Avengers, “The Savage Land”, and Sustainability

As everyone knows, I am a big Avengers fan. Over the summer, I was on Netflix watching Avengers Assemble, which was a cartoon show that capitalized on the success of The Avengers movie. It had a very interesting plotline and it divulged apart from the live-action movies. The show had 26 episodes in its first season, and there was one episode that stood out to me the most. It was called “Savages.”

In the episode, Captain America challenging Tony Stark/Iron Man to give up technology for 24 hours. Along with Falcon and Hawkeye, they travel to a place known as the “Savage Land,” where they will try to survive without any technology. Cap, Falcon, and Hawkeye seemed like they were fine without technology, but Tony was clearly struggling. However, they discovered that Justin Hammer, Stark’s rival, was on the land to dig up the vibranium that was in the mines of the land. Cap, Falcon, and Hawkeye were able to defend themselves briefly before being captured, while Stark used his intelligence to convince a pacifist group of rock people to help stop Hammer and rescue his friends. At the end of the episode, everyone has their access to technology back. However, since Tony lost the bet for not using technology for a whole day (he only lasted 96 minutes), he goes to have basic training lesson with Captain America.

This episode really shows how much mankind has evolved–we started off as people living in caves, cooking everything on a bonfire by using objects around them, to relying heavily on various technological innovations for survival. In the long-term, this is not good for our health. This episode proves that you CAN survive without technology–all you need is your natural ability.

Lastly, if you ever feel the need to rely on tech while you’re in danger during a camping trip here’s a quote from Captain America: “Don’t adapt to the situation, adapt the situation to fit you!”

Here’s the episode that you can watch for free (I promise this works!):

Avengers Assemble- Savages








Alternative Break in Florida

My trip to Florida for Spring Break was one of the most memorable events in my life. I was there for a week doing environmental restoration work, such as building oyster reefs, planting, and removing invasive species. In between the hard work that we did, we also made sure that we had some fun. For example, we explored the Farmer’s Market in Downtown Stuart, spent all-day paddleboarding/kayaking to St. Lucie inlet, and, of course, beach time!

Mike Yustin, our community partner, arranged our projects before we came. He also made sure that our projects were enjoyable as well as educational. For example, we toured the Florida Oceanographic Society aquaculture research center at the site where we were gathering oyster shells and showed us marine microorganisms underneath a microscope. Another example was when we spent the morning doing work– some of us built the bridge while the rest of us were planting. Then, after lunch, we were able to learn about the gopher tortoises roaming around the park, how prescribed fires are done properly, and how to determine wetlands from uplands through the changes in the soil.

When we return to the campsite every night, there’s always a group of three who prepares dinner for the rest of the group, and, after dinner, we have a campfire and reflect on the day. Charles, our learning partner for the trip, as well as trip leaders Mimi and Elizabeth, lead the discussion every night.

Despite receiving cuts and bruises all over my body and overcoming some physical challenges, I had the best time of my life. Shout out to SAIL for coordinating this trip and to the amazing trip leaders for taking care of us, and to Mike for arranging the service projects and for inviting us to his home during our last day in Florida. Lastly, shout out to all my fellow students who went on this trip for making me laugh!! If only I didn’t have to graduate early, I would do this trip all over again!!


Boeing 737 MAX

On January 29, 2016, the Boeing 737 MAX prototype embarked on its first flight. It is the first of many milestones for the aircraft as it will soon undergo testing for FAA certification. The aircraft is scheduled to be first delivered in 2017, with Southwest Airlines being the launch customer (Lusk, 2011).

The aircraft is 14% more fuel efficient than the Next Generation 737 models and 20% more than the original 737 models (2015 Environmental Report, p. 11). This may not seem a lot in terms of cutting down overall emissions from the atmosphere, but it is still a huge improvement from the previous models. In order to accomplish this, the plane is equipped with CFM International LEAP-1B engines and Advanced Technology winglets (Admin, 2012). Click here to see the historic first flight of the 737 MAX.

The aircraft is part of the Boeing Yellowstone Project, which involves replacing its entire civil aircraft with advanced technology aircraft, such as composite structures, more electrical systems, and more fuel-efficient turbofan engines. Originally called the Boeing Y1, it was renamed to its current name soon after Airbus released the A320neo aircraft, and was approved in 2011. The other two aircrafts part of the Boeing Yellowstone Project are the Boeing 787 Dreamliner (currently in-service since 2011) and the Boeing 777X (planned to be introduced in 2020)(Boeing Y-class Yellowstone, n.d.). Click here to see the early concept art for the 737 MAX.

As a fan of aviation, I love how Boeing is aware of the increasing trend to “go green.” According to Boeing’s annual Environmental Report (2015), the aviation industry is responsible for about 2% of manmade carbon emissions (p.10). So, I am really glad that Boeing has decided to do something about this by making more fuel-efficient planes. I look forward to flying this beautiful plane in the future.

