Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Romp in the Swamp with "Chomp"

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

When in Florida, read Carl Hiaasen!

"Chomp" is Carl Hiassen's 4th "eco-adventure" for kids...and perhaps my favorite, though I must admit, you can't go wrong with any of them ("Hoot," "Flush," or "Scat.")  For a entertaining video book trailer, check it out!  Then go take a romp in the swamp with "Chomp!"  Don't forget to check out Hiassen's book website for more videos, games, and about the author info!

Video from 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Livin' in LEGOLAND

When you are a writer, you find yourself in places, writing out future posts.  Right there, in your head.  The words just come.

When you are an environmental writer, you find yourself looking to the ecologically minded.  "Green" is the lens, and it greets you wherever you go (either in the "wow, so eco-ly green!" or the "OMG--where's the Green" sort of way.)

Take LEGOLAND for instance.  LEGOLAND, Florida--conveniently located on I-4 between Orlando and my former hometown of Tampa.  When you have two Lego-lovin' kids, it's on the itinerary--no doubt about it!!

Aside being totally awestruck by the things Lego engineers can do with Legos (build a life-size Ford Explorer,multiple resorts/casinos in Las Vegas, the hot-spots of Washington, DC, life-size safari animals and more), you're struck by the other things as well.

In three instances (instances that occurred repeatedly, but not "every single time"), I was struck that this "building company" was highlighting (and educating about) some new building processes in the most amazingly subtle places. Brilliant! Truly, a stroke of genius (said not-lightly as Einstein graced our presence!!)

Being Florida's newest amusement park (circa 2011), visionary building is in their view.  It was evident in the little places, yet the frequent places:  
park benches,

park waste/recycling bins, 

and storage cubbies across the park. 

They were built out of (and sporadically labeled) with a stamp as to what compound they were manufactured out of:  Milk Jugs (and recycled plastic bottles).  Look closely, and each structure will tell you precisely how many milk jugs they are made of to form that plastic compound.  Brilliant!

Subtly, LEGOLAND educates.  Subtly, they inspire. 

One of the best eco-parts of LEGOLAND too was one of the first things I noticed:  they "upcycled" former Cypress Gardens by purchasing and integrating the historic park into their theme.  What a fabulous form of recycling.  So, down to highlighting their 1939 banyan tree, commemorating the Southern Bells in Legos, and  honoring the water-skiing history through their show with Pirate BrickBeard & "girl-power" water skiing prowess of Ms. Miranda, they brought together the old and the new!!  Check here for a great article in the Orlando Sentinel which highlights that!!  

Yes!  Love it (and the childhood memories of Cypress Gardens it brings forth!!)   

Photos from My Camera a la LEGOLAND, FL.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Eco-State of Mind

They always say a pictures is worth 1000 words.  Here is an interesting and eye-opening infographic which  illustrates the environmental pros and cons on a state-by-state level.  Where does your state rate?

There are a total of 10 State-by-state infographics also on this site from obesity (a wow one, looking at the skinniest to fattest states), to jobs, to renewable energy and more.

United States Of The Environment

Infographic from

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Muppet State o'Mind ~ Now & 1980s

I'm in a Muppet's State o'Mind here after heavy contemplation of "Muppet Theory"-- especially as it relates to environmentalism. (An upcoming trip to Disney World might also have something to do with that.)

I find it interesting that I have landed on these two gems from circa 1980s.... Public Service Announcements [PSA's] from Kermie and friends and the National Wildlife Federation.

The 1980s.... Nearly 30 years ago. I was a mere wee lassie from the Midwest. Yet, here we are, they are as current as can be. As nostalgic as I find them to be, I find that 30 year mathematical statistic alarming. It leads me to wonder where exactly we will be ecologically and sustainability-wise with not only our environmental progress, but also our PSA's.

The Muppets by green-tv

The Muppets Part 2 by green-tv

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Muppet Theory

It would be the first time I have written about the Muppets, or for that matter anything in the typical "under 10 yr old commentary!" (See It's Not Easy to Be Green or MuppetGate or Perry The Platypus or 104 Days of Summer Vacation, or more or more or more!!).

But this may be the most profound GTG Muppet commentary yet.

