23 Sep The Time is Now

[caption id="attachment_2177" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The time is now featuring StealBackTime watch.[/caption] Alright, so this is a new type of blog post where Carly gets pretty passionate about YOU stepping out of your comfort zone and crushing the fear and the "I can't". Here we go. We all know that person ( or multiple persons...

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07 Dec Wasteland Turns to Wonderland: Discover Buenos Aires’ Green Side

[caption id="attachment_2336" align="alignnone" width="660"] Bird's eye view of Rio de la Plata.[/caption] It’s encouraging when governments deem areas of land as national parks and ecological reserves. Clearly, there’s credence in the science behind their establishment. This holds especially true for ecological reserves, where human impacts on ecology are (or were, rather) becoming tangible. Developmental sprawl intrudes the habitats of species endemic to specific areas, threatening their existence. Furthermore, the impacts of expansion on ecology are unpredictable, as an impact on one species may affect another without obviously appearing so, and recognized only after irreparable damage is done. The preventative aspect of ecological reserves remains particularly appealing. While it’s easy to discuss ecology metaphorically, Buenos Aires, Argentina took action. The city's government established the Buenos Aires Ecologica Reserva, also known as Costanera Sur. The area had previously been a promenade, with coffee shops and bars lining the banks of the Rio de la Plata in the 20s and 30s. However, river contamination drove consumers away, leading to the deterioration and eventual destruction of these establishments. As the river grew it began to overtake some of the promenade, and trash dumping was normal. This incited the proposal to reclaim the land. Eventually these plans were abandoned and the site was left alone. In the absence of human interaction, a massively diverse explosion of fauna began. In 1986, the diversity of species and their ecological interactions were recognized and began being protected as a natural park...

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07 Dec Wandering Through Wales, Part 1

[caption id="attachment_2330" align="alignnone" width="660"] Fancy a hike?[/caption] For a country represented by a red dragon, Wales is decidedly green. With rolling hills dotted with lochs stretching hundreds of acres, you’d think the dragon would be easily seen. Of course, while the myth of the red dragon may be an inspirational allegory for the Britons victory over the Saxons, the symbol may take its origin from the Romans. It may seem unlikely, but evidence of Roman activity is evident in Britain. Travel the land of the red dragon for a weekend, stopping at Caerleon Amphitheater. You’ll see where Romans congregated for entertainment, as well as a few bathhouse ruins (Romans took pride in their skin). The Caerleon ruins are integral to Arthurian legend: it’s allegedly the place of Camelot. Furthermore, the “round table” featured prominently in the myths may have been inspired by the shape of the Amphitheatre. So you’ll get a taste of medieval history in addition to the Romans. Next stop, Caerphilly Castle, the second largest castle in Britain (after Windsor), and the first to both use water as a defense (think enormous moat) and be built using concentric design. While it may seem insignificant, this concentric design made it easier to access all parts of the castle, in addition to rendering siege machinery useless. What’s more impressive is the architecture: the last remodeling took place in 1322-6, and even then, it was only to make the dining halls grander. As a result, Caerphilly...

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06 Oct Rubbing Buddha’s belly for a long life in the trees

[caption id="attachment_2277" align="alignnone" width="660"] So happy! So enlightened![/caption] Every few months, while growing up, my family and I would make a pilgrimage after 11 a.m. church service to Shanghai Gardens. It was a local Chinese restaurant in front of the parking lot of a grocery store—or rather in the parking lot, the building an oasis surrounded by cement. Sunday lunches at Shanghai Gardens became something to look forward to. I daydreamed of my impending plate of cashews, chicken and broccoli during church. What I daydreamed about most, however, was rubbing Buddha’s belly. An eight-foot bronze statue of a cross-legged naked, large Chinese man sat in front of the goldfish pond in the lobby of the restaurant. My younger sister and I would run up to Buddha, rubbing his belly for good luck. “Don’t take all his good blessing, kids,” my dad would say. “You have a fortune cookie to enjoy after your meal.” What I failed to grasp but realize now was just how important Buddha is in Chinese culture. Coming in a close second are temples and trees associated with the portly fellow. Enter TanZhe Temple outside Beijing and you hardly know it is a 1700 year-old building. You can’t order a plate of sesame chicken nor receive a fortune cookie, but you immediately sense calm and peace. And that’s what Chinese temples were built for. Buddha, a real man born in 580 B.C., was a soul-searching youth full of pain, suffering and self-loathing....

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