Project Ideas

January 26, 2011

My first idea for the project would be an expansion off of a research paper I did last semester in Community Psychology.  I looked at the way in which our recycling program is run on campus and then did research on other schools and their programs.  This semester I would want to work to implement some of the practices that other schools and large communities are doing that we are not.  These include things such as given both specific and general feedback to people about how we are doing in terms of recycling.  How we are doing could be explained by the volume of material recycled, the degree to which the recycling is contaminated and the percentage of recycled materials that are thrown away.  Also, I would like to conduct some surveys on campus to maybe find out about peoples’ attitudes towards recycling and why they would or would not engage in it.  In addition, I think it would be neat to look into setting up some way for people who live off campus to be able to recycle effectively.  I live in an apartment on Sandusky Street so we are not provided with a blue recycling bin that we can put outside to be collected by the town.  How could we change this? If not for everyone who lives in these kinds of apartments then at least the OWU students.

My second idea for a project does not necessarily lean towards directly going green, but it does have to do with Ohio Wesleyan and the care they show our community.  I find it very strange that when it snows owu shovels (or uses that little plow thing) on the sidewalk behind ham will starting on the corner of ham will and going to sandusky street but it completely skips the other half of spring street and the other side of the road.  I find it horribly dangerous that people walk on ice covered sidewalks to get to class.  I think this may also be part of the reason why so many people drive to class and well drive everywhere around campus.  Our campus is not too spread out, but people do not want to walk especially when the sidewalks make it so highly possible that you will fall on your face in front of everyone. Going off of this idea I think it may be cool to look into the idea of having a shuttle to drive people from the dorm side to the academic side of campus or to and from the library or bar.  They have this at Colgate where my sister goes and they implemented it after a serious drunk driving accident that killed four students, but maybe we could get something like this going before such a horrible wake up call.

My last idea for a project would involve putting automatic light sensors in many of the older academic buildings on campus. I think the science center may have them already.  It seems to me like a big waste of energy for lights (hall or bathroom especially) to be sitting on all day when nobody is even around.


Hitler’s last bodyguard gives up on fan mail

January 26, 2011

93 year old Rochus Misch, the last remaining body guard is Hitler calls it quits to answer fan mail from around the world after 65 years. Misch served as Hitler’s telephone operator and courier aswell. Surprisingly mail that Rochus recieved was not negative. He would answer all that he could and he also sent out signed photos of himself, to fans all around the world.

 


Desert Solitaire

January 26, 2011

The part about this book that stood out to me the most was definitely Abbey’s love for animals.  This was something I immediately connected with because I too love animals.  The interesting part to me though was his love for them being wild, I do not know if I can say I would be as open to wild animals as he is in the book. I think that is a very admirable trait.  One thing that I would not be able to do though is kill animals myself for food, now I understand he needs to survive, but why would he choose this wilderness where tree and plant growth is sparce and there is a need to rely on animals for food.  Now, I am no vegitarian and maybe it comes with time, but to have someone with such a passion and love for the protection of animals then also killing animals for food was very conflicting for me.  I wonder why the author emphasizes this protection so much and then at the same time has to deal with the fact that he must kill animals in order to give himself food to survive. Was it intentional on the part of the author to create such a conflict? I did appreciate the part with the rattle snake because it was very brave the way Abbey did not just immediately kill it.  I can not even imagine how I would have reacted to a snake and I consider myself to be pretty tolerant of animals lives.  Ever since I was little I have had a house on Block Island (which is a tiny island off the coast of RI) and there is a big pond in my backyard so my mom has raised me to be an island girl and not to scream when there are spiders or frogs or other little creatures in our basement and I just trap them in my hand and then go release them outside.  Those experiences I had as a child definitely helped me be more appreciative of Abbey.

Another part that I questioned some was the way Abbey thought of humans.  Myabe I am unfamiliar with how the job typically works, but my impression of a park ranger is that they are not only there to maintain and care for the park, but also to aid in helping others who may be visiting the park.  Why does Abbey talk down upon the humans who are treading and destroying his park as if he does not do the same when he is off work and wandering around the wilderness?  He acts almost as if he is not a human creating damage as well.  Also, the job of the park ranger I would think would be to support the park and that involves promoting it to tourists because that is the only way there will be funds enough to take care of the park.  I really admired the image he depicted of the solitude that can come from being alone on such a large piece of land with no other humans around.

I do not know if there are other editions of this book, but I borrowed mine from the library and it is a hardcover version that was published in 1988 I believe.  It has some really nice hand drawn pictures of the desert and I just thought that was a really cool addition to the book because I have never been to a place even remotely like Abbey discussed so I liked being able to have those pictures as I was reading along.

I also thought this picture of the desert at night was really cool because it is often times at night when people being to feel the most like they are alone.


Desert Solitaire Review

January 26, 2011

The book Desert Solitaire was, in my opinion, a terrible book. I find the writing style of the author to be more stuck up and full of himself than it needed to be. But despite this he did bring up a few good points of interest, not on environmental issues but issues involving humans interaction with nature.

The first point that covers this is what he calls his “duty to protect and preserve the lives of all living animals.” This is brought up when he is confronted by a rattle snake hiding right under his front stairs. He decides to not kill the snake but rather to just move him to a different location. This tenderness of heart is shown to have a few breaks through the book. First when he expresses his desire to thrust his walking stick into an ant hill and second when he tries to test his idea of how people hunted before the creation of the bow and arrow by throwing a rock at the head of a rabbit and killing it. He tries to make himself feel better by calling himself a “scientist” and leaves the body for the birds. Which brings me to the question: Why is it that humans show tenderness to some species of animals over others? Why does our view of nature change?

