Totally Wild
Friday, July 31, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Friday Fun Fact!

Perhaps better called "Fun Fish" today -- the ocean's depths continue to produce animals both bizarre and fascinating. I am hard pressed to say anything about this one: the barreleye (Macropinna microstoma). I am too busy staring at the picture and video with my mouth open.

Those things that look like eyes? Those are nostrils; the eyes are those green globby bits under the dome on its head. You can read more about it here. While you do, I will continue sitting here staring it trying to force myself to believe that it is not just some artist's rendering of a crazy cartoon alien being.

Surely our imaginations will never surpass nor encompass the wonder and variety that is the natural world.
Speaking of Monkeys
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Author: eventer79
"GEORGE! I TOLD you we needed a padlock on the roof rack! I JUST bought that nightie!"

The Tip of the Iceberg
Monday, July 27, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Now that your life is positively empty because of a missing Friday Fun Fact (can you find it in your hearts to forgive me?), I return but let this article do most of the talking.

We are caught at the intersection of two trend lines. Species are disappearing off the face of the earth faster than we can even give them a name. At the same time, in the last four years, we have discovered about 400 new species just among the mammals, like the spectacular monkey at left, found in the Brazilian Amazon. MAMMALS -- not tiny little insects that live only in one flower at the top of a volcano.

Current estimates say that we have only described (the process by which a species becomes offically named by science) about 15% of life on this planet. So let's say there's 10 million species out there. That means there are 8.5 million critters and plants that we don't even have names for yet (and by we, I mean the scientific community and thus, society at large. These animals, of which many are invertebrates, may very well be named and known intimately to secretive indiginous cultures who don't generally publish in scientific journals or grant interviews with New York Times columnists.).

The article is well and thoughtfully written, I encourage a read. It also brings up an interesting point: perhaps the reason we are finding all these new species is that places that were previously inaccessible are now noticeably not so, what with logging and building roads and whatnot. Sadly, what this means is that if the researchers can get there, so can those who have only short term greed and destruction in mind.

Even the animals we HAVE named, we still do not know well. Looking at the big picture, we understand so little about them, yet arrogantly assume that we are the masters of their fate. So many questions we still cannot answer, despite decades of study, of watching and measuring and photographing and testing. How many of those answers could change our own lives and how many of those undiscovered species could teach us a better way live?
New Posts Are On Their Way
Friday, July 24, 2009 | Author: eventer79
I am just recovering from several weeks of hardcore field work, but am working on a couple new posts. I am sorry for the lapse, wanderers, but I promise I will be back to entertain you soon!!
One Ping Only, Vasily*
Friday, July 17, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Friday Fun Fact!

Bats, as you probably know, are echolocators -- they navigate and find food by emitting high-pitched squeaks and listening as the squeaks bounce of obstacles in front of them, just like a dolphin or, say, a Russian nuclear submarine.* Sucks if you are a tasty little moth flitting around and reflecting these squeaks, for you are destined to be dinner.

One species of tiger moth, however, isn't taking this one lying down (OR flying around!). They emit some clicks of their own which effectively jam the bats' radar, confusing the bats and giving the moths a chance to find safer airspace.

Or maybe the moths are just announcing their desire to defect to the bats' sovereign nation??*

*Should you have no idea what these refer to, may I express my sorrow at your gap in totally awesome movie knowledge. Bonus points if someone can name the movie.
Concrete Environmental Solutions
Monday, July 13, 2009 | Author: eventer79
You stand on it, live in it, work in it, play on it, anchor things with it, and drive on it. It's concrete and it's ubiquitous and unavoidable. Its production also puts out more carbon dioxide (CO2) than the whole of the aviation industry. Ouch. That hurts even more than stubbing your toe on a block of it...

Why is it so gassy? Well, it's made from clay and limestone, both of which are usually strip mined. So you have emissions from heavy mining equipment, plus the abysmal destruction associated with strip and open pit mining, then transport to the concrete production facility. There, these materials are heated up to hellacious temperatures, producing even more CO2 during combustion.

Each ton of concrete CAUSES EMISSIONS OF 1.4 tons of CO2

That's not an equation we should accept. But getting rid of concrete...well, not such a realistic goal at the moment. Or any time in the foreseeable future.

Happily, some engineers in London jumped on the problem and came up with a new way to make concrete using some non-carbon-based materials. Not only that, but these can be processed much cooler and so require less energy to become the concrete itself.

