Saturday, December 24, 2011

Langawki Geopark - The Jewel of Kedah by Sara Lemos

Sara Lemos is an avid traveler whose primary region of travel is South East Asia. She has been there three times. Currently she is in Thailand and recently was in Langawki, Malaysia. Sara is from the UK, but does not spend much time in her homeland as she is on the road most of the time. she started her blog "The Ninja Travels in order to archive her travels and keep a log of her experiences. You can see The Ninja Travels at

The article featured in this post is one she wrote for the Langawki Gazette and is about the Langawki Geopark. If you're not sure what  Geopark is please read the following blog post. It's really quite interesting.

- Randall Webb

Langawki Geopark the Jewel of Kedah by Sara Lemos

In 2007 UNESCO declared Langkawi and its surrounds, one of 64 globally recognised Geoparks. 

What is a Geopark I hear you say?
Well you could stab a guess and break down the word to something like geological park. But as per UNESCO’s definition it is so much more. They define it as

‘A territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological or cultural value.’ ( )

Essentially, this means that as well as geological heritage, a Geopark also comprises recognised conservational efforts, local community support and ecotourism. Geoparks are nationally protected areas but, by and large, accessible for visitors to take in their wonder while still upholding the notion of sustainable development.

Langkawi’s branding as a Geopark is obvious in its array of impressive rock formations surrounded by ancient jungle, vast caves with stalactites and stalagmites, winding mangrove rivers, sea caves and tunnels, wildlife and waterfalls. As well as these impressive features, environmentally, eco-tourism is promoted in the community with areas such as Laman Padi in Cenang. Here you will find a rice garden museum with an 8.6 acres paddy field, educating visitors on the traditional and modern ways rice is harvested. The cable car ride up to the top of Machinchang Mountain, allows visitors the chance to explore the waterfalls and fauna in the pristine forest below whilst still preserving its natural beauty.

The 99 islands in this region, which cover 10,000 hectares, make Langkawi one of Malaysia’s top destinations to visit for natural beauty, ecological harmony and geological significance. You will also
 find here the most exposed and complete Palaeozoic sedimentary sequence in Malaysia.

Over 90 geosites have been found in the region but there are three distinct areas that form the Langkawi Geopark, each with its own unique geological makeup. The MaChinchang Mountain Ranges are renowned for their Cambrian (first geological period of the Paleozoic Era) rock formations; the Kilim Geopark for its Karst landscape; and the Dayang Bunting Geopark for its marble formations.

The MaChinchang Mountain RangesGeologically, the sandstone mountain range of MaChinchang, in the north western corner of Langkawi, and Gunung Raya, a granite mountain at the centre, are a great testament to its classification as a Geopark. Gunung Raya is the tallest mountain range on the island standing at 881m. Machinchang is the oldest rock formation on Langkawi, and stands 800m above sea level. It was created over half a billion years ago and was the first part of South East Asia to rise from the seabed during the Cambrian period. The oldest  part of this mountain range is Teluk Datai. This is where the oldest grains of sand rest, its history displayed in the exposed surface of sandstone in the upper part and mudstone/shale in the lower part.

The Kilim Geoforest ParkThe Kilim Geoforest Park in the north east corner, a rugged karstic limestone terrain, offers an array of winding mangrove rivers to explore. These are surrounded by pinnacles of various shapes, near vertical karstic hills and caves formed from millions of years of erosion. Within these caves you will see amazing limestone formations. Here you can find plenty of marine life in the emerald green waters below as well as spot birds, including the islands famous eagles, up high.

 Dayang Bunting GeoparkSouth of Langkawi you will find the second largest island of the archipelago, Pulau Dayang Bunting. Famous for the fresh water lake found nestled amongst hills of rugged forest, it is also known as Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. The lake originated as a massive limestone cave which collapsed. There you will also find the finest Permian marble formations in the world.
As well as its geological beauty, Dayang Bunting also contains a deep spirituality. Legend tells of a heavenly maiden, married to an earthly prince, who loses a child shortly after the birth. She is said to have buried the child in the lake then blessed the waters with fertility before parting earth for heaven. Nowadays it is populated by tourists and locals who come to swim and admire the surrounding landscape. From a certain angle, the shape of the island resembles a pregnant maiden laying on her back. This magical quality as well as the area’s overall astounding beauty is what many believe make Langkawi the number one Geopark in the world.

Things to consider when visiting Langkawi Geopark:• Don’t leave your rubbish behind, and be considerate if you see any laying around – pick it up and put it in the bin
• Please do not feed the wildlife.  You are not only disrupting their ecological cycle but, especially the monkeys, they become accustomed to human contact and may become aggressive if approached with food.
• Be careful when swimming around the coral reefs. Standing on them is damaging and harmful to the ecology of marine wildlife.
Be considerate to Mother Nature; she was here long before you!

