Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stumbling your way through the internet

The internet is an amazing thing, and what's even more amazing is having something to do on the internet besides refresh your Facebook page for hours until you get a notification.

One application could change your life forever: StumbleUpon. It's as easy as installing it and pressing a button. After that, you're on your way to entertainment for hours, and even days, depending on the amount of sleep you intend on getting.

To get a feel of the kinds of websites that you like, the application has a 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' button, so that way, you won't be getting a bunch of junk that you don't even care about. You can create your own profile, add friends, and customize your preferences. The categories in StumbleUpon range from Photography, Bizarre Oddities, Poetry, Magic Illusions, Humor, etc. There really is something for everyone on there, and it'll help you discover things that you didn't even know existed.

The only time a website is suggested to you, is if a 'like-minded stumbler' has already said that it is something that they liked, so you don't have to worry about it trying to send you to certain companies' websites to make you buy stuff that you don't even need. Your knowledge will grow, and your boredom will shrink.

Go to to see if there's a StumbleUpon application that's compatible with your own web browser. Go discover something!

Interesting things I've discovered myself:

- The Coolest Guy In The World Video

Lots of acrobatics, Parkour, free running, martial arts, stunts and tricks. 

(Note: This guy is from Seattle, and a lot of this video is filmed at Gas Works Park, which makes it a little bit cooler.)

- 10 Strange Things About The Universe

"...focused on lists that intrigue and educate, specializing in the bizarre or lesser- known trivia. Every day we present a new unique list in any one of our fifteen categories, from art & literature to science & nature.

- I Can't Find My Phone

Go to this site if you've misplaced your phone (in your room, the car, your house etc.) type in your number and the website will actually call your phone!! Now if you lost your phone at a concert or the mall, you're probably out of luck, but this site can really come in handy if you lose your cell alot.

- Super Fast Spray Paint Artist

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter weather causing problems for the holidays?

The snow started to fall on Monday for most people around the North West. The crazy conditions knocked out power for many people, and many gas stations were down as well. Some people thought because of the power outages and the snow they would not be able to have their Thanksgiving feast with their friends and family. The roads stayed slick throughout most of the week, including on Thanksgiving. For some, that stopped them from having their usual gathering, but for many they went forth with their holiday festivities anyway.

Seattle snow bauhaus Pictures, Images and Photos

There was many stores around the North West that opened a day earlier - on Thursday - for the Black Friday shoppers to get a head start on their shopping. Kmart, Sears, WalMart and Toys'R Us opened their doors on Thursday. Many people did not take up the offer, because of weather and holiday festivities. The malls were packed with people during the weekend, many stores offered weekend sales, extending the Black Friday madness.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Brief Note on Today's Elections: Important Issues for Young Voters

Hey guys! Some of you are 18, or are at least pretty close. So I was thinking we should talk about some of the laws coming up in the Washington State elections (TODAY, NOVEMBER 2!!). This is an important mid-term election year. Nationally, there could be a political shift of power which could change the direction the country is heading in. Within Washington, there are several key issues also.  If I-1098 passes, there will be an income tax on the state’s wealthiest population. There are also a couple of initiatives to change where and how liquor is sold (I-1100 and I-1105). Another key issue is Referendum 52. The goal is to fix schools, such as improving heating and air conditioning systems and overall making them cleaner and to be more energy efficient, as well as to provide new jobs for people.  While the money for all these initiatives go towards good causes, they all raise taxes. 

I wanted to letcha guys know the good and bad of the key laws in Washington, so when the times come you can be educated voters!! You can also find more personalized voting information at Washington State's MyVote website, which lets you look up the location of your nearest polling station (if applicable), how and when to mail your ballot (if voting by mail), and the races happening in your district, as well as track the progress of your ballot at the Ballot Tracking Website (if you live in King County).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brain Breaks

As much as education and learning stimulates the brain cells to a point which I'm sure all you students out there love, sometimes we all just need a little break. So here are some websites out there which give a nice and at least semi-intelluctal window into the wonderful world of recreation. Because of course while you're doing homework, the last thing you want is to entirely thrown off your game!

This is for all y'alls who are Rubix cube wizard. Although personally the Rubix cube makes about as sense to me as art does to en elephant (who isn't this one, mind you, I'm sure some of our readers out there love that magic cube. Of course if you can already solve it in less than 30 seconds blindfolded with your feet, maybe you need a new diversion.

