Tag Archives: environment

Happy Earth Day! …Unless You Like Greek Yogurt

22 Apr

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Happy Earth Day! …Unless, like me, you love Greek yogurt.

I just found out it takes 90 GALLONS of water to produce one teeny tiny container of Greek yogurt.

But if you are looking for a few Greek yogurt recipes, try these delicious recipes I made:

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Election 2012: Hunting with the President

7 Nov

 

Hunting the Grisly:

One of the nation’s most beloved presidents, Theodore Roosevelt’s connection to nature continues to be seen today: 150 national forests, five national parks, and fifty-one wildlife refuges are a result of his conservation efforts.

I wrote an introduction to this Nook book.  It was interesting following the topics relating to the environment during the election debates.  Considering the plight of our wildlife and natural resources, I’d say we have more work to do.

Election 2012: The White House Landscape Artists

6 Nov

In honor of the upcoming election, here’s a bit of trivia:::

The grounds at the White House in Washington, D.C., were designed by Calvert Vaux and Andrew Jackson Downing.  While Downing was American, Vaux was British.  After Downing was killed in a steamboat accident (I kid you not), Vaux went on to work with Frederick Law Olmsted.  Together they designed Central Park and Morningside Park in Manhattan and Fort Greene Park and Prospect Park in Brooklyn.  Is it any wonder that he cited the Transcendentalist author of “Nature,” Ralph Waldo Emerson, as one of his influences?

I took a group Church Hopping to the Church of the Intercession in Washington Heights, part of New York City, where Calvert Vaux was commissioned to to do landscape work on the cemetery grounds.  You can read about it here.

Road Trip: Lone Cyprus Tree

25 Oct

We stopped real quick to see the Lone Cyprus Tree as we took a road trip along the famous 17-Mile Drive on the California Coast.  It’s such a beautiful symbol, a tree enjoying the salty ocean air.

Here’s a little bit about the Lone Cyprus Tree from Wikipedia:

Chief among the scenic attractions is the Lone Cypress Tree (36.568738°N 121.965321°W), a salt-pruned Monterey cypress (macrocarpa) tree which is the official symbol of Pebble Beach and a frequent fixture of television broadcasts from this area. In 1990 the Monterey Journal reported that Pebble Beach’s lawyer, Kerry C. Smith, said “The image of the tree has been trademarked by us,” and that it intended to control any display of the cypress for commercial purposes. The company had warned photographers that “they cannot even use existing pictures of the tree for commercial purposes.”[3] Other legal commentators have questioned the Pebble Beach Company’s ability to invoke intellectual property laws to restrict others’ use of such images.[4]

 

 

We also passed the Ghost Tree, which is a cyprus that’s turned completely white, but I missed it as we drove by too quickly.

Road Trip: Sea Lions and Sea Otters on the Northern California Coast

19 Oct


 

 

 

I’m a total sucker for cute animal videos, and a while ago I came across this video of a sea lion that falls in love with a woman on the beach.  I’m not sure where it was filmed, but I thought of it when I spotted sea lions while road tripping down Highway 1.

Even cuter than sea lions, though, are sea otters, which are also native to that magnificent stretch of Northern California coastline.  Unfortunately, the lives of sea otters have been in danger due to disgusting toxins flushed into the ocean.  The Sea Otter Alliance is a good resource for finding out more about these adorable animals.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers helpful information on California coastal protection, sustainable seafood, and saving sea otters.  According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website’s sea otter page:

Southern sea otters once ranged from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest. But by the 1920s they were considered extinct due to intensive hunting. They were listed as “threatened with extinction” under the Endangered Species Act in 1977. But despite decades of federal and state protection, the population of southern sea ottersAnimal Guide(Enhydra lutris nereis) which resides along the California coast, struggles to survive at a fraction of its historic numbers, estimated at 16,000-20,000 animals. No one knows why the population isn’t recovering. Pathogens and parasites, possibly linked to coastal pollution, can weaken otter immune systems. And the risk of a major oil spill remains a serious threat.

