Monday, April 24, 2017

Simply said: Poe was born in Boston, but his house is gone.
The city demolished the whole block where his house once stood. Nice way to remember a legend.

Before I paint the picture of Poe in Boston I must give credit where credit is due. I did not go to Boston expecting to see his house. I knew this from a book I have been reading titled Poe Land :The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allen Poe by J.W Ocker.

Ocker took a much more detailed jaunt around the U.S. (and Europe) looking for Poe, so his knowledge has been invaluable to me. He has helped fill in gaps when I needed them, telling me things a tour guide or exhibit missed.

Poe's parents, Elizabeth and David, were both actors, she from England and he from Baltimore. They were traveling actors, and spent much time moving up and down the East Coast to perform in various plays. They had been living in Boston for three years when Edgar was born January 19, 1809; his older brother Henry was born there in 1807. His sister Rosalie was born in Virginia in 1810.

Before Edgar was even one, his father left the family for reasons unknown. Sadly, his mother died in 1811 in Richmond, when he was two. The children were spilt up; Edgar was placed in a foster care family with Frances and John Allan. (Now we understand Edgar ALLAN Poe.)

Poe did come back to Boston in his lifetime, but it was never for long. According to Ocker, he traveled to the city as late as a year before his death. By this time, he was giving lectures presenting his work, but he was also in love with a woman who lived in Boston named Annie Richmond. (This was after the death of his wife Virginia.)

So.....Boston was a sad place for Poe, but considering the fact that I have visited his houses in New York and Philadelphia, I wanted more to commemorate his entrance into the world.

And so did other Bostonians.

Ocker identified a plaque on a wall at the intersection of Boylston and Charles Streets. If I had not been looking for it I would have walked right by. 

It states Poe's birth Street (Carver), his parents' names, professions, the book he published in Boston (Tamerlane and Other Poems) and adds that he lectured in Boston in on October 16, 1845

And just like Ocker disclosed, it's on an exterior wall of a burrito restaurant, Boloco.
Oker  amusedly remarked that Boston could have made up for "snubbing" Poe by having Boloco name a a burrito after him--something like "Crazy Poe."

My sleuthing to find yet another plaque tribute (I guess Poe would have liked this, now that I think about it...) brought me to Fayette Street, a residential area that reminded me of the small quaint streets in Philadelphia and Baltimore with the shuttered red-brick row homes. 

Near the iron scroll work is this small, round, worn medallion-like plaque:

Ocker did some sleuthing himself and he discovered that the building's landlord at the time was a Poe fan, and he had the medallion placed there, knowing that Poe had been born nearby. That's the very short story; read Ocker's book for the great details.

BUT NOW... finally the main attraction--and this was better than I expected.

Right on Boston Common Poe has finally been given the recognition he deserves in the form of a very unusual statue--fitting, of course. And I "dedicate" this portion of my blog to Mr. Ocker, who was not able to include a picture of the statue because his book was finished before the state was placed. On page 343 in the epilogue he states, "You're going to have to finish this book for me."

My pleasure!
It's named "Poe Returning to Boston." The sculptor, Stefanie Rocknak, depicts a Poe consumed in thought and importance (take that, Boston) as he rushes away from the Frog Pond (a popular spot for Bostonians) towards his home on Calvert Street. 

Spilling from his carrying case are papers, letters, books, poems...and a (tell-tale) heart!

...of course, accompanied by a raven.

Before leaving the city, we made sure to pass the Boston Public Library. I knew to peruse the outside details of the facade (vocab word) to find Poe's name among the literary famous.

You can see his name between Hawthorne and Thoreau, all three Massachusetts- born literary masterminds.


When I reflect on Poe and the unfortunate circumstance of his early years , I am saddened, especially knowing of the odd twists and turns his life would bring. But then, why be sad for someone who people now adore?

