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Showing posts from 2011

Thought for Thursday

"After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked -- as I am surprisingly often -- why I bother to get up in the mornings."
- Richard Dawkins

Pinecrest Lake in Winter

Long Time No See!

Now that I finally have a break from school and will soon be on a break from work, I figured I should update the blogosphere about what I've been up to and share some snapshots of the past few months. I am going to try to post weekly green tips again, even if they are brief, especially during the next month since I am now on break from school.

The first environmental news from my life that I have to share with you is that this quarter, I got a job working in the UCSC Sustainability Office! I am the Internship Coordinator Assistant, which means I process timesheets, create lots of instructional Google Documents for the office, update the office calendar, and compile and send out the office's monthly newsletter, Greening UCSC. I am loving this job, especially all of the opportunities it has opened for me in the sustainability community on campus. This quarter I also became a voting committee member on the Carbon Fund Committee (whose staff members work in the Sustainability Offic…

End of CYES 2011 Barbecue & Final Counts

I got paid to eat spicy ice cream today. And I didn't have to pay for the two scoops, either.

It was spicy because it was peach habanero flavor, and it was free and I got paid for it because of Rising Sun Energy Center and California Youth Energy Services.

I'll rewind. Today was my last day of working for California Youth Energy Services for Summer 2011. All twelve cities celebrated the successful summer of changing lightbulbs and showerheads, among many other things, in a park in Berkeley.
Buddy, the CYES mascot
I played soccer for the first time in years, remembering after a few minutes why I hadn't played in so long. (I'm quite scared of getting kicked in the shins or having a ball knock the air out of my lungs, so I only kicked the ball when no one else was trying to gain possession of it. I stepped out of the game at the first opportunity, but I did have fun!) I also ate delicious food and had lunch for one final time with my awesome team of fellow Energy Specialis…

Cross-Country Bike Ride, and End of CYES

Thomas Fullam, who works for the City of Pleasanton, and two friends are riding their bikes from Oregon to Virginia, updating a blog about their travels along the way. They leave today, and plan to cycle into Yorktown, Virginia, on October 10.

Read the full article that I wrote about the trip on Pleasanton.Patch.com here.

Check back this weekend for a blog post about my experience working for California Youth Energy Services. Today was our last day of Green House Calls, and tomorrow we find out our totals and attend a barbecue to celebrate with all twelve sites. It has certainly been a fulfilling summer.

To read more about CYES, click here.


Helping the Planet, One House at a Time

Did you know that for the many uses we have for freshwater, and for the billions of people living on Earth, that we can only use 0.01% of all the water on Earth? Are you aware that the leaky toilet in your bathroom might be wasting 200 gallons of water daily? How about this: Energy Star rated CFL lightbulbs (the curly ones) use 75% less energy than incandescent lightbulbs because rather than produce heat to make light, they rely on a chemical reaction that takes far less energy to create.

No, I didn't look these startling facts up online. I learned them today, among dozens of others, during training as an Energy Specialist for California Youth Energy Services, a program of the non-profit organization Rising Sun Energy Center. CYES provides free home energy & water consultations (Green House Calls) to increase the energy and water efficiency of homes in the San Francisco Bay Area, thus saving residents money on their utility bills.

Founded in 2000, California Youth Energy Service…

Recycling, and Social Change

Need another reason to recycle? Sometimes it's easier to just toss a recyclable into a nearby trashcan than to wait until you find a recycling bin, but here's a good reason to wait and dispose of it properly:

"Paper takes up 40-50 percent of the volume in American landfills. Despite the growing commitment to local recycling programs, the amount of paper is steadily rising--up from 35 percent in 1970. The rest of a landfill consists of in descending order of volume, construction/demolition debris, metals, plastics, other materials, food and yard waste, and glass."

That quote is from my Archaeology textbook, Archaeology: Down to Earthby Robert L. Kelly and David Hurst Thomas (4th edition, published 2011 by Wadsworth CENGAGE Learning). A lot of the stuff listed there is recyclable and shouldn't even be in the landfill. We could save a whole lot of space for actual garbage by recycling things that are recyclable--especially paper!

On another note, in core class today, …

Hello, Spring?

