Gleanings of the Week Ending September 21, 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.

These Caterpillars Can Detect Color Using Their Skin, Not Their Eyes | Smart News | Smithsonian – A little surprise…but insects probably have a lot of adaptations developed over eons that are challenging to imagine.

Five weird and wonderful ways nature is being harnessed to build a sustainable fashion industry – New dyes from enzymes, ‘leather’ from mushrooms, lacy fabric made from plant roots that grew that way (watch the video), cellulose for fabrics derived from manure!

Aesthetics of skin cancer therapy may vary by treatment type -- ScienceDaily – Hopefully these findings will guide doctors to use the more aesthetic treatments…since they all have about the same recurrence rates a year after treatment.

On the Alabama Coast, the Unluckiest Island in America - Yale E360 – Dauphin Island…when does everyone decide that these places can’t be saved…should not be rebuilt. It’s not something we are dealing with very well as individuals or as a nation.

Deer browsing is not stopping the densification of Eastern US forests -- ScienceDaily – Deer hurt the understory but the canopy is more impacted by the greater density of the big forest trees (because of fire suppression) and that red maples are growing in areas where young oaks, hickories, or pines would have grown previously. But wouldn’t the deer browse young trees? In our area – the forests have also changed quite a lot in the last 20 years with the decline of the hemlocks and now the ashes. This study – done in Pennsylvania – did not comment about those issues.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: September – These photographs are always worth a look….birds are so beautiful.

North America has lost 3 billion birds – And fresh from looking at the wonder pictures of birds….this sobering news: North America has lost 25% of its bird population and it’s all happened in the last 50 years. More than 90% of the loss is in just a dozen bird families that includes the sparrows, warblers, blackbirds, and finches. Grassland birds have suffered a 53% loss. Potential causes: habitat degradation, urbanization, and the use of toxic pesticides.

Staying at elementary school for longer associated with higher student attainment – My daughter didn’t seem to have a problem transferring from elementary to middle school after 5th grade…but the middle school was next door to the elementary school, and she was doing well in school. The results of this research will have to overcome the school building infrastructure in many areas. Change happens slowly with school systems. So far I haven’t seen a change in start times for high schools even though there are studies that say that early starts are not good for high school students (in our area, they have always started before the elementary and middle schools).

Spotted in Kenya: a baby zebra with polka dots – I hope there is a follow up story on this baby. Will the pattern make it more susceptible to fly bites? Another note from the article: Zebras are accepting of difference…animals with atypical coat patterns fit right into the herd.

Drought Reveals Lost “Spanish Stonehenge” – The Dolmen at Guadalperal has resurfaced from the Valdecanas Reservoir in western Spain due to lower lake levels from dry, hot conditions this year. It has been submerged for 50 years. Hopefully someone will make a good 3D tour of the place.

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 14, 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.

Radio Tracking a Rare Crayfish – Cool Green Science – There are a lot more species of crayfish than I realized…and they have a bigger role in the stream that I assumed.

Mindfulness for middle school students: Focusing awareness on the present moment can enhance academic performance and lower stress levels -- ScienceDaily – I wonder if ‘mindfulness’ is something we need to teach more overtly now than in the past because technology and daily life tends to push us in ‘unmindful’ ways.

Canadian Canola Fields – I looked at this article because the Bugs101 course that I took recently mentioned the canola fields of Canada (for some reason I had never known very much about Canola as a crop). This article provides more history. It has become a cash crop for Canada in recent decades.

There's a Troubling Rise in Colorectal Cancer Among Young Adults | The Scientist Magazine® - Incidence of colon cancer is falling in older people…but becoming more common in people under 50. It has continued to go up over the past decade. In young adults, the cancer is discovered later too…usually stage 3 or 4.

A Northwest Passage Journey Finds Little Ice and Big Changes - Yale E360 – Lots of changes. Grizzly are moving northward…fewer polar bears…salmon far north of where they used to be…lungworm killing muskox…plastic in ice cores.

Researchers Discover New Family of Viruses | The Scientist Magazine® - The new viruses are found in lung biomes of people that had had lung transplants or have periodontal disease….many times the patients are critically ill. But we don’t know yet if the new family of viruses are linked to disease.

Utah's red rock metronome: Seismic readings reveal Castleton Tower's unseen vibrations -- ScienceDaily – On the plus side – it does not appear that climbers of the tower are impacting it…but this work is a baseline and there could be some longer term effects. Wikipedia has some pictures and a short article about Castleton Tower.

Infographic: History of Ancient Hominin Interbreeding | The Scientist Magazine® - Still learning about the hominin tree and how modern humans carry the genetic heritage.

