This was originally posted on June 24, 2014. You can view the original here: Books: The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas.

I just finished a few minutes ago this little collection of short essays by Lewis Thomas. Written throughout the 1970s, this book remains timeless and necessary, given the glaring details that date the writing. (Was the population of the earth really as small as 3 billion at one point?)

Personally, I found myself rekindling a fire that I thought had gone out when I graduated from NYU. Though I love learning about the advances made in the scientific community, the last semester left me burned out and uninterested in pursuing Chemistry any further. I thought that my exhaustion at the end of the semester was due to a lack of interest and passion for the subject when, really, it was just because I took four Chemistry classes in one semester to ensure that I graduated in four years.

Reading The Lives of a Cell reminded me of why I decided to stick with the major when the work piled so high that I wanted nothing more than to run away from it. It celebrates scientific inquiry and study, firmly and gently planting its foot down as both an art and a necessity of life. It humanizes scientific research, taking away the idea that this knowledge, in all its rigor, is somehow detached from human experience.

This book should be recommended reading for every student of science, as a reminder that whatever research that’s being done is part of a much larger puzzle.

Would I read this book again? Yes

Would I recommend this book? Yes.

This was originally posted on April 10, 2014. You can view the original here: Out of my comfort zone.

A lot of things make me uncomfortable. Being in large crowds makes me uncomfortable. Even semi-large groups make me uncomfortable. I like the intimacy of a small gathering. I don’t like the feeling that I’m being watched.

So when I spoke today at a scholar luncheon I was invited to, that was way out of my comfort zone.

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But, I got through it well enough, without stuttering, and even got a laugh out of the audience when I candidly admitted that I was terrified of public speaking.

I don’t know how much of the praise I got was genuine since I haven’t given a speech of any sort since high school (presentations for Intro to Engineering don’t count because it was Intro to Engineering and I can handle that). But still, having people come up to you and say that they enjoyed your short, two-minute spiel on how NYU was a defining moment in your life is a good feeling.

And I feel much better about it on this side of the event. Looking back, I worried over too many what-ifs. What if I mess up terribly? What if my jokes fall flat on their face? What if what I’m saying is so incomprehensible to everyone that all I get is confused, tepid applause at the end? What if my speech is boring?

I realize now that the words I wrote were so simple that I couldn’t possibly trip over them, that the small quip at myself at not being a public speaker is charming and endearing, and there is no possible way to bore an audience in two to three minutes unless you really try.

I think my most important takeaway from this experience is that I got to experience this. I got to stand up in front of a room full of people and talk about myself and have it not be too awkward. And even though I do have some criticisms of the school, I am grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to me. Including this one.

I just need to keep doing things out of my comfort zone.

…Then it means that I’m on a bus to Washington D.C. and I didn’t get a chance throughout the day to delete this post and write a different one.

And it’s likely that I won’t be able to interact with this blog much this weekend. If everything goes according to plan, I will be seeing The Young Turks at the Newseum in Washington D.C., and hopefully the panel afterward, “Do The Media Have Any Real Power?”

Since I’ll be tied up for most of the weekend, I’ll be scheduling a few reposts of past entries that I feel particularly proud of. Some didn’t get the attention I thought they deserved at the time, and others are more popular ones that people seemed to like. After this weekend, I’ll go back to posting original posts/reblogs for the rest of the month.

If you have never watched The Young Turks, or have no idea who they are, I highly recommend going to them for intelligent and critical news and commentary. To get a sense of the tone of the show and for the history of the company, below is the trailer for the documentary “Mad As Hell,” which follows the story of the main host and founder, Cenk Uygur. From the trailer’s description on YouTube:

MAD AS HELL documents the tumultuous, at times hilarious and altogether astonishing trajectory of Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks’ main host and founder, as he traverses from unknown Public Access TV host to internet sensation by way of YouTube. When he ventures into national television by landing the 6 PM timeslot on MSNBC, Cenk’s uncensored brand of journalism is compromised as he becomes a thorn in the side of traditional news media; his unwavering dedication to speaking the truth puts him at the very nexus of the battle between new and old media.

Thanks for reading!

If I get nothing else accomplished today, at least I can say that I went for another run around the reservoir at Central Park.

And you know what? Sometimes, that’s enough.

Sunrise

Sunrise.

I decided on a bit of a whim to go for a run this morning around the reservoir in Central Park, since I only live a few blocks away. I’m trying to get better about getting in shape, and these morning runs (or, at least, jogs/walks) will definitely help.

This morning, however, I probably annoyed the numerous more serious runners in their daily routine by stopping to take photos. It was raining heavily yesterday,and this morning the clouds are finally breaking up to show a little bit of sunshine. Pristine, clean blue skies are gorgeous, but I much prefer having the skies partly cloudy. It makes for much more interesting sunrise pictures.

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These photos were taken in response to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird.

Today is the first day of another course that I’m taking on Coursera entitled “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” offered by the World Bank Group. Hooray!

A very colorful course homepage.

A very colorful course homepage.

The course is taking an in-depth look into climate change, and offers two possible tracks you can follow (along with the core coursework): the “Climate Champions” track, which offers a more information on the science of climate change, and the “Policy and Leadership” track, which connects different practices and policies regarding climate change issues. I am personally going to try and dive into the “Climate Champions” track, since I want a better understanding of the science behind climate change to better evaluate different policy proposals and projects.

