea walls protect hurricane-challenged areas like NYC?

But it’s really corn I want to talk.  That same treat that reminds us it’s summer in the best possible way:  grilled, boiled, buttered, salted or plain.   Then there’s full planet empty plateseverything I didn’t know (we’ll just stick to corn for now) until I read  Lester Brown’s ‘Staple Crops Vulnerable to Rising Temperatures’ in Heifer’s World Ark this morning.

Remember the saying:  thigh high by the 4th of July as a good sign for corn.  As the world blazes,  rising temps will interfere with our corn growth spurt.

I know it sounds ‘corny’, or should I say there’s more than a kernel of truth in it, but it’s all about sex, or more specifically pollination.

Pollination is the most vulnerable part of corn’s life cycle.  Those silky strands stripped off the cob, sometimes right in the store, are each attached to a single kernel.  Each strand needs a grain of pollen to fall on it, that grain journeying to the kernel for fertilization and our ultimate delight.   Too much heat?  The strands dry out, thwarting all hopes of fertilization.  Hmm, I would never have thought about the similarities of human and corn reproduction.

Then there’s sun stroke/shock:  those high temps that leave me wilted and my hair curly, dehydrates the plants.  Just like we need to drink more water in the heat, so does corn.  (sans plastic bottles)

Unable to hide in the shade, plants curl curl their leaves to reduce sun exposure.  Less sun means less photosynthesis.  Less photosynthesis means less carbon-dioxide absorption – and less oxygen production.

For those who need to keep score: Greenhouse gasses: 1, summer picnic: 0

The sun gives life.  The sun can take away life.  Here are 3 things to learn from corn’s challenge:

1.  It’s all about balance:  or equilibrium, or homeostasis.  Even if like sun we think we need more of something.  Too much work burns us out – get it.  Too much play can leave our brains soppy.  Overspending can thwart hopes of fertilizing retirement, home or a new car.  We can take steps to regain balance in our life (usually).  But we can also take steps to balance adding hot air to the atmosphere.

2.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction:  Mixing biology and physics is enough to get anyone drunk.  If something is good for us, more MUST be better, but like sun and crops, instead of increasing yield, it decreases it.  It’s like thinking a bigger house will add joy, when it can also just add more stress.  Or, how technology makes our life easier – absolutely makes it more complex.  Changing one thing mean something else will too.  Just not in the way you think.

3.  It’s personal: Optimally and often, when good things happen, they spill into all areas of life.  It’s as if there is a cosmic synergy that sparks and connects all our dreams.  Yet I realize each part of us is tethered to the outside world by a vulnerable silky strand.  Each strand needs to be nurtured to fertilize, before yielding a bushel of dreams.  If the right job, love, or opportunity isn’t attracting the right pollinator, there is one variable that isn’t ‘right’?    Sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in the big picture and forget the little details that make that picture come alive.

A field of corn is similar to a networking event.   There needs to be balance (between listening and talking), going to too many  events can be as bad as going to none (burn out), and, it’s all being in the right place at the right time to meet the right ‘pollinator’/organization that will yield results.

Let’s respect the power of nature – and the added power we gift her by our actions!

Enjoy this weekend’s picnics (and corn on the cob!)

10 Characteristics to ensure a Big Bang Life!

21 Jun

Today’s the day to nurture and flaunt your inner scientist!

Do you diligently watch Big Bang Theory reruns?  Sneak into Star Trek conventions in strange cities?

While TV’s Big Bang nerds are cast as socially inept, it’s likely the coolest kids would be envious of their social network.

Like most things in life, it’s not what you know  but how you use it.

Time to rethink scientist’s bad rep.

Chemist from NYC Tech Day (google???)

Chemist from NYC Tech Day (google???)

Believing human behavior mimics the laws of science,  what makes a good scientist?  Is it biology or chemistry?  Alchemy at birth?

Here’s a compilation of the best scientists 10 characteristics.  For fun, insert your name for the word scientist:

1. Curiosity:  good scientists are insatiably curious about life’s ‘every things’.  I imagine their favorite word, like most 2-year old’s is ‘WHY’, marrying curiosity with child-like wonder.  (Hmm, picture the progeny!)  Curiosity can turn any experience into an adventure:  it prompts us to act, to take risks.  Though I wonder:  how will our ability to google everything impact our pursuit of curiosity?

