Monthly Archives: June 2020

Good News Monday: Plastic Fantastic

These amazing artworks, created from the tons of plastic that wash up on local beaches, are exhibited at the Oregon Zoo, The Smithsonian, and other locations to call attention to pollution and its effect on marine life. I imagine the schedule is changing due to coronavirus, but this is something I can’t wait to see!

Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea

What Is Washed Ashore?

Roughly 300 million pounds of plastic is produced globally every year—but less than 10 percent is recycled. As a result, millions of pounds of plastic end up in our oceans.

Washed Ashore takes on the global marine debris crisis by turning plastic waste into beautiful, thought-provoking works of art. With the aim to educate viewers on the state of plastic pollution in our oceans, Washed Ashore features larger-than-life sea creatures made entirely of discarded, washed-up plastic waste.

Washed Ashore founder and director Angela Haseltine Pozzi began the project in 2010, collecting accumulated plastic along the Oregon coast. With the help of a small staff and thousands of volunteers, Pozzi has since processed around 18 tons of plastic and transformed it into powerful art with an important message.

Washed Ashore will be on display at the Oregon Zoo beginning in late January. Come view these spectacular sea creatures for yourself, and discover the reality of the “deadliest ocean predator”—plastic pollution.

Reducing plastic pollution

The rise of plastic pollution has created a global plastic waste crisis, and our oceans are feeling the effects. Plastic pollution is a threat that continues to grow, and impacts the health of both marine and land-based wildlife, as well as our ecosystems and humans. The Oregon Zoo believes that reducing sources of plastic pollution is an essential aspect of protecting the health of both wildlife and people, and the ecosystems we all depend on.

Reducing plastic pollution is only achievable through a combined effort on the part of consumers, business and governments. To learn more about what the Oregon Zoo and the city of Portland have done to reduce plastic waste and consumption, and see actions that you can take to help, click here.

 

Coping with Covid-19: It’s About Time

Many of us joked at the beginning of this pandemic that introverts would be better equipped to handle long periods of isolation. We’re all still inside reading, while our extrovert friends and family — plus all those manic folks we’re seeing on the news — are out cavorting as if the emergency is now over.  If only.

I’ve been thinking that another factor influencing how crazy-making this is, is whether you generally prefer having structured or unstructured time.

Most people have a strong inclination towards one or the other.  Put another way, do you tend to feel happier during the workweek, when you have a series of tasks that need to be done, colleagues with whom you interact, a feeling of achievement when you complete a project? Are schedules and routines useful rather than burdensome?

Or are you more of a “free spirit” who doesn’t like to follow a regimen? Are you happiest at the weekend with no particular agenda and the option to use your time as your own?

Being retired, I notice less of a difference than I did in my career life, but I clearly still fall into the “structured” category. For example, I’ve always liked to make lists and plan appointments ahead of time. Sundays and major holidays can be frustrating because certain things are closed and I can’t get stuff done.  (Are structured people more prone to impatience, too, I wonder? Don’t answer that!)

Of course, Covid has tossed many options out the window. But knowing which type you are can help you deal with stress and uncertainty by adding more or less structure to your day.  If you’re an “S”, try keeping a calendar of even the most banal activities so you can feel some sense of accomplishment as you tick them off your list. If you’re a “U” who hates following rules, enjoy the relative freedom of working from home and taking breaks when you feel like it.

I’ve read that S’s often instinctively pair up with U’s, which may be nature’s way of helping us find balance in a relationship: The “structured” person can do most of the planning and organizing, while their “unstructured” partner comes up with spur-of-the-moment fun stuff.

Is scheduled spontaneity the best of both worlds? Or merely another oxymoron in our current reopening-but-not reality?

man break dancing on street

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Sleep and Sex: It’s Not What You Think

Today, I’m reprinting a very interesting article from the National Sleep Foundation. 

