Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Plastic vs. Ocean Cleanup Array

"Argh! Ocean Pollution!"~Trapped Seal
When I first learned about The Ocean Cleanup Array, I was also made aware of a few other things. One, that despite my best efforts at recycling plastic, a very large amount (32 million tons of plastic waste in 2012 alone, according to the EPA) is generated and not recycled. Two, this waste does not just sit in landfills, or continually bluster around the semi-empty parking lots of run down malls, but ends up in the oceans. In fact 90% of the trash floating around the ocean is plastic. This plastic gets caught up in the ocean currents, and currently has created 5 great garbage patches across the world. 

5 Gyres

Let me preface this next part with a more thorough definition of "Garbage Patch." According to the National Ocean Service, these are not patches in the sense that they are islands of plastic (yet a quick Google search reveals such trash heaps do exist) but rather have a more 'soupy' consistency, as the plastic begins to break into smaller pieces, it still remains but as smaller chunks circulating around. Okay, now that a more accurate image is in your head, let us continue.

The garbage patch most talked about is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which resides roughly between California and Hawai'i. Plastic builds up due to circular moving ocean currents called Gyres, that overtime draw in plastic waste until it reaches the clam center of the Gyre where the plastic builds up as it cannot leave once drawn in. Obviously, this is terrible for marine life, and has large repercussions for coastlines as it engorges with more waste.

Pretty 'Great' isn't it?

All of this begs the question, besides recycling all of the current plastic in use, how the heck does one go about cleaning up this disaster of a mess? Well that was the purpose of my post, dear friends. This brings me back to The Ocean Cleanup Array.
The "Manta-Ray" Like Ocean Cleanup Array
I stumbled across this concept while watching a very excellent TED talk given by the inventor, a then 19 year old Boyan Slat, who described his giant manta-ray-like device designed to carefully collect these plastic bits, without collecting the wildlife that somehow still manages to live within the waste. This idea completely blew me out of the water (pun intended). Not only does this device carefully collect the plastic, it doesn't ensnare wildlife with nets or filters, and, perhaps most important to some, it can turn a profit, as all of the plastic it collects is recyclable.

So, if it is so awesome, why don't we have fleets of these things cleaning up our oceans? For one, it is still being tested. According to their website, they should have a preliminary report of how effective and 'feasible' this project is by the end of this year. For two, they are in need of some added brain power to this already well-endowed brain trust. If you or a friend's brain is available, they highly encourage you to apply. Thirdly, despite many estimates from other qualified brains, we really don't have a good idea of exactly how much garbage has built up over the years. How deep is it? How dense? We don't quite know, which poses a little bit of a problem when trying to create a plan in cleaning it up. Regardless, the Ocean Cleanup Array is by far the best plan that I have encountered (besides everyone doing their part to recycle at home) and I just really wanted to share it.

Hopefully, in the future I will have a follow-up post about the feasibility report that is anticipated to be released come the end of 2014.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


No, that isn't a real word. I want to write about great things in the world, but unfortunately the first word that came to mind to describe such things I want to write about is "awesome" which I quite detest because it is used for every single thing, actually awesome or not. So I thought that perhaps I would make up a word to describe the things that are happy, and make my day just a bit brighter, as brighteners. See what I did there. Autocorrect is loving this. Anyway, a brightener is anything, big or little, that makes whatever you are doing just a little bit more awesome. I suppose it just had to make its way in there somehow. Anyway, a brightener that I discovered as of late, and that certainly makes my day a bit more awesome (on most occasions) is the eccentric Doctor Who television show. It is wonderful on so many layers, it only makes you sad when Moffat throws a curve ball at you, here's to you Ponds. Regardless, it is heartwarming, adventurous and wonderfully clever. It certainly makes my days a little more bright. It can be found on Netflix, but also other internet sources, if you know where to look. 

So give it a go. The old ones are cheesy in the most delightful 60's era way, and the new ones are well-written and thoroughly enjoyable. I hope they make your days just a little bit brighter. 

