Sunday, July 31, 2011

Expat with Kids logos

Today is a v e r y lazy Sunday and I have been playing around with logos for my Expat with Kids blog. I just can't seem to find one that convinces me. For the time being I have changed my signature. 

I am thrilled to announce that you can now print my posts directly from Expat with Kids blog by clicking on Print PDF below the signature of each post. Should you wish to e-mail a specific post to a friend of yours, please feel free to click on the enveloppe right after the comments.

Message of greeting from President of the Confederation to the Swiss Abroad

Message of greeting from President of the Confederation Micheline Calmy-Rey to the Swiss Abroad:

Swiss citizens;

For many of you our national day is a moment to take stock and to reflect. Wherever you may be on 1 August, you uphold the traditions of our country and confirm your attachment to Switzerland. This is why this is a very special day. Pride, love of your country, perhaps even homesickness: all these feelings may be experienced on 1 August. Take advantage of the opportunity and forget about your Helvetic modesty for a short while!

I would like to assure you that your love of Switzerland is reciprocated. Just as you feel attached to our country, Switzerland also cares about you, not only on 1 August but throughout the year. It is often said that the Swiss Abroad are ambassadors for Switzerland abroad. But in my view they are more than that. They embody our country's attachment to the wider world. Thanks to you, the citizens of your host country learn more about our country. And if one day you come back to Switzerland to live, our economy will benefit from the experience that you have gained abroad. I would like to thank you for this contribution to our country's prosperity.

 Ladies and gentlemen

You all know that Switzerland has always depended on exchanges and trade with other countries. But in recent years our interconnectedness with the world has grown even stronger. You as members of the Swiss Abroad are the living proof of this.
A period of time spent abroad is almost a standard experience for many Swiss citizens. The 'fifth Switzerland' is extremely diverse. It includes pensioners in Spain, students in Germany, bankers in Singapore and development helpers in Tanzania. But I am also thinking of the growing number of persons with dual nationality, who in many cases facilitate our relations with their host countries. Their openness, their interest in people throughout the world and their adaptability are key qualities on the path to success.

The qualities that help you in your daily life have also helped Switzerland. Openness and adaptability have enabled our country to cope relatively well with the economic crisis of recent years. Today in many respects we are better off than other countries. But this also imposes an obligation: the obligation to show solidarity. Switzerland has again and again demonstrated its solidarity, even in the most recent past example of the deployment of Humanitarian Aid after the atomic disaster in Japan, or of Switzerland's activity in connection with the upheavals in North Africa and in the Near East. I am proud of this Swiss solidarity.

Dear fellow countrymen and countrywomen,

On behalf of the Federal Council I sincerely wish you a happy 1 August.

Click here to listen to the Italian version of the August 1st speech by Micheline Calmy-Rey.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fun facts about Switzerland

August 1st is to the Swiss what July 4th is to Americans, or July 14th to the French. Swiss National Day is only just over a century old, and it was only in 1993 that the hardworking Swiss agreed that they could all take the day off, but the event it commemorates took place 700 years ago, and at the heart of the celebrations is a custom which doubtless goes back into the mists of time.

The day was chosen because August 1st, 1291 was the date on which three Alpine cantons swore the oath of confederation, an act which later came to be regarded as the foundation of Switzerland. The representatives of Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri met on the Rütli field, high above Lake Lucerne, to swear a bond of brotherhood, and agree to act jointly if their freedoms were threatened by outside aggressors.

Just for fun.... I thought I'd list a few facts about Switzerland that you might wish to share with your kids. August 1st, Switzerland's National Day is right around the corner, so get you Cervelat sausages and candle lampions ready and check out the nearest bomfire to celebrate the Swiss style! ;)

Here goes the list of Swiss fun facts:

