Hack for Good: Climate Change Solutions

Geeklist is hosting a global hackathon from Sept. 12-14th to get smart people thinking and creating solutions to our world’s most pressing climate problems.

I created a challenge on Pursuitery to help bring more awareness to the hackathon and to participate virtually from the comfort of my home desk.

There are two ways that I’m contributing to this excellent use of everyone’s time:

First: I am putting together the Sparkle Labs Sparkle Plotly kit that I purchased at the HOPE Conference in NYC this past summer. It’s purpose is to graph light and temperature data in real time collected using Arduino plus sensor circuits and then upload to Plotly for anyone to see.

If more people were collecting real time data about their environment and sharing it then we would have a much more micro view into what’s happening with our environment and would hopefully be more motivated to make a change.

Second: I’ve been thinking about is creating a visual simulation of how the world would be affected if more people participated in Meatless Monday. What would the world look like if 1% more participated, 10%, 20%, 100%. I am starting to collect data focused on cattle because they have the most significant impact on California and it’s water shortage right now. Domestic livestock such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels produce large amounts of methane (CH4) as part of their normal digestive process. Also, when animals’ manure is stored or managed in lagoons or holding tanks, CH4 is produced. Because humans raise these animals for food, the emissions are considered human-related. Globally, the Agriculture sector is the primary source of CH4 emissions.

I’d love to hear if you are also thinking about climate awareness, adaptation and action.

Climate Awareness Challenges

  1. Public awareness – Gain a critical mass of public awareness and support for addressing climate change
  2. Personal impact – Help people understand their personal impact and carbon footprint
  3. Digital activism – What digital tools can we give to savvy activists and campaigners that will unlock the potential to create powerful movements for climate action?
  4. Compelling visualisation – Create compelling visualisations of climate models and climate impacts
  5. International negotiations – Facilitate effective international negotiations and strong international agreements

Climate Adaptation Challenges

  1. Resilient communities – Build tools to empower strong, prepared and resilient communities
  2. Temperature rise – Respond to heatwaves, drought and agricultural challenges
  3. Extreme weather – Respond to flooding, tropical storms, wildfires and extreme sudden weather events
  4. Ecosystems and nature – Protect and restore ecosystems, natural spaces and animal habitats
  5. NGO collaboration – Facilitate collaboration and communication between NGOs

Climate Action Challenges

  1. Consumer behaviour – Influence and encourage climate-friendly consumption choices
  2. Energy production – Develop global scale solutions for low-carbon energy production
  3. Responsible finance – Encourage responsible finance and divestment away from fossil fuels
  4. Sustainability and energy efficiency – Increase energy efficiency, appropriate use of resources and sustainable business
  5. Reforestation – End deforestation and stimulate reforestation

Connected Courses Participant

I’m learning about running a course using the principals of Connected Learning and the big wide open web. Freeeeeeedom.

Turns out that there are different kinds of MOOCs. Who knew.

 

Learn to Code Links

Update: I made a Pinterest board wI have been favoriting “how to code” links on Twitter for awhile now and that seems pretty useless so I’m going to list them here instead.

Codecademy

– Learn the basics to more advanced. Build existing websites that you are familiar with including AirBnB

Code.org

– Basics plus HTML, Javascript, etc.

Animated GIFs can turn you into a into a web coder. 

– Use revisit.link to create the glitches and animations then upload to the github repository and make changes and then deploy to a website.

Minecraft Algorithm and Circuit Tutorials (YouTube)

– Learning how to code in Minecraft is awesome. These tutorials use red stone to build complex circuits. There are also plugins so use the Lua scripting language to automate tasks

Not sure what language to learn? Here are the top 10 programming languages (hint: Java is still top programming language)

27 ways to code online.

– Here’s a list, some redundant with what I already listed.

P2PU.org

– Crowdsourced learning

Kid Friendly

Here’s a Pinterest board I made with around 70 apps listed.

Primo

– This wooden toy teaches kids who can’t read yet how to code

Isla

– programming language for young children

Scratch Jr

– My 4 year old has this on his iPad and loves it. He has designed some games for me to play.

Ruby for Kids

Google’s “Made With Code“, an initiative to “creatively engage girls with code”.

– Good for beginners. Choose from existing projects including a 3D printed bracelet and animated gif. Drag and drop shapes to learn about objects, properties and values.

Mozilla Webmaker – Tools, events and teaching guides that allow webmakers to create content and understand how the web works.

– Learn HTML, CSS and build a mobile app

7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills

– Good descriptions of: Gamestart Mechanic, Hopscotch, Tynker, Scratch, Move the Turtle, Daisy the Dinosaur, Cargo-Bot

Hakitzu

– Giant robots and JavaScript are your weapons of choice as you program your way to victory in this strategic combat game. No previous coding knowledge is required to crack the code as the game guides you from a beginner, to coder, to hacker

That Time I Was A Meme

I wrote this post on Medium.

