May 3, 2008

Sand County Environment

Speaking at the pace of a race horse, I did my best to obtain a good amount of information for my critical analysis on MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability. This group chose to focus on the U.S.A for their study. Specifically they were focusing on reversing the loss of environment resources. The indicator the group chose to focus on was CO2 emissions per capita and the consumption of ozone-depleting substances. I thought this was quite a weak choice of target and indicator since those are the most well known of environmental problems. At least for me I had heard all the information in this presentation twice this semester already. Not to mention reading about it all over the web. One thing I was curious to learn something about was biodiversity loss and the effects that had on our environment. Not climate change which I've heard 3 times now. There were a couple new things I did find interesting though.

30% of energy in the U.S. is used in building construction, quite shocking when we think that our pollution mostly comes from buildings not accounting for construction of the buildings themselves. The information about the 80% of Aluminum cans not being recycled is kind of misleading since the U.S.A is very good at recycling compared to other countries. Approximately, 2/3 of our waste is recycled, Aluminum cans though do provide the most recycling benefits of recyclable goods. When he said how much energy can be saved if we recycle aluminum he was not kidding, I am glad that was brought up. Though I do recall this was supposed to be about reducing Ozone and CO2. During this presentation I did not once hear about ground-level Ozone or CFC's which deplete the Ozone. This may have been about the crunch for time, but with the speed at which this presentation was covered it should have come up somewhere other than just the indicator.

The one main thing that was covered extensively and I think is a great demonstration of not how you can not only reduce emissions, but in fact become carbon negative is the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center.

Aldo Leopold Center.jpg

This center uses radiant heating & flooring that reduces the heat needed to keep the place warm as well with the use of Earth tubes to keep it cool in the summer. It is also uses wood from the trees planted on site in the 1940's for heating and construction of the center itself. The center is equipped with solar panels that generate 39.6 KW of energy output. All of this added together minus trash and a few other things gives this center a carbon footprint of -1.57 ton CO2/year. Not everyone has the money to utilize these technologies right away, but with an initial investment most of them pay for themselves in a couple years. My neighbors have radiant flooring and they say it has helped a ton. This is an example of environment saving technology being put into use in ordinary peoples houses.

This presentation was covered way to fast I understand that you are crunched for time, but then you should just cover the main things not try to crunch all your information in. They brought up some good statistics, but assumed everyone thought global warming was caused by humans and that apparently we knew stuff about the harm of CO2. A little more background on global warming would have assisted the project I believe. The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center was really interesting though, I enjoyed that the most as I said before.

May 2, 2008

Project Stupidity and the Red Crescent

I just wanted to quickly react to the solution in Africa to empower women created by a group from Thursdays lecture. Entitled "Project Unity" their program brings the education to the community level, with having women teach students. They made statements such as this would give women more power by bringing it back to the community, but I disagree with this statement. First, if they are reversing time, by going back to a community structure, wouldn't it be like old times where the women had less power. If they are reverting back to their old culture I believe that the women would have less power not more. Another thing they say is they would get better education. Well a small amount would, as they said many women don't have education. If they don't have education how can they teach someone on how to become educated? It just seems this plan wasn't thought out well and with a couple more weeks of tuning, they could have diminished the lack of knowledge displayed in this proposal.

I've got one more thing to rant about before I do some critical analysis. Why is everyone using parts of others MDG goals in their own goal. I don't see why education has anything to do with child mortality. It may, but groups haven't been explaining it in terms of their goal thus far. Another thing, if your going to talk about Mogadishu, talk about Mogadishu, not other countries like Kenya for your entire presentation. It just seems many people are getting lost in the breadth of their topics.

I would like to make a critical analysis first on a project about MDG goal 4, child mortality. The country this group focused on was Afghanistan. Afghanistan has 191 deaths for every 1000 children under 5, which I found to be quite staggering. It was sad to hear about the major killers of these children, malnutrition, malaria, and diarrhea all have easy cures. One thing I didn't understand about this presentation was so much talk devoted to women, and their place in Afghan culture. This doesn't have much to do with why children are dying it seems to me.

