Just The Facts
Friday, May 29, 2009 | Author: eventer79
We need to talk about oil. Because there are two MASSIVE untruths about oil floating around out there that I hear almost on a daily basis. Each time, one of my eyes twitches and I think a blood vessel bursts in my head somewhere. That muffled gulping sound heard every time ones of these statements is made is my stifled scream of agony.

The Middle East controls our oil supply.

Very little of our oil comes from the Middle East. Our supply can be broken down as following (illustrated on chart as well) --
Domestically produced (i.e. drilled in the US of A): 41%
Our lovely northern neighbours (Canada): 9%
Saudi Arabia: 8%
Venezula: 8%
Mexico: 7%
Nigeria: 5%
Iraq: a whopping 4%

The rest of it comes from Norway, Angola, Columbia, and other nations (all less than 2%).

So. Iraq and Saudi Arabia combined contribute only 12% of our oil supply. Hell, even CANADA beats out the Saudis. Apparently we should be invading ourselves if we really want to control supplies. Although that doesn't make nearly as exciting a target for demonization than a completely different culture.

If we would only do more domestic drilling, we would have more oil available and gas prices would go down.

There is no promise anywhere that oil drilled in the US STAYS in the US. The US is actually the largest producer of oil in the world, even today (not surprisingly, we are also the largest consumer -- does that make us oil cannibals??). We do export a lot of oil as well, and many new oil drilling projects include plans to SELL that oil, most often to China and other growing Asian markets. So sorry, no oil for you, no matter how loud you chant "Drill, baby, drill." The chant more appropriately should would be "Suck out our natural resources for cut rates and then sell them abroad for personal profit, oil companies!"

Also, oil supply in the US right now is at the highest level it's been for decades in terms of what we have on hand, in barrels, ready to refine into fuels or plastics. There are literally tankers full of oil sitting around off the coast just waiting to be used. Yet gas prices rise -- NOT because supply here is low, but because prices and the amount of gas coming out of refineries is controlled by the refining companies, by speculators and by OPEC. Guess what: global economics is NOT as simple as the "supply and demand" principle that you learned in 5th grade.

So PLEASE, before folks make inflammatory statements, or whine about how the Middle East has all this power over us or, I don't know, invade countries, GET YOUR DAMN FACTS STRAIGHT! Otherwise, I have no respect for your arguments. Please let the agony stop.

And sorry, this is not a Friday Fun Fact, but it's been gnawing at me and I have to get it out...
It Must Be Something In The Air
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Author: eventer79
A new study reported at National Geographic News shows that inhaling polluted air (like that normally encountered in cities, that grey haze we have all witnessed) can mutate your DNA in as little as 3 days. This can lead to cancer and other respiratory and cardiac problems.


You could just hold your breath. But then, chances are, asphyxiation will take a lot less than 3 days. So, breathe we must then.

Folic acid (vitamin B9, found in leafy vegetables such as spinach, turnip greens, lettuces, dried/fresh beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds and certain other fruits and vegetable) has promise, showing that it slows down the damage done by pollutants, so keep that one in your diet.

More importantly, we need to put our foot down and demand that air pollution is reduced. Less driving, stricter emissions rules, cleaner energy sources -- be noisy and be noisy often. It is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, so you, wanderers, need to squeak at your elected officials in counties, cities, states, and in Washington to make these issues a priority.
Fare Thee Well
Thursday, May 21, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Well, you got a Friday Fun Fact in the last post, so I'm going to let that one count. Yes, it's cheating, but zombie ants are still damn cool. I will be gone for the holiday weekend to someplace green and hopefully quiet. So find a cool place to wander and see if you can find a critter to appreciate. Watch it going about its life and let yourself feel that little thrill of getting a glimpse into a whole 'nother world. Extra credit if you share the story here!

See you next week, wanderers!
The Living Dead Walk Among Us
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Author: eventer79
So, in my efforts to waste time by labeling my posts, I created the label "zombies" because, hell, it's funny and it actually applied to one whole post. Never did I dream I would get to use it again. Guess what, I get to use it again.

I worked in Gulf Coast Texas for a while. It's somewhat like living in America's armpit and part of the pleasure is dealing with invasive fire ants. Why can't THEY be endangered?? These ants can skeletonize a trapped small animal in 12 hours and can make a calm person rip off all their clothes and run screaming across the prairie. They are steadily spreading their range across the US and have made it as far north as at least Virginia. They are murder on ground nesting birds like quail and prairie chickens and can even do serious damage to fawns and other mammals who may not be able to rise and run quickly away. Hopes of eradication: slim to none.

