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Happy New Year to you, my reader.

I’ve not been blogging since before Xmas. To some extent, there is so much negativity around in news headlines that it’s all a bit of a blur. So I’ve been focussing on work – our little IT business – and planning 2009 hiking challenges around Britain, one of our great hobbies. This certainly does make one feel much more positive and I think it’s crucial at this time to have an aspiration which takes you away from the decidedly average economic outlook.

I am extremely happy to see that although companies are more careful with their money, the IT sector is still quite buoyant – so it is not all doom and gloom for us at the moment. My first web-based project should go live at the start of March and this is keeping me very busy. It’s also terribly exciting to know there will soon be a website out there that I project managed. Read the rest of this entry »

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I was profoundly shocked to see these pictures of the floating rubbish in the Pacific ocean yesterday. See some disturbing the pictures of this Global ecological disaster here.

The size of the problem: Plastic rubbish, referred to as “rubbish soup” or “trash vortex”, which has been accumulated in the sea for decades, has created two floating continents up to twice the size of USA in the middle of the Pacific ocean, and continues to grow at an alarming rate. Plastic is not biodegradable and cannot be digested, so it stays around forever. It does however break up into smaller pieces as the result of exposure to sun’s rays (or photodegrade) and after that, causes untold environmental harm.

Where does it come from? Around 20% of the floating “soup” comes from rubbish discarded from ships and oil platforms, with the rest coming from land.

How it was discovered: Because the debris are translucent, to a great extent broken up into small pieces and float just below the surface, they are invisible to satellites. Bizarre as it seems, it was discovered only by chance in 1997 by an americal oceanographer Charles Moore who was taking a shortcut home after a yacht race and literally sailed into the Eastern rubbish patch. He says that this was an ocean he had never known:

There were shampoo caps and soap bottles and plastic bags and fishing floats as far as I could see. Here I was in the middle of the ocean, and there was nowhere I could go to avoid the plastic

He ended up sailing through it for a week and said that the rubbish float probably went on for hundreds of miles. It was then estimated that the size of the patch was the size of Texas and was going to double in size in the next decade.

Why the Pacific? A combination of Pacific currents sitting underneath a stable high atmospheric pressure system with very light winds (also called the Gyre), typical of the Pacific ocean’s natural rhythm, cause the the “soup” to accumulate during the winter months in two areas of the ocean, so that it reaches its maximum density by spring. Changing currents then disperse it so that some of it is washed ashore in great quantities, small pieces creating plastic dunes, large pieces visible to an untrained eye.

Environmental impact: The “soup” is causing harm in several ways:

  • It is highly concentrated (outnumbering plankton by up to 6 times and rising) and can be broken up into small pieces. Birds mistake plastic for edible things and pick out large amounts of it, later dying of malnutrition, blocked digestion, or getting slowly poisoned as the result
  • As plastic breaks down further and further, it enters the food chain of the entire living ocean and gets into the human food chain
  • Particularly dangerously, huge masses of tiny plastic pellets called nurdles – the raw materials of the plastics industry – are lost or spilled every year. They are likened to chemical sponges that attract dangerous chemicals like pesticide DDT, which also enters every living creature’s the food chain. Consequences include cancer, obesity, infertility, immunity problems, and many other nasties.

Algalita Foundation: Charles Moore was so alarmed by his discovery that he set up a non-profit organisation Algalita Marine Research foundation dedicated to protection of the marine environment through research, education and restoration.

What can be done by us: To stop the plastic soup from getting any larger, we need to change the way we think about plastic in our daily lives.

The easiest-to-do things include:

  • Use canvas or recycled bags for your shopping
  • Use items packaged in metal, glass, or paper packaging – instead of plastic
  • Spread the word! Not everyone is aware of the dangers of plastics
  • Speak to manufacturers and ask them – why do they still use non-biodegradable packaging? There are plenty of much greener alternatives out there and people want to see these used.

It’s a call for action. It is up to us to make the change, and demand a corresponding change in the attitudes of industry and commerce.

For more information about Algalita, check out this site

http://www.algalita.org/

I want to tell you about an awesome story I came across this weekend.

Ray Edwards, a British guy, had successfully defeated cancer in the eighties, but this left him with a weakened immune system. He became critically ill with blood poisoning after cutting his hand at work on a building site. As the result, to prevent gangrene, doctors had to amputate all his limbs.

Having survived the shock of losing both his arms and legs, Ray nevertheless rebuilt his life, learnt to drive a car post his amputations, to ski, and is now learning to fly a plane. He is now working as a chieft executive of the Limbless Association and has his own company, “Ray Inspires”, the title and remit of which should speak for itself.

Ray’s left arm is a high-tech prosthetic which recognises muscle impulses. It has five fingers, all of which move separately. The rest of his prostherics are standard.

Ray said that he used to think that if he had known he would lose his limbs in the future, he will not have wanted to live. However now that he knows he has gone through it all and come through to the other end and rebuilt his life, he is happy.

“The amputations were carried out on Friday 13th and at the time I just felt like giving up and lost the will to live. Now I see that day as the day my life was saved.”

“I wish when I had gone through my amputations there had been someone there to tell me there was hope. I hope people hear what I have done and realise there is always hope. You can get through it.”

You can find a photo of Ray on this link.

 

Copyright 2008 by CuriouslyInspired

It’s pretty scary out there in the world of finance right now. Apocalyptic predictions of further meltdowns are rife and, to be honest, even if we ignore the scariest over-the-top forecasts we know that we are in for a tough ride.

I was getting carried away 2 weeks ago commenting on the events in the banking world as they were unfolding, but taking several days off temporarily cured me of this obsessive watching and recording of the crisis. I might come back to that in due course, but meantime I wanted to refocus instead on my own perspective of events, which really is the purpose of this blog – in this case to talk about bad staff management techniques I have seen in the banking industry.

I spent 10 years working in banking in various support roles, most recently in project management and IT. It was great around 2000 – money was abundant and life was fairly easy. Maybe not 9 to 5, but looking back it feels like we got paid quite well for doing an average job and not straining ourselves beyond sensible limits. To be honest there seemed to be a fair number of people around who were getting away with not doing anything much and still got paid. What we did was a skilled job, of course, requiring knowledge of finance, accountancy, or IT, and there was of course a degree of stress attached to delivering things correctly and on time, but generally it was a time of plenty – of money, bonuses, opportunity, and jobs all easy to come by. But then it got a great deal harder. Read the rest of this entry »

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