So this intellectual break is for you. This is a 4-D theoretical representation of a rubix cube there for you to solve. Each block on the outer layer of each side including the middle changes the cube in a different way. It starts solved but randomally click for a bit and I'm sure you can solve that!
Good Luck!

Sporcle gives small random quizzes on anything from World Series winners to Shakespearean Sonnets, and even random trivia like the characters of House. Sporcle has it all which makes it a perfect candidate for a break from homework.

Cubes seem to have all the answers to getting away from homework with a fun game called Cube Logic. A simple puzzle game which is easy to drop and pick up again, while still rather difficult Cube Logic, and the sequal cleverly named as....3d logic 2...., could be just the break you need.

3D Logic 2 

If you're like me, and you want to keep your brain going while still taking a break, nothing does that quite as well as a good logic puzzle. This a website with plenty of puzzles that should keep you diverted for a nice long time. 
This website has some very easy ones for the brain which has been truly wiped clean by homework, some slightly harder, some that are difficult, and for the truly brave the very difficult section. 

I hope that helps you clear your head a bit while traversing the perilous cliff that is school work. Best of luck in all your puzzling and logic endeavors! 
Until next time!

Friday, October 15, 2010

It’s TV Time!

Greetings again from the Teen Link blog.

We KNOW that the school year probably has you pretty bogged down at this point, but when you come up for air and find some time to relax we've got some suggestions for you. Here are some new (and old) shows to tune into for some hilarious comedic relief!

Title: Community
Time: Thursday 8:00 PM
Channel: NBC

Summary: Starring Joel McHale (of "The Soup" fame and get this - he's a local Seattle boy!! Joel graduated from Mercer Island High School and went to college at UW) and comedy legend Chevy Chase.
This is a show about a quirky group of Greendale Community College attendees, who form a study group. The show is witty, entertaining, and hilarious and will provide comic relief to any bad day.

Our Rating: ****

Title: The Office
Time: Thursday 9-9:30 PM
Channel: NBC

Summary: Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is in charge of the Scranton office for Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

The office and it's employees are truly a strange and interesting bunch and will keep you laughing from the beginning of the catchy theme song to the end of the half-hour.

Rating: ***

Title: Glee
Time: Tuesday 8:00 PM
Channel: FOX

Summary: Glee is in its second season and is gaining more and more fans with every episode.With guest stars like Britney Spears John Stamos and comedy legend Carol Burnett, season 2 is a safe bet to be even more popular this time around.

The Glee club is home to a mixture of students from every clique and cliché and make the perfect set-up for loads of some-what comedic drama. But what makes this show better then the rest of the teen dramas is this show has musical numbers in every show, not to mention they are outstanding.

Rating: ****

Title: Raising Hope
Time: Tuesday 9-9:30 PM
Channel: FOX

Summary: Entering its first season, this show is about a guy named Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff), who knocked up a serial killer and is left with the baby, Hope.

Jimmy still lives with his outrageous family in what is way short of the American dream family. This show makes you cringe, tear-up, laugh hysterically, and will always leave you with a warm feeling.

Rating: **

Title: Running Wilde
Time: Tuesday 9:30-10 PM
Channel: FOX

Summary: This show is about Steve Wilde (Will Arnett) a rich, oil company owner who is desperately trying to win the love and approval of Emmy Kadubic (Keri Russell) the nature-loving humanitarian.
What makes this show interesting is it is told through the eyes of Emmy’s daughter, a 12-year old girl who desires nothing more than to live a normal American life, out of the jungle.

Rating: **


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Movement from Tragedy

Billy Lucas was a 15 year old kid from Indiana who didn't fit in at his school. As a result, he was the target of bullying and regularly called "fag". This had a tragic result - Billy committed suicide on Sept 9th.

From a local news channel:  It was alleged bullying that, according to the Billy Lucas Memorial Facebook page, caused the outgoing freshman to take his own life.

"He was threatened to get beat up every day," friend and classmate Nick Hughes said. "Sometimes in classes, kids would act like they were going to punch him and stuff and push him."

Friends of Lucas say that he had been tormented for years.

"Some people at school called him names," Hughes said, saying most of those names questioned Lucas' sexual orientation, and that Lucas, for the most part, did little to defend himself. He would try to but people would just try to break him down with words and stuff and just pick on him," Hughes said.