Word of the the day: Brightener, see above for a good and proper definition. 

Observations 1

Second post. Not exactly keeping tidy with my resultion but habits take time to form; Rome wasn't built in a day, after all. 

I realize in these past few days that in fact it might not be the easiest to post about all of the awesome things I find going on in the world every single day. My first realization is that I have, perhaps uncomfortably high expectations for each one that simply does not match the the time I have available, and secondly I realized that sometimes I would rather write about other things. My resultion is simply writing, so perhaps if I just get in the swing of writing, the rest of what is in my head for my high-expectation posts will come along easier with time. 

Anyway, this is called observations, because sometimes I think about things and they can't quite escape my head until I write them out. I figure this will probably be a reoccurring theme so I titled it observations 1. Lots of brain power and cleverness went into that, I know. 

My observation has plagued me most intently the past several days, it had occurred before but the nature of tiny made me not care that much. I have noticed that when I am back in my hometown, I don't quite feel myself. Which is quite strange, no? I feel as though the normal thing would be that people feel comfortable and themselves at home, and it just does not bode that way for me. I do not think that it is my home, or the people within it that makes me feel so, I think it is perhaps the town, and that I never felt at home here. In fact, my goal was always to leave, I feel more myself almost anywhere else in the world besides this place, which it find severely odd. Now the the side effect of this, is that when I am home, it truly feels as though all energy, motivation, and desire to do anything is gone. I don't know what it is about this place but almost no matter what I do, and no matter how badly I may want to do it, i am continually am too exhausted to do it in a reasonable time frame if at all. When I leave I get it all back, and I can accomplish all that I need to, but when I am here everything is bleak and there is no pressure to do anything,regardless of how important. This bothers me quite a lot, mostly because I do not understand fully why this occurs. Does this happen to anyone else? I feel like it affects the entire town, yet no one realizes what exactly is happening. 

Well, that is my post for January 2 of this year. Here's to hoping I can keep this going. 

Word of the day: Esoteric, understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest. 
As in, this blog may have a rather esoteric audience 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014: That New-Year Smell

Ahh... A new year, a new beginning, a new list of things I wish to make permanent, or remove, from my life. I'll keep this one simple, on New Year's Eve I saw a nice little ditty that said, "tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book, write  a good one." And I thought to myself, writing, why, I haven't sat down and done that it a good long while and 365 pages is not too terrible to ask of oneself; why, that is only a page a day! Completely manageable! So I have only one resultion that I will ask of myself this year. To write, just once a day, maybe more if I am feeling particularly verbose, but simply to write each day. 
I have completed school, I have a new job for this new year, and a new goal for my writing, so I think it can be managed. I hope to improve the process of extracting my thoughts and penning them to paper, and perhaps improve my vocabulary at the same time. In fact, I am enacting a mandatory new word-a-day rule. Because I can. Annd, with my swanky graduation present (it's an iPad air) I hope that this will be more managable than when I tried to blog from my smartphone. It seemed great, until the iPad. 

And in case you were wondering, I have decided to write about the awesome things I find going on in the world. I have discovered so many in the past 8 months, I really want to share them with whomever will listen, and honestly even some who don't want to listen, because that is the way I am. Of course, new job, new state, new side of the country, I will most certainly be posting about some things going on in my own life as well. 

Well, I only have 15 minutes until it is day two of the new year, I best publish before I break my resolution on the first day. 

Word of the day: 
Prolix: Excessively long and wordy. 
As in, a great many of my posts may indeed be prolix. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Evidently I'm One of Those Political People


     As I approach the end of my first two decades, I have been realizing many things about myself, things that, previously, I would not have correlated to my being. And as the days go by, and I dwell on these realizations, I had another one: that I really just ought to embrace it. While there have been little realizations, middle realizations, and one or two bigger ones, I feel as though one takes precedence.
I am a really awful speller. 