How Sleep Is Different for Men and Women

A cup of coffee isn’t the only thing that can cause your energy levels to jump around. The other reason why you feel wide-awake at some points of the day and drowsy at others? Your circadian rhythm, an internal clock that helps regulate the cycle of when you feel sleepy and when you feel alert.

In a broad sense, circadian rhythms are similar from person to person, operating on roughly 24-hour cycles. But it turns out there are some notable differences in the sleep/wake patterns of women and men, which could explain why men tend to be night owls while women are more apt to be early risers.

The Rhythm Method

Circadian rhythms are controlled by an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. Other influences include light (which sends a message to your brain that it’s time to wake up) and darkness (an indicator to your body that it’s time to release melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep). Regular sleep patterns—waking up and going to bed at the same time daily—also keep your circadian rhythm functioning normally, helping to reduce the chance of sleep trouble such as insomnia.

What’s Sex Got to Do with It?

Beyond these factors, there’s another important variable that influences your internal clock: sex.

It turns out, male and female circadian rhythms don’t exactly match up. Men’s clocks tend to run truer to a full 24-hour cycle or longer (on average, men have a circadian cycle that’s six minutes longer than for women ) meaning they may feel less tired in the evening.

In women, the internal clock is more likely to be shorter than a full 24-hour cycle, making it more likely that they will awaken earlier, which may also increase their susceptibility to early-waking sleep disturbances like insomnia.

Handling Sleep Cycle Interruptions

While eight hours per night on average is ideal for both genders, it turns out that men are harder hit by periods of deprivation. Lack of sleep causes work performance to suffer more for men than for women, and men recover less quickly from lack of sleep than women do.

On the other hand, women’s shorter cycles mean they are more likely to have a dip in energy at night, which could help explain why there’s an increased risk of work-related injuries in female shift workers.

Of course, it is possible to learn how to re-train your inner clock to help you feel more awake or sleepy at different parts of the day depending on your lifestyle needs. But left to its own devices, the body’s natural rhythms make it more likely that if you are a man, you will be a night owl, and for women, an early bird.

Captive Audience

From the Department of What’s The World Coming To…

Barcelona’s Liceu opera reopened on Monday. Its first concert was performed in front of an audience of plants, NPR reports. Much nicer for the performers, I surmise, as at least plants don’t cough, rattle candy wrappers, and forget to shut off their cell phones.

Then again, this plant appears to have nodded off.

white flower on green leaf plant

Photo by Nadezhda Moryak on Pexels.com

The Pandemic Ten

Remember the “freshman 15”, aka the pounds everyone seemed to gain their first year at college? It’s déjà vu all over again.

Back in the day, the culprits were pizza, beer (and/or weed), and nerve-wracking new experiences like late-night cramming and unprecedented freedom.

This is different, and not just because I’m older. Month after month of the same old, same old has led to inertia and tedium with a constant low hum of anxiety buzzing along underneath.

I don’t really care what the government is recommending… Dear Husband and I are staying put except for essential and unavoidable tasks. Since we can’t travel or eat out with friends, we’ve amused ourselves by cooking food from different cultures and pretending to be elsewhere. Unlike traveling, however, we are not burning calories by walking extra miles through cities, museums, and the like. Even my Fitbit is bored.  The result: packing on extra poundage like a wild animal in captivity.

Like many of you, I eat when I’m stressed even if I’m not physically hungry. And what I’ve realized, as my own little world keeps shrinking — while I’m not — is how many of my essential needs aren’t being met… which leads to stress… which leads to snacking.

  • Order and control. Toss this one right out the window. We have no idea when this will end and can’t do much about it except to continue social distancing and wearing a mask. Plus, staying informed is highly overrated when so much of the news is just plain sickening.
  • Anticipation. It’s hard to plan for a trip or special event when there’s nothing on the calendar.  And being worried about catching the virus en route does dim one’s enthusiasm.
  • Personal space.  If you’re someone who needs lots of alone time, a pandemic is not your friend.
  • Sleep. Stress and worry make sleep elusive, or fitful at best. Which in turn affects your body’s balance of the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin decreases it. When the body is sleep-deprived, ghrelin levels spike, while the level of leptin falls, leading to an increase in hunger, especially for junk food. (I don’t know how it knows, but it does.)
  • Variety of experiences. When going to the grocery store is the weekly highlight, life’s a little blah no matter how nice your home or neighborhood is.

