Biocultural Landscape

On September 30, 2014 The Christensen Fund launched the “Biocultural Landscape,” an interactive web portal that illustrates the intricate connections that determine the vitality of Indigenous communities and ecosystems across the globe. A biocultural landscape is an intertwined holistic system that has been shaped by human management over a long periods of time.

“We created this user-friendly channel to unpack the deep interplay between people and place, culture and ecology,” said Bea Calo, Director of Grantmaking for The Christensen Fund. “The co-evolution of humans and landscapes doesn’t just shape local environments but influences geopolitical forces and weather events, too.”

The “Biocultural Landscape” portal draws out links across six main sections: bounty, culture, inhabitants, cycles, beauty, and interconnections.

The culture section, for instance, explores how people have worked out the distribution of water and nutrients through an ecosystem, say, from a mountain top down to a valley. The knowledge of this biocultural phenomenon has led to physical interventions like canals and yielded cultural practices like unique water dispersal systems and decorative arts that attempt to capture the local environment.

The Christensen Fund hopes that users of the portal will come away with an understanding of the importance of “resilience” — that is, the ability of a landscape to withstand and recover from shocks and stresses from within and without. The more strong and positive interconnections in a landscape, the better it can withstand such shocks.

“With our new Biocultural Landscape feature, we’re hoping to break down the silos that characterize the fields of international development, health, conservation and philanthropy,” said Calo. “We’re championing a more holistic view of our world that emphasizes the interconnections among people and landscapes first.”

I visited the site and it is beautiful and informative. However don’t take my word for it, visit it at http://www.christensenfund.org/experience/biocultural-landscape/.

The Christensen Fund is a private foundation founded in 1957 and based in San Francisco, California. The Fund believes in the power of biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty, and focuses on the biocultural — the rich but neglected adaptive interweave of people and place, culture and ecology. You can learn more about them at www.christensenfund.org.

Neon Future Sessions

To celebrate the release of his latest album, “Neon Future I”, electronic music artist and producer DJ Steve Aoki teamed up with Wired to launch a new digital series, “Neon Future Sessions”. In the series he’ll be sitting down with a variety of cultural and technological visionaries to discuss how they see our future world evolving.

This first episode is intriguing, but who would expect anything less from a chat with Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and director of engineering at Google. Sadly the episode is only 5 minutes long.

And for those of you who may be curious about what DJ Steve Aoki is like at his day job, I give you “Rage the Night Away” by DJ Steve Aoki and featuring the rapper Waka Flocka Flame from the “Neon Future I” album.

The Yoga of Cleaning

What if I told you that you could combine yoga and cleaning? You’ll be happy to know it doesn’t involve contorting your body and then attempting to dust your ceiling fan. In fact, it’s not strange at all. Jennifer Carter Avgerinos, author of “The Yoga of Cleaning”, makes it seem fairly common sense, and like something you should start doing today.

How does someone end up in the position of being able to write a book bringing together the worlds of yoga and cleaning together? I found myself wondering that as I started to read “The Yoga of Cleaning”. I was amazed to learn that Avgerinos is not only a certified yoga instructor, but she has worked in the consumer packaged cleaning tools industry for the past several years. This indeed gives her a unique perspective on these two seemingly divergent topics.

Avgerinos talks about cleaning as karma yoga, or selfless service – “the desire to serve the divine in everything and become one with everything (yes, even the toilet).”, or cleaning as bhakti yoga or pure love and devotion, or cleaning as plain old healthy exercise. You don’t need to know how to do yoga to use or enjoy the book, and she does show the reader some basic poses. (Fun fact: Her husband, musician and longtime friend of The Buffet Paul Avgerinos is featured in the book doing all the poses!) She also discusses Ayurveda, a natural healing system from India, as it pertains to cleanliness, vatsu, which is an ancient architecture school that for the purposes of those who are not building their home from the ground up is being modified to a system of room design, how to make your own cleaning products, and more. For Averginos, the health you gain from yoga extends to the health of your home and vice versa.

