Moving the Compost Bin

Last week we had some warm days and I moved my compost bin. It is so hard to turn the whole bin of material adequately, that it’s better to just move the bin periodically and get a good mix of the materials (and take the ‘finished’ compost out for other distribution). The stakes that I’d used to hold the cylinder of rigid plastic up were leaning toward the center too. I decided to move the bin just a few feet away on a bare patch of dirt – still under the red maple.

I got side tracked looking at the haze of yellow in the forest: spice bush in bloom.

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And the baby ferns in the mossy area under the deck.

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And a shell that had collected some water (probably need to turn it over so it doesn’t become a mosquito nursery).

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And some robin nests (neat enough to be from this year) on the deck support beams.

I pulled the stakes out from inside the bin - then lifted the plastic and repositioned it. I put the stakes back in using some branches from the brush pile to cross brace too. Then the material that still needed to decompose was moved with a pitchfork to the newly placed bin. Lesson learned: pine needles and egg shells take longer to decompose than kitchen scrapes and shredded leaves/paper!

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I found something that had sprouted in the compost as I spread the compost from the bottom of the bin around under the red maple in front of the brush pile. Maybe a beet top from last fall’s harvest?

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Gleanings of the Week Ending April 13, 2019

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

Coconut Spice Cake Recipe | Magnolia Days – The cake I made for my husband’s birthday. It tasted great even without icing!

Photographer Captures Stunning Images of Ice Shards Along Lake Michigan | Smart News | Smithsonian – Spectacular ice forms – made during the breaking up on Lake Michigan a few weeks ago.

Ancient Caribbean children helped with grocery shopping in AD 400 -- ScienceDaily – Snail and clam shells (small ones) might be from child, rather than adult, foragers!

Thousands of Invasive Cane Toads Overtake Florida Community | Smart News | Smithsonian – Ugh! Not something people want in their yards and pools and driveways. These toads have a toxin strong enough to kill cats and dogs that munch on toads and can cause burning eyes or skin irritation in humans.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: March – National Geographic Society – Beautiful birds….changing environments and habitats.

Where Have All the House Sparrows Gone? – Cool Green Science – House sparrow numbers have been declining since 1966 – all around the world!

66-million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor -- ScienceDaily – Fossils of animals killed and buried within an hour of the meteor impact!

Pairing Geothermal Plus Rooftop Solar For A Truly Renewable Home | CleanTechnica – At what point will the idea of geothermal heating and cooling catch up with rooftop solar for our homes? Will Dandelion – or comparable companies - become nationwide?

Five new frog species from Madagascar -- ScienceDaily – Some tiny new frogs. The smallest is only a little larger than a grain of rice.

These pictures of seed bank samples turn biology into art – The beauty of seeds. The first photograph (of Australian windflower flower heads is my favorite. The x-ray of a red yucca seed head is also interesting….showing the 3D of the pod in the image.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 6, 2019

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

BBC - Future - What happens when we run out of food? – Even in the US, nearly 12% of households re classed as being food insecure; more than 6.5 million children go without adequate food. And the whole food system can be disrupted very easily by war and very bad government all around the world.

Refugee women have healthier pregnancies than US women -- why? An unhealthy US culture: For African refugee women, acculturation may negatively impact health -- ScienceDaily – I was surprised that the researchers did not explore the idea that maybe the value of early pre-natal care is overrated for people that are generally healthy when they get pregnant since the refugee women tended to not start pre-natal care until their 2nd trimester.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Migration – National Geographic Society  - Birds are migrating through our area…we’re seeing more robins…and the juncos will leave soon to go further north. These pictures feature birds from around the world…that are migrating.

Hospital disinfectants should be regulated like antibiotics new study suggests – It’s not just antibiotics that drive antimicrobial resistance…it’s disinfectants (particularly in hospitals) too.

BBC - Future - The unexpected magic of mushrooms – New items made from fungus...replacing some kinds of plastics. It’s good that fungi are so plentiful on the planet – exceeding the biomass of all animals.

An Island Apart – Acadia National Park’s Isle ad Haut. A very different experience from Mount Desert Island

Beautiful cherry blossoms photos – Our cherry tree is in bloom right now. I guess cherry trees are enjoyed around the world very year about this time. There is a picture of the cherry trees around the tidal basin in Washington DC included in the pictures.

Green tea cuts obesity, health risks in mice: Follow-up study in people underway -- ScienceDaily – More research needed…. but I am enjoying green tea already (my favorite is a blend with mint).

Make A Home for Wildlife – Cool Green Science – Some ideas for creating an oasis for wildlife --- it doesn’t take much to help pollinators or birds!

Why did Flamingos flock to Mumbai in record numbers this winter? – 120,000 flamingoes…that’s a lot of birds!

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 30, 2019

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

Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Check out the map about 1/3 of the way through the article. It looks like quite a few areas along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are going to have moderate or major flooding through May. Almost the whole eastern part of the US is going to have some flooding during that period.

How Chromosomes X and Y Got Their Names, 1891 | The Scientist Magazine® - A little history. It all begins in the late 1800s.

C. R. PERCIVAL’S MICROSCOPE SLIDE COLLECTION | Ingenium – Browse through some of the images made of slides created in the early/mid 1900s. Click on the larger image to get a magnifier that can be moved over the image.

Food Trends 2019: Fermented Foods, Blueberries, Coconut Products, and More | Berkeley Wellness – How many of these are you already eating?

What oil leaves behind in 2.5 billion gallons of water every day in US -- ScienceDaily – Wouldn’t it be nice to not have oil polluted water injected underground…and sometimes into aquafers? Water is already in short supply in some areas of the country (mostly in the west). We need technologies to never contaminate water in a way that it cannot be consumed by plants and animals…and ourselves.

In Germany, Consumers Embrace a Shift to Home Batteries - Yale E360 – Half of the orders for rooftop solar panels are sold with a battery storage system too in Germany. I wonder when the US will catch up.

Butterfly numbers down by two thirds: High-intensity agriculture reduces number of butterfly species in adjacent areas -- ScienceDaily – It’s not just butterfly numbers that are down either. Agriculture research needs to hone practices that are productive in the short term…and the long term. In other words – all agriculture needs to become sustainable for humanity and the rest of the organisms that inhabit the Earth.

Nitrogen pollution's path to streams weaves through more forests (and faster) than suspected -- ScienceDaily – Nitrate is one of the abiotic tests we do for water quality assessment with high school students. This is a new finding to think about and incorporate in to the analysis of readings after heavy rains. The nitrogen might be moving so fast that the forest can’t absorb it!

Missouri Making Hyperloop Plans - News | Planetizen – A hyperloop between Kansas City and St. Louis! What a boon to the two cities and probably easier to build since there is not the heavy population between the two cities like the route that was originally talked about in California.

China Isn't Recycling Tons of U.S. Plastic Trash Anymore: Goats and Soda: NPR – We’re going to have to show some innovation in dealing with plastics – mostly single use – that we dutifully put in our recycle bins and assumed they would be recycled. Now a lot of them are going to landfills or polluting our waterways.  With a little thought, my family has reduced some….but the next step is tough. Some products we need are only available packaged in plastic.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 23, 2019

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

Salt Could Play a Role in Allergies | The Scientist Magazine® - Atopic dermatitis has increased more than 2-fold since the 1970s….and researchers do not attribute the increase to greater awareness or diagnosis. Now comes the observation that people with lesioned skin from atopic dermatitis (but not psoriasis) had a 30-fold higher salt level in their lesions than in their unlesioned skin or skin from healthy controls. The connection to diet is speculative at this point…but we do have higher salt in our diet now that most people had in the 1970s.

In Siberia, Toxic Black Snow Reveals the Toll of Coal Mining | Smart News | Smithsonian – Yuck! Pollutions from open-air coal pits…in the extreme. Another reason, I’m glad we’re moving away from coal powered electricity generation. I wondered if the people living in the area of black snow develop terrible lung problems.  

See the best pictures from Bill Ingalls, NASA's official photographer – 30 years of photography

What makes joints pop and crack and is it a sign of disease? – A little lesson in joint anatomy

Piling Up: How China’s Ban on Importing Waste Has Stalled Global Recycling - Yale E360 – China’s plastic imports have plummeted by 99%, mixed paper has dropped by a 33%. Recycled aluminum and glass are less affected by the ban. So now we are sending plastics to landfills, incinerators or littering the environment. Communities across the US have curtailed or halted their recycling programs. That hasn’t happened (yet) where I live in Maryland. We must learn to produce less recycle (waste) and process it more locally…not ship is someplace else in the world.

Meet the Bizarre American Bittern – Cool Green Science – It’s a type of heron that makes a strange sound (listen to the recording in this post). It is so well camouflaged that you are more likely to hear it than see it!

Photography in The National Parks: Capturing the Grandness of The Grand Tetons – Reminds me that this is a National Park I want to see again. Last time we went, I wasn’t doing any photography yet.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Interactions – National Geographic Society – Pictures that are more than just a bird.

Prehistoric Microbes Inhabit an Oasis in the Northern Mexican Desert | The Scientist Magazine® - Fish, diatoms, and bacteria in lagoons in the Chihuahua Desert and cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. More than 5,000 species of bacteria and archaea have been documented.