Anyway, it’s useful to know the triggers. Now I need to get serious about my action plan, as I refuse to buy a larger-size wardrobe. Who’s with me?

photo of a burn fat text on round blue plate

Photo by Natasha Spencer on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Good News Monday: A Step Towards Equality

Truly happy to report an important step towards recognizing that being able to live one’s life is a human right.

Today, the US Supreme Court ruled that a landmark civil rights law from 1964 protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination.

It’s about freakin’ time!

no labels written on a piece of paper

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Fashion Revolution in the Age of COVID

black mannequin

Photo by Jan Kroon on Pexels.com

Sharing a very interesting fashion article, courtesy of Kat’s excellent Feather Factor blog:

WWD Business: Fashion’s Great French Revolution
By Laura Lanteri on May 11, 2020

“When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In 2012, when Miuccia Prada, sitting at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, was trying to reconcile her own political and philosophical beliefs (she was a member of the Italian Communist party during her youth) and the idiosyncrasies of her job, she commented: “Fashion is the first step out of poverty.” Her reasoning was quite simple. Once an individual satisfies all their primary needs — food, shelter, health — one of their first desires is to look better, to change, to “elevate” themselves.

Aspiration versus accessibility, equality versus exclusivity, relatability versus uniqueness: Miuccia Prada knew that fashion did have a place in bettering this world, but she was also deeply aware of the almost irreparable craters that separated her from the masses.

Fast-forward eight years and here we are, exactly where Miuccia Prada predicted we would be: the fashion revolution is here, and it’s disturbingly ugly. The dynamics that have driven the exorbitant financial and commercial growth of the industry are the very same forces that — exasperated by a global pandemic of unthinkable proportions — are now possibly risking its extinction.

And, this time, the Revolution started at the bottom of the food chain, from the very customers that fashion, and especially the luxury sector, tried to lure into impossible aspirational dreams of never-ending consumption.

Customers are most certainly not buying into the aspiration anymore, and the reasons for their unhappiness go well beyond the scarcity and misery brought about by this pandemic.

From reports that millions of garment workers in India and Bangladesh may be reduced into starvation by the current interruption in the supply chain of major retailers, to the increasingly popular images depicting a cleaner, less polluted world due to a halt in consumption, travel and productivity, to the devastating realities of hundreds of thousands of retail workers being furloughed across the United States, fashion has never looked so broken.

And fashion customers, just like the French Revolution insurgents circling around the impossible marvel that was Versailles, are taking notice. Not just notice — action.

It’s not that surprising then that — at the time when we are all forced to cling to our own very essential version of life — most of this “stuff,” the fashion stuff, is getting cut out. McKinsey & Co. is projecting a contraction of the luxury sector of up to 40 percent in 2020. I think that may be an optimistic figure. Earnest Research reports a 70 percent drop in spending for “Apparel and Accessories” for the week ending on April 1, 2020.

Even assuming that fashion and luxury will survive in some tangible form, the reality we will go back to will not resemble our pre-pandemic world in any way.

Fashion and luxury will have to change because the audience they used to have are not there anymore. Fashion is no longer simply a monologue, and customers are emerging as much more powerful voices in this dialogue. They are shouting. They are shouting at Madonna taking a milky bath with rose petals in her mansion while philosophizing about COVID-19 being “the great equalizer.” They are shouting at Ellen DeGeneres, who is comparing her quarantine in a multimillion-dollar compound to “jail.” They are shouting at Jennifer Lopez, who is joke-complaining about quarantine with her family in a massive mansion, oblivious to her privilege and to the horrendous struggle outside of her door.

