Sunday, August 26, 2012

Topic of interest #4: Recycling

Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy.

Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Although similar in effect, the composting or other reuse of biodegradable waste – such as food or garden waste – is not typically considered recycling. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection center or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials bound for manufacturing.
In the strictest sense, recycling of a material would produce a fresh supply of the same material—for example, used office paper would be converted into new office paper, or used foamed polystyrene into new polystyrene. However, this is often difficult or too expensive (compared with producing the same product from raw materials or other sources), so "recycling" of many products or materials involves their reuse in producing different materials (e.g., paperboard) instead. Another form of recycling is the salvage of certain materials from complex products, either due to their intrinsic value (e.g., lead from car batteries, or gold from computer components), or due to their hazardous nature (e.g., removal and reuse of mercury from various items). Critics dispute the net economic and environmental benefits of recycling over its costs, and suggest that proponents of recycling often make matters worse and suffer from confirmation bias. Specifically, critics argue that the costs and energy used in collection and transportation detract from (and outweigh) the costs and energy saved in the production process; also that the jobs produced by the recycling industry can be a poor trade for the jobs lost in logging, mining, and other industries associated with virgin production; and that materials such as paper pulp can only be recycled a few times before material degradation prevents further recycling. Proponents of recycling dispute each of these claims, and the validity of arguments from both sides has led to enduring controversy.
One of the aspects of this topic particularly interesting to me are the "garbage islands" - the trash that ends up in the world's oceans and forms whole islands, that mostly consist of plastic. 
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (also sometimes called the Eastern Garbage Patch) is an area with an intense concentration of marine trash located between Hawaii and California. The exact size of the patch is unknown however because it is constantly growing.
The patch developed in this area because of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre- one of many oceanic gyres caused by a convergence of ocean currents and wind. As the currents meet, the earth’s Coriolis Effect (the deflection of moving objects caused by the Earth’s rotation) causes the water to slowly rotate, creating a funnel for anything in the water. Because this is a subtropical gyre in the northern hemisphere it rotates clockwise. It’s also a high pressure zone with hot equatorial air and comprises much of the area known as the horse latitudes.

Some really interesting links I found:

Topic of interest #3: Exploring the Red Planet

On August 6 of this year, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) celebrated the landing of rover Curiosity on Mars. The Curiosity rover is a car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). Curiosity went through a seven-point landing routine, that included: separation from cruise module, heat shield deployment, parachute opening, altitude sensing, rocket-powered sky crane, rover touchdown and skycrane flyaway. 
You can observe the animated process in this NASA video:

It took nine months for the rover to make it to Mars. Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 10:02 EST aboard the MSL spacecraft and successfully landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 UTC.
The rover's goals include: investigation of the Martian climate and geology; whether Mars ever supported life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for future human exploration.
The tools of the Curiosity Rover include:
  • Mast Camera (MastCam)
  • Chemistry and Camera complex (ChemCam)
  • Navigation cameras (Navcams)
  • Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS)
  • Hazard avoidance cameras (Hazcams)
  • Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI)
  • Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS)
  • Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin)
  • Sample analysis at Mars (SAM)
  • Radiation assessment detector (RAD)
  • Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN)
  • Mars Descent Imager (MARDI)
  • Robotic arm

I am totally fascinated with this machine as well as space exploration in general. We read and watch movies about people traveling through space, and we are used to images of space crafts and outer planets, however so far, a lot of it is just a fruit of writers' and film-makers' imagination how cool is the fact that landing on Mars of human-built machine is actually taking place right now and is real!

Topic of interest #2: International adoption

   International adoption (also referred to as intercountry adoption or transnational adoption) is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parents of a child that is a national of a different country. In general, prospective adoptive parents must meet the legal adoption requirements of their country of residence and those of the country whose nationality the child holds.
The most common countries for international adoption by parents in the United States for 2007 were China (5453), Guatemala (4728), Russia (2310), Ethiopia (1255),South Korea (939), Vietnam (828) Ukraine (606), Kazakhstan (540), India (416) Liberia (353), Colombia (310), and Philippines (265). Other less common countries include Bulgaria, Norway, Australia, Kenya, Canada, Haiti, and Poland. These statistics can vary from year to year as each country alters its rules; Romania, Belarus and Cambodia were also important until government crackdowns on adoptions to weed out abuse in the system cut off the flow. Vietnam recently signed a treaty openings its doors for adoption. Guatemala has recently closed its doors.

