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Showing posts from July, 2024

This week in birds - #593

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A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  Typical Barn   Cliff Swallow nests under a bridge. *~*~*~* Most birds seek to avoid hurricanes but one seabird actually flies straight into them. *~*~*~* Maryland is trying a unique method for getting rid of invasive fish; it is encouraging people to eat them ! *~*~*~* A carcass of the world's rarest whale has washed up on a New Zealand, affording scientists a golden opportunity to dissect and study it. *~*~*~* A sea-level rise has driven the Key Largo tree cactus to extinction. *~*~*~* The Xerces blue butterfly went extinct in San Francisco in the 1940s but now scientists are releasing a closely related species in the area in an effort to establish it there. *~*~*~* Houston is called the Bayou City and when hurricanes pass through it sometimes becomes more bayou than city . *~*~*~* Climate change affects insects in myriad ways , including their colors and their sex lives.  *~*~*~* Even Afghanistan's Taliban

Homeland Elegies reconsidered

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I was reading an article in The New York Times  today regarding the best books of the 21st century and one of the book critics quoted there referred to Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar. It sparked my own memory of reading that book and my appreciation of it. The book did not make the NYT list, but I gave it a rare 5-star rating. Here is my review. *~*~*~* January 19, 2021   This book had not been on my radar at all until I read President Barack Obama's annual list of the best books of the year. This title appeared as one of his favorites. That was a sufficient recommendation for me and I put it on my list. As I started reading it though I found myself very confused. I had understood that it was a novel and yet it read exactly like an autobiography/memoir. Had I been mistaken? But there it is right on the cover - "a novel." I looked at Goodreads and discovered that I was not alone in my confusion. A number of other readers had thought they were reading a memoir. The book,

Remembering the hillbilly

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So the Orange One has spoken and his Chosen One for running mate is J.D. Vance. Vance wrote a memoir a few years ago called Hillbilly Elegy and I read it and reviewed it here. In honor of his new status, here is that review. *~*~*~* Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: A review February 27, 2019 I have resisted reading this book. It wasn't really hard. I don't usually read memoirs or biographies, so I wasn't particularly tempted. Plus, I wrote my own (metaphorical) hillbilly elegy long ago and wasn't really interested in reading somebody else's. Yes, I grew up as a hillbilly, too. But my "hills" were several hundred miles south of the ones in Kentucky/Ohio that J.D. Vance called home. My heritage, though, is much the same Scots-Irish ancestry and culture as his. Moreover, the rural community where I grew up was poor as Vance says his was. However, based on his descriptions of his family's holdings and income, they would likely have been considered middle-cl

Poetry Sunday: Love Song, 31st July by Richard Osmond

It's not quite July 31 yet but some queen ants and their lovers are on the move. And anyway, "it's flying ant day in my heart if nowhere else." Love Song, 31st July by Richard Osmond Today the queen ant and her lovers took their nuptial flight, scattering upwards like a handful of cracked black peppercorns thrown in the face of a bear, the bear being in this case a simile for the population of Lewisham and Hither Green. There is an increasingly common assertion online that the winged of every ant nest in Britain take off on the same bright morning. This says less about ants than it does about the state of media in which we place ourselves: connected enough to hear and repeat all claims and verify some, yet prone to confirmation bias owing to algorithms which favour new expressions of that which we already hold to be true. Myth moves in step with commerce. When merchant ships arrived once per season from the Orient they brought silk and saffron and stories of dog-sized

This week in birds - #592

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A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  Step into my backyard these days and you will hear a chorus of the "song" of these guys - cicadas. They are everywhere in the trees around our yard. This one decided to rest for a bit on the ground under a tree. *~*~*~* The big stories this week have mostly involved the record hot temperatures that have occurred right around the world.  *~*~*~* The heat in the Las Vegas area broke records and stunned even the forecasters there.  *~*~*~* In fact, the average global temperature has now warmed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial records for twelve months in a row.  *~*~*~* Here in the Houston area, we've had the added problems caused by Hurricane Beryl which left thousands without electricity during the sweltering heat. (Personal note: Our power came back relatively quickly. Some are still without. As one born and raised in the South, I can take the heat; it's when the power goes off in winter when

We're okay!

Just a quick post for those who have expressed concerns about our safety regarding  Hurricane Beryl. We are safe and suffered no serious property damage, just rain and wind. Things are getting back to normal and I'm hoping to get back to my regular posts soon. Thank you for your concern.

Poetry Sunday: Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Mary Elizabeth Frye, an American housewife and florist, wrote this twelve-line poem in 1932. She was inspired to write it because of a young Jewish girl who was staying with her household at the time and was unable to visit her dying mother in Germany because of the anti-Semitic unrest there. It is a heartfelt work that, according to the story, was originally written on a brown paper bag.  Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye   Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning's hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.

This week in birds - #591

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  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week is one of the most handsome of the heron/egret family in my opinion. It is the Black-crowned Night Heron , a bird found in wetlands all over North America. *~*~*~* There have been shark attacks on humans along the southern coast from Florida to Texas recently. *~*~*~* My favorite visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science was when we went to see Lucy, the ancient hominin discovered in Ethiopia fifty years ago, when she was on her world tour. Lucy remains one of the most notable discoveries in human paleontology. *~*~*~* Homosexuality is not something that exists only in humans; it has been widely observed in animal behavior as well. *~*~*~* Cave paintings found in Indonesia have been dated to 51,200 years ago , making them the oldest known such paintings. *~*~*~* Flying hippos? Yes, that is really a thing ! *~*~*~* In order to protect endangered Northern Spott