West Of Everything (Delvonne McCullum)

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When I was first asked in the beginning of the course if I had ever been to a few of the places out West, I shrugged my shoulders because I knew I hadn't nor did I plan to. Since taking this ENG 003 course I've grown to have a greater appreciation for things out West than what I may have ignored before. In this piece I encourage all my readers to visit anywhere out West to experience some of the things discussed in this course. Although the novels read during the course were fictional, they still held a true meaning to what the West is all about. The west side of the nation has rich history with land, Native Americans and the struggle to preserve both. We've discussed on numerous occasions in class about how Native Americans don't seem to have much of a voice anymore because of their numbers. I want to encourage readers to try to be the voice for Native Americans in helping out in any type of movement they're involved in. I got a great vibe  from students who seem motivated to make a difference. Now is your chance to do so. I challenge you to educate yourself about any probable issues facing Native Americans in today's society and to see if there is anything you can do to help their people, their land, as well as yourselves. At the beginning of the semester I was hesitant to visit the West because it didn't seem as interesting to me as much as did Dr. Mulford made it sound. I'm still not completely sold on the West but I'm at least willing to visit. Why not?


Thank You                                                                                                            


Delvonne McCullum

Challenge Accepted Pt. 2 (Delvonne McCullum)

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on the lines of a recycling bin shoot. Having something like a laundry chute except for plastic bottles and cans could be very beneficial. Therefore making it that much more easier for people to recycle in the privacy of their own homes.   

            In regards to reusable resources, we need to be more considerate of the energy that we waste while we're not using it. For instance, I'm going to mention phone chargers. Phone chargers are one of those items that have a tendency to be left in the walls or other electrical power surges while they are not in use. The only time that I unplug my phone charger is when I know I'll need it later, but other than that it's exactly where I last had it plugged in. When these phone/etc chargers are left plugged into outlets there is just that much more energy that we are not using and is going to waste. This problem occurs with  gaming devices as well. I have an XBOX 360 that I rarely play because of school and it just sits in my room plugged in all day. Since taking this course I've began to get better at unplugging any useless devices that I may not be using at those current moments. I'll be checking on the next electric bill to see if it made any huge significant differences, but something tells me that regardless of the outcome, I did a good thing anyway.

            In our class a lot of things were said about situations regarding water and the importance of preserving it. What I'm about to say ties in a bit with what I said earlier about the water bottles. A classmate told her story about another resident on her floor who has a tendency of leaving water running while brushing her teeth. After being confronted about it she did eventually turn off the water while brushing her teeth. Things like that need to be done so that people could understand the importance of preserving the water that we do have. The main problem in our society is that we don't realize how dependent our water is to us because we fill that we have an unlimited supply of it. If we lived in another country where water is hard to come by, I think we would begin to see how important water really is. Something Dr. Mulford suggested to the class dealt with the way we wash our dishes. She suggested that instead of using the dishwasher that we instead wash dishes manually to minimize the water intake. Going along with that, she also suggested that instead of washing dishes with running water that we instead wash dishes by letting them soak in water first. These suggestions are just a small part of what we all can do as a whole. There are many ways to be innovative, we just have to do it.

Since taking this ENG 003 course I've learned to change the little things about my lifestyle that could safe myself some money and the earth. Next time I go home for a visit I do plan to look into getting a recycling bin for my home. This class was very beneficial for me.


Thank You

Delvonne McCullum

Challenge Accepted Pt. 1 (Delvonne McCullum)

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            I want to address a serious topic that doesn't get the right amount attention that I believe it deserves. That topic I'm referring to is the importance of recycling and the use of renewable resources. This class (ENG 003) has taught me to be more considerable about some of the unhealthy habits that I know I partake in that could potentially be harmful to the earth and very careless to say the least. I want to persuade to my readers in my blog to educate themselves to be more knowledgeable about this subject as a whole.

