Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NYC/Waste Follow-Up

Follow-up to blog entry: "Can You Believe It?" posted on Monday, December 18th, 2007 (no, I am not LOOKING for follow-ups!):

Greenhouse Gas Study Says 1 Pct From NYC
Apr 11, 9:27 AM (ET)

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City produces nearly 1 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions - an amount that puts it on par with Ireland or Portugal - according to a city study. The study, released Tuesday, was ordered by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to assess the city's progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. It was conducted by the mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability. "You have to have a real baseline or we're just talking past each other as to what works and what doesn't work - we won't ever know whether we really made a difference," Bloomberg said. The study found that the buildings, subways, buses, cars and decomposition of waste in America's most populous city produced a net emission of 58.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2005. The report said the city's emissions "are currently as much as those of Ireland or Portugal."

The U.S. total was 7.26 billion metric tons for that year. Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and other gases, essentially trap energy from the sun, which warms the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere. Many scientists believe human activity that increases those gases is contributing to global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of 2,000 scientists, warned last week of possible catastrophic risks such as floods, disease, food shortages, species extinction and human suffering throughout the world. The city has 2.7 percent of the country's population - 8.2 million of 300 million - and the average New York City resident contributes less than a third of the emissions generated by a typical American. This is largely due to the popularity of the city's mass transit system, which cuts down on car emissions, officials said. The operation of the city's hundreds of thousands of buildings - which consume electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and steam - contribute 79 percent of the city's emissions total. The study found that the city's focus on environmentally friendly initiatives - including alternative fuel vehicles, energy efficient traffic lights and green buildings - appears to have helped stabilize emissions rates in recent years. "Each one of these things really does make a difference, and they add up," Bloomberg said. Still, emissions were found to have increased by more than 8 percent between 1995 and 2005, the study found.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Universe in Tune

Does this ever happen to you? You are driving along one day, KINDA listening to the radio and you hear a familiar tune in between radio segments.... a VERY familiar tune- the tune that is in your CD player? I mean, not just the CD or the artist- THE EXACT SONG. This happened to me yesterday. I got so freaked out that I kept switching between the CD and the radio until the musical segment was over on the radio. I find that this type of thing happens to me fairly often. I don't know what it means, if anything, but I would like to think the universe is balanced or that I am some sort of universal trend-setter or something. That may be a bit far fetched I guess, but fun to ponder nonetheless.

Other times it has been something like: every car I would see had the right brake light out. Or when I mention a scene in or an old movie to someone and then the entire next week I hear it mentioned in numerous conversations (direct or adjacent conversations) or I hear about it on the radio or see something about it on the internet.... weird.

"The Devil Came on Horseback" Follow-Up

As a follow-up to my visit to the film exhibit at the Judisches Museum in Berlin (blog entry: Berlin, Wednesday" posted on Friday, March 23, 2007).... this was on National Public Radio today:

"Brian Steidle is former US Marine who was hired by the African Union to document the violence in Sudan's Darfur region. He tells anchor Marco Werman that his job amounted to documenting an ongoing genocide. Steidle recounts that experience and explains why he thinks Americans should care about Darfur."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Europe 2007 Photos Have Been Posted

Please take a look when you get a chance. My trip began on Saturday, March 17th and I have posted them to the relevant blog entries.

I took 548 photos, so if you want to see them all, we'll have to get together!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Death and Jealousy

While I was away, a friend of mine's grandfather passed away. I saw her this week at a group dinner outing and gave her my most sincere but restrained sympathy as this was not something I wanted to do in public. I knew what it was like for someone to do that just after my dad had passed away- I feared she would break down crying in front of everyone, and I also knew how uncomfortable that was for me. But I knew that I needed to say something as this was the first I had seen her since it had happened. It took me the entire length of the dinner/conversation to gather the courage, but I finally made my way over to her....

I told her that I had heard about her grandfather and I asked her how she was doing. She said "fine" which seems to be the standard reply, even if that's NOT how someone actually IS doing. So I waited for her to go on, dreading any tears or uncomfortablility that may be brewing... but she was surprisingly at peace. She said that the whole family had made it back home for his last week of life and it was such a positive kind of celebration. She even smiled a couple of times recalling the story. She said that he was ready to go, that he had nothing else that he wanted to "do"- he had lived his life. Although I was so happy to hear this, so happy to hear that my friend was at peace with and accepted a loved one's passing, I later realized that I was so jealous. First, because that she got to SEE her grandfather before he died, to say goodbye and tell him that she loved him, hug him one more time, hear his voice. Secondly, that she and her entire family, including her grandfather, were so at peace with his passing.

I wish I could have had that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Be Where You Are!

On my trip I was asked more than once, "What do you miss about home?" I thought about it for a bit and realized that I really don't think about home when I am on vacation, thankfully. I don't even think that it is a conscious thing for me to do- I just immerse myself in where I am as much as possible.

I was in touch with a few people from home by e-mail and cell phone/text messages and I definitely missed them while I was gone, but I tried to really live in the place and the moment that I was physically- to LISTEN to the city and the languages around me, to taste the local foods and drinks, to focus on the people I was with and the conversations that I was having and NOT to think about what I was going back to, what was going on at home or even what I was going to do when I got back. I enjoyed not hearing about American politics.

I mean, now that I am back, it is good to be able to go to Trader Joe's to get my (food) staples and to be able to drive myself wherever I'd like to go but I really didn't think about those things while I was there. (I am very grateful that my diet is back to being balanced though!) I don't even like to like to listen to my iPod in places abroad unless there is something unnecessarily annoying. (I listened to it ONCE on a train when some punk-ass kid was blaring his horrible music in the seat behind me.) I didn't even charge it while I was away.

I don't think that I was trying to avoid any difficult feelings or situations, I just hope that I was taking advantage of being away from the "everydayness" of my life. (Refer to quote at right. And blog title!)

Now, if I could just do the same thing on the weekends and not dread Mondays....