Monday, March 31, 2008

Is it just me or is this pretty funny?

I was walking around the lake last week when something struck me as so funny that I couldn't stop laughing. I was afraid that I might get reported for walking in a public park while intoxicated but the only thing I was drinking was water.
The place where it hit me the hardest to the point of laughing out loud was right at the spot where I took the photograph above. If you look at the far right mid point of the photograph, you will see a wooden structure. Guess what would be positioned right there off of a hilly part of the path. Give up? Well let me show you below.
Yes indeed, if walking, jogging, bicycling, or running around the lake isn't ambitious enough for you, there is an area for push ups and a little factoid from a community hospital. Below is another shot of the hill taken from another stopping point which made me laugh almost as hard.What do you think you would want to do before heading up the hill or doing some push-ups?Did you guess? Of course you did, jumping jacks. What else would you want to do before starting up the hilly part of the lake trail.
I'm not sure why this struck me as so funny when in the past I haven't been as struck by the exercise options on the lake. Perhaps it was because I was doing my long walk which I haven't done in a while.
I was pleased that I could do my old 5 mile walk, starting from my house and ending at my house, but it was definitely a stretch for me.
There was something about encountering all these stations for doing additional exercises that totally cracked me up.You notice how there isn't exactly a long line to use these exercise stations either.
These geese were the only ones who seemed to be considering using the exercise spots.There were a few people fishing. Quite a few walkers, joggers and cyclists but not a soul taking advantage of the strategically placed exercise stations.
It's not even that I haven't done many of the exercises they have stations for. It's the idea of doing them out at the lake where the ducks will be laughing at me and my antics.
I am very pleased with how my latest effort towards regular exercise is going. Saturday, April 5 will be 30 days since I started my latest effort and so far I've only had one day per week when I haven't gotten any exercise. Can you see me patting myself on the back?Hopefully if I ever walk past someone doing push ups or jumping jacks along the trail, I'll be able to control myself and not burst out laughing.I remembered something else that also makes me laugh, although 20 years ago when it was happening I wasn't amused. There is a playground for children near the arts center which overlooks the lake. I used to take my daughter there for her play time and then I'd stroll her around the lake for my walking time. The exercise stations at the lake aren't designed for children but when she was a toddler and pre-schooler, she'd want to get out of her stroller and try the exercise stations when I was trying to walk. I assumed that she got her play time at the play ground but oh no, she had to check out the exercise stations. So not only are the stations under used by the adult population, they are one more thing that makes young children want their parents to stop walking so they can try them out.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 30

I've had a great weekend. Making the decision to turn off my computer Friday night and to leave it off until Sunday, as an extension of my earth day activities worked out great. I also decided not to turn on my TV Saturday either.
Saturday morning, I found myself falling back into the old rhythm I had for decades, prior to my habit of starting off the day online. I've had internet access since the mid 1990s but it's only been the past three years that I've started spending so much of my leisure time and work breaks online. It was a rainy day so after I read my newspaper and wrote in my paper journal (something I almost never do anymore), I finally started trying to make some progress towards cleaning my house which is long over due. You can see in the shot above how clean my bathroom is. Just kidding. That's one good thing about earth hour. My house looked much cleaner by candle light. Even the rooms I didn't clean yet.The first job I tackled prior to Earth Hour on Saturday was to get rid of some of the piles of paper (mail, papers to file, etc.) which collect on all of my table tops. Even though I used candles which were in containers, I am very fearful of fire. We have been getting a little rain this weekend. However, due to the long drought we've been in, the fire warnings are frequently going out. No outdoor burning, including barbecues are allowed for much of the time.
Although I did turn my computer on this morning, I found myself reading my newspaper with my morning coffee as well as writing in my paper journal again this morning. Although there is a lot of news available on the internet, I find myself skimming so much when I read newpapers via bloglines. I have several major newspapers in my bloglines reader as well as some of the blogs I read. I'm not sure why but I think when I read the news in paper form, I focus more on the details and take in more. I think spending a little less time at the computer will be good for me.