- Victorinox, the manufacturer of the famous Swiss army knife, was founded in 1884.
- Nestlé, founded by Swiss Henri Nestle, is the biggest food company in the world.
- Albert Einstein published his Theory of Relativity in 1905, when he was working as a patent clerk in Bern.
- Swiss Guards protect the Pope at the Vatican.
- The flag of Vatican, is the only other square flag, apart from Switzerland's.
- The flag of the Red Cross is the flag of Switzerland with the colours inverted.
- The famous pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis are based in Switzerland.
- The Swiss are world-wide leaders in private banking or asset management for individuals. UBS and Credit Suisse are among the leading banks.
- Housing is expensive, only about one-third of Swiss population live in their own house.
- The Swiss franc is among the world's most stable currencies.
- Switzerland is one of the world's largest watch manufacturers.
- Apart from luxury brands, Switzerland is also known for the world's best selling plastic watch, the Swatch.
- Switzerland has the second highest life expectancy, after Sweden
- 60% of Switzerland's electricity is produced by hydroelectric power.
- Swiss women were the last in Europe to get the vote (apart from Liechtenstein). It was only in 1971 that the male electorate agreed to allow them voting rights at federal level.
- Some 400,000 Swiss emigrated between 1850 and 1914 to North and South America, and founded Swiss colonies. Bern has 26 towns & villages named after it in the US.
- Switzerland leads the world in chocolate consumption. It is said that an average Swiss eats 23lbs of chocolate annually.

More fun facts:
Switzerland in numbers:

The Canton Game:
Test your knowledge of Swiss geography with the canton game: drag and drop the names and flags into the appropriate place on the map. If you've placed them correctly, they'll stick. Click here!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Swiss National Day photo competition

The First of August is especially important when you live abroad. Do you celebrate Swiss National Day in the same way when you live in Dakar, Paris or Tokyo? What does the celebration actually mean to you? To find out, and its partner Swiss Tourism are launching an August 1st competition this year.

Launched only 11 months ago, SwissCommunity already offers another innovation: the first edition of its online magazine:

The SwissCommunity online magazine distinguishes itself by its fresh style and aesthetics. It speaks about what is happening within your community, it makes you (re-)discover Switzerland and presents you other Swiss living abroad and SwissTourism invite you to submit your best photos of 1 August 2011. Regardless of the country you live in, send your best pictures or those which capture moments of great importance to you. Be creative! 15 of these photos will receive a prize. The judges’ panel, comprising members of and ST, will make the selection and the people sending those photos will receive a ‘Swiss parcel’ generously offered by SwissTourism by way of thanks.

Please send your photos in jpeg format by 5 August 2011 to the following address:

1st prize to 5th prize:
A ‘Swiss parcel’ with a SIGG bottle, two wooden cow sculptures and a genuine leather suitcase label

6th prize to 15th prize:
A genuine leather suitcase label

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Swiss National Day in Lugano: August 1st!

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
Mark Twain

The 1st of August - Switzerland's National Day - is celebrated everywhere, as it always has been, with meetings in town squares, fetes, fireworks and bonfires. Swiss flags wave all over the country, folk and traditional music enlivens the entire day, while kids have fun setting off firecrackers and parading through the villages with traditional lanterns.

The institution of the National Celebration Day dates back to 1891, but it actually celebrates an event 700 years old and indeed, the heart of the celebrations is based on a tradition more than a thousand years old. To celebrate the homeland, this day was chosen because right on the 1st of August 1291, three of the alpine cantons (Uri, Schwitz and Unterwalden) vowed to be faithfull to the Confederation, the act considered as the foundation of Switzerland and which took place on Grütli field, overlooking the Vierwaldstättersee.

National Holiday Celebration of Monday, August 1st and Fireworks in Lugano:

06.00 Reveille with the Drums
10.15 Meeting of the authorities in the Patio of the Town Council
10.30 Laying of the wreath at the Monument of Independence
11.00 Concert of the Castagnola Philharmonic Orchestra in Piazza della Riforma
20.30 Meeting of the Authorities and Associations of Via Nassa
20.45 Departure of the cortege of the Authorities (Route: Via Nassa, Piazza Battaglini, Riva Vela, Rivetta Tell, Via Canova, Via degli Albrizzi, Piazza Manzoni, Piazza Riforma)
21.15 Commemorative speech
21.45 Concert in Piazza della Riforma by the Civic Philharmonic of Lugano
22.30 Grand fireworks display

View the detailed programme by clicking here:

The Navigation Society of Lake Lugano will be organizing an observation deck on a boat from which to fully enjoy the excitement of the fireworks display. Click here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

1. August Farmer's Brunch

When August 1st rolls around I start feeling terribly patriotic...but then again I do on July 4th as well!?! Anyway, my home is definately Switzerland therefore over the past decade August 1st has been celebrated in Swiss Clubs in Buenos Aires, Milano and Madrid. After having moved back to Switzerland I have discovered the August 1st Farmer's Brunch which was launched in 1993 and which I have been taking my family and friends to religiously for the last four years.

