Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I got out of bed this morning, flipped the radio on, only to catch a statement from one of those endless parades of "talking heads" that are asked to give us their expert opinion on every issue that comes up. This guy was saying basically, that the two sides (Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza strip) both have to own the fact that they are at war. This has gone on so long that neither side is simply seeking justice for wrongs on the other side. Both sides are initiating acts of war against the other. That made imminent sense to me.

Immediately following him, another talking head jumped in and started in on a long harangue, listing the sins of the other (I'm deliberately not naming whose side he was on). To me, this just illustrated the point that somebody in this endlessly repetitive dispute needs to step outside the box, relieve my disgust with the whole mess, and say, "enough, already!"

People often tend to enter "talks" with no intention of hearing the other. Isn't it possible that if we really heard the other, we could create something wonderfully new, like maybe, heaven forbid, peace?

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

world air traffic

This strange video shows air traffic patterns over a 24-hr time period. The clusters of flights into and out of major airports is a little unnerving to observe! Just watch!


Saturday, December 20, 2008


I was in a coffee shop recently, sitting quietly in a corner, sipping on my "small with one milk", when I heard one of the staff call, "Excuse me?"

A group of five young ladies, about to walk out the door, stopped.

"I gave you the wrong bagel," the woman said.

"Oh!" One of the young women returned to the counter, handed the woman a paper bag. I noticed a gentleman standing at the counter smile and nod at the girl. His bagel?

Her companions came back into the shop, standing at the counter as the woman behind the counter made the girl the bagel she had asked for. I noticed they were all so young, maybe in their early twenties at most, each very pretty in her own way, but all dressed alike in lululemon yoga tights. They cheerfully chatted quietly amongst themselves, smiling at their friend, telling her not to worry when she apologized for making them wait. They each clutched various combinations of paperbags and coffees-to-go.

The woman behind the counter handed the girl a paper bag, apologizing. The girl thanked her and assured her it was all right.

As the girls headed out the door of the coffee shop again, letting in a blast of the icy wind from outside, I heard a man sitting at one of the other table grumble,

"F------ girls."

Surprised, I looked his way. The man was middle-aged with a pronounced beer-belly. He looked to be a labourer, dressed in the warm coveralls that those who have to work outside in winter weather often wear. He was addressing a grey-haired man, maybe in his seventies, who was sitting in the corner.

"Just cause trouble. Never worked a day in their lives, " the older man agreed.

"Hang around all day," added a third man.

Three men, each sitting about two tables away from each other, nodded in mutual disapproval, smug in their superior what? age? maleness? what?

Thursday, December 18, 2008


So! I confess that I contemplated theft today! It's probably a good thing that I'm so forgetful, because I forgot to carry out said theft...

Quite often, at my paying job, people receive gifts of lovely arrangements of house plants. Many of these house plants are incredibly easy to propagate through simple cuttings. Usually, I ask the recipient or their family if it's okay if I take a wee snip of a plant I covet and -- usually -- permission is granted. Other times, we (ie, the staff) receive an arrangement ourselves, and then (I admit it -- so arrest me!), I've been known to take a cutting to grow on at home.

Above, a Martha Washington geranium cutting, which if I remember correctly, came from a plant with blossoms that looked like this. Yikes, all my poor plants are looking a little dry, aren't they??

Now, I don't encourage thievin', but as an incredibly easy and inexpensive source of plants, propagating plants from cuttings is the way to go.

Unknown ivy doesn't mind that I neglect it terribly!

This plant's colour has faded in the north facing window. The colour was a more intense brown-red before. Not sure how much light it tolerates, as I'm not even sure what it is. Anyone?

I've tried all sorts of cuttings, but as regular readers know, I don't do so well with plants in the house or greenhouse, where they have to rely on me remembering to care for them. Plants generally do much better for me outdoors in the garden where Mother Nature cares for them better than I do! There, I just wander outdoors now and then, enjoy the show and get sucked into dead-heading and weeding and watering and mulching because...I don't even know why, actually!!