A couple of the programs I thought were really good were the Red Crescent, which is the equivalent to the Red Cross in the U.S., The Community Health Program, and Mobile Health Units. The Red Crescent symbol is shown below.

Red Crescent.jpg

The Community Health programs main focus is getting people access to health care, whether it be bringing it to them or getting people to the hospital by providing transportation. This could really help the Afghans, that don't have much infrastructure to begin with. The other thing I thought was neat was Mobile Health Units because since there isn't much infrastructure from the withdrawal of the tali ban they can still get health care. The cool thing is that each unit drives around and comes equipped with medical staff and medication to do procedures right on site. These are the main things I took away from this presentation, it was quite long with a lot of unnecessary stuff, but overall had some interesting points that stuck with you.

Volunteering the inevitable end, weeks 7 and 8

During week 7 not too much happened. I went back with the fourth grade and we talked about conserving energy by the use of turning off lightbulbs. It was really exciting to note how interested the kids seemed in the matter. It felt good to know that the youth care about conserving energy. Sam and I gave survey's to the kids this week for a reflection on how well they enjoyed it. Not to disclose too much information the kids generally enjoyed being in ACES, which was good to hear. I was given a new name this week as well, Jackson 1. I don't know why, but I guess it was better than Michael Jackson.

For free time I went outside to play soccer, when I was sidetracked by a girl who wanted to play basketball with me. She wasn't very nice, but as the game went on and I started to play a little harder on her, she started to give me some more respect. The game ended when another volunteer told her to run past me and she tripped and almost hurt herself. I helped her a little then went to play soccer with Kevin and Ricky.

This week was my last week volunteering, and it didn't quite go out with a bang. I was with fourth grade again and we did some reading homework. Willy read a spider book, which was really interesting, Kevin read a book about culture also interesting, and Alhondra read a book about a cute little rabbit, not so interesting. After that we watched a film on the raptor center, which my roommate volunteers at. I was able to give a little insight to what goes on there from hearing her, and it was really interesting to hear what the kids had to say. It was cold this week so we stayed inside and played some football. It was me and another volunteer vs a ton of other kids. It was really fun to say the least and a good end to my volunteering.

April 21, 2008

where have to blog prompts gone and volunteer week 6

Well I don't know why we don't have blog prompts anymore, I really miss them. So I decided I'd put in my own little blog prompt to pass the time a little. Currently everyone of us should be hard at work on out MDG projects, but some of them aren't. Its kind of sad really, in a matter of a few days you can have a fully functioning project yet you lack the will to get it done. I frankly have been working hard on our project in hopes of having the best product on display. Enough rambling, time to log in week 6 of volunteering.

Ohh this week I was back with the 6th grade once again. It was alright though they were more sassy than usual this week. Ayarrie had baseball practice I believe so I was stuck with Xemhia, she was very rude to me and I didn't appreciate it to much. Its hard to get by in life when you are mean to people. Today we were to try to figure out the ratio of fresh water to salt water in the world. Most of them guessed way off, but Roxanne was almost spot on. We then had a contest to name the most bodies of water on Earth, and my group won. It was pretty exciting though I doubt I will get to share in the treat. The last thing we did before free time was play brain quest, it was fun as Ayarrie took the show getting almost all the questions right for our team.

During free time today we were supposed to use the large gym, but I saw some kids using the small gym. I told Josh and all was solved. Every kid got to enjoy the large gym whether they wanted to play basketball, soccer, or football everyone had a chance to play. That is it for week 6.

March 28, 2008

MDG Boredom

First off I just noticed that Blog 6 never posted, and I can't figure out why, but I did get it done before it was due, actually as you can see I've gotten them all done about a week before there due. I'll try to get it to publish but its being stubborn. Well I just used photoshop and here are my 3 title pages. Well actually, I didn't use photoshop because it crashed my computer. There is one that I created in photoshop here and two that I created in Indesign.

easterneurope map 2 copy.jpg

Parchment Style.jpg

Eastern Europe MDG.jpg

March 25, 2008

Volunteer work weeks 4 and 5

I don't know what happened to 3, but I'll just move onto 4 and 5. The last two weeks I've been working with the 4th graders and well its been an interesting experience. When they first found out I was going to be in their group they said how is it going Michael. I had discovered that my name had followed me from 6th grade and I thought it would stick forever.

