Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

light over tokyo

static : pulse from Samuel Cockedey on Vimeo.

I'm not desperate to see Tokyo. Everything I know about Japan so far makes me okay with looking at lovely videos, and seeing it from a distance. Perhaps one spring or fall day, I'll ramble the countryside, though.

Exploring Southern California's inland habitats

Small palm grove
Originally uploaded by °Florian.
Florian Boyd has beautiful photos from his hikes around Southern California's inland deserts and mountains.

He's got a picture of native fan palms here, which are vital to many bird and mammal species. For instance, the Hooded Oriole, which nests in its fronds, takes shelter there for the insulation; the air within the dead fronds that hang down can be ten to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit lower than surrounding air. In deserts that have several 100+ days every year, that's a big help. Though their traditional range is the desert of far southern California (and thus, so is the range of that oriole), they've been planted extensively as landscaping trees. When I lived in Fremont, in the San Francisco Bay Area, our neighbors had a fan palm too tall to trim dead fronds from, and Hooded Orioles, far to the north of their historic habitat, set up a nest, and frequently raided our hummingbird feeders.

If you've got fan palms and have the option to let the dead fronds stay, please do -- Habitat's a precious thing.

(Don't miss the rosy boa.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

That's great, it starts with an earthquake? again?

The BBC reports in one of today's headlines that there's a "Tiny chance of planet collision," and in its first paragraph, reports that this won't happen for at least a billion years.

New Scientist, on the other hand, which can be a bit overdramatic in its headlines, says "Solar system's planets could spin out of control" and in its first paragraph, qualifies that with "one day."

The graphics are fabulous, in either case. I get the sense that the smash simulations at the end of the video are more about "hey, check this out, BAM!" than they are about "here is a scientific illustration that will make everything more clear."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

sometimes I miss the good old days

I was looking about a bit at background for a piece I intend to write about sustainable seafood, and ran across this article with something else entirely to please me:

From Loving Fish, This Time With the Fish in Mind

I learned about buying sea creatures in the late ’70s at the sides of two old-time New Haven fishmongers who ran competing markets with differing styles. One brought in every fish he could find, mostly by going (or sending his help) to the Fulton Fish Market, Boston and Point Judith, R.I.

The other relied more on the trucks that worked the East Coast, going from fleet to fleet and market to market: A driver would start in Portland, Me., for example, with lobsters and scallops, and drive to Boston, where he might drop off lobsters and pick up cod and quahogs, then move on to Providence or Point Judith, where he would drop off whatever was in demand and load squid and swordfish. In New Haven he might find flounder. From there, he would hit New York, Cape May, Maryland, right down to Virginia or even Georgia or Florida. Then, his northern load diminished, his southern load — pompano, porgies, spots, snapper — in full supply, he would reverse the trip.

This makes me nostalgic. I may have missed out on the nickel-a-flounder days in New Haven, but I got to shop, learn about and cook fish at a time when my selections were varied and mostly local.

I find myself wanting to go along for the ride, to watch the season change with latitude, and watch the plants change, and the birds, and fish, and the accents of the working people on the east coast of the United States. (I live in California and grew up on the west coast. Accents?)

I know the "good old days" weren't always good at all -- DDT and women who felt trapped at home and kids with special needs who were marginalized and hawks shot for fun in New Jersey. And I love the internet, and air travel, and learning about and loving the whole world. But maybe we don't spend enough time moving slowly on the ground, and getting to know a small area well, and eating the food, and listening to people talk who work there, and live there, and feel the joy and the pain of the land and sea right through their shoes.

(I read the caption that accompanies this photo after I chose the photo for this post. Oh. See, these things also should be remembered.)