Camera Trap Chronicles: The Pennsylvania Wilds – Cool Green Science – I wonder what I would see coming through my back yard. I know we have deer…and I occasionally see a fox. Maybe racoons. My first though was to put a camera on the bird feeder or the bird bath.

BBC - Future - Is there a worst time of day to get sick? – Circadian rhythms are important to health….and our medical system doesn’t use them to advantage. I remember being concerned when my mother was in the hospital years ago and the lights were very bright day and night. No wonder she had difficulty sleeping!

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 7, 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 - Is city life really bad for you? – Some additional reasons we need to make changes to cities --- if that is where the bulk of humans will live in the future.

A Field Guide to Commonly Misidentified Mammals – Cool Green Science – How many of these animals can you correctly identify?

Blood vessels turning into bone-like particles -- ScienceDaily – The headline caught my interest…bone-like particles in the blood. Then I noticed that the researcher was from the school where I did my undergraduate work back in the 1970s!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Raptors and Migration – Catching up on these weekly posts from National Geographic. I always enjoy them.

BBC - Future - Can you cool a house without air conditioning? – We’ve probably had our last 90 degree plus day for the season at this point….but over the long term, I expect broadening the technologies we use to cool our homes and buildings is going to be important.

Turquoise-Tinted Tarantula Discovered in Sri Lanka | Smart News | Smithsonian – Iridescent color that must startle the spider’s prey (or a predator) --- and a discussion of collecting by scientists.

See a different endangered animal in every U.S. state – The map is easy to explore. The Puritan Tiger Beetle was the one listed for Maryland….not something I had heard of before.

Infographic: How Muscles Age | The Scientist Magazine® - A little muscle anatomy lesson – for young and old.

The Earth's Vegetation Stopped Expanding 20 Years Ago - News | Planetizen – Another indication that climate change is already having a worldwide impact?

Forest-killing bark beetles also might help ecosystem, experts say - UPI.com – It’s distressing to see a forest of dead trees…but maybe it’s an indicator that monoculture forests and fire suppression are not healthy. And then there is climate change in the mix as well. The beetles now survive the winter temperatures in much of their range.

Monarch Caterpillars

This has been a disappointing year for Monarch butterflies in our neighborhood. I haven’t seen many butterflies and only two caterpillars…and it’s relatively late in the season. I first saw a medium sized caterpillar on the milkweed in my front flower bed (the milkweed came back after I pulled it earlier in the season). I took pictures of it two days in a row…eating away. On the third day I couldn’t find it. I hope it will reappear at some point although I am wondering if something is killing or eating Monarch caterpillars.

I found a bigger caterpillar on a milkweed plant behind the bushes (maybe the location of the plant is protective). The caterpillar was actively eating and is big enough that it will make a chrysalis soon.

The milkweed plants look OK but not as good as I remember them from the 1990s. The leaves sometimes curl and deform and there are a lot more aphids. It looks like there may be some parasitoids of the aphids which are beginning to control the population.

It’s frustrating to have host plants but so few caterpillars. Are there just too many factors leading to the Monarch decline? It’s worse than last year.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 31, 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: August and Sunbirds and Spiderhunters -  Two sets of bird pictures this week…catching up a little on the gleanings…and good picutres to start out the post this week.

Rare Lightning Strikes Detected 300 Miles from North Pole | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d never thought about lightning or thunderstorms over the arctic….so this was ‘news to me’ from several perspectives.

Impact of largescale tree death on carbon storage -- ScienceDaily – In our area, invasive insects have caused the deaths of two tree species in recent years: Eastern Hemlock (wooly adelgid) and Ash (Emerald Ash Borer)…die-offs that are definitely not the norm. I wondered if the research included these in their ‘insect outbreak’ category.

The practical ways to reduce your carbon footprint (that actually work) | WIRED UK – How many of these have you considered…implemented?

Here's How the 'Fish Tube' Works | Smart News | Smithsonian – And it doesn’t injure the fish? It seems like it would be very traumatic for the fish.

Tracing the History of Decorative Art, a Genre Where "Form Meets Function" – Short…with some good pictures…and links.

Microplastic drifting down with the snow: In the Alps and the Arctic, experts confirm the presence of plastic in snow -- ScienceDaily – Aargh! Something we have in our minds as being ‘clean’ because it is white, is polluted by things so tiny we can’t see them.

Insect 'apocalypse' in U.S. driven by 50x increase in toxic pesticides – Why are we still using such huge amounts of pesticides when we don’t need to….we have methods to grow our food without decimating pollinators and other beneficial insects.

BBC - Future - The wildlife haven in a Cold War ‘death strip’ – The land between what used to be East and West Germany…the borderland between Finland and Russia….places where the Iron Curtain divided people. This is a long corridor of land left alone for the decades of rapid growth in Europe – land where people didn’t tread but where plants and animals could thrive. It is the European Green Belt through 24 countries. Some species are already using it to migrate north to escape the effects of global warming.

