C2C_Richard-Carter_March-2015_2This month, Army Staff Sergeant Kurt Erickson will begin leading a new team – one outside the military – at his new job at Amazon. Erickson found his position through a program run by Camo2Commerce that provides service members business training and internships at area companies.

As the education partner for Camo2Commerce’s Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy, City University of Seattle taught business fundamentals like leadership skills and project management to service men and women transitioning from Joint Base Lewis McChord.

In the military, Erickson gained plenty of experience leading a team, but what he learned through CityU was how to empower the individuals he works with.

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Arjay-ProtacioOffering advice to other transitioning military veterans, Arjay Protacio stressed the importance of utilizing available education benefits.

“As I look back, I feel I made the mistake of giving up on finishing school,” Arjay said. “Before I knew it, my education benefits had expired. But because I’m a disabled veteran I also qualified for vocational rehabilitation education benefits.”

Last year Arjay put those benefits to use and enrolled in CityU’s School of Management. Although he had plenty of work experience, Arjay said it was difficult to find employment without a college degree.

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Former City University of Seattle student Anthony Craig was recently named Outstanding Young Educator of the Year by the Washington State Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. Anthony received the 2014 recognition because of his commitment to students and staff, his leadership, and his personal achievements.

“I am honored to have received this award. I believe, though, that my work is only made possible by the collaborative work I am able to do with my community, my colleagues, and my students. I wish there were ways to honor our entire school community for their hard work! I am thankful we’re being acknowledged for our efforts to establish a school that truly serves our community.”

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Everyone can pinpoint influential figures in their lives, but even at a young age Jonathan Stutz reached beyond his community and pegged national and world leaders as his personal role models. One of Jonathan’s earliest memories is watching John F. Kennedy deliver a televised speech—an event that inspired his lifetime of interest in leadership. Last year Jonathan graduated from CityU’s Master’s in Leadership program, and is currently working with organizations to apply ideas pulled from his master’s thesis.

“Being a person who wants to make a difference in this world and have an impact beyond myself, City University’s MAL program was super attractive to me, and provides an avenue to deliver greater meaning and purpose to my life,” he said.

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It had been a while since I talked to kids about bees, and I forgot what great questions they come up with. On Friday I volunteered at the Washington State Fair at the Bee Booth, and spent four hours talking about how cool bees were, pointing out the queens in our two observation hives and stamping tiny hands with rubber bee cut-outs.

It must have been field-trip-to-the-fair day because it seemed like every 15 minutes another group of tiny people showed up, shepherded by their taller teachers with the neon yellow flags. With little kids you give them the run-down of what the worker bees, drones and queen look like, ask them how many eggs do they think the queen lays, and then ask if they know what bees make.

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Eric Mussen, the recently retired, extension apiculturist at UC-Davis spoke at yesterday’s meeting of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association. While his focus was on honey bee nutrition, Mussen stunned the group by opening with the results of his varroa mite study. Mussen explained he and his colleagues had been monitoring several colonies in California, recording the number of mites to fall through the hive in a given week.

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For the majority of the summer that tally stayed around one to two mites per day, but near the end of the season, Mussen said the mite number exploded to 1,700 in one week. He said these were perfectly healthy colonies throughout the summer, but with the dearth of pollen as winter approached, the bees began robbing honey from other mite-infested colonies.

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After about a week of traveling — beginning in Minneapolis and hanging around Glacier National Park for a few days — we arrived in Seattle on Monday. (But really I’ve been traveling since last August when I left DC, and Dave since May 2012 when he left Pennsylvania.) The city has been Dave’s holy grail for the past two years. Essentially he always knew he’d end up here but in true engineer fashion he had to take a systematic approach to determining a new home and visited every major U.S. city in order to make a decision.

A bit more on the impulsive side, I put full faith in his decision-making process and am happy to say “Great choice Dave!” So far the weather has been gorgeous — very much like San Diego. And our neighbors in our temporary Columbia City home are extremely nice and welcoming and jumped at the chance to tell us which neighborhoods we should explore. But, while the niceness and scenery hasn’t disappointed, for me, the best part so far are the fruit trees, everywhere!

On our run this morning I had to dodge sprawling Himalayan blackberry branches, jump over purple plums that were staining the sidewalks and kick through apples that made part of our route look like a McDonald’s ball pit. In fact, the blackberries are so prolific, it seems even the birds have forgotten to eat them — or maybe they’re too full. Either way, you pretty much can’t go two blocks without spotting some delicious berries.

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The downside, however, is that this species is highly invasive, and takes over frontyards pretty quick, making the block look a little defunct. Maybe this is why one of our neighbors told us yesterday that Columbia City was the “ghetto” of Seattle. Though, to be fair, he said “if Seattle has a ghetto, then this would be it.” I had to laugh at his comment this morning, as we ran past exquisite flower beds overflowing with blue bachelor’s buttons, orange cosmos, asiatic lilies and pet roses. Even the stereotype of pitbulls behind chain-link fences (sorry Star) didn’t hold up. Instead of ferocious, barking dogs the only things that stood guard were several chickens who were happily pecking at the dry grass in search of bugs.

