Over the last few days after class was presented by Professor Gimzewski, a chemistry professor at UCLA who focuses on plastics, I’ve noticed I use more plastic that I thought I did. Here, I present a collage of all the plastic I have encountered since class on April 25, 2019.
Last weeks class on the excessive use of plastics was very interesting, we talked about how billions of plastic items were choking the ocean, lakes and rivers and piling up on land harming our plants and wildlife. We discussed how more than 480 plastic bottles were sold worldwide in the 2016 and nearly 2 million plastic bags are used every minute which is approximately 1 trillion plastic bags annually. Moreover in 2015 over half of the world’s plastic thrown out was plastic packaging and that accounted for 141 million metric tons.
Plastic has become a paradox in my life - such a primary aspect bust also so overlooked. As I tried to examine the plastic used in one day of my life, the task became almost impossible, not because i was unable to find anything, but because almost everything in my life has plastic incorporated in it. Instead of focusing on all the aspects of my life that consume plastic, I’m going to dive into items related to food and drinks.
The United Nations reports that our population is growing exponentially and will continue to do so this century. The huge population increase during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was due to significant improvements in medicine at all stages of life, which increased the birth survival rate and overall life expectancy. Population growth places stress on resources, especially food.
My whole life I had never eaten ox. I never even knew that people in some countries considered it a luxury meal. That notion got flipped upside down this past winter when I traveled to China. Everywhere I went, restaurants were either serving ox meat or even ox tail soup, and at a diner when I asked if could order some, the waitress responded by saying they were sold out. I eventually was able to order ox tail soup at a more Western style restaurant in Shanghai, and it was absolutely delicious.
This weeks class was very interesting as Professor Vesna discussed the Hox Zodiac project. Before the project I had no idea what my zodiac sign was but after this presentation I was inclined to search and find out I am an Ox. People born in the year of the ox are generally hard workers in the background, intelligent, and can be relied upon. I feel like these traits accurately describe my most positive qualities.
I know it’s not real, but I refuse to watch the new Dumbo movie.
Image: Disney, 2018
Almost every human culture has some spiritual connection to animals: Native American animism, Hindu veneration of cows, the Chinese zodiac. It permeates even our youth culture, as demonstrated by the weirdly popular “Animorphs” series with their more-than-slightly uncomfortable book covers.
Last week in HC 177, we went over the HOX Zodiac, an interactive art workshop and collaborative brainchild of Professor Vesna's and Siddharth Ramakrishnan, in which participants learn about the HOX gene via a commemorative dinner party dedicated to the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
For a long time rats and mice exist in human’s lives as ambiguous and polarious figures. They are pets as well as pests. They are regarded as sneaky and evil in many ancient folks and fables, yet they are also very valuable in terms of serving as laboratory animals in many science researcher settings.
1986, 1998, 2010, 2022...are all years of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac. The Tiger is the third of all zodiac animals. He is third because of the Heavenly Gate Race story. It is told that the Jade Emperor wanted to select twelve animals for them to be his guards. He sent an immortal being to the man’s world to spread this message. They stated that the earlier the animal crosses the Heavenly Gate, the better their rank would be.
In one of my entrepreneurial classes last quarter our professor showed us with a video about a company called Memphis Meats and posed us with the question of if we were an investor would we invest in this company? I have included the url to the company promo video on YouTube below for you to watch for yourself but I will also digress it here.
Our work with Dr. Vesna’s HOX Zodiac project and discussion of our connections with food/animals immediately conjured up images of the Passover (Pesach) seder plate in my mind (Passover is currently taking place, so it is no mystery why this was such an immediate connection for me).
I found the Hox Zodiac Dinner we had in class so interesting. I loved learning about each of the animals and hearing stories that others had about them. I am a rat, and while exploring information about rats online, I was reminded of one that comes around during Christmas time: The Mouse King. The Mouse King is whom the nutcracker fights to protect Clara in the story The Nutcracker. In my research I was surprised to learn about the origin story of the famous ballet as well as The Mouse King’s origin story.