Do we love George because he's a monkey - or because of his mischievious and enviable curiosity?

Do we love George because he’s a monkey – or because of his mischievous and enviable curiosity?

2. Open-minded and free of bias:  Great scientists are objective.  Imagine entering into situations and interactions without prejudice or tight and tiny opinions.  Open-minded scientists suspend judgement about findings until they are sure (and scientists really never are).  Wait – are eggs good or bad for us this week?  That’s one way to look at it.  Suspending judgement, like oil in water, allows scientists to continue observing and gathering data, while continuing their search for the best solution and opportunity.   Staying open-minded would lighten our load vs. carrying judgements and opinions.

3. Keen observer:  Scientists look and listen at information/data.  Never knowing what is most important, everything is considered and noted.  On the simplest level, it’s applying curiosity, watching and listening, for example, to loved ones behavior and actions, without bias.   Improved relationships anyone?

Observing life through a kaleidoscope

Observing life through a kaleidoscope

4. Resourceful:  Scientists look for avenues to explore in unexpected ways.  Have you ever seen some of those projects being funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the Federal Government?   For starters, I’m sure if I was a scientist I could get the NSF to fund my training for developing these characteristics in students!

5. Purposeful:  Scientists (often) believe they can change and improve the world through their research.  We’ll assume it’s not all about money or the plot of a Hollywood sic-fi thriller.  Imagine applying curiosity and resourcefulness to improve the world:  we could be styrofoam free, greenhouse gases would be relegated back to greenhouses, farmers applying the art of fallow could grow pesticide-free crops, and well-written sitcoms would edge out reality TV.  Perhaps we could  achieve world peace.

6. Good communicator:  While scientists are competitive due to funding and Nobel Prizes, they also need to communicate and share information, especially to us, non-scientists.  How is that doctors can’t explain a procedure or an ailment without an interpreter?  Sadly there are a handful of scientists who make it to the small screen and are deemed understandable:  Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan to name a few.  As I see it, scientific rules and laws simply and clearly mimic our human nature (shameless plug here for all the posts to come on this blog!).  And while it’s a scientist’s challenge:  science is simple at its core.

7. Persistent:  Scientists don’t give up when proving their passion.   Consistently, they can pursue the same hypothesis for many, many, years, following good scientific protocol changing one variable at a time.  Over time they learn through experimentation, slowly building evidence to prove or disprove their hypothesis.  It’s about  following dreams – logically.  Unlike (me), constantly drenched by chasing rainbows (or butterflies?) muddying my purpose.

Ever notice how all the really cool science stuff is for kids?

Ever notice how all the really cool science stuff is for kids?

8. Creative:  Scientists, through observation and open-mindedness come up with new problems and new ways to problem-solve.   Einstein said it best:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Personally I am victim to old biases and protocols clogging my creativity.  Sadly, the great boxed science experiments on store-shelves and in classrooms all have a set protocol and a ‘right answer’.  Creativity uncovers MANY right answers.

9. Critical Thinker:  Of course to get the most bang from experimental buck, scientists know all about logical analysis. What’s most critical, is remaining emotion-free, a challenge to many of us.  This is problem solving blended with creativity and an exacting methodology, while examining the observed.

10. Courage:  Scientists ‘get’ being laughed at for beliefs and hypothesis (even outside of social situations).  Is the world really round?  Imagine holding strongly to a belief and persistently plotting to prove and accomplish your passion?   REAL courage is all about staying open-minded and living without judgement.

Perhaps what I love most about this list is how ubiquitous these characteristics are for any person interested in a full life.  Including every manager, parent, friend, and human being.  I would be a better person by being a ‘better scientist’.  An exploration I can apply purpose and curiosity to!

Sure, scientists may be ‘different’ than you or me, but it’s not what you have – or even who you are:  It’s all about what you do with the qualities you posses!.

WWMND? (What would Mother Nature do?): A fictional conversation begins

5 Jun

What’s real?

As the new normal emerges as packaged austerity and annual 100-year storms,  I’ll let you decide once you’ve ‘listened’ to these somewhat fictional conversations I’ve been writing between somewhat fictional characters: Mother Nature, Humankind, Greenback, and Credit Card.

Here it is:

“Meet me for coffee.”  Mother Nature’s  invitational text sent in frustration was born from

frustration and sadness.  She’d heard too many rumbles of despair, drowned out by the constant drone of cell phone chatter, overwhelmed by music seeping out of ear plugs.

