Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Blog Action Day - Oct. 15

What would happen if every blog published posts on the same topic, on the same day? One issue. One Day. Thousands of voices.

That's the tag line for On October 15, a few thousand of your best online friends, moi included, will be blogging about all things environment. (I guess this would differ from any other day at Pandodyssey only in that there is less chance of this particular day's post involving a panda.) (However now that I've thrown down the proverbial guantlet, I bet I can manage to work it in somewhere ... can you even throw down a guantlet, proverbial or literal, on yourself?) is an effort intended to raise environmental awareness through the mass participation of bloggers and readers alike. To date, there are over 5,000 blogs signed up to participate! It's an international effort with translations available for: English, Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Bulgarian, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Farsi, Italian and Turkish blogs. Surely someone out there can help the Korean folks translate their blogs! (brogs)? Ai goo!

I hope Blog Action Day is a rousing success! Let's raise some awareness and pump up some site stats.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Pandora?? Is that you?

If I ever got the chance to help zoo keepers examine a month old panda cub, this is how I envision it would go down.

First I'd prop her up on her little panda legs and make her 'walk' around the exam table, kicking all the instruments to the ground, and occasionally making the cub leap into the air (complete with airplane sounds) and land on a zoo keeper's head. Then I'd make her arms move, waving them wildly while saying "I'm a little panda - ROOOOAR" to all the other keepers, who by now are looking seriously annoyed. And then I'd smack her in the head with her own paw and ask her "Why are you hitting yourself? Huh? Huh?" as she squirmed to escape my grasp while the other keepers pinned me down so they get the straitjacket on properly.

Science be damned, it would SO be worth it!

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

toilet paper & milk run!

The big news in San Diego today is the "killer storm" that's getting ready to slam into southern Ca this weekend. America's Finest City is battening down the hatches for the first major weather system of the fall season. San Diegans are all abuzz, bracing for what could be the Storm of the Century.

The Weather Channel, in it's grimmest report to date, is calling for a SIXTY PERCENT chance of rain on Friday, and 30% chance on Saturday.

Remember San Diego, always secure your own umbrella before assisting someone else with theirs.

And God help us all.

Update: Friday September 21. Sunny, 73-ish and not a cloud in the sky. It never rains in San Diego.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

There's No Such Thing As A Free Panda - Anymore

China has announced that it is ending the practice of giving away pandas for the purpose of smoothing foreign relations. This won't affect any current or future panda leasing programs, including the recent negotiation to send a pair to the Adelaide Zoo in Australia.

Apparently China has discovered that it is far more lucrative to rent out pandas than to just give them away. Now that's embracing capitalism. The last pandas gifts that China gave away went to Hong Kong in 1999 to commemorate the formerly British colony's return to Chinese control. Panda leases average about $1 million annually, with the money going to panda research and habitat conservation. While this move will raise money for panda causes, it will hopefully also allow China to keep tight control over pandas leased abroad to ensure their health and well being.

Pictured above: Why do you taunt me so?

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's a She

San Diego's newest panda is a girl. At six weeks old, she now weighs a whopping four pounds and looks less like a wriggly grub and more like a giant panda. Certified pandologists call this the "adorable stuffed animal" phase. Awwwww!

Pictured at right: High five, yo.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Trash is SOOO last millenium

This morning, as I polished off my third bottle of coffee creamer this month, the question occurred to me - not the question that ought to have occurred to me, namely why do I drink so much coffee? - but what are all those mysterious symbols and numbers stamped on the bottom of plastic bottles, what do they even mean? Even though all of my carefully sorted recyclables wind up in the exact same place (in an 'outdoor living person's' shopping cart. It's a....uh....unique recycling system we have implemented here in OB.)

First of all, recycling plastic is much more difficult than recycling glass or paper. Here's the totally-readable Wiki-version, but why go there when I give you the Pandodyssey(tm)-diluted-age-7-&-up-version?? Basically, there's a million different ways of manufacturing plastic bottles. All these bottles vary in chemical composition and not all of these compositions will meld together nicely upon recycling. Even the dye used to make green Sprite bottles (as opposed to clear Coke bottles) affects the bottle's recyclability chemistry. (I obviously just made that word up. (tm) if it's a good one.)

