A Summer in Green Myanmar

I have been back home for some days now and I can not still forget this last summer in Myanmar. It has been an unique experience. I was not prepared for the different way of travelling I encountered, but after the initial shock I have had the time of my life. Experienced people said me that for a first-timer traveller in Asia, Myanmar is probably the most difficult country to cope with. Tourism and infrastructure are just beginning and a lot of patience and energy are necessary. However, it is worth it because we saw a beautiful and very much untouched country. Getting to know how local people live has been a very rewarding experience. I know it will sound like a cliché, but it is true: It has been a very rewarding experience specially for a person who is aware of the importance of adopting a sustainable lifestyle. Here, I have seen the value of going sometimes back to the basics. I am of course not saying that they need to be at a standhill. They have the right to develop, be more productive and have a better quality of life. However, not ignoring their own green daily lifestyle and own efforts is basic to achieve a balanced and sustainable development.

After this little opening about my Myanmar impression, I would like to remark the great use of a material, so called sustainable, in this country and Asia, in general. Yes, you have probably guessed it: bamboo. bamboo plantationsI have to admit that I have a weakness for bamboo, and I have written sometimes about it (Bamboo bicycles>>Riding towards Sustainability). Bamboo is defined as a Rapidly Renewable Material. These materials are those which can be self-regenerated by the end of their product life and from here comes one of the reasons for it being called green and sustainable. And better if it is removed from plantations responsibly managed.

In Myanmar, bamboo is the top construction material. It has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel. Therefore, in this country, bamboo offers excellent earthquake resistant structures.bamboo houses

On the other hand, it is also the top utensils material. I love all craft, artisan and DIY stuff so looking at all the beautiful things they create with bamboo was truly amazing.bamboo baskets
Specially, I fall in love with the baskets they use to work in the country fields. We bought some in a village from a Shan family we spent one night with. Looking them making the baskets was beautiful. And looking them looking at us so happy after we decided to buy some, has no price. They are truly kind people and they value the things nature provide them, they are not selfish and they try their best to be happy with what they have. It is vital, and I hope that in their development journey they will carry on knowing that it’s hip to be green!

A Summer in Green Myanmar

Celebrating a different and sustainable St. George’s day

Once upon a time, there was a Catalan village which lived frightened by a fierce dragon. The villagers realized that the only way to appease his hunger was offering people to him as food. The first person chosen by lot was the lovely and kindly princess, to everyone’s sadness. Once she arrived in front of the dragon’s cave to sacrifice herself, a brave knight appeared. He was the noble Saint George. He killed the dragon with his spear and freed the village. The legend told that from the blood of the dragon a red rose was born, and the knight offered it to the beautiful princess before leaving to live more adventures riding on his white horse.

Since then, on April 23th, Saint George’s day or in catalan Sant Jordi, in Catalonia the tradition is to celebrate it giving to your girl a red rose and a book to your boy (or both things of course) because the 23th is also the World Book day.

As a Catalan, I specially love this tradition and I enjoy very much walking around the streets this spring day. In Catalonia it is our particular Valentine’s Day (and healthier, flowers and books instead of chocolate candies! I do not mean that a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt because I love it, as well!). Besides, it is a day to claim the Catalan culture and many balconies are adorned with the Catalonia’s flag. It is very nice to see.

Now, you must be thinking what all this has to do with sustainability… So, here it goes. Nowadays, more and more schools and other cultural organizations in Catalonia are starting to celebrate an alternative and sustainable Sant Jordi or Saint George’s day the day before. Under the motto “a different and sustainable Sant Jordi“, they meet up to exchange books, normally used books which you have at home and have already read. In 2005, this experience was awarded by “Acció 21” Barcelona program. This program consists of a network of companies and organizations under the Citizien Commitment to Sustainability’s signature. They assume the responsibility for building a more sustainable Barcelona city and each company contribute within its scope.

cartell st jordi

So, I personally applaud this initiative for this Book day. It is a great example of social sustainability. It provides equity and social cohesion to everyone. It is aimed to people who cannot afford buying new books, to people who wants to provide the same opportunities to others, to people who want to socialize with their community and all together build a better and healthier society.

I’m not saying that you don’t have to buy new books which you’re eager to read (writers have to eat, as well). However, it is very good to know that you always have the possibility to exchange your old books and make you and other people happy.


rosebookSo, come on, let’s go “green” today and happy Sant Jordi ’s day to everyone!


Celebrating a different and sustainable St. George’s day

Learning about public transport with Harry Potter’s world

A few months ago I came across with this post: What Harry Potter Teaches Us About Integrated Transport.

It caught my attention because I am a fan of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling and I’m very interested in public transport and sustainable mobility initiatives. At that moment, I asked myself how these two issues could be linked and I was eager to read it.

harry potter transportThe article starts exposing to the reader the fastest way of magical of transportation that it is called apparition. It is basically having the user focus on a desired location in their mind, then disappear from their current location and instantly reappear at the desired location (like teleportation). So, then as the writer says very well: “Once you learn about this method of travel, every other transport mode seems superfluous. Why have a Platform 9 ¾ when you don’t need to wait for a train? Why fly broomsticks when using the Floo network (silver powder that allows people to travel between different fireplaces) is orders of magnitude faster? These questions are much like one that urban planners and city leaders get every day in the Muggle world: why build public transport when there are individual cars?”.

We clearly see that the wizards or muggles/people like us cannot solve the mobility with just one method of transport. As a result, there is the need to find a network of several methods of transport that promotes sustainability “that supports connectivity – think access to jobs, education, and leisure — for a diverse range of user needs, whether these users are witches, elves, or simply city residents”.