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about the future, about what I want to be doing in the next five years, and what I need to do to get there. So far, the only details that I’ve hammered out are that I want to go to grad school and get a higher degree in something related to Environmentalism and Agriculture. Whether I’ll go the more Public Health route (inspired by previous OpenYale and Coursera courses that I’ve taken) or more in scientific research on sustainable agriculture and techniques for optimizing yield while both regenerating the land and caring for animals, I haven’t quite decided.

But in the time between now and those future possibilities, I’m of course going to continue my education, regardless of whether or not I’m in a formal classroom. These online open courses are helping me make sure that I keep my mind more or less sharp (as sharp as it was when I was an undergrad, anyway, if not sharper).

To be honest, the amount of information on this particular MOOC is quite overwhelming, more so than previous MOOCs that I’ve taken. Still, I’ll take this as a good sign that this course will be interesting and engaging and will provide a lot of information within these next five weeks. I’m excited!

If you’re taking this course, please let me know in the comments! If you’re interested in the course, please click on this link to sign up through Coursera!

…spent much of the day napping because I had a sore throat and was extremely afraid of the possibility that I was getting sick.

But after my hours and hours of napping, I made some bread, finished watching Seven Samurai while the dough was rising, made a delicious dinner of potato, leek, and carrot soup that went well with the bread that I had just made, and altogether had a pleasant evening.

An Instagram capture of that beautiful dinner.

An Instagram capture of that beautiful dinner.

And right now, I’m sitting with my computer with a face mask on, winding down a little bit so that I’ll be able to go to sleep tonight and feel refreshed for the work week.

I’m really a very easy-to-please person, and I revel in the simple things in life.

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One of the many gorgeous bridges in Central Park. I should really know their names...

I woke up earlier than I meant to today, but rather than falling back asleep to take advantage of the full hour and a half before my alarm went off, I went for a short run in Central Park.

Well… I say “run.” What I mean is jog/walk because I am terribly out of shape.

I’m a bit angry with myself that I let myself go like this. While I’m not unhealthy in any way (I can still climb stairs and carry food deliveries and walk 30+ blocks to the office when the train decides to run with massive delays and the busses are super crowded because of it), I’m not going to be running any marathons anytime soon. I made so much great progress with my health and working out this past summer that I wish I didn’t let winter drive me indoors and unwilling to work out.

But it was a glorious morning. It was cool in the shade and warm in the sun, and the sky was a beautiful shade of pale blue as the sun rose. I wasn’t quite there for sunrise, but maybe some other morning run down the road I’ll be treated to a Central Park sunrise.

For now, I’m just glad I got off my butt and exercised for once.

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This guy was feeling the morning run vibes this morning.

Caroliena Cabada:

While I was doing research for the post on the Koanga Institute (posted last week), I also learned a bit more about the intentional community that they’ve started, Kotare Village. They just opened up the first 15 (of 29) parcels of land for sale to settlers, so it’s a really exciting time for them!

On a personal note, I’m really glad that I started working on Food Forests Forever in earnest this year. Although my posting schedule isn’t as consistent as I would like, I’m glad that I’m getting to know more about different organizations, projects, and communities like Kotare. I’m learning so much just from putting forward my little bits of effort, and I hope that this helps others as well.

Thank you for reading!

Originally posted on foodforestsforever:

A screenshot of Kotare Village's homepage, taken on 16 April 2015. A screenshot of Kotare Village’s homepage, taken on 16 April 2015.

What is the Kotare Village? [1]

Kotare Village’s mission is to model and promote self-reliance, resilience, interdependence, and the regeneration of our environment and community.

from the Vision/Mission page [2]

Kotare Village is a new and growing intentional community located in New Zealand. Developed by the Koanga Institute and Kotare Community Land Trust, Kotare Village brings together principles from permaculture design, holistic management, and regenerative farming. Kotare Village seeks to become self-reliant in all aspects of life, from food to finance. The village aims to grow to a population of about 150 people in the next five to ten years, and is located near Wairoa on New Zealand’s north island.

What do they offer?

There are currently four ways to get involved with the village and its growth [3].

  • Become a prospective…

View original 702 more words

My notebook stack, and the little slivers of sticky notes peeking out.

My notebook stack, and the little slivers of sticky notes peeking out.

Instead of going to sleep last night at a decent hour, as I was planning, I instead ended up staying up past midnight flipping through old notebooks and tagging the poems that I thought worthy of revisiting and revising.

Going through the old notebooks is always a strange experience; some of the things I wrote I half-remember, and others brought back to the surface pretty strong emotions, and threw me back into the particular time and mental state I was in when I wrote those words.

But I noticed a weird trend as I was marking the poems I thought were worthy. It’s easy to see which poems were sort of throwaway things that I didn’t care to put much effort into, and which poems I really sat down and tried to craft something decent. While the ones that I took the time to write are better in some regard, so many of the throwaway poems ended up being extremely compelling to me. I wasn’t looking for a particular rhythm or theme, but they somehow meshed into something that could maybe work. And it was unexpected; I didn’t think that I would be tagging as many poems as I did.

It just goes to show that you should never toss any of your creative pursuits. Pack them away for a while and come back to it a few months later, when things have happened in your life to give some new perspective.

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