You can see this original article at the Langawki Gazzette @

Thank you very much Sara for lending this fantastic article to The Guest Writer Blog

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Life as a Disabled Person and How I Feel About It by Emily

This guest post comes to us from a fantastic and intuitive writer named Emily. What I like most about Emily is her blunt honesty. She basically says it as she sees it. What I get from honest people like Emily is that we can learn a lot from them.  Emily is paralyzed from the neck down due to having a tumor removed from her brain in 2009. She is only 24 years old.

With this post Emily shares her views on what it's like to be a disabled person.

those of you who wish to know more about Emily you can visit her blog called Emily's world at

- Randall Webb (aka RIW)

Life as a Disabled Person and How I Feel About It by Emily

I feel sorry for myself today, so I thought I would blog about what it is like in my opinion to be so disabled. Well, to state the obvious it does really suck! I know I am lucky really because I have three wonderful caretakers. They are absolutely fantastic and I really appreciate all the hard work that they do for me. They helped me feel so much better but I can't stop wishing that I didn't need them. I don't need to name them, if they read this they know that they are. I'm also lucky because I can communicate. I have seen people who are fully aware in the head and they cannot talk. I lived like that before three months when I had my tracheotomy. It is like being in your own personal prison. Even then I was lucky compared to some people as I could move my lips. I know people who can't. It must be hell. But even if I do compare myself to those who cannot communicate, to those who I am far better off than I can't help but feel sorry for myself.

I often get this miserable feeling when I am sitting here on the Internet or watching TV. I think back a few years to when I was very active and going hiking, cycling and horse riding. Even to when I was going out to work. I wish it was still the same now. I hate the fact that my body is almost completely useless. I look down at my body, I look at my arms and my legs. They look normal apart from being a little thin. But, they are pretty much useless. I can just about move the thumb on my right hand and I can slightly move my fingers on that hand and I can move my wrist a bit. My left hand cannot do anything. I do have some sensation in that hand which my occupational therapist says is a good thing. It is still very frustrating not being able to feed my self, give my cat a cuddle or even scratch an itch. My legs are also useless. The muscles are wasting away. Before all this, I would've loved to have slim legs, I guess you should be careful what you wish for. I can barely move my legs at all. I can weight bear on them when I am having decent physiotherapy and sometimes when I am doing a transfer into the car. I have not got much sensation in my legs, but I can feel pain in them. My joints often hurt a lot. I am on a morphine patch to help reduce the pain. I am also on a lot of oral pain killers, medication to stop my spasms, antidepressants and tablets to help me sleep.

I guess I should talk about my physiotherapy. This is the thing that is affecting me a lot and the moment. A few months ago my physiotherapy was great. I was getting five sessions of it a week with two very experienced physiotherapist's the sessions ran for an hour. During these sessions the physiotherapists would stand me up. They had to support me a lot whilst doing this. We built up the time of standing up to 20 minutes. It was painful but it was strengthening my legs and I was beginning to be able to move them more. Unfortunately my therapy got cut down to 3 sessions a week. I complained to the body of people that did it. They then moved my therapy from the clinic that I was being treated at to an NHS one. My new NHS physiotherapist hardly does anything with me. She just wiggles me a little bit. My legs have wasted away a lot since my therapy cutbacks. My motivation has also dropped. My new physiotherapist has told me that I will never walk again. And I might as well stop dreaming that I will. Other therapists that I have had have said that I do have potential but obviously with being treated by this woman I have no hope at all. I am fighting to get my therapy reinstated to what I was getting. I am 24 years old I deserve a chance of recovery.

I am also struggling with depression. My counselor and Doctor say it is not surprising that I am depressed. I hate tthat I can't do anything any more.. I am jealous of my friends when they go clubbing and things like that of a night because I can't go. It feels like my life is over. I do get invited out every now and again and sometimes I do go. I am paranoid about being looked at. I have noticed that people do stare at me. Haven't they ever seen a wheelchair before? Another reason that I do not go out much is because of myy pain levels. With the counseling that I have been receiving I have been braver lately about going out. I went to the zoo and the other day and I really enjoyed myself. My friend's baby daughter is getting christened next month and I am going to go to that. I am really looking forward to it. I do want to go out with my friends when they go out. But sometimes I can't because places are all accessible. I suppose I am a bit like a Dalek I can't do stairs. I don't want to waste my life sitting in my house. My physiotherapist has told me I just need to accept the fact that I am not going to get any better and this is as good as it is going to get. I cannot live my life like this. Without trying to sound dramatic I think I would rather be dead. I know that is a selfish thought. After all these things that people have done to help me and I am thinking bad thoughts like that. The annoying thing is there are people who could make my life more bearable. They could give me the therapy that I need. They could give me the equipment I need. (I would like a standing frame and a car hoist) but they will not do it and that is because of money in my opinion. I think they need to put themselves in my shoes. Just for one day they need to live the way I have to live and then maybe I will get what I need. I don't think they realize that I am normal as such in the head. They think I'm some kind of vegetable just because I am in a wheelchair. Do they not realize that I have feelings and thoughts that I am actually an intelligence person? I did not ask to be put in this situation. I often ask myself what I did to deserve this. Yes I know this is another selfish thing to think but I cannot help it. Wouldn't you think the same if you have to live like me?

