Bonsai

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Topic of the Week! September 18, 2013

Filed under: Just Bonsai — Mary @ 6:03 pm
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Hi everyone!

Bonsai is going to be starting a new feature called the “Bonsai Topic of the Week.” This is how it works: every week, we’ll have a new topic on which we’ll be posting topics. This will not only make things more organized, but you’ll also get more in-depth knowledge on ways to help the world, or at least be aware of the problems that need to be fixed.

The topic for this week (September 16-21) is Ocean Conservation, as can be seen on the right-hand side of the blog. Some topics you might see in upcoming weeks are:

  • The Rainforest
  • Energy Conservation
  • Garbage
  • Wildlife
  • etc., etc.

If you want to suggest topics for us to cover in the future, you can head over to the About page & leave a comment. If you want to submit your work, go on over to the Submit Your Work page and submit it! We’re always glad to hear from you, glorious followers.

Love you guys!

Ceej & Mary

 

To Volunteer or Not to Volunteer – That is the Question August 27, 2013

Filed under: Education,Literacy — Mary @ 6:36 am
Tags: , ,

Hey everybody! You may or may not know this, but every staff member of Bonsai is required to complete one “large” assignment to help the world in real time over the course of a year and then post about it. As far as I know, this is the first one done. I asked Ceej (the lady in charge) if I could use volunteering at the library as my large assignment for helping people this year. I volunteered for 68.5 hours (I think), which may seem like a lot, but my friend McKenna got 101.25. Because she subbed for everyone. Almost.

What did I do while I volunteered? Well, there were two types of things you could sign up for – events and desk shifts. At the beginning of the summer, based on your availability, you were assigned certain desk shifts and recurring events. Throughout the summer, you could sign up for open slots at the desk and for events that occur only once, so you weren’t assigned to come beforehand.

Some events that were held included LEGO Club, Discovery Days, Wednesdays@1, Disc Golf in the Library, Teen Minute to Win It, Yarn Crafts, Origami, Fearless Crafters, READ to a Dog, Stuffed Animal Sleepover Party, and Give Peace a Chance. I volunteered at the LEGO Club (which happened over a span of four weeks), one Discovery Day, and Give Peace a Chance, while I attended Disc Golf in the Library and Teen Minute to Win It. When I volunteered, I would help set things up, pick things up, and help kids stay on task and give advice and at Give Peace a Chance I served cake.

The volunteers.

When you were at the desk, you would sit there (sometimes with another volunteer) and wait for people to sign up for the Summer Reading Program (SRP). Basically, you got their information, entered it into the computer & gave them their form, where they could fill in the boxes for the amount of time/pages they read. For the first two weeks, that was all you could do – sign people up and answer questions and associate yourself with your fellow volunteer. After those first miserable weeks, kids started coming back to collect their prizes, which you could get after you reached a certain checkpoint on your form. There were four prizes in all. You could give them Overtime Reading Tickets, tickets that would enter them in a random drawing for even more prizes (or you could forget about it and feel sorry for the child who missed a grand opportunity). There were 4 different programs: Preschool, K-5, 6-8, and High School-Adult. Each program gave you different prizes and different reading records and different amounts of time you had to read.

So that was how I spent my summer – reading, encouraging kids/young adults/adults to read books, serving cake, and building towers of LEGOs.

Does your library offer volunteering? Is there some other fun volunteering you could do in your community next summer? Think about it, and help your community! 🙂

 

How To Help the Environment Without a Drivers Liscense July 9, 2013

The title is basically a clever way of me telling you that even if you are not an adult and can not give out personal information, drive cars, travel, or handle the electricity bill, you can still help to save the environment and have an impact on our small, small world. (That is actually quite large but small in the grand scheme of things.) The following may seem like small things, but they do great things. (This is kind of similar to the lazy environmentalist post from about a month ago, but many of our followers are teens/tweens and there are other things they can do.)