Week 4 - Monday afternoon began with me going with the 4th graders to the library. I helped Ricky/Freddy, I'm not sure of the name with his state poster project. At first he wouldn't tell me what his state was until I guessed it. Well I peaked at the poster and told him it was Arizona, but he said it wasn't. Once we did get to work on the poster I learned a few things including that the sunniest place in the United States is Yuma, Arizona. After that the kids asked me some questions in Spanish that I had no idea what they meant. They had fun with that at my expense, but it was fun. During activity time we set up a daily schedule which I helped Kevin. We put together a poster consisting of mostly sleep, school, and games of sorry with his family. It was quite interesting to find out how little sleep these kids were getting. After that we went to the gym to play soccer again which was pretty uneventful.

Week 5- 3/24
The afternoon started with me handing out the snacks as the children arrived. None of them like milk, I was thinking they should get chocolate milk more often then maybe they would get the calcium at least. The snack as usual was a great success. After that I went with the 4th grade again and to my amazement they called me Dan. I was very excited to get my name back. I went with Kevin's group of 4th grade, for some reason they split them up, with our group only ending up with 3. We got to talk about part of my major today, global warming. Since I'm majoring in environmental stuff and I am very interested in it, I got to use my expertise to tell the kids about global warming in some more detail than the sheet gave. The activity was too see the affects of global warming by planting seeds in 2 jars, one covered with plastic and they other open to the environment. The one with plastic was supposed to simulate the greenhouse effect, but there wasn't enough time given to observe it. Maybe next time I volunteer I will be able to see the result. After that we had reading time where I introduced Kevin and Willy to goosebumps. The library had a nice selection which I was happy to see because those books where so good when I was a child.
Finally we went to the gym to play the weirdest game of kickball I've ever witnessed, I had no idea how to play it. Kids were running the bases twice, 3 kids on a base, and going back up to kick after they were out, it was odd to say the least. Next week they have off, but following that I will be back, and after this week I'm excited.

March 7, 2008

Outrage and Originality

First off I am outraged at the blog of the week last week. It was a travesty that such a pitiful effort would be rewarded with Blog of the Week. Many other students, including me, try week in and week out to create the best blog possible to be displayed on Thursdays. Giving this 15 minute or less attempt blog of the week is rubbish. I thought blog of the wee k was supposed to stand for great original content. Sure it was original, but it lacked much content. I hope in the future the blog of the week will be chosen with greater care to all of the students who spend hours slaving away to perfect their blogs.

This weeks blog prompt is documenting some examples of presentation/documentation styles that you may use for your term project.
Here are some presentation styles you may choose when putting together a presentation.

Sometimes the simplest layout can have the maximum effectiveness. Too much clutter can lead viewers away from point your trying to make.

Gives the presentation a consistent flow, pulling the whole presentation together. Ozayr's slides resemble this approach well. A consistent layout keeps your viewers focused on what your trying to present not what is going on in the empty space. This brings me to another style, empty space.

-Empty Space
Good use of empty space can help viewers focus on what is presented. Good Use of empty space can leave your viewers imagining what should be in that space. At least thats what I do sometimes.

It is critical that you don't force things into slides just because you can. Graphics and text should go with what is being presented on the page. Say if I was showing a slide with post-Soviet leaders, and put a picture of George Bush on there it wouldn't make sense. Sure he is a post-Soviet leader for the United States, but in a report that talks about post-Soviet countries it wouldn't make much sense. Hence, its unnaturalness.

The right amount of subtlety can bring your viewers imagination to life and allow them to think independently of your own work.

Here are my own presentation styles!

-The Sympathy
Start your presentation off with some kind of sad note. Like thousands are dying from Mad Cow Disease in Europe. This immediately instills emotion in your viewers and will give them something to care about. If you can get them to start caring about the presentation early you'll have them hooked for the rest of the presentation.

-Big Bang Theory
You are running out of time on getting a paper done and you don't know how to bump up the grade. Well with the Big Bang Theory you concentrate your final moments on making the end as spectacular and captivating as possible. This will leave an impression in the grader and viewers long after the presentation is done. They will hardly remember that the whole rest of the thing sucked.

