They Pave Paradise & Put Up A Parking Lot

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I love the taste of fresh air.  I love the smell of untamed flowers.  I love the sound of leaves rustling.  I love the feel of dirt beneath my feet.  I love the sight of treetops stretching to the horizon.  


But I am a reasonable person.  I understand that I live a pretty luxurious life, and need natural resources to do so.  While I may enjoy the pleasures of nature, I am not willing to compromise my way of life.  


I am neither flower child nor robot.  

I need a balance between blue skies and grey smoke, between wild and civilized.

And I am not naive.  Even Brower, McPhee's "Archdruid" stated, "If you can keep it the way it is, fine...But I don't think that is one of your choices" (128).  Development today appears to be inevitable.  I often consider the future and what would happen if people stopped defending the landscapes and lobbying for parks.  Would our world indeed turn out like a disaster movie?  I'm scared enough to not want to find out.  So what can we do?  


I have come to realize that terms like conservation and preservation are just words, definition arguments for a later time.  I appreciate national parks and nature centers to the fullest extent, and I cannot imagine this world without them.  The McKaig Nature Center that rests behind my house is a safe haven for me in my suburbia, but I wouldn't propose vetoing all construction from this day forward.  I like the concept of passing down a clean and beautiful world to my great-grandchildren, but I don't know that I'm willing to sacrifice my own lifestyle.

As a child, my favorite book was Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.  We all know the story.  "I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues."  Is it each of our duties to be the Lorax?  There are people like Brower who try to be, but I don't see myself as someone like that.  Finding out that a plot of land is being cleared for a mall makes me sad, but wouldn't stop me from shopping there.


For me, it is all about the little things.  I will recycle and I will turn off the lights when I leave a room.  I will keep a reusable water bottle and buy organic/locally grown foods.

Battles must be picked carefully.  

I wish I could say that I know precisely which of those battles I shall be fighting in, but I still don't.  Despite all the readings and discussions and walking, I continue to only "saunter" in circles that lead me back to confusion.  

Maybe I'll go sit in the arboretum and think about it a while.


Monkeys to Men to Marrying his cousin...

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Today I had the pleasure of attending a lecture given by David Quammen called "On and on...The Origin of Species: 150 Years Old and Still Dangerous, Still Great."  To be entirely honest, I went purely on assignment and not at all for pleasure.  I frankly am not interested in evolution particularly, or even science in general.  Quammen, however, managed to present a different angle of Charles Darwin.  Actually, the lecture really did not concern what was in Darwin's On the Origin of Species, but rather explained the process of producing the book.  He revealed interesting facts about Darwin that made me like the 200 year old fellow.  For instance, Darwin just up and decided one day that he should get married.  He had no prospects, but he made a pro-con list about getting married, and marriage won!  That is definitely something I would do.  Well, then he married his first cousin and had ten children, probably not something I would do, but each to their own!  I also learned that Darwin never lectured about his ideas.  He was a recluse who communicated through his books, which apparently are pretty easy to read.  He wrote in plain laymen's English prose.  When his book went for sale on Novermber 22, 1859, it sold out!  Many people accepted the concept of evolution, but his theory of natural selection was not accepted during his lifetime.  According to Quammen, Darwin spent over 20 years developing his ideas and would get caught up on things like "why do men have nipples?"  Now there is an interesting question.  Originally, Darwin planned to publish a massive book containing the bulk of his research and development of ideas, but it was too long and took too long.  Eventually, he was pressed by factors such as Alfred Wallace's similar concepts being published and decided to write an abstract of the big book, just to get it out there.  

That abstract was his profound book On the Origin of Species.  One hundred and fifty years old this year, that book changed biology forever.

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Quammen and Darwin
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Hoping to be in Ahwahnee

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Ken Burns-The National Parks

I have been to Gettysburg Military Park and I live just minutes from Valley Forge Historical Park, but I have never been to a National Park like Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Death Valley.  Seeing the views shown on the video footage of Yosemite, I definitely agree with Bunnell.  He said that "I have here seen the power and glory of a supreme being.  The majesty of his handiwork is in that testimony of the rocks."  It appalls me that the others could not appreciate the beauty.  Although Bunnell called the valley "Yosemite," I'm surprised the name was not changed to the proper name- "Ahwahnee".  "Yosemite," in fact, means "killers".  To me, when I see the breathtaking images of the valley, I cannot bring myself to associate it with such a gruesome name.  I hope to visit each of these incredible, naturally beautiful parks someday soon.  

Diet Doubts

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This advertisement for the Nutrisystem diet makes an explicit argument: join Nutrisystem...lose weight.  There is more to it, however.  By using Marie Osmond as a spokesperson, Nutrisystem is employing ethos.  Osmond, popular throughout the 70's, is a recognizable and famous figure, important to the Nutrisystem target audience, middle aged women.  Also, the ad is making the implicit argument that if you go on Nutrisystem, you can look like Marie Osmond.  You will also notice also that when featuring the weight Osmond lost on the diet, it says "Results not typical" in fine print.  Seeing that note makes me much less likely to trust the advertisement and believe the argument.  


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I was not sure what to expect last night when I made my way up to the Palmer Museum, coat zipped and hands gloved, to attend Ann Pancake's reading.  First, I want to note that I think it is outstanding that we have so many opportunities at Penn State such as this one.  I had never heard of the author, but I still appreciate the chance to go to the reading.  Luckily, her work is extremely relatable to our English class, as she focuses on problems of human interaction with nature in her literature.  The man who introduced her mentioned a definition argument essay she wrote called "Tough," which I think could have been something interesting for us to read in class since we are starting our definition arguments now.