            For starters, I would like to discuss the importance of having an reusable

 water bottle. It seems as if nowadays most people on campus have their own reusable

 water bottles for whenever they're on the go . I personally see it as a good thing to

 carry one of these around because not only are you saving yourself money by not

 having to buy water, but you're saving the earth as well. Penn State University is a

 very recycle-friendly campus, but most people outside this campus or other college

 campuses don't have the luxury of having recycling bins accessible to them wherever

 they go. Speaking for myself I know that while I'm home for breaks it seems

 reasonable to throw an empty water bottle into the garbage can simply because I don't

 have access to a recycling bin in my neighborhood. Before coming to this prestige

 university I used to rarely recycle nor did I care. Since being enrolled in 2008 I try to

 recycle any chance I possible have after I use anything that could possibly be

 recycled. I've gone as far as to recycle other people's items if I know they are about

 to throw it in the garbage can. If given the opportunity I would suggest that

 communities who don't already have their own personal recycling bins, to have a

 community recycling bin on each corner of the neighborhood so that people have

 somewhere to place their recyclables instead of throwing it into the garbage can.

 Another alternative would be something

We need to stop polluting water

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Water pollution is defined as any chemical, physical or biological change in the quality of water that has a harmful effect on any living thing the drinks, uses or lives in it. Unfortunately, the dominant cause of water pollution is human beings. Human activities ranging from car exhaust to factory work play large roles in contaminating our water source. Something needs to be done soon to prevent this from getting any worse than it already is. 

We use water for almost everything that nourishes our bodies whether it's us or our food supplies taking in the water it plays a large role for all forms of life. Infected water will eventually make its way to human beings either through directly drinking it or eating something that had consumed the infected water. Any type of pollution will eventually work it's way into our water sources. If we continue to pollute our sources of water we will not only increase our chances of getting sick because of it but the price of clean drinking water and clean food will continually rise. It will become increasing difficult to find pure water with life in it to provide for our civilization. 

 I think the first steps to decrease how much we pollute has to do with gas emissions from cars. The switch to electric cars is not coming fast enough and car companies need to find a way to either speed this up or produce cars that emit less harmful gasses into our world. Will changing the way cars operate be more expensive? Yes, but I think that by cleaning our environment this is definitely worth it. 

 I've seen the effects of polluted water first hand. I spent 10 days building houses on a service trip to a small village in the Dominican Republic with my high school. These people did not have the financial resources to afford clean drinking water and were forced to use the small stream running through town for whatever they needed water for. Because of this you could see many children who had even infected by the water. Whenever these small malnourished children had strangely round bellies it meant that parasites that were growing in the water were now growing inside of them. These parasites would slowly eat away at whatever they could inside of these kids and could eventually do serious bodily harm to them. Most of their families cannot afford treatment for this so they are forced to persevere and hope it does not get any worse. 

 Those kids have no choice; they have no other source for water and are forced to drink this dirty water. Having pure drinking water more readily available worldwide starts with us. By decreasing pollution the cost of clean water will begin to fall, eventually into something those families can afford. There are no negatives to polluting our world less, something needs to be done about it now. 
You can read more about water pollution here: 


Stepping Up - Taking Energy Conservation in Our Own Hands (Feet?)

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Think about all the energy humans expend every day: Pushing open a door. Typing on a keyboard. Exercising in the gym. And something all Penn Staters do everyday - walking. What if we could harness the power of walking to light the lamp we walk under? Or light the classroom we're going to? Turns out, we can. 

Now I'm not talking about walking on a treadmill and powering the world like guinea pigs. There is a company called Pavegen that is making pavement slabs from recycled rubber. These slabs, when stepped on, compress approximately five millimeters and then collect kinetic energy from the step. The energy is immediately transferred to nearby sources or stored in a battery. This system allows electricity to be created and used off a grid.

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One step creates enough energy to light up an LED street light for 30 seconds. In addition, once stepped on, the slabs light up with a built-in LED light, which uses only 5% of the energy gained. This interaction shows the user that they have contributed to electricity around them. Imagine these slabs in high-traffic places, such as train stations and tourist attractions. Put them in Disney World. Put them in Times Square. Heck, even put some at the HUB! Hundreds of thousands of people and millions of steps a day. 

But again is the curse of innovation. Now you may be wondering why these slabs are not everywhere. It is the usual reason - money. Currently, the slabs are costly to produce and not yet in mass production. Even though the slabs would save money in the long run, investors are reluctant to spend their money on products that are so innovative and could only sell to a niche market. 

