Goodbye! Goodbye!

For those of us who love Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, you will remember the bitter sweet ending of Charlotte’s babies saying goodbye to Wilbur as they fly off. This flying is called “ballooning.” After watching this video on ballooning, I marvel at spiders’ ability to fly and wonder if they use intelligence or instinct to know when to pull in or let out more thread and when to curl up or fling out their legs. For the spider squimish – there isn’t any scary footage here. The spider you see is teensy weensy and, trust me, it is more frightened of you then you are of it.

Smokepedia … Really?

While reading through new Federal grant opportunities I saw one for “Smokepedia”. Even though this is a continuation award to the university that created it (University of Idaho), I couldn’t help from being sidetracked. Could there really be an encyclopedia for smoke? Was there that much to say about the topic? Apparently so!

It is a very cool tool designed to help fire fighters, especially those fighting wildfires. There is a lot of information about air pollutants as well. It is a pretty nifty little site and includes several reputable citations for each entry. This actually looks like it could be a great science resource. Or, if you like to read random information to feed that lust for knowledge, right up your nerd alley.

Example Entry: Ammonia (NH3)
Ammonia (NH3) can bind with nitric and sulfuric acids in the atmosphere to form fine Particulate Matter, which is classified as Criteria Pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency. Source is the EPA websites.

Oh I can see myself spending a bit too much time here. So I better go. Try not to get addicted.

Smokepedia

Batty about bats

I received a great little story from Seventh Generation, the cleaning company, about bats, and the author suggested we think about putting up our bat houses earlier than usual this year, especially since the winter has been so mild.

When I was young, I was terrified of bats because of silly vampire stories. Ugh. But as I learned more about them, I became a big fan. Watching them head out on their evening hunts is one of our favorite past times during the summer months. Their flight is so awkward and funny. We also know that each bat can eat around 3,000 mosquitoes, and that is a really good thing. Then there is bat guano, which I could talk about for hours. It is an amazing fertilizer and is known to break down bacteria in fantastic ways. It is being investigated as a method for cleaning landfills. Check out this great story on Bat Conservation International (BCI).

To help bring these furry critters into your neighborhood so that they can start their feast on mosquitoes (what is not to love about that?), both BCI and the National Wildlife Federation have plans to help you make and install your bat home.

SOPA – One Small Step against Piracy; One Giant Leap for Censorship

Supporters of SOPA/PIPA came out in the news today calling yesterday’s Internet Blackout protest a manipulative prank. Prank or no prank, it got the point across. Meeting a black screen of death – or of censorship – has led many legislators to rethink their position on SOPA/PIPA. ProPublica.org created this nifty visual of who supports and who opposes the bill as of January 18th (pre-Blackout) and January 19 (post-Blackout). There are still many legislators that haven’t made their opinions known. We can hope that the shift as a result of the Blackout is a trend that will continue.

And for the latest updates on how the legislators are lining up, ProPublica.org has thisfor you.

If this bill passes, it will be one small step against piracy and one giant leap for censorship.

SOPA/PIPA Protest

Many websites are blacked out today to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). From personal blogs to giants like WordPress and Wikipedia, sites all over the web — including this one — are asking you to help stop this dangerous legislation from being passed. It will significantly compromise our rights to Freedom of Speech. Please watch the video below to learn how this legislation will affect internet freedom, then sign their petition.
Fight For The Future – What is SOPA/PIPA

Bluebirds of Happiness

It has been quite some time since I’ve written on this blog. I have been a bit busy with 3 graduate courses, work, family, life….

And it will be some time – at least another 3 weeks – before I can post here. I’m supposed to be writing a paper right now, but, well…

Instead, I wanted to share a very exciting guerilla art project that my sister is conducting? performing? What do you say for guerilla art? As a reminder to us all that hope always exists even when times seem the darkest, most chaotic, or bleak, Stacie is placing her ceramic bluebird creations around Ventura. The migration of bluebirds will spread each day.

I no longer live in California but I can follow her progress through her blog. If we all join together, these bluebirds of happiness can spread through the cyberworld as well. Have a blog? Follow her and post about hope. A Tweeter, G+er, or Facebook Fanatic? Tweet, share, update your status about hope and the bluebirds. Let’s help the bluebirds spread their wings and fly beyond the limits of Ventura.

Find her to join the migration at Trudging the Road of Happy Destiny.

Can you weigh information? Can you weigh the Internet?

Information has energy. Information has weight. Physical weight and not authority – although it can have that too. I don’t know about you, but the thought of information as energy is mind-blowing. And it gets better. A professor at Stanford figured out the weight of the Internet and it weighs as much as a large strawberry. Less than the weight of a human brain.Watch this video to learn more. Wow is all I gotta say!

The Weight of the Internet

Who Knew Commas Could Be So Important?

A friend of mine posted this picture on Facebook and I just had to share it.

Who knew that punctuation could save lives?

And who knew that a debate on comma usage is raging among grammarians of the world? Yes, the Oxford Comma Debate is just that. One camp says – Don’t Use that Comma in a Series! while the other camps screams back – Use it! Use it! If you don’t, meaning will be lost! The Oxford Comma (also called the Harvard Comma – not sure if the name is used on different sides of the pond) will use a comma before the conjunction in a series. We wouldn’t want to lump those last items like they belong together… unless it is peanut butter and jelly, of course. What is so funny is that it is Oxford, itself, or rather the Oxford University Press (OUP) in the Style Guide that suggested that the comma be omitted.

But why? My guess is in this time of Twitter and texting, where we have to count every last character be it letter, number, punctuation or space, that comma could really add up. One comma, becomes two, then three – oh the horrors of not being able to fit that message into the character limit! Ambiguity be damned!

So the next time you go to use a comma, remember, it is not a simple matter, and it could just save Grandma’s life!

Poptarts, Gumby, and Clokey

Today I opened Google to do a quick search to see this:

Today’s Google Doodle is an interactive celebration of Art Clokey’s 90th birthday– the creator of Gumby. I found myself clicking balls of clay to watch them bounce and form into the many characters I have loved since my childhood. Who needs to search information when there is Gumby, Pokey, Goo and Prickle with two arch-nemeses, the Blockheads! How many times have I wanted to walk into any book like Gumby and his pony-pal Pokey, too? Just about every time I read a novel!

As I poked the clay balls I remembered all the early mornings my sister and I sat in front of the tv eating technocolored Pop Tarts (I liked Strawberry with the freakish colored specks, my sister preferred chocolate) and watching the Adventures of Gumby. Hours and hours we spent ingesting food and images. Those shows have left a strong imprint on my psyche; on my visual of life. Episodes and images from Clokey’s masterpieces have followed me, interjecting themselves into my mind’s eye. Some of the images are frightening, like ovens going out of control spitting out more and more pastries, becoming monstrous in size – or the ice cycle people on the moon chasing Gumby around who is saved by his firefighter dad on a really long ladder

But most of the stories are silly and fun: Prickle building a super-humongous crate for the parsnips he knows will come (build it and they will come… )

Or the adventures in the Hopi Nation teaching us about rain spirits, maize, the sun, and Hopi symbolism

Many may not know this about me, but Clokey is huge in the formation of me. As an adult, I went to a retrospective on his work and was blown away – again – by his more art-oriented pieces. Psychedelic kaleidoscopes of shapes morphing into new shapes. Object d’Arts (pronounced object dart if you are a true Gumby fan) moving to music. I sat in that theatre realizing, wow, this is why I think the way I do!

Do yourself a favor. Celebrate Clokey’s birthday by watching an episode or two of Gumby. If you have a child, sit down with him, her, them, and let your minds be blown by the power of art. Truly mind-expanding stuff. Just a small caveat – just watch the Gumby episodes. There are interviews of Clokey talking about his drug use and other “hippy” experiences. Not quite kid-fair.

Thank you, Google, for reminding me of this great man!

For more on Art Clokey, see the official website: http://www.gumbyworld.com/
You can find several episodes on YouTube.

Reading Tree

I recently subbed at an elementary school and I had library time with my class. At the last minute I decided to bring my camera to the job to take pictures of the library. I thought it might be good to start a file on what the different school libraries looked like for ideas. I’m glad I did. Inside the library on a large wall was this tree.

Bloom Tree

The tree breaks the plane of the wall and creeps out onto the carpet. The leaves are filled with standardsand goals created by teachers after a training supported through a grant. What I saw in this tree is the potential to encourage children to read. What if a teacher, school librarian, or youth public librarian created a tree with each student filling in a leaf on a book that he or she read? Think of the tree growing larger and larger over the course of the year. Small acorns turn into large oak trees, and a single book read after another book fills the tree of knowledge.

What other ways could a tree be used to encourage children to learn and grow?

 

 

Forestville ES, Fairfax, VA.

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