You have got to love FaceBook Nation, for it is there that you find such unique gems!  The latest from Slate by Dahlia Lithwick:  Muppet Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types.  A definite "must read," especially if you are in need of a chuckle, and you find personality traits and psychology fascinating.  In her article, she classifies us all as either "Chaos Muppet" or "Order Muppet." 
From Dahlia's article, some clarification:
"Order Muppets—and I’m thinking about Bert, Scooter, Sam the Eagle, Kermit the Frog, and the blue guy who is perennially harassed by Grover at restaurants (the Order Muppet Everyman)—tend to be neurotic, highly regimented, averse to surprises and may sport monstrously large eyebrows. They sometimes resent the responsibility of the world weighing on their felt shoulders, but they secretly revel in the knowledge that they keep the show running."
For anyone who's seen the 2011 Muppet Movie, it begs the musical question:  are you a "Man Or Muppet" of a man!

Its been cute talking to pals, looking in the mirror, and analyzing my family.  I have come to terms with the fact that I am an Order Muppet who wishes she was a Chaos Muppet, yet who would be drawn to tidying up Cookie Monster's wayward cookie crumbs.  In fact, while talking about it with my own two kids, my 6 year old fell off the back of the couch (where he was perched), laughing. Chaos. Definitely Chaos.

As a blogger, there is enough Chaos Muppet in me that I get glee out of writing about whatever, whenever here on my blog. Yet there's more than enough Order Muppet in me to land on the idea that I need to find an eco-connection in here somewhere.  But this I know I can do!

Perhaps there is a Muppet Theory of Environmental Activism... in good times, economically prosperous time, I think we (as a country...if not as a planet) have a very "Order Muppet" approach to climate change--or environmental issues as a whole.  The view:  "Yes, it's important, and we need to take action--we're on board."  In less prosperous economic time (aka: a recession; aka: now), folks aren't so ready to support environmental issues... in idea, philosophy, and finance. Studies have shown that, as a community, "we" tend to be more pro-environment when we have a strong economy behind us.  Aka: Order Muppets.

Yet when the money gets tight, locally, nationally, globally, we can get a little nutty.  We start running around like crazy, not believing in the realities that surround us with the global statistics of higher CO2 levels, greenhouse gases, ocean acidification, and temperatures. There are greater economic concerns to focus on--more akin to survival and basic human needs. I see it like the little kid with fingers in ears, running around, loudly proclaiming "I can't hear you, I can't hear you!" Perhaps it's an example of "Me thinks thou dost protest too much."  Chaos Theory.  Chaos Muppet. 

Yet, no matter where you fall on the Muppet Theory Spectrum, the issues--the environmental issues--are still there.  Yes... much like our fearless Slate writer Dahlia Lithwick, I too will leave you with this: Manama nah!

Images from  Dr. Honeydew & Beaker pic from, Cookie Monster Google Doodle from

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15th: Global Wind Day

There's an Irish blessing that I always find poignant and powerful.
Given today is Global Wind Day, it seems even more so.

Global Wind Day is one of those environmental holidays that falls annually on June 15th.  It's mission:  "It is a day for discovering wind, its power and the possibilities it holds to change our world."

Just like Earth Hour started locally (in Sydney Australia). and grew globally, Global Wind Day did as well. It first coordinated by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in 2007, going global in 2009.  Now both the EWEA and the GWEC (Global Wind Energy Council) serve as the global umbrella for public events world -wide.  Interesting, when you look at the map of events, which countries value wind energy the most!  Last year, 230 events were organized throughout 40 countries. More than 75 countries around the world are homes to operational wind farms. 

There's amazing power in the breezes that surround us, invisible to our eyes, each day. As I discovered in the Global Wind Day Website's FAQ's (which is a wealth of information), approximately 26% of all of Denmark's energy needs currently come from wind power.  Their goal by 2025 is 50%.  Hmmm.... makes you wonder what the United States' goals are on this front, and what they're doing to get us there.

[It's 20% by 2030, by the way, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's report: 20% Wind Energy by 2030--Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply ...  Looks like Denmark already has us beat by a mile!]

