Gleanings of the Week Ending December 29, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Daphnia micrograph - a stacked image of a water flea

12 Things to Know about Mistletoe

2013: Hello. Goodbye. - from Richard Watson. How many things on the goodbye list are already gone for you?

6 top health benefits of kale

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #3 - my favorite is the next the last one - the backlit leopard

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #32 - the first one is my favorite

Is Your Fridge Eating your Savings?

The Joy of Salt Licking: Contest Turns Farm Animals into Fine Artists - Cows and their salt licks

Geography in the News: Lake-Effect Snow - from National Geographic

Characteristics of US Science and Engineering Doctorates Detailed in New Report

2012: The year in space - My favorite is the Space Shuttle Endeavor making its final journey across the US

2012: The year in weather - from around the world. My favorite picture of this group is the mother of pearl clouds in Scotland 

Shared Experience - Mirror Lab

My daughter sent some pictures from a recent tour of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at University of Arizona where she is a graduate student. The ease that we can take and send pictures now makes it so much easier to share experiences across distances.

The picture at the left has some orange stairs toward the right of mirror being constructed; they give some concept of the scale of the place. These are large mirrors! The mirrors are made of borosilicate glass - which is what Pyrex used to be before the 1980s. At the very last their reflective surface will be coated with aluminum.

See the slide show below for other pictures of the lab.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 22, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

National Park Photography - From National Parks Traveler. There are links to the photographers’ sites.

The Birds of Paradise - video from New Guinea forests of these unusual birds

Flood tools - enter an address, find out the risk of flooding

Why Owls Are So Hoot Right Now - 10 fun facts about owls

Insulin's Role in Body and Brain - infographic

The Scientist’s 2012 Geeky Gift Guide - ideas for the scientists in your life….at the last minute

Blood vessels of a healthy mouse retina - it could be abstract art!

Top Ten Weirdest Stories of 2012 - from National geographic

Life Up Close: The Year’s Best Microscope Views of Biology - my favorite is the second place image of red algae

NASA's Night Photos -photos of the Earth from space at night - the black marble

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 15, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Tasty and Gluten Free - consumer tests done as part of the EU project GlutenFree….appetizing and nutritious alternatives

The Next 100 Years Bring New Challenges to Rangeland Science

Why Is the Flu More Common During the Winter Season?

Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected: Planned Cities Seen From Space - Washington DC is the one in this series of photos from the US

Seven Myths of Performance Management - mistakes may prevent benefits

The catfish that strands itself to kill pigeons - (watch the video)

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #2 - my favorite is the cheetah cubs

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #31 - my favorite is the Goliath Heron

Lion Numbers Plunge as African Wilderness Succumbs to Human Pressure - no good news for lions

Easy microwave fudge - I am going to try the butterscotch pumpkin spice fudge

5 top health benefits of blueberries - one of my favorite foods

Hospital Experiences - Part IV

This is the fourth post in a series with thoughts about my recent experience having an elderly family member in the hospital - focusing on how life continues on with that disruption.


The joy of finally being released from the hospital was dashed by readmission in less than 24 hours. Now - two days later - we can see that the hours just before release from the hospital and then at home were steps backward. I am glad that now the steps are moving forward again but there are lessons the family has learned: 

  • Be very reluctant about a Friday release from the hospital since there are not as many medical people in their office on the weekend. The primary option on the weekend is to go to an emergency room.
  • Make sure that the sign off for release from the hospital is holistic. Our relative was sent home with swollen feet and trouble breathing when she laid flat (enough that she could not sleep easily).
  • Patient advocacy is a role that family members should learn quickly. Be diplomatic but be assertive on the patient’s behalf because they may not have the energy to do it for themselves. Some examples from our experience are:
    • Waiting alone for more than a few minutes on a gurney should never happen. Ask to remain within hearing distance.
    • Multiple blood draws in short time proximity (ordered by different specialists) should be consolidated. Talk to the nurse about it and they can help make the request.
    • Ask questions - with the patient present and participating if they want and are able. In our case, the patient was interested in all the answers but was too ill some of the time to think of all of the questions.
  • If there are multiple family members in the advocacy role - create a log that stays with the patient to make the transitions easier. 

Now that I am looking at this list, I am realizing that these lessons apply for anyone trying to assist a loved one in the hospital. They are certainly true when the patient is elderly.

On a personal level, I have developed some hospital room activities to keep myself collected and positive: taking a few minutes to observe life outside the hospital window, light reading, and doodling on 3x5 cards. There is a construction site outside the window that was active even on Sunday.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 8, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Quinoa Craze Inspires North America to Start Growing Its Own - I use quinoa in the place of rice almost all the time now

Exploring Crabtree Falls In The Blue Ridge Parkway - One of those potential places to fit in a spring road trip

Exploring The Parks: Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail - another destination to add to the list for a spring road trip

Cannibal Lobsters - behavior noted in captivity is observed in the wild too

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #1 - from Africa - my favorite photo is the elephants and the setting sun

3-for-1 Match for Internet Archive Donations - since I enjoy so many books the Internet Archive has made available online, it is something I support with a donation

12 Healthy Holiday Recipes - from Marlo Thomas

Boucher’s Birding Blog: Winter Birding – The Irruption Begins! - this year is an irruptive year for  birds that are normally in Canada and northerly states in the winter. That means there are already sightings of these in the mid-Atlantic and even some southern states....and a continuation of interesting bird watching through the coming winter

Environmental First Lady Honored by USPS with Forever Stamps - we are still benefiting from her efforts to clean up cities and highways

Stained Glass Cookies - looking for a holiday craft project? These look beautiful

How (Not) to Photograph Prairie Dogs – Part 2 - narrative and photos from The Prairie Ecologist

10 Years Ago – In December 2002

Many years ago I started collecting headlines/news blurbs as a way of honing my reading of news. Over the years, the headline collection has been warped by the sources of news I was reading…increasingly online. Reviewing the December 2002 headline gleanings - I forced myself to pick 10.   

  1. Combining Key Ingredients Of Vegetarian Diet Cuts Cholesterol Significantly – soy, nuts, leafy greens
  2. According to the most comprehensive global analysis ever conducted, wilderness areas still cover close to half the Earth's land
  3. The Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza consists of one million limestone rocks. The number is under half of the previously estimated amount of 2.3 million stones, indicating that the Egyptian pyramid builders were even more organized and efficient than previously thought.
  4. The Eves of the dog world are five or six wolf females that lived in or near China nearly 15,000 years ago
  5. The Olmec initiated many of Mesoamerica's cultural traditions, including urban settlement and monumental architecture…it makes sense that they would be the first to use a system of writing
  6. Ebola shares a closer relationship with several bird viruses than was previously thought, bolstering the case for a common ancestor and hinting that birds might carry the deadly virus
  7. NSF-supported researchers drilling into Lake Vida, an Antarctic "ice-block" lake, have found the lake isn't really an ice block at all. … Antarctic Lake Vida may represent a previously unknown ecosystem, a frigid, "ice-sealed," lake that contains the thickest non-glacial lake ice cover on Earth and water seven times saltier than seawater.
  8. This year, the United States suffered the biggest reported outbreak of West Nile encephalitis in the world, killing 232 people across the country.
  9. Someday stores may sell a jacket that senses your slightest chill and heats up before you even notice the cold.
  10. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming fell by 1.2 percent last year, the largest decrease in a decade, due in part to slow economic growth and a milder winter


Revisiting the Scene of Career Beginnings

Today I am celebrating the place where my career began…..this place launched the career that I pursued (and enjoyed) for the next 40 years. Now that I am making the shift to the next phase of my life - and next career - I am more objective about tracing the threads over the years and a lot of those threads go all the way back to this place.

When I first started in Information Technology almost 40 years ago - the building was as new as my career. The grass was newly planted. The trees along the sidewalk were spindly saplings. I moved away from the area 30 years ago but had an opportunity earlier this week to revisit the place.

The picture at the left is what the building looks like today. Now the grass is thin from soil compaction and too little sun. The trees are showing their age. The bushes that were planted around the foundation are gone but the flood lights that made the side of the building bright still exist. They helped me feel more secure when I arrived for test time on the computer at 4 AM 40 years ago. The brick has cracked below the large windows and been repaired. The railings along the sidewalk to the front door and the likes on poles are still the same. The whole scene looks remarkably enduring after 40 years.

I didn’t go inside but I could tell some things from the sign our front that the building is no longer used for a computer. It is a support building for the hospitals in the area so the original design for providing abundant cooling is still probably in use.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 1, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Benefits of gratitude -infographic

Lens, retina and optic nerves of a Daddy long-legs - image that bridges science and art

Who (and Where) is Happy? - Richard Watson’s highlighting of a ‘Happiness Planet Index’ graphic originally reported in New Scientist in June

Actin filaments - fancy biological photography

Mesa Verde Park Guide - from National Parks Traveler

Ancient Butterball - domestication of the turkey by the Mayans

Iris of the human eye - photo showing fibers that open and close the pupil

Medical Society Approval for Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing - replacement for amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling?

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #30 - Which is your favorite? Mine is the black-headed heron.

Wildlife with Marvelous Mustaches

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 24, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Studying Granite At Yosemite National Park - a video from Steven Bumgardener about the dominant rock in Yosemite

Willow the White Whale - video of a white humpback whale

The Big Apple's Mayor Makes a Very Scary Video - Bloomberg’s video to help us understand the magnitude of our Carbon Dioxide emissions

harvest pumpkin scones - a recipe from King Arthur Flour

There’s More To Space Than Freeze-Dried Ice Cream - a panel discussion of why space exploration is important

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #29 - my favorite images in this group are the malachite kingfishers and the robin (reminded me the arrival of flocks of robins that always signal spring in our area).

Four Family Cultures of America Identified - From a 3 year study by the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture: the Faithful, the Engaged Progressives, the Detached, and the American Dreamers. A key finding: American parents from all four family cultures want their children to become loving, honest and responsible adults of high moral character (i.e. no ‘death of character’ trend).

Can You Move It And Work It On A Treadmill Desk? - It may not work for a whole day - but what about for part of the day?

Pumpkin Cheesecake - sounds yummy

Women in IT: How deep is the bench? - Not as much as you would think. In 2011 women made up 57% of the US professional workforce but held just 2% of the jobs in professional computing occupations. Women graduates feeding the pipeline for computing professions peaked in 1985 at 37%; in 2010, it was down to 18%.

Ready for the Light Show at Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens looked close to being ready for the annual Garden of Lights Winter Walk that starts the evening of November 23 and continues through January 6. Last weekend we walked around the gardens during the day to see how the light features are created. Favorite features from previous years were obvious: the hyacinth lights, the sea serpent in an emptied reflecting pool, animal forms (frog and lion pictured below…but there are many more) and flowers of all shapes and sizes. Several new items we noted used recycled plastic bottles as reflectors and diffusers of lights. I’ll post again when I see how they look at night.


Scissors are a popular tool. One of my grandmothers always used to emphasize using the right tool for the job - and somehow scissors are often the most appropriate tool.

I have accumulated many pairs of scissors over the years - rarely lose them - and am surprised at how frequently I use them. There are the black handled office scissors that I use for opening packages and envelopes as well as trimming labels and stickers to the perfect size. The red handled sewing scissors left over from long ago when I made quite a few of my clothes. Now I use them infrequently and mostly for just cutting thread and patches rather than yards of fabric. Cuticle scissors have done double duty to tighten the tiny screws in eyeglasses. The sturdy kitchen scissors I use most frequently of all - cutting up herbs, pizza or pieces of chicken; they are the scissors that tend to wear out from use and myriad passes through the high heat of the dishwasher. And lastly - the steel scissors I inherited from my mother-in-law. I don’t know their whole history but they are still quite sharp and I think of her every time I pick them up to cut wrapping paper or curl ribbon or open a package.

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 17, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Fresh Cranberry-Orange Relish - Something a bit different to do with cranberries this year. I already blogged about it earlier this week….great recipe

What we die of - data is from the UK…interesting data and way of presenting it

Preschoolers' Counting Abilities Relate to Future Math Performance - counting….not just rote memorization of numbers

Do we only use 10% of our brains? - a medical myth

Face-Washing Tips for Healthier-Looking Skin - from a dermatologist. Sometimes we do too much.

The Bifurcation of Bling - spending shift from ostentatious product to ones less visible to the world as individual/people get richer

Earlier End of Life Care Discussions Are Linked to Less Aggressive Care in Final Days of Life, Study Shows  

In Australia, A Total Solar Eclipse - video from 11/13

Second Most Common Infection in the U.S. Proving Harder to Treat With Current Antibiotics - Urinary tract infections from resistant bacteria increased over 30% between 1999 and 2010….high levels of antibiotic overuse in the southeastern part of the US during the same time period.

Answers to the Fall 2012 eBird/Swarovski Photo Quiz - you can take the quiz or just look at the pictures and read the notes about the clues to identify the bird

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 10, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Genetic Roulette - The Gamble of our Lives - 1.5 hour video about GMOs….even if you want to dismiss the issue as unimportant to you, you should understand why many people and countries are not.

Non-GMO Shopping Guide - Even without labels…you can

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #26 - Which one is your favorite? I like the painted sandgrouse this week although the great blue heron is always a favorite too.

Eight National Park Lodges Join Historic Hotels of America - Don’t all of the sound inviting…for themselves and where they are located.

Are Facebook and Internet Addictions Affecting Our Minds? - infographic

Golden stollen - wonder how one could make a gluten-free version of this

9 New Tree-Loving and Endangered Tarantula Species Discovered in Brazil - includes pictures of 6

Five Parks Where Winter Is Anything But Off-Season - Acadia, Biscayne, Channel Islands, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite

The most important education technology in 200 years - What will the surge in free instruction online do to the education business?

9 Varieties of Nutrient-Rich Winter Squash

Sandy Superstorm Development Animation - From University of Delaware using 800 infrared images from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

10 Years Ago – In November 2002

Many years ago I started collecting headlines/news blurbs as a way of honing my reading of news. Over the years, the headline collection has been warped by the sources of news I was reading…increasingly online. Reviewing the November 2002 headline gleanings - I forced myself to pick 10.  

  1. Earthquakes and volcanic activity over the past few days in Indonesia, Ecuador, Pakistan, the United States and Japan are totally unrelated to each other or to the seismic events surrounding Italy's Mount Etna, experts said: the earth is not going to crack.
  2. Elderly adults who perform as well as younger adults on certain cognitive tests appear to enlist the otherwise underused left half of the prefrontal cortex of their brain in order to maintain performance. In contrast, elderly people who are not "high performers" on the tests resemble younger adults in showing a preferred usage of the right side of the prefrontal cortex.
  3. A severe shortage of people in the United States who know languages used by terrorists and who can decipher intelligence
  4. A team of astronomers, routinely monitoring Jupiter's moon Io, have witnessed the largest documented volcanic eruption in history.
  5. Last year's Nisqually earthquake caused damage to nearly 300,000 residences or almost one out of every four households in the Puget Sound area
  6. About 10,000 years ago, glaciers pushed the range of North American earthworms southward and today the only earthworms found in most of Minnesota are non-native species introduced from Europe. New research suggests that non-native earthworms are radically changing the forest floor in the northern U.S., threatening the goblin fern and other rare plants in the process.
  7. Enormous Irish Temple Discovered Underground once surrounded by 300 towering oak posts…each tree was approximately 2.2 yards wide.…dates from 2500 to 2300 B.C.
  8. In the 1930s, wild turkeys were near extinct and numbering only about 30,000… the wild turkey population now stands at around 6 million.
  9. Nepal - A security officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu has been shot dead by unidentified assailants in what police said appears to be a deliberate escalation of violence by Maoist rebels.
  10. Open-heart surgery was performed without opening the chest


Gleanings of the Week Ending November 03, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

The Diet-Proof Holiday Meal: Seven Ways to Stay On Track This Season - Tips for the holidays…in time for Thanksgiving

10 Predictions about Information Technology - from the Gartner Symposium

11 stats that suggest our world may not be as globalized as we think - Text and video from TED

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #25 - Which one is your favorite? I like the peacock in flight

How to use a paper towel - TED talk

Intercontinental Insect Migration - You’ve probably heard about Monarch butterfly migration but there are other insects that migrate: painted lady butterflies and dragonflies.

How to Stop Winter from Weathering Your Skin: Top Ten Tips for Preventing 'Winter Itch' - Not too early to have you plan for winter!

On Saturn, Cassini Observes Huge Storm, Causing Incredible Temperature Spike - complete with a short video

Self-Medicating Animals - even woolly bear caterpillars fight parasitic flies

How to Make Droplets Levitate on Water - I watched the YouTube version of the video (link in 5th paragraph of article

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 27, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

'Time-Capsule' Japanese Lake Sediment Advances Radiocarbon Dating for Older Objects - provides a much more precise way to examine radiocarbon ages of organic material that is 11,000-53,000 years old

Poetry in Motion: Gemini Observatory Releases Image of Rare Polar Ring Galaxy - two galaxies interacting

Shuttle Endeavour’s Complete LA Journey - less than 3 minute time lapse video of Endeavor’s trek through LA streets from National Geographic

Space Oddity - comments from Richard Watson about the famous picture of the earth seen from the moon

Roasted Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash - my grocery story has bins of the squash already cut up…making this recipe very simple. I’m going to try it.

Antibiotic Contamination a Threat to Humans and the Environment - a study from Greenland

New Way to Mimic the Color and Texture of Butterfly Wings - a way to create colorful surfaces that won’t fade like conventional pigmentation

Archaeologists to Mount New Expedition to Troy - less than 20% of the site has been scientifically excavated. Without about 4,500 years of nearly uninterrupted settlement at a crossroads between Europe and Asia…there is a lot to learn

'Large and Dirty' Companies Adopting Greener Strategies to Earn More Green - more companies are seeing environmental safeguards as a business opportunity to embed innovations that save production costs in the long term and that also improve their standing as good corporate citizens in the public mind.

A Long and Winding Road: Cassini Celebrates 15 Years - It’s already sent back some 444 gigbytes of data and more than 300,000 images. There is a still a lot in the plan for it too - before it enters Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15, 2017.

OneZoom Tree of Life Explorer - a zoom in and out visualization of the mammal ‘tree’ from Imperial College London; the project’s goal to eventually include all life on Earth

12 Expert Tips for Fall Fitness - from Marlo Thomas. Anything on this list you should turn into a personal habit?

Ada Lovelace Day Celebrates Women in Science - it was 10/16…and I didn’t see the story until too late. I’m celebrating away. And - becoming more of an activist for the idea that we need more women in the sciences. When I was in college in the 70s, I thought the increased availability of education would lead to increased women in the sciences but the numbers didn’t increase the way so many of us thought they would by now.

The Conversation Project - a starter kit with tools and tips to have the conversation about ‘when it comes to the end of life, I want mine to be…..’

Design for the Public Good (infographic overview of an exhibit at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco)

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 20, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

5 Remarkable Recycled Homes - creative use of a grain silo, shipping container, an old church, bottles, etc.

Demystifying the ENERGY STAR Rating

A false colored scanning electron micrograph of caffeine crystals

Technology Trends - a list from a tech trends debate reported by Richard Watson. The panelists were challenged to come up with trends that were not obvious today and would create explosive growth in about 5 years time.

Mammogram humor from Marlo Thomas

Gabon Expedition: Oil Rigs Are a Haven for Marine Life - a win-win for conservation

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #24 - Which one is your favorite? Mine is the first - the rainbow lorikeet

The Best of the 2012 Labbies - The Scientist’s annual multimedia awards. I like the luna moth antennae taken by a high school teacher from Rochester, New York

Good Milk/Bad Milk - a video about why milk is popular and healthy for some people…and makes others sick. This was one of the Honorable Mention Labbies.

Super-cheap health tests, a blood test made of paper - And why are we not seeing these being rolled out in the US and not just targeted to poor countries of the world?

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 13, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

IGNITE - Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution - the program in Seattle schools that is a best practice for educating young women about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, well documented and is spreading to other school systems. There is a toolkit available.

Prairie seeds - a collection of seed pile pictures - guess what they are! The answers are at the bottom of the post. The rose hips are the only truly easy one!

Fall prairie pictures - from the Prairie Ecologist

Evolution of Milkweed Eating Insects - I actually propagated milkweed at the woods edge in my yard….for the monarch caterpillars!

Doctors Speak out About Unnecessary Care as Cost Put at $800 Billion a Year - As a patient….how does one distinguish the unnecessary care? How many times has a side effect from unnecessary medical treatment created another problem? This is not only expensive…it is also dangerous to health.

Nora Denzel Keynote Speech at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2012 - youtube video

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2012 wiki - links to information about each talk

Coursera - take the world’s best courses, online, for free

Extreme Weather Photo Contest Winners - From NASA. Shelf clouds, thunderstorm, walls of dust, lightning

Is reading in the dark bad for your eyesight? - It depends. Take a look at a summary of research on the topic.