Overheard messages:  “They did it to me; fool me once, shame on them, fool me twice, super-sized shame on them”.

“I didn’t know.  How could I have known? “

“What do you mean my job isn’t there anymore?”

“It’s not MY fault.  They made me do it:  it was the advertising, the celebrities, the catalogues, my friends, my parent”s.

“They knew I’d lose the bet:  you just can’t eat one – or buy just one”.

“Don’t tell us what do – but if you don’t – it will be your fault”.

“It’s their fault.  They came in, gave us jobs, then, spilled their oil.  Lost our jobs.  Ruined our environment.  We want our jobs back.”

And most of all she heard:  “Bamboozled.  We’ve been bamboozled”.

Meanwhile, Mother Nature listens and shakes her head again.  She has watched exploding globalization, make America’s number one export the American Dream.. She’s watched so much melt away.  Literally:   icecaps, savings, and even happiness have seemed to POOF!  evaporate into thin, or rather carbon-dioxide heavy air.

Staring at her text to meet for coffee, she looks for blame.  But where to start?  Is it Greenback’s fault for the greed he ignites in Humankind?  Or is Humankind’s irresponsible and insatiable hunger for Mother Nature’s rich resources to blame?

These bullies are culprits – and potential saviors.  Much as Mother Nature hates the idea, she knows she has to practice friendship with her enemies, or she will be the planet’s sole inhabitant.

Not that this would necessarily be a bad thing.  After all, she doesn’t need Humankind or anyone else to survive.  Yet, she is an optimist and collaborator.

And meeting for coffee doesn’t sound so bad.  In fact, it sounds pretty good.  And she wants to meet these ‘characters’.

So off she goes to the local java joint.

sustainable mug - party talk for environmentalists

Later….

At the cafe:  Greenback joins Mother Nature in ordering lattes.  Credit Card arrives in time to swipe.

Sipping, Mother Nature shakes her head as she looks around:  “Ha!  People say they’re green as they drown in their mounds of organic clothes, fair trade coffee and ‘save the planet’ coffee mugs.”

“I know what you mean.  I may be called Greenback;, but I’m seeing red these days on too many bottom lines.  I feel like I’m having an existential crisis.  Do I exist or have I been passed over for a shiny piece of plastic?”  Holding his head in his hands, Greenback glances at Credit Card who is snickering  while chomping on a scone.

Has she found an ally so quickly?  Mother Nature looks sympathetically and says, “Yup, now you’re as screwed as I’ve been for decades.”

“But he has me to help.  Together we are invincible thanks to Humankind,” Credit Card adds pointing to Greenback.  “Where IS Humankind?”

Hopes of camaraderie fade, as Mother Nature’s mood changes as quickly as the weather:  “Sure you’re invincible – at MY expense.  Sure your value has multiplied since you’ve devoured all I have to offer, from the depths of my oceans to the tops of my mountains.  Wake up:  you grow, but I’m dying.”

“Humph!”  Greenback chortles, patting Mother Nature condescendingly on the back.  “Quit whining Mommy Dearest.  I’m never down for long.  My comeback is inevitable.  What’s YOUR problem?”

“Actually, it’s YOU.”-

Stay tuned for Humankind’s entrance.  In the meantime:

What do you think a successful relationship between Mother Nature, Humankind, Credit Card, and, Greenback would look like ?

Who is to blame for the mess our world is in?

What do you think will happen when Humankind shows up?

Do you think it’s possible for Mother Nature to form a win-win relationship with Humankind, Credit Card, and Greenback?  Why or why not?

Happy Earth Day 2013: Go get hugged!

21 Apr

‘They’ say we need 8 hugs a day to be at our best.

A celebration of earth's bounty: 'Spice and Tease' at NYC's Chelsea Market

A celebration of earth’s bounty: ‘Spice and Tease’ at NYC’s Chelsea Market

‘They’ say each person needs 56 trees’ oxygen to offset her personal production of carbon dioxide.

How many hugs then do trees need – or deserve – for taking care of us each and every day?

Before you read further:  go hug.  Hug a person and/or a tree.

Not aware of Earth Day?  It’s probably because it’s not a Hallmark holiday.  That’s a good thing –  (wasted) paper would exhaust the very resources to celebrate:  trees and water.