Personally, I think that this genius idea should be in the headlines. Being green is a trend. Being lazy is a reality. With these slabs, people could feel as if they were making a difference (and they would be!) just by doing something they already do. I can just imagine little kids jumping from slab to slab, watching them light up at recess. What about competitions to see who could light the most slabs in a given amount of time?

The best part about this technology is that it is here, right now. There are slabs in the Westfield Stratford Mall in London that are fully functioning. Hopefully, as the technology improves and word spreads, more corporations and businesses will see ideas like this as progressive and worthwhile.

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To a lot of people, being environmentally friendly is a chore. A lot of people are unwilling to take a small detour and recycle a bottle, or to bend over and pick up someone else's trash. A lot of people think that to reduce their carbon footprint, they have to resort to more primitive ways, such as riding a bike or walking places. But it is important to realize that someone can be both technologically innovative as well as ecological.

We continually see, though, that money is always at the forefront of the issue. Nobody wants to invest in something that might fail to sell, that hasn't captured a lot of popular attention. But the potential of technological innovations, especially the environmental benefits, are crucial to sustaining life, both that of humans and the earth.

The important part for us, as students, bloggers, and internet-users is to spread the word. The first step is to make people aware of new ecological technology. As more people become familiar with the innovations, and get more excited about new technologies, they will be inspired with more eco-friendly ideas. A clean future can be a reality if we nourish and support it, and if we all do our part.

Part 1 - Magnetic Levitation

Part 2 - 3D Printing

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A New Dimension of Recycling

In the past few years, we've seen a surge in 3D. Movie theaters inflate their ticket prices so viewers can experience a movie surrounding them, instead of a film on a 2D surface. As the hype surrounding 3D movies has died down, an opposite reaction has occurred in response to 3D printing.

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3D-printing is a surprisingly simple idea and has been in development for over 20 years. Basically, a printer takes a computerized 3D design and uses that to print a physical object, layer by layer. The first printer was invented in 1984. It printed things by having a UV laser beam trace out each individual layer of the design in liquid polymer. As the design hardened layer by layer, the platform that the polymer was on was slowly lowered. Hours later, the final design was created.

Nowadays, a common 3D printing technique called selective laser sintering (SLS). The printer lays down a layer of find powder, then selectively fuses some of the granules by using a laser. This version is already very established and SLS 3D printers can use a multitude of powdered materials ranging from glass, to wax, to aluminum. The excess powder from printing can also be recycled. 

The most evident environmental benefit for 3D printing mostly affects manufacturing. If 3D printing becomes more widespread, it will be possible to store and deliver objects digitally. This will directly impact the environment by cutting down on all the pollution from manufacturing plants and will also reduce the fuel use in transportation of goods. In addition, it will be possible to recycle already 3D printed items as material for new items, eliminating waste.


Even more exciting is the current development of 3D projects. One recent group of undergraduates at the University of Washington has invented a 3D printer that turns plastic waste into pieces for rainwater harvesting systems and composting toilets. They hope to use their invention to help get clean drinking water for third world countries, as well as develop new ways to recycle.

But the benefits don't stop there. Scientists have only touched the tip of the 3D iceberg in terms of discovering ways to reduce waste and enhance production. People right now are working on printing 3D food. Although it sounds crazy, it does have logical backing. Many foods are made of different physical arrangements of ingredients, and if a 3D printer uses the right materials, edible objects can be printed.

A company called Modern Meadow is focused on ending the cycle of consumer dependence on animal slaughter. Andras Forgacs, the co-founder of the company, says, "if you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck." Modern Meadow is hoping that with this new technology, they can produce 3D-printed leather products, and that bioprinted meat can be an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional beef.

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The best thing about 3D printing is that it's already becoming very popular. Just doing a simple Google search on 3D printing leads to countless websites manufacturing and selling customizable products such as jewelry and art. Right now, at-home 3D printers are expensive, prices ranging from a couple hundred dollars to over two thousand. Although a lot of the current designs are for people already knowledgeable about 3D printing, there are a lot of printers in the market that are user-friendly. Within the next couple years, more advanced and less expensive 3D printers will be available to a wider population. 

