Hello I am Dan

August 31, 2015

My name is Dan Blanchard, I am a senior here at Ohio Wesleyan. I am studying Economics with a concentration in management as well as Environmental Studies.  I am from Ventura, California.  I lived in the same house since I was 3.  Going to Ohio for school has been a culture shock for me but I have adjusted well and have come to enjoy my friends here.

Interesting Facts about me:

  • I am a middle child and was the only one in my family that celebrated National Middle Child Day on Aug. 12th
  • I played two years of varsity football at OWU
  • I am the Vice President of my fraternity
  • And I interned at the Environmental Protection Agency this past summer

So far the readings have been really interesting and I am excited for the semester project.  I am looking forward to this class and learning from not only the lessons but also learn from the perspectives of my fellow classmates.

Burning Trash Is Bad

August 31, 2015

According to this, burning even so much as paper can be bad for your health, as well as the environments.  In fact, as the link mentions several times, it is even illegal to burn or bury your household waste in Minnesota, with many other places globally adopting the same kind of policy.

So don’t do this to your trash:


Though a question I would like to raise in response to the article, is “Is there anything that can be done to destroy non-recyclable waste that doesn’t pose a threat to ours or the environments health?”  Because as far as I know, burning it was the only way to actually eliminate it aside from letting it decompose on its own, but that too has some harmful repercussions on the environment.  Well according to this, the only way to safely dispose of this sort of trash is in a sanitary landfill.  I don’t like landfills.  Just the idea to me sounds like it’s just an “out of sight out of mind” technique.  But if that’s the only way to dispose of it safely, than so be it.

Project Ideas

August 31, 2015

Similar to the bird houses made from milk jugs around campus, I was thinking maybe we can do something for the local squirrel population as well.  Like maybe cardboard boxes that get thrown away could be filled with a layer of leaves and sticks and stuff, and then placed up in trees?  I’m sure there would have to be more details and things worked out, but it’s currently just an idea.  If anyone wants to chip in on how to improve this, that’d be much appreciated!

I’m Blake. I Think…

August 31, 2015

Hi, my name is Blake Brewer, and I’m a senior Geology major.  It would be Volcanology, but it is not an offered major here.  😦  Anyway, I am a residential Ohioan, with plans to go on to grad school to achieve a Masters in Volcanology (preferably at a school that offers it!)  Ideally I would like to be stationed at whatever volcano observatory I get sent to, and simply monitor the volcano for any signs of unusual activity (plus “business trips” to Hawaii could be a thing.  But who cares about that, right?)  I actually found my desire to do Geology, let alone volcano stuff in my senior year of high school, when I finally took a geology class, figuring it’d be an easy A (It was, I ended the year with a 102% in that class), and it just so happened that I also enjoyed it a lot.

Interesting things about me?  Well, let’s see here…

    • I have had hopes of reaching 6′ tall some day, but have been stuck at 5′ 11″ for many years.  drat!
    • I have played tennis since I was a wee lad thanks to my mom teaching me.  I still play, and am on the team here at OWU.
    • I look, sound, and act VERY similar to my older brother.  The acting part could be due to just growing up and looking up to him.  But the sounding and looking parts?  Those are interesting because he and I have different dads.  And yet we also look almost nothing like our mom.  Riddle me that?
    • I like pasta.  So much so, that some might say I like it “too much”.  But for me, there is no such thing as too much pasta.

I am looking forward to this class because, as I somehow have managed to do in all of my Geography classes so far, I have related it to volcanoes.  This class can help me to learn more about the kinds of environments left behind after a huge volcanic eruption, or long lasting eruptions that spit out lots and lots of lava, and how nature reacts in both the short term and the long term (and medium term if that’s a thing).

Comments on Robert Sullivan’s “The Meadowlands” August 2015

August 31, 2015

The Meadowlands is a book rife with topics to discuss and explore. The swirling, interconnecting themes float and collide with each other like the filth and refuse drifting down the Hackensack River. But the murky waters did occasionally clear, and the emotive views on New Jersey’s greatest historical landmark, presented to us via a multiplicity characters, were often poignant.