-Quote Qualms
Don't feel bad that you can't think up your own original ideas. That is what quotes are for. By putting a quote in your presentation you can say that a person's thought were exactly what you were thinking. You will never have to tell them the truth, that you couldn't come up with anything better. Quotes also make good starts and ends to presentations, because the people you quote are often smarter than you and they will immediately make you seem smarter too.

-Original Plagarism
Ohh yes, I used synonyms for the nouns in their sentence and kept the same meaning, good for me. Yes, people often employ the use of Microsoft Word's synonym command which allows them to replace other peoples work with a carefully disguised revision. Now you have made the sentence your own, congratulations!

-Confusion (Big Words)
This tactic is best employed using big words that no one knows in a neat and intelligent matter. Often your viewers will get confused and think to themselves, well this could be a great presentation, but I can't make out those big words. By making yourself come off smarter than your colleagues you can earn points toward getting an A. Note: If your professor is really smart like Ozayr this approach is futile. He will catch right on and nail you with a big F.

-Ditch out
Finally, the best presentation style of all is to just ditch the whole presentation at the last sec

March 2, 2008

Volunteer work weeks 1 and 2

Week 1
- My first week of volunteering was quite interesting. I began by giving out the milk and snack as the kids arrived. Let me note about only 10% of them actually took the milk, I didn't understand why. Milk is really good isn't it. After snacks we went to the rooms, I went with the 6th grade. We were supposed to do homework right away, so they did a little, but it was kind of boring for me. Then Ayyarie welcomed me to a game of brain quest against the other volunteer there. I beat him, but then all the girls wanted to go against me, Eric and the other volunteer. We were winning early on, but they had got the last question to win. Our punishment, dancing. I would say I am a very bad dancer, but compared to the other TA I was looking pretty good.

After dancing the kids were assigned to complete some logos for the LA Nike's. The most interesting one I saw was Ashly's blood dripping dog. It was a well drawn dog, but I don't know how much it had to do with a team logo. After activity time we had free time, which I used to go play soccer. All of the kids were pretty good at soccer, one of them even scored on me. After soccer the kids went home, all in all it was a really fun time.

Week 2
-This time I came in and I knew what was going on so I got right to work. I brought down all the tables right away and waited for the kids to arrive. Homework time was non-existent this week and we immediately began by doing an interviewing activity. The activity was set up as they would write questions while I the instructor and volunteers would act as a person. I was Michael Jackson and Jamie Lynn Spears. I also learned that Michael Jackson's kids name is Blanket, I found that quite interesting. After that I went with Ayyarie to her locker to fetch a Miley Cyrus CD. All the girls then danced to that, but I opted out to join in this time. Instead, me and Eric did some really hard riddles. One of them is was the more there is the harder it is to see. The answer was darkness, but it took us a long time to get it. After that we had free time again and the kids seemed a little more reluctant to cooperate with everyone. For some reason it seemed like they were having a bad day. I didn't have any goals scored on me this time, which was a good thing. I can't wait to go back Monday though, volunteering has been fun.

February 29, 2008

What is done after winning blog of the week

You know what you do after you win blog of the week, you disguise your blog. You know why; so you can win blog of the week again and again, creating a blog of the week empire. Seriously though, I accomplished a huge goal of mine last week, thanks for honoring me with blog of the week Ozayr. Here is a special clip before I get into this weeks blog entry.

This week I will be doing a profile of Dubai, a city I greatly enjoy studying since it is full of a variety of phenomena.
What really defines me is pushing the limits, inventing/doing things never been conceived of before. I find great satisfaction by solving problems and having people say I never thought of it that way. If I had to say what city I am like in terms of that it would have to be Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. I must note that 1/5 of all cranes in the world are currently working on projects in Dubai. Here is a small list of some of the buildings you should check out, either under construction or completed.
-Rose Tower (under construction, will be worlds tallest hotel once open)
-Almas Tower (74 stories, built on an artificial island)
-Emirates Towers (12th tallest buildings in the world)
-Hydropolis Hotel(worlds first underwater hotel, scheduled to open in 2009)
-Palm Islands (3 man-made islands, one will be the worlds largest manmade island housing 1 million people)
For scope here is one of the islands viewed from the international space station.