The rest of the article compares the magic transport with our modes. He talks about the comfort, safety and sense of community that these provide. I’ve to recognize that it is very interesting to see a broomstick like a bicycle, apparition like a motorcycle…green transpIt makes you think about the technology progresses and how we can promote sustainable mobility and safety. The article is worth a look and muggles will enjoy with the comparisons!



Learning about public transport with Harry Potter’s world

Sherlock updated! Using Internet and Social Media

I have to admit it. I am an avid reader and fan of Sherlock Holmes. I have read all the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and I re-read them whenever I can. But I must confess SherlockBBCPosterthat I had never watched a movie or TV series about the character. However, I could not resist watching one of the TV series depicting a contemporary update of the famous detective: Sherlock, from the British BBC, the first season aired in 2010.

Again, I have to admit that I’m pretty hooked to Sherlock. The chapters never cease to bore me. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have an amazing presence and they make a great Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson. I totally love them and recommend the series.

The characters have many similarities to the original literary work although now adapted tosherlock-phone the new times. They’re using modern technology such as smart phones, Internet and GPS, to solve crimes! It’s amazing. In the first chapter of season one, Sherlock is able to find where the pink lady is from using the Weather Channel app in his smartphone. How cool is this?

I also believe that he can also find more about his mysteries searching on the social media sites where the corpse, the suspects have (had) a profile. This should help to draw clues and the motives of their actions.

Moreover, in this new update, Sherlock instead of hand writing articles he has a blog or S2E2_new-posts-sherlock-blog-600x337website, The Science of Deduction. In this, he presents the results and analysis of his experiments. On the other hand, his friend John Watson also has a blog. He posts about the cases he and Sherlock had resolved. He uses a narrative style, adds photos and funny quotes so his blog it’s more successful and entertaining to read. Very important in a blog nowadays if you want more followers! I’m not saying that posting about scientific things is not useful and cannot have followers but, admit it, the second one is going to have more audience. Watson said to Holmes on the first season (I really love the dialogues of the series):

Sherlock Holmes: Do people actually read your blog?
John Watson: Where do you think our clients come from?
S.H.: I have a web site.
J.W.: In which you enumerate two hundred and forty different types of tobacco. Which is why nobody’s reading your web site.

In one chapter even, Sherlock uses John blog’s visitor counter for helping to solve a case! Social Media and the Internet have become very important in our lives and the new Sherlock knows it!

Sherlock updated! Using Internet and Social Media

How much does your building weigh, Mr.Foster?

cartell documentalToday I’ve decided to write about a wonderful documentary I watched some months ago. How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster?  is about the life and career of one of the most famous architects of the century, Norman Foster.

The first time I watched it, was in the Verdi Cinema in Barcelona, and had hit me both architecturally (as a building engineer that I am) and emotionally. Seriously! Several hours and days two feelings had been lasting to me, very difficult to live together!

The first one, the greatness. The greatness of the ideas and buildingsHearst-Tower that have been created by Foster and his team. Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but I was fascinated to have the opportunity to see these works in person, as there are real. To appreciate the skyline with the Swiss Re tower in London and go to Columbus Circle in the Big Apple, New York, and see the curious Hearst Tower.

And the second feeling, the smallness. The smallness you feel, both as a student of this world or as a worker, what has succeeded by this man and you’re not even in the beginning of the way… However, you should try that first impression lasts more, shouldn’t you? Try to think that one day you’ll find your way. Mr.Foster has been saying constantly that he had to performs struggle to find his way.

The leaning of the sensations described earlier also falls due to the excellent quality of the documentary, especially the photography and music. I think we don’t only have to appreciate the beauty of the aerial images of buildings, the places where the architect is skiing in the early stage and the final cause a very nice sensation, too.

And finally, I want to mention one part that I especially like. The part of the documentary Masdardedicated to the city of Masdar in Abu Dhabi, an ecological model city, designed by Foster & Partners team. Since I started studying my degree and master, I’m very attracted to Sustainability and I think this project is an inspiration. Convey the idea of leaving a low carbon footprint in this world is for everyone.

I mention that everything written is personal opinion, so if you want to experience it you must watch the documentary. You’ll also find the story behind the curious question of the title 🙂

Here’s the trailer if you want to see it. Enjoy!!!

How much does your building weigh, Mr.Foster?

Social Media is everywhere!

Well, so here I am!

The aim of this blog is to explore, write about social media and other interests I have in mind. Mostly, it’s for TECH 637 Research Focus: The Social Internet course I’m taking this semester in Purdue University (USA). Otherwise, I’ll try to do my best and not stop writing and investigating once the course is over! This project is too interesting to leave it because social media is indeed a phenomenon growing every day.

For one year, I’ve been writing a blog about my interests in Catalan (my mother language, I’m an exchange student from Barcelona) and I really enjoy it, but I’ve to confess that I’m not an expert about social media. Until now, I’ve only had this blog I just talked about and a Facebook account. Yesterday, I created a Twitter account and I still investigating about how it works, so baby steps!

I really want to know more about this Social NetWorld. The instructor Dr. Mihaela índexVorvoreanu wrote: <<TECH 637 simulates an interdisciplinary think tank environment where students identify research questions and examine the impact of social media and social networking technologies on various aspects of society, business, culture, communication, web experience, and interface design.>> So I guess this course is going to be very useful.

Come on, even my oldest grandmother is taking Internet classes and she uses Facebook. We’ve to try being like an itgirl (young woman who possesses the quality “It”, absolute attraction) but itsocialnetworld.  Social Media is everywhere!

Social Media is everywhere!