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My Accomplishments in 2009

I've had a year full of learning, experience, memories, stress, growth, and excitement. I can only hope that next year is just as enlightening and full of adventure.

I got this idea from Yes and Yes. Here is a brief list of the things I've accomplished this year:

- Helped run four clubs at my school--Photography, Environmental, Drama, Human Rights.
- Hiked to the top of Half Dome.
- Became vegan.
- Applied to college and was accepted to three--Prescott College, San Francisco State, Humboldt State (so far!).
- Taught a native plant uses class for Halloween.
- Hiked through a creek and wrote an article about a nature summer camp.
- Experienced the Welcome Home for Sully Sullenberger.
- Wrote my first published article for the California PTA on my school district's "green" efforts.
- Became a member of a local cycling group and rode my bike a lot.
- Directed a one act with my best friend and was a technician for the first time in my life.
- Met some new people and made some new…

Mi-Wuk Word of the Day: Honon

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year full of surprises, new memories, great friends, and new wisdom!

I said I would be posting my research paper as my next post, but it seems to be hidden in my mom's computer, so we'll just have to wait for that...

Instead, I'll share something new with you. I'm fascinated by world cultures, which makes sense since I want to be an anthropologist. I am particularly interested in historic Native American culture. I love ethnobotany (plant uses in different cultures) and learning about traditions, spiritual beliefs, and language.A replica tipi in the Pinecrest interpretive Mi-Wuk village, across from the ranger station. (Photo taken by me)

My best friend Alexys grew up around the Mi-Wuk tribe of Tuolumne City in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Though she is Cherokee and Choctaw, her family ended up living by the Mi-Wuk Reservation. Her grandparents had traveled to California sometime after being relocated to…

"An immersion into the teeming and energetic world of insects."

What's got acrobats, spider contortionists and trampoline-bouncing grasshoppers? OVO, of course!

This Sunday, I attended Cirque du Soleil'sOVO (meaning Egg) in San Francisco with my best friend, my dad, my step-mom, and a family friend. The show was fantastic--and all about insects!

The performers' strength is practically superhuman and the artistic director is an utter genius. The costumes, too, were incredibly creative. Grasshoppers complete with hind legs, spiders with creepy-crawly prickly hair on their arms and lower legs, spiders on stilts, a fly with a cap made of bug-eye designs. But this is all expected at any Cirque du Soleil performance. It goes without saying that the show will be fabulous, over-the-top, and that the performing will be beyond normal human capacity. What I want to share with you is the appreciation I have for the theme they chose for OVO.A spider on his tight rope thread.
The insect theme was a superb idea. The show takes you to a smaller world tha…

Happy Winter Solstice, Yule, Saturnalia...

The Winter Solstice is here! The shortest day of the year is today, so from tomorrow until the Summer Solstice in June, days will lengthen. Some consider the Winter Solstice a rebirth, a celebration of mid-winter.

Interestingly, Christians celebrate Christmas around the same time as the Winter Solstice, taking folk traditions and Pagan celebrations of Yule and other ancient rituals and combining them with the story of the birth of Christ to create a holiday that coincides with other festivities, perhaps to encourage more people to accept Christianity or to make Pagan celebrations more acceptable. The Pagans and other folk cultures celebrate the birth of the Sun. The Christians celebrate the birth of the Son.

Christmas songs of today often find their roots in older folk traditions. German songs like "O Christmas Tree" (originally "O Tannenbaum"), "Silent Night" ("Stille Nacht"), and "Ode to Joy" ("An die Freude") have become syn…

Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment

Today I spoke with a woman from the admissions department at Prescott College in Arizona. She informed me that I've been accepted to the school, and that I'm being given some scholarships! I would love to go to Prescott, but it is the first place I've heard from so for now I can't say whether or not I'll end up actually going there. It is an expensive school and it's far away, but I am so glad to know I got in! I'd like to share with you the essay I applied with:
Before I could even speak, my dad read to me—poems, stories, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare. After much practice, I had the “To be or not to be” soliloquy mostly memorized by age seven. In the community college English class my dad teaches, he shows a tape of seven-year-old me donning a black turtleneck, sitting in a rocking chair, and reciting Hamlet’s famous lines about contemplating “that sleep of death.” My dad says it’s his favorite film version of the scene.
Years later, my dream job was to be an Engl…

Colleges, Environmental Club and Holiday Tips

My college applications are all in. Transcripts have been requested. Essays are tucked away in files that I will not look at until next April when I won't stress if I left out a comma.

The college application process is sure a journey, but I know the destination will be worth it. I have at least three weeks until I find out from anyone--but most likely it will be months before I hear back. I have to file my FAFSA, and then I just wait by the door for that letter. And now, for a list of where I applied...
UC Irvine


San Francisco State UniversitySonoma State UniversityRocky Mountain CollegeUniversity of San Francisco
My major of choice for most is anthropology, but for some schools that don't have anthropology or have a stronger environmental studies program, I applied to major in environmental studies. Prescott is one of those places where the environment is already part of the school's philosophy, and if I went there, I would want to study to become a naturalist because of the…

Happy Samhain (or Halloween)!

Happy New Year, Pagans and Wiccans!
Happy Halloween, everyone else!

Here's some information from About.com about Samhain and Halloween:
"What is Samhain?: Samhain is known by most folks as Halloween, but for Wiccans and Pagans it's considered a Sabbat to honor the ancestors who came before us. It's a good time to contact the spirit world with a seance, because it's the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. Myths and Misconceptions: Contrary to a popular Internet-based (and Chick Tract-encouraged) rumor, Samhain was not the name of some ancient Celtic god of death, or of anything else, for that matter. Religious scholars agree that the word Samhain (pronounced "sow-en") comes from the Gaelic “Samhuin,” but they’re divided on whether it means the end or beginning of summer. After all, when summer is ending here on earth, it’s just beginning in the Underworld. Samhain actually refers to the daylight portion of the holiday, on N…

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change: Denmark and a bit about the economy

Today is Blog Action Day, as you probably have heard. The theme for this year is climate change, which isn’t a stretch for me to write about at all—which you would obviously know if you’ve read my blog.

But today I’ve decided to write about something that is beyond my breadth of knowledge: Denmark, and a bit about the economy. I have a friend named Emil who is from Denmark, and he and I were talking recently about climate change. He started talking about all the great things Denmark does that makes it sustainable and it was so interesting! I asked him if he would give me some information for my blog and he did.He mentioned that wind energy supplies one fifth of all energy used there, adding that “a large part of the coasts and green fields” are covered with wind turbines. I’m not a huge supporter of covering every windy space with wind turbines, but I also don’t have another solution, other than that we reduce the demand for energy and live simpler. That can’t solve the use of energy, …

Autumn leaves and graveyard stories

I have found that walking can slow down time, force you to live at a slower pace for a bit and make you aware of your surroundings. Driving is so fast and so much about what's next, where you're going, how fast you can get there. Walking is about the journey, or at least it lends itself to be.

I've been walking to and from school when I've had time and it's a lovely mode of transportation when you can slow down and appreciate your environment. Part of my walk home takes me through a park which I have been in thousands of times but have never truly slowed down to appreciate. When I ride my bike, I have hardly enough time to appreciate the sunlight on the leaves, the curve of the paths, the bark on the various trees or the hills and dips of the grassy knolls. Walking offers you quiet time to think and observe. It creates a sense of place.

Fall 2006, A picture I took at the local pumpkin farm.
Reduce Footprints's Change the World Wednesday challenge for this week wa…

Lunchtime alternatives to wasteful things

This week I took on Reduce Footprints's Change the World Wednesday Challenge and avoided plastic wrap and aluminum foil. I didn't directly encounter either this week, but I thought I'd share with you some alternatives to those wasteful items that come along with meal time, especially lunch.