On top of Monte Tamaro (2009)

The August 1st Brunch at the farm was invented by the Swiss Farmers: The objective was to contribute to a reputable Swiss agriculture. The event attracts around 200'000 people a year. There are 430 farms that offer breakfast/brunch on Switzerland's National day. You'll find 35 participating farms in Ticino. The National Day brunch is definitely worth exploring! If you wish you can even combine it with a hike and make it an unforgattable day!

Lunch is waiting for us..

The August 1st Farmer's Brunch association stick to the basics: the brunch must really be on the farm, and not in a restaurant, and must be arranged by a professional in the agricultural sector, and not by a sporting associations. As a guest at one of these brunches, you have the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy cheese, bread, meat, fruit, milk, müesli and many other culinary specialties in a special atmosphere. Prices may vary from 20 to 35 francs for a breakfast brunch. The best part is that you can also purchase the local produce to take home for a reasonable price. You can convince yourself of the local origin and quality of products and experience first hand how much work and put heart and soul behind these products. Nothing tastes better than fresh products right off the farm: honey, cheese, bread, ham, milk.....yummy!

Aperitivo alla ticinese

So what are you waiting for? Choose your spot and make sure you book a table before July 30th because places fill up fast. Click here for details in French or German:
Click here for a list of August 1st Brunch in Ticino:

Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011
Time: 9:00 - 13:00 (can vary, therefore check directly with participating farmer)
Price: CHF 20.- to CHF 35.-
Participating farms will be well sign posted for easy access, they are Swiss remember ;)

For more informationen call:  Tel. 0901 56 43 43 (weekdays 8.00-12.00 and 13.30-17.00)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kids Travel Activity book

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”
Paul Theroux

All great kid vacation starts with some sort of travel, so if you are an organized parent, you will have plenty activities for kids planned for the travel time. Traveling with kids is always an adventure and keeping them busy on the way is a challenge every mom needs to face. This activity book is perfect for keeping kids busy in the car, on family road trips, when flying with kids, or even at a restaurant.

This Kids' Travel Activity Book is jam-packed with fun word puzzles, logic games, brain benders, and more. It's the perfect distraction for your kids on car trip, plane trips, or anytime provided by Family Education:

The key to a good long flight or car ride with children is preparation and involving your child in selecting their entertainment. Supervise their selection and make sure that they are excited about what they bring. Building this excitement is a key to a pleasant trip for them, for you, and most of all the other passengers.

Here's a little bonus. Print off this booklet full of fun games and activities to entertain and educate kids while you run errands or grocery shop: Grocery store games

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse - a lost talent

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
Norman Cousins, American Essayist 1912-1990

Newsweek magazine called her "a perfect storm of sex kitten, raw talent and poor impulse control" back in 2008.

Last night she was scheduled to appear at the Nyon Paleo Summer Festival 2011 but the date was cancelled due to health problems, after her recent Belgrade performance when she appeared to be drunk on stage.

Amy Winehouse's tragically short life was fraught with personal issues, but her immense talent was undeniable. Amy Winehouse was just 27 years old as were all these other (in-)famous artists when they died, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Brian Jones.

It is extremely sad that she was never able to find peace whilst alive with her talent or success.  She led a rollercoaster life style that was destined to end in tragedy but she will live on in music history.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chilling out at Lugano's Lanchetta Terrace

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
Robert Brault

La Lanchetta is a very nice bar and restaurant on the eastern end of Lugano’s lakeshore, just a few meters away from the restaurant aL LiDO. It was renovated in 2003 and now shines in its new modern appearance. You will be attracted by the raw and vibrant space and artwork.

La Lanchetta is particularly appealing during summer time, when they open the whole front wall. You can enjoy your aperitif right on the lake. Sitting on the lake opposite the Hotel Cassarate Lago, this hip, dimly lit bar is perfect for pre-dinner drinks.

If you are looking for a real chill out evening, well,  La Lanchetta is definitely your place. Smooth Jazz and lounge music will be the soundtrack of your night while sipping a delicious glass of Prosecco enjoying the amazing view of the lake.

Thursday nights are reserved for Live Jazz Music and Friday & Saturday promise DJ entertainment.

Check it out with your partner and enjoy a romantic moment à la Luganese. ;)

La Lanchetta
Viale Castagnola 16, 6900 Lugano
Tel 091 971 55 51

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lugano's aL LiDO Beach Lounge

“So here’s to all those summer nights when my feet hit the sand and the waves break my fall and all my friends around me out number the stars.”

The Lido di Lugano would be qualified as the one and only true specialty of Lugano! No other place in Lugano can bring you to rejoice the beautiful summers as the Lido.

Upon entrance you are directly attracted to its victorian-style infrastructure and its beach sands. There is one very big swimming pool and a huge place to sit down in the the sun, or in the shade if preferred, and feel the warm Lugano-sun like nowhere else in Switzerland.

aL LiDO is a restaurant, a disco-bar and a beach lounge right on the lakeside where you can relax, taste a wide range of gastronomic products, sit back on the terrace and enjoy the spectacular view of the Gulf of Lugano.

aL LiDO is open from March to December; the gastronomical suggestions and public events follow the seasons, and from the indoor area you will enjoy the beautiful lake view regardless of the outside temperature.

The Restaurant aL LiDO was founded by four young professionals in the fields of gastronomy, communications and management consultancy, who from an early age had spent their summers here on the beach of the Lido of Lugano. It was during a winter get-together that they came up with the idea - based on memories of their teenage days at the Lido - to promote one of the most beautiful places in Lugano. The City Council appreciated their concept and was enthusiastic to let them develop it and so, out of the many applicants, conferred the management of the restaurant and kiosks of the Lido di Lugano to these young men.  And so it happened!

Check out the following events:
Friday July 22nd, 2011: PopStars and Dj Neekee
Saturday July 23rd, 2011: Suite Beach Lounge and Dj Alan Kohler

Reservations for restaurant: 091 971 55 00
Privè: 079 820 94 90

Via Castagnola 6, 6906 Lugano
Tel 058 866 68 80

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Monte San Giorgio - the Swiss Dinosaur mountain

"Dinosaurs may be extinct from the face of the planet, but they are alive and well in our imaginations."

The Monte San Giorgio, a mount which rises to a height of 1,097m from the shores of the lake opposite the town of Lugano offering a delightful panorama of the region, has a truly rich inner life. The Monte San Giorgio has been a Mecca for fossil scientists since the 19th century and was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The mount is of outstanding cultural and scientific interest thanks to the wealth of geological formations and their fossils dating back 230 million years to the mid-Triassic period.

Thousands of fossilised fish and marine saurians of up to six metres in length have already been unearthed here by eager palaeontologists. And for good reason: 200 million years ago, this was the site of a 100-metre-deep ocean basin. Today, at the southern end of Lake Lugano, the Monte San Giorgio rises like a pyramid – inside, filled with all manner of fossils.

Around 80 different species of fish and 30 marine and land reptiles have been discovered at the numerous excavation sites. What’s more, the scientists have also found hundreds of fossilised invertebrate animals and plants from the middle Triassic period, 230 to 245 million years ago.

Stroll through the village and head towards the Fossil Museum. Don't expect anything grand but with a pinch of fantasy and a whole lot of imagination you can bring some pretty scary creatures back to life. Your kids will love it!

For detailed information on Monte San Giorgio click on their site:
For an overview of all of Switzerland's UNESCO World Heritage click here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

European Cliff Diving Championship in Ponte Brolla

"Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down."
Ray Bradbury, American author

Since 1992 International cliff diving competition, such as Swiss Open Championships, European Championships and World Championships have taken place in the magic Maggia Valley. With its countless breathtakingly beautiful, natural swimming pools, often surrounded by steep granite cliffs, the Maggia Valley belongs to one of the most spectacular natural settings for cliff diving in the world.

Fifteen times already, athletes have shown their technical skills in the Canyon of Ponte Brolla in this spectacular competition for men and women, divided in different categories in an exciting programme.

Thanks to the force of gravity, the human body needs just 3 seconds to fall 20 m, reaching a speed of almost 100 km/h. Formula 1 acceleration, without belts or helmet, and equipped only with a swimsuit and teeth protection.

A little history of Cliff Diving:

Cliff Diving’s birth place is on the tiny Hawaiian Island Lana’i. At the island’s South Western point lies Kaunolu which was an inhabited village, but is now a sacred ruin place. Verified by documents are the first Cliff Dives from Kahekili, chief of four Islands, who “flew” from the 63 feet Cliffs at Kaunolu in 1770. To prove loyalty and courage, Kahekili forced his warriors to follow his example. Legends say that Kahekili, nicknamed “birdman”, was flying from cliffs up to 400 feet (122 meters). Later, under King Kamehameha I, there were Cliff-Diving competitions held at Kaunolu. The Hawaiian expressions „lele kawa“ (diving without splash) and „lele pahu“ (diving with a lot of splash), testify to this past.

