these here are the tales of...

Belarus (2) Canada (7) China (2) creative (4) Czech (5) dance (4) design (1) Egypt (3) Estonia (3) family (10) festivals (2) health (6) Indonesia (1) inspiration (14) Japan (2) Korea (1) language (11) Lithuania (1) London (2) nature (24) philosophy (6) photos (8) politics (5) roadtrip (4) studies (8) sustainability (8) Taiwan (38) teaching (5) Thailand (9) Turkey (2) video (3) wisdom (3) workie (2) yummm (6)

HOME - an amazingly beautiful wake up wall to what our planet is facing

HOME - an amazingly beautiful wake up wall to what our planet is facing

Monday, April 26, 2010

Green me up, Scotty!

As I composed this blog post in my head biking home from school at 11:30am, the sun's rays beat down, ridiculing my long pants and shirt, threatening to leave me a mess of sweaty clothes and skin. Great, I thought, the sun is out - perfect timing to write a blurb about life really springing forth after a winter's rest. It's 2 hours later and threatening to rain. Well, that's certainly the spring we've grown to know and, ahem, love.

Anyway, it's the end of April! Egads! Where in all that studying, working, prepping and homework-writing does the time go? ; ) Well, capricious Miss Weather will probably throw another season at me before I'm done typing this, so let's just hope that minor earth-shaking this morning was enough to release the pressure built up under the earth's crust and aside from an umbrella I won't have to worry too much about nature's whims of the unsolicited kind.

Ah, nature. Glorious, dazzling nature, a few recent encounters with whom inspired me to write.

Last Sunday we took up one of my lovely students on her offer to a freebie hot springs spa experience. About an hour after stepping out of our door and onto the subway followed by bus, we were well out of the city and alit in front of Formosa Fun Coast better known for its huge outdoor waterpark (summertime only). We've had a few hot spring experiences here, but this was the royal treatment. You choose the pattern for your kimono for the day, then patter out to the hot spring poools of varying degrees, jacuzzi jets, steam rooms, flavored soaking pools (my fave were the rose and ginger, in that order) and the most exciting one (I thought) deserving a few muffled squeals since we were in public: the Dr. Fish Pond! I'd only read about them in Thailand. Stick your feet into this pool and small orange "hot spring fish" nibble away at the dead skin softened up by hot water. I know it sounds gross... but the experience is fascinating and slightly ticklish, whereas would you rather that dead skin stays on you 'till death do you part? Anyway this pic is just to give you an idea, ours were cuter. In true overwhelming Taiwanese countryside hospitality, we got very insistently taken our for dinner by my student's family afterwards. What a fabulous day!

In other news, my fledgling garden on the roof is expanding by the week! Luckily the plants continue to grow, not like last summer when I planted them too late and they would lose the will to go on after a few weeks. We've already had kale in our salad, basil in a quiche and some mint for garnish on dessert.

Last but not least, Happy 40th Earth Week, everyone!
This past Thursday April 22, 2010 was the 40th anniversary of a US Senator introducing Earth Day as a culmination of nearly a decade of promoting environmental issues in his political agenda.
I had the fortune of helping a friend organize a screening of No Impact Man, which evolved into some friends presenting their passions and research on water issues in India, measuring potential sustainable energy your home location can harvest as well as your energy consumption, organic tea grown on Taiwanese plantations whose owners would rather see a smaller yield than spray chemicals onto their crops, followed by the movie. It's quite an amazing undertaking, this year-long-project by a NYC family to create no negative impact on the world around them. They went to zero garbage, bicycled everywhere, shopped only in bulk and farmer's markets and even turned off electricity for six months. It was mega-inspiring and we had a lively discussion about what each of us would be willing change in our lives and how many people in the film had the opposite reaction of being appalled at the sacrifices they made. But the benefits were huge. They all became much healthier, more resourceful, intimately aware of their food supply by interacting with the people whose hands harvested the food they ate. My favorite part was the wife saying: "Without TV or airconditioning to keep us indoors, we spent so much time outside... The days just seemed to go on forever." Who has that kind of an experience these days - a surplus of time? This coincides perfectly with an article I just wrote about two unrelated authors switching off their Internet connection for two weeks or more as an experiment. That meant no constant emails, updates, notifications, hours spent playing useless games... Both of them reported to have glorious stretches of leisure time to wander on a beach, cook, read a book, call a friend...

Some food for thought. I know I can't wait for a second helping.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Picture Fun (with Flickr)

My sister (thanks, Xe!) recently sent me this great link:
See that square of color gradation from light to dark, and the sliding bit on the color spectrum beside it (top left on the page)? Change to any color and shade, give your Internet connection a few seconds, and - voila! Feeling emerald green? Fire engine red? Deep sea turquoise? Choose your own color photo-browsing adventure!

Then, for even more exciting random browsing fun, from the Flickr home page type anything you might be interested in into the search box, hit enter and... go anywhere in the world in seconds!

Here are a few of my explorations:

If you find some good ones, send them my way!
Happy exploring!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox!

This movie was so... fantastic! It's a brilliant comeback for Wes Anderson after Darjeeling Limited, which I personally thought was a big flop and harkened much more to the heady earlier days of The Royal Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
I love Wes Anderson's humor because on the one hand it's a bit bizarre, but on the other, he says all those obvious things the rest of us just think in our heads, would never comment on, but can so readily identify with. His characters are stylish, awkward, obsessed, patient... I thought it was a hilarious study in human interactions and what makes people... ur.. animals, tick.
I also thought it was fantastic that this movie pays such a fabulous tribute to the original Roald Dahl book. I personally haven't read this one, so all the more brilliant to have a script based on a brilliant classic and keep it alive, rather than some stock-formula Hollywood story. Not that Wes Anderson could ever put out one of those!
Of course, since it's based on a kid's book, it seems suitable for all ages (but oh-so-wittily-entertaining for the grown-ups, too!) I think the kid and the adult in you both need to sit down with some popcorn and then let me know what you thought! ; )