Category Archives: Blogging

February #WATWB: Bicycling for the Climate

We are the World LogoI’ve written about adventure cycling for the We are the World Blogfest before, when I wrote about my friend Jasmine Reese, who is cycling across the country and around the world with her dog and her violin.

This month I want to call attention to another adventure cyclist, local resident Tim Oye, who is riding for Climate Ride, a nonprofit that organizes events to raise awareness and support for “active transportation” and environmental causes. Tim’s ride will take him through Death Valley this coming week.  Tim will also be giving a presentation at my church on Saturday night.

Environmental advocate and Sunnyvale resident, Tim Oye, is biking across the US to talk with adults and kids about Oceans, Plastic, and Climate Change. While bicycling 4500 miles from San Francisco to Boston, he will stop to give a talk about bicycling across the continent, how day-to-day human activities affect our oceans, and what we all can do to save our environment for our kids. With a degree in Chemistry from Harvard and after more than 30 years in high tech doing product development at Apple, Sun, and Adobe, Tim switched careers to pursue environmental advocacy and public service. He is a certified bicycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists, a coach instructor for the American Youth Soccer Organization, a 4-H leader, and on the cutting edge of going zero waste.

I worked on “Anything But a Car Day” at my son’s school last year. It is an initiative to promote kids biking to school safely. My son biked to middle school. Now, in high school, he lives close enough that he can walk.

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I like to bicycle and I used to ride my bike to work when I had a shorter commute, but I am not as hard-core as these adventure cyclists. We can’t all do everything but we all can do something!

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The “We Are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB) shares positive news on social media. Cohosts for this month are: Inderpreet Uppal Shilpa GargSylvia McGrath , Peter Nena, and Belinda WitzenHausenPlease check out their WATWB posts and say hello!

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Thursday Doors: Edinburgh Pubs and Eateries

After some time on the continent, we were off to the British Isles. These doors are from our first day in Scotland, where we stopped in Edinburgh. I have heard that Edinburgh is the model for Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series. In the spirit of Harry Potter, I thoroughly enjoyed the names of some of these establishments: 

BlackCat

DirtyDicks

Lots of flowers and nice places to sit, but it was a little early for lunch, let alone a drink.

Or live music. 

It was a very pleasant walk to the park and university, though, and we followed a virtual geocache to see other sights. Scotland was also having an unusually warm and sunny summer, which benefitted us tourists!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

January 31, 2019: Luxembourg II

January 24, 2019: Luxembourg I

December 13, 2018: More Brussels

November 29, 2018: Brussels, Part II

November 22, 2018: Grand Place, Brussels

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Thursday Doors: Luxembourg II

When I was in Luxembourg I knew I would eventually blog about it for Thursday doors. So I took pictures of a lot of different doors. Last week it was old-fashioned doors under arches. This week it is some business establishments and restaurants:

There were often stairs leading to the doors. We didn’t have time to eat at any of these places, but they looked nice. Even the graffiti in Luxembourg is tasteful.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

January 24, 2019: Luxembourg I

December 13, 2018: More Brussels

November 29, 2018: Brussels, Part II

November 22, 2018: Grand Place, Brussels

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

#WATWB: Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents

I’m always late with the We Are the World Blogfest, but the month isn’t over yet! (As much as we all might wish to leave January behind with its cold and snow).

The story I chose this month was first shared by a couple of my Facebook friends: A 5th grader’s boredom while visiting her mom’s job led to $30,000 for the elderly in need. My first thought was, 5th grader? I’ve been teaching 5th graders this week. They are sweet and fun, but they can also be a little self-centered and disorganized. (This is developmentally appropriate). But the 5th grader in the article, Ruby Kate Chitsey, has organized a way of getting lonely seniors in the nursing home where her mom works items that they need and that make their lives better. Her 5th-grader-ness is an asset here because, as her mother says, they will tell Ruby things they wouldn’t tell an adult.

Many of the seniors are on Medicaid and have no money left for extras. Many of them also no longer have family to fill in the gaps. This is where Ruby comes in. She collects requests in an old repurposed notebook. These requests are usually easy to fill: fresh strawberries, a haircut, a new pillow, a Happy Meal.

Ruby now has a GoFundMe account, which has raised more than $30,000 for residents in five nursing homes in Arkansas.

This story resonated with me because I saw my Grandma in a nursing home and I am now seeing my parents aging in a senior community. I have been thinking about what I want to do when the time comes. I read an article recently about co-housing for seniors. I hope I’m well enough to do something like that. It’s heartbreaking when the want of such small things can make such a big difference in someone’s life.  I applaud Ruby for making people’s lives better!