So head out to Ponte Brolla next weekend, reserve a table at the trendy Restaurant "Da Enzo" and after a delicious lunch, you'll be able to witness three breath-taking dives and perfect flying stunts from 13,15 and 20 m into the river Maggia.

Training will start on Friday, July 22nd, 2011. The competition will take place on Saturday, July 23rd at 14:00. For more info click on World High Diving Federation here:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer learning ideas for kids

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”
Chinese Proverb

A break from school doesn't have to mean a break from learning. There are plenty of ways for your kids to have fun this summer, while expanding their knowledge at the same time. Prevent summer brain drain with these everyday ways to learn, while having fun! Shhh … don't tell them it's educational!

1.) A lemonade stand is the quintessential summertime activity for kids, and math is needed to keep it up and running! Younger kids can work on their measuring and money-counting by mixing the lemonade and making change for customers. Older kids can be in charge of setting the price by determining the cost per serving and setting a profit margin. By using these math skills, your kids will have a successful business serving thirsty consumers all summer long!

2.) If you've got a little sous chef on your hands, there is no better place than the kitchen to turn cooking and baking into a math lesson. Give your younger child tasks like sorting your ingredients or counting how many eggs you need for a certain recipe. Your older kids can work on number recognition and fractions by helping to measure ingredients, turning the oven to the correct temperature (with adult supervision), and dividing up the servings. After you've finished your cooking, you'll have a tasty little reward to enjoy together.

3.) Math problems abound at the mall, and many stores have summertime sales. The next time your teen's favorite store is having a sale, take her shopping. Ask her how much she will be saving on a certain sale item. For example, if a $25 item is 20 percent off, how much does it cost? You can mix and match different prices and discounts, add several sale items together, and even have your teen create an outfit with a pre-set budget. She might be surprised to see how much percentages, fractions, and decimals play into one of her favorite pastimes!

4.) The next time you take your child with you while you run errands, turn it into a learning activity. Calculating time and mileage is a fun way for your child to pass the time in the car. For example, if the grocery store is three miles away, how long does he think it will take you to get there? If you have several errands to run, ask you child how far away he thinks each destination is from the other, and then clock it to see how close his guess is. Another fun car game is to use the numbers on license plates as an addition and subtraction lesson. Ask your child to add or subtract all the numbers he sees on the license plates you pass. Not only will he be learning math while you get your errands done, keeping him occupied will help keep any car meltdowns at bay, too.

5.) If your child loves being a little carpenter, it's easy to turn his next summertime project into a math lesson. Whether you are building a tree house, a bird house, or simply have some extra wood and nails to play around with, break out the tape measure and let your child go to town. Your child can help figure out square footage, measure angles, and determine how much wood is needed to cover a certain area. Older kids can help measure and cut wood to fit in a certain spot. He won't even know he's working on his algebra and geometry skills.

6.) Take a walk around your neighborhood or local park, and look for different shapes and patterns in nature. For example, how far apart are the telephones from each other in your neighborhood? Are they all the same distance, or do they vary? Is there a pattern? This lesson can also be done with trees, fire hydrants, or even flowers in a garden. Ask your child to point out all the patterns he sees, and point out the ones you see, as well. Additionally, take note of all the shapes that can be found in nature. Ask your child to find a living thing that is a square, rectangle, or circle. With so much to see and find, he'll never know you're working on his geometry skills!

Print out this contract by Family Education to get your child interested in a summer learning program. Help him reach his summer learning goals and get prepared for the next school year. Click here for Summer Learning contract.

Use this printable sheet to record the creative and innovative ways in which your child wishes to learn new skills over the course of the summer. Click here for skills sheet.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Celebrating Nelson Mandela Day

It amazes and delights me that it was my son who reminded me, that today was Nelson Mandela Day. My son was born 11 years ago, after Apartheid, after Mandela's liberation from prison, after Madiba served as President for the same country which had put him behind bars for 27 years.

During last year's Football World Cup - hosted by South Africa - I insisted in enlightening my kids about South Africa's history, Apartheid and the role of Nelson Mandela and Rev. Desmond Tutu. Yes, that would be the Archbishop who was wearing a yellow t-shirt and was dancing with the yellow and black Bafana banner wrapped around him.

Well, all that lecturing seems to have paid off. So, why not take the time today to talk to your kids about South Africa, Apartheid and Nelson Mandela.

