Living Life with Vision

Happy St. Patty’s Day

The Original Celtic Meanings for the 3-Leaves of the Shamrock 🙂

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Arbor Glen Nature Preserve March 13, 2011

 

 

Litter and illegal trash dumping is one of the largest, most dangerous and out of control challenges facing us on an international basis. The cost of neglect and illegal trash is seen in more than the unpleasant aesthetics. It’s effects expand to the declining health of nearby residents, creates blockages of drainage systems, decreases oxygen levels if the waste decays in water and is overall, a danger due to discarded needles, syringes and broken glass.

 

The good news is that citizens can come together and do something to better our world and reverse this process. Across the globe, people are bonding together to remove the waste and prepare for a cleaner, greener and safer environment. One of the strongest and fastest expanding projects is the ‘Let’s Do It, Country Cleanup’ Program.

 

What is the ‘Let’s Do It, Country Cleanup’ Program?

 

The ‘Let’s Do It’ Project was the brainchild of Ranier Nolvak, an Estonian visionary. Tired of the devastation of Estonian forests with trash and waste, he developed a plan to clean the entire country in one day with a crew composed entirely of volunteers. The original 2008 effort was an astounding success that galvanized the country as 50,000 volunteers picked up more than 10 tons of garbage that had once polluted the beautiful forests and countryside.

 

The project organization and efficiency was increased by the use of technology in the planning and implementation stages. Volunteers used GPS enabled mobile phones in the weeks before the clean up to photograph trash sites. The photos were then sent in from the location and mapped through a variety of open source software programs and geospatial tools.  A ‘Digital Waste Map’ was created from the real time information uploaded from the volunteers. This allowed for the most effective use of volunteer time as groups could be dispatched to current problematic sites for quick disposal of debris.

 

Current Teams

There are currently fifteen teams in different countries planning and participating in the ‘Let’s Do It’ Country Cleanup efforts. Those teams include:

 

  • Estonian Team
  • Lithuanian Team
  • Latvian Team
  • Portuguese Team
  • Slovenian Team
  • Romanian Team
  • Indian Team
  • Serbian Team
  • Italian Team
  • Ukrainian Team
  • Finnish Team
  • Brazilian Team
  • French Team
  • Dutch Team
  • Russian Team

What are the benefits for my Community?

The biggest and most successful change is the change in attitude after Country Cleanup projects. People who have volunteered regain the sense of pride and ownership in the community. Parks become a place people want to go and they begin to think twice before leaving footprints in trash as they leave. Streets become cleaner, alleviating flooding of drainage systems and the dangers of harmful debris. Residents take notice and not only appreciate the cleanliness, but become more devoted to keeping their community clean.

How do I start a cleanup in my area?

Francisco Moura, from the Project Limpar Portugal team was quoted as saying”…we need you all to do something about the current age of stupid.” Strong words meant to grab attention and garner support for stopping the behaviors that have left communities with degraded natural and city landscapes, covered in litter.

Moving forward and implementing world-changing ideas such as the ‘Let’s Do It’ plan may be the only way to preserve the planet for future generations. There are a number of steps to be taken in order to set up a project.

The Steps, set up by the originator, Ranier, are as follows:

 

  • Step One: Team Building – The message must be sent out into the community to begin a grass roots initiative and recruit volunteers.
  • Step Two: Engaging Partners – Gather community support and approach businesses, organizations, professionals and government agencies for partnerships and provision of resources.
  • Step Three: Mapping Garbage – Create a virtual garbage map from data uploaded from the volunteers with GPS enabled phones sending in data in the weeks before the planned cleanup. This permits cleanup teams to approximate the amount of trash and number of locations to be covered.
  • Step Four: Communication – To get the word out regarding locations, a marketing and advertisement plan must be put into action. The support of professionals, actors and personalities in TV, Radio and government agencies have been generous in donating space and airtime for the Let’s Do It’ campaign.
  • Step Five: Registration – Volunteers and recruits register over the internet and teams are created to cover areas listed on the waste map.

 

Following these steps, that have proved successful, will allow our communities to improve the aesthetics, health and global footprint by implementing Country Cleanup projects in their cities, states and countries. The future of this amazingly beautiful planet relies on volunteers and groups committing their time and efforts to preservation. Action must be taken now before the damage is irreversible.

Click here to access the ‘Let’s Do It’ Facebook page and sign up to protect and preserve the environment.

References:

http://www.letsdoitworld.org/news

http://www.directionsmag.com/articles/cleaning-up-trash-one-country-at-a-time/164037

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5GryIDl0qY

http://www.facebook.com/letsdoitworld?v=app_165071053516315

http://www.kab.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index

 

 

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Don’t miss the informative article below on Planet Green. Electric Cars are just one wave of the future and now is the time to find out all you can, about what you may soon have parked in your driveway. I’ve been involved with electric and solar cars for years and even I learned some things. Check it out 🙂

Click here for Planet Green – Understanding Electric Cars

Malware: Know Your Enemy

What is it, why is it there, and how do I to keep it from coming back?