Still, I see a plant and I can't help wanting it, poor thing!! Daughter wonders why ever I would be trying to grow trees and shrubs, such as the yew cuttings below, on my apartment window sill, right now. Because I think/hope I can?

As a sort-of unrelated aside, among the dumbest things I have read and remembered lately: a well-known Canadian cannabis activist was apparently charged by the U.S. DEA with "conspiracy to produce marijuana, conspiracy to traffic marijuana, and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime", and they are seeking his extradition to the U.S. However, he apparently sold marijuana seeds for over ten years in a store in downtown Vancouver BC and through the mail, using the proceeds to wage his own war against the war on drugs. Following me so far?

Here's what I find amusing. If I remember my plant biology correctly, one is more likely to get exactly what you expect (ie, high quality pot if you are a grower) from cuttings than you are from seed. I have no idea what methods grow-ops use, but if you are a gardener that has ever tried growing things from seed, you know that unpredictable things seem to happen more often with plants propagated from seed vs vegetatively or from cuttings (eg. most gardeners probably know you don't want to plant hot peppers close to sweet peppers if you really, really want to be sure you don't get ...whatever you don't want ...mild peppers that are hot, or hot peppers that are mild...) I don't know, but if I wanted to guarantee the quality and salability of my product, I think I'd opt for cuttings vs seeds, even if the prior might be more expensive initially to obtain...

Sorry. Some things just strike me as dumb, but I'll admit, maybe they aren't so dumb. What do I know? I can laugh, can't I? See, I'm imagining some eager pot-head taking all this trouble to grow pot from seed and raising a crop of dud plants, good only for making things like rope or paper! tee hee hee! omg, the more I think about it, the more giggly it is making me!

(It must be all those Christmas chocolates I consumed at work today!)

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Turning Kids into Scientists

News Release: December 19, 2008
Learning Bird Behavior Turns Kids into Scientists
Revised teaching unit is
released from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Ithaca, NY--Why is that
crow chasing a hawk? Do birds fly away from noisy places? How long will an
American Robin spend pulling a worm from the ground? The BirdSleuth curriculum
from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is all about tapping into a child’s natural
curiosity to answer scientific questions in a fun way. The just-released
revision of the Exploring Bird Behavior module offers educators even more
lessons, posters, and multimedia resources. The new student toolkit comes with
two important tools for collecting behavioral information about birds: a
BirdSleuth stopwatch and tally counter.

“Kids love to work with
gadgets,” says Birdsleuth project leader Jennifer Fee. “Give them a stopwatch or
put them in a lab coat, and they transform into little scientists. And then it
becomes easier to explain tricky concepts, such as the difference between a
behavioral event and a behavioral state.” (An event can be counted; a state can
be timed.)

This module also comes with a DVD showing bird behaviors most
students have never seen, including stunning slow-motion video of the exotic
courtship dance of the Greater Sage-Grouse. A 32-page teacher’s guide includes
step-by-step instructions for completing all six lessons, or “investigations.”

The Exploring Bird Behavior module, like the others in the BirdSleuth
series, engages students in inquiry by building lessons and activities around
citizen-science projects from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This module uses
the Crows Count project. Students count crows and their relatives (ravens,
magpies, and jays), observe their behaviors, and report what they see to the
Cornell Lab where scientists are studying the dynamics of group behavior in

“BirdSleuth gets kids interested in nature, gets them outside,
and teaches them to think more critically,” says Fee. “They ask questions,
collect data, look for patterns and evidence, test ideas, make conclusions, and
share results.”

To learn more about the new Exploring Bird Behavior
module and about the entire BirdSleuth curriculum, visit
www.birds.cornell.edu/BirdSleuth.edu. The staff is happy to answer any questions
about how to make Birdsleuth a welcome supplement to your existing science


Jennifer Fee, Project Leader, (607) 254-2403, jms327@cornell.edu
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Lab’s web site at www.birds.cornell.edu.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca NY 14850


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

great fibre project