You know those days that just feel like a particular season? They have some quality that reminds you of the typical feeling you get during that season? Well this morning it feels like Spring outside. When I woke up this morning, I opened up my shades and saw sunlight in the redwoods, and just now as I walked back from the dining hall, I could hear myriad birds chirping. It's a homework day, but it would be nice to explore the forest. As I walked back into my house, I saw a group of students in hiking boots and shorts gathering to leave for a hike. Unfortunately, I have to sit in front of my laptop today and listen to the lectures that I didn't attend for Archaeology class. But I'll keep the shades open and maybe venture out to the Stevenson Knoll for some sun later...

I'll leave you with a poem by Rabindranath Tagore:

Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single
streak of gold f…

Snow, Salamanders and Sinkholes

At nine o'clock this morning, I put a pair of binoculars around my neck and stuffed a small red notebook into my pocket before setting off with a group of four other UCSC students led by UCSC Museum of Natural History curator Chris Lay. I had signed up for this Natural History of the UCSC Campus one-day class last quarter, but it had been cancelled due to rain. Today, even with the threat of snow, the class was still on. It was chilly but fortunately not raining as we set off from the UCSC Recreation Department toward the East Field.

After introductions, Chris asked if there was anything we particularly wanted to see. An environmental studies major named Shannon, who I talked with throughout the hike, said "any mammals other than deer and ground squirrels." We all laughed because moments before we had seen about 25 ground squirrels on the hill by Stevenson College, and deer are ubiquitous throughout the campus. Chris said he hoped today's hike would take us places we&…

Passionate anxious freedom toward death.

I'm writing an essay right now. Okay, well not right this minute, but I'm in the process of writing an essay. Topic: Basic tenets of Malcolm X's philosophy compared with Martin Luther King Jr. Supposed to be 4-5 pages. Almost at 5, and I've still got a few more paragraphs about Malcolm X to write. Greeeeat! So I thought I'd share some pictures I just took in my room since that's definitely going to help me reduce my paper length. Enjoy!

Why, yes, those are Egyptian hieroglyphs! My boyfriend is taking a class in hieroglyphics, so he wrote my name for me!



My desk, where I am about to continue writing my essay. (BTW, that white thing next to my Malcolm X book is this awesome tool that keeps your book propped open so you can eat, transcribe or hands-free read your book! You should get one!)


The quote on my white board. My Stevenson Core class teacher, Mr. Schafer, spoke about Heidegger on Friday. I'm enjoying every minute of my finite journey toward death! Yeah li…

Tuesday Thoughts

I just returned from the dining hall after eating a delicious omelet scramble. My large brown bear mug is filled with the rich, suprisingly well-made coffee the dining hall serves, and it's sitting here on my desk, wafting wonderful scents into the room. When I got back to my house, I checked on the laundry I'd put in the wash right before leaving for breakfast, and my timing was perfect: the laundry was finished washing just as I walked in. Don't you just love when things work out like that?

After I post this, I will return to my reading assignment that is supposed to be completed by noon today for my Native American studies lecture. We're reading Native Features: Indigenous Films from Around the World by Houston Wood. I have to read to chapter 9, and then I'll move on to Archaeology homework. This book on films is quite interesting, as it describes many of the central themes found in indigenous films, as well as analyzes the issues with stereotype found in films a…

This Slug is Taking a Midterm

Ok, so this slug isn't taking a midterm, but this slug (as in ME!) is taking a midterm, at 12pm today! It's a Native American studies class, so I'm actually a little excited since that's one of my favorite topics. Of course, I'd rather take a hike and come across some fellow Banana Slugs, but I am in college to learn, after all.

Have a good one.
- Green Gal

Inspired Babbling!

It's Friday! I wish I could express fully how stoked off life I am right now...and maybe that's the double shot caramel soy latte I had before class that's talking, but my neighbors are playing some cool music that is making me all the more enthused. I wanna get up and dance.

Here's a quick bit about my day, and then I'm off to eat delicious organic salad with a really wonderful person.

I just had a fantastic Core class discussion out on the Stevenson knoll in the sun about Gandhi, his letter to Hitler, and Nietzsche. After the discussion, my instructor Mr. Schafer asked us all to take a moment to be grateful for the beautiful view and the fact that we go to UCSC. Shouts of joy rose into the sky from our circle.

After class, myself and three other students wandered around Cowell and Stevenson colleges with Mr. Schafer, talking about inspiring books and learning a little bit about one another. I talked about the wonders of Thoreau's Walden and mentioned how Thoreau…