The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are: Inderpreet UppalSylvia Stein, Shilpa GargSimon Falk, and Damyanti Biswas. Please stop by and say hello!

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.

3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!

4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

5. To signup, click here to add your link.

We are the World Logo

 

Mundane Monday: Nurse Log

This week’s Mundane Monday theme is “Nurse Log.” That means I learned something new this week. nurse log is a fallen tree which, as it decays, provides ecological facilitation to seedlings. Broader definitions include providing shade or support to other plants. 

hongkongkaren

I have seen these many times while out geocaching and hiking, but I don’t often take pictures of them. However, I may have something that’s at least close in my travel photos from Hong Kong a couple of years ago. It’s very humid there in the summer and there is a lot of growth. This tree is almost completely covered in moss.

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The heat and humidity make a lot of trees like this. Here too you can see the rough moss covering on the branches silhouetted against the sky.

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For Dr KO’s Mundane Monday prompt #196.

Thursday Doors: Luxembourg I

Leaving Brussels, we decided to visit Luxembourg by driving through. It isn’t hard to drive through all of Luxembourg in a relatively short trip. I was there once before, when I lived in Germany for a summer as a student. I took a cheap bus trip to Luxembourg, which turned out to be a chance for the tour company to try to sell us fur coats on the bus. My German wasn’t good enough to be able to pay attention, so the hard sell was lost on me!

This time I was more interested in geocaches and doors. These doors were close to the center where the parking and the monuments were.

 

They didn’t all look like that. Some were more modern and painted.

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And then we went to look for a geocache in some back alleys.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

December 13, 2018: More Brussels

November 29, 2018: Brussels, Part II

November 22, 2018: Grand Place, Brussels

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Mundane Monday (on Tuesday): Gulls

Do you take pictures of gulls? asks Dr. KO of the Mundane Monday challenge.

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Enquiring minds want to know

Surprisingly (since I don’t live particularly near a beach): Why yes, yes I do!

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Carmel Beach City Park, Carmel CA

I read and was a fan of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach in high school, and perhaps because I didn’t grow up near a beach, I still have a romanticized view of these opportunistic scavengers.

Gulls following a cruise ship in search of food they can grab off passengers' plates
Gulls following a cruise ship in search of food they can grab off passengers’ plates

I am a very amateur photographer and I don’t use any special equipment other than my phone to take pictures, but if there is a gull flying around, I seem to be unable to resist trying to capture it in flight.

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Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove CA

A few years ago I went to Carmel, Big Sur, and Pacific Grove for my birthday, and there I hit the gull jackpot (and probably drove my husband crazy), taking pictures of gulls flying silhouetted against the pink sky of sunset.

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Make them fly in formation!

Traveling, I have found gulls to be a world-wide phenomenon. They, not bluebirds of happiness, fly over the White Cliffs of Dover.

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And across the English Channel:

And even in deep mid-winter, there they are:

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Lake Tahoe, near the CA-NV border

They don’t need skis to fly!

 

Motion

December 20th 2018 was my last day at my old job. I worked as an instructor at the educational non-profit, Science from Scientists, for over 5 years. Fittingly, my last day took place at Lipman Middle School, the same school I started in when I moved to CA in 2015.

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View from the Lipman parking lot, my first day, in 2015

Nestled on the side of San Bruno Mountain in Brisbane CA (pronounced “Briz-bane,” not like the “BRIS-bin” in Australia), Lipman is in an idyllic environment. Like many public schools in CA, it comprises a collection of smaller buildings, which students walk between and among to get to classes. (One aspect of school I always disliked when I was a student was the “closed campus” rule that students couldn’t leave the grounds during school hours. If they did, even to go to, say, the pizza place across the street for lunch, they faced severe consequences. Suspension for getting a slice of pizza—a strange prison-like mentality.)

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Almost the same view, a year later

Lipman, though, has an outdoor classroom the woods, and we were able to do some of our SciSci lessons outside. Beanbag tossing with prism goggles could get a little rowdier than usual outside, and no one would mind.

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Tossing beanbags at a target while wearing prism goggles. “Altered Reality”

Other days, we fished, we looked at the moon, we made DNA origami, and we built models of brains.

Our last class before Christmas break was a lesson called “Rover Restraint.” Many schools do this: students have to build a contraption to keep a raw egg from breaking when dropped from a height of around 8 feet. In our version, we compare it to landing a Mars rover like Curiosity.