“An Oak tree is a daily reminder that great things often have small beginnings.” 
― Matshona Dhliwayo

The information I have presented in previous blogs about Poe have revealed sadnesses but also his triumphs. After I visit the Poe House in Baltimore, we'll see how his life came full circle.

Maybe this fall I'll pay more attention when the Patriots play the Ravens.

Friday, April 21, 2017

"The Homestead"
Emily Dickinson's home for 40 years

I finally made it!

My TeacherTreks took me to Amherst, Massachusetts, home of Emily Dickinson. Emily fans (and blog followers) may recall from a past post on 2/23, that she lived and died in this house. She was a complex woman living a simple life.  Since I had learned and shared much about her after a visit to the Morgan Museum in New York, here I will share things I learned about the house particularly--and some ED trivia I didn't know.

The house was built for her paternal grandparents ca. 1813, and was updated and expanded several times during her lifetime. The Dickinson family owned the homestead until 1916, when it was sold to another family.

In 1963, The Homestead was designated a National Historic Landmark, and two years later the Trustees of Amherst College (a very nice college, I must say) purchased the house and began the efforts of opening it to the public.

The tour includes a visitor's center, a tour of two downstairs parlors, and 3 bedrooms upstairs, including Emily's, of course, since this is where she wrote the majority of her poetry. 

(Side note--no pictures were allowed inside. The external shots are mine, but the internal are from  postcards...I almost cried when the tour guide told me---ask my husband.)

This is the same desk that is in the corner of her bedroom, and while it is not original, it is a very close replica. The powerful visual is the size--a lot of words from such a small surface!

I learned 3 new fun facts. First, about 5 years ago a tour was underway and the group stood in Emily's room, when suddenly the ceiling in the room directly below crumbled to the ground! No one was hurt, but needless to say, all ceilings were quickly restored/repaired. When they came to Emily's room, the restoration team was able to uncover the original wallpaper of the room, and the room was then covered in the resorted wallpaper pattern:

This is very fitting, considering Emily's love of nature.

The Homestead was a working farm with a large vegetable garden, a barn complex with livestock, an orchard, and an ornamental garden.  The Dickinson family, including the children, participated in the intensive labor necessary for the upkeep of such a property. Emily was a primary cook, and she also enjoyed baking. It is said that during the times in her later years when she was hesitant about leaving the house, she would place some of her baked goods into a basket and lower the basket to appreciative children from the neighborhood.

The upper left window was Emily's---little kids looking for a sweet treat probably kept their eyes on that window!

Another way to bring the outdoors in was through a conservatory, a room with extra glass that may house plants and flowers. Emily's father had one built for her. It is currently under renovation.

Cats were a big part of The Homestead--about 30 at one time roamed the grounds (still not as many as Hemingway)....but EMILY DID NOT LIKE CATS! She would only allow 2 or 3 in the house at a time. (Her little sister loved them.) I'm trying hard not to let this fact affect my appreciation of her. 

Emily didn't like cats because they killed birds, and she looooooved birds. She did manage to include this cat/bird relationship in a poem:

She sights a Bird—she chuckles—
She flattens—then she crawls—
She runs without the look of feet—
Her eyes increase to Balls—

Her Jaws stir—twitching—hungry—
Her Teeth can hardly stand—
She leaps, but Robin leaped the first—
Ah, ****, of the Sand,

The Hopes so juicy ripening—
You almost bather your Tongue—
When Bliss disclosed a hundred Toes—
And fled with every one-

Before we left The Homestead, we took a chilly walk through the New England spring gardens (a nice way of saying that they weren't quite tidied up yet).

We spied some randomly growing hyacinths and a beautiful variegated daffodils (which I'm sure Emily would love)

AND THEN.............


HHHMMM....We saw no birds, but we did see him. Maybe Emily was right.

It was a very special visit and I know for a fact that when I read the poems of Emily Dickinson to my classes next year I'll be able to offer a whole new perspective on this woman and the place she called home.