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It is not certain that the earth we should be trying to save today will exist to see the technology of tomorrow. In my posts, I'd like to introduce different examples of how technology is being used to help create a more sustainable way of life.

With each year comes exponential growth in the development of new technology. As consumers, we have seen the effects of this: cheaper televisions with better image resolution, more compact laptops capable of performing more complex programs, and the ever-upgrading ubiquitous i-devices such as the iPhone and the iPad. While it appears that the focus of development has been conveniences for us, shouldn't the focus equally or even more so be on developing technology to help the earth on which we live?

Luckily, professionals have been addressing technology and the environment for years. We've all heard about innovations such as solar panels and wind turbines. But there are other ways that technology is being used to help reduce the human footprint, and it is extremely likely that you'll see these advances in your lifetime.

Levitating Transportation to a New Level


Magnets probably amazed you when you first played with them in science class. The fun of pulling them apart is only beaten by the joy of using one to push the other one away. But one of the most interesting tricks of magnets is magnetic levitation. With strong enough magnets, you can lift anything you want.

Now imagine an entire train, magnetically levitated, transporting passengers to their destinations at over 250 mph. Such trains exist. As of today, there are two commercial maglev trains in operation, one in China and one in Japan.

The idea of using magnets for high speed transportation is not new. Patents have been around since the early 1900s, but the technology to use magnets for transportation was not available until the late 1980s. The concept, however, is simple. The underbody of the train is lined with magnets, all facing the same way, and the train track is also lined with magnets. Opposite sides push the train from the track, creating an air cushion.

As of right now, there are three main forms of maglev: the Electromagnetic Suspension (EMS), the Electrodynamic Suspension (EDS), and the Inductrak.

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The EDS has magnets on both the train and the track, and the magnets repel each other; this system needs less feedback from computers, but still needs wheels to operate. The EMS has cars with arms underneath the train that wrap around the track. Electromagnets, when energized, lift the train and propel it forward. The Inductrak system uses a special arrangement of magnets to converge the magnetic field on one side, while canceling it on the other. The Inductrak goes slower, which could be a benefit for a train with multiple stops, such as commuter trains. The maglev trains currently in development in the United States use this system.

The benefits of maglev trains are substantial. The ways that trains currently run involve an electric motor, which produces air pollution from emissions. With maglev trains, there would be little to no air pollution. In addition, since the train doesn't touch the track when moving, there would be no mechanical friction, which means less wear and tear on the parts, less maintenance costs and less noise. And most importantly for the passengers, the trains would be much faster. Transportation costs would go down as trains would rival airplanes for longer travel.

Now you may be wondering why these trains are not everywhere. It is the usual reason - money. Maglev trains and tracks have an extremely high start up cost. People are wary to invest when we already have working transportation systems in place. Widespread adaption to maglev would require building new tracks all across the country.

As technology develops further, it is likely that we will see commercial Maglev trains in countries besides China and Japan (they have already tested or are developing tracks in the UK, Germany, and the United States). One of the most exciting things about Maglev train development is the potential for future transportation. An entire city on a magnetic grid could pave the way for a science fiction fan's dreams - hover crafts and hover boards (and without pollution, too!).

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Japanese Maglev train MLU002N on test bed


Oil Drilling and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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America is at a crossroads. This country's dependence has on oil has driven it to several big decisions it must make in the upcoming decades. America could make an attempt to abandon oil as its primary source of energy, or it can cling to oil and try to not be as dependent on other countries for it and regain its old position of the world's biggest oil producer it held a decade ago. The latter is extremely harmful to the environment, especially in the state with the most untouched nature America has today: Alaska.

If America wants to become self-sufficient with oil and gas, the environment of America will suffer greatly. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska is the site some Americans want to drill because it is suspected to have a large amount of oil under its surface. Former President George Bush spearheaded initiatives to drill this area in order to lessen America's dependence on foreign oil, but Senate has vetoed the bill to this date. This land contains roughly 180 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, and 36 species of fish among its abundant and diverse wildlife. It is also home to Inupiat Eskimos and Athabascan Indians. The drilling of this area will result in the displacement of these people, and subsequent loss of a land and culture that they have lived in harmony with for generations.