This tragedy follows a string of other youth suicides that were the result of harassment and bullying. Schools and districts across the country are creating or amending policies to attempt to address the growing problem and protect their youth, however most DO NOT protect the youth from harassment/bullying due to gender or sexual orientation - which leaves kids like Billy out in the cold, so to speak.

Billy's tragic story is catching national attention quickly. One person who was particularly moved by it is Seattle advice columnist, author and activist Dan Savage.
He has since launched the "It Gets Better Project" - a Youtube channel currently seeking video submissions from adults in the GLBTQ community sharing their stories of surviving harassment and how they've moved on to find happiness in their lives since.

When asked why he created the channel, Dan said "I put up a link to the [Billy's] story and someone said in a comment that they wished they could have talked to the kid for five minutes to tell him it gets better." read more of the article...

If you are being bullied or know someone who is and want to talk about it, give Teen Link a call. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

9 years ago...

Written on September 11, 2010 by a Teen Link volunteer...

I have never written a blog post before. I have no idea what type of etiquette blog posts usually follow. Instead of doing a news report like the previous blog posts, I'll do a commemoration, of sorts. 

I've been waiting to write this post for the whole week. I didn't get a chance during the week and I'm glad I didn't. What better topic to talk about than the 9/11 terrorist attacks 9 years ago on this day? The attack that killed 2,977 victims and the 19 hijackers. There was also a secondary death. This man died from lung disease due to the dust from the collapsing of the Twin Towers.  

I started working on this blog post by first, watching Flight 93. This was a TV film that came out back in 2006 which is not to be confused with United 93, a feature film from back in 2006 as well. Confusing much? Anyways,   initially I watched the film to write my feelings toward the one plane of the four hijackings that did not make it to the target. Later I realized it would be a lot easier to just summarize the movie.

United Airlines Flight 93 was one of the four terrorist hijackings on September 11, 2001. What made the Flight 93 hijacking different was the fact that it never made it to its target, which was later determined to be the United States Capitol Building. The reason the plane never made it to the target was because the passengers teamed up and attempted to take control of the plane. When the terrorists realized they couldn't fight the passengers, they rolled the plane and crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. This brave attempt by the passengers to take control of the plane saved hundreds if not thousands of lives. 

There was a huge diversity of people who were at different stages in their lives. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and a pregnant woman. There was even a guy who was going to miss his flight but made it just in time for take off. 

The most amazing thing I learned from watching this movie was the security protocols before 9/11. They were so lenient. You could bring a freaking box knife on an airplane! That's just asking for trouble right there. 

I remembered that day quite clearly. I was only 5 years old. I was in first grade. I was so confused as to what actually happened. All I knew was two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. I'm thinking about it now. It's weird, trying to figure out why people do such crazy things. People who try to take other people's lives with them. 

RIP Victims of September 11, 2001 

To watch Flight 93 go to

Monday, August 30, 2010

Seattle Program gives homeless youth a voice in more ways than one


Peace for the Streets by Kids From the Streets (PSKS)

"We Provide support and services to Seattle area homeless youth and young adults. Our committed efforts are targeted at providing stepping stones to transition youths from the streets to self-sufficiency and productive roles in community."

PSKS was began as a project - a one day concert planned by, then teacher, Elain Simons with some of her students. After the concert was done, Elaine went back to school, but her students wanted it to continue. What started there has grown into a program unlike any other in Seattle where the participants, homeless and formerly homeless young adults, can take pride and ownership on a higher level if they are interested.

Recently, Teen Link staff and volunteers did a site visit at PSKS to get some firsthand knowledge of what this org that has been serving the youth of Seattle for 15 years actually does, what they are all about and what makes them so special.

Upon walking in and immediately being greeted and welcomed into the space, we were taken on a brief tour of the facility. "Cluttered" is NOT the right word to describe the space because everything seems to be in it's proper place, but there definitely is A LOT of stuff - from toys for toddlers to blankets and toiletries - PSKS seems to have it all covered, which speaks to how MUCH it is that this seemingly small org actually gets done. All of these items are easily accessed and the best part - NOTHING is locked up. This contributes to the laid back/relaxed atmosphere of the center. The walls are also adorned with artwork

After a brief tour, we sat down to speak with Elaine Simons, founder and executive director and ask her a few questions:

Who do you serve?
 - That depends on the program. Each program we offer deals with a different group of young people. But, there is no exit age for the agency. Technically they stop serving youth at age 26, but there are opportunities for participants to then volunteer or apply to work as staff members.