But there is one critter who may subdue these rapacious little invaders. Phorid flies (left, hovering above fire ant) have been released with some succes in FL and now TX. These defenders of the realm inject their eggs into the ants and the larvae move to the ant's head as they develop. There, they devour its brain and then gain control of the body (I swear this is true, nature is freaking awesome). They make the body walk away from the other ants into a dark, damp location where they can then pop the ant's head off without fear of attack (right) and emerge.

While this will not make fire ants go away, the ants live in holy terror of having their heads drop off. Thus their activites are much subdued (wouldn't yours be??) and they are far more inclined to stay underground and leave things the $*@& alone.

So I say hooray for zombie-making flies -- I don't know about you, but I've been swarmed by fire ants and it is NOT an experience I care to repeat. I believe that new curse words were invented at that time. I don't condone enjoyment in animal pain or suffering, but you know what? I'd pay money to watch the heads of fire ants pop off after their brains are devoured. So there.
Picture Perfect
Sunday, May 17, 2009 | Author: eventer79
I suppose I'm a cliche but I love spring because THINGS BLOOM. And I'm a bloom addict. It's like discovering treasure every time I see a new flower emerge from its tightly curled bud. I've also been working hard to put as many blooming NATIVE things in my yard as I can afford (and as will survive...). Sadly, especially in the big box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot, native plants can be hard to come by and they seem to have no qualms about STILL selling highly invasive plants like privet and English ivy, both of which are heavily documented taking over native forests and strangling plants that provide important habitat and food for wildlife. Why it is still even legal to sell them I have no idea. Especially when there are so many beautiful native options! Want a hedge? In my region, wax myrtles are cheap, insanely fast growing, hardy, and attractive. Like most native plants, they require less water and attention than exotics, which means you get to spend more time admiring your garden and less time cursing at weeds and maintaining it. I don't know about you, but I'm SO into the admiring and so NOT into the maintenance. It takes a little initial hunting, but google your local native plant society and you can find nurseries which sell native plants. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the riches there! Without further ado, I wanted to share some photos I've taken of what blooms in my yard to give you a taste of these gems.

Top: Foxglove on a rainy day.
Middle and Bottom: Native wisteria (different from the Asian kind you commonly see growing wild)
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Butterfly daffodills

Top: Forsythia
Bottom: Purple phlox
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Crocuses -- the first to bloom signaling winter's end

Top: My favourite -- lily of the valley
Bottom: Wild coreopsis
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Verbena and the giant bumblebee moths that love them

Top: Fuschias (ok, I actually don't think this is native, but it was contained in a hanging basket and it is not invasive*)
Middle and Bottom: Another that I LOVE -- lantana
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Day lilies

And my little mistake -- I thought this one was a native magnolia when I bought it. Sadly, it has turned out to be a Japanese magnolia, much to my chagrin. Like the fuschias though, they are not invasive* and it made a cool picture.

*Exotic = "ain't from around here"
Invasive = "ain't from around here and kills/crowds out the important stuff that IS from around here"
Talk About Clingy...
Friday, May 15, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Friday Fun Fact!

Angler fish. These little "beauties" live their mysterious lives mostly out of sight of humankind (lucky them!). They can be found in the ocean anywhere from our continental shelf to the deep, dark seafloor. Presumably, with all that swimming around in the dark, it's hard to find a good mate. And once you do, well, no one likes to give up on that! But male angler fish take this to an extreme.

When he finds a female, he bites on to her back and his mouth then dissolves, as does her skin in the area of the bite. Their circulatory systems fuse and the male's entire body then slowly dissolves until he is nothing more than a pair of gonads living off of the female's labours.

Sounds like a lot of relationships I know...
Compassion in Unlikely Places
Thursday, May 14, 2009 | Author: eventer79
No good deed goes unnoticed. Today I was driving behind a semi down a two-lane rural highway. All of a sudden, semi swerves radically into the other lane traveling about 55 mph. I am perplexed and alarmed -- and then I see that he has swerved to avoid a fat groundhog dashing across the road to its burrow.

I doubt the driver will read this -- in fact, I'd be willing to BET he's not one of my four or five readers, LOL, but nonetheless:

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

One tiny, oh-so-simple action of kindness when so many would have simply run the animal down brought tears to these weary eyes. It is heartbreaking that I see so little of this compassion and yet I am overflowing with joy that it does, in fact, still exist. Wherever you are, truck driver man (or chick), I think I love you.
When Its Ok To Combine Cows and Mother's Day
Monday, May 11, 2009 | Author: eventer79
So I'm a day late, but hey, Sundays are for relaxing! And maybe some of you are as behind the curve as me at times and still need that perfect mother's day gift. I recommend Heifer International. Send a gift to moms around the world in honour of your mom. Yours will get a card and someone in dire need will get a cow, sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits, goats, camels, water buffalo, or other animal or plant of your choice (even honeybees and trees!) which will allow them to be a little less hungry and a little more independent. Now they can have milk, honey, cheese, wool, feathers, eggs and more. All price ranges are available. Unlike cash gifts, Heifer International gives people real, tangible, lasting gifts they can change their life with. And what mom couldn't be proud about that??

If you are wondering what the heck this has to do with conservation, well, the simplest truth is that hungry people don't give a damn about conservation. They are hungry. And they will do whatever it takes to NOT be hungry, consequences be damned. So, if we can help assure that people's basic needs are covered, THEN we have more people who have a little more breathing room to care about the world around them. In addition, H.I. educates gift recipients on sustainable agriculture, animal care and welfare, and community agribusinesses so that even one cow may in fact create a future.

Who The Hell Knows What Day It Is Anyway?
Friday, May 08, 2009 | Author: eventer79
My calendar says today I'm supposed to be entertaining you with your Friday Fun Fact.

My brain says I'm supposed to be passed out sleeping for at least the next 14 hours.

Who to choose....?

It's spring. Things are green. The water is getting warmer. For me, it means the work truck is fired up and I am driving all over four very large watersheds searching for animals. Yes, it is Field Season. Spoken of with a mix of excitement and dread.

Excitement because it means visits to streams great and small, measuring and counting and tagging animals swimming and burrowing and crawling.

Dread because it means driving about 15,000 miles in 3.5 months and getting up at an hour in which it should not even be legal to exist.

But it's the life I chose and most of the time, the one that I love. So bear with me wanderers, as post frequency gets a little sporadic. I have plenty more to share with you, I just have to eat enough sugar to approximate the energy to type it up for you in the one or two evenings I can call my own over this already-over-scheduled season. Oh and I must find a couple of toothpicks to prop my eyelids open and then I will........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....
A Week of Mourning
Monday, May 04, 2009 | Author: eventer79
My apologies to you, wanderers, for the break in your edu-tainment here at WWWT. In a horrific and unexpected moment, I lost a dear friend and family member last week and was just unable to bend my will to writing for you.

I want to take a moment (well, frankly, because it's my blog and because I can) and tell you about a very special guy who touched my life so deeply.

He was a dirty little 5-month-old kitten with a respiratory infection when I first saw him at the Bay Area SPCA outside of Houston, TX in 2002. He'd been in that cage for two months after his previous owner dumped him. Then he reached his little paws through his cage bars and stole my heart right. That night, he crawled under the sheets in my bed and curled up next to my chest and did the same thing every night for the next seven years. His name was Nemo -- short for Geronimo, NOT the little orange fish, thankyouverymuch.

He waited behind the door every day for me to come home from work. His greatest pleasure was curling up in my lap and dozing. Each night, he nuzzled up next to my pillow and sang me to sleep with a robust purring motor. And I can't finish this post without tears because I wasn't ready to let him go.

I'll never know for certain what happened. He had a heart murmur from about one year of age on, so I believe he suffered from cardiomyopathy. The best I can tell is that his heart threw a blood clot that burst in his brain. All I can be glad for is that it was over very, very quickly. He is buried beneath the birdfeeder he loved to watch and I just planted a group of caladium bulbs over his head. I miss him terribly every day and always will; I have never known a cat quite like him, I swear he was part dog. He came when you called, fetched toys, and loved pretty much everyone.

In his honor, I decided the best thing that I could do was to help another cat, thereby giving it a happy home AND opening up a space at a good rescue for another cat, a 2-for-1 deal! I had not intended to act on this for a while, but last week, in a somewhat creepy twist of fate, a little 2 year old female who is the SPITTING image of Nemo introduced herself to me. She is so like him that I don't know whether to laugh or cry (I confess to the latter when she too, burrowed under my sheets last night). I'll never get my best boy back, but I am trying to do right by his memory and help other cats who are as needy as he once was.

Please take a second and go donate your "click" here: The Animal Rescue Site. I have blogged about them before here and hope that you can give the purple button a hit to help shelter animals everywhere. Do it for Nemo, a heart so full of love that it wore itself out. Be kind to a kitty today, it takes so little to make their lives better.