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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.

My Revised Scientific Method: it’s not just for scientists anymore

1 Aug

“Our species can only survive if we have obstacles to overcome… without them to strengthen us, we will weaken and die.”
(Metamorphosis)  James T. Kirk, USS Enterprise Captain, Star Trek (the original!)

Ask any drama queen (or king):  creating challenges is fun.    Politicians/economists/scientists jockey for position on viable solutions to

Time to "phaser-out" problems!  http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Starfleet_insignia

Time to “phaser-out” problems! http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Starfleet_insignia

industrialization’s created problems.  From the mortgage debacle/financial crash, climate change, obesity, cancer, hate-crimes, and illiteracy, obstacles are as plentiful as the stars.

The real obstacles which fully capture our attention are individual and personal:   from getting out of bed and making it through the day, connecting with teens and silently feuding partners, finding a partner, finding a job, paying for groceries, dealing with a difficult boss or mother, deciding which brand of toothpaste is best or who to vote for on American Idol – the list goes on.    We can’t deal with the big obstacles until our real ones – the personal ones – weighing us down are shrugged off .

Thing is, solving these small problems are as difficult as the big ones.  And that saying?  “Don’t sweat the small stuff.  It’s all small stuff”.  Much easier said than done.

I say:  The scientific method:  it’s not just for scientists anymore.

photo-85

Yup, that method we re-learned in every science class is one we use daily for real challenges – kinda.   Though there’s likely to be more madness than reason to our method.

If you’re about to say “yes, but…”, give your knee-jerk response a rest.   Scientific experimentation is all about DISproving, making scientists the original “dis-sers”.

As a reminder “The Method’s ” steps: Identify what’s bothering you (problem), form a reason why (hypothesis), figure out what to change and action to take  (experiment),  see if it works (observation), declare victory or try again (conclude or start over).  We do that all the time, right?  Yet….

Society teaches (for the most part) there is a right answer – in the back of the book, like in science class:  

By the time you reach age ‘x’, you should have achieved ‘y’.

The media bombards with what accomplishments are needed to get a good life grade.  The answers are wrapped up in the “American Dream”!  My hypothesis: solving for that “right” answer keeps us awake and without dreams.

I prefer: “The good thing about the American Dream is you get a new one very night” (Michael, “The Office).

Today’s the perfect day to create a new American dream using a revised scientific method?    Solve for the right ‘y’ (and why).

Instead of the problem:  ‘How do I get what I’m supposed to have?’

And the hypothesis: ‘I am doing ‘a’ or ‘b’ wrong.’

Reframe the problem to:

‘What is right for ME?’

plos blogs diverse perspectives on science and medicine http://blogsplos-orgblog20110506the\secretofexperimentaldesign.jpg

plos blogs diverse perspectives on science and medicine http://blogsplos-orgblog20110506the\secretofexperimentaldesign.jpg

Here are 5 (revised) steps based on my personal problem-solving experiments.   No goggles or safety equipment needed.

  1. Listen to your body to identify the problem:  the body never lies.  Does your back tighten when it comes time to go to work?  Do your fists clench when talk turns to money?  There’s a problem when aches and pains appear at the thought or mention or appearance of a defined “obstacle”.  Do you dive into a super-sized bag of chips before a family event or when you have a deadline approaching?  Pay attention!  Start by recording when you feel that “tinge”.  For example, keep a food journal to keep track of overriding emotions causing you to devour the contents of your refrigerator.
  2. Look inside to uncover your hypothesis, the source of the problem.  Identify your values and how well those values are met  http://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/values-activity/.  For example if you inhale a pint of ice cream every time a credit card bill arrives, identify which value is NOT being met as in:  My finances are stressing me out because I don’t feel independent (value), causing me to overeat.
  3. Make a plan to take action.  Action is the experimental heart and focuses on how to meet the value (independence) not the ice cream inhalation.  Experimental (financial) plans may include contacting a debt or financial coach, setting up a saving/payment plan while developing a mantra when your fingers are at the cyberspace checkout button such as:  “this (item) will whittle away my independence which makes me unhappy”.  Create several steps to take to get your value met and use them for at least 21 days to create a new habit.
  4. Take stock of your situation.  Maintaining independence through debt-free finances is fairly easy to assess when a bill arrives:  can you breathe?  Does the thought of the balance throw your internal equilibrium off-balance by sending you to the kitchen or elsewhere?
  5. And repeat.  If your symptoms continue – try a new plan of action and ask for help with problem-solving.  If your experiment was successful, bravo.  Now it’s time to assess other body reactions to unmet values and identify what actions will remove obstacles and calm your body.

How will tapping into your inner scientist help you?  Which step can you apply to your daily obstacles to uncover a winning solution?

Exploring our own nature as humans is a good time to shelve our human nature fears, especially the fear of failure.   Remember, many of the best solutions are found by mistake after doing “the wrong thing”.   Successful experimentation is all about failure, learning from mistakes and moving forward one step even if you’ve gone backwards two (steps).   Personally, I embody the scientific notion that taking a risk and failure is an experimental “win”.   Just go boldly where your values tell you to go!

  Enjoy the journey and keep a data log!