New equation:
One ton of concrete SOAKS UP 1.1 tons of CO2

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.................that is my sigh of contentment -- are we producing this stuff worldwide yet?? Hurry up already!

Check it out at the creators' website.
Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, MUSHROOM!
Friday, July 10, 2009 | Author: eventer79

Friday Fun Fact!

This week, a German badger ate one too many overripe, rather fermented cherries. The inebriated mammal stumbled into the road and passed out (damn, I hate it when that happens in public). He was called in as roadkill, but when the authorities showed up, they found him quite alive, just rather intoxicated. True story!!

My question: how long must a badger stay in the drunk tank before he is allowed to return home?

Badgers are the fastest digging mammal on earth and with their skilled paws can easily outstrip a man with a shovel. They can dig deep enough to cover themselves in less than a minute. If you can send a video of yourself accomplishing that feat, I will send you $20.

If you don't get the title of this post, well, you have apparently been living under a rock, but I am happy to enlighten you (make sure your speakers are on!):

Out Of Sight Does Not Mean Out Of Mind
Monday, July 06, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Ok, I work in rivers and streams, this much we know. To get into said bodies of water, there are not always nice easy access points like ramps or trails. So the default method of accessing a stream without trespassing is to enter at a bridge crossing, since the land under and directly around it is owned by the state Department of Transportation, we are legally able to cross that land.

What I have learned from bridge crossings is that people remain lazy, messy, and are terrible spellers to a one. Apparently in the human psyche, a bridge over a stream is synonymous to a landfill entrance. Any particular item you no longer have a use for or would just like to be rid of can just be tossed over the edge of the bridge, either from a moving vehicle or by driving down the embankment. Of course, while you are there, it is also necessary to spray paint your lasting wisdom onto a bridge support. It is best to open yourself up and share your innermost beliefs in these messages. For example, "I love marijuana" or "Tommy Hanson sux" (any intimations towards Tommy Hansons alive or dead are purely accidental) are excellent ways to show the world the depth of your character.

After you have finished this message, you may then feel free to leave your empty fried chicken box and used condom tucked away next to a pylon. That way we will know the exact composition of that enormous turd you left for us in the middle of the trail (Please! Is it that hard to walk 6 feet into the woods when nature calls??!).

Apologies if I have now appalled you, wanderers, but I do not exaggerate. And this is not just one or two bridges we have visited. No, I'm afraid this is a standard issue road crossing.

Other things we have found hurled from bridges (and most of these are relatively common):

Bowling pins
Dead dogs
Dead ducks (that one was a mystery -- maybe they were poached?)
Air conditioners
Cars (this is a KY specialty -- why pay expensive wrecker fees when old Bessie quits on you?)
Cell phones (she meant it when she told you to get OFF the phone or it was going out the window)
Shopping carts
Shoes (and it's always just one)
Enough coke bottles to replicate Buckingham Palace
More tires than NASCAR uses in a year
Lawn chairs
Street signs

I could go on, but I think we've found just about anything you can think of at least once with the except of perhaps dead people. And that one is just a matter of time, I think! And before you have a mental urge to try to pin this on one particular demographic or another, I can promise you that in the many many hours I have spent at these charming intersections between man and nature, I have seen ALL social classes and types guilty of said hurling. Sometimes furtively, sometimes...not so much. It's both fascinating and depressing -- the former because it appears to be lost on all the hurlers that they are throwing this always-nasty, sometimes-toxic stuff into their own water supply, a poetic twist at which I can only be sadly amused.

I wish I got a quarter every time I found one of those stupid plastic worm cups from the bait stores, I would never have to work again!

Next time you are tempted by euphoric visions of humanity as a noble species, I beg of you, drive to a bridge and keep it real.
I Am Busy Wandering
Saturday, July 04, 2009 | Author: eventer79
My apologies for leaving you destitute without your Friday Fun Fact. I shall return home Sunday evening and head back out on the river chasing fish on Monday. Somewhere in there I shall write you something amazing.

Wander in wonder...
Sh-"heron" The Morning
Thursday, July 02, 2009 | Author: eventer79
As usual, time is nonexistent during field season, but I wanted to share a couple images from this week in the river. We were searching for freshwater mussels below a large hydropower dam. Local birdlife has learned that when the dam is turned off in the mornings, water is low and food is abundant and pickings are easy. Great blue herons gather by the handful and sort through the water willow for tasty treats stranded by low water. I wish I had had my proper camera with me, but these shots from our little work camera will have to do. Click on the image for a full-size view.