“Is this you?”
“Hey, I think this is you.”
“OMG, I think you are a meme!!!”

Over the past week I’ve received dozens of pings from friends sending me links to a photo with the tagline “No one is born racist” and asking if it’s me. It is, and I have to say that in all the things I ever wished for in life, becoming a meme seen by more than a million people was not one of them. That being said, if it helps to spread a positive message then I’m all for it. Except of course when someone said I have a duck-face (thanks to the person who defended me and said I was probably in mid-sentence).

Admittedly I was shocked when a few commenters have suggested that I am racist because in the photo I am looking away. I am not going to spend an ounce of effort addressing that incorrect assumption, but I will say that I think what’s special about this photo is that the moment captured is between my son and our fellow passenger on the Paris Metro, and I’m just in the background.

I am not sure who posted the photo with the tagline, but for the curious, here is the metadata and narrative of the original work:

The photo was taken by my husband, Sean Bonner with an iPhone. It’s August of 2010, we are on Paris Metro but I don’t recall where we are going. Our son, Rips, who was around 5 months at the time, is sitting on my lap. The stranger’s finger he is holding onto is Parisian, a grand-père with 2 or 3 grandchildren, if I recall correctly. The two of us chatted a bit, he then held out his finger to Rips who clamped on and wouldn’t let go. The man had a great smile that Rips delighted in and he didn’t seem to mind entertaining my baby so I went back to figuring out when we had to depart the train. I think I’m in mid duck-face because our stop was coming up and I was telling Sean that we had to gather all of our things and convince Rips to let go of his new friend’s finger.

 

31 Days To Feeling Physically And Emotionally Lighter

I wrote this article on my Forbes Blog.

Like most of you, I have attempted to participate in all sorts of 21 day, 3 month, 8 week-long programs in order to lose my muffin top, build muscles, increase memory, detox…you name it. I have never completed a single challenge. I get about half way through and then just get bored or can’t keep up with the complicated daily routine or it’s tailored to an eating program or workout that doesn’t fit my lifestyle.

In December of last year I got to thinking: why do I have to follow someone else’s program? We are all unique so why are there so many one-size fits all programs? Why don’t I figure out what I WANT to do and customize it to me. Crazy, I know.

My motivation stemmed from last year, 2013 was a really tough year for me and I felt burnt out for most of it. 2014 is my year to focus on mental health and balance. I wanted to figure out how to be more in the present instead of always thinking ahead and all the many things I needed to get done, reduce stress that was causing shoulder and neck pain and be the easy going person that I preferred.

Requirements

  1. The mind and body are connected so I wanted to develop a program that combined the two.
  2. One month seemed to be just enough time to get into a routine, but not too much time to become miserable if the program wasn’t working well for me. Allowing for adjustments seemed critical to success if I planned to continue after the first month.
  3. I needed a routine that was flexible time-wise, could travel with me and didn’t require a lot of equipment.

Daily Program

  • Yoga – at least 15 minutes
  • Meditation – at least 10 minutes
  • Vitamins – multi-vitamin, B6, B12, Zinc, Biotin, 5-HTP, Flaxseed oil, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, liquid iron, magnesium, calcium.
  • Water 8x/day (wake-up, before breakfast, before shower, enroute to work, before lunch, enroute home, before dinner, before bed)

And to top it all off, I went on a sugar detox and didn’t allow myself to eat anything with the following ingredients: refined sugar, maple syrup, agave, honey. Many people asked me about fruit, and the answer is yes, I ate fruit, lots of it. We are a vegan household and eliminating fruit is not an option. Note that I never drank juice.

Guidance

I relied on a lot of mobile apps or YouTube…basically anything I could access via my iPhone or iPad.

Mindfulness Meditation – There are a variety of apps and classes to support you in pursuing a calm mind. My personal experience dictated that I was most successful and felt the best when I meditated first thing in the morning before checking my phone and the rest of  my family was awake.

Headspace
I finished the free 10 day program. I liked it because it helped train me to always go back to my breath when my mind wandered. They offer  subscription to continue on for another 355 days.
Calm.com
If I really want to focus on something for the day, this app has all sorts of great topics including focus, gratitude, reduce stress and more. The free apps comes with a handful of sessions and you can subscribe to download additional sessions.
Mindfulness Meditation App
This is a no fuss app. The free version comes with a timer so if you don’t want any guidance, you can just set your alarm to the amount of time you want to practice.
Walking Meditation by Meditation Oasis
Once a week I walk to the train station at 7am and so I am able to combine walking and meditation. I started listening to Meditation Oasis podcasts years ago and really like how easy going the guide’s voice is so was OK paying 99 cents for the app.