Thus, plastics can generally only be recycled with their similarly chemically-compounded brethren. This poses a problem for sorting, all done by you, the consumer of course. If YOU want to do your part to help the environment, you better hire an accountant to handle the Pythagorean Theorem on Recycling, better known as all those cryptic numbers purportedly trying to make sense of the mess. eHow shows us how:

Step 1: Figure out who collects your trash. Ask them what recycling they even accept. Seriously. Or, stand there and cry as you watch the trash collectors mercilessly toss your meticulously rinsed and sorted recyclables 1, 2, 3, and 4 into the back of the garbage truck. With an evil laugh. Ha, no just kidding. They feel your pain.

Step 2: Sort it all by number. Yes ALL of it. They say this is necessary to prevent contamination of plastics. So...get started. Go on, I'll wait. (hmmmmm hmmmmm hmmmmm...elevator music....sun sets....sun rises...)

Step 3: Huzzah, Recycle! Type 1 - PETE and Type 2 - HDPE, are curb-recyclable, meaning most collection companies will pick this up, along with your trash, glass and newspaper. Type 1 and 2 are your regular soda bottles, water bottles, milk jugs, etc.

Step 4: Huh? Here's where it starts to get dicey. Plastic grocery bags are usually marked Type 4 - LDPE, but can also be Type 2 - HDPE. But are sometimes unmarked just to keep things interesting. You can recycle these at your grocery store, or repurpose them for another use. One of your neighbors probably needs some poo bags - go offer. Just don't throw them away. Marine animals inadvertently eat them and die and you don't need the death of a 20,000 pound whale on your conscience. Not today anyway.

Another wrinkle: sometimes Type 2 and Type 4 plastic grocery bags can be recycled together, but sometimes not. Confused? Yeah, me too. Moving on...

Step 5: Expanded Poly-what? If you're the lucky holder of Type 6 - EPS, oooh, you're in luck! You get to call or visit the website of the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers, to find out what to do with your Type 6 goodies. Unfortunately, all too often this extra effort will translate into: Type 6 = trash bin.

Step 6: But I thought we were supposed to be recycling? Gather up your Type 3s (plastic food wraps), your Type 5s (yogurt containers, diapers) and your Type 7s (layered/mixed plastics) and ... THROW THEM AWAY. Why? Because technology has not yet found a way to recycle these plastics. Something about the dried crusty yogurt molecules contaminating the dirty-diaper-compounds... So why are we still using these containers? Good question. Ask your accountant.

Step 7: For real? Take any tops of spray bottles or caps to bottles and THROW THEM AWAY. Modern science can't figure out what to do with these either so, away they go.

That's it! That is the comprehensive guide on how to recycle household plastics. Not as easy as I had hoped, for sure. Through this exercise I have learned that just because a plastic bottle has a number and little recycled-arrow-triangle on it, doesn't actually mean it can be recycled, or that it can be recycled in my particular neighborhood, or that the onus is on anyone but me to get these bottles and cans to their most environmentally safe final resting spot.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Surprise Party? For Moi?

Zoo Atlanta's throwing a birthday party for Mei Lan. I think I already posted that fact but I needed an excuse to post another pic of her. They're just so cuddly looking at the ripe old age of one. Pictured right: Her eyes are squinty because she's Asian.

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live from san diego, it's wednesday afternoon

This is a snapshot of Bai Yun and her unnamed cub taken today from the San Diego Zoo's panda cam. I spent the entire fall of 2005 (and countless taxpayer dollars) trying to figure out how to take snapshots or screen shots from the National Zoo's panda cam so that I could post them here and I never did figure that out. The San Diego zoo's web site now has a feature where you can email snapshots to yourself or your fellow panda lovers straight from the panda cam. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Yawn, Not

Hot on the heels of my first earthquake, I've now survived TWO, count 'em - one AND two - earthquakes! There's nothing like an earthquake within 20 minutes of waking up to make you feel alive. Or at least happy to be.

If you ever experience a lil' shakey-shakey in your neck of the woods, you can send valuable eyewitness data to the US Geological Survey's website. The USGS compiles the data and uses it to create all sorts of cool maps in different colors as pictured here.

Under the "Earthquake Myths" FAQs, I learned that lots of smaller quakes will not stave off a larger one, nor does a period of earthquake inactivity mean that one is over due. These are all a part of the natural process of nature scaring the pants off you.

Another earthquake myth is that California will fall into the Pacific when "the big one" happens. The San Andreas Fault lies along the Salton Sea in the south and crosses through northern California at Cape Mendocino, so in the event of a major seismological event on that fault, what would actually happen is that LA and San Francisco would become next door neighbors.

Heck, I'd trade Hollywood for a bowl of clam chowder any day. Shakey-shakey.

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