Beavers.

The first time “beavers” came across my mind was during last year’s US History class. The European traders used to trade beaver furs. However, this time when I heard the word “beaver” again, it was more about how they destroy the environment.

The beaver is among the largest rodents including two species, North American beaver and Eurasian beaver. Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges with their powerful teeth and jaws. They build dams to provide still, deep, water to protect against predators, and to float food and building material.

Beavers have been a major threat to the environment. They create massive log, branch, and mud structures to block streams and turn fields and forests into the large ponds as their homes. But at the same time, millions of trees are destroyed. Beavers also eat crops and aquatic plants. Beaver activity jeopardizes millions of dollars in transportation infrastructure and can also cause significant damage to timber resources. For example, Alabama alone estimates $19 million in lost timber annually due to beaver.

The beaver becomes a challenge when they interfere with man’s use of the land. However, beavers are not damaging the environment as most people think they are. Beavers’ ponds act as a reservoir to impound and store water, therefore reducing flooding events further down stream. The stored water is released slowly and provides for a moderate flow in dry periods that will keep the fish in the creek alive.

Before we think about the destructions beavers can cause, we should recognize that beaver ponds also play important roles in the ecosystem by creating habitat for many animals, birds and insects.

By the way, they are cute too!

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“Death” Valley.

Recently, I did a research project on National Parks for AP Environmental Science class. I chose the  Death Valley, which I had always considered it as “dead land” until this time I finally learned that it is actually full of lively species.

Located at 282 feet below the sea level, Death Valley is 300 miles northwest of LA, in the eastern flank of the towering Sierra Nevada Range (which also stands as the 8th lowest depression on earth and deepest in North America). Formed about 1.8 billion years ago, the Death Valley was previously an ancient sea and later developed into rock, which formed warped mountains and uplifted plates.

Death Valley is famous as the hottest, driest place in North America. Summer high temperatures commonly run above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind is pretty common in this arid area with desert biome, especially during winter time. Dust storms can blow up with the approaching cold-fronts, therefore the valley remains long summers throughout the year. And the coolest months are December and January. The rainfall average is only 1.92 inches.

Even though the climate is arid and dry, Death Valley still consists of great diversity of wildlife. Species of animals such as Fringed Myotis, Coyote, Sagebrush Checkerspot, Roadrunner, and Chuckwalla all habitat in Death Valley.

However, the endangered species in Death Valley have been a huge issue. Species such as Amargosa Toad (Bufi nelsoni), Southwestern Willow Flycather (Empidonax traillii extimus), Devils Hole Pupfish (Crprinodon diabolis), and Desert Tortoise.

In Death Valley National Park, groundwater feeds seeps, springs, and a rare desert river that are crucial for sustaining plant and animal life. Moreover, lots of species rely on the groundwater.

Most of the land between the roads in Death Valley National Park has been given an additional layer of protection from further development by being designated Wilderness. Today there are more than 109 million acres of federally protected Wilderness in 44 states. Recently the “National Park Service” released its new stewardship plan for Death Valley National Park, which focused on managing Death Valley’s wilderness, which comprises 3.1 million acres of the 3.3 million-acre park.

We all live and share the same environment with animals, plants and other species. Therefore, humans are also responsible for our own behaviors. I’ve never been to Death Valley before, but I don’t want to see it turn into a forever “dead valley.”

Beijing Opera.

Beijing Opera, also known as “Peking Opera,” is one of the most representative performing art of Chinese culture. It is the largest Chinese opera form, and is extolled as “Oriental Opera.”

Having a history of 160 years, the Beijing Opera is developed from absorbing many other dramatic forms, mostly from the local drama ‘Huiban’ which was popular in South China during the 18th century. It is a scenic art combining music, performance, literature, aria, and face-painting. The performance focuses on the technique of expression and different roles have different meanings.

