Posted by: apal1528 | 10/25/2011

We Found Love

Beautiful.

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Posted by: apal1528 | 10/03/2011

WSU Organic Farm


For the last few weeks I’ve been volunteering at the WSU Organic Farm. It’s located on a small 4-acre plot just a few minutes from campus out towards the airport. As can be seen from a few of my posts last month, I’ve been on a slight organic farming/sustainability craze. I’ve been very interested in the idea of sustainable agriculture recently and as soon as I started seeing the Organic Farm selling produce on campus I’ve had a desire to check it out. Because of my requirement with the accounting club to complete a certain number of service hours each semester, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

The entrance to the farm. Each week we have anywhere from two to six other volunteers, I’ve always gone with Ky’s roommate Ann, so I’m glad to have a friend with me.  This was only our second time going but there’s typically a wide variety of people with different motivations to volunteer. I always enjoy hearing their motivations, even if it’s just to fulfill a requirement.

These cherry tomatoes like candy. It’s hard to be picking them and not eat every other one.

Some of the other volunteers picking beans.

This is from a couple weeks ago, Ann and I picked these beans. Delicious.

Awesome colors. Something

I don’t know about others, but for me it was really an amazing experience to harvest produce. I feel like we so often go into the produce department of Safeway or Dissmores, or wherever, and take our fruits and veggies for granted. We don’t realize how amazing the biology behind our fruits and veggies are. Such a simple idea dawned on me while I was picking and eating raspberries– That such delicious fruit, with just a little help from humans, just grows out of the ground! Think about it!

The raspberries were really hard not to eat. Fortunately the farmers made sure we knew to eat the raspberries with even the slightest blemish, as to ensure the quality of produce of course.

Ann and her tomatoes.

Jasper is the team leader.

Posted by: apal1528 | 09/29/2011

Conway’s Game of Life

I happened upon this very simple game on StumbleUpon the other day and was amazed.

Upon further research, this simple mushroom game is based on John Hort0n Conway’s cellular automaton devised in 1971. It can best be described as an Artificial Life Simulation. The simulation is governed by four basic rules:

  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbors dies, as if caused by under-population.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbors lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbors dies, as if by overcrowding.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbors becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

An online adaptation of the original can be played here. Depending on the initial pattern, the cells will form different formations throughout the course of the game. Fiddle around with it and see what you think. Try is this pattern:

As simple as the initial set-up looks, the amount of complexity that results is fascinating. Upon even further research, I found a quick download for an application that allows for easy creation and manipulation of patterns. The download includes hundreds of more complex patterns that users have developed that are all absolutely astonishing. You can cut, copy, and paste patterns, zoom in and out, and the application even allows for more sophisticated rules and scenarios. I’ve enjoyed just playing the basic simulation, especially messing around with what users call Guns. These configurations are self-sustaining and replicate smaller Spaceships that float off into infinity. The Cordership V-Gun is by far my favorite:

As you can see, this pattern is huge. Here are some close ups.

Once this pattern is allowed to manifest itself, it maintains it’s shape but shoots off large Corderships. Without a video diagram it’s hard to describe, but in this next picture you can see the Ships moving away from the initial pattern.

It’s really brilliant if you think about it. Simple cells turning on and off, placed in a certain pattern, can regulate themselves to cause action. Notice the cells off to the right and left of the elbow of the pattern, these are the elements that the main V-pattern manufactures, then as they come together they form the Corderships and start floating off. After being fully satisfied by the working of this pattern, I naturally wanted to see how I could mess it up. The next shot is the aftermath of changing just one cell in the pattern from on to off. Without that one cell, the pattern destroyed itself.

As a guy trying to figure out my place in the Universe, I feel like this game has some profound implications. Many will argue that life could never have come from nothing and therefore end up attributing life’s existence to either a creator or aliens. As unquenching as these explanations are, I find this simple illustration to be very compelling. Given the 2,500 x 2,500 cell area that this Cordership Gun takes up, there is a discrete possibility that with a random flipping on and off of all 6,250,000 cells this pattern, given a long enough amount of time, would randomly occur. Though extremely simplistic, how different would this be from having organic molecules randomly arrange themselves in useful ways, how about amino acids, or even DNA?

Just food for thought. What do you think?

Posted by: apal1528 | 08/31/2011

Andrew’s Dig: The Next Slum?

