Monday, April 23, 2018

The Morning After The Earth Day

Each Earth Day celebration fills our hearts with hope as ordinary citizens, nature conservationists, NGOs, and businesses all over the world gather together to clean up the environment and discuss the badly needed change. Every year, countless communities and businesses do their best to implement the environment friendly solutions to minimize pollution and minimize waste of resources.

Much will be done between now and the next time we get together to celebrate the Earth Day, asses the results of our strategies, and admire the changes visible everywhere. But the change has to start with us! Unless we critically review our shopping habits and understand that our behavior has consequences, nothing will change.

The morning after. How many of you forgot to take your reusable travel mug, your reusable aluminum water bottle, or your reusable shopping tote bag with you this morning? Another plastic cup, another plastic bottle, another plastic straw, another plastic bag that could have been avoided. Well, tomorrow is another day and we can certainly do a bit better.

Those who travel learn to see the world with different eyes. Take the coffee habit in Vienna, Austria, for instance. The coffee to go found its way there as well, but the Austrians still love their traditional coffee shops where they can sit quietly, read the morning news, and enjoy every sip of their coffee, served in cups with saucers and spoons, in a less hurried manner; Visit a grocery store in Germany. Many chain supermarkets there do not use plastic bags anymore. You can buy a paper bag at checkout if you did not bring your own and you are expected to reuse and recycle it; You see recycling bins everywhere you go in Europe. In many cities you even find recycling bins in hotel rooms. Most people in most European countries recycle as much as they can and yet, even Europe cannot completely avoid the pollution and waste problem.

Hikers and skiers in the Alps or the High Tatra dump tones of plastic bottles, bags, and containers every year. And every year around the Earth Day or during the so called Plastic Free July, volunteers gather to clean up the mess. Many forests, beaches, and cities all over the world go the same way. It makes you wonder, do tourists even care for the places they visit?

Many communities in the US have implemented ambitious recycling programs. The situation varies from state to state and from community to community. Much has to be done, but there is hope. Yet recycling alone is not enough. The packaging industry will most probably not disappear like the once popular horse and carriage, but it definitely has to change its ways. New bio-degradable packaging materials must replace plastic. But unless consumers demand such change, no much will happen. If customers collectively refused to buy anything packaged in plastic containers, the industry would have no choice but to adapt. Not that long ago milk, for instance, came in glass bottles. Why cannot we go back to bottling milk again?

Old habits die hard, but with a little patience and determination, we can learn new ones and change the ways we live our daily lives. And the best thing is, we will see the change next time we gather to celebrate the Earth Day.

By Dominique Allmon

Friday, March 30, 2018

Naturally Dyed Tiffany Blue Easter Eggs

If you are still looking for an Easter Egg Hunt ideas, this article will inspire you to try something new. All you need is eggs, white vinegar, and purple cabbage. The whole project takes less than 12 hours. The outcome is more than amazing.

I used white free range organic eggs and an organic purple cabbage to minimize exposure to chemicals in our already over polluted world. This is especially important if you want to eat the eggs after the Sunday egg hunt.

For twelve eggs you will need a large head of purple cabbage, large pot, and twelve small Mason jars or small drinking glasses to dye each egg individually. You can dye the eggs in bulk, of course, but if you dye them individually, the eggs will be covered more thoroughly. 

  • Wash and chop up the cabbage. Toss it into a large pot, pour enough water to completely cover the cabbage, and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and boil until cabbage is soft. 
  • Once the cabbage is ready, allow it to cool off. Strain the liquid and toss away the cabbage. Add 4 Tbsp of vinegar and mix well.
  • Boil the eggs. Put the eggs in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring water to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, remove the pot from heat and cover it with a lid. Leave the eggs in hot water for 12-15 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pot and put them into a bowl of ice cold water. 
  • Place each egg in an individual jar or a glass. Pour the purple cabbage juice over the eggs completely covering each one, and allow eggs to take color for at least three hours. The color intensity depends on the time the eggs spend in the purple cabbage dye. To add some variation, let some of the eggs stay in the dye for a bit longer. For a more dramatic effect, leave them in dye overnight.
  • Remove the eggs from the dye and place them on a baking cooling rack. Allow the dye to dry out completely. The little flaws in paint are more than welcome. They truly make the eggs prettier.
  • Once the dye dried out completely you can place them in an Easter basket, on a decorative platter, or in your backyard. 

 Eggs in purple cabbage juice

This is the first time I used purple cabbage to dye the eggs. They turned out beautifully. No egg looks the same. I used a little 24ct confectioners gold leaf to add a little sparkle to them. You can use edible gold paint if you prefer, or simply leave them the way they are.

I hope this little project woke up your own creativity. You can use different plants to make the most beautiful Easter eggs ever. My mother used onion peel to create various shades of golden yellow and brown color. Purple cabbage gives various shades of aquamarine, Tiffany blue and turquoise. You can use beets to make your eggs pink, turmeric root to make them bright yellow, dried chokeberries (Aronia) to make them pink, or blueberries and blackberries to make them indigo blue. You can mix the plants to create different nuances. Also, using brown eggs instead of white will produce a much different color effect. Experiment! It's fun.

~ Wishing everyone peaceful Easter Holidays and happy Easter Egg Hunt! ~

Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon@2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy 30th Pi Day And The Joy Of Pi

This mysterious 3.1459... which comes in at every door and window,
and down every chimney. - Augustus De Morgan in "A Budget of Paradoxes"

Even if math is not really your thing, March 14 is a fun day. It is the birthday of Albert Einstein and  a perfect occasion to have a large piece of your favorite pie. 

March 14 is also a day of Steven Hawking's death who passed away today in Cambridge, UK, at the age of 76.

The constant pi represented by the Greek letter π is a number that expresses the ratio of the circumference of a perfect circle to its diameter. The value of pi has been calculated to more than a trillion of decimal digits.

No other number has captured as much attention and imagination throughout the human history. It is an irrational number that has many applications in various areas of science and mathematics, including theoretical physics, geometry, trigonometry, integral and differential calculus, number theory, probability theory, and statistics.

It is impossible to know when the number π was first calculated. Early mathematicians must have discovered the relationship between circumference of a circle and  its radius by simple experimentation which involved a rope. Ever since this relationship was discovered, people in many cultures obsessed with it and worked to calculate the precise ratio with millions of digits after the coma. Others tried to learn and commit to memory as many digits of the π as possible.

Ten decimal places of π are sufficient to give the circumference of the earth to a fraction of an inch, and thirty decimal places would give the circumference of the visible universe to a quantity imperceptible to the most powerful microscope. - Simon Newcomb in Comic Sections by D. MacHale

The first significant celebration of the number π took place in 1988 in San Francisco. The celebration was organized by the physicist Larry Shaw and involved pie eating and discussions about π. In 2009 the US Congress recognized March 14 as the National Pi Day in an effort to promote math learning.

Whether you are enjoying a slice of a scrumptious, perfectly round pie today, doing some calculus, or simply throwing a pie throwing party, give some thought to this magical number that is so embedded in the fabric of the universe that surrounds us.

Happy Pi Day!

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon@2018