Jennifer Carter Avgerinos has written a book that inspires you to create a healthier home and a healthier you. At $14.99 “The Yoga of Cleaning” is a book that should be in everyone’s home.

Press the President Costume Contest

Still looking for a Halloween costume idea? Well, a press release I received from the political blog Press the President might influence you with the idea of winning cash for your politically inspired costume.

Washington, D.C. (October 6, 2014) – With Halloween and Election Day just around the corner, PressThePresident.com wants you to get in the spirit by submitting photos or videos of yourself dressed as your favorite politician or political issue. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans celebrate these holidays with costumes and parties and now you have a chance to be rewarded for your creative efforts.

PressThePresident.com is offering a cash prize for the best photo or video submission of individuals dressing as a politician or demonstrating a political issue. Press the President’s editorial staff will judge video and photo submissions on relevancy, creativity, and originality. All photos and videos must be submitted by 12:01 a.m. PST on November 5, 2014 to be considered. For full submissions guidelines, please scroll down.

Struggling for the best costume idea? We have you covered. Here are some hot button issues we think would make great creative costume idea:

• Global Warming – With so many options for this one, it is hard to know where to start. The easiest costume idea is simply to wear a global and dress it up with winter accessories – before you know it, you are warming the globe!

• Pollution – While covering yourself in trash may cause some individuals to stop in shock, it certainly gets the point across! According to DoSomething.org, Pollution is one of the biggest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. That’s comparable to global diseases like malaria and HIV.

• Animal Rights – Wear a costume that showcases your feelings about clothing from animals, food from animals, fur trade, and rights associated with hunting.

• Veteran’s Rights – Although Veteran’s Day isn’t until November 11th, why not get a head start on celebrating the men and women who have served our country by dressing up like one of your military heroes? In light of the recent Phoenix VA Hospital scandal, many Americans have made an effort to educate themselves about what they can do to support these individuals.

Photo Submission guidelines:

• Must be original content from the user.
• Must be accompanied by caption of whom the politician or political issue is and why the individual decided to dress like them.
• Any photo containing nudity, profanity, violence, graphic content, illegal drugs, derogatory comments, personal attacks or slander towards others will be removed and will not be considered for the contest. Anything that is considered spam or an advertisement will also be removed.
• Contestants are encouraged to submit a written piece as well (no more than 500 words) about the politician or issue they are portraying.

Video Submission Guidelines:
• Must be original content from the user
• Must be no longer than 60 seconds in length
• It must be clear which politician or political issue you are imitating.
• Must abide decorum of Press the President – any video containing nudity, profanity, violence, graphic content, illegal drugs, derogatory comments, personal attacks or slander towards others will be removed and will not be considered for the contest. Anything that is considered spam or an advertisement will also be removed.

• Contestants are encouraged to submit a written piece as well (no more than 500 words) about the politician or issue they are portraying.

Rights of Press the President:

• Press the President reserves the right to remove any photos or videos that do not comply with the above guidelines.
• Press the President reserves the right to use any submitted photos or videos on PressThePresident.com or in any other manner or platform Press the President chooses to promote itself now or in the future.

Prizes:

Submissions will be judged on relevancy, creativity, and originality by Press the President’s editorial staff.

• 1st prize – $300.00
• 2nd prize – $150.00
• 3rd prize – $100.00

Winners will be contacted via email at which point they will be required to send their mailing address for follow-up purposes. The winner of the contest will most likely be interviewed for a press release about their photo and why they decided to “go political” this Halloween instead of rocking the spooky outfit.

How to Enter

To submit a picture -Email contact.us@pressthepresident.com. Please include a short sentence about the costume and what this politician or issue means for you.

To submit a video –You simply take your smart phone, ask your friend or family member or a simple passerby on the street to record you for 60 seconds doing your best impression or impersonation of the politician of your choice. Care taken for costumes and props are given special attention by the judges for consideration for prizes. Once you have your 60 second video, you can post it here on Press the President. Just create a profile using your Facebook account: http://www.pressthepresident.com/show.jsp.

And away you go! This is your opportunity to have fun and get prize money for doing it!

For more details, visit: http://www.pressthepresident.com/show.jsp?page=181264

Dream Interpretation for Personal Growth

By Dayna Winters

I’m Dayna Winters, and I have practiced interpreting dreams for well over a decade. Through this column, I will help you explore the messages your dreams convey. Dreams are a form of communication between the subconscious and conscious mind: a way the higher self, universe, or divine uses to communicate. Your nighttime visions are richly embedded with significant symbols, all of which you can explore for personal meaning. Dreams are sometimes precognitive, lending hints about future events. Typically, dreams have multiple layers of meaning even when they are not predictive. Much like the Tarot is a tool for gaining personal and spiritual insight, dreams are a tool you can use to make personal discoveries and epiphanies; And as it is with the Tarot, every interpretation is deeply personal – what one person might get from a dream symbol, another person might derive an entirely different interpretation. And that’s what this column is all about; here, we will explore the fascinating world of dream symbols, and how you can use them to enhance your mundane and spiritual life.

To begin our exploration, lets examine what the appearance of a home/house in your dreams might symbolize. Common dream scenarios involving a house/home include the appearance of a childhood home; being in a strange home you have never seen or been inside before; being in a dilapidated house, and a house that is surprisingly larger than it first appears – one that often possesses secret corridors. The key to understanding house symbolism is to realize a building often symbolizes the self. The home is sacred space, your personal temple, and represents your physical body, and/or your emotional or spiritual state. Each room in a home, the condition of the house, and your familiarity with the interior/exterior of the house, all elicit meaning. Let’s break down each image and explore its meaning in-depth.

Childhood Home – The childhood home is a symbol of your roots and where you came from – the home represents fundamental concepts and beginnings. Dreaming of your childhood home signifies a longing for more innocent times where there is less responsibility and stress. This dream image suggests you either miss something/someone from that time period, or, if you have happy childhood memories, you might “long for the comforts of your childhood home.” If the home of your childhood is a place connected with traumatic experiences, the appearance of the home in dreams might indicate a karmic cycle coming up in your life where you will need to address past issues you have not yet emotionally resolved.

The appearance of your childhood home may also signify a deeply rooted connection to the past, or a desire to return to a former way of being. The important thing to remember if you see your childhood home in a dream and you feel a driving need to return to an old condition, situation, or way of being, is often when you attempt to “go back home again,” or revive a past condition, the experience is never the same, and is sometimes an incredible disappointment. Thus, the appearance of the home of your younger years could suggest a need to carefully consider if you want to revive an old condition, situation, or relationship at all.

On a more positive note, the childhood home might suggest a need to get in touch with your inner child. Remember when you were a kid and everything seemed magical? Remember when every life experience was a new discovery and when your creativity was encouraged? Do you remember the joy you use to find in the simplest of things? The childhood home image is one that might be urging you to bring back the joy in your life, become more creative, have more fun, and to simplify your life.

A Strange Home – The appearance of a strange home in dreams relates to “fish out of water” experiences. In your waking life, whether you know the owner of the home or not, a strange home most likely feels unnatural and uncomfortable for you, at least until you gain your bearings. Thus, a strange home in your dream indicates that you are either uncomfortable/uncertain of a new situation you have recently entered into, or you might soon be faced with a “fish out of water” experience where you are outside your natural environment or comfort zone. If the strange home belongs to a friend or a loved one, then your dream suggests that the situation you face is one where you will be able to recover your sense of comfort/balance relatively quickly. If the home belongs to someone you don’t know, then the recovery of your sense of comfort/balance might not be as simple or possible at all.