Under South Africa's apartheid regime, Mandela spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of sabotage and attempts to overthrow the government. He was released in 1990 and became president in 1994.

Since 2009, the former South African president's birthday has been designated "Nelson Mandela International Day."

But July 18 isn't a National holiday. Supported by the United Nations, it's a day of public service, on which people are encouraged to spend at least 67 minutes doing some kind of community service in honor of the 67 years Mandela spent fighting for social justice. It is a call to action for people everywhere to take responsibility for making the world a better place, one small step at a time, just as Nelson Mandela did.

"Together, the best way we can thank Nelson Mandela for his work is by taking action for others and inspiring change," U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said last week.

Mandela is now too frail for public appearances, battling the health problems that come with old age. But many in South Africa want to remind him, and others, that his sacrifices and his extraordinary life journey are not forgotten.

Click here to download the 2011 Nelson Mandela International Day fact sheet.

Click here for 67 ways to observe Nelson Mandela International Day.

You also might be interested in "The 16th Man" a documentary about South Africa's rugby team narrated by Morgan Freeman.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Who is the fairest of them all? Switzerland

"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. otherwise what is there to defend."Robert Reford

Following yesterday's US environmental chart I decided to do some more research on where Switzerland stands on the matter? We all know the Swiss must be hovering among the top 10 but how clean are the Swiss exactly? Well, according to the Environmental Performance Index (a ranking released by experts at Yale and Columbia universities) Switzerland was at No. 1 followed by the Scandinavian bloc (Sweden, Norway, Finland) and then Costa Rica in 2008! Unfortunately Iceland beat us to it in 2010. I am wondering if that was before or after the vulcano outbreak that stranded so many travellers (including myself!) last spring? To see details on Switzerland click here.

The United States, for its part, came in 61st (39th in 2008) among the 149 countries tracked in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. That's well behind other industrialized nations like the United Kingdom (14) and Japan (20, before the earthquake!), the researchers noted. Most members of the European Union outranked the United States! Click here to see ranking per country.

EPI indicators are:

Released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the index tracks 25 indicators in ten policy categories: environmental health, air pollution, water resources (effects on humans and on ecosystem), biodiversity and habitat, productive natural resources, climate change, agriculture, fishery and forestry.

"At a time when so much scientific evidence is telling us that the Earth's ecosystems are in crisis, it is inexcusable that our collective investment in environmental monitoring is so low. For some critical issues such as water it is actually decreasing," said Marc Levy, deputy director of Columbia’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network.

"When a hospital patient's health worsens," he added, "doctors increase their monitoring, and we need to do the same for the planet."

My personal bet would be that Switzerland will regain it's well deserved first place in the ranking of Environmental Performance next time around.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

United States of Environment infographic

Mother Nature Network is a website I stumbled upon late one night and found a curious piece of information. Always on the lookout for weird and wonderful facts I decided to share this infographic. Mother Nature Network (MNN) took a closer look at how each state shines and suffers in regard to science, nature, public health or social justice. Check out the maps below, and for more info (or to be reminded which state is which) see their website here: Mother Nature Network.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sky Park Singapore - an engineering wonder

“Don't tell me the sky is the limit, there are footprints on the moon!”

Last summer the most extraordinary structure was inaugurated in Singapore. I came across these photos the other day and I now have yet another reason to travel to that part of the world. Sands "Sky Park" is "suspended" at 200-meter height ontop of three skyscrapers, as if on pillars and is considered a new wonder of the world.

Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including cost of the prime land.

Stretching longer than the Eiffel tower laid down or four and a half A380 Jumbo Jets, with an impressive 12,400 square meters of space, the Sands SkyPark can host up to 3900 people. At 57-stories high, the gravity-defying cantilever is one of the largest of its kind in the world. From this privileged observation deck, hundreds of visitors at a time can feast their eyes on the unforgettable panorama view of Singapore or play in a casino, bars, restaurants, the largest outdoor swimming pool at that height — an infinity pool 150 meters long, and a Museum of Modern Art. The designer or architect of the project is Moshe Safdie architects. The engineers were from Arup & Parsons Brinkerhoff.

Sands Sky Park marks Asia's most spectacular business and leisure destination with over 2,500 rooms & suites and state-of-the-art convention and exhibition facilities, theaters, world-class casino, entertainment and the best shopping and dining in Singapore.

Off you go.... go have some fun....... even if only in your imagination ;)
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