But the downside:  it’s not well celebrated – and our survival depends on it.  Literally.

Wikipedia  ‘facts’:  Earth Day (the first in 1970) and  International Mother Earth Day (by the United Nations in 2009) is observed annually on April 22  in support for environmental protection.   Around the planet, people are listening to music, learning about eco-friendly technology, recycling electronics, clothes, bottles and cans, and participating in cleanups.

I’ve done beach clean-ups, including in the Hurricane Sandy devastated Rockaway’s.  One long-time Rockaway resident observed:  ‘lots of people come here to clean up on one day.  Then, nothing.  Nobody comes to clean when the beaches get crowded – and dirtier.’

It’s true of course.

We put a lot of momentum into one day, and then go about our business.

That one day is our consolation, and a commemorative prize.

Aveda's annual water campaign provides awareness and clean drinking water!

Aveda’s annual water campaign provides awareness and clean drinking water!

But I wonder: why do the beaches need to be ‘picked up’ so often?   We’ve picked up cigarette butts, toys, bottles, cans, socks, towels, styrofoam cups, those big plastic cups, straws, and suntan lotion bottles. In April or May. Long before beach season begins.

People must believe it’s okay to bury their garbage along with their heads or feet in the sand….  Or that small stuff, like thousands of cigarette butts won’t make a difference because they are small.

Btw, cigarette butts don’t degrade.

Saturday, I volunteered with Riverkeeper, at NYC’s Hudson River Greenway.  The bright sunny day masked the freezing wind, keeping people moving along the beautiful green space that parallels the High Line and the Hudson River.  This event brought several environmental groups together to share information.

Solar One:  those little black squares are solar panels and the little colored things are spinning around

Solar One: those little black squares are solar panels and the little colored things are spinning around

(Interestingly, I was told, environmental groups compete for attention and funding, often not communicating and sharing thoughts and action.)

These groups do amazing things - not many people because it was FREEZING! Panelists including:  Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper, Grow NYC and Hudson River Greenway

These groups do amazing things – not many people because it was FREEZING! Panelists including: Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper, Grow NYC and Hudson River Greenway

The passing public collected ‘swag‘:  reusable bags from Magnolia Bakery, Aveeno face cream, and pamphlets.  People love free stuff.

Swag (bags from Magnolia Bakery) roadkill?

Swag (bags from Magnolia Bakery) roadkill?

I asked one event participant why Earth Day wasn’t a widely celebrated ‘event’.

‘Exhaustion from being over publicized’

Is this really what we want to hear?jbblogfloprotacohvac.com

Is this really what we want to hear?jbblogfloprotacohvac.com

I wonder if it’s become like the boy calling ‘wolf’:  the environmentalist calling ‘global warming, global devastation’ one time too many.

first-earth-day-1970_1366004188 earthday2013funphotos.com

And we deal best with catastrophes when they strike –  all of us trying to stay afloat between devastating events from super storms to job loss.  Exhausting!

It’s almost understandable that clean air, water, healthy food, the diverse ecosystems that provides these things are exhausting to think about. Much less do anything about it.  I’ve often seen bottles in cans in Whole Foods garbage cans when a recycling bin is steps aways (and yes, I take them out and settle them in their proper receptacle!)

But here’s the most interesting thing:  Earth Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day are days apart.  

Coincidence?  

Maybe.  But these two days are joined in a tight hug.

This WWII poster says it all!

This WWII poster says it all!

Last year I wrote about the Bielski Partisans (movie: Defiance) WWII survival in the forests.

Wars, hate crimes, genocides ultimately are over resources.  Natural resources that come from the Earth.

People are killed over land, water, diamonds. Food.  Not to mention Nike’s.

So my thoughts on this beautiful Earth Day are:  Stand-up!

Hug a tree.  Hug a person.

Fight Genocide – fight for a healthy planet.

You can prevent war- reduce your consumption of ‘stuff’, turn off the water, drive less, recycle.

less is more earth day

Let’s focus on quality – not quantity.  Let’s care enough about ourselves and future generations to leave them a real inheritance.

Stand up by donating time, money, and energy.  Talk about and share these organizations:

Riverkeeper

Grow NYC

Waterkeeper

JNF (starting planting trees in Israel in 1901!)