1. I bring a reusable lunch bag to school each day, which both reduces my waste as well as protects my food better (It's also quite cute if I do say so myself!). The one I use most often used to belong to my step-mom, but over time I used it more and more and now I'm the only one who uses it. I also have a metal "I Dream of Jeannie" one, but it isn't large enough to hold my thermos when I take soup and it causes apples to roll around and become dented. If you don't have a reusable lunch bag/box, you really need to get one.2. When I take sandwiches, I bring them in my plastic Wonder Bread container (yes, it's made of plastic which is rather unfortunate, but …

At the intersection

Just wanted to share a quick anecdote from my day:

This afternoon on my way home from school, I had to wait at an island in the middle of a major intersection near my high school. When I rode up to the island, there was already one other student on a bike and two on their feet. The light took an unusually long amount of time to grant us permission to cross, and during that time, two more kids on bikes and two more pedestrian students arrived. That island was full to the brim with kids taking alternative transportation home. I almost laughed because of how strange it seemed to have an island filled with students going home. But then I realized that it should be like that everyday. If enough kids rode or walked to school, we'd have a serious space/traffic issue (seeing as younger teens tend to use sidewalks and crosswalks and thus traffic islands rather than the street). It would be great to see the sidewalks overflowing with students walking or biking, and while there are a great nu…

Being prepared--mugs and bags

One of the most annoying things I've found about reducing my consumption of resources is forgetting my travel mug or reusable grocery/shopping bag and having to use up another cup or bag at the store.The reusable grocery bag issue has been addressed all over the internet: leave the bags in the car. Reinforcement is key to remembering this, though. When you're finished unloading the groceries, go right back to your car and stick them into the little flap on the back of the front seats. Do it every time, or else you'll forget them, guaranteed.
Another awesome way to remember the bag is to buy one of those foldable bags that closes in on itself into a little ball. They fit easily into purses, backpacks, glove compartments and some have little clips so you can attach it to the outside of bags (or key rings if you wish!). The two my mom owns are from Whole Foods, but more and more stores are selling them. I got mine at a hair salon!I've never seen the mug issue addressed bef…

Paper towel-less and an unfortunate car commercial

Image via Wikipedia Since last Wednesday, I have avoided paper towels almost 100%. I did so because of Reduce Footprint's Change the World Wednesday for last week:

This week, for the entire week, refuse to use paper towels. Yep, 7 days ... no paper towels.
I was in, so starting Wednesday I became very cognizant of paper towels and avoided them at all costs. I was home sick Wednesday and most of Thursday, so I always had a dish cloth/hand towel close at hand to use in place of the paper towels.

On Friday, though, I had to remember not to pull a paper towel from the dispenser in the restroom. I had forgotten to bring a cloth napkin to use, so I had to dry my hands on my sweatshirt.

I had a rehearsal for drama after school on Friday and my team was working outside, under some trees by the lunch tables. One of the biggest fears people have in common at my school is the fear of being pooped on by those ridiculous sea gulls (hello, we do not live near a beach where are you coming fro…

A nagging question and a new addition to our garage

Image by Simon Miller via Flickr Long time no posts, eh? Well I'm going to try and post more regularly--how's once a week sound for a starting challenge?

I've got a bone to pick with a lady at my local Noah's New York bagels. She won't let me reuse a Noah's bag that once held other bagels. I know it isn't her fault that there are regulations to protect companies from getting sued for contaminated food, but she's the only one at that store who follows that rule. Every other employee lets me reuse my bags and they've come to accept it (at first they couldn't understand why I wouldn't just want a new one, but now they see the point).

Of course I understand she wants to follow the regulations, but here's my issue: How is reusing a bag any different than bringing my own mug and filling it with coffee? I could just as easily contaminate my cup and then turn around and sue them (which is utterly ridiculous and should not be allowed) as do the s…