  1. Donate money to an organization that helps a cause you care about. Not everyone has the time to start organizations about important things, but even if you go on earning your usual amount of money doing chores, babysitting, or, if you’re old enough, doing a job, but setting aside some of your money to give to foundations like The Humane Society or the rainforest or adopting a dolphin or gorilla (not literally; there are programs where you send money that will help a gorilla or dolphin or what have you survive).
  2. Consider doing the simple things that your parents always nag you about. Whether it’s turning the lights off when you leave the room, not littering, using less water, taking shorter showers, or even playing outside (since you aren’t using electricity outside, you are helping the environment), it helps a great deal. You may think that just you doing these things will do nothing at all, but that isn’t true. If everyone who sees this does this little bit, it will help lots of things — fewer electricity will be used, less coal will be burned, fresh water will be saved, animals lives will last a little bit longer. You can do a lot in a little bit of time.
  3. Start getting crafty! By this I mean to start reusing things rather than throwing them away quickly, before all their use is gone. This may seem old-fashioned and annoying, and it kind of is. I myself have a grandmother who never throws anything away, even meat juice. Seriously. Sometimes when she stays with us for a weekend or whatever, I open the fridge and find a container of meat juice. But when you reuse things, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with meat juice, I assure you. Whether it’s using scraps of fabric, plastic, and used bottle caps in crafts or decorations, using bread-bags to carry things instead of just throwing them away, or even reusing your plastic water bottles by refilling them with water because hey! They can still hold water. You can even use candy wrappers as decorations if you’re working on a big project — that’s what my friends and I did when we were building a house out of foam and furnishing it without buying anything for school.
  4. Give your parents a break. No, you don’t have to stop bugging them about making you do useless chores by making your bead, but you can give them a break in the “driving you everywhere” category. Instead of making them drive you to the park, bike or walk. Instead of making them drive you to school, bike or walk if it’s close enough or carpool with people if it’s too far away. I think we all know about how oil and fumes and such from cars hurt the environment, and it’s also really expensive. Walking or biking or carpooling will give your parents breaks in more ways than one and will also help the earth.

These are only four ways you can help the environment without having a driver’s license, but there are so many more things you can do! Google it, ask people, or get creative and make it up yourself. Our world won’t last forever, and it won’t just heal itself. We have to do everything we can do to help it, and anything will help. So get out there and do your part. The world — and all of its inhabitants — will certainly appreciate it!

~Mary, Author at Bonsai

 

Spotlight on Religion: Zeroastrianism June 22, 2013

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since our last Spotlight on Religion, but now it’s time for the next one — Zeroastrianism! (I have no idea how to pronounce that, by the way.)

Religion: Zeroastrianism is considered one of the oldest monotheistic (which means you believe in only one God) religions. It was founded before Islam and Christianity in the sixth century BC, though it holds many of the same beliefs. It was founded by a prophet who, like most prophets, thought he saw visions of God (or, as he called it, Ahura Mazda). His name was Zarathustra. Zeroastrianism used to be a huge religion, one of the largest in the world, but in recent years the number of followers has dwindled down, now at only 140,000.

Where it is Practiced: Zeroastrianism was founded in Persia, but over the years it has made its way down to India, where the religion is called Parsiism and the majority of the followers live. Now, besides India, people practicing Zeroastrianism can be found in Iran, the US, Afghanistan, the UK, Canada, Pakistan, Singapore, Azerbaijan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Beliefs: The core of Zeroastrianism is good and evil. The two representatives of these concepts are Ahura Mazda (good) and Aura Mainyu (evil). If you spend your life doing good and being good, you will go to heaven with Ahura Mazda and you will be guided there by a beautiful woman. If the bad you have done in your life outweighs the good, you will be taken to hell, guided by an ugly old woman. There are many different levels and degrees of hell depending on how good you’ve been during your lifespan. In Zeroastrianism you are given free choice, and you will either be rewarded or punished for what you chose to do. All of these beliefs and more can be found in their sacred texts, the Avesta, which translates to “The Book of Law.”

Practices: Today, the practices of Zeroastrians (or Parsis) have several important practices, including a coming of age ritual, penance, ceremonies, sacred objects, festivals, burial rites, and much more. In the coming of age ritual, children are either 7 or 10 (depending on whether they study the form from either India or Persia). They are initiated into the religion and receive either a shirt and a girdle which they are supposed to wear their whole life. Penance is very much like the Catholic version of confession, where you confess to a priest, but first must recite the patet, whereas Catholics recite the Act of Contrition. The chief ceremony is known as the Yasna, which is basically a sacrifice of sacred liquor and celebrated before the sacred fire (which is left burning at all times), and recitation of large portions of the Avesta. There are six seasonal festivals in Zeroastrianism, the most important of which is the New Years Festival. Lastly, burial rites are very important to Parsis. A “four-eyed” dog (a dog with spots above each eye) is brought before the corpse and brought back five times a day, which goes on for three days. This is thought to expose the dead.