 

Jack Kerouac obsessed over the death of a sea otter in his novel Big Sur.  After On the Road became such a huge success that fans were literally arriving on Kerouac’s doorstep, the author retreated to nature, staying at his friend Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin in Big Sur.  Kerouac was a man who loved animals, going to the extent of putting out food for wildlife.  He was drinking heavily at the time and the novel documents a dark period in his life.  Death becomes a constant threat, and foreshadows his own premature death, as he sees animals all around him die.  One in particular is a sea otter that washes ashore, which he mentions time and time again in the novel.

 

 

Hipsters Hate Driving

3 Jul

I knew I was getting old the day I saw a car commercial where the driver was clearly younger than I am.

So here’s an interesting bit of news: Generation Y doesn’t like to drive. According to Reuter’s “America’s Generation Y not driven to drive,” the Millennials think driving is more of a hassle than it’s worth.  A California think tank analyst, Tony Dudzik says instead of a driver’s license, a cell phone is the new rite of passage for young adults.

The article points to a few different reasons why Generation Y may be less interested in driving:

  • Smart phones make it easier to know public transportation schedules
  • More Gen-Yers are riding bikes
  • People are more concerned about saving the planet
  • Car-sharing services are making it easier not to have to own a car

From a cultural perspective, this makes total sense.  Gen Y is the hipster culture.  The kids in Williamsburg who listen to low-fi indie music on their hi-tech iphone, knit water-bottle cozies that they sell on etsy, ride their bicycles to work, buy their clothes from Buffalo Exchange, spend their weekends at the food coop, brew their own craft beer, and vlog on YouTube. If they drive, they drive hybrids. Because they’re all about the i-this and the i-that, they seek out community more intentionally. Who needs a car, if your friend or parents (they also happen to be the Peter Pan Generation, living at home after college) have one?

I personally fall somewhere between Gen X and Gen Y, making me part of Generation Flux.  Generation X refers to people born between the early 1960s and 1980s, while Generation Y refers those born between the late 1970s and the 2000s.  I know when I was growing up, there were a lot of cultural arts programs in the school about saving the rainforest and saving the whales, we studied acid rain and the ozone layer, and we joined KAP: Kids Against Pollution.  In drivers ed, they pretty much terrified you with statistics, photos, and videos that suggested it was likely you were going to die if you got behind the wheel. The shows that were popular when I was a teen were Mad About You, Seinfeld, Friends, Will & Grace, and Sex and the City, all of which were set in New York City.  Other popular shows like Ally McBeal, Frasier, and ER were also set in cities. Our stars didn’t drive.  They took cabs and rode the subway. Is it any surprise that we moved into the city and followed suit?

So will a generation who grew up watching Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Snooki getting arrested for driving under the influence and/or crashing their cars, a generation coming of age during the Great Recession, a generation who doesn’t care about driving, embrace the 1950s road trip adventure of On the Road when the movie comes out and the novel by Jack Kerouac it is based on?  Well, here’s another interesting twist: Jack Kerouac didn’t like driving either. If you read his novel, you’ll see that most of the time, the character based on him in the novel is on the bus or in the passenger seat.

How do you feel like the era you grew up in influenced you?

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Tasty Tuesday: Pindar Pythagoras Wine, Greek American Wine from Long Island

15 May

 

Since my thesis was due on a Monday, there wasn’t much opportunity for celebrating.  Instead, I went home after a normal day of work, ate leftover spaghetti and opened a bottle of wine I’d been saving.

Last summer I had gone wine tasting at a couple vineyards on Long Island and picked up a bottle from Pindar Vineyards.  I’d been saving it for a special occasion and thesis submission seemed as good as time as any to crack it open.

The bottle I had picked up surprisingly wasn’t one that I had sampled at the vineyards so I didn’t know what to expect.  I picked it out for its name, Pythagoras.

