Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve, new film

Do you love the kitties? Hmm? Well, even if you’re a confirmed dog lover, you have nothing to lose by spending time with Dear Kitty, Some Blog–for some litter – ‘On animals, peace and war, science, social justice, women’s issues, arts and much more’ –more as in very cool film about a nature reserve in the Netherlands! First time I’ve ever seen a fox try to eat a camera! If your cat curiosity is aroused then you need to sniff Dear Kitty’s fresh litter at will.

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video, made during the making of the film De Nieuwe Wildernis, shows a red fox.

On 28 September 2013, to the new Dutch nature documentary film De Nieuwe Wildernis (The new wilderness). This movie had its premiere this week.

Its subject is Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in Flevoland province in the Netherlands; from early spring to summer to autumn to winter to new spring.

The big cinema was sold out. Many children. They were much less noisy than one might expect at a film lasting for over ninety minutes.

This video is the trailer for Belgium of the film.

The film started with a line from Dutch poetess Henriette Roland Holst, about peace and quiet in nature.

Then, life under water in early spring. An eel swimming. Water fleas. Tadpoles.

Then, birds. A great crested grebe mating dance. A marsh harrier couple. A white-tailed eagle

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Learning Opportunity: Nature’s “What Plants Talk About”

Okay, I’m not the most sociable human at the present time so I’ve not been playing much in blogland.  While I’m not about to commence running rampant from blogcasa to blogcasa, I really want to share this recent Nature program with anyone interested in the interconnectedness of all things.  What Plants Talk About offers some incredible insights into the living Earth we call home. I think it also serves as a huge positive statement regarding why we MUST preserve the ‘natural’ environment widely and learn to re-integrate our human species with our plant and animal relations quickly in order to ensure our own survival. If we don’t, I suspect we may find Earth less than welcoming of our continued presence.  Mother Nature will find a way to deal with us as hostile creatures and create a new healthy balance.  No, I’m not kidding.

The full episode of What Plants Talk About is currently available for viewing http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/what-plants-talk-about/video-full-episode/8243/

It is very well worth an hour of your time to watch and learn what’s going on with all the leafy green things above and below ground. This is a very accessible program about some serious science. It’s also features beautiful photographic film work.

 

Lice, Tigers, Worms and Microbes! O My! Rob Dunn’s utterly delightful tome, The Wild Life of Our Bodies, reveals some strange and wonderful interconnections that you can’t wash away no matter how many soapy showers you employ.

 

Click cover to visit Dunn

“Utterly delightful” — yes, I mean that with all sincerity. Admittedly the delight will depend on your sense of humor. If we’re on the same laugh track then all will be in tune. If not, then, ah well, you might not laugh but you still will learn from this highly accessible science writing. Unless you’re in the ranks or trenches –or the trees–with the likes of Rob Dunn, then I assure you there are things to learn in his The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today.  Okay none of that “oooo yucky parasites” business. Time to put the fear of all the unseen creepy crawlers aside and learn about the garden of our bodies and who’s living in it. This is not an exhaustive inventory of all the strange critters lurking in human stomachs and intestines. That’s not what Dunn is about in this book about very important interconnectedness of all living things. Yes, that’s what this book does–it explores our forgotten interconnections with other living creatures and the natural world at large. Sufferers of Crohn’s disease should read with care–in other words, be careful with whatever ideas you get about worms from Dunn’s book.  If you’re into sustainable living and green cities then read Dunn’s text provides a serious foundation for the argument of urban farming on multiple levels. If you’re a “doctor” then it’s time to find out what’s been going with the work of the research scientists Dunn, a scientist with a penchant for ants, connects with all the glee of someone who has a vision of the bigger picture of life from the ant world on up.  If you’re ill–or healthy–here are some serious ideas to consider as to why.

Got skin care on your mind? Rethinking your hair–everywhere? Consider what fur is for.  Remember that supposedly useless appendix? Turns out it’s not so useless at all. Who says “milk does a body good”? I think it’s all the folks who mass produce that white stuff that is passed off as milk. It’s not. It’s something else entirely in my opinion. Is The Jungle Book one of your favorite stories? If so, I think you’ll enjoy The Wild Life of Our Bodies even more. Yes, it does have a tiger story in it–a real one about man/woman eating tigers. Ever wonder about the connection between our sight and our biology? Why do we behave as we do? Some tantalizing ideas are planted in Dunn’s mind garden–and they’re well worth watering.