    I got a first-hand experience of the international adoption process, as well as the after-effects of it and the process of the assimilation that the adopted children and their parents have to go through, when I was volunteering for a non-profit organization Reach Orphans with Hope in Birmingham, AL. This organization raised funds to support several orphanages in Ukraine. They also funded a summer hosting program for orphans, during which groups of kids from different orphanages would come and live in Birmingham for a month while doing lots of fun things, travel to the beach at Golf Shores, shop, visit museums and various places of entertainment, and most importantly meet families who could potentially adopt them. As a result, about 90% of kids who visited were later adopted by the families from Birmingham area most of them were teenagers. Currently there are over 70 Ukrainian kids (some of them already in their early 20s) who live in Birmingham area and got there because of their adoption through this program. 

   In 2007 some parents decided to collaborate and start a home school program that would help newly adopted teenagers learn new language and adjust to new culture in a safe atmosphere before "releasing" them to the severeness of public high schools. I was one of the Ukrainian teachers/translators in this special school. I did volunteer work with this organization for two years and met quite a few children and families that went through the adoption process. They all had different after-adoption stories: some happy, some sad.. i still keep in touch with most of the families and kids. it's interesting where they are in their lives now..some are doing really well and some are not so well..

  I can say a lot on this subject..Main things I learned:

- a lot of people romanticize adoption greatly, and sadly some of them do it to feel better about themselves and feel like they are heroes rescuing a dying child from a third-world country, it feels like some famous people do it as a way of self-promotion

-international adoption process takes up to a year and costs a whole lot of money (for example about $30 000 to adopt one child from Ukraine ), however the actual process starts after the child is brought to the US, this process can be extremely painful to both sides and may take entire lifetime..

-the more i think about it, i believe that local adoptions are so much more effective and better for the child than international ones especially when it comes to teenagers...cultures, mentalities, ways of perceiving and looking at things are so tremendously different..some kids never grow to love their new homes, and move back when they get older..parents' main mistake is that they think they are rescuing a child from a horrible poor place, while for a child it is a home with friends and favorite things they are used to like food, music, movies, etc..

-i do think that adoptions are great, and i support them! as much as possible i would like to support this cause in my country, and hopefully adopt a child (or several) later in life.

Topic of Interest #1: Law about Russian language in Ukraine

Ok, this subject is very personal for me so I am very subjective when it comes to it... 

In August of this year, the ruling party of Ukraine "Party of Regions" adopted a law about the languages of minorities in Ukraine (mainly Russian minority). This event included deputies fighting in the parliament, people protesting and going on hunger strikes..The law pronounces that the official language of the country is still Ukrainian, however if a certain minority's population is more than 10% in a certain region of the country, this minority can vote and have the language of the region to be changed to the language of minority: which means education in schools, government documents, TVs, newspapers, etc. For those who don't know, Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, a former republic of USSR, it borders with Russia in the East, Belarus in the North, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova in the West, and Turkey across the Black Sea in the South. Historically, the regions in the East had always more Russian people. Following the adoption of the "language law", several regions of Ukraine have adopted Russian as their "regional" language. What is interesting is that when Hungarian minorities in Western Ukraine tried to get their language to become "regional", they were denied that right, even though the law concerns all the minorities living in Ukraine.

Links with more detailed info on this subject:

Hello, Illustration 3 - One Hundred Circles

This semester, I will be using this blog for my Illustration 3. I'm happy to be back to school and excited about this class!

Our first assignment was to draw 100 circles of different colors and turn them into recognizable images by drawing on top of them with brush and ink. I actually did it backwards: I first drew everything out with pencil, then inked the images and then put watercolor washes on top. The only reason why I did it backwards is because I didn't have my paints and brushes at school with me when I started working on my circles. I liked this assignment, I spent this week constantly trying to think of more circular objects: I was looking for them around my house, school and around town when driving :)

Here are some of my 25+ favorite circles: