Showing posts with label Environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Environment. Show all posts

Monday, January 19, 2015

Research, An Expensive Vitamin

Hubby got an email the other day from someone he had never met.  She was the niece of a research scientist that he had gone to school with many decades ago.  She was doing some historic exploration on her uncle, but not because he had passed away recently.  He had died a long time ago and she wanted to know more about him.  This uncle had taken a night dive off the coast of Oahu back in the 1970s and was never heard from again.  Some surmised that he had been taken by a tiger shark that had been cruising the area, but since he had had a diving partner who also never returned, there were other guesses of an accident and perhaps heavy currents.

I think this is a gray taken by me back in the 1970's

I used to S.C.U.B.A. dive fairly often when I lived in the South Pacific, and I have posted on this time in my life earlier in this blog.  I look back on those years as if I was some other woman, because I never got out of the water until my tank was nearing empty; I was fearless.  Over the years, I preferred snorkeling, because there was more flora and fauna in the less than 30 feet water.  It was a wonderful time in my life.  We were young, just married, in good health, and the cost of diving, since we had just purchased a small outboard motor boat, was easy to swallow, as was the ability to enjoy the remote beaches sans clothing.  I should tuck a story or two away for my grandchildren to read someday so that they can think Grandma was just a little fascinating and not always a boring old lady sitting at home, because this was where my love affair with the earth kicked into high gear.

This is I next to some soft coral.

Crinoids which were my favorites when they waved their feathering "arms" in the current.

An other life form bored by all the paparazzi. (squid)

I remember seeing small sharks (3 to 5 feet long) at the edge of reefs on half of those diving days.  They ignored us and we just kept an eye on their distance and dorsal fin to check their mood as we cruised looking for interesting stuff.  (A dorsal fin is like the hair on the back of a dog.)

I digress.  Getting back to Hubby's email, Hubby thought back over his relationship with this former colleague and said he remembered that the guy was super-focused on his work which was to research cave fish that came out only at night, and therefore he had to do a lot of night diving before his grant money ran out.  There are always those that take dangerous chances for their passion and sometimes inadvertently give their life.  In spite of what conservatives like to tell you, scientists are like policemen, teachers, journalists, doctors, nurses, parents etc. They feel their work is important even if it revolves around cave fish, they do like their work, and they are as honest or dishonest as the next guy.  The huge majority of scientists are truly focused on finding the facts, taking that chance and making the world a better place with their discoveries, not on beating a drum for a preconceived agenda, or doctoring results so that they can get that pittance of a grant that barely pays for the boat fuel once a graduate student's salary is paid and lab materials are purchased.

I have worked very briefly on a committee reading and reviewing grant applications, and politics never came into the discussion on whether a grant should be awarded.  It was always whether the grant was well thought out, well written, had an accurate budget, fit the discovery of the granting institution and of compelling interest to the citizens. There were always many more grant applications than money to grant.  Scientists and their assistants spend much time writing even while researching and many good applications fall by the wayside.  Regardless of who gets the money the search for INFORMATION is the key.  (In this cave arena information involves bacteria that may have applications in cancer research, data showing changes and evolution in species adapting to environmental change, etc.)

There was a recent bill passed in the House of Congress (H.R. 1422--little chance of it ever being moved and signed but let's continue to waste the taxpayers dime) that has restricted independently funded scientific environmental experts from being appointed to boards of the EPA, because Congress feels these scientific experts "have an agenda."   It also restricts scientists that get grants from EPA to serve on the boards; I am assuming that Congress feels their results will be questionable as well.  The same bill makes it easier for petrochemical scientists to be on the boards of EPA though, because this will erase any "appearance of impropriety".  Pretend that someone who studies viruses finds that his data foretells a preventable epidemic and he gets his funding from NHS, but he must pretty much keep from talking to the primary institution and hope they read it and grasp its importance.. but those who could take action on it are well informed by pharmaceutical companies that have a new weapon against this self-same virus. (Can you tell I am furious with this ignorance or actually the greed of self-serving politicians?)

Research scientists that work for universities and the government are not the ones bringing down big salaries and making money off of polluting the air and the water and causing this documented increase in small earthquakes near fracking sites or the tremendous increase in carbon dioxide being now held in ocean waters---soon to reach its limit.  Yes, it will cost you and me money to breathe clean air and drink clean water and stem the tide of the rising oceans and mitigate the long droughts.  But at what price is a healthy world?  Although in reality it is too late to prevent some of this---islands and low lying parts of countries are going to go underwater and we will have waves of refugees leaving their sunken land in coming decades.  (A glacier recently calved a piece of ice the size of lower Manhattan and three miles wide!.)