I'm drawn back to the Irish blessing image above. I think one of the reasons I like it so much is because through the sunflower, the potential of the power of alternative energy is encapsulated perfectly there!  The sunflower is gleaming with the sun and promise of solar power.  The petals seem light around the flower's center--you can almost feel the breeze and the whisper of what wind power can hold.  Not to mention the blessing's other guides: the power of the positive, friendship, and the divine, to get you where you need to go!

Go outside, feel the wind, and imagine the possibilities!


Irish Blessing image from, last pic & logo from

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dallas, The Next Generation

In the category of strange but true, I am finding myself watching the premier of "Dallas." The opening credits alone take me back the 15+ years. Man do I feel old...yet, Dallas does what Dallas does best!  Insert smirk here!!

I must admit it. I have been to Southfork. Yes, full disclosure.... Yes, the REAL Southfork.  Even more:  I have seen more than my fair share of original episodes...many of which more than once!! Don't even get me started on the where's, how's, and why's!  How old was I then, those Friday nights, so long ago??? (Probably as old as JR's eyebrows are long now!!)   Let's started in 1978, and the original series ended in 1991....I can't even ponder it!

Bobby Ewing was always my is it any surprise that his son is now my favorite too, esp. now that he is an environmentalist. (Not to mention that he's definitely on this side of cute!! But, I digress....) 

So we have a new tale for new generations, with big oil versus alternative energy.  I get that it is the series pilot--there's more to come, so we can probably just move away from that whole nasty methane, earthquake, unstable alternative gas issue story line.  Just like 30 years ago, JR was akin to evil -vs- good.... So here we are, in a new generation, with the same "good -vs- evil" protocol.  This time now, just different details form a modified story line. If "Dallas" has taught me anything over the years it has taught me that the storyline will continue (with or without a shower/dream sequence scene), and good will typically prevail....though sometimes it takes awhile to get there!!
But all that aside...this takes me back to the days of yesteryear. Kudos to the David Jacobs team for bringing back the old favorites and bringing in the next generation of strong, engaging Ewings.

Pic from

Monday, June 11, 2012

Where Does Perry the Platypus Fall on the Endangered Species List?

Doo-bee-doo-bee doo-bah
Doo-bee-doo-bee doo-bah

In continuing with the Phineas & Ferb"104 Days of Summer" theme, I got to thinking of Perry...Perry the Platypus.  Agent P, to you and me. 

Now while "a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action," who works for Major Monogram might be rather rare, I got to wondering about live and true semi-aquatic egg-laying mammals... how rare are they?

Well, it seems as though, while the platypus was once threatened, they are now classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Animals AND it is legally protected everywhere they live.  Good news. 

Yet, not all animals are so lucky.  Mother Nature Network has an amazing infographic of the Top 20 Countries with the Most Endangered Species.  Of course, given it's somewhat sad and vast scope and size, the infographic won't fit comfortably here at GTG, so be sure to click the title above or the info-image to see it in its fullest!! Ecuador has been greatly hit in both the fauna AND flora species...and the United States faring well either with endangered animals--ranking at #2.  Sad but true.

To take a look at some amazing animals, and find out where your favorite ranks on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, check out Arkive, a stupendous storehouse of wildlife photographs and films with a high mission toward conservation and animal protection!!

Perry the Platypus pic from from

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Just Like Phineas & Ferb: Hello "104 Days of Summer Vacation!"

We teachers are a funny lot... one could argue, a breed of our own.  Perhaps it goes with the territory when you work 110% or more for 9-10 months, then get the beauty and luxury of a summer vacation.  Perhaps too, it goes with the territory that we're paid to be serious and silly on a daily basis, and in some ways, when you teach 3rd grade, you're kind of paid to watch things like "Phineas and Ferb" just so you can speak your clients' language.  Lucky for me, I just so happen to be quite partial to "Phineas & Ferb!" (Okay, I'll admit it--it totally cracks me up!)

Yesterday, as I was driving away from school from our final end-of-year meeting, my windows were down and I was cranking Alice Cooper's "School's Out For Summer."  Yep, a far cry different than Phineas & Ferb's "104 Days of Summer Vacation," but it seems that it doesn't matter the genre of "school's out" songs, they all work and capture the freedom.  But I'm particularly struck by the Phineas & Ferb theme from above.  My boys approach summer with all the glee and excitement that houses the true potential of summer -- for students and teachers alike.  (Of course, when I do the math, I'm a bit shy of that 104 days of summer, but I'll take 80 or so days I get.) 

