Tag Archives: Environment

The Price-Gouging Parasite!


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Image result for Hurricane gif

We’ve been having a slew of crazy weather around America these past few weeks.  First hurricane Harvey invaded Texas, flooding thousands of acres of land within the state.  Hundreds of thousands of people are still affected today and the state’s natural environment is heavily damaged.  Now we’re in the midst of the environmental PR nightmare that is hurricane Irma; a PR nightmare that is so strong that Man is losing its deep-rooted battle with Nature.

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Thousands of homes have been destroyed, people are migrating to better land, and food supply has already become dangerously low.  This dangerous shortage of food supply (or supply of any commodity for that matter) leads to the controversial tactic within the marketing/economic world known as price gouging.  To marketing and economic enthusiasts, price gouging is a taboo subject because of its drastic effect it has for the consumers.  It’s a strategy so horrifying, it can only be described as… The Price Gouging Parasite!

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Image result for Price Gouging

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Let’s start dissecting this dreaded monster within the marketing and economics world – price gouging is the event where the seller purposely spikes the goods, services, or commodities to an insanely price level.  Price gouging is considered to exploit the hidden dangers of the economic system, showcasing a worst-case scenario for its consumers.  Marketers don’t want to touch upon this provocative idea that occurs when marketing prices (Four P’s of Marketing: Product, Place, Promotion, and PRICE!).

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Image result for South Park chaos gif

Price Gouging usually occurs in the event of a natural disaster like hurricanes; in this case, it’s happening with Hurricane Irma.  Travelers are paying thousands of dollars for one-way tickets out of Florida, the scarce food supply becomes increasingly expensive due to such a large demand, and the communities themselves have become total anarchy.  This dark marketing/economic tactic is driving people insane, acting in animalistic behavior in order to satisfy their basic needs.  When basic needs such as food and shelter suddenly disappear, all HELL breaks loose for every living creature in the area.

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Now here’s where things get interesting – price gouging is LEGAL in sixteen states.  Thirty-four states enacted anti-price gouging laws with natural disasters being part of the exceptions.  Florida is one of those states as well as California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and even Hawaii.  More than half of the country set up anti-price gouging laws and the irony is that majority of states deal with natural disasters every year.

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Rather than just discuss this as price gouging, we should label it with its true identity – the Price Gouging Parasite.  Why is it called the Price Gouging Parasite you may ask?  Price Gouging is the idea of sucking up as much money from the consumer by setting an outrageously high price.  As the price rises higher, more profit is being sucked up into the system.  Think of it like a parasite sucking the blood from you skin, smooching up trillions of essential blood cells.  The more blood it sucks up, the stronger the parasite becomes and you grow even weaker.

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Just like that parasite sucking the life out of you, price gouging weakens your economic life.  It’s one of the dirtiest strategies within the marketing and economic world during a time of crisis.  What’s even more disturbing is how it feeds of people’s fears during these catastrophic events.

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So how do we deal with the Price-Gouging Parasite?  Where does this monster’s true weakness lie?  Is there a negotiable loophole that could put an end to it?

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Image result for Natural Disasters

Unfortunately, there is no straight answer towards defeating the Price-Gouging Parasite.  It’s inevitability during natural disasters makes this one tough monster to defeat.  As a hard truth to admit, price gouging is just something that’s bound to happen one way or another.  Whether it’s airlines charging travelers thousands of dollars or vendors jacking up prices for water bottles, the Price-Gouging Parasite pops up one way or another.

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As a consumer, you do have one alternative option – opt out of the purchasing process.  If you find that the price for your desired product is simply not worth it, then head off and find the same product with a lower price.  You, as a consumer, make the choice whether or not to go ahead with buying that bottled water or last-minute plane ticket out of the state.  These are frustrating choices to make, yet these are what you will have to choose during these chaotic times.

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And that right there folks, is what we are dealing with right now.  The Price-Gouging Parasite strikes once again during these times of environmental disasters.  Essential goods are becoming scarce, prompting human beings to initiate hasty decisions in order to survive another day.  This parasite sucks people dry, leaving many to fend for themselves.

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Here’s to hoping that Floridians survive another day in the midst of hurricane Irma.  All we can do is wait for the storm to pass so that the Price-Gouging Parasite is laid to rest.

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Hempcrete Homes For Humanity


Ever since legalization made waves on the elections last year, there’s been a lot of 4/20-friendly topics cranking out for MakeSandcastlesNotWar.  It has only been 2 months and the cannabis community has already seen some major progress with their social/cultural issues.  Just a few days ago, the DEA erased some false information regarding some ‘health facts’ about cannabis.  Social media helped peddle the positive cultural influences into the mainstream media, raising awareness of its numerous medicinal benefits.  It was one of many PR miracles that the cannabis community needed to broaden its identity within the social culture.

With cannabis stealing the spotlight, there hasn’t been much light shed on hemp.  Hemp is basically cannabis’ shy, introverted cousin that doesn’t a lot of coverage in the media.  This tall, sturdy plant is a member of the cannabis sativa species that contains no flowering buds during its life cycle.  Unlike cannabis, hemp is a non-psychoactive plant with a high CBD content and contains very little THC.  While consuming hemp won’t get you high, it’s still considered an important product here in America.

Hemp is considered a schedule 1 drug (like cannabis!), yet it’s still grown in over 30 countries.  Ironically enough, it is legal to import hemp into the United States.  Its versatile use made hemp an essential commercial and industrial product for thousands of years.  Some key uses for hemp include food, textiles, fiber, plastics, and other important materials.  One of the most important functions of hemp is utilizing it for a building material known as hempcrete.

Hempcrete is a bio-composite material made from a mixture of hemp hurds and lime.  Hurds are the inner woody core of the hemp stalk in a mineral matrix utilized to form a material that is non-toxic, carbon-negative, and energy-efficient for building. The mixture of hemp hurds and lime is used during the construction and insulation process of home building.  Like most plants, hempcrete absorbs the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere as it grows.  Being that hemp hurds is an energy-efficient material, hempcrete is great a great tool for sustainable housing.  It’s also naturally fire and pest resistant, so you won’t have to worry about uninvited guests spoiling your dinner (Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!).

The first use of hempcrete material was when Italian mater brick mason and builder Charles Rasetti renovated the Maison de la Turque (aka House of Turkey) in Nogent-sur-Seine, France in 1986.  Originally built around 1550 A.D., the Maison de la Turque is a timber-framed building that utilized hemp for numerous products in new construction or renovation.  Such projects including work for the insulation of floors, coatings, walls, roofs, and other major projects for construction. Hemp may have been illegal to grow in the United States at the time, but countries like France were already paving the way for sustainable homes.

With climate change being one of the most prominent environmental issues of the 21st century, it’s HIGH time we start searching for more renewable materials (no pun intended!).  Other countries have already been growing hemp for decades, thus advancing further in the fight against climate change.  When it comes to sustainable housing, hempcrete should take center stage as a renewable building material.  We need to take advantage of the ever-growing cannabis culture by discussing more about hemp as a building material.  Hemp needs to be pushed into the spotlight more in order to raise awareness of its versatile use.

Our founding fathers utilized hemp when America was gaining its national identity.  George Washington grew hemp in his backyard while Benjamin Franklin established the first hemp paper mill.  These men would be rolling in their graves if they discovered that we’ve criminalized this versatile plant.  Climate change has been problematic for our natural environment for decades.  With this ever-changing climate, maybe the secret to reversing the damages is going to pot…literally!  Maybe the key has been hidden within cannabis and hemp all along and the PR nightmare caused by the ‘Reefer Madness’ mindset has caused dramatic effects within our environment.

Social media may have shed the light on cannabis, but now we have to shed more of that light towards hemp as building material.  Hemp is something we need to take seriously if we want to win our battle against climate change.  Mother Nature provides so many useful tools on this earth and one of those special tools could shape the way we construct sustainable houses in the near future.

 

Robert Hooke Gets Hooked on Cannabis


After a long day of working in Boston, it’s always great to come home for a Netflix & Chill night.  There’s a lot more choices to find through Netflix rather than changing the channel every second.  One show I recently got into lately was Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.  Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted this 13-episode science documentary that chronicles various aspects of the cosmos.  Tyson discusses groundbreaking phenomena that fundamentally shaped the ideas of science.

Each episode chronicles a certain category about the cosmos.  From discussing the first original species that walked the earth to the public battle against lead, Cosmos: A Space Odyssey gives viewers a glimpse into what earth was like millions of years ago.  It’s a real mind-blowing science series that teaches you the origins of how life came to be (I HIGHLY recommend smoking some cannabis with your friends while watching this because you will NOT regret it!).

A funny incident happened when I was watching the show.  I was on the episode titled ‘When Knowledge Conquered Fear’ and was learning about Robert Hooke’s battle with Isaac Newton.  Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed various things that Hooke was experimenting with and one of those things just happened to be…CANNABIS.  Seriously you guys…Robert Hooke, a famous scientist during the 17th century, experimented with cannabis during his free time.