As an aside, in my research, the FBI website lists eco-terrorists as more active in this country in causing havoc than ISIS.  I am NOT advocating that!

By the way, neither political party gets even a B from me on their environmental report cards. And sadly I think most people do not seem to care what kind of world the meek will inherit much less what they leave their grandchildren because many of faith in Congress leave it all up to God and those of money know they can build their castle high on a hill in a better climate.  I think Sophocles wrote, "No good e'er comes of leisure purposeless; And heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act."

Friday, July 27, 2012


I have nothing to write really.  Friko would like something humorous to read, as would many bloggers, because life just seems a little too depressing right now.  But I cannot write humor at will.  My mood has a little to do with an acquaintance who's daughter fell to her death from the roof of a building in New York recently.  It was accidental as she was talking on the phone.  I also lost a distant friend who died of cancer within weeks of symptoms after a return from a vacation to Hawaii.  I was not close to either of these people which certainly does not diminish the importance of their lives in anyway nor keep their family from my thoughts.

I read on the Internet where global climate change has increased the intensity of the storms and climate scientists are now seeing moisture thrown up 60,000 feet from these storms which is blowing holes in the ozone layer of our atmosphere.  Extremely dangerous to our health.  A reality that is inconvenient to those who think it is God's will.  I think this God threw up his hands long ago and is now overseeing another planet.

I also read where climate change is causing more dangerous anomalies and  "If global warming approaches 3°C by the end of the century, it is estimated that 21-52% of the species on Earth will be committed to extinction (3). "   If you love watching your head explode over multiple graphs with bad news, read the above article from the Columbia University Earth Institute.  If not, just take my word for it...we are in deep doo-doo.

I cannot watch TV because both Presidential candidates realize that negative ads are much better than actually focusing on solutions to problems. Of course, if Obama focuses on the accomplishments he made in spite of a constipated Congress, he is accused of bragging in dire times.  And facts be damned.

The Internet is filled with discussions about schizophrenia and automatic weapons with neither side even bringing forth ideas of worth.  Banning automatic weapons...really??

There is a very good chance that food next year will cost 5% more due to the global drought.  Since I need food more than Television, I called Comcast and asked them to drop all my premium channels immediately and the sports package that my SOL added over a year ago.  (He had to watch games while he visited!)  I saved over $54.00 a month with that little move.  You can close you mouth before you catch a fly. 

On a lesser note, I planted sunflower seeds not once, but twice this summer, and lost 99% to deer, ground hogs, rabbits, and a tiny cutworm that I found at the bottom of one seedling tray.  I gave up.  No sunshiny yellow happy faces to improve my mood in the simmering days of summer.

Yes I could focus on all my many, many blessings...but right now I want to moan and shoot me.


New Hampshire baby waterfall

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I just noticed that my last post on this blog was the 1,000th.  Quite the journalistic diarrhea I have going on here.  I didn't notice or I would have made greater use of the milestone.  Certainly it was worth a poem, but it appears that both you and I dodged that bullet.

This week I am breathing and eating slowly and catching up on all those murder mysteries that I missed watching when my grandson was here.  I did get him introduced to the Narnia series and now have purchased two other DVDs for when he returns for a few days this fall.

While I was breathing like a yoga instructor and sitting in front of the computer upstairs the house began to sway and jerk.  I did have a small glass of wine at the computer, but I knew it was not that, and instead, hopped like a crazy bunny outside.  I could see the bird feeders swinging dramatically from side to side in the back yard and I waited outside at least ten minutes before going back inside.  I am alone this week as hubby is on a business trip.  I figure I would not be found beneath the rubble for days!  5.8 on the earthquake scale and the largest since 100 years ago.  Everyone up and down the East Coast felt it.

I walked carefully around the house when I got back inside and found only one broken wine glass that had been hanging in the rack beneath the cupboard.  It seems that Colorado got a similar earthquake just a short while ago.  Here in the East we rarely get quakes, so they can be very startling.  Mother earth is settling down after all the water, oil, gas, and shale we have been taking from her layers.

Next week I get the 4-year-old girl for a week.  She is much more clingy and far less in love with the great outdoors  Maybe baking, making cookies, tea parties...!  Then we are off to Colorado and Utah for two weeks.  I will be taking the laptop and hoping to post and looking forward to some dramatic scenery to preserve with my camera.  I sure hope what I have to write about is of more significance and readability than these last few weeks.  I just need some Rocky Mountain air as my gray matter has been very sluggish these days.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


In my last post I mentioned that I had been doing some volunteer work for a local environmental group.  This involved hiking a mile through the woods (at three different places) and then taking a sample of the water from the river at the end of each of the three hikes.  Two of these locations required some down hill and up hill hiking and really got the heart beating and the sweat poring.  The last selection site was just off a highway and required hiking through debris that had either been thrown by cars or washed up by a nearby flood area.  That was the place I showed in the previous post.  Looks idyllic, doesn't it.  I neglected to show the sand bags, bottles and other stuff.

Hubby and I started this project at 1:30 P.M. and did not head back to the "lab" (really an extra room on the back of the museum/house) until 5:00 P.M.  We had to filter the samples for both chlorophyll and suspended solids which meant filtering six times...two for each sample.  Then some of the sample also went into a refractometer for a salinity check...the river was freshwater.  Finally three samples from each site were poured into little vials and labeled and frozen along with the filters placed carefully in foil.  I am just telling you all this to impress you with my technical skills.

I think we must have used a double filter for the first sample because we waited almost 20 minutes for it to filter through.  We reduced our sample from 300 ML to 150 ML and  the next sets took only 5 or 6 minutes to filter completely.  We also had to label the vials and the filters and create a data sheet as well as complete another log.  We were not done until 8:00 and we rushed through our cleanup of the area and headed to the nearby I-HOP for a quick dinner.  It was in the middle of dinner I remembered that I had forgotten to complete two blanks on the 'custody sheet' and so back we drove, retrieved the key from under the log as it got darker, tried to do this so that a nearby family having a picnic did not see we were getting a key, and made our way back into the little back room.

I am clearly not cut out for all the details of environmental work.

On top of all of this I have been tormented by chigger bites which I probably got when sitting on a log near the river's edge while writing in water temp numbers.  I have not had to endure these pests for years and had forgotten how miserable they can make you.  They are a mite, red in color, but too small to be seen by most human eyes, and when they bite you with special mouth parts they liquefy the skin after creating a feed tube called a stylostome of the skin cells.  Don't you just love this info?  This tube they create is the thing that causes the unbearable itching because they fall off when you first scratch and then die.  But the tube stays in for days.  You must NOT scratch because the more you scratch the more it itches!  It can take 10 days for this stylostome to reabsorb.  It is nice to know that their mouths are not very strong, and so, they prefer the tender skin of women and children.  I am now on day 6....ONLY FOUR MORE TO GO!   Eeeeaahh!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Appear to be the Butt of a Joke.

(I got this in an email and my research on the Internet says it was "submitted by Debbie, Middletown."  Needless to say I do not know Debbie.)

God Finds Out About Lawn Care
"Winterize your lawn," the big sign outside the garden store commanded. I've fed it, watered it, mowed it, raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I'm supposed to winterize it? I hope it's too late. Grass lawns have to be the stupidest thing we've come up with outside of thong swimsuits! We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, thistle, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through an annual four step chemical dependency.

Imagine the conversation The Creator might have with St. Francis about this:

"Frank you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles."

"It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great extent to kill them and replace them with grass."

"Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?"

"Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn."

"The spring rains and cool weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy."

"Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it _ sometimes twice a week."

"They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?"

"Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags."

"They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?"

"No, sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away."

"Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?"

"Yes, sir."

"These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work."

"You aren't going believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it."

"What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life."

"You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away."

"No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?"

"After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves."

"And where do they get this mulch?"

"They cut down trees and grind them up."

"Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?"

"Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about..."

"Never mind I think I just heard the whole story."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Children of Children

The ancient ones never dreamed that we would have the power to travel back through time and pass the sun as we glide slickly into another time zone.  They never dreamed that we would be powerful enough to turn rivers around and even to tame them, or with breathtaking greed, use them all up.  They never thought about how, like ants with ugly tools, we would remove entire mountain tops turning them to dust and toxic water, and then, in our guilt, try to rebuild them.

They never dreamed that our thoughts would follow electrical pathways in the air and invade the day of those we know, or like, or love, in the flick of a second without imparting any thing of importance.  They could never envision that we would be powerful enough to place electronic eyes everywhere and see from the mountains to the beaches to the bedrooms, all from the comfort of our throne. 

They never could imagine that we would make new 'better' versions of living things and parts of living things to suit our tastes, both physical and mental.  

They would have been aghast at the weapons of mass destruction with which we play so eagerly every day. 

They never knew that we would become the false gods sitting on the mountain in huge temples of artificial gold growing ever so fat and complacent as we proselytize about truth and justice.  They would be so frightened for us, their children, if they could have seen this future.  They would be even more surprised that being so powerful we naively fear the strangest of things, such as the arrangement of numbers on a calendar.  We are like mind-compromised children, fascinated by every little thing but learning nothing as we poke and pry and tear things apart.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Busy as?