Horned Rattlesnake:

Next is a point he brings up when he is taking the first initial tour of the park he is working in. He comments on the “undeveloped” nature of the surrounding areas and how though it is called undeveloped it is actually quite developed. There are paths leading through the whole park making it easily within walking distance for all of the major attractions and places to sleep. This leads me to ask the question: Is it possible for humans to go into any form of wilderness and leave it a wilderness? All though dirt trails may seem to be a rather low tech and natural way to formulate paths through an area those paths still change the environment and how the wildlife acts.

A huge part of this book has to do with the incredible need for water in the desert and how it seems that the area is devout of life. But he brings up several very good points. The first is that “if we had water here, this country would not be what it is.” Implying further that if there was water in the desert it would rip away that which makes the desert wild. Once there was more water everyone would move in and populate the place. Industry would take over and the wild would no longer be wild. Instead he makes the best comment, in my opinion, in the whole book. He says that there is a balance in the desert. It isn’t that there is too much water, but just enough. That there is a sort of equilibrium that allows life to continue just enough to survive. But why is this? with the geography of the area it is obvious why it is desert, but is it possible that this is earths way of trying to purge itself to start over? Is it possible for the earth to erase everything and try to start off fresh?

This is a website that explain how deserts are made:

http://www.stmarysmedia.co.uk/jb19/project/desertsmade.htm

The last strong point I feel he brings up is the difference between the working men in the desert and the city busyness men. He is confronted with this observation when he walks into a bar after getting groceries. He describes a scene of many different types of workers, everything from miners and truck drivers  to cowboys and prospectors. Men who spend their entire day working their butts off. And they sit in relaxation enjoying a beer and conversation. He puts this in contrast to city bars where the men are sulking in the chairs watching television and feeling sorry for themselves. He comes to the conclusion that these men do work that makes them happy. Work that takes skill and strength. They have confidence and spend their entire day working alone and welcome a crowded bar with many people to converse with. So my final question: Is it possible that nature or wilderness can alone provide us happiness? These men who spend their whole day outside working in the sun and rain live lives that they are happy with. Was this just from the influence of calm mother nature?


Agave the new biofuel

January 26, 2011

Agave fuels excitement as a Bio-energy Crop

Agave, often associated with deserts, tequila and warm tropical vacations in Mexico is getting a facelift. Instead of the brew makers, this time scientists researching into bio-fuels and renewable energy. Research on 14 different studies has shown that the agave plant when processed produces higher yields of energy than comparable amounts of corn wheat, or soyabean.

This coupled with the fact that the agave plant grows in semi arid conditions and doesn’t compete with other food crops in most traditional farming regions makes the potential for rewarding research into the plant for the near future.

The fact that the agave plant isn’t a mainstream food source coupled with the now possible uses of spent agave used in tequila production is becoming a topic of increasing viability and further research is being conducted currently.

If the studies do elevate agave to a viable energy source many underdeveloped countries like Mexico, and parts of Africa can use the crop to fuel their economy and future.


Being Green

January 26, 2011

“From dust we are, and to dust we shall return”

Although a slightly morbid article I did find the process of resomation interesting. Currently you have two ways of removing your body from society, burial and cremation, however the new process resomation will be a more green option. By using less heat and chemicals to aid in the degradation of your body your last choice in life can still be a green one. Currently only a couple are in service and the majority of states have yet to approve this new method.

 


Desert Solitaire

January 26, 2011

Like last week I wasn’t familiar with the natural settings in this area, I was under the assumption that this was to take place in the typical desert, sand and dirt with little land height variations, and couldn’t understand how you could write an entire book about it. Reading through the introduction and looking at pictures of the Arches National Monument park then proceeding past the first few chapters I saw how interesting and special an area this was, as well as having a significant history it also had a resounding beauty that Abbey did well in describing.

History seemed to be an important aspect as Abbey spent a couple chapters discussing the natural history as well as the human history with the surrounding areas. I was very surprised to learn that there was a similar “gold rush” in this area but instead of something we typically value as a society companies were looking for a much more dangerous rock. However, before the history of mining in the area I was also surprised (and agreed with) Abbey’s detailed look at how modernization of the park was occurring, specifically found the line “are men no better than sheep or cattle, that they must live always in view of one another in order to feel a sense of safety?” (72), I thought it tied in well to the discussion last week of how national parks were turning into amusement parks, that everything was predetermined where you walk, camp, eat, and relive yourself.

Something else I found particularly interesting was Abbey’s continued discussion of loneliness and how he found various ways of coping with it.  At the start of the book it was the mice and later a gopher snake (although it served for a secondary purpose too)  and in later parts of the book it was nature, that he would sit outside to be accompanied by nature.  I found this intriguing because Ive done this couple times, where its early in the morning and having a sense of being not being alone eating outside.

Discussion:

Abbey’s ideas on keeping natures parks more “natural”, limiting roads and such, just thoughts on his ideas that started on page 65.

Playing off the former idea, Abbey states that the area is totally useless and unprofitable, yet we see desert settlements like Vegas and the park now with an increased revenue since his departure. Is this area of land worthless and unprofitable? Does it serve any use to humans?

Thoughts on the story of the Husk family, that in contradiction to the Meadowlands, this land had value in mining resources yet at the same time the ability to destroy human relations, where as the opposite held true to Meadowlands, so is a “more worthless” land better or worse for human purposes/relations?