RIP Emily. Thanks for your observations about life, love, nature, and eternity.

NEXT UP: Poe's birthplace (Bean Town) and place of "rest"

"Playing Video games on (computers) in the late 90's eventually translated to a programming career for me."

Meet Joe Appleton, Berks Catholic Class of 2012 who gives some great introspection into the world of computer science.
Your college? YOG? Major? Minor?
I attended Mount St. Mary's University from 2012 to 2016, graduating with a bachelor's of science in Computer Science and a minor in Cyber Security. I also attended the University of Cambridge and studied International Security and Intelligence during the summer of 2015.
Graduation from Mount St. Mary's

 Was computer programming always of interest to you? Did you base your college  selection on this school and its program?
When I first came to the Mount, I really did not know what I wanted to do. I was told that this was very normal for most people so I was not alarmed. I actually planned on being a chemistry major, but after two weeks of speaking to other students and teachers I switched to Computer Science. I have grown up with computers; my family has always had a number of them and my brother and I were always encouraged to learn more about them. Playing video games on them in the late 90s eventually translated to a programming career for me.
When did you start to use your computer for more than just papers, Google Searches, etc? I'm trying to see what makes a person want to be an intricate part of this world!
I would have to say this started around sixth or seventh grade. Up to that point, I primarily used computers for video games and schoolwork. It wasn't until my brother put together his first computer that I realized all the incredible things you could do with them. I remember my brother putting a silly little "virus" on my computer over our home's LAN, and it played Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" until you exited it. I really wanted to figure out how he did that.
When I was young, a computer was really just a magical box. After getting to know computers better throughout high school and after studying them for four years I realized how incredible the low-level architecture of a computer really is. At the lowest level, computers function with just zeroes and ones - electricity flowing or not flowing, that sort of thing. Billions and billions of microscopic transistors - sometimes trillions depending on the chips in the computer - work together to create the underlying logic that eventually translates into images appearing on a computer monitor.
And we're not just talking desktops and laptops. There are cellphones, calculators, cars, refrigerators, fighter jets - computers are absolutely everywhere. Learning more about them in any way makes you more useful to both yourself and to employers in tech fields. I think that's why I want to be an "intricate part of this world." I built my foundation and I can take it anywhere, but no matter where I take it, there is always more to learn!
What were some of your career-related courses? 
I took many diverse courses throughout my college career. You had your standard Computer Science courses - calculus, applied statistics, data structures and algorithms, courses that simply taught you programming languages, and so on. My two favorite CS-related courses in college were Theory of Computation and Artificial Intelligence. They were also the most difficult.
Theory of Computation delved into the algorithmic logic behind what a "computer" actually is - technically, anything that computes. This terminology dates back to the mid-20th century when Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, performed most of his work. If you've heard of a Turing Test, yep, that's the same guy. You may have also heard of his work in cracking the Nazi Enigma machine, saving countless lives during WWII. In order to do all that, he essentially created computing. We're still using his teachings today.
Some of those teachings revolved around the theoretical capabilities of computers. Essentially, this meant that we were studying questions like "What is impossible for a computer to do?" and "How do we describe the computational complexity of this task/algorithm?" We used Turing machines and finite automata as our main tools in these tasks in order to develop mathematical models to prove or disprove certain problems. If you're interested in the field, google those two terms!
My other favorite course, Artificial Intelligence, had a lot of programming and difficult-to-comprehend algorithms. But one of my favorite parts of the course was the beginning. No computers, no algorithms - simply discussion. We spent the first two weeks asking questions like "Can machines think?" and "What does it mean to be human?" These questions have been debated since Turing's time and gave our class an incredible foundation and appreciation for the topics we were about to explore. I also enjoyed the course because, by the end of the year, there were only 4 people left in it including myself. It was the perfect blend of philosophy and hardcore programming, and if I could go back and experience a single course in my college career over again, this would be the one.
Joe at Cambridge