Pancake chose to read two excerpts from her novel Strange As This Weather Has Been.  Her experience in writing this novel was interesting because it was her first and she did not actually intend to write it.  She accompanied her sister, who was making a documentary about mountain-top removal mining, to West Virginia.  There, they interviewed people that were involved and/or affected by mountain-top removal.  She explained that she started hearing the voices in her head, and she knew she needed to start writing.  Up until then, however, she had only written short stories because she was "bad at plot."  It needed to be a novel though because there was so much to say, so she overcame her nerves and created a beautiful and fascinating book.  From what she read to us, I could tell she writes with vivid imagery and detail, which I enjoy reading.  She has been compared to Steinbeck, although she says that is overly complimentary, and I think her novel would fit perfectly with our class.  It might not be a bad idea to use it in the future to switch things up!

Les Fleurs

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Today at the Penn State Arboretum, a few things crossed my mind.

1. This is where I plan to get married.  The ceremony can be in the garden and the reception can be under the tent.  
2. Holy moly look at that view.
3. That man is wearing a really awesome hat.  

Really though, I am overly grateful that Penn State has developed this arboretum.  I think it is fantastic that it just started, so we will get to see how it grows (both literally and figuratively) over the coming years.  

I found the discussion of land use there interesting.  Part of the arboretum is a botanical garden full of beautiful, yet non-native plants.  In that sector, we can see how humans can manipulate nature to create something of our own.  In contrast, a portion of the land will be put under efforts of restoration to a more natural state.  Disregarding the fact that human hands are conducting this initiative, I see this as an act of conservation, and maybe even preservation.  

I highly recommend a visit to the arboretum to every student.  It is a wonderful addition to the campus and it would be a sin to not take advantage (boys-it could make for a very cute date!)  I would love to spend more time there and even study there, but it is, unfortunately, quite a hike from south campus.  I do plan to attend the Sound Garden event there in a couple weeks though.  I look forward to learn more about and see more of the arboretum.


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Fallen twigs and thirsty leaves crunch and cringe beneath my feet as I find my way to the path cleared by the adventurers before me.  The protection of the immense trees standing tall around me comforts me in the wake of the late afternoon sun, warm and blinding as we both go on toward the west. 

I weave through protruding branches and misplaced shrubbery, mourning the loss of the tree trunks that serve as my bridge over the whispering creek.  It chills me that in an instant the leaves will leave the woods barren.  

It is the end of summer and just as soon as I step out from this enchanting canopy, I will leave for college.  These trees, these paths, these leaves have been my home since I was old enough  to see out my windows.  They drape around my house, tucking it away from streets and sidewalks of surrounding suburbia.  The signs call it the McKaig Nature Center, acres of land donated years ago to preserve the wooded essence of the area, which quickly transformed from forests and fields to McMansions and culs-de-sac.  

I've explored this land with many companions: elementary school classes, dogs, best friends, family, but I think I enjoy it most unaccompanied.  Alone, I can converse with nature, taste the wind blow against my own breath, hear my feet again connect with the solid earth.  

Now, this place is in full bloom, but when I return in the winter it will be something different.  I will wear boots and gloves to protect me from the biting snow.  The creek will ice over and silent.  My footsteps will be deep and serve as evidence of my presence there.  The woods that before were a jungle are now the quintessential backdrop of a winter wonderland.

My exquisite home. 

Food or Foe

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"Food, Inc." troubled me in more than one way.  The scenes demonstrating the process of killing and packing chickens and the cleaning out of the insides of live cows made me cringe in disgust. Even more so, however, the point that business is the problem made my stomach turn.  As a business major, it is sickening to hear about the type of industry I might be entering.  I honestly cannot see myself in ten years getting a wink of sleep if I end up working for a company that blatantly places profit above principle.  

Ideally, I would like to work for a foundation or non-profit organization.  I'm a marketing major, so that gives me a sufficient amount of leniency in choosing where to work.  I would much rather be in charge of marketing the film "Food, Inc." than one of the companies shown in it.  I am hoping to get an internship working in the marketing department of the BBYO international office this summer.  BBYO is the leading non-profit youth-led pluralistic Jewish teen organization, which allows Jewish teens around the world to be involved in meaningful experiences.  I was an extremely active member in high school and I saw the magic of the movement first-hand.  Working for BBYO would be perfect for me because I would be working for something I believe in, not just making a profit.  Also, BBYO professionals are offered the opportunity to receive a free MBA while working.  I can certainly see myself on that path when I graduate from Penn State.

Walking and Talking

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Today our first readings from The Norton Book of Nature Writing were due.  It was the lengthiest assignment yet, but I did find interest in it.  I love to read, but assigned readings come with a gloomy, hovering cloud reminding me as I read that I will be tested on the material, making it more difficult to enjoy.

Still I completed the readings and liked each author in a different way.  When we took a class vote, I was the only one who chose Thoreau's "Walking" as her favorite.  I will admit, I fell asleep multiple times while reading the piece, but I liked it nonetheless.  I felt a certain connection to it because at home I frequently walk in the woods behind my house.  Walking the paths provide a sort of relaxation and even enlightenment at times when I need to clear my thoughts.  I definitely miss that aspect of home.  Penn State is in an outstandingly beautiful valley, but I do not really see a way to access that nature.  I would like to find an area on campus in which I can connect to nature individually as I did at home.  Maybe I will take Thoreau's advice and walk west.

Peace in Nature

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Part of our subject matter in this section of English 030 is nature.  To me, what is natural is pure and serene, beautiful and peaceful.  I like the concept of peace in nature because it draws on a major peace movement that has spread across the country today, calling to end wars of our own and help put a stop to other violence worldwide.  Peace is more than not fighting though.  Peace is about having a friendly and kind connection to those around you, be them people or animals or trees.heart_peace_sm.jpg
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