Monday, April 24, 2017

That's Rotten!

Did you ever wonder why it's such a big deal to let garbage pile up in landfills? Mostly, it's because it takes a very long time for materials to disintegrate or decompose.

Here are some examples of the length of time some material takes to decompose:

Newspaper                                 6 weeks                         
Leather shoes                            25 years or more

Banana peel                               2 to 5 days
Thread                                       3-4 months
Cotton fabric                            1-5 months
Apple Core                              2 months

Glass Bottle                            1000 years or more estimated
Orange peel                               6 months
Cigarette                                   1-12 years

This article talks about how long it takes a body to decompose:

Leaves                                   1-3 months

Milk Carton (paper type)      5 years
Disposable Diaper              75 years  estimated
Beer Can (aluminum)         200-500 years  estimated

Tin can (fruit or vegetables)  50 years
Nylon fabric                       30-40 years
Cardboard                           2 months

Styrofoam                              Never

Plastic Beverage Bottle         450 years estimated

Paper towel                            2-4 weeks

*items in landfills. Some materials that are placed in water will decompose faster.

So........please think carefully about what you are throwing into the garbage!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Your 1st Amendment Rights, Part 3: Freedom of Religion

To review, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
*Redress means remedy---
redresses (plural noun)

  1. remedy or compensation for a wrong or grievance:
    "those seeking redress for an infringement of public law rights"

Let's look at Freedom of Religion:
Freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any religion.
What religions are most common in the United States? These are statistics from 2016:

Have you heard the phrase "Separation of church and State"? Did you know that does not actually appear in the United States Constitution?
In fact, according to an article in Forbes Magazine....
"The phrase “separation of church and state” was initially coined by Baptists striving for religious toleration in Virginia, whose official state religion was then Anglican (Episcopalian). Baptists thought government limitations against religion illegitimate. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson championed their cause."
*Read the whole acticle here:
However, the concept is still ingrained in us: Our government does not have the right to force us to follow any religion. Government and churches are (in theory) viewed as separate entities: How you view religion, or which religion you choose, or if you choose no religion, has no bearing on how our country is run. Our leaders are there to govern only, not to support any religious affiliations.

Did you know that in some countries, their leaders ("Heads of State") are required to follow a particular religion?
  • In most of the Middle East, including Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, leaders must be of the Muslim Religion
  • In Thailand and Butan, leaders must be of the Buddhist faith
  • In Andorra and Lebanon, leaders must be of the Christian faith
Read more about it here:

Other countries known not to have religious freedom include
  • Burma
  • China-their country is 'officially' atheist
  • Iran-punishment for anything considered offensive to the Muslim faith, is severe
  • North Korea-also 'officially' atheist
  • Saudi Arabia, where their written constitution is used along with the Quran, their holy book.

In this map, why do you think the U.S. is rated 'moderate' for its religious restrictions? It may be related to reactions following a religious-based crime. For example, if someone of a particular faith committed an act of violence, citing his or her religion as the basis for it, then others of that faith might be harassed or restricted in some way afterwards, even though they did not participate in the crime.

Do you practice any religion? Is it the same as your parents, or your grandparents? Has that religion changed over time and become more tolerant or more permissive, or not? Why is religion important to you?

Regardless of your religious preferences, you can thank the 1st Amendment for your right to have them.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Amazing Tree

Did you know that trees do amazing things? Like...........

  • They absorb carbon dioxide, helping keep our air clean to breathe
  • One tree releases 260 pounds of oxygen in a year, enough to sustain 2 people
  • They help retain our soil
  • They provide a barrier to glare from cars on our streets
  • In its lifetime, one tree can absorb a ton of carbon dioxide

  • A mature tree removes 70x more pollution than a newly-planted tree
  • A tree in an urban (city) area may have a lifespan of only 8 years
  • White and Red Pines can live for 100-150 years
  • Maple Trees can live 150 years or more
  • Birch trees live from 50 to 70 years
  • In one day, a large tree can lift 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air
  • Communities with more trees tend to have a lower crime rate
---from Discover magazine:
One, green spaces encourage people to spend more time socially outdoors, which discourages crime. It’s especially helpful for crime control when young and old people mix together in public places. And two, the presence of plants has a therapeutic effect. Vegetation decreases mental fatigue and its associated symptoms, such as irritability and decreased impulse control, both considered to be precursors to violence.

  • A tree provides homes for birds, squirrels, and insects; in the rain forests, they house many frog species

  • Trees give us shade, which can keep a home's cooling costs down by as much as 30%

  • Trees provide building materials
  • How would we get by without apples??

  • Oak trees must live about 20 years before they will produce acorns.

  • An average American uses about 750 pounds of paper every year, and 95% of homes are built using wood. That means each person uses the equivalent of one 100 foot tall, 16 inch diameter, tree every year for their paper and wood product needs.

  • India has the most different kinds of trees, followed by the United States.

  • In observing willows and poplars, scientists found that these trees 'talk' to one another, in a sense: if there are several living close to one another and one is stressed due to an insect infestation, it will somehow alert the tree next to it, and both will produce chemicals to fight the infestation.

How can we save trees?

  • Get an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook, or a reading app for your phone, computer, or Ipad.
  • An e-reader can store up to 3500 books, newspapers, magazines, or blogs. Using your public library to borrow e-books will also save on the need for paper and save you money. Interestingly, if you download a book to your computer, it will take up very minimal space.

  • Use every bit of every piece of paper.

                         This isn't exactly what we meant....but still...

  • Set margins wider to avoid a 2-page letter.
  • Share magazines with friends or donate them, rather than having multiple subscriptions.
  • Route one copy to several people instead of giving everyone a copy, or email instead..
  • Print double-sided whenever possible from your computer printer.
  • Wrap gifts in newspaper or something other than paper, like leftover fabric.
  • Use shredded paper in your compost pile.
  • Use fabric diapers at least part of the time.

If every American family planted just one tree, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be reduced by one billion pounds annually. This is almost 5% of the amount that human activity pumps into the atmosphere each year.

American Forestry Association Tree Facts: Growing Greener Cities, 1992.

Give a shout-out to trees...and a hug wouldn't hurt!

Monday, April 3, 2017

How Not To Write An Essay

You're going to be required to write an essay for school, for scholarship applications, possibly a short essay in a job application. Here are some things you really don't want to do when you write that essay:
  • Repeat a thought.
  • Ramble
  • Mention something off-topic.
  • Get too personal.
  • Turn it in late.

  • Turn it in with stains or damage to the paper.
  • Write it in any color but black.
  • Type it using a fancy font that's pretty but really hard to read.

  • Leave too many spaces between lines
  • Don't leave any spaces between lines, ever.

  • Lose the essay.
  • Copy anyone else's essay.
  • Run over it with your car.
  • Run over it with your bike.
  • Trust your friend to turn it in.
  • Write it up quickly and send it in without checking it over first

  • Don't follow the instructions: Was it supposed to be double-spaced? How many words was it supposed to be? What were you supposed to talk about?
  • Doodle in the margins because it was boring and you were bored.
  • Let the cat or dog walk over it and get holes in it. Why are you laying on the floor to write?

  • Don't use spell check.
  • Don't use commas.
  • Since you don't know how to use quotes, never use them at all.
  • Put inappropriate pictures or words in it.

Now you know what not to do. And, if in doubt, ask an advisor or a tutor for help!