Is this major generalized or do you focus on a particular area? (again, excuse my ignorance!)
Computer Science is very generalized. The science of computers is just so incredibly broad that you can get the degree and then pursue any facet of computing that you have interest in. It's more of a general groundwork that allows you to find your strongsuits, or even something that you just want to explore more in order for it to become your strongsuit. For example, two of the early courses I took were simply to teach the languages Python and Java. Those languages were used to write computer programs that grew increasingly complex over the course of a semester. 
(I think, If you really wanted to, you could just learn to program and then go job seeking! Of course it looks better to have a 4-year degree, but many people today and even more people in the past went straight to programming jobs after 2 years of schooling or less. If you're an excellent programmer and have enough experience in the field, or if you can at least prove to an employer that you've worked on incredible projects despite a lack of schooling, it would be difficult to deny you.)
Like I said, Computer Science is very broad. You can go to school for that and you can go to school for any of its subcategories, some of which are: programmer analyst, database administrator, computer graphics artist, game developer, cyber security analyst, network systems administrator, web developer, software engineer, and so on. The opportunities are just crazy and you're bound to find something you like.

Did you work in this field during college on campus or as an intern?
During my later years of college, I was a tutor for some math and computer science courses. I was helping freshmen and sophomores with the same courses I took years ago. Back then, I struggled with the courses occasionally, but revisiting the material as I was nearing the end of my schooling showed me how far I had come. Writing those programs was easy now! I remember this every time I am faced with a new problem in programming. With enough thought and maybe a change in strategy or two, you'll always be able to overcome a programming challenge whether its incompatible architectures in software engineering, mismatching plugin versions in web development, or confusing logic in your programming homework. It's why tutors are there - and when you start careers, the new tutors are the senior level programmers above you. You can get better at any aspect of Computer Science, but you will need to learn to ask for help many times along the way.
During the summer of 2015, I interned for Boscov's Department Stores for two months as a web developer. I cannot think of a better place to have learned these skills. When I first started, I was looking through the massive codebase that held up the front- and back-ends of their applications. I had previously only worked with one language at a time and maybe across four or five files, but now I was faced with code written in several languages that I had never used, extensions I did not recognize, and thousands of files all working with one another. After those two months, I was able to look back and I wondered why I ever worried. 
That initial time at Boscov's was a great foray into the real world. It's impossible to teach you some of these things with school - you simply need a real taste of it. The team of programmers that I worked with there (and still work with) has been a fantastic help for me along the way.

 What is your current position?  Can you explain your responsibilities? (combined)
I work on both the front end user interface and the backend logic/architecture of the Boscov's website and underlying systems. I suppose you could call me a Web Developer, except that I am able to work on all aspects of their systems in some way. A more accurate job title is a Programmer Analyst or a Full Stack Developer, both of which are worthy of a google if you're interested in working on all the pieces that make up an ecommerce system.
For my job, I am responsible for listening to the business requirements of the "business team." The business team consists of a number of people who make decisions relating to the website and pass those instructions on to the technical team, which is my team. The business team has specialists in digital analytics, marketing, search engine optimization (helping us appear higher on google searches) and so on. Both the business team and my technical team work closely to develop functional specifications for each project, big or small. Projects can range anywhere from simple bug fixes to enormous, year-long endeavors.
I am on-call every month and a half. Our team is on a rotation, taking turns each week. Whenever you are on call you need to be available to handle problems around the clock (which means getting the occasional call at 3 AM and remoting-in to work to take a look at the problem). Some problems might occur if there is an issue with network traffic (people can't get to the site) and such problems may be the result of an issue on our end or an issue external to us (Internet providers experiencing issues). Still other problems may occur if one of our automated computer jobs fails. This could be due to memory issues with the server it's running on or even a programming error. The calls we get come from other Boscovs technical employees. These calls are usually few and far between, but we always want to make sure our support structure is as solid as possible.

What advice do you give to high school student who is considering this career?
Web development is fairly specialized. I would recommend a high school student first become accustomed to what the heck is actually inside a computer. That means understand all of the parts inside and what they do, and that it isn't actually a magic box. I think that should get the interest going. It's what got my interesting going, at least. After some research, get your hands dirty. Take apart an old computer (NOT YOUR PARENT'S CURRENT COMPUTER). Figure out how to install a programming development environment and write your first program. The basic steps are very simple and it's free. Even a small, old laptop would do. There are people who exist that started with the very basics of programming and eventually made world-famous websites, video games, and cell phone apps. All it takes is some practice and creativity, and you really can program whatever you set your mind to. It might take a while but you have to start somewhere.

A major piece of advice is one that is certainly easier said than done: don't feel intimidated when you first start. The world of computer science is incredibly complicated for a reason; I still haven't met a single person who can do it all. In your studies, though, you will come across many people who may seem to be miles ahead of you. Most of the time, they are more skilled at it because they simply got an earlier start of they spent more free time programming. Sometimes, programming does come more easily to some people than it does to others, and that's okay. Just don't give up when you face a problem and don't forget to ask for help. Asking for help in the field of computer science (and any engineering field in general) is arguably much more important than in other fields.

 What are some character traits that you have that make you good for this field?
The stereotype of computer programmers is that we're all nerds or we outsourced all our coders to China or India or something. This isn't the case. I know programmers who play football, drive speedboats, climb mountains, run ultra-marathons, scubadive, and so on. Like any job really, you want to be personable yet professional. You need to be able to communicate effectively. Oftentimes it is very difficult to explain a problem with a program because there are so many variables, so many places other code interacts with it, so many moving parts. This is where effective communication is needed the most.
Unless you're a one-person company, computer programmers always work together. We are a team. And when someone on your immediate team doesn't have the answer, you both can go ask the tens of millions of programmers in various online programming communities. It's very likely that your problem has been experienced before and already has an answer.
Another good, yet underappreciated trait, to have is a small yet firm ego. Sometimes programmers on your team may disagree about a certain way to approach a problem and it is paramount that you respect others' viewpoints. That doesn't mean you shouldn't back down on your opinions immediately, but simply listen and seriously consider your teammates' ideas. You're all working towards the same goal in the end.

During college, I participated in our Math & CS Department's SmallTalk program. Any student could sign up to give a half-hour lecture about any math or computer science topic they wanted. The lectures were open to anyone interested and usually the classroom was full. I ended up giving about 10 or so of these talks throughout my college career, and they helped me tremendously. Everything from the research to the presentation increased my appreciation for my field and made me excited to share it. In the beginning there were some nerves to overcome, but they were nonexistent by senior year. I would recommend that people seeking this field also have that same drive to appreciate the work they're doing. You're working in some of the most advanced fields that humanity has ever created.

BC Students, notice how Joe, like others, has emphasized: 1. the importance of active participation in pre-job activities like clubs or internships and 2. the importance of communication skills---TALKING to others!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Fashion is featured for 

After my recent trek in New York in the Fashion District, I was inspired to featured an attire-related poem.

This is by my student Joey, who is particularly pleased with his poem about an old football jersey:

The Old Shirt

By: Joey Walker

I am an old shirt
For I am only made of cotton
I am faded yellow and completely forgotten
I sit at the bottom of a big dusty drawer
Hoping to be worn if only once more

The last time I saw sunlight
Was so very long ago
I was on my master's back, I was his favorite you know
As the game continued on my future began to end
From the other side of the field the football he would send

The defender came at us from the right
And that is when he griped me tight
I felt the pain and saw the horror
For I was now ripped
And filled with sorrow

When we got home I was muddy, torn, and far from new
As we approached the big brown drawer
I knew my worst nightmare was coming true
He took me off and folded me up tight
In I went and after that I never saw the light

Thanks, Joey! Motivation to do some clothing spring -cleaning.