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Flower beds, free plums and berries galore? Sounds more like paradise than the projects.

It’s getting harder and harder for Bayer to continue to deny the link between neonicotinoids and bee decline, especially with this new study from Harvard. Unlike the “facts” from Bayer — which claims insecticides are perfectly harmless when it comes to bees — Harvard scientists have used actual field studies to come to their conclusions. Mother Jones called the report a “smoking gun” that targets the neonics imidacloprid and clothianidin as causes of Colony Collapse Disorder.

The study tracked the progress of 18 hives beginning in July 2012. Twelve hives were fed sublethal amounts of pesticides via sugar syrup over 13 weeks, and the other six hives were kept as controls. According to the report, all 18 hives exhibited similar behavior throughout the summer months, but during the winter, bees from six of the 12 contaminated colonies failed to return to their hives, demonstrating classic behavior of CCD. On the other hand, none of the control hives displayed signs of CCD, but one showed symptoms of nosema.

What’s exciting about this study is scientists were able to replicate Colony Collapse Disorder through the experiment. Previous tests — like the ones cited by Bayer — have just occurred in laboratories and often only focused on bees in one stage of life. The Harvard study actually administered the insecticide to full colonies from July through September and monitored their response.

However, it could be said that the sample size in this latest study was too small. Jeff Pettis from the USDA said an 18-colony study was too small to confirm the link between neonicotinoids and CCD.

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Never have I had such an appreciation for suburban living. The city of Plano — outside of Dallas — is ringed with 1970s planned neighborhoods, where the one-story houses look out at each other across sidewalks and huge, empty streets.

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Their backyards are enclosed in a series of tall, wooden fences that create a maze of alleys to connect driveways and garages. It’s like everyone has their very own miniature palace. Each yard could very easily hold all your livestock — chickens, rabbits, turkeys, a pig or two — and maybe even grow some corn to feed them all.

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Inside the house is another marvel. The living room is the size of an entire house in San Lucas, Guatemala, and there are more light bulbs than probably the entire pueblo of Patchitulul. But the best part is the kitchen. There’s an oven that isn’t wood-fired or solar powered, a microwave and a refrigerator! I’ve completely adopted the domestic, Texan-housewife role and have made baked goods every day since our arrival.

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While these were all things I was looking forward to, one unexpected perk of the ‘burbs is its absolute silence. There are no wild, barking dogs at night, no roosters who chime every quarter-hour, and when you go for walks, at most you’ll encounter three other pedestrians. In fact, walking is so rare that the one time I meandered through the neighborhood without Dave — for no more than 10 minutes — I was asked if I needed a ride by a southern gentleman in a red pick-up truck. Sean later explained to me that no one walks, anywhere, and if you happen upon a lady on-foot, it’s assumed that her car has broken down.

All these sudden changes have been slightly overwhelming, but because we chose Texas to be our entry-point back into the states, becoming an American again is actually quite easy. We’ve already hit up two Mexican supermarkets and talked to a butcher, a waitress and a cashier in Spanish. Plus, we’re back on our Mexico City diet of delicious, cheap tacos!

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With everything at your disposal, it’s easy to miss the rigors of homesteading. But thankfully, Fiesta the Latino supermarket, is bringing do-it-yourself back to suburbanites. Just like in Ecuador, you can even make your own rope out of sisal. Only this time, there’s no need to grow the actual plant, just pick up a large chunk of it at the store. Same deal for tortillas. Why make your own? There are nearly 20 brands of corn or flour ones piled high at Fiesta.

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After deciding to cut our stay at IMAP short, or, rather, in half, Dave and I left San Lucas this week and headed off to the touristy side of Lake Atitlan in search of food we didn’t have to cook ourselves. One can only eat so many hard-boiled eggs. Remembering the cheap happy hour at La Iguana Perdida, we set our sights on Santa Cruz and those rum and cokes for 10 Quetzal — about $1.30 USD.

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Like the chicken bus that we took from Guatemala City, the kitschy mode of transportation on the lake – really the only way to get around between towns along the water – is by small motor boats. Aside from the occasional lake spray that escapes the confines of the boats’ flappy, plastic windows, the experience is pretty much like any other 9-to-5, public transit commute. Often times you’re sitting next to locals who caught the rush-hour boat after work, and the rumbling motor lulls them to sleep after a tough day at the office.

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As a tourist, however, you may ride the rush-hour boat, but you’ll have to pay the gringo premium for the service. Supposedly there are two types of boat taxis — public and private. According to the guidebook, the public operation is “semi-regulated,” which, I suppose, explains the men in matching white polo shirts, and the sign at the dock that lists the prices for various destinations. However, these numbers are pretty much meaningless, as the public boat drivers will make up endless excuses as to why today’s price is doubled. At first we believed them — it was Semana Santa, after all. But after a few days of this routine runaround, their excuses began sounding more and more like paltry attempts just to make more money. They ranged from “Oh, those are our morning prices,” while trying to explain the sign, to “the water is choppy right now.”

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Still, you don’t have many options when it comes to transportation around Lake Atitlan, and the rides are pretty fun. Toward the end we learned to hold out for a better price and they usually took pity on us.