My jaw INSTANTLY dropped to the floor when I heard this!  I couldn’t believe that Robert Hooke was actually experimenting with cannabis.  Here’s how the story goes: Hooke’s friend Robert Knox brought back “a strange intoxicating herb like hemp” (a.k.a ‘Indian hemp’ or ‘bangue’) from one of his trips and gave it to Hooke for him to try.  His sea captain friend Knox mentioned that there wasn’t any cause of fear, but that there would be laughter.  This story didn’t sound real to me, so I did some research that shocked me even more.

Seriously guys… it gets better!  Not only was this fact true, but it’s also interesting to point out that Carl Sagan was a major cannabis advocate.  Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan, who also co-wrote both of the series, is currently on the NORML Advisory Board.  You guys…what…the FUCK.

I consumed some cannabis before watching this episode and was blown away by this random cannabis reference within the series.  Here I was, watching this cool science mini-series that is teaching me about the origin of the cosmos and I randomly get hit with this fun fact.  One of the greatest scientists of the 17th century, Robert Hooke, experimented with cannabis during his free time.  It’s ironic that teachers around the country (especially those that teach science!) demonize cannabis use when history has shown time and time again that cannabis has a special place here in society.

This was an interesting fact to find out on Cosmos: A Space Odyssey!  Science has always been my favorite subject in school and I always found it fascinating to learn about how certain ideas were discovered.  It wasn’t until I was in college that I discovered various historians have used cannabis during their line of work. From George Washington to Carl Sagan, many historic figures regularly used cannabis on a daily basis.

Maybe this fact is proof that cannabis has always had a place here in America.  If George Washington grew hemp in his backyard, then how did we stray so far from the lessons of our founding fathers?  How did we go from openly using cannabis to becoming so taboo about it among our friends and family?  Robert Hooke, as well as his friend Robert Knox, would roll over in their graves if they saw how we treat cannabis in our society.

Science is about questioning every moment that happens and creating experiments based on our hypothesis on what we think might happen.  Sometimes that outcome doesn’t match our hypothesis,but that’s OK because we’ve discovered something unique in our study.  I believe that Robert Hooke still would’ve struck gold with his scientific discoveries, regardless of whether or not he tried cannabis.  But in the end, we’ll have to become more liberal about our cannabis culture here in society if we ever want to discover something amazing for the sake of science.

My Adventures at Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo


Boston’s Seaport Boulevard is always buzzing with entertaining events.  From concerts to conferences, Bostonians gather around the area to see what’s happening.  The Seaport Boulevard district has become an up and coming neighborhood for a while now (with condominiums priced at $2000-$3000 a month for a 1 bedroom apartment!).  Many of the conferences happen at the Seaport World Trade Center.

The Seaport World Trade Center is located in 200 Seaport Boulevard and provides a big arena space for conference events.  People from all around the country gather here to meet with other members of the community.  Whether it is a car show or an expo on the latest technology, audiences come together to see the latest trends.  This past weekend I went into the Seaport World Trade Center to attend the Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo.

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A friend of mine informed me about the Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo and I just had to check this event out.  The Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo is an event providing ideas for travel, snag special deals on passes, find new equipment, and making new friends that like to ski or snowboard as well.  All ski/snowboard enthusiasts gathered together to learn about the hottest trends in their favorite sport.  Here were some of my favorite highlights surrounding the event:

Western Region Mountains/Resorts

I have been skiing for a while and I have only been on the mountains on the east coast.  Some of the popular ski destinations I have been to were Loon, Gunstock, Waterville Valley, Ski Bradford and Cannon.  When I arrived to the event, I knew that I would run into familiar ski destinations that I have skied at before.  What I didn’t know was that there would be ski destinations from the west coast as well.

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Ski resort employees flew into Boston from states such as Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, and Nevada.  Some of them have never been up to Boston until this weekend.  One vendor that caught my eye was Schweitzer, a mountain resort in Idaho.  I spoke to marketing & sales director Sean to get more insight about the place.

Sean informed me that the resort was in Sandpoint, a resort 45 miles below the Canadian border.  There are over 92 ski runs in the mountain, with a majority of the trails having an intermediate difficulty setting.  Truthfully I have never been to Idaho yet, but Sean told me that it’s a beautiful state of the western region.  I thanked Sean and wandered around to the next vendor area.