Friday, April 7, 2017

I read that the Philadelphia Flyers have no "reason" for their name...
so I'm going to make one up
It's from Poe's "The Raven"--get it---"Flyers"/Raven?

"The Raven" wasn't published in New York until 1845 (after Poe and his family left Philadelphia) but a plaque in the house says he wrote the poem in the Philadelphia house. As I said before..everyone wants a piece of Poe.

Today I visited the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site on N. 7th Street in the North Liberties Neighborhood (or Spring Garden Neighborhood, depending who you talk to) of Philly. It is the last and only surviving house Poe lived in during his 6 years in Philadelphia, and he was very productive during this time. He had some ideas that were fruitful and others were not.

The house was built in 1842. Poe and Virginia (his young wife) and her mother Maria Clemm (or Muddy as she was known) rented the house for about a year. Muddy was said to have been a particular guardian of the house itself and the family, taking care of the cooking and cleaning, and caring for Poe and particularly Virginia, whose health started to deteriorate from tuberculosis at this time.

The inside of the house is not furnished and very bare. I am picturing the presence of the portable desk that was in the cottage in the Bronx.
Poe is said to have had his own room on the second floor so he could write at any time, and his wife and mother-in-law had bedrooms upstairs.

The following is a timeline of the projects in which Poe was involved while living in Philadelphia. Notice his successes and misses:

1. He assisted in a book project, writing a Preface and Introduction. Poe was not interested in writing books himself because he wanted readers to experience the story and maintain the mood all in one sitting.

2. He was an editor for a magazine.

3. He wrote The Tales of the Arabesque and Grotesque, a collection of about 24 short stories which included "The Fall of the House of Usher."

4. He proposed an idea for literacy magazine (The Penn) but it did not come to fruition.

5.  In 1841 he was an editor for a Literary Magazine called the Graham Magazine. During his tenure the subscriber numbers went from 5,000 to 37,000. This magazine featured Poe's" The Murder in the Rue Morgue," which is considered to be the first detective story.
6. In 1842 he resigned from this position. His reason: he did not approve of "contemptible pictures, fashion plates, music, and love tales."

I guess he wouldn't have liked People magazine.

7. In 1843 he tried to obtain a government job as a clerk so he could earn a steady income while writing--he didn't get the job.

8. In 1843 his story "The Gold Bug" earned him a $100.00 prize. Not only did he get national attention, but the story was turned into play performed at the American Theater in Philadelphia.

And now here is something most Poe fans can really relate to. First, let's look at the basement....

It was here (in Philadelphia) that he was said to have written "The Black Cat," the story of hanging a cat (and hiding his dead wife) in a basement.
I sincerely hope Virginia didn't read any of his work in progress.

I guess the Park Service couldn't resist the addition of the fake-o cat.....

This is my favorite picture from the basement. While he is said to have written "The Cask of Amontillado" in New York, I like to think he had the idea here. To me, this looks like the spot of Fortunato's demise. (Read the story if you are confused or curious.)

I really enjoyed my visit to this Philadelphia house. 
(Thank you to my travel companions Ginny McCartin and Mary Lucchese.)

Each of my travel experiences has led me to understand the complexities of his life.

"The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore," Chronology of the Life of Edgar Allan Poe, Feb, 5, 2017.

Love the outdoors? Consider a career (like Erika) in Environmental Science

"I come bearing plants."

Those were the first words Erika Jozwiak ever said to me. We were meeting for the first time on my birthday 5 years ago and she brought me a small plant as a gift.

This is the plant I proudly still care for today...(maybe I need to cut it back...)