Owls against owls in a challenge for survival: Researchers forecast interactions between two owl species and the quality of their habitat in the Pacific Northwest -- ScienceDaily – I learned at the Festival of the Cranes (New Mexico) last fall about Barred Owls moving into Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) territory….and winning the competition. That further reduces the NSO populations which is already endangered because of over-logging of the old growth forests.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 16, 2019

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

Wind Cave, In the National Park, Is 150 Miles Long...And Counting – About 2 miles are surveyed annually and there are about 3,000 unexplored openings that haven’t been checked.

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation: New web application helps visualize climate changes in 540 North American cities -- ScienceDaily – The article includes a link to the interactive map. Baltimore Maryland will be like Cleveland, Mississippi in 60 years!

Southern California Will Soon See Another Booming Superbloom | Smart News | Smithsonian – Much better than burn scars and mud slides.

The Obelisks of Heliopolis - Archaeology Magazine – Obelisks taken from the city…a project to understand where they originally stood and the role they played.

In Era of Drought, Phoenix Prepares for a Future Without Colorado River Water - Yale E360 – Living on the edge when it comes to water supply. It’s not just South Africa that has the challenge.

BBC - Future - How Japan’s ancient trees could tell the future –Teasing out how much rain fell in Japan over the past two and half millennia by looking at the preserved wood of ancient forests.    

The soaring cost of US child care, in 5 charts  and Paid family leave is an investment in public health, not a handout – Thought provoking…families coping in the modern world.

Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants – Shifts in the way big utilities are structuring themselves for the future – it not all about new power plants.

New molecules reverse memory loss linked to depression, aging -- ScienceDaily – Maybe in the future we’ll be able to treat some types of cognitive decline better than we can now.

The Future of Universities | What's Next: Top Trends – 7 Cs: Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Curiosity, Character and Compassion

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 9, 2019

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

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: January and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: February and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Feathers and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Forest Birds – From National Geographic. There are multiples this week since I seemed to have a backlog in my gleanings holding area. Enjoy the colorful, graceful images.

'Upcycling' plastic bottles could give them a more useful second life -- ScienceDaily – Now that many countries that used to take our recycle waste have stopped accepting it, we are suddenly facing the problem of what to do with ‘recyclables’ closer to home. Making materials that have higher value is one way to keep more of it from ending up in landfills.

Soundscapes of Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyon – Cool Green Science – Listen to some nature audio…if it’s too cold to get outside and into the wild right now! These would make great backdrops to a meditation practice.

Image of the Day: Prickly Legs | The Scientist Magazine® - Froghoppers gain traction for jumping by piercing plant surfaces with their spiny legs! (Note: froghopper nymphs are spittlebugs!)

Photography in The National Parks: A Winter Shutdown Stay in Olympic National Park – I want to go! This is a national park I haven’t visited.

What kind of bug is a bug? | The Prairie Ecologist – A little entomology lesson.

Alaska in Flux: Slumping Coastlines – A comparison of a coastline between 1992 and 2018 …showing land slumping in to the Beaufort Sea. An airport is closer to the water now than in 1992.There is also a map showing that quite a bit of Alaska is wetter that is was in 1984. Lots of changes in the Alaska land.

Work Underway to Return the Shine to Thomas Jefferson Memorial – The Jefferson Memorial is probably my favorite in DC. I’m glad it’s getting the renovation it needs to look good into the future.

14 keys to a healthy diet | Berkeley Wellness – A little update based on most recent recommendations (for example, dietary cholesterol is not something to worry about since it has little effect on most people’s blood cholesterol).

Infographic: How Ginger Remodels the Microbiome | The Scientist Magazine® - I like ginger and am including it more consistently in my diet. It’s another food to boost gut health!

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 2, 2019

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

Good News for Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population - The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Now to sustain the improvement into a trend….and stop the decline for the western population.  

Joshua Trees Could Take 200 to 300 Years to Recover from Shutdown Damage | Smart News | Smithsonian – A very sad result of the shutdown.

Physician-targeted marketing is associated with increase in opioid overdose deaths, study shows -- ScienceDaily – Hopefully with the opioid crisis getting more attention…the targeted marketing is reduced or eliminated. The study used data from before 2016. Things have gotten a lot worse since 2016 but maybe there is a lag between prescription opioid use and opioid overdoses.

Rocking Improves Sleep, Boosts Memory | The Scientist Magazine® - A research topic….and maybe a trend in new bed purchases.

America colonization ‘cooled Earth's climate’ - BBC News – More than 50 million people died and close to 56 million hectares (an area the size the France) they had been farming returned to forest. The drop in CO2 is evident in Antarctica ice cores and cooler weather.