What are your programs? Click here for a complete list of PSKS programs.
 - RISK (Reinventing Steps to Knowledge): high school completion/GED program for young adults
- LEAP (Lasting Employment Advancement Program): PSKS hires young adults who show promise for three-month internships
- STEP Up: Peer organized women's support group
- Step Beyond: support group for formerly homeless youth

(If all that wasn't enough, there are: a ton of ongoing daytime workshops geared toward teaching homeless youth how to advocate for themselves; an ongoing forum of dialogues between the police, business owners and homeless youth to encourage peaceful coexistence; and CORE membership which allows for homeless youth to take some ownership of the program, participate in the decision making process and represent PSKS in public.)

What makes PSKS special?
We try to break down as many barriers as we can for the clients. Once people come through the door, they have access to pretty much everything. Staff are on the same floor as the clients are, clients with felony charges are still served, dogs are also welcome in the center. These are common barriers for many homeless young people, preventing them from moving forward, receiving services and from trusting the system.

Click on the link to view a documentary about street kids from the PSKS website:

And if you'd like to go check out PSKS yourself, click HERE to view a map of their location.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This, movies, music and more.

New Releases:

8/24 Music
JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys - Fidelity!;  Ra Ra Riot - Orchard; Dead Confederate - Sugar; Mogwai - Special Moves; Apocalyptica - 7th Symphony;  Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters - Spread The Love; Sword - Warp Riders;  Red Horse - Red Horse; Little Big Town - Reason Why; Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin - Je T'aime...Moi Non; Usher - Versus; Fantasia - Back To Me;  Margaret Cho - Cho Independent; Blind Guardian - At The Edge Of Time; Eels - Tomorrow Morning; Linkin Park - Catalyst (Limited Edition); Devil Wears Prada - Zombie EP; Never Shout Never - Harmony; Bad City - Welcome To The Wasteland; Antony & The Johnsons - Thank Your Love; Randy Rogers Band - Burning The Day; Lang Lang - Lang Lang Live In Vienna; John Scofield - 54

8/24 Movies
Withnail & I (Blu-Ray); Time Bandits (Blu-Ray); Survival Of The Dead; 5 A Day; NCIS: Season 7; Patty Duke Show: Season 3; Pixies - Acoustic & Electric (Blu-Ray); Electric Light Orchestra - Live: The Early Years (DVD); Gossip Girl: Season 3; City Island;

In theaters now:
The Expendables - A family reunion of action stars, heavy on the fighting, explosions and one-liners. Here's what the critics have said:

"It makes good on the old-school action it promises, but given all the talent on display, The Expendables should hit harder." - Rotten Tomatoes

"If ever there was a movie that was all about the action scenes, ‘The Expendables’ is it." - Screen Rant

Vampires Suck - Yet another spoof in the same vein as "Scary Movie", "Date Movie", and "Epic Movie". This one however takes a stab at Hollywood's (and the public's) recent obsession with movies about vampires but specifically targets the Twilight trilogy.
And the verdict from
Why you should watch it:
- if spoof movies are your thing as it brings nothing new to the old ways of the genre
Why you shouldn't watch it:
- if spoof movies aren't your thing as it brings nothing new to the old ways of the genre

New in the theaters this Friday:

Avatar: Special Edition: Not to be confused with the "director's cut" version of the movie that will be released sometime in the future on DVD, this version of the original movie that made BILLIONS in its first go-round includes an additional 8 minutes of new footage.

"I'm trying to use the technology to keep people interested and enthused about the 'Avatar' universe, because it's going to be a long time before we get another 'Avatar' movie done," the filmmaker said in a recent interview.

And apparently there are plans for at least two sequels and a book.
Click on the link to se the "new" trailer:

 The Last Exorcism: the latest horror/terror flic about demonic possession shot in a  faux documentary style that takes place in the south. Lots of chills, bible-thumping, and supernatural...stuff.

And the review from - "The scare sequences are well executed and very effective, the imagery striking home all the more because of the naturalistic manner in which it is shot. But, that said, it is very much a horror picture of the slow burn variety, not the smack-you-in-the-face series of jump scares that the trailers promise."