 Growing up outside of Pittsburgh, PA, Erika's family (her parents and her 4 siblings) spent a lot of time outdoors, both enjoying nature and respecting it. Her mom promoted efficient use of products for cleaning and gardening, and they all developed a real reverence for nature each year when they ventured to her grandfather's cabin in Tionesta, located in northwestern PA. Additionally, The Girl Scouts was another source of outdoor education; Erika achieved the Spirit Alive Award. She brought environmental awareness to her peers as part of the Recycling Committee in high school.

(Anyone who knows me realizes that this is my kind of girl!)

Erika's choice of a liberal arts college like Franklin and Marshall (Class of 2014) helped her expand her love for all-things environmental. First, she was able to major in Environmental Science. She was a member of the Environmental Action Alliance. She was the Diplomat Congress Sustainability Chair, and an intern for the Wohlsen Center for the Sustainable Environment.

Her favorite part of school was during her involvement in the Fair Trade Cafe on campus.
This was a student-volunteer cafe that served grilled cheese and soup every Wednesday for $4.00 (the fee covering just the cost). The meal was sourced from all local farms and local suppliers. Erika and the staff went to the farmers market and maintained a strong relationship with these natural providers.

 That's the college Erika 4th from left

After an internship at Reliance Environmental Inc. in Lancaster, Erika was on her way to her first career job after the place of her internship. Obviously the company was impressed with her work, and hired her to be on the staff.  Here she was an Environmental Consultant, working with clients in Lancaster, Reading, and Philadelphia. She interviewed property owners and checked to see what needed to be done to make the area contaminant-free. She took soil and water samples, enjoying the discovery of a property's past history as part of her job.

While this was a wonderful opportunity, Erika was ready to see what a bigger city had to offer, so she chose one of the biggest of them all--New York. She was hired as a Sustainability Analyst for the New York Department of Environmental Protection, which manages the city's drinking water and waste water systems.

Erika works closely with the Bureau of Engineering Design and Construction. Her job is to make sure that projects involving water are in compliance with the city-wide sustainability goals and state and federal laws. She holds workshops with designers of pump stations, sewer systems, and drinking water purification facilities to educate them about the environment and its protection and writes guidelines for them to follow. She makes plans for them to achieve the goals and then tracks the effectiveness of all this. 
 This is the Deer Island Waste Water Treatment plant in Boston. Erika was touring the facility.

 A construction site in New York

That's Erika on the right. Can anyone look happier on the job?

Once again, BC students, this is a career where writing skills are necessary, particularly technical writing like plans,  design guidelines, standard operating procedures, and reports. One must have good time-management skills, and since she is always talking with designers and engineers (not to mention office workers) sharp communication skills. (I'll vouch for her skills since she able to effectively help me understand her career!)

The best part about Erika? 

(Well, one of the best)......Her job is a reflection of her lifestyle...or is it the other way around? Erika walks the walk, as they say....but actually, she bikes! She rides her bike to and from work every day she can. She uses no disposable materials, she composts and recycles everything (I've seen her pick up paper off the sidewalk), and she never leaves home without her reusable coffee mug. She supports the farmers market in her neighborhood and is involved in her local community to be a part of decisions that may affect the environment there.

Erika never met a vegetable she didn't like!

There are interesting opportunities for an Environmental Science major in addition to Erika's job. These include recycling manager, environmental education officer, landscape architect, town planner, and toxicologist, which looks at the impact of toxic materials in the environment. Perhaps this is something that could be a science fair topic at some point.

As for living in New York City? Erika says, "Do it!" She admits that it can be exhausting, but in a good way. She feels it's best to get involved in many social and community groups to feel part of the action. Here again, Erika doesn't just say it, she does it.

I admire Erika for so many reasons: her passion for her work and the environment, her ability to just jump in and be a part of her surroundings...and of course, her love for the earth! I have always tried to be mindful of such things (Students....are you still using that green recycling bag in the classroom!!!!???)  

I often think WWED? (What would Erika do?) It leads me to make the choice that is kindest to the earth. I like that, and I think she does too :)