Cinco de Mayo!

With Cinco de Mayo coming just around the corner, what things come to mind? Margaritas, guacamole, and sombreros? For most Americans, that is the correct answer. Why is it that Americans tend to celebrate Cinco de Mayo so much more than our neighbors down south? While we as Americans mark the date for parties and celebration, Mexico has much different traditions.

Many believe that May 5th represents the Mexican equivalent of Independence Day, which is not entirely accurate. Cinco de Mayo represents the day that Mexico was able to claim an unexpected victory over France during the French Intervention in 1862, Puebla, Mexico under the leadership of Ignacio Zaragoza. This marks such an important victory because of how powerful the French army had been during this time.

This victory not only had a major impact on Mexican history, but is also largely recognized by United States as an important date in history. During this battle, just across the border was the Civil War, in which the Confederacy relied heavily on the help of French forces. Due to this extraordinary victory by Mexico, the French were halted in helping the Confederacy, in which some historians believe may have helped the Union greatly, possibly altering the result of the Civil War. For this reason many Americans recognize this as a U.S. holiday, even making it a national holiday in 2005.

What makes Cinco de Mayo different in the U.S. in comparison to Mexico is the way that the holiday is celebrated. While we think of food, music and drinks, celebration in Mexico is quite different. The celebration in all parts of Mexico is not as large as what it has become in America, the largest of the celebrations in the country takes place in the city of Puebla, Mexico where the actual battle had taken place. Celebrations in Mexico often consist of parades and battle re-enactments, especially in Puebla.

The United States has ventured far away from the Mexican way of celebrating the holiday. Cinco de Mayo in the States has taken its own form. This holiday is known for partying, food and tequila. In fact, the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration does not even take place in Mexico, but in Los Angeles with the Festival de Fiesta Broadway. According to HLNtv.com, Americans consume up to 81 million avocados on Cinco de Mayo! The U.S. has continued to add new traditions to this holiday that is originally meant to be a Mexican holiday. These new traditions even include ridiculous additions of celebration including Chihuahua races in Chandler, Arizona. This just adds to how much America has recreated a once Mexican holiday and turned it into its own moderation of an old holiday.

 

A Royal Arrival

On May 2, 2015 the world welcomed another heir to the English throne. After nine months of anticipation The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a daughter. The power this 8lbs 3oz baby holds, as a one day old, is astounding. The arrival of the royal baby has created crowds in the streets of London, new merchandise for vendors, and overall happiness for the all.

The formal royal announcement outside of Kensington Palace.

The formal royal announcement outside of Kensington Palace.

It was an exciting day for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate.  The royal announcement was posted outside of the palace that a royal baby was on the way.  The Duchess of Cambridge went in to labor before arriving at St. Mary’s Hospital in west London. This is the very spot their first child, Prince George, was born twenty-one months before. Many people, who were waiting outside the hospital for weeks waiting the moment when the fourth heir to the throne would be born, greeted them. Once it was announced that the royal couple had a healthy baby girl the crowds grew immensely. William brought his son, George, to St. Mary’s Hospital to meet his new baby sister. This was the first public outing for George since his birth debut.

William brings George to meet his new baby sister.

William brings George to meet his new baby sister.

Kate and Will left the hospital later that day for Kensington Palace. They greeted the crowds with smiles and waves of gratitude for the support. People have been camping out since the predicted due date. Since the Duchess was a couple weeks late, the crowds, decked out in red white and blue, remained longer than expected.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greet the crowds with their new baby girl.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greet the crowds with their new baby girl.

According to BBC, the couple said, “Their Royal Highnesses would like to thank all staff at the hospital for the care and treatment they have all received…They would also like to thank everyone for their warm wishes.” The couple was happy to bring home a healthy baby girl to add to the royal family. They returned to Kensington Palace to consult with the Queen before naming the child. Queen Elizabeth II must approve any royal baby’s name and plays a major part in the choice of the name. Which they have now announced that the princess will be named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.  These names are all in reference to important family royal members.  Charlotte is the female of Charles, Elizabeth is after the Queen, and Diana is to honor William’s late mother.
The position of British Monarchy has changed throughout the years. The royals, as we all know, used to have the power fully rule. Now the British Monarch is considered a constitutional monarchy. This means that they do not have the right to pass legislation like members of Parliament whom were elected. They are still considered the ‘Head of Nation’, however the position of the monarchy is now more a symbol for unity. The position in the public eye through voluntary services to Britain is that of a celebrity to the public. The Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy has been followed closely since the beginning. Preceding that, there was heavy speculation of a baby bump from the hopeful community.

Royal family fans decked out in their celebratory apparel.

Royal family fans decked out in their celebratory apparel.