The World’s ‘Third Pole’ Will Lose One-Third of Ice by 2100 - Yale E360 – The Himalayas and Hindu Kush mountains are the source of water for nearly 2 billion people. The region has lost 15% of it’s ice since the 1970s. The current estimate is the river flows will increase until 2060 (flooding) but then will decline. There will be more and more bare rock rather than snow covered rock.

Oregon Launches First Statewide Refillable Bottle System in U.S.: The Salt: NPR – It’s starting with beer bottles. Reuse is better than recycle is better than landfill. If given a choice between buying something in glass or plastic…I choose glass.

BBC - Future - The ‘miracle mineral’ the world needs – Phosphorous. Thermic compost piles rather than mineral fertilizers. It’s economical and environmentally a better way.

Top 25 Wild Bird Pictures of the Week – Raptors – As usual – great photographs of birds from around the world.

What happens to the natural world if all the insects disappear? – Big perturbations of food chains. The article ends with a question: If we dispossess them, can we manage the planet without them? It would be a very different planet.

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 23, 2019

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

BBC - Future - A high-carb diet may explain why Okinawans live so long – I was surprised that sweet potatoes played a significant role in their diet.

Photo of the Week – January 18, 2019 | The Prairie Ecologist – Ice crystals on plants and barbed wire….winter photography.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds Using Rivers and Lakes  and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Parrots (both from the National Geographic Society Newsroom) – I’m doing a bit of catching up on the Top 25 bird posts. I always enjoy these photographic series.

A Mysterious Disease Is Killing Beech Trees | The Scientist Magazine® - Beech Leaf Disease…first spotted in Ohio in 2012 and expanding since then. It appears to be an infectious disease but the causal agent hasn’t been determined and there is no treatment yet. We have a lot of beech trees in Maryland’s forests. We lost the hemlocks and ashes….and years before the chestnuts. Each loss changes the forest.

The microbes that help make you and me and  BBC - What we do and don’t know about gut health and  Is it worth taking probiotics after antibiotics?  and How dirty air could be affecting our gut health and How to eat your way to a healthy gut – A series from BBC- Future. It seems like a lot of people could feel better if we knew more about how to keep (or regain) a healthy gut.

See the microscopic wonders of herbs – Scanning Electron Microscope images of herbs – the beauty of  plants with such distinct smells and flavors.

New wisdom about high cholesterol treatment for adults aged 80 and older -- ScienceDaily – So many of the medical guidelines were developed with trials including younger people…and the assumption was made that it would be the same for older people. But now more people are living past 80 and it’s becoming clearer that it is not always the case.

See what your ZIP code says about you using Esri's ZIP lookup tool - Business Insider – The link is at the bottom of the article. I looked at places I am familiar with and it seemed about right. This would be an interesting tool to use if you were moving to a new area…provide a different perspective to your home search.

The Hidden Environmental Toll of Mining the World’s Sand - Yale E360 – Sand is needed for concrete…and a lot of building going on in the world. The problem of extreme mining in rivers and estuaries is increasing.

BBC - Future - The natural products that could replace plastic – Can any of these happen fast enough to stop – or even reduce - the flow of plastics into our rivers and oceans and landfills?

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 16, 2019

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

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Mountain Birds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings this week with bird pics!

BBC - Future - The perils of short-termism: Civilization’s greatest threat – It is very difficult for individuals and groups of humans to think strategically. And maybe since we are now quite capable of catastrophically destroying civilization (atomic bombs and climate change are the two most probable) – we need to make strategic thinking a higher priority.

Could Spider Silk Become a Natural Replacement for Plastic? – Cool Green Science – It is still very far from the goal – mass production cheaply. But it is hot material science topic.

Report: Americans Are Now More Likely to Die of An Opioid Overdose Than on The Road: NPR – Gives another take on the magnitude of the opioid deaths.

Not One, Not Two, But Three Fungi Present in Lichen | The Scientist Magazine® - For a long time the textbooks used lichen to exemplify symbiosis of a lichen and a fungus. It’s more complicated than that….and it’s a good example of how science is refined over time to improve our understanding.

BBC - Future - Why it pays to declutter your digital life – Getting rid of stuff needs to be about more than the physical junk we accumulate…we now have email and photos…all kinds of digital media stored and rarely – or never – used. It’s clutter. And it might need different strategies to declutter.

Central Texas salamanders, including newly identified species, at risk of extinction -- ScienceDaily – It seems like I’m seeing several stories like this recently – a newly identified species that is already almost gone. Depressing.

Elevated Nitrate Levels Found in Millions of Americans’ Drinking Water - Yale E360 – I don’t like articles like this because they point to a situation that has negative consequences…then doesn’t have anything that individuals can do to reduce the risk. It’s very frustrating.

Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing | Smart News | Smithsonian – Flowers increase sugar content by 12-20% within 3 minutes of hearing a bee’s buzz.

Food is medicine: How US policy is shifting toward nutrition for better health – Glad this idea is getting more attention. We’ve been way to gullible to think that medications can overcome poor day-to-day dietary habits. I hope the 2018 Farm Bill and the “Food is Medicine” working group in the House are good ‘first steps’ to change the way we think about what we eat.  

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 09, 2019

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

Neandertal slaughters · john hawks weblog – Analysis of 5 sites indicates that Neandertals were excellent tacticians, casual executioners, and discerning diners.

Rare Gemstone Hidden in Ancient Teeth Reveals a Surprising Truth About Medieval Women – Lapis Lazuli found in the remains of a middle aged woman’s teeth and jaw. She was buried in an all-female monastery in Germany sometime around 1000-1200 CE. The researchers concluded that she most likely was painting with the pigment (licking the end of the brush while painting) creating manuscripts.

More solutions needed for campus hunger – A new report states that 9-50% of America’s college students face food insecurity…and that does not include graduate students. There are some programs that could help but often the students are not aware of them…and there may be enough stigma attached to them that students shy away. These are young adults that need adequate nutrition to continue their schooling and growth into adulthood.

Image of the Day: What We've Dumped | The Scientist Magazine® - Yuck! Stuff that washed up on 12 shoreline sites on barrier island along the US Gulf Coast…and it’s all stuff that people put in the water.

Two billion birds migrate over Gulf Coast -- ScienceDaily – Combining eBird observational data helps translate radar data into estimates of bird numbers. The peak time was April 18-May 7. The highest activity is over the west Texas Gulf Coast (Corpus Christi to Brownsville).

US Cancer Death Rate Dropped for 25 Years Starting in 1991 | The Scientist Magazine® - Down 25% over 27 years…a positive trend.  But there are still issues of race and socioeconomic inequality when it comes to prevention and treatment. The trend is not good for obesity related cancers; they are on the rise.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: December – National Geographic Society Newsroom – I always like bird pictures.

Natural Disasters Caused $160 Billion in Damage in 2018 - Yale E360 – It did seem like there were a lot of disasters last year: fires in California, Hurricanes Michael and Florence…and that’s just the ones in the US.

Medical marketing has skyrocketed in the past two decades, while oversight remains limited -- ScienceDaily – I have been suspicious of medical marketing (particularly ads on television) for some time. The study seems to show that state and federal regulators are overwhelmed.

Image of the Day: Geckos on the Run | The Scientist Magazine® - It must take a lot of energy for the gecko…but it can indeed run across the surface of the water.

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 02, 2019

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

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Camouflage – Lots of birds can hide in plain sight! Owls are the ones I think of first in this category.

When 'alien' insects attack Antarctica: Terrestrial ecosystems are vulnerable to single introduced insect species -- ScienceDaily – A threat from a tiny flightless midge

Anak Krakatau: Planet Labs imagery of the aftermath of the landslide - The Landslide Blog - AGU Blogosphere – Imagery of the landslide that caused the deadly tsunami just before last Christmas.

What is the most commonly found ocean litter? – Yuck! Another reason that cigarettes are a bad thing.

A series of posts from NOAA’s 2018 Arctic Report Card: Visual highlights , Multi-year stretch of record and near-record warmth unlike any period on record, Reindeer and caribou populations continue to decline, Less than 1 percent of Arctic ice has survived four or more summers, Red tides and other toxic species expanding across the Arctic, increasing risks to marine mammals and humans – Quantifying the changes occurring in the arctic

Image of the Day: In Sync | The Scientist Magazine® - Infants playing with their parents…syncing of brain activity

New Ultima Thule discoveries from NASA's New Horizons -- ScienceDaily – A space mission to something we’ve never seen before….the aptly named ‘New Horizons’

Why are biology classes ignoring insects? · john hawks weblog – When I was in high school, insects were a big deal for biology classes; many students created an insect collect the summer prior to the biology year. I don’t remember too much about insects in my first courses as an undergraduate in biology I the 1970s…but there was probably more coverage than in the more recent textbooks.

Keeping fit: how to do the right exercise for your age – A good summary…although the key message is to keep moving…sustained exercise is the best strategy.

Our bodies may cure themselves of diabetes in the future -- ScienceDaily – It’s at the basic research level…but could be an approach to ‘diseases’ caused by cell death in the future (diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cells damaged by heart attacks, etc.)

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 26, 2019

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

Learning Rule: Quantity, then Quality | Scott H Young – Quantity as an initial strategy is probably what I do most of the time….but I throw in a healthy dash of variety of mediums as I go after quantity. And I push myself to actively apply while I am learning all along the way.

Serious loneliness spans the adult lifespan but there is a silver lining: Feeling alone linked to psychological and physical ills, but wisdom may be a protective factor -- ScienceDaily – Most of the time we hear only about the negative impacts of loneliness (the emotion….not necessarily the physical situation). But there are many people physically alone but who don’t feel lonely. This study had a broad age rage of participants and looked at loneliness from multiple perspectives.

Aerial photos of U.S. national parks from space – National treasures…hope that the damage during the government shutdown is not widespread. Joshua Tree has been in the news….very sad.

Nutrients in blood linked to better brain connectivity, cognition in older adults -- ScienceDaily – Reinforcement that we need to eat foods with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, carotenoids, lycopene, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. The fatty acids and carotenoids are particularly linked to better functional brain network efficiency.

The Biggest Science News of 2018 | The Scientist Magazine®  - Just catching up on some end-of-2018 interesting posts. I had heard about some of these during the year – but missed some too.

The immune system's fountain of youth: Helping the immune system clear away old cells in aging mice helped restore youthful characteristics -- ScienceDaily -Early days…a lot more research needed. But an interesting idea…helping the body clear out old cells.

There’s a huge and hidden migration in North America — of dragonflies - The Washington Post – It appears that dragonflies migrate. The Monarch is the ‘poster insect’ for migration but it seems like there are more and more articles coming out about other insects that migrate too.

Meeting the Challenge of Feeding 10 Billion People Sustainably in 2050 - News | Planetizen – Land and water to grow food for an expanding population. It’s going to be challenging.

I Dug a Green Grave and Learned the Truth About the Dirty Death Industry – There is a Green Death Movement…and an example is in the Adirondacks called Spirit Sanctuary. In this case the goal is to return bodies to the Earth and preserve a landscape. Interesting…and far more sustainable that the more common burial practices (that include preservatives and waterproof vaults, sealed caskets) and cremation.

The Surprising Evolution of 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa' by Hokusai – A little art history.

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 19, 2019

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

After More Than 4,000 Years, Vibrant Egyptian Tomb Sees the Light of Day: NPR – Hopefully they will take steps to keep the colors vibrant now that the tomb is open to people and light.

The Bizarre and Disturbing Life of Sea Cucumbers – Cool Green Science – Way more complicated than they appear at first glance.

Norway's Energy-Positive Movement to Fight Climate Change - The Atlantic – Norway has some buildings that generate more energy than they use.

Life Deep Underground Is Twice the Volume of the Oceans: Study | The Scientist Magazine® - That’s a massive among of carbon in life that we know very little about….so many unexpected and unusual organisms.

Foods that lower blood pressure | Berkeley Wellness – And the list even includes dark chocolate!

Rising Waters Are Drowning Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor – This article includes time phased projections from 2018 to 2100…lots of track is going to need to be moved – or some other flood mitigation will need to be built.

Google Virtual Tour Preserves Collections Destroyed in Brazil Museum Fire | Smart News | Smithsonian – Some heartening recovery from the tragedy of the fire…Google’s virtual tour work, 1,500 pieces recovered from the debris, and a growing collection of photographs and video clips of the museum the way it was.

Soggy 2018 for the Eastern U.S. – An article from mid-December…showing just how wet we were in 2018. We live between Baltimore and Washington DC….soggy indeed.

New houseplant can clean your home's air -- ScienceDaily – Our houses have become so tightly sealed that concentrations of chemicals that are hard to filter out can accumulate. Maybe ‘engineered’ plants can be a solution.

Periodic graphics: How different light bulbs work – The trend is toward less cost/hour….more hours. Hurray for the LEDs that are not as blue as the compact fluorescents!

Treks to the Landfill

We’ve made two treks to the county landfill/recyling this month – getting a jump on ‘spring cleaning’ while we’ve had some days at home. The county has a drop-off area for both recycling and trash – easy to drive up to the appropriate area and unload. Our focus has been on things that can’t go in the weekly trash or recycling curbside pickup because of size or what they are. Many of them are so irregularly shaped that the car can’t be loaded all that effectively.

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Electronics have been part of both loads: computer monitors and keyboards…an old (not working) television (predated flat screens!). They have big bins for smaller items and pallets for the large ones.

Then there was trash: broken lawn chairs, deteriorating badminton stuff, and broken miniblinds. The drop off area has a long row of Jersey walls with big containers behind them at a lower lever – easy to drop items into the bins.

We also noted that that they have a reusable bicycle drop off – we’ll bring my daughter’s 15-year-old bike on our next trek to the landfill!

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We thought there might be a bin for donations of household goods but there wasn’t. We stopped by Goodwill on the way home and dropped of 6 boxes of stuff.

It’s good to be making progress on our ‘clean up and out’!

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 12, 2019

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

I have a growing list of gleanings from sites that are not operational because of the partial government shutdown; they’ll come out in the list for the Saturday after the sites are operational again.

Climate, life and the movement of continents: New connections -- ScienceDaily – Sediment, which often includes pieces of dead organisms, may create a lubricating effect between plates, accelerating subduction and increasing plate velocity!

BBC - Future - Six reasons your memory is stranger than you think – Timelines are hard (many times inaccurate) from memory…I’m glad I keep a running list of important family travel and events.

Regenerative Cities: An Urban Concept Whose Time Has Come! | CleanTechnica – Re-thinking what cities of the future could be.

Scientists call for eight steps to increase soil carbon for climate action and food security: International coordination and financing essential -- ScienceDaily – Big benefits…but hard to come by the collective push to obtain them.

Earthquake Damage Detected in Machu Picchu - Archaeology Magazine – Evidence of an AD 1450 earthquake that damaged Machu Picchu is seen in cracks and stone damage of the buildings. The Inca’s modified their construction techniques after the event too.

Shrinking of Utah National Monument May Threaten Bee Biodiversity | Smart News | Smithsonian – Grand Staircase-Escalante is home to 660 bee species, 84 of which live outside of protected land under changes. At a time when we know pollinators are under stress…one more reason why our Federal lands are needed as refuges from human activities that damage the environment.

Scientists Don't Stay for Long in Their Jobs Anymore: Study | The Scientist Magazine® - About half of scientists who enter a scientific discipline drop out after 5 years; in the 1960s, it was 35 years. We are probably training more people in science fields but many don’t stay in academia. This study used publishing records to determine if a person stayed ‘in the discipline.’ I’d prefer to see numbers of people that had careers in a STEM related field rather than just the one they trained in and find another metric than published papers to make the determination. There are a lot more jobs today where people use their science training that do not use ‘publication’ as a measure of success.

BBC - Future - Can we cheat ageing? – Some areas of active research to help us stay healthy longer (may or may not help us live longer).

Corn Domestication May Have Taken Thousands of Years - Archaeology Magazine – It all started 9,000 years ago in southern Mexico. The process continued in Mexico and the southwestern Amazon for several thousand years. It was a slow process.

Ring in the New Year With Dazzling Total Lunar Eclipse of a Supermoon | Smart News | Smithsonian – Hope we have good weather on January 20-21….since it should be visible from our house!

January Composting

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Egg shells, apple cores, popcorn (the kernels that didn’t pop), a potato and collard stems…not a lot to go back to the pile these early weeks of the year. I picked a sunny day earlier this week to take what I had collected from the kitchen. I put on my boots since we’d had enough rain, I expected it still might be muddy in places. As it turned out, it wasn’t that bad, but I tried to stay on the grass as much as possible.

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After dumping the fresh stuff, I used a pitchfork to turn the pile the best I could. There are a lot of pine needles and leaves…no need to add ‘browns’ right now. I can add all the food waste I generate until spring and just turn it under. In the spring, I’ll move the bin to a new place and put the parts that haven’t totally decomposed yet to it while distributing the compost around the yard.

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 5, 2019

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

Ambitious VR Experience Restores 7,000 Roman Buildings, Monuments to Their Former Glory | Smart News | Smithsonian – Is this the way we’ll experience buildings that are ‘lost’ in the future?

Most Top Burger Chains Flunk Fast Food Antibiotics Scorecard | NRDC – We don’t often go to burger chains any more. After this report – maybe the best choice would get chicken rather than beef.

Hundreds of Supplements Spiked with Pharmaceuticals | The Scientist Magazine® - Not good at all. The pharmaceuticals are undisclosed and some of the pharmaceuticals are those that have been withdrawn or were never approved. Advice: use single-ingredient supplements…and not buy supplements that are riding a fad.

7 surprising ways your body changes with age | Berkeley Wellness – I’ve noticed my feet are wider based on the way shoes fit. The others might be harder to see since they happen so slowly.

Twenty-Five Useful Thinking Tools | Scott H Young – Describing thinking tools my using professions where they appear to dominate. I hope that all the professions use multiple tools in their day to day work…even if there is one that is used most frequently.

Your guide to enjoying winter birds – It’s been so wet this year that we don’t have birds coming to our heated bird bath like we did last year. I put the bird feeder up a few days ago. Maybe we’ll start seeing more visitors.

Scientists Find Large Amounts of Methane Being Released from Icelandic Glacier - Yale E360 – A previous unknown source of methane…glaciers that are melting and happen to be covering active volcanoes and geothermal systems are probably all releasing methane. The gas is produced by microbial activity. This extra methane is not factored into current climate change models.

The Best of 2018 from the Prairie Ecologist (part 1) (part 2) – Lots of great prairie pictures.

New butterfly named for pioneering 17th-century entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian -- ScienceDaily – I enjoyed here books on Internet Archive in 2018 (find them here).

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ – History backed up with ice core data.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 29, 2018

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

From High Above, A New Way of Seeing Our Urban Planet - Yale E360 – Cities – growing and growing. It is mind boggling that urban population has grown from 751 million in 1950 to 4,200 million today.

How changing labs revealed a chemical reaction key to cataract formation: Researchers studying eye lens find a new function for a protein previously thought to be inert -- ScienceDaily – Learning more about the chemistry behind cataract formation….not a treatment yet but better understanding can be the path toward slowing or more targeted treatment of cataracts.

Curious Kids: What are some of the challenges to Mars travel? – A series from The Conversation (in Australia) for children…but interesting to adults too. Kids ask the best questions!

A DOZEN WAYS FAMILIES CAN #OPTOUTSIDE EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR | Children & Nature Network – I’m on a role with the child focused gleanings right now…I would add to the list: find easy access natural spaces (near where you work or live) and visit them as often as possible.

VIDEO: We Hope Your Day Is As Great As This Snow-Loving Panda’s: NPR – Pandas are such a visual treat. This is Bei Bei at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo back in November.  My husband and I missed the snow (we were in New Mexico).

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Owls – National Geographic Blog – 2018 was my first sighting of barn owls in the wild…awesome.

Ragweed Is on The Move – National Geographic Blog – Not such a big change in the south….in Kansas City the season is prolonged by 23 days. For those people allergic to ragweed…that is a miserable trend.

Some health related posts: Blood pressure: Early treatment advised by US guidelines has no survival benefits -- ScienceDaily and Your heart hates air pollution; portable filters could help -- ScienceDaily – At least the second one was actionable; I now have a portable filter in my bedroom and I think it is reducing my cat allergy – maybe more.

Aerial photos of U.S. national parks from space – I love national parks. Everyone I have been to has had something spectacular to offer. It’s sad that they are all mostly closed (if the bathrooms and visitor centers are not open….they are closed) for this week (partial government shutdown).

How do different light bulbs work? – in C&EN | Compound Interest – Light bulbs have changed a lot during my lifetime. Hopefully now we are on track to have bulbs that are closer to the natural sunlight spectrum so that the light does not cause eye or sleep problems.

YE Thinking: Reducing Plastic

It’s impossible to stop using plastic completely – but I am reducing in every way that I can. Plastic on our land or in our water is not a good thing and it is a totally man-made problem that is becoming more apparent every year. Here are my strategies for reducing my plastic footprint at the end of 2018:

Buy products in containers that are not plastic (i.e. milk in cartons rather that plastic jugs, lemon juice in glass jar, peanut butter/preserves in glass jars).

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Always have reusable shopping bags handy. This was probably the first strategy I implemented, and it’s been over 10 years ago now. It was very easy for the weekly grocery shopping. Doing it for the quick trips of one or two items - and to stores other than the grocery store – happened over time. I now carry a small bag in a stuff pocket attached to my purse.

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Put produce in reusable produce bags. The challenge is that the labels spewed out by the scales don’t stick to the fabric…so I have a pad of paper to stick them too and the checker easily scans them when I am checking out.

Avoid single use plastic utensils. Go with plastic that can withstand many passes through the dishwasher or stainless flatware. My husband and I have travel sporks that we use for picnics on road trips.

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Make your own body wash with slivers of soap with water in a plastic bottle (I have a bottle from purchased body wash that I like for it’s shape….it will last for several years replenished from time to time with bar soap slivers!)

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Stop buying soft drinks and bottled water. I have been surprised at how easy this is to do for me. My husband is still working at it. It’s a healthy choice too. I carry my travel mug almost all the time – usually with just ice water. Another plus – it can reduce ‘grocery’ costs.

In the end – plastic is unavoidable. I try to choose plastics that are easier to recycle in our community.

  • Our recycling does not take clamshells like salad comes in so I rarely buy salad in that form. I buy the bundled organic full leaves (or plant) and put it in one of my reusable bags….or in a container that I can recycle (like a plastic bag).

  • I buy popcorn in a plastic bag rather than plastic container since I am more confident that the grocery store where I return clean plastic bags gets them recycled than the vendor that processes the multi-stream recycling picked up at our curb.

  • If there is an option to buy something I use frequently in a larger container (both plastic), I buy the larger container. My rationale is that larger containers probably get through the recycling process and into the correct bin (i.e. plastic) to be recycled.

One strategy that has helped me reduce the amount of plastic we are using is to look at what we put in our trash or recycle bins. I am fast approaching the point that I’ve done what I can do until packaging changes and I have more choices – choices that don’t include plastic.