–“For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue” .. “These days, when Hollywood wants to portray soullessness, despair, or moral decay, it often looks to the suburbs—as The Sopranos and Desperate Housewives attest—for inspiration” ….. (The Atlantic)

— “Should Every Restaurant Have A Farm? No. But, It’s Not A Bad Idea” … “Meet George Weld, the owner/chef of Egg, a friendly, neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn, New York focusing on farm-to-table southern cuisine”.  (Huffington Post)

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/28341101]

–“The suburb might not be dead yet. But it’s very ill indeed” … Some startling facts about the Puget Sound economy and some fascinating predictions about the future of cities. (Crosscut)

— “How Seattle grew itself a new ‘downtown'” Pretty interesting stuff. (Crosscut)

Image: Tony Cyphert SPUR/ Flickr

Posted by: apal1528 | 08/30/2011

Andrew’s Dig — GOOD

Tim Fernholz – GOOD Business Editor:

A new California law that comes before Governor Jerry Brown today could make it easier than ever to combine business with social mission, a welcome respite for those seeking to harness the engines of capitalism in the service of good deeds.

While growing ranks of entrepreneurs are combining business and social missions—think Toms Shoes or Method cleaning products—current law makes it difficult for them to raise money and control their enterprises.

That’s changing around the country, and California could be the next frontier, if advocates of social business ranging from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to apparel giant Patagonia have their way and create a new legal category for what they call Benefit Corporations.

“The modern corporation was ‘Born to be bad,’” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote in a letter to Governor Brown. “Benefit Corporations are ‘born to be good’ because their corporate purpose must include the pursuit of a material positive impact on society, not just shareholders.”

Corporations are chartered by states, and a historic body of law makes clear that all company directors and executives owe their shareholders is profits, profits and more profits; their fiduciary duty is their only duty.

If you do expect company’s officers to take into account other goals—like environmental sustainability, the well-being of their workers, or general public benefit—conflicts with the profit motive can expose even well-meaning executives to legal difficulties.

The Benefit corporation movement has laid out a set of social impact standards for companies that seek to embrace both profit and impact. It requires privately held B corporations to amend their articles to reflect a commitment to those standards, protecting officers and directors from legal repercussions for their decisions and giving shareholders the power to hold them accountable, by lawsuits if necessary, for protecting the public interest. It also protects customers from deceptive marketing—greenwashing—by forcing corporations to submit public reports that conform to independent benchmarks.

“Entrepreneurs no longer have to choose between a ‘make money now, give it away later’ traditional corporation, or a starving NGO,” says Jay Coen Gilbert, a co-founder of advocacy group B Lab. “We’re creating a middle path that combines the best of the purpose-centered nonprofit community with the ability to scale and attract talent of the for-profit community.”

But there are no public B corporations, because public companies are subject to a variety of legal requirements and existing investors are reluctant to change a company’s goals. With public offerings representing a key way to raise money from investors and create cash incentives for entrepreneurs, the inability to access them would be a problem for businesses trying to adopt a social mission.

B Lab, along with partner organization the American Sustainable Business Council, has been waging a campaign to change this setup by encouraging state legislatures to make the requirements of B corporations a legal reality; so far, they’ve succeeded in Maryland, Hawaii, New Jersey, Virginia, and Vermont.

If Brown signs the law in California, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo does the same with similar legislation in the near future, it will be an important victory for advocates of shared value because the two states represent such a large share of the U.S. economy.

But it’s only a first step. Public B corporations will need to be chartered, and advocates expect the first experiments in that direction will be B corporations that act as subsidiaries of larger public companies. Corporate governance lawsuits will test and shape the new law in the courts. And B corporations will need to spread across the states, particularly to those like Delaware that attract a large number of corporate headquarters with low taxes or loose regulation.

Still, the momentum behind the legal changes—and the bipartisan majorities that have so far enacted them—signal the beginnings of a sea change in our expectations for the private sector. “Right now the role of a business is to maximize profit for shareholders,” Gilbert says. “B corps are saying, ‘we don’t think that’s the operating system we want to operate under.’”