For me, I found a couple of major tensions in the text:

  • HUMANITY vs. NATURE: Much of “Meadowlands” is a historical narrative of the failure of human attempts to lead the Meadowlands to “progress” and to “develop” them. In different historical times this means different things of course. Progress is a broad word, and I think that the author generally is referring to a specific type of economic direction in which human endeavors attempted to shape the Meadowlands (i.e. an industrial based, capitalistic venture). Of course, the human impact on the Meadowlands is not non-existent, and to say a failure to bend nature to the will of what a capitalist vision of “progress” is, is not to say that humanity does not have lasting effect on the Meadowlands even though it is “barren”. It was interesting for me to see the multiple failed attempts at bringing the Meadowlands “up to par” with the rest of society. The human failures, the unconquerable aspects of the natural habitat, seems to be transferred to the residents there  as a qualifier of being more primitive, of being “less human” because of the nature around them (The association of Cecaucus with pigs and trash causes many there to be looked down upon and made the butt of jokes).
  • PRIMEVAL WISHING: Don Smith and Bill Sheenan are two Meadowlands environmentalists who are battling for the future of the Meadowlands late in the book. It is here that we see glimpses of what I have heard referenced to earlier as the “pristine myth” (See Charles C. Mann’s excellent read 1491 for an in depth discussion on the topic). Bill vows to “not stop until I see what the Indians saw”. This idea of nature as being pure and untouched even though it was molded and lived upon by Amerindians, besides dehumanizing said peoples is also simply unattainable, fictitious, a cultural imaginary. What is natural? What is “untrammeled by man”? The human impact on the world is much older and more complete than I think we hold in our imagination.
  • ORGANICS AND THE HUMAN-MADE: Stylistically, the author mixes the typical usages of words. Sullivan regularly uses organic modifiers to speak of waste, of plastics and of other types of human made, inorganic waste. It is exceedingly jarring at first, but if anything it made the book that much more provocative. I remember fondly playing in areas similar to the ones described by Sullivan, a mixed landscape where as time and nature do their work, the rusting steel beams of an old farm house become natural. Nature pushes back on human endeavor. Human endeavor is eventually swallowed by nature. But at that “in-between” phase, when primacy is attained by neither, something strangely nostalgic and entrancing happens in the ugliness somehow.
  • CULTURAL IMAGE AND IDENTITY: The Meadowlands is viewed as an eyesore by some, beautiful as others, a hindrance, and then again never given thought by some. The cultural image of the Meadowlands has shifted multiple times throughout history and did so multiple times in the book. Identity is key to those who live in the Meadowlands, those trying to preserve is, and those trying to shape it. Sullivan presents to us many times “this is what the Meadowlands mean to me”, over and over in fact. It is through the lens of multiple characters that we see the shifting cultural attitudes on the Meadowlands and therefore the values of stewards like Don Smith and Sheenan or makers of progress.

Feel free to comment. Hope all is intelligible.

My Reflection on “The Meadowlands”

August 31, 2015

Overall I found this book to be…interesting.  It was tough for me to put myself in the author’s shoes because the way he described this garbage filled swamp was as if it was straight out of his favorite childhood story.  Aside from that though, I had fun reading some sections, and not so much fun with other sections.  I particularly enjoyed the Skeeters chapter, especially when Victor, the “Mosquito King” got bit because the author had left the truck window cracked open.  I also had some parts that I felt I could somewhat relate to.  For instance, on page 15, lines 14-15, says “In the summer, squadrons of dragonflies and mosquitoes patrol the dry land over waves of heat”.  This description reminds me of my summer trips to Maine, and how when fishing out on the lake there are tons of dragonflies that fly around just above the surface of the water, and the masses of mosquitoes that come out at night.  Another sentence that caught my attention was line 32 on page 19.  It mentioned planes waiting to land at La Guardia and JFK airports in New York.  I’ve been on planes going to each of those airports, yet I don’t recall ever looking out my window (I always get the window seat) and seeing the Meadowlands.  There was one question that came to mind when reading, and that was hoe big the Meadowlands are.  It said on page 18 line 3, that the Meadowlands are 32 square miles  of wilderness.  I wonder if that’s large enough for the “official” definition of wilderness, which says that it would have to be 5000 acres to be considered as wilderness?  I also wonder if it’s possible to establish a successful “no dumping” policy at the Meadowlands, so as to keep its condition from worsening?  Also, as mentioned in the Skeeters chapter, I wonder if it’s feasible to actually eliminate entire mosquito populations in a given area?

The Plight of the Lorax: We May Be Closer Than We Think

August 30, 2015

I love the book The Lorax. It is poignant and haunting, quite different than most of Dr. Seuss’s works. I watched the 2012 movie version of The Lorax, and found it significantly more disappointing than the original book, but it did have an interesting aspect that piqued my interest: the bottled air. Because the Once-ler had killed all of the trees, people were being forced to purchase bottled air in order to breathe. It seems like an extremely silly concept–bottling air and selling it to people–but what if that was what had to happen in order for people to breathe?