It is worth noting that many of these celebrities were, as of a few weeks ago, considered the pioneers of change for fashion. J.Lo was seen as the ambassador of “older women,” showing us that we didn’t have to dress “our age.” DeGeneres has been, and maybe still will be, a pioneer in the advancement of LGBTQ rights, both in entertainment and in fashion.

Madonna has changed the way we think about how women dress well before she wore the much-clamored Gaultier cones. But not anymore — these women are not the voices or the aspirations of the zeitgeist. They were brand ambassadors for a system that was already on the verge of collapse. Their obliviousness to this current catastrophe only accelerated a process of self-destruction.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Fashion used to be — in many ways — an invisible force behind change. Not an equalizing force, but a transformative one. Taking pleasure in beauty and design is a quintessentially human prerogative. Beyond the obvious aesthetic qualities that fashion encapsulates, fashion used to mean something to its audience.

The most famous fashion designers in history have made significant contributions to how we relate to each other in society and how we perceive who we are. Not simply about how we look.

From Coco Chanel’s rebellion against uncomfortable clothing for women, to YSL’s embrace of the androgynous to Vivienne Westwood’s anti-establishment ethos, to Pierpaolo Piccioli’s vision of inclusivity, fashion becomes successful when it relates to its audience on a deep, visceral level. Not just on a grand scale, but — most powerfully now — on a human scale.

Fashion customers, the industry audience, seem to have suddenly noticed the difference. From the founder of Something Navy, who has been subjected to vicious attacks on social media after escaping Manhattan for the Hamptons during the pandemic, to Elle Macpherson, whose brand WelleCo has been heavily criticized after it sent out promotional e-mails marketing a “Super Elixir” allegedly promoting immune support (cost: $80), fashion customers appear pretty unforgiving and quick to discard previously beloved brands. Perhaps even more tellingly, Chiara Ferragni — the Italian model and “digital entrepreneur” ranked as the number-one fashion influencer in the world by Forbes — is now advertising pasta and mascarpone cheese on her Instagram posts. No more Giambattista Valli there.

Make no mistake: These are hard times for any company that is not selling essential goods. And buying a new dress is in itself an utterly insignificant gesture. But if this dress morphs into a determination of a person’s true presence, then fashion regains its power.

Fashion perhaps can be small again, it can shrink back to human scale, its beauty as vivid as the fairness of its (new) processes. Fashion’s ambition has probably always been — indeed as Miuccia Prada said — about a desire to better ourselves. Recently, we just lost track of who we are.

So let the screams coming from social media all around the world be a powerful wake-up call for all of fashion. Because the Fashion Revolutionaries are in. And they will not eat cake.

Laura Lanteri is an adjunct professor at The New School’s Parsons School of Design.

 

Mini Rant

I recently posted about some drama in our tiny neighborhood, and am sorry to report that it’s only gotten worse.

Today, a surveyor came to check a height pole that had previously been approved by the county.  Whether or not the height is correct is beside the point — in all probability, it is lower than the allowed limit. That will be decided by mathematics.

What disturbs me is hearing that a group of neighbors decided to hang out in the street and on lawn chairs to eavesdrop and comment throughout this process to… do what? Intimidate the people who are building the home? Make the surveyor nervous? Register their disapproval of something without having all the facts?

Several were people who believe themselves to be devout Christians.  I have to wonder: Is indulging in malicious gossip, spreading misinformation, and jealousy masquerading as “concern”, what Jesus would do?

 

 

 

 

Good News Monday: Natural Stress Relief

I admit it’s hard to find any good news today.  But I did find a wonderful way to relax, courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Jelly Cam.  The livestream, available from 10 am to 9 pm PDT on their website, features hypnotic images of floating jellyfish, accompanied by spa sounds.

You can also ooh and ahh over live footage of their sea otters and penguins.

I’ll take whatever distractions I can get.

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