In the news

FROM National Public Radio: "With Birth Control Pills, New Isn't Always Better"
by Richard Knox

"Be wary of claims that a potent pill will solve all your problems — it's probably not true. "

Bayer HealthCare, the leading maker of birth control pills, is coming out with a brand new pill. Natazia, as it's called, contains a form of estrogen that's never been used in an oral contraceptive.
It also has a novel dosing regimen. Women on Natazia will take four different combinations and doses of hormones or sugar pills each month.

The new launch coincides with growing problems for Bayer's last new contraceptive, Yaz...

To read the rest of the article click on the link:

OR listen to the podcast:

9/11 families, others rally in favor of NYC mosque 
If you've been following the controversy that's been building across the country about the Islamic community center and mosque set to be built near Ground Zero, this article brings us up to date with some changes in what has been, til now, been a very contentious issue.

From The Seattle Times: 
'The planned mosque and Islamic center blocks from ground zero got a new boost Wednesday from a coalition of supporters that includes families of Sept. 11 victims.
New York Neighbors for American Values rallied for the first time at a municipal building near ground zero.

"I lost a 23-year-old son, a paramedic who gave his life saving Americans and their values," Talat Hamdani said, and supporting the Islamic center and mosque "has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion."
Among the nearly 2,800 people killed when the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001 were more than 30 Muslims, she noted.

Opponents of the Islamic center project argue it's insensitive to the families and memories of Sept. 11 victims to build a mosque so close. Supporters cite freedom of religion.'

Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

in case you're needing some inspiration today

On June 25, 2010, Poet Jon Sands delivered the commencement address for the Bronx Academy of Letters – A charter school in Bronx, New York, founded on the concept that, “students who can express themselves clearly in writing can do better in any path they choose.”
Class of 2010. Here we are. 27 years, 6 months, 26 days, 7 hours since Michael Jackson released Thriller (which is still the best selling album in music history). 143 years since Christopher Latham Sholes invented the modern typewriter. 46 years, 9 months, 28 days since Martin Luther King Jr. told a crowd of over 200,000 that he had a dream. And, 36 years, 4 months, 6 days, 8 hours since my own father – after dropping out of his second year in college – decided to take a computer class to make more money than was possible at his construction job. And with a clear Manhattan morning waiting outside the glass windows, he asked the foxy lady wearing big glasses – who would turn out to be my mother – if the seat next to her was taken… and here I am.

All of which is to say, there are many paths that have brought us to this room today. Stories which led to stories which lead to right now. There is no person in this room without a great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother. Or more accurately, 128 great, great, great, great, great, great grandmothers. Beautiful ladies (I’m assuming) with favorite foods, dreams at night, who lived entire lives, and created lives that have led specifically to you… which has led you – here. We are in this room because an incredible line of history said, “yes,” when it could have said, “no.”

In 2003, my Uncle Don was practicing law in New Jersey. Don taught himself to play guitar when he was in high school, spent years covering other people’s songs at parties or reunions. Every so often – he would write a song for a funeral. Always, it would land with precision on what that person actually meant to each of us, individually. At 47, he decided his guitar made him happier than nearly anything else. He sunk an incredible amount of everything he had, financially and energetically, into creating an album; contacted professional musicians with samplings of his work, to ask if they would join him. Now there are maybe 1,500 people outside of my family who have this remarkable CD – someone I love doing what they love. Eighteen months after the disc was released, my uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After a strikingly short 5 months, he passed, leaving behind a wife and three children (ages 13, 15, and 17).

When we miss him. When the people who love him need to spend time with him – they skip photo albums and old videos, and instead go to a CD. To the documentation of him doing what he loved. Not to be a millionaire. Not to be famous. But to give this world some account that says, this – this right here – is what it feels like to be me.

Each of us entered this room – as we do any room – carrying many labels. Which is to say, today, you are high-school graduates. There are 64 of you. Two months ago you may have been the kid freestlying battle raps outside McDonald’s with three friends who couldn’t stop laughing, or the quiet girl in the back of a library – her nose glued into a 3.8 GPA.

I spend a significant amount of time being the crazy dude who came to someone else’s classroom to talk about how poetry is amazing. Right now, I’m the commencement speaker. I promise, in three hours, I’ll be the guy who looks uncomfortable in a tie on the downtown 4 train. The way it feels to live a life that can only be yours is never as clean as whatever label this world attaches to you. If you are alive — Is every person here alive?… If you are alive in this world, you can attest. What it feels like to be you is more complicated than what it looks like to be you.