I attended a plant sale over the weekend and in the process signed up for the master gardener program. I have been wanting to do this for a number of years, but always put it off. It probably won't start until fall. Now I have no excuses. While signing up I met the instructor and asked him if there were bee keepers who needed places to leave their hives.

He smiled indulgently and explained that most beekeepers will charge you to keep their hives on your property as it is a lot of work to maintain the hive. I mumbled something about just trying to keep the honey bees population strong.

He continued by saying that the honey bee is not indigenous to our area ( I think they were brought over from Europe) and they end up competing with a number of natural pollinators such as the solitary bees, the fly that looks like a bee and a number of pollinating wasps. There are about 4000 species of pollinators in the U.S. Clearly he saw honey bee colonies as an agricultural invader for woodlands. While they are important for agricultural crops, they are not important for gardens.

I had not thought about honey bees in this way, and now like many environmental causes/fads, I must re-think this.

We ended up buying the "solitary bee house" shown in the photo above, which probably was not needed unless I am detracting the carpenter bees from the wood in my house! And yes, an idiot can make this in 30 minutes. Is my face red!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Changing Seas

I do not feel like blogging today, but I suggest that you go here for some enlightenment about our world. (Photo was taken in California back in 2002.)

Friday, February 06, 2009

City Mouse versus Country Mouse

Bob Brady at PureLandMountain featured this article about the human brain in a recent post. Since my blogfriend at One Woman's Journey has been dealing with this issue---as have many of us retirees--- I found the article most fascinating. (After you read it, you can talk among yourselves.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Bad Karma--Life Story #15

Fear is a really useful but also dangerous energy in this life. (The most obvious recent example of the bad things fear can do is the 100's of thousand deaths of innocent people caused by this stupid war brought about in fear of a vague enemy.) I have not been truly afraid for a long, long time and so this recent fear came to me as a strong jolt, and in hindsight, I am not all that proud of how I reacted.

Hubby was working down at the dock getting the boat cleaned and I had finished some errands in the house and was heading down to ask him some question. We were going to take some friends out on the boat that afternoon, and since we are all getting older, one of my routines is to pick up all the newly fallen broken sticks and branches in the path to the boat so that no one accidentally falls on the hilly path.

When I reached the dock and hubby emerged from the small boat cabin, I asked how things were going. He looked at me and asked me,

"Didn't you see the dead copperhead on the path?"

I, who had so carefully scanned each and every inch of that path picking up snake-sized sticks did not see anything out of the ordinary, and I told him that. He looked at me in disbelief wondering how I could have missed it. He explained that he had almost stepped on it as a bucket in his hand had blocked the view of the path and he immediately knew he would dispatch it with a large log by smashing the head. (Killing snakes is not nice even if they are poisonous, but he had a grandson who ran willy nilly to the dock recently, and therefore, we would not be able to sleep at night letting this pit viper survive.)

Hubby followed me back up the path to show me the location of the snake with the smashed head. We got there and we peered every which way. There was no snake. Hubby was sure he had crushed the small skull, and therefore, wondered if in the short ten minute span an animal had taken it away to eat. I said it might have been alive enough to crawl under one of the logs lining the path. We poked around another minute or so and then decided it had snuck away to die a slow but peaceful death. I turned to head back up the hill and as I got closer to the top I saw the fat fellow just a foot away. It lay right in the middle of the black sand path as still as a curved stick and looked none the worse for wear. If you have never seen a copperhead, it is truly a beautiful animal. It almost looks as though some artist had painted the coppery and grayish tones of color across its back with a brush.

But, this close encounter caused me to almost swallow my tongue as I leaped back to my husband's side. It had appeared as if by magic out of nowhere. It was fat and healthy and not moving---thank goodness. If it had been scurrying, I would have probably swallowed both my tongue and heart in fear. Hubby quickly grabbed another large piece of wood and pinned its head against the sand once again. I told my husband not to move while I hurried up the path to the garage for the shovel. When I returned he severed the head quickly with the edge of the shovel and we threw the beautiful animal into the river.

I realize that copperheads are not as aggressive as people commonly believe and that the freezing in place was its defence mechanism and that we should have just tossed him by stick into the woods to go on his way or walked widely around him. But neither my husband or I could bring ourselves to be so fair. We were frightened for our grandchildren and that deep primitive urge to protect our own rushed forward bringing with it adrenaline and no immediate regret as we ended the life of this innocent animal.

I am sad that I did this, but I also am honest with myself and mother nature, in that I would certainly do the same again.

(Seems to be an unusual amount of references to snakes, rubber and real, in my blog these days!! What's that all about?)