I am grateful for what I do have. I have fantastic friends and carers and a good family. I have a lovely bungalow and a gorgeous little cat. I have a car. I get some therapy. I suppose I should be grateful for what I do have. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Sorry about this blog being all moany this is just me on a bad day. Yet again I apologize for bad grammar and writing style hope this isn't too boring. Much love XX

love makes the world go round

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Geothermal Power: A Dark Horse in Renewable Energy written by David Fessler

Note from RIW (founder of The Guest Writer Blog). I am very interested in renewable and green sources of energy. I feel this is our future. Future for job growth and future for saving our environment as well as saving money. I am always researching this topic. The article on Geothermal Energy came to me from two sources. The first source is a blog that educates people on "green energy" sources and is called "The Green Energy Blog" you can find them at They have several great articles which are very educational and informative. The second is an online newsletter website called Investment U they have some great article on investment suggestions, you can find them at I hope you enjoy the following article. I found it quite interesting.

When you mention the words “renewable energy,” most people immediately think of wind and solar. Over the last decade, renewables in the United States (excluding hydropower) have more than tripled.

In 2009, renewables reached 53 gigawatts of installed capacity. Renewables have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent since 2000.

It’s no big secret that wind and solar are the fastest-growing renewable sectors. In 2009 alone, wind installations here grew by 39 percent and solar PW grew by nearly 52 percent.

Even with these heady growth figures, renewables represent a very small percentage of our overall installed electrical generation capacity: about 4.7 percent as of the end of 2009.

The renewable that’s garnered the least amount of attention in America’s three-year push to renewables is geothermal energy. In stark contrast to the growth figures for solar and wind, geothermal has grown a mere 1.2 percent annually from 2000 to 2009.

In spite of those dismal growth figures, the United States leads the world in geothermal installed capacity at about 15.2 GW as of the end of 2009. Most of that is installed in California.

Advantage Over Wind, Solar
Geothermal energy has one advantage over wind and solar. It doesn’t care whether the wind is blowing, or if it’s a sunny day. The energy available from geothermal is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

That makes it available as a baseload source of renewable energy, something most other renewables aren’t capable of.

So why isn’t the United States deploying more of this eco-friendly renewable resource? It’s certainly not because we don’t have the potential resources. Take a look at the map below from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

As you can see, it depicts all of the available geothermal “hot spots” in the country. The greatest growth potential for geothermal is located in the western part of the country, with Nevada having the most identified hydrothermal sites with temperatures greater than 90 degrees Celsius.

As you can see from the map below, most of the present geothermal electrical generation is located in California, with over 2.5 GW of geothermal electrical generation. This satisfies about five percent of California’s total energy demand.

However, it’s interesting to note that Nevada has more projects in the planning stages, and it certainly has the potential sites to supply them.

How Geothermal Power Works
Geothermal power production is a relatively simple process. At least two wells are drilled into a known geothermal site. The down-hole water or steam temperature is evaluated to determine what type of system will be constructed, but most of them ultimately involve the use of steam turbines connected to electrical generators.

The water, which can be as hot as 700 degrees Fahrenheit, is brought to the surface, flashed into steam, and used to spin a turbine connected to an electrical generator. It’s then re-condensed and re-injected into the earth through a second well.

The Hold Up
While geothermal power plants are relatively inexpensive to build compared to coal, natural gas, or nuclear plants, they have to be located where the resources are. These are, particularly in the case of Nevada, often in the middle of nowhere.

Lack of nearby transmission lines, especially in sparsely populated western states, has hampered the growth of geothermal.

While the plants are relatively inexpensive, development and construction can take anywhere from four to eight years. This is far longer than solar and wind, and it means potential investors have to wait much longer to recoup their capital investment.

There’s risk involved, as well. Even after extensive testing, not all geothermal resources produce as much energy as originally anticipated. This has led more recent projects to be developed incrementally in order to mitigate this risk and the costs associated with it.

Taking a Back Seat
Ormat Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: ORA) is the developer and operator of the most geothermal resources in the United States. Ormat is vertically integrated, designing the plants and equipment, and developing and operating the final site.

Due to a lack of investment in geothermal, the company has had a somewhat lack-luster year, with its stock down over 35 percent in the last 12 months.

Last quarter, it announced that revenue was up by about 9.2 percent over the same quarter a year ago, but earnings came in at $0.02 per share, well below analysts’ estimates of $0.14 per share. Not exactly outstanding results.

In spite of the zero-carbon footprint of geothermal, there’s a glut of natural gas in this country. There’s also a much bigger focus on wind and solar. At least for now, geothermal seems to be relegated to the back of the renewables bus.

Perhaps this will change at some point in the future, but for the present, investors would be prudent to invest their dollars elsewhere in the energy sector.

Good investing,
David Fessler