Dubai Palms.jpg

As you can see from the photo Dubai is obviously situated in a desert, but then how do you explain this?

Yes inside the Mall in Dubai there is a ski resort, from the video you can't see the whole hill, it actually turns the corner and slopes up even more. This is just a sample of what Dubai has to offer, now I'd like to go into a little more detail about 2 buildings in particular, the Burj Dubai, and the Burj Al Arab.

The Burj Al Arab is currently the worlds tallest hotel standing in at 321m. It sits on the coastline of Dubai and is designed to represent a billowing sail. It houses the worlds largest Atrium and commonly calls itself the worlds only "7-star hotel". This hotel has 202 rooms ranging in price from $1,800-3,700 a night. I think this is a bit ridiculous, and this money could be better spent somewhere else, but that is one nice looking building.

Burj Al Arab.jpg

Now I am going to delve into the behemoth that is the Burj Dubai. Estimates range from 2,500m in height when completed, to more than 3,000m. I won't go into particulars on what height records this skyscraper will surpass just know it is a lot of them including tallest free standing structure in the world. Whats more interesting is how the Burj Dubai will utilize its height to improve the area around it. Since Dubai is in a desert climate there isn't very much precipitation. The Burj Dubai will help bring water by using the condensation given by the hot humid outside air meeting the cold interior of the building. This condensation will be brought down the skyscraper to be utilized in the towers surrounding landscape. This system will provide 15 million gallons of water that will be stored in tanks under the basement. Another cool feature that utilizes the height of the structure is the observation deck. It will be placed at 1,440ft the highest in the world, and with have the worlds fastest elevators to reach the deck (40mph).
The rebar used to make the skyscraper if stretched from end to end would go 1/4 the way around the world. Just so you get a scope of how tall this thing is in relation to other so called "skyscrapers", look at the skyline of Dubai.

yeah thats tall.jpg
Looking at that one must note about 70% of these skyscrapers are under construction as of now. I spotted 30 cranes in that picture working on a handful of innovative structures. As you can see Dubai has that sense of wonder about it. You never know what your going to get going to visit that city be it underwater hotels or artificial palm islands. Dubai truly represents the innovative mind of myself. Some of the city does represent over spending snobbery which I do not approve of though. Just because you have a lot of money doesn't mean you have to waste it on building unnecessary buildings. Sometimes this money can be used to help starving children or help poor parts of that city. In the case of the artistic aspects of Dubai, I think it is has one of the best in the world.

February 25, 2008

Texas Toast (i.e. blog of week attempt 4)

If not constrained by the architectural school program I honestly have no idea what I would do. As a matter of fact I don't know what I am going to as of right now. There are so many things I am interested in, it would be hard for me to decide. Starting in high school I designed a tripod bridge, in which two tripods sat in the water facing each other, then two seperate roadways would run on each side of the tripod. It developed into a 6-mile bridge about a mile high by my senior year, since then I have lost it, hopefully I will be able to recreate it and show it soon. Here is a very crude top down view of the bridge. I emphasis very crude because only a handful of the support system is shown.

Bridge 2.bmp

The complicated thing about the bridge design is it has to do with both Architecture and Civil Engineering fields. This is why I have been unable to choose which profession would be better for me. If I could get help deciding it would be greatly appreciated. Is that drawing Civil Engineering or Architecture? On the other hand I also like to build websites, and if I wasn't in architecture I might pursue another one of my interests, getting rid of paper. I was going to do this with a website, which I still own the rights to for another 2 years, but I have been to busy to work on it ever and since has been taken off the web until I have time to prepare the site or can get help constructing it. Plus I don't have the skill required to build this site yet. My goal would to be to find a student who would be willing to go into this entrepreneurship with me. Here is the text attack logo:

Text Attack 2006

Finally the last thing I would do would be to write music with an environmental message. I've got a couple I would prefer to keep to myself right now. Music is my newest thing that I've started in the last year. It is a lot of fun and I might do that if I wasn't restricted to architecture. Here is a song I just wrote about Ozayr and his obsession with texas toast, its good stuff.