Few things throw a monkey wrench into a perfectly good day like an infected computer that either refuses to perform correctly, hangs indefinitely between commands or crashes entirely. Your shoulders drop and you know the next several hours if not days are going to be spent figuring out what has gone wrong with your system. Worse yet are the times when you realize too late that you have e-mailed a virus to all of your friends and family.

Malware is a general term that covers all malicious file types. We hear terms like virus, worm, spyware and trojan on a daily basis yet few people understand the differences between these little devils or the actions they take.

In this post, I am going to lightly explain the differences between types of malware, how they behave, why they can access your computer without your knowledge. I’ll be following this post up with one giving some pointers on how to best avoid getting infected.

Malware Types

  • AdwareAdware is pretty much what you’d expect it to be from the name; it’s marketing and advertising. It can be both good and bad. One one hand, there are good shareware programs you can download that have integrated advertising as a way to recover development costs, but on the other hand the ads will slow down your system processing speed.                                                                    

  • Dialers – A dialer is a program that is designed to take control of your modem and will dial ‘900’ numbers and other ‘pay-by-the-minute’ applications. In the end, you are left with a large bill that you may not discover for a month or more followed by the great joy of attempting to have those charges reversed.

  • Hijackers– A Hijacker is a piece of code that manipulates the user’s web browser for a variety of unwanted actions such as changing your home page, re-directing your browser when certain search words or entered and even preventing access to sites that provide malware data and/or products.

  • Keyloggers – You get three guesses what this software does and the first two don’t count. Yes, it logs your keystrokes, i.e., what you type. Typically, keylogging applications are used by Administrators to diagnose problems, but like many things, once in the wrong hands it becomes a powerful enemy. When used for malevolent purposes, they will log sensitive information such as passwords and financial details that can then be transmitted to the author’s server by other malware code.

  • Rootkits – Rootkits are programs or a series of programs that are written to take over core portions or ‘the root’ of your system. These malicious codes are usually presented, like a Trojan, as an innocuous or even helpful file. The user doesn’t realize they have downloaded the root kit until they see errors, find programs won’t run, realize data is lost or in the most extreme cases, their system won’t boot.  Once intended for emergency applications to recover data and system functionality, recent use has skyrocketed, due mainly to implementation by hackers and system intruders for malicious purposes.
  • Spyware – Like the name suggests, spyware is installed clandestinely on the user’s computer and monitors their behavior. In reality, spyware can do more than invade your privacy. It will collect data such as personal information and Internet browsing activity and reports that activity to other servers. In addition, spyware is known to install additional undesirable applications.
  • Trojans – Trojans files, much like the tale of the Trojan Horse, are presented in a safe, innocent and even desirable manner. It may come in e-mail, a web site ‘tool’ or even a ‘free’ software offer. They are not considered viruses because they cannot spread and must rely on user action to activate (i.e. clicking an attachment or running a file). They can, however, provide support data to virus and spyware files.
  • Viruses – The virus is the most widely known form of malware. It implements malicious code that ranges from simply annoying to highly destructive. What sets viruses apart, is their ability to self-replicate without authorization and without relying on an action of the user (i.e. clicking to open). A virus often arrives via email but can also be spread through various storage devices such as a flash drive. Once in place on your system, it will execute the code(s) installed, infect system files, and attempt to propagate to other systems.

  • Worms – Worms are very close in action to computer viruses. Like viruses, they replicate themselves and can cause the same type of damage. What makes a worm substantially more dangerous is that in contrast to viruses, which require transmission of a corrupt file, worms are independent and do not require a host program or human help to propagate. To spread, worms either exploit security vulnerabilities already present in a program, or they employ some type of trick to cause unwitting users into activating them. Once a worm has found a home on your system, it makes full use file-sharing or information-transport functions, allowing it to spread without help.

Knowing your enemy is the first step in being able to fight malware and protect your system. I hope this has given you a basic understanding of WHAT different types of malware are and what types of action they take. Make sure to check back for the next post with tips to help you avoid these malicious programs entirely.

Feel free to e-mail me with any questions: visiontechpublishing@gmail.com

New Passions for Eco-Fashions

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Growing up as a child of a minister, in a household that was strict to say the least, made me a late entrant into the world of fashion. In my younger years I was forced into an endless number of homemade get-ups conceived by my Mother and her group of sewing mavens. I still remember my favorite ‘ensemble’: an ankle length, orange and white-checkered, cotton print with Holly Hobby images randomly strewn across the fabric and what appeared to be a white, lacy stitched-on bib. I lovingly styled this with vibrant, pink socks and bright red Mary Janes. As horrible as that concoction was, the way I felt when I wore it was unforgettable. I was a powerhouse and you’d better bring your ‘A’ game if you wanted to bring me down on those days. Thus started my love for the personal transformation that fashion can bring.