Don't get me wrong, I love my job.  But I love the opportunity to take a break from it.  To refresh. To rejuvenate.  So here I sit at the cusp of my 80 days, looking at the relaxation ahead:  the down time, the time to actually sit and read books or go on adventures with my kids,  the time to go on family vacations, and visit family far away.  The time to live life with a little less schedule. Ahhh!!

I also (somewhat dreadingly) look at all those household chores that "fell by the wayside" somewhere between grading papers, writing report cards, attempting to do regular household maintenance, and transporting & watching my own children at their own sports practices and games.  The scary stacked corners, kids' bedrooms, and "dump" zones frighten me just a tad.  But I shall try to be strong and attack at least a few of those. 

Additionally, there are those summer homework assignments from school that we HAVE to do by the time fall arrives...yet there are also the trends & educational exploration I personally WANT to look into for next fall's school year.  My list of eco & edtech websites, Pinterest pins, and iPad apps to try out is lengthy!!

So I find the exuberance high, but the list of things I long-to-do equally high.  How is it that I can actually find a bit of stress in this dichotomy, here on my first official day of summer with the glory ahead? So, clearly it's my challenge to not be a "Doofenshmirtz" and waste away the time stuck in the "to do's" (which I can be prone to do), but rather balance it out with the fun.  So consult my inner Phineas and Ferb, I shall do.  Perhaps that should be my summer mantra!  Perhaps that should be all of ours!!

Video from; "Let's Rock" pic from; Dr. Doofenshmirtz's pic from

Friday, June 8, 2012

Happy World Ocean's Day

Cheers to one of the many annual eco-events that hit the environmental calendar.  June 8th every year World Ocean's Day....a day set aside to highlight the beauty and importance of this massive yet delicate ecosystem that covers our Planet Earth. 

Below you'll find 2 videos showing some of the reasons why it's important to focus on an environmental date such as World Ocean's Day.  To learn more, check out the World Ocean's Day Website.  To DO more...think about what you can do this weekend ahead to do something for this watery wonderland!!

 videos from World Ocean Day's YouTube Channel

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Second Climate Crisis

Like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup...It's two great tastes that taste great together.

That's how I feel about my latest new "dual find," which (much like a Reese's Cup), I found together.  In looking for Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk "Bring on the Learning Revolution," I found it mentioned/linked on the website Ecology of Education.

Sir Ken starts right in at about a minute, dozen seconds with this quote, which marries the heart of Green Team Gazette:
"Al Gore spoke at the TED conference I spoke at 4 years ago and talked about the climate change...You see, he's right.  I mean, there is a major climate crisis, obviously, and I think if people don't believe it, they should get out more.  But I believe there's a second climate crisis, which is as severe which has the same origins, and that we have to deal with with the same urgency....But this is a crisis of, not natural resources -- though I believe that's true -- but a crisis of human sources....Very many people go through their whole lives having no real sense of what their talents may be, or if they have any to speak of."  ~ Sir Ken Robinson                                                            
With humor, he jokes that perhaps one climate crisis might be enough for us, but too bad, both are here to deal with.

Sir Ken (a creativity expert) continues on with the commentary that unfortunately it is education that might be central to this crisis in that it is the item that essentially "dislocates many people from their natural talents.  And  human resources are like natural resources; they're often buried deep.  You have to go looking for them, they're not just lying around on the surface....Life is not linear; it is organic."

Even worse, he while he ties it in with Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution," he goes on to explain that the standardization of education is like a "fast food model of education, and it's impoverishing our spirit and our energy as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies." 

Just as most TED talks can do, there's a lot packed in this 20 minutes or so to make you think!

Equally it any wonder that I found it highlighted on Jason Flom's Ecology of Education? "Eco of Ed" is a multi-author blog that focuses not only on educational issues, but serves as a voice to open up the dialogue of educational trends, perspectives, and visions for all edu-minded individuals.  Another wonderful warehouse of engaging ideas, and a perfect TED companion.

Yep...two great tastes that taste great together...and a lot of good "food for thought" for the summer months ahead!!

Video from;  Reese's photo from'S-Peanut-Butter-Cups