On to my left was a vendor for Jackson Hole in Wyoming.  One of my uncles heads to Jackson Hole for vacation every year, so I went over to talk with the employees.  I met with Andy Calder to get more information about the place.  Jackson Hole is a popular mountain resort with 133 trails to ski on.  It’s an incredible resort that also offers shops, restaurants, lodging, spas, and a booming nightlife.  This was one mountain that I will definitely have to check out if I am ever in Wyoming anytime soon!

Right nearby was a vendor for Crested Butte, a former coal mining town in Colorado.  Crested Butte transformed from being a coal mining town to becoming “the last great Colorado ski town”.  I talked with Heather Roberts, a leisure group sales manager, to gain more insight about skiing in Crested Butte.  Heather told me that Colorado is a beautiful state for skiing and Crested Butte doesn’t disappoint.  With snow falling almost every day, Crested Butte is one of many ski resorts in Colorado that opens for a longer season.  There are over 121 trails to ski on at Crested Butte and multiple restaurants to grab some grub after a long day of skiing.  After a nice talk with Heather about Colorado skiing, I headed off to another vendor for some more fun.

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Across from Crested Butte was a vendor for Telluride.  Telluride was another ski resort town in Colorado.  There were a rack of books about Telluride and I got to witness one of the most beautiful landscapes ever.  I couldn’t believe my eyes…it was row of colorful boxed buildings lined up to the mountain with a golden orange sunset blanketing the town.  This was truly a magnificent picture to look at.  It was then that I understood why people called it ‘Colorful Colorado’.  Looking at that picture in Boston made me tear up inside, wanting to grab my suitcase and head west to the Rocky Mountains.

About a few blocks away, I noticed this HUGE ski map with the sign ‘Big Sky Montana’ on top.  I just had to check out what was going on there.  It was there that I spoke to Dylan Hall, a national sales manager for Big Sky Resort.

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Dylan was talking about how Big Sky is the largest ski resort in America, with 5,800 acres of land dedicated to skiing. The huge map showcased all of the trail difficulties in the area.  Montana is one of many states I have not traveled to yet, but Dylan told me that it’s definitely worth the trip!  I thanked Dylan for his enthusiasm and headed off to another area.

Nearby was this huge snow-truck that was a part of Whisper Ridge BackCountry Resort.  Whisper Ridge is located in Utah, nestled deep in the Wasatch Mountains.  I spoke with Cort Lockwood, one of the owners/cat drivers of Whisper Ridge.  He informed me that Whisper Ridge is one of the best ski resorts in Utah.  Other than skiing, Whisper Ridge also offered Yurt lodgings for customers wanting to stay in Yurts.  Utah is definitely a state I need to check out in the future.

Mascots

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While wandering around the exhibit, I noticed some animal mascots roaming around to greet customers.  I made it my task to snap selfies with all of the mascots.  My first selfie was with a moose mascot.  Later I found out that the moose represented Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Carrabassett Valley, Maine.  This moose, known as Amos, wore an arctic blue shirt and had a wide smile to keep customers happy.  Amos was not shy about getting into the selfie with me!

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Another cool mascot that I took a selfie with was a penguin that I ran into.  Penguins were my favorite animal as a kid, so I HAD to snap a selfie with this penguin!  It was a typical black & white penguin that wore a red scarf while wandering around the building.  Kudos to the awesome penguin roaming around!

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One last mascot I ran into was another moose.  This moose represented Waterville Valley resort in Waterville Valley, NH.  The moose wore a sky-blue T-shirt that said ‘LOVE’ on the front.  I can safely say that this moose LOVED skiing in NH!

Ski/Snowboard Equipment

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Other than ski resorts, a lot of the vendors provided special ski/snowboard equipment for riders.  Well-known snowboard company Burton had a vendor showcasing their snowboard equipment.  I spoke with Melissa Pennington about how I knew Burton through studying at Champlain College in Burlington, VT.  Burton’s headquarters was in Burlington, but I never got to enter their office while in college.  There were some decorative boards to look and Burton provided some great equipment for snowboarding.

Around the corner I spotted a camera company showing snowboard movies on TV.  It was there that I spoke with chief financial officer Matt Andon of Proshot.  Proshot provides special cases for the iPhone 6/6s/7 that are compatible with GoPro.  These housings are waterproof, durable, and shockproof for capturing your moment anywhere.  It was a unique idea that worked well with the GoPro Mounts.