Weekend Snapshot

Friday, March 28, 2008

Going Low Tech Briefly

I won't be participating in photohunters this week due to my low tech start to the weekend. I'm sure I'll be back to the photohunt next weekend. I'm turning my computer off tonight as usual but the difference is that I won't be turning it back on until Sunday morning. Small step but as I've mentioned in prior posts I wanted to add some symbolic gestures to my participation in earth hour on Saturday. At 8 pm (everyone uses their time zone), many people (billions according to latest press releases) will turn their lights off for one hour to call attention to global warming. For those of you in the U.S., if you go the this link you will see a list of major skyscrapers and other iconic landmarks which are turning off their lights during earth hour. If you google with earth hour, you can find press releases from many different parts of the world. Earth Hour began in Australia in 2007 and this year has spread to become a big even in many different countries.I haven't taken a laptop on my last few vacations so it's not like I don't have longer periods of time than this 24 hour period where I'm off line. However, I'll admit that I'm very aware of the fact that I won't have my computer on all day Saturday. It also occurred to me that my plan to do taxes this weekend will mean that I'll have to work on them Sunday, since I use my computer for that. That's actually a positive of having my computer off tomorrow, I have a good excuse to put off doing taxes one more day. Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Finished Day 20, More on Global Warming

Yesterday was Day 20 of my latest effort to begin anew with regular exercise. I decided to mark the occasion with a long walk. I did the walk which was my regular walk and then jog for many years. I leave my house and walk a little over a mile to the lake, around the lake, and back home. That walk is almost exactly 5 miles and I knew would be a stretch for me at this point in my life but I did it. That brought me up to 18 days of exercise out of the past 20 and it felt great.
One of the main parts I like about my long walk is that I get to walk around the lake without driving to walk. I don't mind driving to walk when it's an outing with Bill or I'm meeting another friend but in terms of my regular daily solo walking, something about the idea of driving to walk bothers me in terms of energy usage. I also have so many alternate walks without driving to walk. The closest greenway trail is less than a 1/2 a mile from my house. Once I get to the lake trail if I go that far, there are many variations and alternates. The biggest problem with walking to walk is if I'm only walking 2 to 3 miles, I can't walk around the lake which I enjoy. Therefore, I'm hoping my energy will be sufficient to do the 5 mile walk at least once a week.I was very tired after my 5 mile walk but didn't have much extra pain. Minor additional pain in my left leg which is the one with some lymphedema but nothing major. Perhaps the most encouraging part is later in the afternoon when I realized I needed to pick up a few things at my corner pharmacy, I was able to go on the short walk there. When I say short, I mean short because it's only 2 short blocks from my house. There is no excuse for me to ever drive there. I walked there within a week of my lymph node dissection when my leg was still fresh from surgery years ago. However, as close as it is, if I hadn't made the decision to walk to run errands as much as possible as an energy conservation measure, I'm sure after my 5 mile exercise walk I would have driven there. I had to walk slowly but I was fine. This morning I'm feeling pretty good too.
Saturday is earth hour and I wanted to mention an article related to global warming. Dee who blogs at Dee's Updates sent me an article which I found very interesting and is directly related to global warming. The city of Kivalina and the native village of Kivalina filed suit this month against the oil and energy producers over their huge greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming. Kivalina, located north of Kotzebue on the tip of a six-mile barrier reef between the Chukchi Sea and Wulik River, is home to 399 people. “Kivalina residents are Inupiat Eskimo whose ancestors occupied the area since time immemorial. Global warming is destroying Kivalina and the village must be relocated soon or be abandoned and cease to exist,” reads the complaint. You can read the whole article at the link I provided but I thought I'd mention that part of the complaint is this - The plaintiffs allege that not only did the companies increase their greenhouse gas emissions, but engaged in a conspiracy, spearheaded by ExxonMobil, to discredit and distort scientific facts of global warming.
Coincidentally, I was reading through the Nature Conservancy resources on Climate Change which is well worth checking out, and I stumbled on a 2003 article which mentioned the Inupiat Eskimos and how they were watching their world melt beneath them. It is very sad and an example of how the repercussions of global warming involve devastating loss. The Pew Center on Global Climate Change has a very succinct page on global warming basics which gives a very good overview of the issues, and challenges facing us.I am going to cut off my computer Friday night and keep it off until Sunday as a symbolic gesture. I am trying to add conservation measures to my daily routine but also as part of my Earth hour participation, I'm not turning my computer or TV on at all on Saturday. Therefore, unless I do an early photohunt post Friday, this will be my last post until Sunday. I almost always post my photohunt post on Friday but since I won't be able to visit photohunters on Saturday, I'm thinking I may skip this week. I like to come up with a post for the theme every week because it's fun so we'll see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Birds, Water, trees, walking