Works Cited:

1. 2015 Environmental Report [PDF]. (2015). Chicago, IL: The Boeing Company.
2. Admin, N. (2012, May 2). Boeing Says Radical New Winglets on 737 MAX Will Save Even More Fuel. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.nycaviation.com/2012/05/boeing-says-radical-new-winglets-on-737-max-will-save-more-fuel/#.VsI-SdNViko
3. Boeing Y-class Yellowstone. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/civil-boeing-yellowstone.htm
4. Lusk, B. (2011, December 13). Southwest Airlines’ Proud History of the Boeing 737. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.blogsouthwest.com/southwest-airlines-proud-history-boeing-737/


The Little Pink House in Warrenton

I have always enjoyed going to the Piedmont. Every year has been a different experience for me. For example, I remember clearing the vernal pool my freshman year and experience the sweat lodge for the first time last year. This year, it was a bit relaxed (partly, much to my surprise, because not a lot of people came). We helped Prof. Wood cook dinner, and the food was delicious as always. We even had a chance to drink tea and eat pumpkin pie afterwards, while he talked a bit about the Native American cleansing ceremony before entering the sweat lodge.

We got up early the next morning so that we could observe the birds by the lake. We were able to hear a bunch of crows from far away and Prof. Tom told us that they were apparently mobbing an owl as it was about to go to sleep. Also, he fed the Trumpeter Swans before he grabbed binoculars for us to use at the lake. I thought it was interesting to see the Ring-Tailed Ducks, which migrated from Canada and were settling down for a bit. We even saw a beaver!

We still ended up clearing invasive species by the road but I did not expect doing the entire roadway. It was still a great morning exercise though. Unfortunately, Prof. Tom was not able to us during that time because he had to go somewhere. Instead, we had Dr. Francisco from the Smithsonian to show us what we needed to do.

Overall, I enjoyed my trip. Although it was brief, the annual trip to the Piedmont always reminds me of how detrimental invasive species are to the natural environment. It was also a great way for me to bond with my floor mates and de-stress a little bit. I always recommend this trip to anyone since every experience is different. Thank you to Tom Wood for always welcoming us into his Little Pink House on Warrenton!

Arcadia Farms

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Arcadia Farms. Arcadia Farms is a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to provide equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC area. The company has mobile markets in at least 19 undeserved, DC-area neighborhoods.

During our visit, Anita told us a little bit of Arcadia’s mission and brief history of how it was created. Then, she gave us a tour around the farm and showed us a few of the plants they were planting and were growing around this time of the year. Finally, she showed us the chicken coop and told us that there are 7 chickens that lay eggs every 30 hours, and they sell those eggs in their mobile markets. We even took a picture by the chicken coop at the end of the day!

For the volunteering part of the visit, we had to prepare the beds for the radish and garlic plants to grow during the winter. In order to do so, we had to break down the large chunks of clay soil. There were three beds that needed work: one bed just needed the large clay soil to be broken down into smaller pieces; while the other two beds were created by digging with tuning forks. While doing so, we often stumbled upon sweet potatoes that were still intact on the ground, and we placed ones we found in a basket. Lastly, we were able to plant radish seeds on only one newly-created bed by taking a cup full of seeds, spread them out throughout the bed, and then covered them up with soil. In the end, Anita was still thankful for our efforts.

By the end of the day, we successfully created beds to plant radish seeds, and brought back sweet potatoes as souvenirs of our hard work. I especially came back with a real-world example of sustainable farming practices in our area since I didn’t know of any nearby farms (besides MOMs) that were providing organic, local food. Hopefully Arcadia Farms includes George Mason as one of their mobile market stops in the future!

Check out their website here

Click here for their Facebook page

Assateague 2.0

A couple of weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Assateague Island. It was my second time visiting the island, and I had a great time. What was different about my trip from last year’s was that we had the opportunity to camp on the island this year, which was an interesting experience for me since I’ve never gone camping until then. After setting up our tents, Ryan showed us how to make a bonfire with natural materials he brought, such as juniper, oak wood, and nesting. I thought this was cool because it put into perspective about using natural materials around you. In other words, we didn’t need a lighter.

Once the materials burned enough, we were able to roast marshmallows to make s’mores and even roast some bananas! After everyone has had their s’mores, we did a late night walk to the beach before we headed to bed. It was the most relaxing thing I’ve ever experienced. Also, when we got to the beach, we turned our flashlights off so that we’d allow our eyes to adjust to the darkness that was reminiscent of Dr. Tom Wood’s night walks: we relied on our other senses to guide us around the beach.

The next day, we began our sand dune fencing project. Like last year, Ranger Adam told us some information of the island and also about himself. Then, we began the project right away. This time, however, the returning students to show the new students how to properly build the fences while Ranger Adam was there to make sure everything was done right. This is why we started off a bit slow, but, once people got the hang of it, we were able to finish the fences in time.

The second half of the day involved the salt march. We were instructed to try and catch some marine organisms and put them in the display tank so that Ranger Adam can talk about them afterwards. Also, some people (me included) had the chance to go paddle-boarding, which was a lot of fun for me.The last thing we did was an animal demonstration with a Terrapin and a Barred Owl.

Honestly, I learned a lot more from this trip than last year’s trip to Assateague, but every time I go there (or any nature trip in general), I learn how precious nature is as well as learning about ways to use natural resources. Overall, I highly recommend visiting Assateague to everyone!