Zooming – June 2019

So many aspects of nature to photograph in June: flowers and butterflies, frogs and birds…bunnies.

There were photos around home or close to home…and then in Missouri and Ohio. I’ll be learning the route between home and Missouri with two more trips in July…I’ll see how different the places look a month later.

There’s beauty to be found all over if we take the time to look for it!

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.

Ten Little Celebrations – March 2019

March had increased activity from February – a nice ramp up to the busy months of the spring field trip season of April, May and June. It was easy to find little celebrations all during the month.

A Creative Live course on bird photography – I always celebrate courses that hone what I already know…and show me something new that I want to try.

Getting new glasses – I had skipped getting new glasses last year – thinking that my prescription had not changed enough. It’s worth celebrating to see better again.

Snow on the ground but no on the streets – I celebrated a beautiful snowy day when the streets kept enough warmth to remain clear. It’s one of those instances where you can enjoy the scenery and not worry about hazardous driving conditions.

Cleaning out stuff – We donated two carloads of stuff (a bicycle was a big part of one load. I celebrated making progress on cleaning out accumulated things that we no longer need.

Then there are signs of spring – appearing throughout the month – and celebrated for the breaking of winter’s hold on the landscape:


Miniature daffodils blooming in the front flower bed that bring back memories of my mother-in-law that bought and planted the bulbs in another garden 30 years ago.

Tulip poplar and cherry buds brought inside and opening a few weeks before the buds outside open.

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Doves mating on the deck railing.

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Frogs eggs in the little pool at Mt. Pleasant.

A spring-like afternoon – full of sunlight and a warmer temperature.

The biggest celebration of the month was the news that both my daughter and son-in-law have faculty positions beginning next fall in the same place! It’s quite an accomplishment for them to both get their PhD and then do a couple years as post docs…then this milestone.  

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 1, 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.

How to feed a cat: Consensus statement to the veterinary community: Reducing stress-related eating problems -- ScienceDaily – Puzzle feeders and putting food in different places….make meal time more interesting!

Examining Grad Student Mental Health | The Scientist Magazine® - There are a lot of stressors during graduate school….and many students become depressed or develop other mental health issues. Students, faculty and university administrators are noticing that more needs to be done to help grad students through the challenges of this phase of their education.

Why Fall Color Has Been So Meh in Parts of the U.S. This Year | Smart News | Smithsonian – This article came out a few weeks ago….just getting around to putting in the gleanings. The explanation of why our area had such a lack luster fall is interesting and it might become the norm as the area gets wetter and warmer.

BBC - Earth News - Legless frogs mystery solved – Predatory dragonfly nymphs eat legs of tadpoles! This is an article from 2009…but it was news to me. We find dragonfly nymphs in almost all the streams and rivers around where I live…but I haven’t seen any legless frogs.

2 Solar Ovens Reviewed | CleanTechnica – I wonder how many people living in their RV or travel trailer make use of this type of oven to minimize propane and/or electricity usage.

Large-Scale Tar Production May Have Fueled Viking Expansion - Archaeology Magazine – Tar to waterproof ships. I was reminded of the ‘Connections’ series that often showed how a key technologic advance enabled something historically significant.

Yellowstone streams recovering thanks to wolf reintroduction -- ScienceDaily – The willows are growing taller along the banks of streams, making the banks more stable…since the wolfs are back and impacting elk browsing.

Gaudí's El Capricho, an Early Gem Located in North Spain – It’s hard to see it as a place that people would really live!

How invasive earthworm feces is altering US soils -- ScienceDaily – Asian jumping worms are changing the soils of the Midwest and East Coast of the US….and not for the better.

Why did Tutankhamun have a dagger made from a meteorite? – When Tutankhamun died, iron was rarer than gold. The Egyptians did not know how to process iron from ores…but they did know that iron meteorites came from the sky which might have made the material symbolic for them. Objects made from it would have been reserved for high-status people.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 16, 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.

Reading habits in the past | Europeana Blog – When I travel, I tend to do most of my reading on my phone (light weight, easy to carry, and ambient light does not have to be good). It’s a recent development for me. This blog post goes back further in history.

Man against machine: AI is better than dermatologists at diagnosing skin cancer -- ScienceDaily – There are still limitations to the AI but it might be close to a tipping point to begin transitioning into system. It seems like it would be most in demand for screening where there were not highly trained dermatologists available….as long as the imaging technology was not tremendously expensive or hard to use.

BBC - Future - Is it really healthier to live in the countryside? – I thought it would be…but it’s complicated because so many factors contribute to ‘health.’

Mapping Modern Threats to Ancient Chacoan Sites : Image of the Day – Posts about places I’ve visited always get my attention. A study using satellite data and projections for population growth/oil and gas exploration in the area shows that 44 of the 123 known Chaco sites included in the study are threatened by development. Of those, 19 are already protected by the National Park Service.

Paper Art Details Similarities Between Human Microbiome and Coral Reef – Nature inspired art!

Researchers Grow Veggies in Space | The Scientist Magazine® - Progress in a technology required for longer space missions…and then colonies on other planets.

Schoolyard Habitats Provide Resiliency in Houston Independent School District : The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Schools in Maryland have similar projects. I hope the monarchs have shown up in Houston…I haven’t seen any in Maryland yet this year.

US Still Subsidizing Fossil Fuels To Tune Of $27 Billion | CleanTechnica – This post included more detail on what subsidies are…how the US compares to other developed countries.

Thank A Rare Fungus For The Sustainable Solar Cell Of The Future | CleanTechnica – It’s a beautiful color…if it really works, it won’t be ‘rare’ for long. It will be come a commercially grown fungus!

Bright warning colors on poison dart frogs also act as camouflage -- ScienceDaily – Learning a bit more about these little frogs.

Frog on the Grill

My husband was surprised when he took the cover off our gas grill on Memorial Dad to find a tiny frog on the shelf where he usually sets the plate of food to be grilled. It seemed completely oblivious to being exposed at first. I rushed out with my camera to get some pictures. It didn’t budge.

We wanted to turn the grill on so I used a dandelion leaf to tickle the frog and it jumped….but in the direction it was pointed (which happened to be toward the grill rather than away. I tried again, and the frog jump off the grill and hopped a few times to get to a vertical surface – the frame of the door to the covered part of our deck. Note that the color seems a little different; the reference I found said that this type of frog could change color based on its environment.

It’s a Tree Frog. We have two in this area that look identical – the eastern gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) and Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis). The only reliable way to distinguish is evidently the number of chromosomes (Cope’s Gray Treefrog is diploid, the eastern gray treefrog is tetraploid). This individual did have a light spot beneath the eye and large toe pads typical of both.

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Gleanings of the Week Ending May 19, 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.

Top 25 Arid Birds – National Geographic Blog and Top 25 Woodland Birds – National Geographic Blog and The Best of the Top 25: Part 1 – National Geographic Blog and The Best of the Top 25: Part 2 – National Geographic Blog – Birds and more birds! I’m catching up on a lot of ‘top 25’ posts that have been accumulating.

Millennials Begin To Change The Face Of Camping In National Parks And Beyond  - Positive trends – more people camping…and more diversity. Great vacations…outdoors.

Historic Low Sea Ice in the Bering Sea: Image of the Day – Big changes to the amount of ice.

Algae Blooms in Lakes & Oceans Creating Pollution That Harms People, Pets, & The Planet | CleanTechnica – Who want to do anything in green water. Ugh! Another reason to slow the flow and reduce the extra nutrients that we send into our rivers, streams and lakes (that cause algae blooms).

World’s Largest Victorian Glasshouse Opens Doors After Five-Year Restoration Project | Smart News | Smithsonian – It’s easier to the structure of the building at this point…before the many new plants get very large and block the view. The building was originally opened in 1863…and this was it first restoration.

Alligators on the beach? Killer whales in rivers? Get used to it: Large predators once hunted to near-extinction are showing up in unexpected places -- ScienceDaily – Rebounding populations! They are returning to hunting grounds where they were common before hunting caused their near extinction.

Five Tips to Help Frogs and Toads in Your Yard: The National Wildlife Federation – Good recommendations for frogs…and wild life in general. I may repurpose my daughters old ‘turtle sandbox’ into a vernal pool (but will have to monitor it for mosquito larvae)

Why Teenagers Should Understand Their Own Brains (And Why Their Teachers Should Too!): NPR Ed: NPR – After being around middle school students this week…this article caught my interest. I’m glad we are learning more about the teenage brain and can come up with solutions to the problems caused to their sleep pattern by early school start times.

How Seeds from War-Torn Syria Could Help Save American Wheat - Yale E360 – From a seed bank near Aleppo…saving the seeds from the bank by taking them into Aleppo to Lebanon and now Kansas State and North Dakota State Universities developing wheat that is resistant to Hessian fly which has been an increasing problem with climate change (higher temperatures enough that the flies were not killed by the cold of winter, less water) significant enough that US grain yields were falling. Hurray for a diverse seed stock (and the US should take note to develop diversity rather than destroying via monoculture agriculture).

For how long will the USA remain the Nobel Prize leader? Empirical study on historical development allows a prognosis -- ScienceDaily – The graph is not positive for the US. It looks like the UK is recovering from a trough that developed in the 1990s while the US peaked in the 1980s and has been going down since then (the metric being Nobel prizes per year per 100 million inhabitants).

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 10, 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.

BBC - Future - The world’s most nutritious foods – A short video and a list. I found that I ate quite a few from the list!

Bumper-Crop Birds: Pop-Up Wetlands Are a Success in California – Cool Green Science – Creating habitat for birds where and when they migrate…through the California Central Valley.

Interview with Photomicrographer Justin Zoll About His Microscopy Series – I was surprised to get ideas from Zentangle from crystals!

A search for insomnia genes involving 1.3 million people is the largest genetic study ever - MIT Technology Review – Lots of people in the study…956 different genes linked to insomnia but genes explain less that 10% of the overall chance that a person has insomnia.

Amazon, JPMorgan, Berkshire creating new health care company – Hopefully these big companies will be able to find ways to make health care better and more affordable for their employees…and then be the model for everyone else.

Frogs Through Time, Modern Portraits of Species Discovered Two Centuries Ago – National Geographic Blog – Looking at frog species documented by the Spix and Martius expedition to Brazil…using their drawings and modern photographs.

This is your brain: This is your brain outdoors: Neuroscientists find differences in brain activity depending whether people are outdoors or in a lab -- ScienceDaily – Most studies have been done indoors … until this one. Until relatively recently in our history, we spent a lot more time outside so I wondered if the warping our brain activity by spending long stretches of time indoors is changing us in more ways that we realize.

Researchers create digital map, cultural history of Carlsbad Caverns  and A day in the park: Carlsbad Caverns National Park – Using LiDAR to create a very detailed map of the cave. The article reminded me that tt’s been a lot of years since I visited the park…maybe it’s time to plan a repeat.

Magnesium makes chromosomes: A new chemical tool, MARIO, shows how free Mg2+ ions regulate chromosome shape -- ScienceDaily – It appears that a mineral we know we need … is key in ways we had not anticipated!

The Prairie Ecologist – Photo of the Week – Pictures of dragonfly larvae that frozen near the surface of a pond! We find dragonfly larvae frequently when we do stream surveys – when things are not frozen. Next time we get many days of very cold weather I’ll take a walk to a local stream (or pond) to see if I find any larvae on the surface.

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 20, 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.

Water-based, eco-friendly and energy-saving air-conditioner: All-weather friendly cooling technology works without mechanical compressors or chemical refrigerants, and generates drinking water -- ScienceDaily – This is one of those technologies I hear about…and hope it lives up to the potential talked about.

New Website Explores the Women in Architecture Your History Books Didn’t Teach You About | Smart News | Smithsonian – A little history.

The Ultimate Winter Wildlife Guide: Enjoy and Understand Creatures in the Cold – Cool Green Science and How Does Extreme Winter Weather Affect Wildlife? – Cool Green Science – It has been a cold January for us. The second article mentions that Carolina Wrens often don’t handle very cold temperatures; I did notice that I didn’t see or hear any on the extremely cold days and have only seen one since it has warmed up a little.

If Birds Left Tracks in the Sky, They’d Look Like This – Another instance where photography allows us to see our world in a way that we can’t do with our eyes.

Archaeologist debunking myth that most people died young prior to modern medicine - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) – Looking at teeth of 300 people buried in Anglo Saxon English cemeteries between 375 and 625 AD…and finding some that were older than 75! It is probably true that average life expectancy was short…but there were some that lived to reach old age.

Frozen Bubble Photos Capture the Amazing Beauty of Ice Crystals – I don’t think I am patient enough for this type of photography – but I can enjoy someone else’s work!

Revelations in the Way Poison Frogs Care for Their Young – National Geographic – There is a video of a parent frog getting tadpoles on its back…taking them to a new pool of water!

Face of Ancient South American Queen Reconstructed – Pictures and short video of the facial reconstruction from the woman’s skull. She was at least 60 years old when she died….and died some 1,200 years ago.

Bones of the victims at Roman Herculaneum - HeritageDaily - Heritage & Archaeology News – Skeletons were found in ‘boat houses’ where they were buried under thin mud….preserving the bones. There are enough of them to understand more about the population of the town…like the frequency of pleural inflammation causing rib lesions, skull depressions from excess irritation and scratching attributed to head lice and age demographics.

DNA confirms the Two Brothers’ relationship | Egypt at the Manchester Museum – I remember the Two Brothers from a course on Ancient Egypt and was interested in the DNA analysis that showed they were half-brothers (same mother, different fathers).