This is a great time of year to photograph the birds. The little Carolina Chickadee above is nesting in a box up against the driveway side of my house. Earlier in the season, the chickadees and other birds fly off when they hear or see me. At first I couldn't figure out why she would stay put, for the most part, fussing at me but not leaving while I snapped a bunch of pictures.
Once I walked to the other side of the tree the little chickadee flew into the nesting box and I realized she was waiting me out. I have nesting boxes on 3 sides of my house and there are advantages and disadvantages to the ones on the driveway side. The disadvantage is the little bird and her babies, when they come, have to tolerate me walking up and down, and driving up and down, the driveway. They seem to get used to me this time of year or maybe they have too much to do to bother with flying farther away from me like they do during less busy seasons.I am enjoying the contrast in the neighborhood trees this time of year. Some in full flower, some barely starting to bud, some leafing out. I'm curious what will happen with some of the brand new subdivisions. I hate the practice of cutting down old forests and trees on old farms to put in new subdivisions. I'm not even talking now about the issue of development as much as the issue of how it's done, in some cases. I know it's easier when putting in roads and new houses on lots to cut everything down and then put in new landscapes. It's a shame that more of the old growth isn't saved but to an extent I came to realize that ugly lots did turn into lovely landscapes with fast growing trees and sometimes including interesting gardens. However, with the drought my area has suffered a new issue has come up. Without irrigation, the newer subdivision will probably remain barren, at least that's what they look like now.
Established landscapes and trees may suffer some losses but so far we have had enough sporadic rain to keep them going. However, the new lots that were stripped of all their trees to make it easy to put in houses and landscape from scratch look sad. I feel very fortunate in terms of my situation. I have eased away from irrigating for many years now and what I have is adapted and tough. I do collect rain water but most of my plants are on their own and have done pretty well. I learned after the fact that March 22 was World Water day. I found A.'s blog through photohunters and she discussed World Water Day on this post. She mentioned a new film about the women in Ethiopia who collect water each day. She has links in the post to WaterAid and to clips from the film you may want to check out. It certainly puts into perspective issues surrounding water and the lack thereof. A. had a link to the U.K site for WaterAid and from there I found the international WaterAid site. On the international wateraid site you can click on an individual country's site. I was sorry I didn't check all this out sooner because the American History Museum was having a webcast on women and water called the Heaviest Load on World Water Day. According to the site - The panelists will be Yassine Fall, Netsanet Mengistu and Lydia Zigomo, all of whom have extensive experience in championing women's rights in the developing world. I am glad that I found out about this even though I was too late to hear the webcast. It is such an important issue to think about. I was reminded of the burden unsafe water and sanitation place on women in many parts of the world, since they are the ones collecting it from great distances. I saw a documentary on PBS about this issue many years ago but like so many things, it had not been at the front of my mind until I was reminded of the issues.
I feel a little weird about how I went from minor suburban concerns in my part of the U.S. to the heroic efforts which it takes on a daily basis for women in other parts of the world to collect water for their family. It is what it is. I have the luxury of fairly moderate worries although continued drought conditions anywhere eventually create big problems. With changing climates and extended droughts, if municipalities don't take action to conserve water where I live they may find themselves unable to support the influx of people that have moved to the area. I'm glad that we have finally instituted permanent restrictions on certain type of water use in my city rather than the bandaid approach that has been taken in the past.One reason I'm writing about World Water Day, even though it was several days ago is that it's like International Earth Day (which I'm a week late mentioning), Earth Hour which is coming up this Saturday, or any other event to call attention to enormous challenges. It's not about a specific day so much as it's about awareness and daily efforts. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and like it doesn't matter what we do but I have to believe that these cumulative efforts will help in some small way. Speaking of small steps. I walked to the grocery store today which was only 2 miles round trip so not a big deal at all. It merely meant I was walking past office buildings instead of walking in my neighborhood or on a trail.I feel tasteless mentioning my walk to the grocery store after mentioning what women in Ethiopia and other countries go through in order to provide water for their families. However, it's counterproductive to feel guilt over things outside my control. I recently read a title somewhere that said think globally and act globally which I liked. I believe it was in connection with cooperation towards offsetting global climate change. I believe in supporting world organizations that are oriented towards the world as a whole. I also believe that it's also necessary for us as individuals to make those small changes in our every day life, and for me trying to, in part, get exercise by walking instead of driving to the grocery store is one of those changes.
I didn't expect to take many photographs or see much of interest walking on the side walk of a busy street which took me to the store, but with a turn of the head I spotted all sorts of surprises. The pansies above surrounded by fallen blossoms, from the trees, which looked like snow from a distance, were shot in front of an office building I passed on the way to the store. I felt like quite the lucky woman walking past such pleasant sites. If I had driven by, I wouldn't have noticed them as they are set back from the road. This brings me up to getting exercise for 17 of the past 19 days.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Close up and personal, Earth Hour, exercise

I love the way macro shots of flowers show so much more than is apparent when a flower is viewed as part of a group. I am taking so many photographs these days that it's hard to know which ones I want to include in my posts. I am better at closeups than I am at landscape shots or even telephoto lens shots of individuals that are distant.For this post, I'm going to include up close and personal shots. The banner and video at the top of my blog announcing Earth Hour will come down Sunday. If you are interesting in participating, you don't have to sign up or do anything except for turn off your lights at 8 pm on Saturday and leave them off for one hour. The purpose of this exercise is to call attention to global warming and was started in Australia in 2007. It's pretty impressive to think about the fact that in 2007 when 2.2 million people in Sydney Australia turned off their lights for one hour, the greenhouse reduction they achieved was such that if it was sustained for a year, it would be equivalent to taking 48,616 cars off the road for a year.
Earth hour has become a global event in 2008 and the advantage to signing up is so that they can track how many people in different parts of the world are involved. In addition to turning off my lights for one hour, I have decided not to turn on my computer or television at all on Saturday. That will be a big change for me.
I am not sure when I started leaving my computer on all day, or when I started half watching TV. I always had phases of watching TV but in the past I would also have long phases of barely watching it at all. For quite a few years now, I will turn my TV on and half watch, meaning I'm doing something else and the TV is more of a background. I have to have my computer on during the day for work, and I communicate with family via email a lot since we are spread out across the U.S. But I don't need to go back and forth between the TV and computer like I've started doing in recent years during leisure time. It's odd to me, that deciding not to turn on the TV or computer for one of the weekend days is an event. It used to be fairly common place for me to have days without TV or computer time. However, that is rare at this point, for me, and primarily when I'm on vacation.
I read an article in a magazine when I was at a Doctor's office recently which suggested that everyone should try to walk if they are running errands within a mile of their house. I have been doing that recently and am going to try to continue. I like the idea of combining exercise and errands. I am encouraged on the exercise front. I have managed to get some kind of exercise 15 out of 17 days. I'm going to go for a walk shortly which will bring it up to 16 out of 18 days. Each of those days except one was walking with the alternate exercise being on a rainy day. I have also been remembering to stretch. I am starting to feel better too. I have more energy.I've found some interesting sites which I'm going to be mentioning in my upcoming posts this week in case anyone who reads my blog are interested. The Northern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service has several Climate Change Atlases. You can view the one for trees and one for birds. Each species was modeled individually to show current and future changes according to two emissions scenarios. The databases are for species in the Eastern U.S. Another site of interest to me is the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC is an international organization created by Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The CEC was established to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and to promote the effective enforcement of environmental law. There are so many organizations which are trying to address the impact of global warming. I particularly like the fact that some are involved in international efforts. More on that later.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 29

For my weekend snapshot, I'm continuing on with shots from the NC Art Museum Art Park that I took this week. I have been breaking up my post about the park because I wanted to feature specific works. This will be the 4th and last post on the museum park. I included another shot of the work below in my photohunt post but I thought I'd expand on it. Crossroads/Trickster 1, 2005 is by Martha Jackson-Jarvis (American, born 1952) and marks the crossroads of two trails at the park. I shot this one at an angle but it stands upright.
Located between field and forest, the idea of the work is to mark the intersection between the two trails. The sculpture combines brightly colored Italian glass tiles, orange and red cornelian stones, and shattered bricks.
The bricks were recycled from Polk Youth Prison which stood on the property from 1920 to 1993. When the museum first moved from downtown to a large site on Blue Ridge Road in 1983, it seemed odd, particularly since it was right next to the youth prison. Eventually the prison was closed and moved. The art museum now has a 165 acres campus and in addition to the open spaces and the original museum which was built on the site, there is currently a huge expansion underway.Part of the expansion includes building a Rodin study center. The museum was given 23 works by Auguste Rodin and in addition to the study center, there will be a Rodin gallery and adjacent garden. The museum's expansion is pretty ambitious. A new 127,000 square foot building has been designed to house the museum's permanent collections and the existing museum is being renovated and will house temporary exhibits, education centers, administration, and lyrical gardens with outside galleries in the landscape. According to the museum press release, the institutions 164 acre campus will be the nation's largest museum art park with walking paths, bike trails, ecological projects conceived with artists, and site specific commissioned works. The park already has most of that but it has been evolving through the years.As a nod to the history of the site, the smokestack for the former Polk Youth Center Prison remains (pictured above next to Wind Machine by Vollis Simpson). Note - I discussed Wind Machine on my photohunt post if you are interested. Most of the prison buildings have been torn down but the museum kept the tower because it's like a monument on the horizon. I wish I had take pictures the first time I went on the art walk during its early years. Although the museum owned the prison site by then (or I think they did), near the end of the walk was part of the prison and it was covered in graffiti. That prison building has been torn down but to me the juxtaposition of the urban graffiti near to the conventional museum was very cool. I wondered if former prisoners had gone there at night and created the graffiti once it stopped being a prison.
Lowes Pavillion, 2007 by Mike Cindric and Vincent Petrarca is pictured above. From a distance this work has always seemed so small to me and I didn't really get it. It's designed to be art as shelter. I had never gone inside of it or gotten very close until my walk on Tuesday. I really liked it up close. Particularly when I went inside.Lowes Pavillion is a great place to watch the birds and I was glad that I went inside. The last shot is of what the land in front of the museum looks like at the moment. Yes, a major expansion and building project is currently imposing itself on an otherwise beautiful landscape.
For those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you have/had a good one. I hope everyone has had a great weekend and a good week ahead. To find other weekend snapshots you can go to Weekend Snapshot or to Technorati -