This obsession over a newborn held by the royal family fans has a predicted contribution to the economy as well as the upcoming election. According to The Wee The Dow Jones rose by an average of 2.4 per cent in the week following the births of Princesses Anne and Margaret and Queen Elizabeth”.  In addition, Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, says: “Births in the royal family have been cause for celebration around the world. This can spill over into the stock markets as well.” The royal baby merchandise made in celebration has been flying off the shelves. The economic increase hasn’t been obvious yet, but in the coming couple days the impact will be seen. Reports have said that, “ [A royal baby] gives the country a feel-good boost so close to polling day is usually regarded as a plus for whoever is in power.” The birth should be favorable for the Conservatives in the upcoming election.

Charlotte Elizabeth Diana  on her birthday.

Charlotte Elizabeth Diana on her birthday.

Overall the arrival of this royal baby girl has the opportunity to create a thriving economy, bring entertainment to the world, and happiness to the expecting family. It’s been an exciting day for all those in Britain and those with access to E News. We all are happy to hear about the new adorable and healthy addition to our world. Royals, we’ll see you next time.

Where do my old i-Phones and computers end up?

Thanks to the modern technology, our lives become much more comfortable and convenient with electronics, such as a smart-phone, personal computer, and television. Someday, I was curious about my old i-Pod and lap-top commuters like where they go after end of  life? It is unconvinced belief that even old devices may be used in developing country by the second or third new owner, who buys my one as a used products. Or I thought my old electronic may be dissembled by the professional hands for recycle. I never doubted that it may hurt future generation and me. However, I could know this is wrong idea after watching the video that talks about e-waste problem. Many e-wastes are sneakily exporting to developed countries to developing countries. By unskillful hands and unequipped youth labors, my old i-pod and computer has been dissembled and buried that we all have big responsibility of making the world as a hazard living environment. This problem is very serious problem as threatening all living organisms in the present and future. We should be aware of this problem immediately.

E-waste – Any unwanted equipment that is dependent upon electric current of electromagnetic fields in  order to operate properly and no longer serves its original purpose. E-waste is also often called as WEEE (Waste and Electronic Equipment) that generates extremely hazard by-products, such as dioxins, furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polyhalogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAHs), and hydrogen cholride. Regardless of its dangerous toxic, e-waste are improperly eliminated as a huge amount. Landfill, incineration, reuse, recycle, and export are all lists how to treat e-waste. More than 70% of America’s e-waste are exporting to the third worlds. China, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and Ghana are major importers of e-waste. European Union and American  are major exporters because the proper treatment of e-waste cost too much, but nobody wants to pay for the right price to take care of e-waste. So, unwelcomed e-waste are being shipped to developing countries.

E-Waste trading route – by Green Peace

Basel Convention was held in 1989 to aim at preventing the economically motivated dumping of hazardous wastes in developing countries. Additionally, Basel Ban Amendment in 1995 prohibits all exports of hazard waste between member states. These international agreement is working as a guideline without direct regulations. According to Green Peace, “the United States has signed the Basel Convention, but has yet to ratify the Convention. In order for the United States to become a Basel party, it must rafity the Convetion and have sufficient authority to implement Basel’s terms. For this reason, the United States cannot participate in waste transfers with Basel Parties without a separate and equivalent bilateral or multilateral agreement.” In other words, Green Peace International tells that “50-80 percent of the waste in the U.S. collected for recycling is being  exported to developing countries or sold to ‘grey’ market.” The government of the United States did not ratified the Basel Convention yet, so America’s practice is legal.

MandM

E-waste is growing up super-fast that would be exceeding over 93.5 million tons annually. How do we take care of these? We do not have much capability to deal with plenty of growing e-waste and contained hazard toxins; therefore, immoral exports are being proceeding in the behind of us. Almost 70% of global e-waste ends up in China. Burning and heating are major methods to extract valuable material from e-waste that cause of serious health problems and massive ecological destruction. However, it keeps continually arriving in China because it is very profitable as China has low wages and high demand for used products. This industry also feed their family.

 

Regulations are already ready to stop the problem of e-waste, but the lack of operational system and will is another problem. Environmental protection agency, RCRA (Resource Conservation Recovery Act), and EPA policy for hazardous  waste are not function in the United States. It is same happening in China as well. There are three major reasons; the first, e-wastes are difficult to categorize into just three classifications (industrial, municipal and hazardous waste). The second, it is hard to define who is causing the problem. The third, it is hard to ensure funding of treatment.

Do you still we have a plenty land to bury waste?

This is not going to be a right solution. Lead and mercury would intake into ground water and land that would transfer to plants and animals we consume. How does it sound? You cannot still feel? Let’s check out the film of the largest e-waste site in the world, Guiyu in Guangdong Province in China.