Sierra Club

US Holocaust Museum

A Meaningful World (anti-Genocide)

Post-Sandy: Doha meets the Biggest (CO2) Loser

28 Nov

A whimsical, wishful thought about human nature and change!

 What could You do with 42 Billion Dollars?

It would be like winning the biggest lottery ever!  You’d never have to worry about a thing.  Why you could live anywhere you wanted safely and securely.  Even if it was on the edge of a cliff – fiscal or otherwise.  You could build the safest support around to stay safely perched.

Unless of course Sandy-esque storms strike and sweep you into the void below.

Of course you could afford to build a new house – anywhere.   On a beach, or, on your own island in the South Pacific.

Unless that island drowns by rising sea levels – or a Sandy-esque surge.

Living on the edge – fiscally or environmentally it’s dangerous!

Climate change will change our sense of security.

I have to mention Sandy since only a month ago NYC was hit by the costliest storm to hit this island.  It will cost NYC $42 Billion to rebuild – well, actually it will cost FEMA that amount.

Global warming is REALLY expensive!

And like the song goes:  if climate change can make it here (NYC) , it can make it anywhere.”

Well, close enough.  Post-Sandy, there was real acknowledgement – by politicians and skeptics alike – of the real and present danger of global warming courtesy of rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

So a month after this devastating storm, acknowledged to be ‘The New Normal’, global climate talks are being held in Doha Qatar.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/28/understanding-the-doha-climate-talks-in-three-charts/  click here for the Washington Post’s sum of the talks past and present.

Global leaders are discussing policies and actions to halt, reverse, and take action about our warming planet and its deleterious effects.

It’s been 15 years since the Kyoto Protocol and the first climate talks.  Talk is just hot air.  Hot air adds to global warming.  And there has been lots of talk over the years.

Industrialization and ‘the good life’ has led to increased carbon dioxide emissions leading to to increased temperatures causing increased melting of the ice caps, and, rising sea levels.

And all of that leads to severe weather patterns like our blistering hot summer and catastrophic hurricanes.

Insult to injury:  melting ice caps are releasing methane (aka as carbon-dioxide), increasing temperatures even more and accelerating the above process.

I somehow assumed this years climate talks would be front page news considering the extreme weather of this past year including draughts and heat, and Sandy.

I somehow assumed people would really care this year.  But assumptions are as dangerous as not believing in climate change.

China is gearing up for action in 2030; the U.S. is poised for 2015.

This means potential for 3 more Sandy-esque storms to hit the Northeast – and we know New Yorker’s won’t stand for that.  I mean, would YOU?

Three more years of sinking islands and drowning polar bears.  Three more years

for carbon-dioxide levels to rise even further.

I continue to wonder why people don’t care and why these climate talks are buried beneath worries of the fiscal cliff.

I think I have the solution to get people interested and involved and to take action:

We need a REALITY SHOW! 

Imagine:  THE BIGGEST carbon-emission LOSER.

People LOVE that show and for good reason.

This would be a chance for all of us to lighten our load since the whole planet is CO2 pudgy.  No, let’s be honest:  CO2 OBESE.

And it’s dangerous and ugly.  People can’t breathe, can’t move.

This revolution needs a better sign! Help me out here!

So here’s how The Biggest carbon-emission Loser would work:

Each week on a televised broadcast:  Nations, represented by Presidents, Ministers, Kings, or Princes would weigh the carbon-dioxide output of their citizens and their actions.

Imagine Obama competing with Angela Merkel’s EU (for starters).

During the intervening weeks, citizens would take action in their countries to reduce CO2 to help their nations win.  Well lose first to win big!

Each and every one of us would have to:

  1. Consume less stuff, energy, gas
  2. Exercise responsible use of water and electricity
  3. Work out ways to support responsible manufacturing and safe energy production

We can do this – we can win! 

And for those of us in the U.S. we can whup some EU butt by putting our good ‘ole Yankee ingenuity to good use.

So what will you do to reduce our CO2 emissions?

Will you get  your community together to reduce and reuse?

Carpool?

Rethink holiday gifts or at least skip the wrapping paper? Re-gift?

Turn off the water?

Let’s start a revolution.

I say let’s take action and participate in the Biggest loser: carbon emission version! Pic: http://savemyblueplanet.blogspot.com/p/photos-showint-effects-of-global.html

We can all be reality TV stars!  Let’s get this on screens around the world!

Share your thoughts!