Some main roles in Beijing Opera are: Sheng, a common name of male characters; Dan, the general name for female characters; and Jing, which refers to some male characters with particular appearances or personalities. Lots of them are based on the real historical people.

Another feature of Beijing Opera is the facial painting, also known as Lianpu. Lianpu is regarded as the colorful dressing on actors’ faces. The colors are varied with each characters to represent different themes. For instance, red symbolizes loyalty, such as Guanyu, a great general during Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). Black signifies honesty and frankness.

Beijing Opera portrays the soul of Chinese national culture. It is the unique and eternal treasure of China.

Blank Page.

I wrote a poem
and left a blank page for thee

I started from the very beginning
that portrays the excitement of me
holding you carefully
you were tiny and clean

With the cycle of seasons
I watch thee
from walking to running
from talking to learning
from failure to success

Then I wrote about us
I sat down
recalling all the moments

when the curiosity emerged from your eyes
when the impatience began to expand

But I still felt content
to see your growth

I wrote a poem
consisted of all the details
you ignored easily

Therefore
I left this blank page
it also said something

Drive Safely.

A few days ago, one of my friends in China got injured from a car accident, in which the driver was texting while driving.

The tragedy reminds me of an informal survey I did during this summer. The survey was based on the new policy about “texting-while-driving.”

Gov.Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation increasing penalties for teens caught texting-while-driving, and the penalties apply to any kind of cell-phone activity while driving. Under the proposal, violators’ licenses would be suspended for 60 days after their first conviction.

The number of cellphone-related car accidents in New York State increased by 143 percent between 2005 and 2011, according to New York.

According to my informal survey of 10 New Yorkers from East Village area, teenagers spend more time on texting than the older group and about 10% of people interviewed drive and text.

Drivers talking on cell phones are 18% slower to react to brake lights in front of them and they take 17% longer to return to their original speed after braking, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Also, early CBS reports showed that Harvard researchers estimate about one in 20 U.S. traffic accident involve a driver talking on a cell phone.

The legislation brought people in agreement. Most of people think the policy was fairly helpful and efficient.

However, there are still lots of people who remain neglectful the importance of not doing something else while driving. I think it is not only the governments’ responsibilities to reinforce the laws, but also people’s obligations to control themselves.

Please, when you drive, do not do anything else.
Texts can be delayed, lives can not.

Left-handed vs. Right-handed

There simply were not many left-handers left alive compared to right-handers, and more car accidents occurred among left-handers according to earlier researches.

To determine the reason of why fewer left-handed people are among the elderly population, a study was conducted last year by Diane Halpern and Stanley Coren at San Bernardino.

Researchers studied death certificates of 987 people in two Southern California counties. Relatives were queried by mail about the subjects’ dominant hands.

The results showed that left-handed people represented 10 percent of the U.S. population and left-handers usually died earlier than the right-handers.

Their findings support a 1989 study published in The American Journal of Public Health that found a higher rate of accident-related injuries in left-handed people.

Dr. Halpern and Dr. Coren also speculated that “left-handers might fall victim to underlying neurological or immune-system problems as well.”

An earlier study of baseball players showed that from the time statistics were kept, the average life span of left-handers was, “nine months shorter than that of right-handers.” The proportion of left-handers is “13 percent among people in their 20’s, but only 1 percent among those in their 80’s.”

“People born left-handed were forced to change to their right hands,” Halpern said. “Almost all engineering is geared to the right and there are many more car and other accidents among left-handers because of their environment.”

Afterward.

Afterward, I have learned how to love
But you have gone long ago, disappearing in the crowd.

Afterward, having wiped away tons of tears I finally realized,
you were just one of the passerby in my life.

The eternal night of the midsummer when I was seventeen,
the night you kissed me
Since then whenever I think of the stars of that night,
sadness haunts me.

How do you think about me,
with smile or in complete silence?

Afterward, when I looked back
there was a time
when a girl was so in love with a boy
who would never come back.