Are you simply looking for some very good science writing with comic relief? Apparently Rob Dunn has a sense of humor and is not afraid of sharing it in his writing.  This is a very cool thing because it makes Dunn’s writing so very engaging rather than stiflingly pedantic. This is truly an accessible book about very serious science. Do not be afraid of it! Dunn is not out to clobber readers with a massive ego. He’s trying to sow some seriously potential seeds for hope for our future survival as a species. Part VII of his book, “The Future of Human Nature” focuses on “The Reluctant Revolutionary of Hope”  — Dickson Despommier. If you read no other part of this book except the last 26 pages–well then let it be these 26 pages.

If you care to read more than twenty-six pages other delicious tidbits await to tantalize your tongue (oh yes, you will learn a few things about tongues and taste buds too):  the story of Tim White’s discovery of Ardi; Debra Wade’s struggle to deal with Crohn’s; why the “bubble boy” died; Reynier’s long, long-term research in Paris to create a germ free world; an appendectomy performed in a submarine –complete with spoons and fingernail clippers; why we’ve done the weird thing of breeding beautiful roses without scent (a choice which baffles me to no end); a great deal about human fear of snakes–and quite a variety of other things–including the ways of leaf cutter ants.

If I were writing reviews for employment, and therefore funds, I’d give Rob Dunn’s The Wild Life of Our Bodies a full five-star rating (as in five out of five possible stars). I don’t currently write for monetary rewards. So there’s no cash incentive for me to praise Dunn’s personable writing, vision, and thinking. But praise I do.  Having read enough deadly dry scientific texts in another life I can appreciate what Rob Dunn offers–science ideas presented in a manner that entices one to explore further rather to retreat after being bludgeoned by a massive ego swimming in incomprehensible jargon.  Go forth and discover The Wild Life of Our Bodies–read, learn, and share widely. Please! How our future as a species unfolds may well depend on such seeds.

“The secret that runs throughout this book, the one I hope to have shown more than I have discussed, is that our bodies and our lives only make sense in the context of other species. Only by looking at other lives do we really understand our own.” Rob Dunn

 

The Impossible featuring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor–and a Tsunami

According to a Lionsgate email newsletter actor Ewan McGregor will present first responder International Medical Corps’  Courage Award to director Juan Antonio Bayona on December 4, 2012 for his film work on The Impossible which presents the true story of a family caught by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Impossible will be released on December 21, 2012–just in time to wrench your heartstrings for the commercial Christmas season.  With performances by McGregor and Watts this film ought to more than hold its own against any shallow glitz films proffered for the winter theaterlands.  It’s now at the top of my to see list.

Film website http://www.theimpossible-movie.com/#

International Medical Corps’ website  http://internationalmedicalcorps.org/page.aspx?pid=2445&erid=6254398&trid=01afa36f-76ae-4879-982a-664f0f6c4ffb

Want Cleaner Air Now?

