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 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!

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 April 14, 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.

Solar Power Works in Many Places You Might Not Expect | CleanTechnica – Solar power is not just for sunny, hot areas! Sometimes assumptions we make early on about a technology are hard to overcome.

The secret world of babies – Techniques for improving our understanding of how baby’s develop their sense of the world…and some cute baby pictures.

How 'Bad Medicine' Dismisses and Misdiagnoses Women's Symptoms – Gender bias in medicine

Wild Birds of the Night – National Geographic -  Lot’s of owls in this group

Business Lessons from A Radical Industrialist (#CleanTechnica Occasional #Bookclub) | CleanTechnica – Ray Anderson’s carpet company set a goal back in the 1990s to have no net impact of the environment. They are on track to achieve that by 2020! As I looked at the summary in this blog post and took a look at the company website, I found myself wishing they made residential carpeting…not just industrial carpeting.

Sunset Crater Volcano and Capulin Volcano – I always enjoying seeing articles about places I’ve visited. I’ve been to Sunset Crater more recently (back in February 2015). Capulin Volcano was the first interesting stop along our route from the Dallas area (where we lived 35 years ago) and Colorado!

An Alternative to Burial and Cremation for Corpse Disposal | WIRED – Maybe there should be other options to cremation and burial….the ‘greener’ the better.

Six Ways to Help Bees and Beesponsible : The National Wildlife Federation -  Good ideas to add to your spring gardening.

How a Black Bear Wakes Up from a Long Winter’s Nap – Cool Green Science – Tis the season!

Pulling valuable metals from e-waste makes financial sense -- ScienceDaily – I hope it gets easier to get e-waste into a place that the value metals are extracted. In our community, it does not go in the regular recycle stream…it either is taken back to the store (traded in) or to a central collection point. We have a group of it now to load up and take.

HoLLIE – Week 7

The Week 7 of HoLLIE (Howard County Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment) class focused on County Government (Office of Community Sustainability, Department of Planning and Zoning, and Department of Public Works) and the Saving the Places We Love (Ned Tillman) followed by a hike in Patapsco Valley State Park.

Some memorable factoids about the county:

  • 20% of the land is in conservation or agricultural easements (that means the land must stay – forever – in compliance with the easement specifications)
  • The methane generated by the landfill is captured rather than flared (as much as possible)
  • Elementary school students are consistently better at getting their food waste into compost bins than middle or high schoolers
  • The composting facility is patterned after successful facilities in California; the build of the second of three phases will start in October. They are at capacity now with the part of the county (residences and schools) currently enrolled.

In the afternoon the hike to Patapsco Valley State Park was similar to the hike made several years ago with my Master Naturalist Class (blog post here back in April 2015). We hiked the short hill to Cascade Falls and looked at cracks in rocks – some that determined the path of the stream that continues down to the river.

We crossed the swinging bridge and walked to where the trail is blocked off for the removal of Bloede’s Dam.

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The state is taking out dams on this part of the Patapsco that no longer serve any purpose (the basins for all of them are full of sediment); after the removal, fish and eels should be able to move upstream and reestablish their natural life cycles.

The challenge with this dam is the rerouting of the sewer line (see the big pipe that goes through the dam parallel to the path….that’s a sewer pipe!) while the same is removed.

There is a lot of history in the area as well. As we walked the path to the dam we saw an arch built in 1869 (ran on top) and there was a sign for the mill where Patapsco Superlative flour was made until 1905.

As we walked back – we noticed a heron in the river. It looked scruffy – like it was not quite dry from it’s last plunge to catch a fish. We saw blue birds and cardinals too.

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The tress along the river are not large. Storms that bring heavy rains are particularly damaging in this stretch of the river. In Hurricane Agnes (1972) the river was 40 feet above normal. It’s hard to imagine that any of the trees planted by the CCC in the 1930s survived.

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Next week is the last class and I am already trying to think about what changes this course has prompted. Some I’ve started already because it is an easy progression from something I already do. The more substantial changes I have started thinking about are more complex and there are more choices involved.

Previous HoLLIE posts: Week 1, Week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 30, 2017

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 #118 – National Geographic Society – As usual – I can’t resist bird pictures. So many birds….all around the world.

Learning Center Classes and Field Excursions — North Cascades Institute – I’m adding this to my list of places to check out when I get round to planning a vacation in the US Pacific Northwest.

Ancient Maya Heritage Comes Alive...With Some Help from Google and the British Museum | Smart News | Smithsonian and the Preserving Maya Heritage Site – Be prepared to spend some time with the second link if you are interested in Mayan culture at all.

The Woman Who Shaped National Geographic – A short biography of Eliza Scidmore….writer and photographer.

Shutdown of coal-fired power plant results in significant fetal health improvement in downwind areas -- ScienceDaily – A study close to home…a power plan in Pennsylvania…the health impact happened down wind of the plant in New Jersey. An example of the need for multi-state studies (and Federal involvement) …and another reason to reduce generation of electricity using coal-fired plants.

NASA Unveils Finalists for Its Next New Frontiers Mission | Smart News | Smithsonian - A mission to Saturn’s moon Titan (from Applied Physics Lab) and a sample-return mission to a comet (from Cornell). Both projects will be funding through the end of 2018…then one will be chosen.

Bees use invisible heat patterns to choose flowers -- ScienceDaily – Heat pattern on such flowers as poppies and daisies can be 4-5 degrees warmer than the rest of the flower!

BBC - Future - Educationism: The hidden bias we often ignore – Some idea on how to improve: acknowledge that bias exists and use assessment as a tool for education (how to improve) rather than for selection. It turns out that many factors beyond an individual’s control can hinder potential.

Tiny red animals dart in the dark under the ice of a frozen Quebec lake -- ScienceDaily – A surprise for winter researchers – previously the assumption was that everything was on hold during the winter.

Five Surprising Ways Your Christmas Tree Can Give Back Long After the Holidays – Cool Green Science – Maybe there are other things to do with a ‘real’ Christmas tree after the holiday.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 2, 2017

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.

Free Technology for Teachers: Resources to Learn About Outer Space – Good resources – for more than teaches!

When They Said They Wanted to Rethink Agriculture, They Meant It – Cool Green Science – Developing ways to feed more people with less water and without expanding the area we already use for agriculture….crop redistribution to maximize food production with rainfall rather than irrigation may be part of the solution.

Image of the Day: The Last Sloth | The Scientist Magazine® - Taking a closer look at the Caribbean Islands where then end of the ice age and the arrival of humans were 1,000s of years apart. There were two waves of extinction induced by human arrival: the first about 5,000 years ago when humans first arrived (ground sloth extinction) and the second around 1492 when Columbus arrived (smaller animals extinction).

Ah-Choo! 11 Fun Facts About Sneezing | Berkeley Wellness – No – your heart does not stop!

Large decrease in age-related macular degeneration in baby boomers compared to previous generations -- ScienceDaily – Positive news…but it was a small study and the participants were mostly non-Hispanic white individuals…and there is no information about why the decrease happened. Hope it holds for my family. My grandmother was blind by the time she died in her 90s…from macular degeneration.

New Science Shows Nature’s Potential to Fight Climate Change – Cool Green Science – Finding natural solutions to fight climate change. Reforestation has the highest potential!

Midwifery care at hospitals is associated with fewer medical interventions -- ScienceDaily – enhancing perinatal car and lowering costs for low-risk pregnancies…what’s not to like!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #115 and #116 – Birds and more birds!

Making it easier to recycle plastics: Emerging technologies could greatly reduce plastic waste -- ScienceDaily – Only 9% of plastics are recycled in the US…not good.

How did Ammonite fossils form? – The chemistry of ammonite fossil formation