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)

Awakening from Winter’s Fallow

6 Mar

 

It happens every year.  Days warm, skies lighten, promising winter’s end, taunting us to remember bursts of color awakening as each day expands, exhaling a few more minutes of sunshine.

Nature is stirring from winter’s fallow, about to transform spindly fragile limbs into pillars of ‘the community’, hosting playful squirrels and hungry bugs.  Like so many miracles, we just can’t see it yet.

We need a reminder that grass needs to rest in Brooklyn's Prospect Park

We need a reminder that grass needs to rest in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park

A tree's naked identity without hiding behind her springtime green finery!

A tree’s naked identity without hiding behind her springtime green finery!

I pass trees exposed.  I call it their ‘naked identity’ or who they are without any accoutrements or embellishments.  To my naked eye, they’re still caught in the ‘dead of winter’:  which is nothing about death.

  It’s my reminder for these next few weeks: nothing is what it seems.

Is there a who hiding/hanging in this tree?  It's true, you just never know....

Is there a who hiding/hanging in this tree? It’s true, you just never know….

Nature’s tall warriors, trees, deserve fallow or recovery time.  Imagine what a grand – but exhausting – time they have all spring and summer, courting pollinators, hosting scavengers, nesting predators and protecting prey while offering shade and a respite to the sun-weary.

Most notably, effortlessly and symbiotically, they alchemize oxygen out of our exhaustive carbon-dioxide.

Recovery time is a gift.  Nature as introvert draws strength from within:  it’s taking off make-up and burrowing in sweats after a period of intense socializing.  Down time is about self-care, and regenerating resources to do it all again with gusto.

Trees stay rooted no matter what.  It's a gift of survival and one i'd like to master!

Trees stay rooted no matter what. It’s a gift of survival and one i’d like to master!

Unlike a text, nature is doesn’t appear or change instantaneously.   Cells don’t update at fios speed.  Creating something new and life affirming takes time to process, plan, and put it all together.

This hibernation time for trees is one of gentle activity, incubating new life, waiting to receive the message that it’s ‘show time’ again.  Because spring can’t do it alone – those blooms about to burst, are not a solo act.  It’s about teamwork.  Preparations begin with the decomposition crews ‘hired’ in the fall to sort out last year’s bounty.

Nature is an ingenious economy, recycling and reusing discarded material with full employment:    Everyone’s got a role, a niche, a job.  

Even the Bryant Park Carousel takes a rest!

Even the Bryant Park Carousel takes a rest!

Of course it’s all about the timing.  Spring is a ‘just-in-time’ new beginning promising:

  • The past is no predictor of present/future success,
  • The present is a sign of strength and resilience,
  • Imperfection is not failure.

And that dark, meaningless void beneath the surface is opportunity.

One of the many reasons I love spring…

Back to trees and their nakedness.  We all have – no we all NEED – times of fallow, when we feel we’ve exhausted our value, energy, strength, and ability to contribute.  Sometimes we need to just be while  flaunting our naked (true) identity.  Just be sure to dress before you leave the house!

There’s great value in rest.  And doesn’t all of livingkind need that?

How do you regenerate and build up strength?

A sign of the miracles to come:  a musician warming up to spring

A sign of the miracles to come: a musician warming up to spring

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!

From Science to Self

4 Sep

How’s your experimental procedure these days?

Which side of the test tube are you on in your current experiment?

I’ve always thought of coming up with new ideas like cooking:  messy, tasty meals are best, and recipes are optional.

It may have started with a right-brained implementation of the scientific

Amazing how it is probably easier to hold the brain than have a handle on the ideas and thoughts (the brain) holds.

method, or, maybe it was my left brain making sense of a management or communication mystery.  Regardless, my brain’s natural urge to create balance uncovered Human/Nature Concepts or how human behavior mimics the laws of science and nature.

Admittedly, this isn’t rocket science – but more metaphorical science.  After all, there is a reason why so many metaphors about human behavior refer to science and nature.

And what is more important to us than understanding our own behavior?  Even though mastering ‘ourselves’ seems as mysterious as E=mc2.  By the

From Berlin’s 2006 Walk of Ideas. The equation that captures the secret to change – or at least in Human/Nature terms

way, I’ll discuss later – not so difficult to understand -really.

To thrive, we need to understand ourselves.

To survive, we must understand and live within the laws of nature.  To me, it makes sense to learn these ‘needs’ together.

Understanding both may be hard, but learning about them doesn’t need to be a ‘hard’ science.

Shaking out the science and Mother Nature’s laws along with the life basics Daniel Goleman coined as emotional intelligence or EQ, I’ll explore:

Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence brilliantly captures all of those life skills needed for success – skills that separate the leaders from the wannabees. Perhaps Human/Nature will spark a new type of scientific intelligence, one we need to co-exist with the planet (and ourselves).

  • Finances and the Economy
  • Conflict
  • Inheritance
  • Guest Etiquette
  • The Chemistry of Creativity
  • Seeds
  • Balance and Equilibrium
  • Career advice
  • Preparing for the future
  • Teamwork
  • Sleep
  • Naked Identity
  • And more!

Starting September 24th, I’ll be posting on Mondays.

Challenge me:  let me know if you have a thought or question you want explored from either end of the spectrum!