If you have entered into the strange home willingly, your dream suggests you are open to new situations, despite your uncertainty about any potential outcomes. If you are dragged or forced into the strange home, the dream suggests quite the opposite – it can signify your unwillingness to participate in new situations or that you have a stubborn nature that making it difficult to embrace new things. If the strange home has some familiar elements (for example, parts of the house’s interior has rooms from your own home), it can indicate that you will be familiar with some, but not all of the elements of a situation/condition/relationship in your waking life, and such familiarity will give you some comfort even though you are really going beyond your personal comfort zone. Being in a strange environment might also indicate an upcoming event where you feel socially isolated. Further, if you consider the strange home as a depiction of the self, this dream signifies a need for personal exploration, or the need to get in touch with the parts of yourself that you intentionally/unintentionally left untended or abandoned, like creative pursuits or hobbies once enjoyed.

A Dilapidated Home – When the home in a dream is run down, it can signal it’s time for self-improvements. The part of the home in need of repair can prove important in determining exactly what parts of your life require attention. For instance, if the entire exterior is run down, but the interior of the home is beautiful, your dream might signify a need to pay more attention to your body – perhaps you need to engage in more exercise, or your subconscious could be telling you it’s time to change up your external appearance with a new wardrobe, look, hairstyle, or image. If the interior rooms of the home are in disrepair, think about what a room symbolizes to you. As an example, let’s say you see a kitchen with broken appliances or the room is empty and in total disrepair. Since the kitchen is a place where you cook nourishing foods, it might be time to re-examine how you are nourishing your body. And since food is transformed into energy once consumed, it might also be time to consider how you nourish your spirit. Now imagine you dream of seeing broken windows throughout the home – this image may signify that it is time for a new view or perspective related to an old condition/situation.

A Larger Home with Secret Corridors – I can’t tell you how many times I have dreamed about a home that, once inside, is far larger than it appears and hosts endless secret corridors. This image represents a need for self-exploration and such a quest will lead to fascinating self-discoveries. If you see rooms and corridors filled with objects of all kinds or hidden storage areas in the home, this symbolizes a time to release unnecessary emotional baggage so you can make room for better things. The secret corridors represent the parts of yourself yet unexplored. In your waking life, if you have ceased being creative or partaking of spiritual practices, such as meditation, ritual, or prayer, the dream of the secret passages in the larger home (temple of the self) suggests a need to return to such practices where personal/spiritual epiphanies await you.

Associated deities – If you want to connect with dream archetypes representing the home, there are a number of deities associated with the hearth. Among such deities are the the Roman goddess Vesta and the Greek goddess Hesta. Also, in the Roman pantheon, there are Lares Domestici and Lares Familiaries, protective deities of the house and family respectively.

Questions to Ask Yourself

In your dream, what was the condition of the home?
Was the house yours or did it belong to someone else?
What primary colors are in the home (colors are highly symbolic and can elicit meaning for you.)
How did you feel about the home; were you comfortable or uncomfortable with the environment?
What rooms did you see and what do those rooms signify for you?
If known, what was the external environment surrounding the house like? For instance, was the home near a body of water (symbolizing the subconscious and deep emotions)? Was it sunny outside or was there a storm on the horizon (indicating potential trouble ahead.)

While it is impossible to cover every dream scenario involving a home in this short column, this article should give you a good sense on where to start when you want to interpret the meaning of house images in dreams. The important thing to remember is the home is a symbol of the self, with the exterior of the building representing the physical body and the home’s interior symbolic of the emotional and spiritual bodies. An examination of home dream imagery in this context can elicit deep, symbolic meaning you can extrapolate and use for personal growth on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.

About Dayna Winters:
Dayna Winters is a solitary Witch, author, and artist. She is the co-author of three books written with Patricia Gardner and Angela Kaufman including, “Wicca: What’s The Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions,” “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space: Everyday Tools for The Modern Day Witch,” and “The Esoteric Dream Book: Mastering the Magickal Symbolism of the Subconscious Mind”, all of which are published by Schiffer Publishing. You can find out more about Dayna and her work at her blog: http://daynawinters.blogspot.com/.

