Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pig Cuteness, or, I Have the Best Grandma (and Aunt) Ever

I got this in the mail today!


What a family effort! My aunt purchased the pattern from Rumplequiltskins (an Etsy seller), and my grandma made it for me.

Ready to make one in purple, now GM? : )

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

What a cool opportunity! By joining and posting a badge, Brighter Planet is offsetting 350 pounds of carbon! (They explain that is equivalent to turning off 100 lightblubs for a single day or going two weeks without driving a car.) If you have a blog, you can get your badge at the link below! (There you can find out why 350 is an important number.)

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Things I Saw

Even on the short walk from my building to the parking lot, I was treated to a number of beautiful spring sights. First, some ducks!


Of course, ducks and geese love Muller Pond.

Muller Pond

A loud little bird sings from a tree.


Daffodils bloom near Muller pond.


Monday, April 5, 2010

The Amazing Race

Back in 2005, when I was visiting my family in Oklahoma, I saw The Amazing Race (TAR) for the first time. My aunt was a huge fan, and had been for a few seasons. The episode happened to be a two-hour long premier (the season the hay bale unroll road block was used the first time), and I was hooked. Back in Arizona, I learned that other students and faculty in my Ph.D. program also watched TAR, and it was a fun bonding experience to discuss the team dynamics (both intra- and inter-). At that time, I scoured discussion threads for spoilers and clues.

As much as I love TAR, there are many times when I cringe and look away - The Amazing Race is not a vegan-friendly show. Many challenges involve eating traditional meals with meat as a centerpiece. Others might use animals in other ways - such as when the teams in Thailand lay on the ground while an elephant did a routine over them or when they posed with a tiger. On the one hand, I do love to see the native animals, especially when they get the better of the teams, but I am fundamentally opposed to using animals as commodities in any form.

More recently, I have been disturbed by the lack of a sustainable mindset around the race. What I mean is that most of the challenges require extraction and destruction rather than protection or renewal. I realize that even the extraction and destruction can provide education for viewers as well as jobs for native people, but I am disturbed nonetheless. Two weeks ago, in France, teams could choose between finding a bunch of grapes or building a champagne tower. Two teams building the tower made missteps and their towers went tumbling - hundreds of champagne glasses crashing to the concrete floor and shattering.

In last night's episode, one team member had to break coconuts until they found the coconut with dyed milk - then, using the coconut shell, they made a traditional Hindu offering (which was lovely) sent off into the ocean by a priest.

Look at all those wasted coconuts!

I would love to see a season of The Amazing Race with challenges that were designed around giving back to the communities visited by the teams, rather than taking. They could do litter removal challenges, trail-clearing challenges, animal adoption challenges, animal husbandry challenges! Who's with me?

Sunday, April 4, 2010


easter morning, unitarian church
Originally uploaded by aimeedars

Easter at a Unitarian Church is not like Easter at other churches - it's not about, as George likes to call it, Zombie Jesus Day.

Today, the sermon was called, "Hope, When Hope Is Hard to Find." Our minister suggested there are three ways to tap into hope: 1) help others, 2) always strive to be your best self, and 3) remember the big picture. In discussing helping others, Reverend Grimm quoted Ram Dass, who said, "you live, you help," and suggested that our awareness of the suffering of others promotes compassion. In striving to be our best selves, we must endeavor to live our most deeply held values. Personally, I probably have the most difficulty remembering the big picture, so of course, that is the element I am having a hardest time describing. Maybe you can share your wisdom relating to that point!

Promoting the Annual Pledge Drive:
all of us together

Stained Glass Window:
unitarian church

The organist is John Riss, an amazing musician and an Ithaca College graduate.

Postcard Postage (US)

As you probably already know, I love postcards - and I don't get enough of them, even though I swap through online sites - so I'd love you to send one written and "naked" (stamped, no envelope) or blank ones in an envelope. But you may not know that all postcards don't qualify for postcard rate postage, which is currently 28 cents. Only standard 4 x 6 postcards can be sent with postcard stamps. Larger postcards (often 5 x 7, though some are larger) require additional postage.

Some postcard companies include lines for the recipient's address designed to match the front of the card, as in the samples below. The far left sample has a landscape photo on the front of the card, while the near left postcard has a portrait photo on the front. When a 5 x 7 postcard is addressed in the "landscape" style, it requires regular first class postage (44 cents). However, if a 5 x 7 postcard is addressed "portrait" style, it exceeds the acceptable dimensions for first class postage (6-1/8 inches high). Currently, cards addressed in this manner require 88 cents postage.

So, what do you do if the postcard you purchase has a "portrait" style format on the back? You probably don't want to pay the extra postage, so there is an easy fix - simply ignore the lines the company has printed and instead address the card "landscape" style.

Caveat: I have received postcards addressed in a "portrait" style with 44 cents postage that have made it through the mail system, but more often, I have had to go to the post office to pay the extra postage due.

USPS First Class Mail Guidelines

Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls State Park
Originally uploaded by aimeedars

More pictures here!
Learn about Taughannock Fall here!
Related Posts with Thumbnails