Click cover for more Wolverton

Okay this may be a too quickly pressed blog post but it might be of use to those of you dreading being stuck indoors with your windows shut tight to conserve that very expensive heat keeping your fingers and toes from experiencing some form of frostbite (or not if climate change is being ‘kinder’ to you with the onset of a mild winter season).  In my part of the biosphere it’s a roller-coaster ride of high temperatures dropping to the lows and then rising again.  Some plant bulbs are clearly confused as they’ve sent up green shoots again when they ought to be hibernating.  When the heat first turned itself “on” and the doors shut against the cold that trapped with stale air sensation sent me in search of relief.  I figured there had to be a way to get some green nature indoors even in my very shady indoor habitat. One of the most useful resources, so far, has been Dr. B.C. Wolverton’s book How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office (aka Eco Friendly Houseplants).  Part of my delight in this book is its usefulness for those of us who haven’t played much with indoor plants with success.  At this point in time I doubt anyone will dispute the sick building concept that Wolverton relates. Nor is there the much point in arguing about the results of the NASA plant study.  What’s of interest to humans with no plant experience is the book’s presentation of the 50 plants. They’re rated for ability to clean inside air of toxins that have no business in your lungs yet are everywhere indoors.  There are great photographs of each plant.  Common and botanical names are offered. The entries include light, temperature, pest, care and growing media information. Yes, it’s handy to take along when you venture into unfamiliar territory such as a nursery, grocery store, florist, to find what will suit your air cleaning needs–and to show precisely what you want and why to whoever is staffing the unfamiliar grounds.  Also, armed with this textual resource it’s easier to fend off being sold something that will not suit your air cleaning desires. We’re not talking air fresheners that mask odor here. We’re talking real air cleansing via real living plants.  You don’t have to start large either. Little plants that have the potential for growth will grow in the right conditions and with some mindfulness at time of selection. This does not have to be an expensive investment in good healthcare.  Look at your indoor environment, take an inventory of the lighting, do a little online research regarding further information about plants you think will fit your air purification needs according to Wolverton. It’s good to know that some plants are not pet friendly if your felines like to chew things. Unless, of course, you’re looking to send a troublesome pet on its way via natural resources.

There must be other such user-friendly, compact and direct plant information resources. If you know of something really useful–and un-intimidating for beginners– in hard copy, online, or electronically PLEASE share them!!!! Yes, there are many many websites online regarding indoor plants. Some are really useful and others just repeat the same information again and again while pitching expensive items for sale.

FYI–Wolverton also published a book about another vital resource for living well, water:  Growing Clean Water, Nature’s Solution to Water Pollutionhttp://www.wolvertonenvironmental.com/book1.htm

So, if anyone has newer and more useful information resources about using plants to clean our filthy indoor air, please share. This is just what came my way on the fly. I also got lucky with the little florist department at my local grocery as it stocks little four-inch starter plants in addition to larger more mature specimens.  It helps that the staff is very friendly and patient. Good luck to any other indoor plant newbies seeking some air relief.

PS.  As Eco Friendly Houseplants this book is available in German, Spanish, Finnish, Korean and other languages. Surf the link for more international publishing information.

Cheap Coffee Binge-ing at 7-Eleven

6:32 am and my brainwaves commence looping: “Coffee, cinnamon roll, 7-Eleven ten minutes ago!” This gets me out of the bed-cave and into The Daily Dress–a spaghetti strap number 3 sizes too big that no one I know, so far, has the guts to tell me to stop wearing every day as soon as the temperature rises above 70 degrees. Hey the name of the heat game is ventilation. It is indeed possible to do that hair combing thing and toothbrush dance  in under sixty seconds and achieve a semblance of normalcy that will keep the clerk from hitting the alarm button upon my appearing on the security cameras at the entrance. Neither the cameras or alarm have deterred any of the daylight hour robberies of this particular 7-Eleven.  Who repeatedly robs a 7-Eleven? The same folks who hit the little barbershop, the shoe box sized gun shop, and the 24 hour self-serve laundry.  Hey, small change adds up. Bonus, all of these businesses are within five minutes walking distance round trip, unless one gets ‘stuck’ in the suicide lane crossing the street, so gas consumption is significantly reduced with a simple one stop park and rob plan.

Now let’s get one thing clear: As a recovering coffee addict my infrequent coffee binges are rare yet intense and generally expire within two weeks.  Another thing to be clear about: Not just any coffee qualifies for binge status consumption. Coffee binges involve imbibing great cafe mochas from the only independent coffee-shop to ever drive out an invasion by a Starbucks (Yuck! Yuck!) chain, The Broadway Cafe, and freshly trickled down regular 7-Eleven blend with a minimum of four tiny tubs of half and half topped off with a dash of cinnamon if no roll is available. The only reason to have the roll is for the cinnamon content. This is a matter of scent–nothing else matters except smelling the spice. Considering the depletion of my supply of ticket stubs from the independent art house movie theater, said stubs serve to slice the price of BC mochas in half, and the relative proximity of the aging convenience store to current home base, 7-Eleven is servicing my present early morning coffee binge.