 If America agrees to drill these lands the country is giving in completely to the mindset that profit is more important than environment. In order to avoid this wilderness from being destroyed, the American public must bring many things to the government's attention. First, the country must commit itself entirely and genuinely to alternative energy research. Solar, wind, water, and electricity have all been explored. America must fully engage in the use of these materials in order to make a change. Also, American families must work diligently to decrease their consumption of oil. For the last decade this has been quite a trend but it hasn't been taken as seriously as it should. This means the obvious changes of less SUVs, more carpools, and other car-related issues. This also means being aware of oil use in the places we don't normally think of such as the heating of our homes. Over the next 50 years, America is going to experience a drastic change concerning energy, hopefully it is a change that takes the environment seriously.


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Alcoholism in the Native American Community

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Alcohol and drugs play a large role in American culture, but before settlers came and occupied what is now the United States, Native Americans have been using substances in rituals for centuries. The use of these substances in rituals had not caused addictive tendencies or widespread problems during this time. Since the loss of their original lands and continued struggle to maintain their culture, alcoholism has become an epidemic in the Native American community.

There are many variables that could be contributing to this issue. Coping with the loss of their way of life can be very emotionally taxing on Native Americans, who then run the risk of consuming alcohol in an unhealthy manner in order to deal with these emotions. The introduction of alcohol to the Native American community long after the rest of the world had established social norms and "rules" for drinking could also contribute to the pervasive mishandling of alcohol by Native Americans. They did not have the same amount of time to find and maintain acceptable behaviors concerning alcohol use, so it is not a different physiological response to alcohol in Native Americans that causes its misuse. The Native American concept of community and sharing has also been seen as a possible explanation for the increased drinking due to social drinking and peer pressure.

Regardless of the explanations people come up with for this epidemic, it must be agreed on that something must be done. Alcoholism has been reported in Native Americans more than any other race, and deaths due to alcohol and alcohol related illnesses in the Native American community are occurring at an alarming rate. In a 2008 study it was found that more than one in ten Native American deaths are alcohol related, compared to 3.3% for the rest of the United States population.

There are many things that the rest of America can do in order to better this issue. The Federal government can work to restore the rich culture of Native American communities in which alcoholism has run rampant by giving more liberties to tribal governments in these areas. This could influence a greater interest in former traditions of their Native American ancestors and take a focus off of coping with an increasingly "Americanized" Native American way of life. Funds can be raised and allotted to these tribal governments in order to treat alcoholism as the disease that it is versus viewing it as just a social problem. A lot of work is necessary, but I am confident that it is possible to make a significant change in the Native American community.


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The Tohono O'odham Nation

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Not necessarily a broad scope issue, but an issue nonetheless, the situation of the Tohono O'odham Nation is a problem that must be handled by the United States and Mexico. The people of the Tohono O'odham Nation reside on a reservation in what was their original land in southern Arizona. This area of land stretches beyond the Mexican border, which has caused a problem for the Tohono O'odham. Mexican drug cartels have begun using the people of this nation as drug carriers, as it is easy for them to cross the border without trouble from the government due to the land being their own to govern. This creates a problem in the community of the Tohono O'odham because the rich and powerful drug cartels are able to offer them large sums of money or possessions in order to transport drugs across the border. Tohono O'odham children and teenagers are targeted by cartels to smuggle the drugs because they are easy to influence with large sums of money and appear less suspicious to law enforcement. If they accept these rewards in exchange for their services they run the risk of being arrested, which is happening to more and more of the Tohono O'odham Nation in the recent years. 

The Desert Diamond Casino and the Golden Hashan Casino on the reservation bring in a lot of money for the law enforcement of this nation, which has resulted in the means to arrest many offenders. This increased crime threatens the Tohono O'odham Nation because as scrutiny from the government increases, the chances of the natives losing their land to the government increase. 

The United States contributes to this problem with the large demand for drugs in our country. Americans can help this problem by creating a fund for Tohono O'odham law enforcement in order for them to be able to handle the issue on their own and avoid interference from the United States government. The people of the Tohono O'odham Nation have had their land for centuries and losing the reservation would have a huge impact on their culture and the way they operate. The future of these people lies with the handling of this situation.


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