Pythagoras (ca. 570 BC – 495 BC) was a Greek philosopher and mathematician from Samos, an island in the eastern Aegean Sea.  He later moved out of Greece an into Calabria, in southern Italy, where he lived in a Greek colony called Croton, by the Ionian Sea.  He is, of course, the founder of the Pythagorean theorem.   He set up a school in which music, sports, and diet were important elements.  This would go on to influence Plato.  There’s also a religion associated with Pythagoras, who believed in reincarnation.

The Pythagoras Pindar wine is a Greek wine, but not in the traditional sense.  It is not made in Greece but rather by Greek Americans on the North Fork on Long Island, New York.  Pindar Vineyards was founded by Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos, who was born in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen.  He began buying farmland in Peconic, North Fork, Long Island, in 1979, and started planting grapes the following year.  Today, seventeen different varieties of grapes grow on Pindar Vineyard’s 500 acres.

One of the special aspects of Pindar Vineyards is its commitment to environmental stewardship.  The vineyard practices sustainable agriculture.  You can read about its green initiative on its website.  It’s really quite impressive.

Dr. Dan drew his inspiration for winemaking from the Robert Louis Stevenson quote “wine is like poetry.”  It seems fitting that I should enjoy a wine inspired by literature as a celebration to turning in my thesis.

The Pindar Pythagoras is a red table wine.  It is light with a deliciously spicy bite.  While some reds coat your tongue with sinewy grapes, the Pythagoras has more of a white wine texture.  Delicate and effortless, it’s a good summer red.  Its buoyancy does not mean it’s watery though.  It’s flavorful, with a bit of a kick to it.

Here’s how Pindar describes the Pindar Pythagoras:

This special red was first crafted to celebrate our 20th anniversary. It has the round and full characteristics of Merlot with the slight herbaceousness of Cabernets. This award-winning blend has been named “Best US Red Blend” by the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago and “Best Red Vinifera” in Vineyard & Winery Management’s “Best of the East” competition. Sure to please a wide range of palates.

It’s a good wine to round out a pasta dish with olives in it or some sinfully dark chocolate.

If you’re here in New York, you can purchase it online, but why not take a day trip to Long Island?  You can rent a car or take the Hampton Jitney bus.  It’s a great getaway from Manhattan.

Greek American Film Directory Louie Psihoyos Saves the Whales

7 Jul

Al Gore & co. made it trendy to go green in the millennium.  Back in the mid- to late-19980s, when I was growing up in a small suburb in northern New Jersey, America’s environmental concern was a little more specific.  We all wanted to Save the Whales.  In 1986 the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling.

For photographer and documentary film director Louie Psihoyos, that dream apparently never went away.  Psihoyos’ Oscar Award-winning film, The Cove, uncovers the all-too-real tragedy of dolphin hunting.  (Oceanic dolphins are part of the suborder Odontoceti, toothed whales.)

The film director more recently discovered that the Santa Monica sushi restaurant The Hump was using the meat of protected sei whales in their dishes.  Whale meat is illegal in the United States and was being imported from Japan, which is still a whaling nation (along with the Scandinavian countries of Norway and Iceland and the aboriginal communities of Alaska, northern Canada, and Siberia).  The meat was linked back to seafood vendor Ginichi Y. Ohira, who pled guilty for knowingly selling the whale meat for unauthorized purposes.  He faces arraignment in September.  As for The Hump, it closed its doors, saying:

The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species. Closing the restaurant is a self-imposed punishment on top of the fine that will be meted out by the court. The Owner of The Hump also will be taking additional action to save endangered species.

One such action will be to make a substantial contribution to one or more responsible organizations dedicated to the preservation of whales and other endangered species.

It’s nice to know that photographer/film director Louie Psihoyos hasn’t given up the cause of saving the whales.

Psihoyos was born in Dubuque, Iowa, one of the oldest cities west of the Mississippi River.  (Note to self: today publishing is one of the fastest-growing industries in Dubuque, Iowa.)   He is the son of  a Greek immigrant who fled the communist occupation of the Peloponnesos region of Greece during World War II.

Check back tomorrow to hear the story of a dolphin myth from the Peloponnesus!