Think Before You Pink 2014

It is October, and so as I do every October it is time for me to talk to you about Breast Cancer Action and their Think Before You Pink campaign. While it seems the whole United States goes crazy with pink ribbon madness, Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign exists as a brazen counterpoint; arguing for more transparency from breast cancer charities and fighting against pinkwashers. (A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.)

This year it appears they have decided to hand pick a few choice examples to pursue with their Stop the Distraction campaign: (from their email campaign)

• The NFL is spreading misinformation about breast cancer by repeating disproven and misleading advice about mammography screening in their “Crucial Catch” campaign.

• Kohls’ recent “Pink Elephant in the Room” promotion was outrageous profiteering; it exploited concern for women affected by breast cancer to make millions for the company.

• Alhambra Water is pinkwashing by selling plastic polycarbonate water bottles which contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to breast cancer.

• NASCAR is selling breast cancer awareness t-shirts that say “Check Your Headlights” which degrade women by objectifying and sexualizing women’s breasts and bodies.

• Hooters’ breast cancer campaigns obscure the harsh reality of breast cancer by promoting a story of triumphant survivorship based on positive thinking, beauty tips, and sanitized, carefully chosen images of women.

• Oriental Trading is spreading empty awareness via its endless supply of plastic pink ribbon trinkets – the company pockets all the money from these sales!

Years and years ago, the former executive director of Breast Cancer Action, Barbara Brenner said something that at the time seemed odd and always stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing here, but it was essentially that the reason breast cancer “awareness” has taken off like it has is because sex sells. At the time I was like, that’s stupid there is nothing sexy about breast cancer. (This was before I realized what a total bad ass she was and that she only dropped the realest of knowledge.) However I get what she meant now.

There are a bazillion diseases and chronic debilitating conditions. Where are their month long, ribbon-a-tastic ticker tape parades? They ALL have awareness ribbons, because goodness knows everything does. They all have their own awareness months. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease. Too apples and oranges for you? How about something a little more comparable then? What about cervical cancer? It’s actually a cancer. It’s even a cancer that affects women. Yet it has no month long, awareness raising party. Why no love for these guys?

Because sex sells. What’s sexy about some elderly, forgetful person? What product or company wants to be associated with that? When I think Kohl’s, I think of the elderly. (They usually forgot their Kohl’s cash at home! Cheap joke, but I never claimed to be classy.) Okay smart ass, what about cervical cancer? Can’t have sex without, well, you know. However you can’t really package and sell a cervix. (Don’t tell that to AdamandEve.com) What I mean is, most companies or products don’t want to be associated with what’s between a woman’s legs. Just ask most conservative, Republican, and/or Evangelicals, what’s between a woman’s legs is filthy at best, and a ticking time bomb to damnation at worst. NO ONE WANTS THAT.

That’s leaves us with breasts. Women’s breasts. Perky, bouncy breasts. Breasts have fun names like ta-tas, boobies, headlights, etc., that you can say in public and more importantly….put on t-shirts. Breasts you can stuff into tight Hooters shirts for ad campaigns. Breasts are beautiful, fun, and sexy. What product or company wouldn’t want to be associated with that? And the best part, the very best part, is that all you need to do to capture just a tiny bit of that lighting in a bottle is to put a pink ribbon on whatever it is your company sells. It’s for a good cause you know.

Breast Cancer Action claims much of this is degrading to women. I don’t. I think it’s a lot of people counting on consumers being easily manipulated, and once I saw it, I can’t help but see it everywhere.

This year Breast Cancer Action is asking these companies to Stop the Distraction. To learn more, visit their Think Before You Pink website. Click here to learn more about Breast Cancer Action.