     Just joking. I mean I really am, (you would have never known, thank you spell-check) but that is not the one that takes precedence. It is that I am extremely opinionated, involved in politics, and really enjoy spreading ideas around and vocally suggesting that while you may think you are right, really, because we are disagreeing, you are in fact wrong. WRONG! There, I said it.
     I know I have a determination to be right, to produce the correct answers, to solve the problem correctly,  but I had previously never ascribed these tendencies to having any sort of political or societal commentary. However as of late, as I read about policies that may or may not come to pass in our government, or our reactions as a society to a certain event or advertisement (here's looking at you Cheerios) I find my head abuzz with a chatter, all of my opinions and comments swarming, positioning to escape my head and flow freely out into the world. But before they are released, some part of me yells, "Wait! What are you doing? You are not that person! You do not go around spouting your opinions on how such and such ought to be done because of x, y, and z! You are not that old person at get-togethers who opens with their opinion on something and makes everyone else uncomfortable!" Well yes, I am realizing, I am this person. I do have these opinions, I am very involved (emotionally, it's not as though I have the power to call Barry O and suggest some changes and then have them happen) with what is happening in the world, I am concerned, I am passionate, sometimes frustrated, and I want to add my voice to the chorus.
     Previous to me embracing this, was me denying this, after having realized this, after living with this desire and honestly believing I didn't have it. Lets just say that some events in my life became painfully obvious as to why they turned out the way they did, because at some point along the way I was just spewing these opinions out while being in complete denial that I was, in fact, that kind of opinion-spewing person. For everyone who came into contact with the contents of my spewing, I really am sorry if you have been sprayed on. I know it exists now, so now I am channeling it wisely.
   In partnership with the need to spew opinions is the need of a venue to commence spewing. Weirdly enough I have my own blog where I have been commencing the spew of my opinions already. This works out for me because I really didn't know where to take this blog. I wanted it to be of my travels and adventures but as I haven't been able to get up and go anywhere, which is really boring, I didn't have much to write about. Instead, I will focus my spewing tendencies here, where I can project them into the world, continue writing, and save my Facebook friends the constant bombardment of my opinions and links to various topics with a political interest.Huzzah!
I will work to improve my spelling as well, as an aside. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Steve The All Knowing Cabby

     Let me begin with this: this week, has not been my week. It is not that anything bad has happened exactly, I was just faced with a singular difficult decision, on top of building stressors, and I broke. When I break, I feel such endless despair. Not that anything wont be right again, it's just that I can't do anything to further the process to making things better. Everything makes me cry, and I feel like there are at least three dementors hovering around my head, constantly sucking my happiness. It becomes too easy for my inner voice to become lashing, and point out all of my faults and shortcomings, furthering my spiral into misery. In short, it has not been my week.
     In a crazy turn of events, I found myself packing a suitcase and taking off for a place that had never given me much happiness, but is full of people who do: home. Right now that isn't important, what is, is what I learned from Steve.
    Steve, is my worldly cabby driver from Greece who drove me to the airport this evening. He is a fun, kooky-looking, old man who maintained a constant stream of chatter the whole drive over, which I greatly appreciated. Beginning the conversation, was talk about the most obvious: School. He then dove into, what I assume, was a well rehearsed schpeal about how important school is. The difference being one million dollars. He said that over my lifetime as a college graduate I will make a million more dollars than a non-grad. Alright, I've heard it before.
     He then dove into a narration about a fellow he drove to the airport fifteen years ago, whom he ran into recently and was reminded of. Evidently, this fellow needed a ride to the airport from school, as did I, and Steve told him what he told me tonight, and the fellow listened, worked, graduated, and now owns two law firms and is extremely successful. When he ran into Steve, he reminded him who he was, and how Steve's advice to push through and graduate helped him to go pursue his dreams. Steve said that no, this fellow did is of his own accord, all that Steve did, was show him that a door could be opened, it was the fellow who opened it, and went through to the other side.  Door metaphor, heard it, but it was especially well done by Steve. What he then imparted on me next, is more of what is important.
     Perhaps I just looked troubled, but he told me about this saying that is popular amongst the Greek (according to Steve). That phrase being, "it is better to sleep worry, than to sleep sorry" it doesn't quite rhyme in my American accent, but in his Greek one, it has a perfect rhythm. This means, that when making a decision, there is no need to rush; you must slow down, think it over, and come to a decision thoughtfully, no matter how simple the question. He said the Greeks thought it was better to fall asleep worrying about what do to about a decision, than to fall asleep sorry you made the wrong one. Well, let me tell you, that is exactly what I needed to hear. Steve, you are the all knowing cabby, and I hope that one day I do meet you again so I can tell you successful I have become, and how much I needed to hear that.