[http://www.good.is/post/new-california-law-will-boost-businesses-mixing-profit-with-social-good/]

~~~

This is exactly what I want to do with my life. Take a look at these:

— I want to take this idea and make it a business. Watch the video on the main page [http://www.urbanfarming.org/]

— Here they lease the land and sell to local restaurants who are a part of the growing trend in local organic dining. See the video I’ve embedded below. [http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2011/08/30/meet-manhattans-stalled-construction-site-turned-urban-farm/]

— Another twist. “Our packaging is biodegradable and home compostable. It’s made from seed husks and mushroom roots. EcoCradle™ performs similarly to synthetic foams, but it takes far less energy to produce, is made of natural materials and is eco-friendly every step of the way.”  [http://www.ecovativedesign.com/]

Posted by: apal1528 | 08/30/2011

Andrew’s Dig

I haven’t posted for nearly an eon. Nothing is too exciting to write an entire post on, however I thought I’d share some interesting things I’ve found recently. Enjoy.

I’m really excited to see this. 

Posted by: apal1528 | 06/06/2011

Qionglai by Night

This was live in a bar. And yes the chicken was live too.

 

 

 

Posted by: apal1528 | 03/13/2011

Tibet

Being back from China I have nothing new and interesting to blog about… who wants to read a blog about Pullman, WA anyways? School, blizzard, school, drunk people yelling, school, more snow, etc. Borrrrring.

So I’ve decided to retroblog again. This time about Tibet. From 2009. Instead of actually typing up what I journaled about while I was there I think I’ll just post a bunch of pictures and add a little commentary. Now that I think about it, at the time I didn’t really have much to say about Tibet– I guess I was in sort of a sensory overload.. with all the controversy I guess Tibet is just something you have to see and feel.

One of the interesting/frustrating parts of seeing Tibet (that I can competently comment on) was seeing the reactions of the Han Chinese tourists to Tibet. This woman was one of our bunkmates on the 48 hour ride from Beijing to Lhasa. She insisted the Chinese government had saved the Tibetan people from that tyrannical baby-eating monster the Dalai Lama in 1950 and that Tibetans need to be thankful for Beijing’s investments in roads and schools in Tibet. Her back was sore after sleeping the first night so she made a big fuss and attempted to use an empty pickled veggie jar to give herself a cupping massage.

Who was there to give these Tibetan guys massages huh?

In Lhasa outside of our hostel.

View from the Potala Palace

Worshippers washing their hands with holy water at a monastery in Lhasa.

Streets of Lhasa.

Monastery Gate.

Prayer room.

Monastery.

Peace.

Making incense

Jamie and I with a nun

Yak at Namtso lake.

Castle at Shigatse.

Tomb stupa at Gyangtse.

Potala palace from out hostel.

Tibet was great. Our trip was pretty short– just over a week. However, I would definitely recommend two or three weeks to anyone who wants to see some cool culture and history. At the moment, the Chinese government requires any foreign visitor to have a tour guide when traveling in Tibet. We used http://www.visittibet.com/ and were very impressed. Use them if you ever go!

Posted by: apal1528 | 03/12/2011

Could it Happen in China?

With all that’s going on in Libya and the Middle East I’ve started asking myself what everyone has been asking: Could it happen in China?

Fortunately for my new found interest in Twitter, an old friend from China tweeted this article from the Wall Street Journal by Francis Fukuyama. It’s quite lengthy but actually offers some brilliant insight.

Fukuyama concludes that China is in no imminent danger of social uprising because of a few factors that set it distinctly apart from the Middle East. One of the most fascinating points that Fukuyama makes is that, “authoritarianism in China is of a far higher quality than in the Middle East”. When there is social unrest and discontent, the Party will actually take action to make changes and not simply repress such feelings. In this way, the government has actually made the middle class quite content. Though the huge Chinese middle class would seem to be a perfect breeding ground for revolution, the Party has been so successful at repressing dissenting thought that a majority of Chinese, Fukuyama says, already believe that China acts as a democracy.

Though this is unsettling it raises a ton of questions… the most obvious is if China can do it, can’t others? Also, is this necessarily bad? Isn’t perception the key? America has problems, China has problems, but it seems like China is getting a lot done. If the authoritarian/totalitarian regime the Chinese makes people’s lives better why do we have such a problem with it?

— The world’s tallest building is having some trouble finding tenants. If you’d rather live in Dubai, they’re lowering rent significantly. Check it out.  (Times via Yahoo)

Bo Xilai crushes the mafia lords of Chongqing. (Youtube)

–“The 121-story Shanghai Tower is more than China‘s next record-setting building: It’s an economic lifeline for the elite club of skyscraper builders” I guess I should have studied architecture…. (YahooNews)

Beijing to Shanghai in 4 hours. That’s just under 100km less than the distance from Chicago to New York. (Infrastructurist.com)

— Wu-where? Wuhan breaks ground on world’s third highest tower. (crienglish.com)

Image: Charles Times; Crowell / Bloomberg / Getty Images

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