References: I got my information from these places: http://www.religionfacts.com/zoroastrianism/index.htm and http://globalgoodgroup.com/blog/2011/12/17/three-awesome-world-religions-you-didnt-know-existed/

 

Are You Lazy? You Can Still Be an Environmentalist! June 17, 2013

Filed under: Going Green,Recycling — Mary @ 8:50 am
Tags: , , , ,

In other words, how to be a lazy environmentalist. Being lazy isn’t really a huge problem, according to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B958zcq43ZI (this YouTube video) (apparently those little blue link things don’t really work today or on this YouTube video or something, but . . . anyway . . . too good a reference to go to waste). Anyway, everyone wants to save the environment, but not everybody thinks that they are especially up to it. They go like, “Yeah, I’m waaaaaaay too lazy to do all this stuffs that you’re asking me to do because it’s like waaaaaay too hard…”

The thing is, saving the environment — or at least helping it — isn’t as hard as everyone makes it out to be. In fact, you may only have to alter a bit of your daily life, or take a little bit of time to make a big difference.

  1. Recycle! Recycling isn’t that hard — all you do is sort through your plastic, cardboard, aluminum, and paper and see what is recyclable and what isn’t. After you put all the stuff in the bag that’s recyclable, usually all you have to do is put it in a recycling bin outside your door and people will come up and get it for you. This will only take about ten minutes out of your day if you do it all at once, and if you just look to see whether you can recycle something right when you use it, it will take even less time!
  2. Buy used, not new. We have a decaying environment not because we don’t think about helping it, but because we buy so much stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff. We “need” it. We go and buy more clothes, more food, more shoes, more video games. More, more, more. There’s nothing wrong with having lots of clothes, or with having lots of shoes — but getting new shoes and new clothes every day? Every week? Can’t you just live with what you have? And we do like to indulge ourselves, even I do it. But when we do need things, sometimes it isn’t the smartest to buy things new — we can, but it’s considerably cheaper and more eco-friendly if you buy a perfectly fine thing used instead of new.
  3.  3. Get rid of bottled water! Is it really so hard to just drink from a tap, or a water fountain, or bring your own reusable water bottle? Not only is it cheaper, but it saves the environment from those icky plastic bottles — do you really know how bad those are? They aren’t recyclable, they swirl around the ocean, they kill animals and sea life. It would help the environment and the money in your bank account if you would take a minute and use a reusable water bottle or get a glass out from the cabinet.

There are lots of other ways to go green while you’re being lazy, but I’m way too lazy to write about them. Just kidding . . . maybe . . . ANYWAY, you’ll have to come up with them yourself. The world would be a better place because of you. Actually, the world has been made a better place because of lazy people, as explained in the YouTube video above. I can also say it like this: Lazy people invent ways that make it easier to do important things, so then other lazy people can take time out of their “packed” schedules to do those things. More people will be helping the environment, and then the environment will get better, all because a lazy person decided to help the environment and say something about it. Don’t worry, fellow lazy people! You ARE valued! 🙂

So, I hope you start going green! The world really will be a better place. ♥

~Mary, Author at Bonsai

 

Romilda the Recycling Robot June 13, 2013

Filed under: Funny Stuff,Stories — Mary @ 8:51 am
Tags: ,

(Please do not judge me because of this awful writing. It isn’t my fault, I swear! It was written last year at like 6 am and I really wanted to write something about a robot who recycled and so I did but I was doing it as fast as possible. Obviously, working on things as fast as possible do not result in the absolute best product. Let this be a lesson to you: never try to write something at 6 am in the morning after a night of very little sleep in a hurry. Well, since I’m actually posting it somewhere where it will be publicly viewable on the internet, I can be that ashamed of it, right? WRONG! But I’m doing it anyway, just so you can laugh at my awful writing from one year ago. *sigh* So anyway, just don’t judge me, ‘kay?)

Once there was a Robot named Romilda. That in itself wasn’t very unusual, because Romilda was a very common name among the robots. Why would you write a story about an unusual robot with an unusual name, let alone start off the story with that sentence? My answer: NO REASON. Because, you know, Romilda wasn’t a very usual robot.

When you think of a robot, you think of something without a mind, without a heart. Something that follows orders, something made of scrap metal. But there was something different about Romilda. Romilda had a heart. And with her heart, Romilda chose to love the earth.