Texas Toast

Woke up this morning at the break of dawn
Went downstairs to get my groove on
Opened up the fridge and peeked in
The smell of it made me cringe
Yes it did Yes it did
Dug into the back
And picked out some butter
spread it on my bread thought it in my head
My name is Ozayr and I like toast
Nothings better than some texas toast

Ohh wake up in morning, flipin on the tube
Read a little news about the Canadian goose
Waiting for my bread to come poppin out of the toaster
Lips are smacking at the smell this toast bolsters
Only in Texas can they make it more than just ordinary
They make it texas toast

Yesterday there were so many things I wasn’t told
Your smell has brought me down to Minneapolis thus far
The savory crunch will bring me the rest of the way
Why everyone doesn’t live in texas is a mystery to me

Maple syrup has nothing on you, but its good to put on you
If America was flipped upside down we could put you together
A special treat for you and me to enjoy
ohh texas toast how much I love you

February 18, 2008

Oil to our Death

For my millennium goal I chose environmental stability because the environment is the only true thing that matters on earth. No environment, little life, while the other development goals have moral implications our environment has life or death implications of the entire species. Maybe it is a little early to be taking the environment to such high standards over the other development goals, but I truly believe while HIV, poverty, and inequality will always exist to some extent, if we don't take more action to sustain and improve our environment though, we will cease to exist. Maybe not in my lifetime or the next, but where do you draw the line and decide your children will not come into the world worse off. I find it quite saddening to know that the human population will continue to grow and enhance the problems that already exist. The solutions are not all that difficult to understand, but the sacrifices to make that change sometimes are. Only when pushed to edge do you see these changes occur, when no other options exist humankind makes its triumphant victory under seemingly impossible odds. If only instead of when we were bathing in the sun we were working under it we would have saved hundreds of lives. Instead we wait till the last moment, but the environment cannot be saved at the last moment, either the trend stops soon or we lose. There are no exceptions, no one can escape it, you may have the illusion that 50 years are left, but the truth is you've already passed the time. The time is upon us and we are already starting to pay for our actions; we will continue to pay more and more dearly as the years progress. How dearly we pay depends on us. In a famous quote Francis Bacon says "We cannot command Nature except by obeying her." Here are a couple events caused by us in the past few years.

2008 tornado outbreak-CBS.jpg
Courtesy of CBS

A couple of weeks ago many tornadoes rolled through the Tennessee area, killing 55 people. Now tornadoes in late winter are not all that uncommon. The frequency of large scale weather events in the past 10 years of my life is what has been startling though. Just today my mom sent me some pictures of the snow we have at my house in Wisconsin and it was amazing. In the 17 years that we have lived there we have never had close to as much snow as we have right now. The snow has climbed over 3ft and has rendered my snowmobile buried.

3ft of snow.JPG

Of course the big daddy of them all was Katrina in 2005. 219 bodies have been found so far. This is a simple case of mankind sitting idly by and failing to react before and after the crisis occurred. If the levees were built to specs and FEMA ready right after the storm we would not be talking about it today. It is not in human nature to do anything unless we have someone breathing down our back. Maybe it is a good thing such a catastrophe happened to us, global warming debate has never been so much at the forefront since then. The debate is whether Katrina was a 250 year hurricane or influenced by humans. I think they know the answer to that question, hence why global warming has been such a huge issue since. Without Katrina and rising oil prices I don't see any reason why hybrids would exist at all. Only by the oil crisis do we have these cars. As Albert Einstein said "We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive." If we only wait to see the results and hypothesize instead of taking the initiative we shall continue to have pictures like this.

courtesy of

We also have a moral obligation to our children to preserve the environment. "Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth" said Henry David Thoreau. It is by human nature that we attempt to tame our wilderness and modify it to our needs. We have been doing it for centuries, so trying to change the way we look at earth is difficult. As Aldo Leopold states, "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." It is in our best interest to preserve places like yellowstone for our kids to enjoy, even if there is 100 billion gallons of oil there. It shouldn't be our decision to make, nature is precious, and once it is gone it is almost impossible to recover. ANWR is a perfect example of this. Oil companies and lobbyists say that drilling for oil in ANWR would have minimum impact, if any at all, to the environment. Well if I am going to ANWR to go camping and look into a long distant valley, do I want to see a massive pipeline taking oil out, the answer is not up to me. Here is a beautiful picture of ANWR.