And to keep expectations in check and the playing field level for everyone, we limit the planning and building to one class period, using only the materials we bring with us from SciSci. I stand on a stool and drop each entrant from the same height. This procedure usually leads to a nice mix of some eggs cracking and some surviving, and a range of designs and budgets, making it relatively straightforward to pick a winner. (The winning group gets a nice set of SciSci pencils!)

Onward and upward! I’m going to miss Lipman, and Rover Restraint. This post is 2 weeks late for Dr. KO’s Mundane Monday prompt, Motion.

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View from the parking lot in 2018 during the devastating Camp Fire, 180 miles away

 

Thursday Doors: Mural

I started a new full-time job last week. I’ve been too busy with it to blog about it in detail–too busy to blog at all, in fact. But I wanted to get started again with this week’s Thursday Doors.

Behind the school where I work, there is an astroturf “lawn” and a basketball court. There are also some picnic tables for the students to eat lunch. And a door.

sciencemuraldoor

Students painted this mural, with names of famous cultural figures, next to the back door last year. I like how they included two genders and several nationalities. I spend a lot of time looking at this mural when I’m supervising student lunch.

I have showed a school, with murals, in Thursday Doors before. That school was a more typical California public school, with a lot of separate buildings.

treepainting

My new school is different. It is located in a former office building in San Jose. Architecturally it is unusual for a school too, with a lot of windows but not much in the way of athletic facilities. These students are more interested in science than sports anyway.

sciencemuraltable

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

Mundane Monday: Reflection

It’s the last Monday of 2018! And it’s not so Mundane, since it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s approaching midnight on the East Coast, the ball is dropping. Here I have 3 more hours. I may or may not make it until then. I’m pretty tired and my eyes are feeling dry and sandy.

This week’s theme for the Mundane Monday Challenge is appropriate for this time of year: Reflection. I am starting a new full-time job in January. I will blog more about the exciting changes this will bring to my New Year when I have the mental energy to do it justice. But right now I am reflecting on how my life is going to change in mundane, daily ways after I start working full-time again.

Reflection
Power Lines, Smoky Sky

I took this picture one day in early November of this year. It was also during the weeks of terrible air quality in the SF Bay Area during the Camp Fire. I was driving home from one of the schools where I worked, and I stopped to find a geocache in a park near the water, as I did many days for my daily geocaching streak. I have been finding at least one geocache a day, every day, since December 31, 2015. Some of these cache stops in parks on the way home from school have been beautiful. This one was too, in a way. But it was also dystopian and strange. I hope it isn’t the new normal for California.

The air is much better now, but I still had a rough day today. Just before Christmas, my husband and I decided to do a 12-days-of-Christmas geocaching challenge and today was day 10. This means we had to find 10 caches today for this challenge. And, rather than being fun, it was a pain in the neck. I’m not going to stop the challenge now that I’m so close to completing it, but I am ending my streak in two weeks, and days like today have convinced me that it’s definitely time for it to end. No regrets!

I am also not making any New Year’s resolutions, other than to survive the transition back to full-time work. Earlier in the year I took Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Quiz and I found out that I’m a Rebel. Rebels resist expectations, inner and outer alike. (Rebels are also the smallest category, apparently, so I’m feeling overlooked and in the minority.) With respect to resolutions, Rubin has this to say about Rebels:

Rebels generally don’t bind themselves in advance, so a New Year’s resolution might not appeal to them. They want to do what they want, in their own way, in their own time — not because they promised themselves they’d do it.

And I have to say, this sounds a lot like me. If I make a resolution, I may be less likely to do whatever it is, not more. And then she goes on:

On the other hand, some Rebels love the challenge of a New Year’s resolution: “My family thinks I can’t give up sugar for a year? Well, watch me!” or “Starting January 1, I’m going to work on my novel, and I’m going to finish by December 31st.”

BINGO, again. Why did I start this geocaching streak in the first place? I started it because I thought my husband, a serious cacher who was once ranked #10 in Massachusetts, thought I couldn’t do it. But now I’ve been doing it even longer than he has. And I will probably even miss it a little bit when it’s over.

I am celebrating the end of the streak in 2 weeks with a geocaching event at a donut shop. A couple of people have already written to congratulate me, and one mentioned that his streak had become a crushing burden by its end. I’d rather quit while I’m ahead: I’ll make an intentional decision to end the streak on my own terms, surrounded by friendly faces and donuts.