August 12, 2012

Manufactured landscapes in the modern world

I think the environmental movement has failed in that it has used the stick too much; it’s used the apocalyptic tone too much; it hasn’t sold the positive aspects of being environmentally concerned and trying to pull us out.” (Edward Burtynsky)

This 30-minute video is a fascinating look at manufacturing and the effect urban activity has on our world.  More importantly, it presents the idea that we can have this conversation in a positive, affirming context.  

NO NO don't fall asleep!  I know it sounds like a boring drag of a subject- but I promise, you already like it.  Have you ever been to a "Secret Santa" party?  Aside from the fact that it sounds vaguely lewd, Secret Santa is when everyone brings a generic gift, and everyone leaves with a gift.  Ok, hold that thought.

I do not fit the description of an "environmentalist" or an "environmental activist."  I hate fighting- HATE it.  I can't really imagine myself as an agitator. That said, I am an enthusiast for the benefits of responsible urban renewal/development.  In particular, I am passionate about the necessity for rebuilding historical gathering areas in places like downtown Hattiesburg, MS. 

All of these ideas- and many of our other current concerns and topics of debate- orbit a single thought: sustainable activity.  Without it, we don't evolve.  We devolve.  

When a system is self-sustaining, it operates freely within its own set of available resources.  The sustainable system takes what it needs, with the most minimal impact on the environment that surrounds it.  But most importantly, the sustainable system evolves.  It is designed to succeed, because it gives more than, or an amount that is equal to, what it takes.  

Just like Secret Santa, if ten people come to a party with gifts, and eleven people- or fifteen or 100-are invited to "play the game" of exchanging gifts, the game devolves into failure.  Someone who gave does not receive, because someone who received did not give. Bummer!

By how we choose to live, we are currently having an impact on the planet.  In order to reverse this, we will not only have to balance our own impact, we will have to repair more to make up for those who will take, and not give.  That's a fact.  But no more gloom-and-doom talk about the apocalyptic disaster we are creating. I would like to support change, and in particular those brilliant people who are teaching us, if we are willing to learn, how to work toward taking less, and giving more.  

You may want to check out, a stimulating blog with all kinds of positive sustainable conversation.  

Let's have a discussion about sustainability.  

August 4, 2012

PTSD- Puppy Telly Streaming Day!!


Puppy Break!  Watch puppies here and now!  <<< Click!  

(Join through Facebook page- it's safe.)

Known as Holly's Half Dozen, these Golden Retriever puppies were born June 24, 2012, and from the beginning they have been on 24 hour live cam. Not only are these puppies adorable but they are involved in very important work with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, MD. These pups- five girls and one boy- are being raised and socialized by members of Warrior Canine Connection, who care for and train the dogs as part of their own healing- from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Here's a story from Business Insider-<<< click for more information on military and PTSD programs.  

As programs designed for veterans have begun to address the issues military men and women face, more attention has been paid to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is more common than most of us realize, and effects people who have been bullied, abused, sexually assaulted, or who have lived through a fearful event, like war, catastrophic event, natural disaster or violent crime.

Just tapping into the live stream is a stress-reducer (as if you needed an actual reason to watch puppies do nothing.)  But it's true! 

Puppy Break #2!  Watch puppies here and now!   

PTSD is an anxiety disorder, and can include symptoms like agitation or excitability, dizziness, fainting, headaches and feeling your heart beat in your chest. It usually occurs after someone has experienced a traumatic event, and causes the person to feel stress symptoms that can include panic attacks and flashbacks. Many people are walking around with PTSD symptoms and don't even know it. Unfortunately, after a traumatic event, well-meaning people might encourage a survivor to "shake it off," or to return to "normal" behavior- but while he or she might be functional, they may not be able to experience a full life without some help.
Puppy Break #3!  Watch puppies here and now!   

After that, you may want to check out the symptom list below- or feel inspired to learn more about PTSD, so you can do that here:   PTSD information.  

The most important thing I can say to you is this: if you think you might have PTSD symptoms, talk to a counselor about it. (I did!) If you have ever experienced a violent or traumatic event, you may recognize that you have these symptoms of PTSD, which usually fall into three main categories:

1. "Reliving" the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity

  • Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again 
  • Repeated upsetting memories of the event (could include repeated fear of the event reoccurring)
  • Repeated nightmares/night terrors of the event 
  • Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event or how you felt during the event. 
2. Avoidance
  • Emotional "numbing," or feeling as though you don't enjoy or care about anything 
  • Feeling detached from others, or from yourself 
  • Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma 
  • Having a lack of interest in normal activities 
  • Showing moods less, being "flat" or having physical "feelings" (like feeling tired instead of sad; experience back pain instead of fear)
  • Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event; avoiding situations where you may not have control
  • Feeling like you have no future

3. Arousal

  • Difficulty concentrating, or agitation in stressful situations 
  • Startling easily
  • Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you 
  • Feeling more aware or self-defensive (hyper-vigilance) 
  • Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger or terror
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep 

July 29, 2012

Birthday Report

I attempted to play birthday photo-journalist, to create a day-long report of my birthday activities.  My best-laid plan has ended in a pile of Instagram photos scattered randomly-in triplicate-all over the internet, a whole series of cool activities I forgot to document, and I didn't even OPEN my blog account! 