courtesy of

In one of my favorite quotes Henrik Tikkanen states "Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us." Looking at the picture I would surely condemn the bastard who put steel pipeline into my beautiful landscape. It is in many cases where mankind has been unable to reach that we find the greatest beauty left on earth. These unreachable areas are likely to be the last of what will be of nature for future generations to enjoy.

courtesy of

Indeed if we leave nature alone and stop putting our own additions into her she will take care of us. "There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed," explains Gandhi. By getting off the couch and putting that can in the recycling the bin, instead of the garbage, you are already working towards a better world. By helping nature she will help you. This ends my discussion for this week on environmental stability; here are some quotes and songs that pertain to this discussion. If you have some time check them out.


For 200 years we've been conquering Nature. Now we're beating it to death. ~Tom McMillan, quoted in Francesca Lyman, The Greenhouse Trap, 1990

Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him? ~Pierre Troubetzkoy

God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the west... keeping the world in chains. If [our nation] took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Best of Both Worlds- Billy Bauer /Great reminder of how we walk past natures wonders without taking a second to investigate.

Lazy Eye- Silver Sun Pickups/ Gives you a feeling of warmth and that things will get better.

Highway to Hell- AC/DC /Analogy that we sit idly by, but really we are just on a road to hot hot hell.

Livin on the Edge- Aerosmith /There is something wrong with the world today and we wonder what it is, we don't see what god sees. Great song!!!

Move Along- All American Rejects /We gotta be strong an move along, even with no hope we can make it through.

What about Everything- Carbon Leaf /What about everything, the planes, trees, and cars.

Colorful- Rocco Deluca /I don't know why, just reminds me of and earthly song.

February 9, 2008

Sweet and Low (3rd edition)

If you would like to listen to Sweet and Low while reading this open a new tab in your browser and go to, great new song from one of my favorite artists.

Society has been increasingly supportive of easiness and being lazy when it comes to everything other then work. This is coming back to get us with gas prices rising over $3 and there isn't any sign of that slowing up. We are a country of freedom thats why we drive vehicles. It is an expression of our freedom, some won't change while others have opted for another form of transportation, cycling. Why then is it that I still find it so difficult to navigate my way to class by bike?

The answer to this question lies rooted in the past, when gas was cheap. Since it was convenient just to bus or drive to work, engineers and architects designed roads for the purpose of vehicles and vehicles only. This has created many problems as more bikers are now trying to take to the roads. I have personally seen these effects in the many times I have fallen off my bike. Once on a very blizzard like day the plows had yet to plow to the edge of the road (they never do) thus making it impossible for me to bike on the road; I was then forced to take the sidewalk. When crossing the sidewalk I hit the curb quickly tumbling through the air and onto the ground. If only I had some maintained bike lanes or roads I would have easily avoided the curb and the people on the sidewalk that I was hurled at.

I don't know how many times I've had to go on the sidewalk to avoid a car parking on the side of the road, not to mention those damn buses. Bikers have gotten a reputation that they think they own the road when the opposite is true. We are a class of people that sole purpose is to make it to our destination safely. When we are on the sidewalk you get mad that we want to get by you, well if you would just make us some bike lanes we wouldn't have to ride up in your grill. The same goes for you people driving, you honk at us for getting in your way, if we had our own roads you would give us a wave of thanks. It seems though bikers have been put on the bottom for the list of importance in the transportation department. We build networks of roads for cars and sidewalks for everyone to walk on, but you can only find a handful of bike paths in the Twin Cities. This design problem is why we conflict with the other forms of transportation.