BUT WAIT!! You say, “IF A ROBOT HAD A HEART, IT WOULD BE HUMAN, NOT ROBOTIC!!” Nuh-uh. Untrue. Robots are always things made of metal. Humans are made of cells, genes, and flesh. Some mad scientist just so happened to insert a heart of steel that actually WORKED (don’t ask me how he got it to work – he died ages ago), and so there: Romilda had a heart.

So Romilda loved recycling, right? She would recycle EVERYTHING, and anything that couldn’t be recycled, she would discover how she could recycle it. She found the melting point of candy wrappers, the way to biodegrate cotton, and loads of other stuff. Didn’t you think that everyone adored recycling? Don’t you think that should have made Romilda famous?

Stupid, really, the way humans think these things. Because humans only like their handiwork, not their handiwork’s handiwork, they totally flushed Romilda’s ideas down the toilet. Like, literally, they flushed them down the toilet. That made Romilda really, really, really angry.

So Romilda decided to take revenge on the entire human race. It wasn’t easy, but she broke free from her creator, using toilet paper and kiwis, and decided to throw empty poison bottles at non-recycling people.

Unfortunately, the bottles became run-off and went into the ocean.

“What have I done?” gasped the robotic Romilda.

“You have killed the ocean,” the mayor of recycling said gravely. “I’m sorry we didn’t believe you, Romilda. We really should have listened.”

Romilda cried and fell to her knees.

“Everyone!” I called. “There is a lesson in this!!”

“What is it?” inquired the mayor.

I looked at him gravely and told him.

Moral of the Story: Never ever don’t believe a recycling robot. Or never ever throw poison bottles at someone. Or at least, never do it close to the ocean. Or, to make it simple, never try to get revenge on the human race. Look where it got the do-dos.

THE END

 

Stop Poisoning Water: Keeping our Drinking Water Clean May 14, 2013

Filed under: Going Green,Health,Water Crisis — Mary @ 1:15 am
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So What?

We all need water. A human being can’t go three days without drinking any water. Animals need water. Plants need water. Most things that are living need water. But the thing is, water is not a resource that we can just always have. We have to work hard to keep enough water for everybody. Water may seem like a never-ending resource, something that would always be there, but think of it like this. 70% of the earth is made up of water. Of that, about 3% of that is fresh water, and 1% of that fresh water is accessible.

So, yeah, water isn’t something that’s going to last forever, so we have to conserve it. But we also have to do more than conserving it. Conserving water is only the first step. Taking shorter showers, turning the water off when you’re brushing your teeth and flushing the toilet only as much as you have to are all good things. But in the world we live in, the water we conserve may not actually stay drinkable for long. The chemicals we have in our shampoo, nail polish, gasoline and more are seeping into our water through a very simple and possibly easy to prevent process.

How Does Our Water Get Polluted?

First, you don’t clean up after yourself. All around us is waste on the ground: you’ve seen it. The gasoline in puddles. The soda cans on the ground. The dropped things we don’t bother to pick up. The dog poop that we must have missed. Even the pesticides that are on crops and gardens and lawns. At the time, these things seem trivial — you can put them off until tomorrow, say it won’t do any damage overnight, you’ll do it later. But what if it rains? Where will all that stuff go? What if it’s not there in the morning?

I’ll tell you. It washed away. It slipped over the fields, ran into the sewers, got into the water.

Some of those things have very dangerous chemicals. They get pushed into our water, and they poison it. Some of these things are exposed to us at the tap, and some of these things are removed. But none of these things are safe. They harm us, and try as we might to conserve water, all those efforts will go to waste if we poison it, if we pollute it.

 

How Can We Keep Our Water From Being Polluted?

It’s actually very simple, though you may not believe it. All you have to do is pick up after yourself. Don’t use pesticides. Don’t procrastinate and tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow. (And this is coming from one of the biggest procrastinators to roam the earth, so you have to know it’s important.) Don’t be like Annie and say, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll do it, tomorrow, that’s only a day away!” There are other steps you can take, too. You can make sure you’re buying things that don’t really have chemicals. Don’t litter. Pick up other people’s litter. Protest coating things in harmful chemicals.

And, so we can have that water to potentially poison, you should conserve water. Conserve conserve conserve. We don’t want to waste water, and we don’t want to waste the water we refrained from wasting. It’s like stopping an algebraic equation after you’ve narrowed it down to 6 = 2x. You still need to divide by two to make it 3 = x. We don’t want to stop trying to have enough to drink just by conserving. We also have to do that little extra step of dividing so that we can solve it, get an A+, and be happy. Oh, yeah, and drink enough, too.

 

 
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