Monday, April 15, 2013

...But Is It Worth The Effort?


    I fondly remember a day in my high school economics class where the teacher asked us a rather simple question: Is it worth it to put 100% of your effort in, all of the time? Of course we were supposed to look at this through an economists eyes, nothing is free, your time costs you something, and on... We thought unanimous answer was yes, and as we walked to the designated side of the room for "yes" we turned around to see that one student had firmly plopped himself down on the side of "no." The debate that ensued is one I continually go over in my head as I try to apply the principle to my everyday life.
   On the "yes" side, was myself, several of our would-be valedictorians, salutatorians, the winner of the county's student of the year award, and a general slew of high-achievers and bright minds. Not to say the singular "no" crusader was not amongst this crowd, in fact he was extremely bright, but did he know something all of us didn't? I think for the majority of us, being told putting 100% effort in, all of the time was folly and a waste of our time and energy, was rather upsetting. As the debate opened, a wave of reasons the "yes" side was correct came crashing down upon the singular "no" defender. The yeses argued that giving 100 percent of your effort enables you to always succeed, because you will continually push to understand what you are learning or working on, and then you can't ever feel like there was more you can do, because you gave it your all, and on and on. 100 percent effort means good, successful results, every time. That is how all of us had gotten through school, and for the majority of us it worked out very well. Now for defense of the no. Mr. No, argued that it is not efficient to give 100 percent all of the time, and it is not sustainable. He argued that it isn't worth our time to put 100 percent effort in, lets say a paper, when 70 or 80 percent effort will get the job satisfactorily done (for us, some shade of "A"). If you can get away with putting less effort in, and still get the same results as 100 percent, isn't it more efficient? Wouldn't that save you time, and the energy you must exert in order to focus in on that task one hundred percent? This internal dialogue has plagued me since its occurrence, and I think I have finally found a response that is realistic, and I have found useful in my everyday living.
     I have decided it really isn't worth it to put 100 percent of my effort into everything I must do (Mr. No would be proud.) Some things just aren't worth it, as I have been finding out in a certain class I am currently enrolled for. This class, is interesting in subject matter but the teacher is quite bad at delivering her lectures. Until right before the first test, I attended all of her lectures, took notes, did the homework, and when the test came about, I scored slightly higher than the class average, but quite low for my standards. Clearly, traditional methods were not to be trusted in this instance, so I stopped going to class. Instead, I continued doing the assigned readings at home, doing the homework, and only attended the test review a few days before the test (done by the TA) and I scored a 95 on the next test. In this scenario, my effort was not to be clocked at 100 percent, I wasn't even going to class for goodness sakes, but the results were far more impressive this way. This made me realize that being smart with my efforts and not blindingly giving them to all projects, is more worthwhile. In both scenarios I did give the same amount of effort, but in such a way that it was more valuable to the task at hand, which worked out better for me in the end.
     When I now approach a task, the question of "is it worth my best?" no longer floats around in my brain. Instead, I think to myself, "is this the best method to maximize my efforts?" And see what my brain can come up with from there.

Currently Listening To: Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling