Monthly Archives: May 2010

Biking is awesome

After a few bad car accidents, I’ve had the mentality that everyone behind the wheel of a car is trying to kill me.

However, after finally getting out on a bike a few times in the past couple days, I’ve loved it.

It makes me really excited to get over the butt-hurting phase and just get out an go: no over-heated car, no stopping at the pump. No better way to enjoy a beautiful day!

Anyway, I’m sorry for the blogs of lacking substance the past couple days. It’s been a whirlwind of studying, exam taking, saying goodbye, wishing I had more time with new friends, and being sad to leave old ones.

I’m leaving tomorrow and I haven’t so much as unzipped a suitcase to begin packing. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually might really miss it here.

Ok well, last night out on State Street tonight!

Cheers to all the other graduates and happy summertime,

Jenny

Almost there

My friend just turned to me and said, “Jenny, in 7 hours you’re done with college.”

Wow, that’s weird.

Studying economics has sucked these past few days, but when else in life will I be able to set aside 3 days straight (or 4 years… well 17 years) that are only meant for learning (and drinking copious amounts of….er, coffee)?

Anyway, I’ll have the exam and then celebrations tonight.

More reflective post to come tomorrow.

Be well,

Jenny

Also, this is funny:

This just in:

Exciting things are happening, people.

Today, the EPA announced their completion of a rule that will regulate smokestack emissions from large-scale polluters like factories, refineries and power plants. Wahoo!! According to an AP story these large polluters will have to,

“…reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that they release. Those emissions can exacerbate asthma and other breathing difficulties, which are worsened by particles in the air.

The rule would require companies to install better technology and improve energy efficiency whenever they build, or significantly modify, a plant.”

EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, even went as far as calling these “commonsense standards.” True. (But you have to ask, then why weren’t they already in place?)

As far as a timeline, the article says,

The pollution rule will take effect in January, when industrial facilities that already obtain Clean Air Act permits for other pollutants will be required to obtain permits for greenhouse gases, if they increase those emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year.

Starting in July 2011, the rule would apply to any existing plant that emits at least 75,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year, or any new plant that emits 100,000 tons per year.

If you’re thinking about how this will affect the climate bill, so am I. My earlier post was a little hazy on the matter, so here’s what I know,

The legislation aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and by more than 80 percent by 2050. Both targets are measured against 2005 levels and are the same as those set by a House bill approved last year.

But in a way, it’s better that the EPA takes action, because large companies tend to bargain and mold bills in Congress more than they do EPA rules. In fact, former bill coauthor Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, SC) was working with Liberman and Kerry but dropped out believing that the bill, though significantly weakened, couldn’t pass in the current “political climate.”

So anyway, this announcement is a big step in the right direction. The GOP has said it’s a job killer, but I wonder what about installing better technology and creating energy efficiency is job killing? Sounds like it’ll make jobs to me. And who would want to complain about cleaner air anyway? Lame.

-Jenny

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Procrastination Station

Here I sit in college library, finishing my last paper and studying for my last final of college. I’m sad for it to end, but it can’t come fast enough.

It’s so glorious to think that my days of getting up at 7 and going to bed at 3 will soon come to an end. I can’t wait to say goodbye to processed foods, take out, dirty apartments, and ECONOMICS. Sorry, I’ll stop complaining.

Here are some things that are helping me to get through.

1. My top five favorite blogs. (Whoa, I don’t know that these are my favorites ever, but I check them regularly at least)

2. Planning fun summer adventures.The list so far includes::

  • Train for and complete a 1/2 marathon
  • Get over my fear of biking (by biking a lot)
  • Improve my outdoors knowledge and skills
  • Stay caught up on environmental policy
  • Get involved with community composting initiative again (check em out)
  • Blog interesting things, frequently
  • Get a sweet job
  • Save money (boo)

3. Sporcle.com

4. Downloading new summer songs (Latest, “Days Go By” by Keith Urban. But that’s not new.)

Sorry for dull post, I’ll be back at it post-exam.

Can’t wait.

-Jenny

p.s. What are your favorite blogs?? Comment!

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Should we pass a weak climate bill?

Today, the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” blog featured the discussion on the Senate’s version of the climate bill which is set to be released on Wednesday by Senators Kerry and Liberman. According to the post,

The bill has been recast to take into account the concerns of farm and energy states, and includes a provision that allows offshore oil drilling. The compromises have not gained Republican support — Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the sponsors, has dropped out — and have alienated Democrats.

Here’s some of the nitty gritty:

Their bill would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, through a variety of mechanisms, including a “cap and trade” system for utilities; it included major sweeteners for nuclear power, offshore oil and gas drilling, manufacturers, “clean coal” research and energy consumers. –LA Times Bog

However, there’s a lot of politics involved. Duh. Something to do with Immigration votes, filibusters, BP support, nuclear…

It’s really all very overwhelming to me… and sad… and scary. (For those of you wanting more specifics on the above, that politics link is a good explanation.)

Ah! I can’t be a politician!

Anyway, I digress. I, personally, believe that it is still important and even though I do not agree with expansion of offshore drilling, or nuclear, I think it’s still necessary to get the ball rolling (even if it’s a little square).

Since I am so lost, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on the matter or even some link suggestions so I can learn more.

But first, let’s just see what you think:

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Lessons from Grammy

There are so many things I love about my Mom.

She’s been my emotional rock since I can remember, she’s a wonderful cook, a knowledgeable gardener, she’s the inspiration for my sense of adventure, and she’s my friend.

As I’ve grown up and been away from her though, I’ve noticed more similarities in myself to her, and coincidentally, similarities of both of us to her Mom, my Grammy.

She had to get it from someone, right?

Grammy died in March 2007, but I have SO many fond memories of her, and ones that have only improved since she’s been gone. Since then, I’ve realized how much more she and I would have to talk about now, aside from my silly gymnastics meets and school projects like we used to.

Anyway, the first time I read much Thoreau was when I took Bill Cronon’s American Environmental History class last year. I’d read it and think of my Grammy the whole time. Finally I told my Mom how much it reminded me of her and she informed me that Grammy loved Thoreau.

Of course she did, what was I thinking?

Grammy lived up in the woods in northern Wisconsin and my favorite memories with her are trips to the lake and long walks in the woods. Thoreau, I’m sure, was speaking of her when he wrote:

“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks–who had a genius, so to speak, for SAUNTERING. […] No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God.”

Well, or genetics? My Mom and I have spent good amounts of time honing our sauntering abilities, I must say.

Next, when I learned in ecology last year that humans are not separate from nature, but just one part of it – I couldn’t help but think of Grammy’s respect and admiration for this idea. Thoreau thought the same.

“I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil–to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.”

Finally, aside from Grammy in a nature sense, I also remember her in a very social sense. She was always donning her quirky silver charm jewelry, pink lipstick, and shoving colorful barrettes in a mess of red hair. (Katie and I would ditch our dress up stash in search of this jewelry box). She’d be off to cocktails and bridge parties… God, I wish I could hear her talk about life and politics now. I bet it was awesome. Anyway, Grammy would agree with Thoreau on this one:

“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”

I have an email from her freshman year of college – I’d been telling her about my classes, to which she responded:

“Yes, you are taking quite a variety of courses!  Talk about an education!  Your math course sounds like a problem solving course. Problem solving is something this world very much needs.”

Amen to that.

Anyway, this is such a short and inadequate description of her. The point is, she was such a fun, spirited, and wise woman, and remembering her makes me think of my Mom and it brings so many good memories to mind. I have so much to thank them both for, and I hope I am able to shed a similar sense of adventure, reverence for nature, and wisdom in my own life, and for my children someday.

(sigh) Back to studying.

I love you Mom!

-Jenny

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Simple Pleasures- College Edition

There’s one week left of school (finals week), and then I will load up the car and move out of Madison.

This means that I’m wearing nothing but dirty laundry, I haven’t eaten any raw produce in I can’t remember how long, I never sleep (because during the week I’m studying and on the weekend I’m partying), and the only exercise I get is walking to class. Life is kind of pathetic in a hardcore kind of way.

Well, or just pathetic.

Tonight on the way home from studying (yes, it’s Saturday) Adi and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for her next baking miracle (check out her blog!) and we each bought an apple. It was awesome.

On the way home, we made a list of simple pleasures- the kind that you never really know how great they are until you go to college.

Enjoy, and then add some of your own.

  1. Sit down restaurants
  2. The first day that’s 40 degrees after winter and people are so excited they wear shorts
  3. The smell of the apartment when someone cooks or bakes
  4. An unexpected ‘A’
  5. Care packages
  6. Free beer
  7. Free anything
  8. Seeing puppies and babies
  9. Meeting boys in class, not at bars
  10. The first outdoor farmers’ market of the season
  11. Birthday shots
  12. The decision to be done working for the night
  13. Changing into pajamas after walking home from class on a rainy day
  14. Going back to bed after an early morning lecture
  15. Non-cumulative finals
  16. A lecture that applies to your life, not just the class
  17. Sitting on Bascom
  18. Clean sheets
  19. Nights out that end up being unexpectedly wild
  20. Girly music
  21. Eating dinner on the roof
  22. Thanksgiving break
  23. Good haircuts
  24. Das Boot
  25. Flowers
  26. Going somewhere that is not in walking distance
  27. Halloween costumes
  28. Class-is-canceled emails
  29. The times that studying is “nice”
  30. Appreciating that Madison is actually really pretty
  31. Margarita nights
  32. Your first apartment when you don’t have to wear flip-flops in the shower like at the dorms
  33. Game days when everyone on State Street is wearing red
  34. Free Chipotle on Halloween
  35. Parents in town = free dinner
  36. Discovering an awesome new song
  37. The walk home from your last final
  38. Finding a new study spot
  39. Cleverly-titled wireless >>>>
  40. A stocked pantry after grocery shopping
  41. Lighting candles
  42. Someone telling you that you look skinny/pretty/something other than tired
  43. Playing flip cup at bars
  44. Ice cream on the first warm day
  45. Texts from last night, stumble upon, facebook

46. Eating apples.

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When I fell in love with the rainforest

This spring break I took a trip to Singapore and Malaysia.

While there, we went on a brief trip to the rain forest and I found it to be absolutely magical.

In light of all the sad environmental news lately, I think my boss, Sam, is right – it’s important to remember what we’re fighting for.

This world is a beautiful place!

Here’s some proof:

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The Great Teacher Thank-off

Today was my last day of 17 years of class.

Of all the influences on my life over the last 17 years, I think my teachers have been some of the best and most under-appreciated. Its hard for me to imagine as dedicated of humans anywhere as the teachers I had in high school, and I know I would not be the same person without their commitment, patience, intelligence and inspiration. The first few years of college with 400-person lectures was a tough transition as a result, but even in college, there have been some truly outstanding role models that deserve my accolades and appreciation.

They may never see this, but they deserve a thank you.

Here is a list of all my favorite teachers.

To you I have to say: Thanks a million!

(Also, since I’ve been a really lucky person, this is going to take a while)

Miss LaBelle, 3rd and 4th grade- (I wonder what your name is now) I bet you weren’t more than two years older than I am now when I had you in 3rd and 4th grade. The fact that I have so many, and such fond memories from your class says something about your ability to get kids excited about learning. I still remember how proud I was when I learned how to spell ‘hypothermia’ and ‘very’ (not, “vary”). I also remember the day I attempted to show the class that I could make a parallelogram with only 2 sides. Anyway, what’s most vivid is the brightness of your smile and how eagerly my friends and I sought that smile and your approval.

Mr. Stuckey, 5th grade- I think you taught me how to read. I have the most scattered memories from your class (somethings about Oconomowok, the million dollar song, a picnic at Oak Park…?), but I remember you had ultra enthusiasm and ultra patience and I remember that you got really excited about finding cool new ways for us to learn. That was awesome.

Mr. Kendrick, 7-8th grade English- I really, really hated you at first. Diagramming sentences – that sucked. But you taught me my most valuable skill and truly instilled a passion for writing that I still carry today. I will never forget your flawless 5 paragraph essay approach, or the way you pushed and pushed us until we got it. I remember wondering why a person as smart as you would spend all your time with 7th graders, but now I know why… because you’re really good at it!

Mrs. Blankenship, 7-8th grade Geography- I remember that you did a good job explaining serious world issues, even for junior highers. I remember you trying to explain the meaning of what had just happened on 9/11. On top of these important lessons, you were fun (remember when I wore your sparkly boots?) and I still remember a lot of foundational information about the world from your class. And, not that many people know where Djibouti is, so that’s cool too.

Mr. Redmond, 9th grade Debate- you are engaging, fun, confidence-instilling and it’s no surprise that everyone wants to be in your class. Thank you for your criticism and confidence.

Mrs. Divinski, 10th grade Biology- I hope someday I know about something to the extent that you know about biology. Your knowledge and passion for biology was inspirational, and the fact that you made me, the most un-scientific person, interested in majoring in biology says a lot. Aside from those damn drosophila flies, your class was really awesome. Thanks for making learning so fun.

Mrs. Keekley, 10-12th grade journalism/newspaper- Mama Keeks, the words I’m about to write will not express how much I owe to you. I already know it. You were easily the most influential teach I’ve ever had. Your passion, enthusiasm, expectations of us, and support for us… even when we were being annoying 16 year olds, was memorable and touching to say the least. Thank you so much for dedicating your time and last nerve to us and the paper… we’re all better people and writers because of it.

Mr. Ahlquist, 11th grade Algebra- the fact that I didn’t dread going to math class all day long when you were my teacher says a lot. You’re fun, engaging, and make math fun (well, as fun as it could be). Thanks for your patience, encouragement, and for not taking things too seriously, it was refreshing.

Mrs. Budolfson, 12th grade Biology- I really admired you. You’re pretty, smart, happy, and made it “cool” to learn biology.

Jeremy Rhiele, HS Guidance Counselor- I’m so happy I got the opportunity to know you. You have amazing insights that I will not soon forget. Thank you for being someone who is not afraid to bring up difficult or emotional topics – it’s refreshing and insightful. I think I’ve carried many lessons I learned from you into college and will continue to do so.

Jeff Judge, 2nd semester Spanish- You were the relief to my worst semester of college. It was so hard to be home while all my friends were away at school, and there was that car accident and my grandma’s funeral… but there you were everyday and you were so bright and really brought our class of really diverse people together as friends. You have such a talent for teaching and your laid back, fun, and down to earth personality is memorable and effective. Muchas gracias por compartiendo tu talento conmigo.

Jack Kloppenberg, Environmental Studies, and Food, Culture and Society- Jack, You are easily my most memorable professor of college. 112 literally changed my life and completely redirected my academic focus. Your passion is contagious and your message is clear. Thank you so much for teaching in such an unadulterated way. You have so much to give and I feel so lucky to have learned from you!

Liz Mills, Environmental Studies TA- Liz, you took what Jack shared and applied it to all our lives. You took the time to make comments, challenge, and pose topics in a way that I’d never thought of them before. Thank you for being the first in college to write me a recommendation when I was so unsure of myself, and also for recognizing the revelations I had that semester. You and Jack really had a big impact on me.

Amos, Susan, and Andrea, SIW- You guys showed me that when you want something you gotta go get it. I learned a lot about journalism, politics, and life last spring. Thanks for challenging me and for your your sacrifices and your friendship. What an awesome opportunity that was!

Cal DeWitt, Ecology- Cal, what a joy it was to be in your class. Your “we are they” concept is so important and your message is so simple, it’s contagious. Thank you for your positive, welcoming and warm attitude. You have no idea how much a college student appreciates fresh banana bread at their professor’s house… that was so awesome. I feel so lucky to have gotten the chance to learn from you and thank you for making us laugh when we were stressed beyond belief. You’re really good at that, among many, many other things!

Jack Williams, Paleoclimatology- Coming from someone who is horrible at science and was expecting to snooze through your class… I was blown away! You made complex scientific concepts interesting, relevant, easy to understand and even captivating. Thank you for finally providing me with a good understanding of the issue I thought knew so much about.

Bill Cronon, Environmental History- Your class was outstanding. American Environmental History was so interesting and enlightening. Thank you for the captive final lecture, it really redirected my perspectives on how the past affects the future, and where to go from here. I was SO lucky to get to take your class, it’s really a life-changer.

Samuel Pratch, Ecology TA- Samuel thank you for challenging us and asking difficult questions… and waiting as long as it took to get an answer. Redefining “nature” was important for all of us, and your perspectives were profound and memorable. Thank you for being so positive and forcing us all to challenge our own ideals.

Sue Zaeske, Rhetoric- I think your class was the hardest one I took in college, and I have never been so proud of a grade! My writing improved dramatically over the course of one semester. Thank you for having such high expectations and for being a good enough of a teacher to show me how to a meet them. It was so wonderful to be in your class and I really look up to you.

Harvey Jacobs, Free Market Environmentalism- This class was so compelling. You were so helpful in making us really, REALLY know our projects and come to understand the topic… not only for our presentation, but to be applied to the real world. Thank you for posing the questions you did, and for forcing us to face our fears of public speaking. I learned a lot from you, and thank you! It was a wonderful way to end college.

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Corporate Green Deeds: What’s the verdict?

Yesterday on Twitter I stumbled upon a comment by a Green Blogger, The Good Human, who directed his readers to a post that outlined the 10 most polluting companies in the United States. Included was a link to the original article dictating the full list with the Top 100, as conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute.

Here are the top 10 worst polluters, along with their Toxic score (pounds released x toxicity x population exposure):

  • E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. – 285,661
  • Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) – 213,159
  • Dow Chemical – 189,673
  • Bayer Group – 172,773
  • Eastman Kodak – 162,430
  • General Electric – 149,061
  • Arcelor Mittal – 134,573
  • U.S. Steel – 129,123
  • ExxonMobil – 128,758
  • AK Steel Holding – 101,428
  • Many of the worst offenders (on this and the extended list) did not surprise me. Exxon, BP, Shell, Cargill, ConocoPhillips, Honeywell, 3M… they’re all there.

    (SIDE NOTE:  I don’t mean to target American companies as if they’re all on the naughty list. The only reason these are here is because they pollute worst in the US, because they are in the US. Ford Motors is on the list, and it should improve its practices. But that doesn’t mean we should all switch to Mitsubishi.) Another side note: I spelled Mitsubishi right on the first try, just fyi.

    Anyway!

    Since many of my friends are on the job search these days, I copied the article link and put it in the body of an email with the subject: “A list of places you’re not allowed to work.”

    But then I had to pause, and another commenter did too. Have a look:

    While the Exxon thing doesn’t concern me and neither does Forbes’ useless awards, the comment about GE’s EcoImagination program did.

    One of my best friends, who is also concerned with environmental initiatives, just interviewed with GE and was particularly interested in working for them due to all their work with efficient appliances and benevolent initiatives (e.g. installing water filtration systems in Africa), not to mention good salary, benefits, and the like. Despite all this, I have to admit that at the time of her interview I was pretty skeptical since I knew of their dirty deeds.

    Was she wrong for wanting to work for GE for these honorable reasons, even though the company is in the top of the top polluters in the US?

    Is a corporation’s benevolence measured by the amount of “good” they do when compared to the amount of “bad?” Should working for these corporations be avoided at all costs so as to support grassroots efforts with more transparency? Or, is a good deed a good deed, no matter what other shenanigans happen behind closed doors (or from pipes dumping into rivers)?

    I wasn’t quite sure.

    So, today at Clean Wisconsin I officially instigated, “Environmental Chat in the Communications Office,” and brought the matter to the table.

    My wonderful advisers commented that if everyone went to work at GE with the intentions of my friend, GE would probably do even more to increase the effectiveness and occurrence of these green initiatives.

    Moreover, Exxon is a company that inherently pollutes, foundationally, no matter what. They sell oil, and as a result, they must promote our use of oil. Bottom line.

    GE however is a self-described, “technology, media, and financial services” company, so whose to say that their green efforts are not sincere and with potential for great progress?

    Could it be that working for these corporate polluting giants could end up being more socially beneficial than working for the little grassroots non-proft? (Or is it about the same?)

    What do you think?

    But really, I really wanna hear what you have to say about this one.

    I have applications to send!

    In the spirit of good intentions (and procrastination of final paper-writing),

    -Jenny

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