So, is there ever a time you are more yourself than when doing what you love – with the people you love? Who you are exists in what you love. It is how you tell the children you have yet to bring into this world the person you were today. To tell the you who will exist 20 years from now what it felt like to close the locker door on your high school years.

We are all here because today is important. A chance to reflect on the way our lives are changing. We are also here – to celebrate – the choices you have made that led to your caps and gowns. I think we can take a minute to blow the roof off for that.

But, you will have many todays. No one else can decide how they will look. Michael Jackson, when recording Billie Jean, could not have known the way our ankles would pop for decades. Martin Luther King Jr. chose to ascend the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, not to become a cultural icon, but to communicate the vision he had for a nation. My Uncle Don could never have known what his artistry would mean to his wife, his nieces and nephews, his parents, his three children. He made music because it was what he loved. It was who he was. A choice to say, “yes,” when he could have said, “no.”

We have been afforded the opportunity to write our own chapters in the story of this life because millions of people, over thousands of years, have said “yes.” It is not feasible for me to tell you what is possible in your life. History has written you here, the next chapter is yours. Here is the news: It’s supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be easy (the juiciest stuff rarely is). It is supposed to be yours. And what better news can there be?

I cannot wait to witness the stories you write into this world. Congratulations Bronx Academy of Letters, Class of 2010.

Big Oil Blunder

The Worst Man-Made Environmental Disasters:

Just how bad is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? With a significant amount of oil still flowing through deep undersea currents, out of sight, the consequences will not be known for some time.

Some are even wondering if the spill heralds the apocalypse. In fact, the incident that began with an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig is not even the worst oil spill in the history of the Gulf of Mexico, which was already one of the most oil-polluted bodies of water in the world. Despite its untold economic and environmental impacts, it likely will not inflict the human toll of the world’s ugliest environmental catastrophes.

To assign the title of “worst disaster” would be to risk trivializing tragedy: all environmental disasters are terrible and worth remembering. But as we consume the well-justified avalanche of news about the spill in the gulf, let’s do so with a dose of context.

Here’s how the Deepwater Horizon spill stacks up against previous environmental accidents:  

Bhopal, India, Gas Leak
On a December morning in 1984, a cloud of toxic gas leaked from a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, killing more than 3,000 people in a span of days and poisoning hundreds of thousands more in the years to come. The Indian government’s count of fatalities caused by the accident stands at about 15,000, making it the deadliest man-made environmental disaster in history.

The Deepwater Horizon spill has, at the moment, killed 11 oil rig workers who died in the explosion on April 20. It is also expected to devastate marine life in wide swaths of the Gulf of Mexico. As scientists told NEWSWEEK’s Sharon Begley, the economic and environmental impact of undersea oil plumes could reach far beyond what the toxic cloud in India did to Bhopal, a city of about 800,000. While the initial cloud of gas at Bhopal killed livestock and stripped trees bare in and around the densely populated slums that immediately surrounded the plant, the worst environmental impact of the explosion in Bhopal was more nefarious: the BBC returned to the site 20 years later and found dangerous chemicals stored haphazardly at the former factory. Groundwater was contaminated to levels known to cause serious health problems, but locals were (and apparently still are) drinking water they believed to be toxic because they had no other choice.

Like Union Carbide (now owned by Dow Chemical), BP and its corporate partners will face billions of dollars in legal claims. This month, eight former Union Carbide officers were convicted of criminal negligence.

London’s ‘Great Smog,’ 1952
For four days in December 1952, a thick, acid-infused smog engulfed London like an overturned saucer. Stagnant air trapped fumes from coal stoves, gas-burning cars, and industrial emissions. Day turned to darkness, and visibility dropped, at times, to a mere foot. An estimated 4,000 people died in a single month from the immediate effects of the toxic air on their respiratory system, while 8,000 additional deaths were later attributed to the smog. Sulfur dioxide in the air was believed to be the main culprit.

Much of what is known about this awful spell of air pollution documents its devastating impact on humans—written accounts make little mention of long-term environmental harm. That makes it difficult to measure against the catastrophe unfolding in the gulf, where entire ecosystems are at risk but where human victims will probably feel the worst impact in their pockets, not their lungs. The smog did spur the British Parliament to pass the Clean Air Act, allowing authorities to control the use of coal fuel in certain areas to mitigate the risk of future smog.