Yoga – I’ve been practicing ashtanga yoga off and on for about 20 years but have never been consistent past a few months. I think part of the reason was having to make my way to a studio and they tend to be on the expensive side. Thankfully now there are tons of YouTube videos and apps to follow along to and so if I don’t have the time or inclination to head to class I can do it at home.

Do You Yoga
There was a 30 day challenge last year and all of the videos are available online. The instructor, Erin Motz, is adorable and easy to follow.

Rodney Yee
I have had his DVDs for a decade and have always enjoyed his easy going teaching method.

Local Gym
My yoga instructor is also named Tara and she runs 1 and 2 hour classes. This is an affordable option because yoga is included in my monthly membership which is much less than a yoga studio membership.

LA River Walk
There are yoga pose signs along the river and sometimes when I am walking my dog with my young son, we stop at each sign, do the pose and move onto the next one. It’s a fun family activity.

Tracking
Instead of using an app, I marked on my physical calendar when I finished something for the day. There is something about making an X with a pen on paper that bring a feeling of satisfaction that a finger swipe will never bring.

I tracked my weight using the Fitbit Aria scale which I really like. It can detect me versus my husband and son and the online dashboard is comprehensive. My husband happily took my body measurements with an old fashioned tape measure. I’d like a more accurate way to do this because I’m not sure he wrapped the tape around the exact same spot each time. There are some guides online that can help.

Results
Weight: down 5.9 pounds
Size: 2 inches off my waist (my pants fit much better!)
Jiggle test: when I walk and run my belly no longer feels like a bowl of jelly

Mental Health – I am astounded and thrilled about how good I feel. I am one of those people that boils, boils, boils and then explodes. I also tend to hone in on something that is irritating me and let it eat away at me causing me to get stressed. Mindfulness meditation is teaching me to allow thoughts to come in but to gently let them go. This practice is bleeding into my day and I think that I am just more level-headed and don’t let issues eat away at me. I am learning to be more in the present and focusing on the people I’m with and what they are saying and perhaps even interrupt less during a conversation.

Yoga – has helped me build my core, and along with meditation, I have become a better breather. I have been going to a structural body therapist and recently he focused on my ribs and diaphragm and I can breather deeper now. I learned from him that many women like myself that wear underwire bras have shallow breathing because their rib cages are being constricted. (side note: Can someone please design a bra that allows us to breathe unencumbered??). Breathing is one of the most crucial, healthy and FREE things we can do for our body and mind yet so many of us practice shallow breathing.

Vitamins – I was sick a lot last year and I thought maybe it was because I wasn’t taking my vitamins. I didn’t get sick this month, except for on one of the last days of the month I was feeling a bit rotten, but I think I was more tired than anything. I think perhaps my sugar break wasn’t so difficult because I was taking the right vitamins to eliminate any cravings – B, magnesium and zinc.

Water – I believe that because I was drinking probably closer to the amount of water that I should intake than I ever have before, that my body was functioning more smoothly. I’m sorry for the TMI here, but elimination was a heck of a lot easier and regular. I would guess that also helped with weight loss.

Sugar Break – It’s hard to say how I benefited from a sugar fast this month, but I do know that there is a link between mood and blood sugar balance so if I feel more ‘even’ then it may have had an impact in conjunction with the meditation practice. It wasn’t as hard as I thought to reduce my sugar intake. One night about 2 weeks in I had a really crazy craving for hot chocolate which was resolved by making a vegan, sugar free drink. It was delicious.

Verification
As long as I am feeling better, that is good enough for me, but it’s still always nice to see if anyone else noticed a difference. I asked my husband if he noticed any difference in my ‘tude and he said that I seem more positive, happier, I manage my anger better and my sex drive is up. Not too shabby.

Next
If I had to choose one thing to continue with on a daily basis it would be meditation practice. It truly has helped me and I know it’s just the beginning of what I hope becomes a deeper practice. I plan to attend a weekend meditation retreat and look into joining a local mediation center.

I’d like to continue daily yoga but I would like to include bike riding so I may opt to choose either yoga or a bike ride. I continually remind myself that I can’t do it all.  Regardless, I am going to ensure I practice good breathing techniques every day. When I’m feeling anxious or stressed, I pause and take 5 to 10 deep breaths and calm my mind. It really works.

I will continue to watch my sugar in-take, but Saturday is going to be the day I can drink a latte, douse my pancakes in syrup and eat a tasty cupcake. I did notice after allowing myself to eat some sugar on Saturday, Feb. 1st that I felt agitated and even irritated and anxious.

I really hate taking vitamins, so I am going to review the ones I have been taking and decide on which ones I’ll continue with.  There is a wonderful interactive graph that uses scientific data to display the benefits of supplements (or lack thereof) that I have been studying and highly recommend.

Advice
If you learned anything from what I just wrote, you should now go and design your own program that is tailored just for you and what you want to accomplish. I also recommend being kind to yourself. And breathe.