What drives inflammation in type 2 diabetes? Not glucose, says new research -- ScienceDaily – A surprise finding….and now a lot more research needed about fat derivatives and mitochondria in people with type 2 diabetes.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 24, 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.

‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades – How will public health be impacted by warming climate? This article summarizes a county-by-county analysis of likely temperature and humidity over the coming decades.

Waist size is a forgotten factor in defining obesity -- ScienceDaily - Waist size is just as important as BMI in defining obesity-related health risks. The study used data from 156,000 women ages 50-79 from 1993-2017 and confirms a similar study published in 2015 based on a much smaller population.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Not as colorful as usual…but I still enjoyed the pictures. I also like the acronym (LBJs)

Algae living inside fungi: How land plants first evolved -- ScienceDaily – And the study was done with algae and fungi that produce high amounts of oil…could be useful growing together for bioproduction (reduce costs).

Food insecurity common across US higher education campuses -- ScienceDaily - Lack of access to reliable supply of nutritious food may affect student's ability to succeed, researchers say. Is it more a problem now that it used to be….or are we just recognizing it? Universities are scrambling to set up programs to address the issue.

With New Perennial Grain, a Step Forward for Eco-Friendly Agriculture - Yale E360 – How can the ideas for prairie and forest sustainable agriculture be moved into the mainstream faster? It seems like there is still a lot to learn about how to do it on a large scale.

Non-native invasive insects, diseases decreasing carbon stored in US forests -- ScienceDaily – It seems like more of these problems are cropping up….and at a time when we need our forests to retain carbon. In our area, the emerald ash borer has killed all the ash trees in the past 5 years…a noticeable change in our forests.

Focus on Native Bees, Not Honey Bees – Cool Green Science - Lots of beautiful bees out there…pollinating right along with the honey bees. We need to support all the pollinators to build (and sustain) health environments for us all.

Solar Panels on Farmland Have Huge Electricity-Generating Potential - Yale E360 – A vision to think about….agrivoltaics (a new vocabular word for me!).

Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all. – I was intrigued by the pictures of landscapes of melting permafrost – collapsing land, methane (enough to burn) bubbling from a thawing pond, crumbling cliffs.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 17, 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.

Well-Preserved Mosaic Floor Found in Roman Egypt - Archaeology Magazine – Lotus patterns!

Nations with strong women's rights likely to have better population health and faster growth-- ScienceDaily – A study analyzed databases which held information on health, human rights, and economic and social rights for 162 countries for the period 2004 to 2010.  The results suggest that gender equality is not just a women’s issue but a development issue.

More Climate Surprises Expected – THE DIRT – “Climate change together with environmental degradation and social and political instability is the threat multiplier.” It seems like more and more climate-linked surprises/disasters are happening every year. When do we reach a tipping point where everyone realizes that we cannot continue the status quo?

Liver transplants could be redundant with discovery of new liver cell -- ScienceDaily – From Kings’ College London. It would be a big step forward if this finding translates into standard treatment for liver failure.

Viking Woman Warrior May Have Been Slavic | Smart News | Smithsonian – Not all ‘Vikings’ were Nordic men…some were Slavic and some were women! It’s good to understand long ago cultures in more depth…particularly when it causes us to rethink our assumptions.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birding – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Variety and beauty of birds…I always enjoy the ‘25’ collections.

How to keep buildings cool without air conditioning – according to an expert in sustainable design – We are going to need all the technology we know (and some new ones) to keep buildings and homes cool as the planet gets warmer.

America's packaged food supply is ultra-processed: Americans are overexposed to products that are high in calories, saturated fat, sugar and salt -- ScienceDaily – Unhealthy ‘food’ --- most of us have an inkling about this but it doesn’t keep us from indulging. The article mentions the Foodswitch app that allows consumers to scan packaged foods to determine their healthfulness; I loaded the app and scanned things in my pantry. The pasta I buy (whole wheat and green) rates a 5 of 5! Soymilk was 4.5. The canned tamales my husband likes are a 3 (salt and fat).

Thamugadi, a Roman outpost in Algeria, was saved by the Sahara – Buried in sand after it was abandoned around AD 700…and rediscovered in the 1700s but not explored. In the 1870s it was again rediscovered. It was excavated by the French from 1881 to 1960 in its entirety. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982.

100 days, 100 nights: Sensor network reveals telltale patterns in neighborhood air quality: Custom-built sensors deployed for 100 days and nights to track black carbon pollution -- ScienceDaily – A test was done in West Oakland with new technology to monitor air pollution with more specificity over the area and time of day(s) than has been done before now. The technology worked and demonstrated that the finer grain measurements provide deeper understanding of what impacts localized air quality…something we have to understand to make progress in improving city environments.

Flowers on Table

I have been enjoying the cut-your-own flowers from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this summer. It’s great to have the color on the table – changing every week. A small bag with scissors for that part of the share pickup has been added to the larger bags for the heftier veggies. I often get some herbs as well. Fresh oregano and thyme are my two favorites. I rinse the herbs and put them on a small plate on the counter using it up in a few days or letting it dry so that it crinkles easily into a steaming pot of sauce or stir fry.

Summer Camp Volunteering- Week 3

The theme for last week’s Howard Count Conservancy’s summer camps was ‘Water Wizards.’ The campers at both Mt. Pleasant and Belmont made terrific water themed Zentangles®! I started out the sessions by briefly talking about the water cycle…how water moves on our planet and in the atmosphere….honed for the 5-12 years old campers. I projected a simple diagram of the water cycle from the NASA website….and then used the same set up to enable the campers to see how I drew some water themed patterns on pale blue cardstock (using the camera on the iPad which was hooked to a projector).

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There were three groups at Mt. Pleasant. They all enjoyed frogs eggs and tadpoles, raindrops making ripples in a pond, mist….and clouds. The youngest group made rainbows! I used 4.5-inch squares for the youngest group (last of the group of 3 mosaics below); the other two used 3.5-inch squares.

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At Belmont, the session was on a hot afternoon and the campers appreciated the time to cool off inside. I took a picture of the room before the campers arrived – the cool and calm before a flurry of activity.

After a short discussion of the water cycle, the room was filled with very focused campers making Zentangle patterns. One of the counselors came in and commented about how quiet the room was. It wasn’t silent exactly…everyone was just busy. The first mosaic were made by the older group and are 3.5-inch squares…and some that finished early made mini-tiles on 2-inch squares. The younger group used the larger 4.5-inch tiles. Both groups enjoyed frog eggs and tadpoles, cattails (or seaweed), raindrops into a pond, and mist.

Each week I do Zentangles, there are a few campers from prior weeks that know the Zentangle basics…and others that are new. All are keen to learn some patterns and are tickled with the tiles they create. There’s always a crowd around the mosaic at the end.

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The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 10, 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: Green – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings list with birds this week – green ones.

Indigenous Maize: Who Owns the Rights to Mexico’s ‘Wonder’ Plant? - Yale E360 – The nitrogen fixing maize --- farmed in Mexico – but who will profit if the trait is replicated in corn to feed the rest of the world.

Vast majority of dietary supplements don't improve heart health or put off death, study finds -- ScienceDaily – Massive analysis…277 clinical trials. The supplement industry is large and advertises; how do studies like this counteract that even if the supplement in many cases is having only a placebo effect.

Brothers Use Drone to Reveal Beauty of Ordinary Objects – Art of objects seen from above.

Making HVAC heat exchangers five times better -- ScienceDaily – We’re going to need all the innovation we can muster to get air conditioning more efficient…and power it with renewable energy.

BBC - Future - Do we need to walk 10,000 steps a day? – Hint – 10,000 is not a magic number at all. I’ve had my goal set at 12,000 steps for quite some time. I make it when I am home but am usually challenged when traveling.

Toyota plans to launch its first full EVs, in a deal with China’s BYD - MIT Technology Review – I hope by the time I get ready to replace my Prius Prime there are a lot of EVs to choose from!

What it Means to Design with Nature in 2019 - News | Planetizen – Is this the thinking of all design going forward?

A Fungus Is Now Infecting Humans & Global Warming May Be to Blame | CleanTechnica – Candida auris started showing up in humans in 2009 and it is multiple drug resistant already. New research is indicating that the fungus might have adapted to warmer temperatures until it can now multiply in the human body…which it couldn’t before.

Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S. – Lots of changes in the time period between 1945 and 2014.The article includes a color-coded map. It will be interesting to see if the trends continue over the next decade

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 3, 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.

Dive beneath the pyramids of Egypt’s black pharaohs – The challenge of excavating a 2,300-year-old tomb that is submerged in rising groundwater.

Another Fire in Greenland – There have been more reports of fires in the far north this year. Evidently warm dry air causes Arctic circle landscapes (that are not ice and snow) to be very flammable…fires start and burn quite easily.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Pigeons and Doves – National Geographic – I was surprised at the diversity of these birds.

Call for green burial corridors alongside roads, railways and country footpaths -- ScienceDaily – I wonder how many other countries have a similar problem. Space for burials is probably already a challenge for almost all large cities.

How the sound in your office effects your mood – Aural architecture….how we listen to buildings, the sound within buildings, and how we react. It isn’t considered very often in the current built environment except for things like concert halls and sound proofing. Maybe in the future it will be. One segment of the article talked about the need for quite and nature sounds in city soundscapes…much better than sirens and traffic noise.

Air pollution speeds up aging of the lungs and increases chronic lung disease risk -- ScienceDaily – A large study…another reason to do everything we can to improve air quality.

Banding Hummingbirds – Banding larger birds has it’s challenges but a hummingbird….I’d never heard someone describe it. Kudos for the people that have the touch to do it well.

Engineers develop chip that converts wasted heat to usable energy -- ScienceDaily – Interesting idea…I wonder how long it will take to get this type of technology into laptops and solar panels?

How a Pokémon-like Card Game Is Changing the Way People Learn About the Environment – What a good idea. I hope more teachers start introducing their students to the Phylo game!

Solar panels cast shade on agriculture in a good way – Research from the University of Arizona…how solar panels could shade plants to help them survive in a hotter environment…and the plants help cool the air under the solar panels as they produce electricity! The plants that might do best are the leafy greens that tend to wilt in the mid-day heat. The leaves grow bigger in the shade too! Production of nutritious food and renewable energy in the same system.

Gleanings of the Week Ending July 20, 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: Conceal – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting out with bird images this week. The first picture in this series … a little owl … is my favorite.

Ghost orchid pollination revealed for first time in incredible photos – I heard about ghost orchids at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival…so enjoyed this article (includes a video)

Centennial E7 - Night of the Killer Smog - Third Pod from the Sun - AGU Blogosphere – A little history of air pollution events that spurred the Clean Air Act of 1970.

Biomedical bleeding may impact horseshoe crabs' spawning behavior and movement -- ScienceDaily – My interest in horseshoe crabs has increased since the Cape May Birding Spring (birding) Festival.

BBC - Future - The poisons released by melting Arctic ice – Observations of a warming Arctic….some surprising even to scientists that study the area.

When Will Renewable Energy Prices Stop Dropping? | CleanTechnica – The question becomes…where the tipping point is when almost everyone is using renewable energy for just about everything….at home…on the road…at work.

How Much Nature Is Enough? 120 Minutes a Week Doctors Say | Children & Nature Network – The study included data from 20,000 people in England and was conducted from 2014-2016. 120 minutes a week was the answer. I wonder what factors might make it different – age, culture, environment, etc.

Clouds and Rain Carry a Menagerie of Photosynthetic Microbes | The Scientist Magazine® - Life in the atmosphere.

Are doctors treating more thyroid cancer patients than necessary? -- ScienceDaily - New research may help change treatment practices for patients diagnosed with low risk thyroid cancer. Sometimes doctors opt for maximum treatment and the treatment ends up being worse than the disease would have been.

Monarch Butterflies Born in Captivity Have Trouble Migrating South Study Says: NPR – I like that the schools in my area are getting their Monarch caterpillars (or eggs) from the wild to raise in the classroom and then release. These Monarchs will migrate!

Gorman Farms CSA

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I am overwhelmed with the weekly bounty of vegetables from the medium share from Gorman Farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). My freezer is full because I have made two road trips from Maryland to Springfield, Missouri since the season started – eating very little at home during those two weeks. Now I am closer to home for the rest of the season and anticipate keeping up better week to week…so much good food to eat! I love green smoothies for breakfast (frozen greens, frozen banana, soymilk, peanut butter) on hot summer mornings and there are plenty of frozen greens in the freezer. The farm also has pick-your-own flowers and herbs. Marigolds (the orange flowers in the picture) are pretty….and edible. I ended up just putting them in the center of the table as a little bouquet.

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Each week the message board at the CSA highlights some of the veggies. This week the shishito peppers and tomatillos are new to me. My plan: roasting them and making green salsa.

The share board lists the contents of the share for the week. The picture below is the board from this week. There was a choice between purple and white onions ….and I picked purple since I had white ones left from last week. The melon choice was watermelon or cantaloupe. I picked cantaloupe because I had just bought a watermelon in the grocery store. From the choice section I chose turnips since the last ones I got were great for snacking. I’ll cut them to use for dipping the tomatillo salsa. There were enough reusable bags in my totes to contain the summer squash, cucumbers, eggplant, and tomatillos for weighing… I am avoiding single use plastic entirely when I pick up my share.

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The cabbage white butterflies were thick on one segment of the cut-your-own garden and I went to check what plant was attracting them – catnip! I cut some for my cat and he enjoyed the CSA share this week too!

As in past years – the CSA is providing great food…and the satisfaction of eating produce grown very close to home in a sustainable way.

Gleanings of the Week Ending July 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.

We organized a conference for 570 people without using plastic. Here’s how it went – It’s hard to do anything without plastic….but we’ll find ways eventually. I am focused on the ‘single use’ items first but when I can I choose materials other than plastic even for more durable items.

Arches National Park Recognized As "Dark Sky" Park – Now for my husband to find a way to get there with his telescope….

Timber Rattlesnakes: Cool Facts and an Uncertain Future – This snake is found in western Maryland….not in the county where I live. But we always mention it to students interested in snakes. This article provided some additional ‘cool facts’ to pass along.

Macro Photos of Water Droplets Reveal the Overlooked Beauty of Nature – Beautiful images in water droplets - And the artist included some pictures of the set up he uses to get the pictures!

In an Era of Extreme Weather, Concerns Grow Over Dam Safety – There have been dams in the news in recent years (like the Oroville Dam spillway failure in 2017). In our area, some small dams have been removed. But there are 91,000 dams in the US that are aging and need repairs. It’s going to be expensive…and the extreme weather we’ve been having probably makes it more urgent…but the funding is just not forthcoming so far.

Chiggers are the worst – Agreed.

Photo of the Week – July 5, 2019 – Milkweed in bloom. This is a blog post from The Prairie Ecologist…showing some bugs too. No Monarch butterflies though.

8 ways wild animals beat the heat – The mucous that hippos secrete was new to me…it’s acts as sunscreen, antibiotic, moisturizer, and water repellant. Now that we’ve learned that the sunscreen we’ve been using may be toxic to corals (and maybe to us too), perhaps we could develop an alternative by learning more about the hippo mucous.

Winter Bee Declines Greatest in 13 Years: Survey – Habitat loss, pesticides, Varroa mites….it adds up. Evidently in recent years the strategies that beekeepers have been using to deter mites have not worked as well. Some crops rely more on commercial beekeepers than others. Almonds, cherries, and blueberries are mentioned as examples.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Flowers – Last but not least this week…..birds and flowers. Enjoy the photographs.

Gleanings of the Week Ending July 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.

Older forests resist change, climate change, that is -- ScienceDaily  - A study from the University of Vermont. But there are a lot of other changes in the forest too – the advent of non-native diseases like emerald ash borer and the explosion of deer populations so that there is a lot less understory in the forest (and few young trees). Is the net still that old forests resist change more effectively than younger ones?

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: June – National Geographic Society Newsroom – The always beautiful series of bird pictures.

Expanding the temperature range of lithium-ion batteries ScienceDaily – I’ve noticed the battery in my Prius Prime does not last for as many miles in the winter as it does in the summer. It’s one of the issues I want improved before I buy my next EV.

Chattanooga Becomes First U.S. Airport to Run Entirely on Solar – YaleEnvironment360 – Congrats to Chattanooga on this milestone. Evidently the first airport to do it was Cochin International in Kerala, India which went 100% solar powered in 2015. I’ve noticed a lot of US airports have fields of solar arrays…but maybe they haven’t also installed batteries to make the airport 100% solar powered.

You Can Now Tour the Tunnels Beneath Rome’s Baths of Caracalla – Smithsonian – A little Roman history linked to a place where tons of wood were burned per day to keep the fires going so that the caldarium would have hot water…where 18.5 gallons of water per second were consumed…copper tanks and lead pipes.

Timed release of turmeric stops cancer cell growth – ScienceDaily – Part of the search for gentler treatments for children with osteosarcoma.

A Tale of Contrasting Rift Valley Lakes – NASA Earth Observatory – Lake Tanganyika and Lake Rukwa as viewed from NASA’s Aqua satellite.  Deep and shallow. Salty and fresh. Brown and Blue.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument: Holding History in Your Hand – National Parks Traveler – I had to look up where Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is located. It’s in the panhandle of Texas, north of Amarillo. I might go someday…on the way to somewhere else. The route would probably pass through the small western Oklahoma town where I was born.

Grand Canyon will soon be a dark sky park – Smithsonian – The park service has retrofitted lights to make it happen. This could be a good reason to camp in this national park!

What does the dust in your home mean for your health? – The Conversation – Thought provoking post. About one third of the ‘dust’ is created inside by ourselves and our pets, food debris, fibers from carpet/fabrics, particles from cooking plus chemicals like flame retardants. Are they toxic? There is ongoing research. Re outdoor sources – lead is the one of most concern.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 29, 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.

Porcupines | National Geographic – I was disappointed that they didn’t include more pictures of the North American Porcupine. I’ve never seen one in the wild.

BBC - Future - How to build something that lasts 10,000 years – Specifically – this post is about building a clock that will last for 10,000 years…in West Texas!

Researchers uncover indoor pollution hazards -- ScienceDaily – Some surprises: pollutants change with temperature inside the house….and time of day makes a difference. Formaldehyde seems to be particularly prevalent. These studies are scary for existing homes. We need work on mitigations that homeowners can implement…and new construction that reduces the source of pollutants.

Infographic: Immunity Isn't the Body's Only Defense System | The Scientist Magazine® - Symbiotic bacteria, metabolism and pathogen mutation examples overlay the immunity strategy. As we learn more, we realize that the human body is more complex that we realized.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Blue – National Geographic Society Newsroom – So many blue birds!

Tortoises rule on Aldabra Atoll – Tortoises making their way through the huts where people bunked! The tortoises sleep with head and legs stretched out…no predators to fear on the inhospitable atoll.

Past climate change pushed birds from the northern hemisphere to the tropics -- ScienceDaily – Thought provoking. I wondered if some of the birds that now migrate from North America to Central or South America for the winter….will not go as far or will shift their range northward.  I suppose it would work if their food sources shifted and the birds followed the food. The synchrony of plants blooming and seeds ripening….of horseshoe crabs laying eggs…all while birds are migrating or getting ready to produce young; it’s not a simple system.

Making STEM Education More Welcoming to Underrepresented Minorities | The Scientist Magazine® - Education doesn’t happen in a vacuum that has well defined boundaries. We must do more than just academic support…I’m glad there is more research and conversation on how to move forward in tangible ways to make STEM education and careers more open to everyone.

An Ancient Asteroid Crater May Be Hiding Off Scotland’s Coast | Smart News | Smithsonian – Some recent work that points to a crater of a asteroid from 1.2 billion years ago.

Three Studies Track People's Microbiomes Through Health and Disease | The Scientist Magazine® - Interesting…but they could just be expensive association studies (a quote from the end of the paper). At some point, maybe the findings will lead to something that benefits the patient.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 22, 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.

The royal tombs of Ur reveal Mesopotamia's ancient splendor – From National Geographic - Leonard Woolley’s excavation of Ur in the 1920s.

Astronomers Worry New SpaceX Satellite Constellation Could Impact Research | Smart News | Smithsonian – Are telescopes on the surface of the earth doomed? Will we only be able to study the universe from space?

Americans May Be Ingesting Thousands of Microplastics Every Year | Smart News | Smithsonian and Hawaii’s newest black sand beach already contains plastic pollution – Plastics everywhere...and there is growing evidence that it is negatively impacting life on our planet. What are we doing about it?

Image of the Day: Hot Stripes | The Scientist Magazine® - Did you know that zebras can raise the black stripes separately from the white stripes!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Communication – National Geographic Society – Birds…never can resist including a wild bird photo collections.

BBC - Future - How modern life is transforming the human skeleton – The way we live – written in our bones.

New Jersey 100% Renewable Energy Plan -- More Fiber, Less Fluff | CleanTechnica – Hurray for New Jersey….having a tangible plan to use zero carbon energy by 2050.

Eliminating packaging is a good start – but here's what supermarkets should do to stop harming the planet – I’ve made it a point to reduce the amount of packaging when I shop; I am way past the easy things…and up against the way groceries operate in my area. I buy local produce through my CSA for 5 months of the year (a good way to eliminate packaging, eat seasonally, and reduce food transportation costs) but the other 7 months of the year, I’m back to the typical grocery store for produce.

How old are your organs?  -- ScienceDaily - To scientists' surprise, organs are a mix of young and old cells: Scientists discover cellular structures with extreme longevity, leading to insights for age-associated diseases.

Tropical Cyclones are Stalling More – Hurricane Harvey (Texas)….Tropical storm Fay (Florida)…Hurricane Florence (North Carolina) – All three storms caused a lot of damage to the coasts when they lingered over the coastal area becoming prolific rain producers. Is this the new normal for Atlantic Hurricanes?

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 14, 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.

Antibiotics found in some of the world's rivers exceed 'safe' levels, global study finds -- ScienceDaily and Hundreds of world's rivers contain dangerous levels of antibiotics – Same story from different news feeds. Antibiotics we take are not broken down in our bodies and are excreted. Wastewater treatment does not take them out of the water so the rivers are – over time – building up more antibiotics.

Ancient Fingerprints Show Men and Women Both Made Pottery in the American Southwest | Smart News | Smithsonian – The breadth of men’s finger print ridges are 9% wider than those of women…so pots that are made via pinching layers of coiled clay together using the thumb and forefinger (leaving fingerprints) can be analyzed to determine the gender of the person that made them. It turns out at Chaco Canyon that men and women made pottery…unlike the more modern tradition of the skill passing from grandmothers to mothers to younger women.

Route 66 Considered for National Historic Trail in The Park System – On a recent road trip, the Pacific, MO hotel we stayed in (west of St. Louis) was near Route 66. They had a map to continue the journey through Missouri on stretches of the old road. We needed to reach our destination quickly so stayed on I-44…but maybe sometime when we can take our time…we’ll take Route 66 where we can.

CITY SPROUTS: The Budding Movement to Integrate Garden-Based Learning in Public School Education | Children & Nature Network – A laudable goal…but it takes work. With teachers that already have a lot to do….organizing garden-based learning might be a tough addition to their job jar.

Most of the World’s Macadamias May Have Originated from a Single Australian Tree | Smart News | Smithsonian – The majority of macadamias are grown in Hawaii…so the lack of diversity within the trees in Hawaii leaves the crop open to species-level risk. This article talks about the research and search for wild plants in Australia to increase the diversity within the macadamia gene pool.

Seven US Species Invading Other Countries – Cool Green Science – We talk a lot about non-native species invading the US. Here are some that have gone the other way.

A Sea of Sagebrush Disappears, Making Way for Fire-Prone Cheatgrass: NPR – Nearly 75% of the acres burned by wildfires in the west are range lands rather the forest. And what burns is sage and cheatgrass. The problem is that cheatgrass, an invasive grass, grows faster than sage and is taking over land where sage once dominated…and cheatgrass is more flammable. Put that together with climate change and the look of the west is changing.

Megacities Like Paris and London Can Produce Their Own Clouds | Smart News | Smithsonian – The urban heat island phenomenon has been known for a long time. Now studies are looking at cloud cover over cities and it appears they are 10% cloudier than rural areas.

Still snarling after 40,000 years, a giant Pleistocene wolf discovered in Yakutia – Found in Siberia. The discovery was announced as the opening of a Woolly Mammoth exhibition in Tokyo organized by Yakutian and Japanese scientists. The same team also presented a well-preserved cave lion cub.

Six fingers per hand – People with 6 fingers on a hand (a form of polydactyly) can perform movements with one hand where people with 5 fingers would require 2 hands. The brain of polydactyly subjects controls the additional degrees of freedom the additional finger provides without sacrificing any other brain functions.

Community Supported Agriculture – Hurray!

The Gorman Farms CSA summer season started last week. As usual – I am enjoying the bounty and not buying any produce at the grocery store. I’ve had stir fry and salads…seasoned mostly with garlic scapes and spring onions that were part of the share. Will I be able to use all the first share before I pick up the next one? Probably not. I can always use the bunch of kale to make chips; they always getting eaten fast. I’ve discovered that I like to process the salad greens in the Ninja or food processor to make very green slaw rather than tradition bigger chunks of green.

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When I got the veggies home – I just put them in the crisper as they came from the farm. It means there is a little more prep to use them than there would be if I did the first round of prep before I put them in the refrigerator. It also means that they won’t last quite as long as they would in a bag or more airtight container. Maybe I’ll do the work when I pick up the share this week.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 8, 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.

5 Unusual Species Found in and Around the Everglades - The National Wildlife Federation Blog – I’ve seen two of the 4: the snail kite and wood stork!

Want to reduce single-use plastic in your life? Try these tips from National Geographic Explorer and #ExpeditionPlastic team member Lillygol Sedaghat. – National Geographic Society Newsroom – It’s hard to avoid single use plastics completely….but easy to cut back.

How big data can be used for personal health -- ScienceDaily – Yes – doing a lot of tracking of personal health information and having a baseline might be useful – but it’s not clear (from this article) that it didn’t result in overtreatment. It will be a challenge to match treatments in asymptomatic situations…that may never develop into a health problem. How well do we really understand risks?

BBC - Future - How weeds help fight climate change – And experiment in Australia showing how weeds might help in the process toward sustainable agriculture

Fracking: Earthquakes are triggered well beyond fluid injection zones: Computer model and field experiment data suggest a new link between subsurface injections and earthquake swarms -- ScienceDaily – Oklahoma….in the hot center of man-made earthquakes.

Do additives help the soil? Scientist suggests nature knows what's best -- ScienceDaily – Wow – a whole industry (bio-fertilizers) that is not having the positive effect on crops anticipated….and could have long-term effects on soil that are not positive. Why is the industry surviving?

Blood-squirting insects and more tiny creatures flourish in African park – Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.

Exploring the origins of the apple -- ScienceDaily – Large fruits developed to attract large animals like wild horses and large deer…..and probably other animals that are now extinct. The modern apple is a hybrid of at least 4 wild apple populations….along the Silk Road.

A Better Route Planner & Other Open Source Projects Need Our Help | CleanTechnica – Technology that needs to mature before Electronic Vehicles become more numerous.

Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, drought -- ScienceDaily – This year there has been too much rain in the corn belt. This story is over a month old but there are still areas of high water. What percentage of the corn fields haven’t been planted yet because they are still flooded?