Ixtoc Blowout, 1979
News reports on the 1979 blowout of an undersea oil well off the Gulf of Mexico seem all too familiar today. There was a failure of the “blowout preventer,” an undersea fail-safe device that is supposed to close off a gushing pipe. There were frustrated reports about the Mexican government vastly underestimating the volume of oil gushing from the seabed, much like the lowball guesses from BP in April.

Day after day for a span of 10 months, a torrent of oil rushed into the Gulf of Mexico after the initial explosion near the Yucatan Peninsula. The spill was checked only in part by a cap that was lowered over the leak to siphon off a portion of the flow. After four months an oil slick had covered about half of Texas’s 370-mile gulf shoreline, devastating tourism. Only by drilling two relief wells to connect to the initial hole, then pumping mud and concrete into the gushing pipe could Petroleos Mexicanos, or PeMex, Mexico’s national oil company, stop the leak.

“The accident does suggest that blowout prevention equipment is not designed to handle the worst emergencies,” The New York Times wrote in an April 1980 editorial after the leak was finally capped. “Could a blowout in American waters be quickly capped and cleaned up?”

By the easiest measure—volume of oil spilled—PeMex’s Ixtoc I oil well was far worse than the Deepwater Horizon well: 140 million gallons of oil poured out of the Mexican well, compared to the estimated 94.2 million gallons that could escape from the well near Louisiana by mid-August, when a relief well is expected to be complete. (The worst oil spill in history occurred in 1991, when the Iraqi army ripped apart Kuwait’s oil infrastructure and released more than 252 million gallons during the Persian Gulf War. The Exxon Valdez crash in 1989 released 10.9 million gallons.)

But unlike Deepwater Horizon, the Ixtoc I disaster occurred in 150 feet of water and a fortunate turn in winds and currents mitigated its impact on the coastline. Today, researchers using submersibles continue to detect massive plumes of oil rising from the depths. No one has ever observed what happens when oil gushes from the sea floor 5,000 feet down, and residents along the entire gulf coast are still nervously awaiting what currents and winds Mother Nature has in store this summer.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Explosion, 1986
In April 1986 an explosion at the core of a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station released more than 50 tons of radioactive material into the atmosphere above Ukraine. About 350,000 people had to be evacuated from the area, leaving villages and an entire city, Prypriat, abandoned. Estimates of deaths and radiation-related illnesses from the incident vary widely: a United Nations study found that by 2005 there had been 59 deaths directly related to the incident, while Ukrainian officials have said that during the cleanup following the blast, more than 4,000 people died and 70,000 were disabled by radiation-related illness.

Deepwater Horizon’s best historical parallel might indeed be Chernobyl. That accident set back nuclear power in Europe much as the Deepwater Horizon spill has torpedoed momentum toward what was to be an expansion of deep-ocean drilling in the U.S. “We were just getting to the point where we could think about talking about drilling off parts of Florida, off the Atlantic coast,” said Byron King, an oil analyst with Agora Financial and contributor to The Daily Reckoning. “Within moments of the news hitting the wires, people were like … ‘Not off my coast.’ ”

So what’s an oil spill to us teenagers? This oil spill, to me, not only produces a solid tangible image of our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels but the greed and sorrow that come along with it. 

From a  biological standpoint…we are killing. The effect on the wildlife in the gulf is monstrous and irreversible. We dump what is left over from our cars into the oceans. Then we dig our greedy fingers into what the ocean has left to offer to get more fossil fuels to fill our desire for speed, comfort, and war. Is there anything we can do to help?
We can monitor our carbon footprint, even cut down on using are cars for distances we can walk or ride a bike. To Kill two birds with one stone, eliminate the over use of gases and become a better person for it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Vacation...But Smaller

Thinking of what to do this summer? Bored of everything around you? Want to experience something new and exciting, but can’t go back-pack around Europe….yet? Well, why not take a day trip! 

Although Seattle is great, it could be fun to take a trip- you know, for bragging rights- just don’t tell anyone it was only a car or bus ride away!
For those of you with only access to public transportation - you’re not at a loss!:
      Experience True Seattle: Take the bus to downtown, go to Pike Place Market, see the
        first Starbucks, go see the Space Needle, EMP, Monorail, take the Underground Tour of
        Seattle, the Aquarium, the Waterfront, etc. 
        Go be a tourist for the day! You might see some new in the old!