All hope is not lost as growing interest in biking has caused places like the U to refocus there efforts on making a safer and more biker friendly campus. "Climate for biking around campus has improved significantly, in keeping with the broader Twin Cities area. Minneapolis was recently ranked second among 50 American cities in the number of people who commute to work by bike--about 4,700 or 2.4 percent--trailing only Portland", writes Rick Moore of UMN news. The U has made some efforts in the past such as painting paths connecting the east and west banks, but the campus commuters reach much farther from campus than that. Transportation efforts stretching all the way to Como will surely help make biking more pleasant, but we will still be biking on the roads of cars. It is almost impossible to overcome such a social design issue as this because our the city was built around our feet and motor vehicles not our bikes; it seems we will always have share the road with someone, at least it is progress.

One of my suggestions to fix some problems would to be to create more bike paths like the ones along the East River Walkway, instead of just painting lines along the road. The paths along the road are much wider than a normal sidewalk allowing for easy sharing between pedestrians and cyclists. This is a great help to bikers because having our own lane apart from pedestrians allows us to maintain speed and keep from almost hitting you. This would be the single greatest thing the city could to do for cyclists. Another thing that could be made more clear is that the bike lane is for bikes, not for parking your Civic. Putting in limits for the amount time people can stay in our lanes would minimize a lot of dodging traffic. Cars are only cause small problems for bikers though. Buses are the worst hazard to bikers, they pull into our bike lanes right in front of us and expect us to stop instantly. I have almost gotten killed a couple of times by them doing this to me. Even reading my last blog you can tell I am bitter towards buses. They are a good idea to save gas, but frankly they have no respect for others on the road. Fixing these main two problems would go a long way in fixing the design issues between bikes and other modes of transportation.


I find it funny how this guy looks like he got hit in a parking lot, but all the cars are parked curious. Is he trying to make a statement about how he has nowhere to bike. I do not know, I'll leave that to your interpretation.

Moore, Rick. " Brighter biking ahead near U." UMN News. 2007. University of Minnesota. 8 Feb 2008 .

January 31, 2008

On the Road

People often ask me, Dan why do you ride your bike when its so cold outside. I always give them the same answer; what are you talking about it's a nice day out. The reason I enjoy being out in the elements is because everyday there is something new and surprising, be it the scent of a Quizno's sub from afar, or witnessing a duck navigate her chicks down the Mississippi River there is always something interesting. A few days ago, I witnessed the Mississippi River frozen over by the shear cold it was enduring. This was the first time I've witnessed ice blanket the entire river since I've been at the U. What really impressed me was for that moment the power of the river had seemingly succumbed to the cold.

In the case of many cities like Minneapolis, water was the main foundation from which the cities built out from before modern transportation (cars, airplane, trucks, buses, etc..). Waters and lakes provided a source of water as well as a transportation device. River's have a sense of power about them and such cases as a dam we can utilize there power to generate electricity for our cities. When I go running I like to go run on the river walkway because it is one of the only places around here that has that small sense of wilderness, I experienced where I grew up. For the most part a city is a foreign place for trees and vegetation, they are only established there as blockades between houses, giving a false sense of plant life in a concrete setting, or decorations to pay a passing glance too. The flow of the city doesn't come from living plants, but rather it alienates them. This is not to say the flow of cities isn't impacted by natural resources, this is very much true. Biking I've noticed many more semi's driving past me than back at my hometown. It would seem that cities are the tool for which we convert outside natural resources into a usable product for our consumers. As a way to try to calm the outside energy into a focused product. Many fortune 500 companies in Minneapolis such as Best Buy, Target, 3M, and General Mills model this.

The city provides a source of energy not prevelant in large quantities when living in the country. This source is people. They don't always result in postive things (ie breathing in exhaust while running isn't good), but they provide many unique oppurtunities. Activities such as skating, clubbing, going to the movies, concerts, professional sporting events, and the Obama rally can only be found in large cities that can exchange energy (as well as money) over many people. An Obama rally in any other city in Minnesota would have less impact on his campaign because he realizes in large cities such as Minneapolis he can transfer his energy to many more people. Large energy exchanges among people is an unique feature to cities. As I keep biking through the city I will better understand the flows, exchanges, and transformations in the city life. People, industry, and water seem to be some of the main things that drive Minneapolis as I see it, but things such as why people ride buses to class, I don't think I'll ever understand.