Fast forward to today;  my blogging and ghost writing on renewable energy and sustainable materials has combined with my love of fashion and led me to dive into the world of Eco-fashion and I’ve been amazed.

The new designers, organic textiles, natural hand-dyed fibers and commitment to re-use of vintage materials are only some of the reasons to love what I’ve seen. It’s not a world of burlap sacks and uncomfortable materials but of luxurious silks, lightweight linens and new, plush fabrics like Seacell®, Ingeo™, lyocell and hand loomed bamboo to name just a few. The footwear doesn’t scream “wooden clogs”, but rather sings the tune women love of sleek, sling backs, knockout knee-high boots and sexy three-inch pumps.

You don’t have to be a vegan or committed tree hugger to realize the logic and wisdom of doing everything we can to stop consuming resources that can’t be replenished. Concentrating on developing innovative fabrics that are woven from renewable resources or recycled materials and made without toxic processes or unfair labor standards is not just a fad but truly the only responsible way to move forward.

Below is a list of my personal favorites currently ruling the world of Eco-Fashion. If you get a chance, click on their names for a link to some fabulous and fierce collections:

  • Linda Loudermilk I had to list Linda first as she has been a powerhouse in this field for years and has truly blazed a trail that many other Eco designers are following. She trademarked the term ‘Luxury-Eco’ and she reflects that feel and commitment in both the development and production of her line. Using rich European scraps of lace and fine fabrics combined with organic fibers to create a line that is fun, edgy and sexy while still retaining an ethereal and elegant feel.
  • Lara Miller – Lara is a Chicago native and her designs are often based on architecture resulting in clean lines, smooth curves and structured silhouettes that seem to float in space. She’s devoted to working with US Mills and employs a large number of skilled artisans and seamstresses from her hometown. In addition, she is known for her extensive research into the environmental impact of her designs and as a result has implemented low-impact reactive dyes and SKAL certified organic cottons, hemp, vegan ahimsa peace silk, flax and soy fibers, lyocell and more.
  • Deborah Lindquist Deborah is already a celebrity favorite as she has also been on the forefront of Eco-Fashion for a number of years. Dubbed the ‘Green Queen’, she uses her unique talent in mixing pre-loved materials, vintage cashmere and lace with organic blends to deliver compositions that are opulent, tailored and carry a ‘rocker-chic’ vibe. Her line is young, hip and fashion forward.
  • Yair and Jonathan Marcoschamer of Ecoist If you are a ‘Sex and the City’ fan, you’ve likely seen the work of these gentlemen, whether you realized it or not. ‘Sex and the City 2’ featured Samantha carrying a sassy, silver bag that was made from recycled candy wrappers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The commencement of this extraordinary line resulted from this pair’s trip to Mexico where they witnessed the post-consumer waste     creations of Mexican artisans. In the years since, they have acquired partners such as the Coca-Cola Company, Disney, Mars, Frito Lay, Luna Bar, and AVEDA, to take the ideas generated in these inventive minds and create a variety of woman’s accessories with recycled candy wrappers. It’s estimated they have saved more than 15 million candy wrappers from sitting, rotting in landfills. I guarantee you will be amazed at their designs!
    • Christine Marchuska and Brooke Bresnan of c. marchusa: – Hands down these ladies are closest to my own personal style and if possible I’d buy one of each garment they produce. Their line is one of the most affordable and as part of a no waste strategy, they have put thought into making classic creations that can be worn season-to-season surpassing trends and throw away styles. If you want to try chic, sustainable clothing without emptying your wallet, visit this fine line.
    • Sara Kirsner Sara’s line Doie, was developed to prove that comfort and style do not need to be sacrificed in the path of Eco-Fashion. She worked for well-known designers such as Mark Jacobs and Ann Taylor before branching out on her own to launch Doie. The various lines she creates flow seamlessly from cozy lounge-wear to office worthy styles and onto romantic evening gowns and dresses.
    • John Patrick – The creator of ‘John Patrick Organic’ has created such a buzz around his line and approach to fashion that Planet Green has employed him to launch ‘The John Patrick Show’ in 2011. We get to peek at the inside world of this renowned designer who, after 20 years in fashion, struck out on his own to conceive and foster the development of organic materials. A true pioneer, I look forward to seeing the day-to-day progression of his serene yet contemporary collections.
    • Tara St. James Tara heads up a collective of creative and cutting edge designers that have breathed life in the ‘Study’ collection. Their first collection, The Square Project, consists of sustainable clothing based on “a study of shapes in relation to the human form, starting with the square.” Each lines they produce takes a basic form and molds, shapes, bends and drapes that form into a number of ingenious silhouettes that flatter and move with the body.  Click here for a cool tutorial featuring the Tara St. James zipper bracelet (I’m doing this one with my next broken zipper).

    I plan to continue delving into and following this field and the new and creative minds who enter it so check back for looks at more designers and revisiting some of the ones I’ve already grown to love.

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