Note: In a pinch, home percolated coffee in which a scoop of vanilla ice cream of a variety which lists no more than five ingredients, all of which we all can pronounce and identify to the tune of cream, milk and sugar et al, topped off with a swirl of honey and a splash of cinnamon will temper the coffee craving. But true bingeing involves hunting and gathering the caffeine carrier.

The current early morning clerk can’t be a day over nineteen with his thick mass of curly black hair barely restrained by a bright red cap. We’ve become acquainted enough over the last week for him to actually reply to my inquiry about the appearance of some sort of filled yeasty pastry where the daily delivered cinnamon rolls are generally located. “Dunno what’s in them. Just showed up today. Only one cinnamon roll arrived and it’s gone.”  I glare at the pink sprinkled pastries with their devious mystery filling and the two for one dollar glazed donuts then move on to the coffee bar with my tidy reusable mug in hand.  Three steps and I freeze in horror.

Egads!  The coffee station has been thoroughly ransacked, raped, pillaged and decimated apparently to the point of total devastation. Empty glass decanters, white paper coffee filters, drip baskets litter the usually gleaming stainless steel counter-space. I consider asking the exceptionally alert red capped clerk if a herd of manic monkeys recently invaded his territory. But he’s already on the scene fully engaging in coffee resupply mode. Instead I start matching up empty decanters with heaters to see where the regular blend stands in the resupply line. Several heating elements are out of sight so I circle around the floor freezer proffering tawdry ice cream confections to the other side of the coffee bar. Lo and behold Red Cap has indeed managed to replenish one solitary glass pot full of my blend of choice. I close in on the only pot of coffee available and commence covering the bottom of my travel mug with half and half–to avoid overfill at the top.  Red Cap and I are standing side by side busy with our different engagements in the supply and demand chain. He glances at my assault on the half and half but refrains from commenting. I’m sure he’s seen more interesting coffee concoctions. At the moment the store is empty aside from just he and me and a lot of coffee awaiting brewing.

“How ya doing today?” I inquire as I tear the top off creamer number 3.

“Oh I’m just piling on my facade to get through the day,” he replies as he yanks open a bag of coffee.

“Well that’s true of 99% of the people 99% of the time.”  Creamer number 4 joins the other three in the black bottom of my plastic mug. I sense Red Cap looking at me sideways for a moment after he sets a decanter under a brewer and hits the button. Regular blend fills my mug turning the desired shade of tan as it mixes with the half and half. “I gave it up. Too much work.” I gently shake cinnamon on top then snap on the lid.

Red Cap laughs a little as he pours coffee into another filter.  I go glare again at the glazed donuts then decide to do the 2 for 1 special.  While doing the tissue grab and bag a short short guy enters and stares at his lottery options at the counter. Red Cap is no slouch in the service department and fast walks up to the register. Short guy decides, buys and departs. Red Cap enters my purchase for $1.o5. “Hey, I got these too.” I tap the donuts then resume hunting for my loose change.

“Yep. Got ’em. Coffee is on the house today.”

I look up surprised as I pay. “Thanks. Have a great day. Be safe.”

A million freckles grin around solid black eyes for a moment without any trace of tough young guy facade. “You too.”

Shadows On the Gulf by Rowan Jacobsen — The biggest, baddest monster in the world swamp is–US. Hell, we all knew that, right?

  “Today, we tell Congress that we ‘sacrificed’ ourselves for the national good,” Oliver Houck wrote in the Tulane Environmental Law Journal. “Never has there been such a willing, complicit sacrifice. We made a bundle of money, wasted most of it, and blackballed anyone who questioned what it was doing to the Louisiana coast. About 70 years ago, Louisiana made a deal with the oil and gas industry. The industry would get what it wanted; the state would get a piece of the take.”

Ah yes, you all know the drill–find a writer whose voice, intelligence, and style you enjoy in one book then go out and see if they’re consistent enough writers to work their word magic on your imagination AGAIN.  Having enjoyed the horror story that is Fruitless Fall, o yes it is a modern version of a very very scary story, I was game for more of Rowan Jacobsen’s work.  I decided to venture to the great ghostly delta of the mighty Mississippi via Shadows On the Gulf, A Journey Through Our Last Great Wetland.  If you’re fans of Jacobsen’s A Geography of Oysters don’t fret–the agony and ecstasy of gulf oysters is part of Shadows. It couldn’t be otherwise.  Now if you’re looking for an intense screenplay like  blow-by-blow of events in slow motion about the Deepwater Horizon go search elsewhere. Jacobsen provides a sequence of such events but, unlike several other slick tomes, this is not the foundation of this book. If you’re looking for where to lay blame for oily events in the Gulf look no further than your mirror.  Yes, you read correctly–the nearest mirror.  Jacobsen does not flinch at laying blame for the ongoing insanity of the oil industry smack dab on those who fuel the DEMAND for oil every single day.  This is a basic principle of supply and demand economics–really.  We create the demand for more oil by our lifestyles, especially in the United States, and the oil industry profits, literally, by providing the supply. Face it, in general we are a bunch of hardcore oil addicts with no 12 step program on the boards.

Now don’t get me wrong, Jacobsen raises this very important ethical issue but that’s not all he does as he provides some fundamental history about the Gulf area. We get a history of a prominent oyster supplier, the workings of the huge Mississippi River as the garbage dump of the midwest of America, the levees, the oil industry, the wetlands and the people.  Now the element of ‘people’ is the real wild card in play here. Perhaps the major issue here, as in Fruitless Fall, is that people indoctrinated with western European (yes, that is the origin of our mode of thinking in the states) mentality just can’t leave well enough ALONE. People have this nutty idea that humans are capable of improving on the complex perfection of Nature. We do this with every dam we build, every river we divert, every wetland we destroy. Ah the poor Army Corps of Engineers–sorry folks, at least beavers know what the hell they’re really doing when they build dams–and more importantly ‘why’.   Guess what we get in return? The destruction of the very system upon which we are dependent for survival of our species.  If we just let Nature be itself and operate correctly and lived in accord with how the system works –well, we might not be facing the operating system crisis heading our way like a tsunami of incredible magnitude.

If you don’t have any idea about the BIG picture regarding the Gulf of Mexico–and how the rest of America ties in– then Jacobsen’s book provides a very decent foundation for getting an idea of the interconnectedness of many things–including all the crap chemicals used to scrub toilets every day. The destruction of your environment is not out of sight and out of your mind. It’s just out of mind because we don’t pay any attention to the things in plain sight–such as every petroleum product–and the products that ‘clean’ all that oily stuff down the drain.

The other thing in plain sight is “us” in all our incarnations. You’ll meet a few folks via Jacobsen’s explorations of the gulf area–locals, scientists, fisherman, etc. And it’s a very mixed big of individuals for sure. I don’t know how the likes of Virgil Dardar and Gene Cossey would mix on the same boat. But I do know what a vast swamp of thinking exists that allows for the existence of such men and women — and the mentality of oil executives and politicians all on the lookout for the almighty DOLLAR.

Near the end of the book, “The Most Important River You’ve Never Heard Of,”  Jacobsen takes us to a wonderful still functioning wetland area-the Atchafalaya swamp-and leaves us with not the “if” but the “when” it will be destroyed by us in our infinite ignorance, boundless greed and shortsighted view that humans dominate Nature.  We will not have the last laugh in this global drama in which we deny our own role in the web of life on Earth. So read and think about what sort of lifestyle can you imagine that might benefit all living things. Come on, stretch your cranial membranes–if you dare.  Imagine Life without Oil.

More about Rowan Jacobsen’s books:  http://www.rowanjacobsen.com/books/shadows-on-the-gulf

Patricia Gualinga Montalvo of Sarayaku, Ecuador speaks about The Living Forest, Laws, Oil Companies, International Allies and The Rights of Mother Earth. Translation provided.

Painted Hills, Grey @ eva wojcik

 Earth Day musing:   Yes, that little dark streak near the top is a human.  We are much like ants on Earth.  Unfortunately in many ways we’re lethal ants destroying everything in our path.

For those of you suffering from limited attention spans please do not let the length of this video deter you from hearing Patricia’s speech given at the Indigenous Environmental Network Conference on the Rights of Mother Earth Restoring Indigenous Life Ways of Responsibility and Respect.  There are several important things well worth learning in her speech and replies to questions. One very significant element is how a village of 1,200 has developed international alliances for support of all kinds.  I think it’s an art many others need to foster in their own communities.  We need to make the most of our common ground in order to protect Earth.  Respect, support, communication, tolerance for our differences  are not easy to acquire.  If the only thing we have in common is a love for Mother Earth–then we better make the most of it.  Unlike the Nature Conservancy I think we need to do a great deal more than enjoy picnics outside in order to ‘celebrate’ Earth Day.  The Tar Sands operation is just one hard harsh reality  we need to face head on.  Now, when it’s possible to picnic on the Tar Sands site then that would be something to celebrate indeed. We’re a long long way from that picnic. Presently I don’t think we’d be welcome at the Tar Sands site unless our baskets contained a few tons of solid gold currency.

Pachamama Alliance on fb  https://www.facebook.com/PachamamaAlliance

Pachamama Alliance website  http://pachamama.org/

Love Letters to Earth

On February 14 people everywhere express their love with actions, flowers, cards, gifts and more.  Some people express their love for Earth by protesting its ongoing destruction by our continuing dependence on oil for meeting our energy needs.  Some write these lovers off as foolish hippies and idealistic tree huggers but they are neither foolish nor idealists. These are the hardcore realists of our world.  Today there is another effort underway to stop the Keystone XL pipeline development yet again in spite of the public outcry.  If you’ve signed any petition for this effort previously I’m sure your email box is currently awash in urgent requests for your signature again because big oil and its supporters don’t give up. Their intention is to wear everyone down until big oil gets its way AGAIN. Apparently the American government has learned nothing from the BP oil spill and its continuing consequences in the Gulf of Mexico.  There is an upside to all this lobbying for more pipelines and greater development of an oil project that is already the size of Great Britain–more people are learning about the Tar Sands. And more people are saying NO to it and to big oil.  Change makes many uncomfortable but change we must–or kill the only planet that supports us with air to breathe, water to drink, and soil for food.  Nature is not dependent upon us. We are dependent upon nature for our survival. As you drive along in your car fueled by oil you may feel far removed from the heartbeat of the world. Everything except your next chore of the day may be far from your mind. But consider how different your daily life would be if there was no clean air to breath, no clean water to drink, and no fresh food in your grocery store. Shall we all live on little purple pills popped into our mouths while we breathe through gas masks? Shall we? Isn’t it time to write your own “love letter” to Earth? Folks–big oil has to “go.” It’s literally killing people and the Earth.  It will kill you and your loved ones–make no mistake about it. And the people who own and operate big oil will also die by their own actions. Denial will not prevent their demise.  So, take some time and figure how you can show some love.  

Indigenous protest at Durban. Climate  Conference

Prince Rupert, B.C.

Ecuador

Nigeria

The People of Erris —  Ireland

Is Greece the canary in the mine for the end of western civilization as we know it? Who knows? Nigel Farage might.

And now for something completely different–Nigel Farage speaking in the European Parliament on the economic chaos in Greece. Caution! His words have implications far beyond the state of Greece. And yes, my fellow Americans, what’s happening in Greece matters to you. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But it will matter just like the dead canary in the coal mine mattered to miners when its silence and death signalled the presence of deadly gases. Just like being able to ignite tap water matters. Who drinks flaming water?  Just like the imprisonment of Tim DeChristopher matters for what it reveals about the nature of the legal system in America operating as a vehicle for political oppression.  All are signs of something going “wrong” in a very serious manner.  And if that doesn’t compel you to lend your ears to Farage’s little rant–then listen just for the entertainment factor. I think I’m developing a penchant for references to insane asylums. What’s that signify? 

  Much thanks to Berit for sending this delightful video my way.  Oh the joys of cyberspace!

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