Apparently, my birthday has been a landslide of awesome that can only be seen with the imagination. YAY! I WIN AT BIRTHDAYS!

7:30- I waked up happy.  In the quiet I popped a can of "whompum" cinnamon rolls, so named because you have to whomp the can on the counter. I do not have to feel guilty about eating preservative-laden instant food when it is my birthday.  

8:15: Soul #2 stirred and emerged from his lair with a energy-less blegh
#2: "What's up mom?" 
Me: "~*~ Me, I'M UP!~*~" (To be fair, it was my birthday.) 
#2: "Ugh." *rolls eyes in hormone-induced disgust*

Well, good morning to you, too, my little ray of sunshine. 

8:30: My husband completes the set, stumbling into the living room like a toddler.  
Who is covered in tattoos and loves to cuddle?  This guy.

They ceremonially produce home-made birthday cards, which makes them extra special.  

We eat the cinnamon rolls. I did not pre-heat the oven, and I baked them in a round bowl.  This method leaves one really doughy one in the middle, which I have automatic dibs on, because it is my birthday.

Exhausted from the first 40 minutes of hectic birthday mania, I decided that I might not make it through the rest of the day without a half coffee/half Nestle-quick chocolate milk to sip on and a lazy rest.

Roxie immediately cleared her schedule, and offered her support.  She's a giver.

My friend Heidi texted me, and I asked her to join us at 206 Front St. for their very excellent brunch.  Not only did she accept, she showed up cute as a button, with red high heels and twirly hair and everything.  Heidi gave me a gorgeous card with one of her paintings on it, and a cute pin, which I forgot to snap a picture of because I was so excited and happy.   
Heidi has the most adorable New Orleans accent.  "It's like we'h on a double date!"

Photo: :)
I handed Sohbi my phone, and he took this.  His pictures of us are always good; either he is a gifted photographer, or we are most photogenic when we are looking at him. 

It was around this time that someone handed me steak and eggs, and my photojournalism momentum faded. People like Mark Mann and Scott Street and Meagan May started showing up, along with other people who probably don't have alliterated names, but I didn't know their names.  Everyone started cross-talking.  Heidi and Tate split 2-for-1 Bloody Marys, which gave me a little contact buzz even though I only had soft drinks. I never have understood that. Must be contagious energy. 

"Green Fire" was being shown on campus at USM.  We had been lounging at 206 for what felt like hours when we realized that we only had ten minutes to get there.  Heidi had to go home ("Oh," she said, "I cay-ant, I got so much paintin' to do!") and we said of course and we know how that is, and then we said goodbyes and dashed off to campus.    

"Green Fire" is the biographical documentary of Aldo Leopold's life.  He wrote "A Sand County Almanac" and is considered the first nature ecologist, the father of "land ethics."  True community-based economic development is based on the principles of natural ecology, which is what Tate does.  Oddly, neither of us knew that when I decided to study development.  Anyway, that's a story for another day. 

After the movie we went to the twisty/tasty place that I never can remember the name, and ate make-your-own yogurt sundaes while we worked our way back home.  

Photo: :)
took a picture of the cute little brooch Heidi gave me- 
a paper revolver that fits in the palm of your hand. 

There was lots of other cool stuff that happened today, but in spite of myself, I guess I was just too busy to take pictures of it.  

I guess you had to be there.

June 8, 2011

Art that is Powered by the Earth II: Reinventing the Wheel

Theo Jansen (pronounced "Tay-o Yahn-sen") has re-invented the wheel: he calls it "the beast."  It is a tool, a pet, a machine, and a simple computer made from things like electrical conduit, cardboard recycled plastic, and string.

No electricity.  No batteries.  No solar panels.

The mechanics are a must-see, but the magic is not just in the engineering.  Powered by natural energy sources like wind and sun, the beast can store extra energy in recycled drink bottles.

The beast has no brain, but it makes decisions.  It has no spirit, yet it has a survival instinct.

It reacts to weather.  It walks, stops, and moves in reverse.

It knows when to defend itself, and how.

An eight-minute video of Theo Jansen giving a TED talk