 

This is caused by our unmindful consumerism and ethnocentric viewpoint. Serious disaster is happening  now as a sin of us. We all are interdependent beings as a part of nature. Many people may think that we are separated from other beings like other nations and nature; however, the air we take, the water we drink, and the food we eat come from the nature and various regions. In the fast growing society, mindful consumption is not easy as people do not buy new things, but we can at least try to use old one more and dump properly. For us and next generation the sustainable environment must be attained by your immediate action and awareness.

“The World’s Happiness Report”

My parents always told me that success is measured by happiness. I do believe this is true and a good value to live by. No matter what you do in life it’s almost impossible to be successful if you’re unhappy. Happiness is something I am striving to find more of and as I have gotten older, I have come to the realization that life is hard and people focus on the negative more than the positive. I recently learned in my Intimate Relationships class this semester that it take 5 positives to outweigh 1 negative in a relationship or any aspect of life.

IMG_2051

My mom, dad and I when I was a senior in high school (2012)

I was interested in finding out which countries in the world were the happiest (and saddest) and why. So I did some research. I was lucky to find some really up-to-date statistics posted on April 23, 2015 on a website called MindBodyGreen.com. The post is by Emi Boscamp, an associate editor at MindBodyGreen.com who graduated from Cornell.

The study was done by a group of international and national economists, neuroscientists and statisticians. They call their study “The World Happiness Report” and this is their third time performing the study. Based on their research, as a team, they came to the conclusion that the Swiss are the world’s happiest people. They based their data and rankings off of what they call “four main factors”. According to MindBodyGreen.com, these factors are “Sustained positive emotion, Recovery from Negative Emotion, Pro-Social behavior and generosity, and Mind wandering, mindfulness and ‘affective stickiness’ or emotion captured attention.”

This time around the research team was able to change their study by breaking down their data based on gender, age and region and they found “surprisingly big differences between these demographics” than ever before.

A happy Switz couple. Fiat 500 Geburtstagsfeier - "Happy People" in Switzerland http://www.askjeff.com/en/work/29.html#sub63

A happy Swiss couple. Fiat 500 Geburtstagsfeier – “Happy People” in Switzerland http://www.askjeff.com/en/work/29.html#sub63

 

So…… according to MindBodyGreen.com here is the 2015 list of the top 20 happiest countries in the world:

1. Switzerland     2. Iceland    3. Denmark   4. Norway    5. Canada   6. Finland

7. Netherlands   8. Sweden   9. New Zealand   10. Australia    11. Israel   12. Costa Rica

13. Austria   14.Mexico   15. United States   16. Brazil   17. Luxembourg   18. Ireland

19. Belgium  20. United Arab Emirates

 

Unfortunately, MindBodyGreen.com did not include WHY these countries were ranked the happiest in the world, so I looked at previous years of the world’s happiest countries on Forbes.com because their website gave a more detailed evaluation.

I chose three countries from the top 20 list of the “World’s Happiest Countries” to explain why they were ranked.

According to Forbes.com… I chose…

Switzerland because it is ranked #1 on the list.  This is due to their country being “number 1 in governance, 2nd in health and economy and sticking with the Franc rather than going Euro has helped make Switzerland a bastion of stability in shaky Europe right now.”

Norway because my great, great grandfather, Gustav Vigeland has his own park in Oslo, Norway, full of his sculptures. He was also the designer of the Nobel Peace Prize medal. Additionally, my Mormor (grandmother) immigrated to the U.S. from Norway as well. Norway is ranked #4 on the list because according to Forbes.com “with a per capita GDP of $54,000 Norway is among the richest in the world and ranks first in social capital and second in safety and security”.

A photo of Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway.  Slawonir http://www.panoramio.com/photo/80107330

A photo of Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway.
Slawonir
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/80107330

The United States because it is my home country. According to Forbes.com it makes the top 20 list of happiness because it is “an excellent place to start a business, the U.S. also ranks no. 1 in health, a function of high immunizations, clean water and the highest levels of gov’t spending on healthcare”.

Happy Americans. "Crowd Holding American Flags" http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/royalty-free/42-20942474/crowd-holding-american-flags

Happy Americans.
“Crowd Holding American Flags”
http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/royalty-free/42-20942474/crowd-holding-american-flags

Maybe one day I will be fortunate enough to travel to all of these countries so I can experience happiness of all different cultures and forms.

Although I’m choosing not to blog about the top 20 saddest countries in the world, because I do not want to dwell on the negative… I have included the list below in case anyone is interested.

1. Togo   2. Burundi   3.Syria   4.Benin   5.Rwanda   6.Afghanistan   7.Burkina Faso

8.Ivory Coast  9.Guinea   10.Chad   11. Central African Republic   12.Madagascar

13. Tanzania   14.Cambodia  15.Niger 16.Gabon   17.Senegal   18.Uganda

19.Comoros   20.Congo (Brazzaville)