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There were two big blocks of ice in another vendor.  I walked over to the ice blocks to see that it was part of Icebug, a footwear company specializing in shoes that work well with ice/snow.  These shoes stick to the ice and don’t cause you to slip so easily when taking walks on snowy climates.  It was definitely something I could use when walking through icy climates!

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In another vendor where rustic photos of ski destinations.  What really got me interested were the pictures depicting areas of Boston.  I compliment artist Rusty of Rusty & Ingrid Creative Company on his amazing artwork.  Rusty did a great job of utilizing Boston landmarks (John Hancock Building) as his subject with his rustic paintings.  These paintings were just incredible to look at!

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Colorado is also home to many companies that provide ski/snowboard equipment.  One company was Grass Sticks, a ski equipment company in Steamboat Springs.  Grass Sticks makes their ski poles out of bamboo because the material lasts well when skiing.  I spoke with Andrew about how cool the ski poles looked and he told me how good bamboo worked when constructing the poles.

Technology shapes the way we ski in the 21st century.  One interesting app that revolves around ski/snowboarding was Snoww.  Snoww is a social ski tracking app that helps track your skiing experience.  From the mountains you ski to what trails you run through, Snoww works to keep your ski/snowboard life organized.  This app also lets you connect with other skiiers/snowboarders to discuss what mountains you have been on.  It was an app that featured a combination of Fitbit, Facebook, and Tinder.  This is truly a unique app for the ski/snowboard bums that want to share their experience with their friends.

Leonardo DiCaprio Heading to Mars


Leonardo DiCaprio has had quite the adventure while on-screen – sailing on the Titanic with Rose Bikater, fighting off grizzly bears in the wild west, and even explored other people’s dreams.  He has played audacious characters and finally won an Oscar for portraying Hugh Glass in The Revenant.  When he isn’t making movies in Hollywood, DiCaprio shifts his gears to his charity work on environmental activism.

DiCaprio made a visit to the White House last night for the South by South Lawn event.  South by South Lawn is an all-day festival dedicated to art, ideas, and action.  President Obama established the festival after traveling to South by Southwest earlier this year, calling for all creative thinkers and entrepreneurs from across the country to tackle some of the hardest challenges we are facing today.  Leonardo DiCaprio joined President Obama and Dr. Katherine Hayhoe last night to discuss the issues of climate change.  At one point of the discussion, DiCaprio discussed his latest venture – Mars.

This is NO publicity stunt for a new movie, folks!  DiCaprio has revealed plans of traveling to Mars help colonize the infamous planet.  The subject of SpaceX and Mars came up when Hayhoe was talking about how essential it was for people to connect with the reality of climate change on a universal, human level.  Hayhoe made a joke about how it would be crazy for someone signing up for a trip to Mars, in which DiCaprio chimed in to say that he signed up for the trip.  It is unclear whether Leonardo DiCaprio was serious or not, but we do know that he his next project may involve heading to Mars soon.

Last week, Elon Musk announced his plans to get humans to Mars in as early as 2025.  The mission, titled “Heart of Gold”, intends to carry up to 100 people into Mars and there’s a chance that some participants could die during the trip.  Musk estimated that the cost of sending humans to Mars could be about $10 billion per person, but he plans to reduce the costs to $200,000 per person.  Anyone who has $200,000 will be able to take a trip to another planet for a while.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s future trip to Mars was surprising to read about.  I knew that he had a lot of passion about the environment, but it’s interesting that he is taking it a step further by traveling to another planet.  While there hasn’t been a plan set in stone, it would be interesting to read what DiCaprio and other participants will accomplish during the journey.  This could be an intriguing publicity stunt for DiCaprio if he sets forth with the idea.  All we can do know is wait to hear more word about the trip.

If I had $200,00 to shell out, I would definitely sign up for the trip to Mars.  I know I would be leaving my home planet for a while, but I would learn so much from the journey.  As an avid traveler, I love traveling to new places that I have never been to before.  Traveling to Mars would be a huge accomplishment to cross off on my bucket list.  I usually don’t get homesick because I am too excited about exploring what’s around the area.

Since I don’t have that kind of money with me, I will have to settle for short trips around Massachusetts for an adventure.  Like DiCaprio, I am environmentally conscious of what is going on in the world.  I work to reduce my carbon footprint by walking to places rather than taking short drives.  Walking to places not only reduces time using my car, but it is also great exercise that keeps me clear-headed.  Climate change is an issue that should not be taken so lightly.  If more people joined together to reduce their carbon footprints, we would have a cleaner and greener earth.