In fact, it already has happened. In China, where the pollution is rampant, entrepreneurs sold bottled air to tourists. One artist sold French bottled air on auction for $860. (See the NPR link here). And scientists have discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen (see link here), which potentially means that oxygen could be created on demand.

These links may be a year old, but they are no less relevant. Deforestation and pollution are still very real problems. If it does come to the point where we need bottled air to survive, who will own the monopoly on it? Will we have to create a law saying that fresh air is a basic human right? It’s certainly food (or breath) for thought.

Class Project Ideas

August 30, 2015

A couple of ideas bouncing around in my brain for possible class projects:

  • Some sort of art or installation piece that intertwines nature and trash. I like the idea of nature warring with human waste, so maybe create warriors out of natural items (branches, leaves, etc.) and then “garbage” warriors? Or decorate some of the trees around campus with an infestation of trash for a week?
  • Conduct a survey of how many times people take out the trash a week, then create a mural with leaves or pebbles or something, each leaf or pebble representing one load or trash taken out. It might be neat to have nature representing how much trash we accumulate and toss out per week. Display the results by the JAY, with tables containing information on how to cut back on trash and be more waste-conscious.
  • Supersaurus, the longest dinosaur in existence, weighed around 40 tons and ate around 2 tons of food every day. If it was alive today, what would we have to do to keep ourselves and plant life alive as well? What would we have to change? Or would it be impossible for us and Supersaurus to live together?

Personal Introduction

August 30, 2015

Hello, my name is Zanna Wright (also known as that one kid who showed up an hour late to class, ha ha). I am a junior geology major, just because no school in the United States offers Paleontology as an undergraduate major. Sads. I plan on proceeding to graduate school to obtain my PhD in Paleontology, then I want to dig up dinosaur bones for the rest of my life! I love natural history museums and dinosaurs, so I want to work with those when I blossom into the adult world and become a self-sufficient individual with a career.

This is me in Wyoming with my friend, Velma the Velociraptor. We purchased her to celebrate the Wyoming Dinosaur Center's 20th Anniversary. Successfully frightened the pants off seven children.

This is me in Wyoming with my friend, Velma the Velociraptor. We purchased her to celebrate the Wyoming Dinosaur Center’s 20th Anniversary. Successfully frightened the pants off seven children.

Fun facts about me!

  • I was adopted from China when I was 8 months old! I asked my parents if this means that Donald Trump could deport me if he became President, but they told me that I’ve been naturalized, so he can’t. Phew.
  • I. LOVE. CATS. I’m also allergic to them, so that makes for an awkward relationship.
  • I don’t grow armpit hair. I just don’t. It’s extremely convenient.
  • I was originally planning to be an English major! Finding geology was just a stroke of luck; I took GEOL 110 to fulfill a distribution requirement and I loved it.

I am eager to take this class, and am looking forward to this semester! I am excited to hear some new opinions, learn some new things, and be challenged in new ways. One of the best things OWU has done for me has been to change some of my ingrained stereotypes and make me more open to others’ opinions and ways of life, and I want that to keep happening!

Capitalizing on “Clean Eating”- Public Consciousness Concerning GMOs and the “Health Halo”

August 30, 2015

In early 2015 Chipotle, the “health” inspired burrito based fast food chain, decided to go one step further than any other “healthy” alternative restaurant before them: Chipotle decided to remove GMO products from their menu. And while the move is applauded by many, it is not only for the environmental or health impacts, but for the excellent marketing and business maneuver by Chipotle. By casting itself as a healthful alternative (or perhaps the least terrible for you alternative), Chipotle has begun to capitalize on the “health halo” effect: the often inaccurate perception of health in a product. This “health halo” is now expanded with the removal of GMO products from their menu. The health conscience eater is now joined by the environmentally concerned in a giant burrito-eating frenzy to trump the ages.

This is a hamster eating a very tiny burrito. He is a very health conscience and environmentally concerned eater.

This is a hamster eating a very tiny burrito. He is a very health conscience and environmentally concerned eater.

The unique branding of Chipotle as the health conscience and environmental impact conscience company has interesting implications for food production and health in the United States. It shows the shift in cultural values in sections of a populace who can afford the inflated prices of “organic” and “non-GMO”. How much this is an actually ideological shift on Chipotle’s part or just a brilliant move to capitalize on a group of middle to upper class educated and conscientious Americans is not yet known.

Check out a discussion on this issue via NPR here.