        Fremont: Legendary for its summer solstice fair, Fremont is an exciting place to visit. Lots of cool shops and restaurants and city-life await!
Now if you do have a car - take a trip and get out of our fine city:
 Leavenworth ( A Bavarian town. Super cute small town with lots of outdoorsy activities, shops and food.

Mt. Rainier: We all can see it above the skyline driving into Seattle- why not go see it up close? Pack a picnic, go for a hike, perhaps a cute day-date?

        Snoqualmie Falls ( Again with the picnic idea, this is a great place for one. See the beautiful falls- it’s a site to not be missed! At the top you can see them, and then hike all the way down to where you can feel the intense mist! Make sure to guard your sandwich- no one like ‘em soggy!
 Now even COOLER- take a Ferry- getting there is half the fun!:
        Friday Harbor ( Just a ferry ride away to this San Juan Island. Shops, the best ice cream, seasonal whale watching, museums, parks, of course beaches (summer= you HAVE to go to the beach!), and much more!

        Bremerton (  Go see their Harborside Fountain Park, walk on the board walk, shop, and eat.
  To plan whatever “trip” look up:
·         Ferry information to get to wherever (
So…Pack a picnic, grab some friends, 
and go explore this summer! We definitely will! 
After being stuck here for 10 months in school, 
we've gotta get out, even if only for a day….
Love, Teenlink

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Better get your hands free...

Beginning today,June 10th a new law comes into effect for Washington State that we anticipate is going to have some pretty heavy consequences.
As of Thursday, cops and state troopers can stop AND TICKET drivers who are talking on cellphones or texting while driving. Anyone using a cell-phone while driving without using a "hands-free" device can receive a $124 ticket.

Just so there's no misunderstandings on this matter:
And if you have an intermediate license or a permit, you are prohibited from using a phone 
while driving at all - with or without a hands-free device. 

Washington State Patrol reported that there will be no grace period for this new law either, so no one is getting off with a warning or will be able to tell an officer after they've been pulled over, "but, I didn't know."  
Please spread the word to everyone you know about this change
While we are in favor of this law forcing people to drive safely, we're not necessarily in favor of tons of people receiving tickets being the way that they are informed of the change in the law.

Supposedly, a campaign was begun Monday, June 7th, to raise awareness about the new law, but outside of some newspaper articles, there doesn't seem to be much being promoted regarding the law specifically.

We DID manage to find some videos through a site called Drive Nice Day, which was promoting awareness by targeting teens with slogans and videos around the topic of Safe Driving. All of these PSAs were made by students here in Western Washington and include a reminder about the new law and the date it goes into effect, one of which includes a new slogan, "Don't Drive While In-text-icated."

Before the change to the law, drivers could be ticketed for using their cellphones only if they had been pulled over for another offense such as speeding. And despite what seems like universal agreement that driving while using a cell-phone is unsafe, the jury is still out on how much safer this law will make the roads.

 From the Seattle Times:
"It's a feel-good law. It makes people think, 'We're trying to do something to address the problem,' " says professor David Strayer, of the University of Utah's psychology department.

...his research, and over the years that at other institutions shows there is no difference in driver impairment between those talking on hand-held versus hands-free cells.

The problem, he says, isn't with the hands. It's with the brain. Drivers turn their focus to the conversation rather than the road.When using either kind of cellphone, says Strayer, "the brain becomes overloaded."

And in NY state where a hands-free law has been in effect since 2001, different groups disagree - some asserting that the law has reduced deaths and others claim that it hasn't reduced crashes, even though it's reduced hand-held phone use.

The message that all agree on is that the brain is distracted when using a cell-phone in ANY way and driving simultaneously, which puts the driver and everyone around them at risk. The problem is most people think, "that may be the case for everybody else, but not me. I can handle it." Oh yeah? try on this game for size and see how well you do:

No matter which side of the argument you find yourself standing on, if you get behind the wheel, this new law is going to effect you. So here's a quick rundown.

New law takes effect June 10
What it does: Makes it a primary offense to use a hand-held cellphone while driving. Ticket won't become part of a driver's permanent record or be reported to insurance companies.
For drivers under 18: Outlaws any cellphone use, even with a headset.

Penalty: $124 fine for texting or talking without a headset.

Exemptions: Transit and emergency-vehicle personnel, tow-truck operators and those using a hearing aid are exempted, as well as anyone text-messaging or calling to report illegal activity or summon emergency help.

Sources: State of Washington and The Associated Press