Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.

~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Star Formation in Bean Nebula, Hubble Space Telescope photo

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: stuff, electronics, recycling, e-stewards, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is: 

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Designed for the Dump


Annie Leonard is at it again: the woman who brought you The Story of Stuff is back with The Story of Electronics
Maybe you can guess the story line. It goes like this: we buy a lot of electronic devices like cell phones and computers, and wind up replacing them in a couple of years. In addition to the sheer volume these things take up in a landfill, they also release toxins such as mercury.  
But there’s a plot twist in this typical ending, and it is Make them Safe, Make them Last, and Take them Back.  Leonard suggests that Americans can do what Europeans are already starting to do: demand more sustainable electronic devices. Some companies are already starting to take action.
In the meantime, if you have a device you’re ready to get rid of, Leonard recommends E-Stewards as a responsible way to recycle your electronics.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


© Copyright Chris Gunns
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: aging parents, tiny frogs, sledding crows, hitchhiking red-winged blackbirds, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In case you missed it...

I posted these on Facebook not long ago, but if you haven't joined my page, you may have missed them. And these are not to be missed!

I posted this amazing photo, which was soaring around the Web, not knowing where it originally came from. The photo was taken by Alan Stankevitz, and he has similar shots here.


An itty bitty species of frog recently discovered in Papua New Guinea is the smallest vertebrate known. It's smaller than an M&M and is pictured sitting on a dime. Here's the story at the Nat'l Geographic website.

Hey, you never know what will pop up on my Facebook page (like a video of a hooded crow, tube-sledding on a roof), so join me there!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In the Alzheimer unit--Human Nature

My sister Ann and I are visiting our dad in the all-male Alzheimer unit. The men here are not who they used to be.

A fellow named Gerald shuffles constantly around the room. He occasionally picks up some random item and carries it around until an aide notices, takes it away, and returns it to the rightful owner. During our visits, we'll nudge one another--oh look, Gerald's coming out of room 2--this time he's got someone's pillow. We remember to watch our bags and coats when Gerald's route brings him close to us.

Now an aide tells one of the other guys, "Henry, get your feet off the table." But Henry grins, tucks his chin and leaves his sneakered feet right where they are. My sister leans over to comment on how this 80-year-old man suddenly looks like a mischievous 8-year-old-boy.

"Henry!" bellows the guy over in the corner, who repeats everything that others say, "Get your feet off the table!"

"Help!" yells the other fellow, who yells for no reason. "Help! Help!"

"Help!" hollers the guy in the corner who repeats everything, "Help! Help!"

I look at my sister. "It's like a slow-motion One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in here," I say, and my dad smiles, as if he gets the joke.

And maybe he does. There's no way for us to know.




(Want to read more of these stories? Click on the "Search this Blog" box to the right and enter the words Human Nature.) 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: Clawed, cats and/or ships, Washed Ashore, beach cleanup, gyres, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.


A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.


Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below. I love seeing what you come up with!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beach cleanup = art

There are a lot of ways to combat and call attention to an environmental problem: Angela Haseltine Pozzi addresses plastics in the ocean through art. Check out Henry, created from debris washed ashore on Oregon beaches:
Henry the Giant Fish, pleased to make your acquaintance
Pozzi is the lead artist and director of the Washed Ashore project, based in Bandon, Oregon. 
This traveling show is made up of art pieces like Henry the Giant Fish, Lidia the Seal, and Tula the Sea Turtle, all composed of plastic taken from the beaches. 
Over 7000 pounds of debris have been cleaned up on 20 miles of coastline, and over 500,000 people have viewed or participated in the effort to collect, clean or build the sculptures.
There are plenty of ways to approach a problem--and Henry and his Washed Ashore friends are getting out word about plastics and the gyres (<--and this link is another).
See Henry's flip-flop?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.
~Paul Hawken, Commencement Address to the Class of 2009, University of Portland

Photo by Phil Gibbs 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A cat aboard the Rainbow Warrior --Greenpeace Days

Clawed on the gangway. Photo by Pat Herron
Claude--or, more appropriately, Clawed--was named shortly before I joined the crew on board Greenpeace's ship the Rainbow Warrior. I can't quite recall the story of how the ship came to have a cat, but likely she was a stray wharf cat who came aboard and decided to stay.

Her name was actually Clawed E. Balls (you'll figure out the middle name in a minute), and like most cats, she was adept at recognizing those who disliked her kind. Shortly after her arrival, she decided to jump onto our ship manager Ed's lap, When he grabbed her up to dislodge her, she tried to stay put--the crew got a good laugh, and she got a name.

But we weren't laughing when she went into heat as we traveled up the coast from San Francisco to Portland. As crew member Pat Herron puts it, she "drove the crew bonkers with her incessant howling while blocking the main passageway with her butt high in the air." Once we put into port, we lobbied Ed to get her fixed. No one wanted to go to sea for months with a cat in heat.

Pat remembers Clawed's return: "The ship was packed with visitors from stem to stern when Clawed came on deck after Ed brought her back after the vet visit. I had climbed into the crow's nest and caught the entirety of the ensuing action.

"A visitor had brought his terrier-sized dog onboard and they had made their way onto the main deck at the mast base when Clawed saw the dog. She fluffed, yowled, arched her back and took off after the dog  hissing and chasing it around Ed, through the crowd, up the ladder to the bridge deck, onto the gangway and off the boat. It happened almost as quick as it takes to read this. Ed was still on the main deck, wondering what the heck just happened. He didn't complain about Clawed very much after that."

That's how the ship's cat earned Ed's grudging respect, despite having initially gotten off on the wrong, er, foot.

And (unlike me), Clawed never got seasick, either.



(Want to read more about Greenpeace days? Click on the "Search this Blog" box to the right and enter the word Greenpeace.) 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: condors and/or their lice, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.


A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.


Kindly post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lousy condors

photo by Christian Mehlführer
The condor is a rousing conservation success story: when less than 30 of the birds existed in the mid-1980s, the last wild ones were captured. Through a breeding program, the condor population has grown to nearly 400, and over 200 condors have been released to live in the wild.


But here's a funny side effect of our having averted the imminent extinction of the largest flying bird in North America: we killed off every last Colpocephalum californicicondor lousewhen the birds were treated for parasites. Without much (or really, any) thought, we caused the louse to go extinct.


So what? That's exactly what scientists and others are grappling with--the question of which species we should try to save, and what are the effects of choosing not to save a speciesor choosing to exterminate it


Here are a few schools of thought in the we-should-save-them camp (pick yours):


~ intrinsic right to exist (just like tigers, whales and other "charismatic megafauna")


~ parasites may play an important role in the immune systems of their hosts (they co-evolved together and parasites may influence population numbers)


~ study of parasites can teach us important info about their hosts (bacteria helped trace human migration; whale "lice" revealed info about right whale populations)


~ potential to provide some value to humans (medicines yet to be discovered)


~  parasites may play important roles within the ecological community (As Murr Brewster's daddy pointed out, mosquitoes are frog food (Monday's nature quote)  


Parasites as endangered species. What do you think about that? 



Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

The birds I heard today, which fortunately did not come within the scope of my science, sang as freshly as if it had been the first morning of creation.
~ Henry David Thoreau