The Geek Month in Review: September 2014

By JB Sanders

Woo! Fall!

Alien Landscape on Earth
Because it’s very isolated, the biome of Socotra island (off the coast of Yemen) is unique on Earth. And looks it.

The Nerd-Fu is Strong With This One
So, your typical person looks at a box of crayons, and thinks: “I can make art with these!” This guy? He doesn’t draw an elaborate picture with the crayons. He carves the crayons. Into scifi nerdy sculptures.

Loudest Known Sound
The loudest sound known to have occurred, on Earth mind you, was the eruption/explosion of Krakatoa. How bad was it? People 100 miles away suffered permanent hearing loss.

Plum Island for Sale
If you aren’t aware of Plum Island’s reputation, you’re in for a treat. It’s long been rumored to be the site of the US Government’s biological warfare research, or something even more sinister and oddball. Officially, it’s been the Plum Island Animal Disease Center since 1954. But now it’s for sale, and if isn’t going to be the source of the zombie/plague apocalypse, then it’d be a swell place to survive one of those. It has it’s own power plant, and water treatment facility. Plus tons of other interesting features.

For some background, the Wikipedia view of Plum Island:

Brain Surgery & 3D Printing
For some particularly difficult brain surgery procedures, doctors have started taking very high-resolution scans of the patient, printing a replica of their brain in a semi-solid medium, and testing the procedure ahead of time. They even print the blood vessels in a different color medium. How wild is that?

Postcards from the Great Exhibition
If you’re not familiar with it, the Great Exhibition was the first world’s fair, encompassing 13,000 exhibits under a purpose-built structure called the Crystal Palace. It’s a popular destination for time travelers, since it was easy to blend into the crowd of almost 6 million visitors, and everyone went. The engravings are themselves beautiful examples of High Victorian art.

Cheap and Easy Hydrogen Production
One of the downsides of renewable forms of energy is that if you don’t use it when it’s produced, it’s gone. And there aren’t any good storage solutions, to hold onto that energy for later use. In comes hydrogen. If you can use the renewable energy to extract hydrogen from common sources (like from water), you can store up the volatile gas for later use — either burned directly, or combined with other elements to produce electricity directly. Some scientists have found a way to produce hydrogen far more easily than was previously possible.

Don’t Screw With the Swiss
I think they invented the term “ruthlessly neutral”. Here’s a primer on why it’s never worth it to invade, despite their strategic deposits of chocolate.

Massive Old Prison for Sale
It was built in 1886, and is no longer in use. It has 85 acres, 47 buildings, a baseball diamond, basketball court, and of course, a lot of barbed wire. Need a little vacation place? Or an apocalypse compound? Here you go.

DC Superheroes Like Norman Rockwell Would Do ‘Em
Ever wonder, in an idle moment, what comic books might look like if famous artists had done them instead of the slightly-less-famous-artists who did? Wonder no more!

What Real Space Battles Would Look Like
Ok, this video is more instructional and party-pooper than cool special effects. But take a look at the silliness that is Hollywood space battles.

Largest Medieval City in the World? Angkor
Yes, that Angkor — the one made famous by the largest religious complex in the world (three times the size of the Vatican), Angkor Wat. The city recently discovered surrounding it was over 1000 square kilometers at its peak — it took 700 years before London was that big. How did they discover this massive city? Lasers.

Eye of the Tiger — On Dot Matrix
I’m sure you’ve heard tunes played on dot matrix printers before — the benighted wailing of a lost generation. But this is so awesome, you have to give it gander. That’s right, gander, because you can watch it produce it’s remarkably close rendition.

And on floppy drives, just for comparison:

Make Your Own Cloaking Device
No, really. It’s all about optics, man.

Fighting in Full Plate? Yuch!
So some French medievalists demonstrate how maneuverable those knights in full plate armor really were. Answer? Pretty damned maneuverable. Though I can see why they might not be the stealthiest bunch out there.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/