March 29, 2008

PETA Threatens Bloggers, Journalists

That the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) kills most of the animals that it takes into its shelters is becoming common knowledge.

PETA's response, apparently, is to threaten legal action against columnists and bloggers who draw attention to that fact.

Patrick Burns, among others, has the statistics. He notes that under Virginia law (where PETA is based), "PETA's license is to run an animal shelter or humane society rather than a slaughter house."

Spring Runoff

It's a tradition now: the spring-runoff video, from the bridge on Greenwood Road. Last year's video was made in April. Don't try to compare the flows, however. A new beaver dam below the bridge has changed the creek's channel quite a bit, slowing and spreading the stream.

Environmentally-friendly Golf in Colorado

Does a golf course furnish wildlife habitat and other benefits, or is it an herbicide and pesticide-soaked grassy sponge?

If you golf, you can look for certified "green" courses to play.

Only two in Colorado make it into the Audubon Society's third-ranked "bronze" level as "certified sanctuaries," but a number of others are listed as "cooperative sanctuaries."

The US Air Force Academy golf course might be "green," but no one has updated its Web site listing for six years, as of today.

March 28, 2008

Red Planet

Hiking the Red Planet

I picked up a fresh cannister of quantum foam for Steve Bodio's matter transmitter at Mesa Outdoor Supply in Albuquerque on Wednesday, and yesterday he, Libby, M., and I teleported over to see the NASA's Operation Ocatillo terraforming demonstration project in the Martian landscape.

Most of it is still off-limits to the public, but this photo gives you an idea of how it's coming along. It will be more interesting when they actually add water.

March 26, 2008

House of Rain

M. and I are in Santa Fe, on a trip south to visit friends and soak up some warmth. Blogging will be sporadic.

One thing I want to do is to visit Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, which I have blasted past so many times while in a hurry on the "let's skip Albuquerque" route through central New Mexico.

There was a time when I tried to see all the Anasazi/Ancestral Puebloan sites that I could. Then I became mentally overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of it all.

It's like trying to understand Middle Eastern archaeology without even the imperfect guidance of the Old Testament about who might have done what where and when.

Then I read Craig Childs' House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest. Here is an NPR interview with him.

Childs has hiked, climbed, interviewed, and studied the prehistory of the Four Corners area (and a bit of northern Mexico), and his book begins to create a narrative that ties archaeological sites in different places together"
"The original Mogollon people were people of diverse resources," [Jeff] Reid said. "They preferred deer and rabbits in their stew rather than corn, corn, corn, corn, corn like the Anasazi did."

... Sitting in the dark, surrounded by cricket song, Reid said that his excavations brought to light a whole new way of seeing migration in the Southwest. His crews found northerly, T-shaped doorways leading into rooms where migrants were living, signs coming directly from Kayenta or Mesa Verde or even Chaco. . . . And always they kept their identities, easily visible centuries later. He thought the people from the north must have seemed pushy with their big architecture and big pots, probably religious zealots of some sort. The local hunter-gatherers were no match for these invaders, these travelers. Northerners were marrying their way in, inundating local traditions with their own, changing the whole show."
What I like equally well are passages such as this:
"I used to have notions about there being a cliff dwelling in the most isolated reaches, and people still living there, speaking a dialect of Hopi or maybe Tewa. I can frame it in my mind, winter smoke rising from a cluster of masonry rooms, the roofs freshly mended. . . . Someday I may round a corner and freeze, seeing smoke coming out of a cliff dwelling, fabric covering the windows, and a man in a denim coat shuttling a pail of water back into one of the rooms. In some of these dwellings eight hundred years of decay could be swept clean and patched in a manner of months.
So now with the warmer months ahead, there are some places that I want to see or see again. And I will visit them with House of Rain in hand.

March 22, 2008

New Mexico Barbie, continued

Peculiar adds to the list of New Mexico Barbies

Actually, Taos Barbie should be about 50 years old, divorced from Ken, with long (or very short) hair turning proudly grey. She always wears at least one article of handwoven fabric and plasters the Subaru with a palimpset of bumber stickers along the line of "Women Say No to War."

Having had her adjustment and high colonic, she is on her way to hear a speaker on "manifesting transformation and experiencing the joy of rebirth."

So what about Truth or Consequences Barbie? Much the same but more sun-weathered and poorer?

Snowed in with Alferd Peeper

When you scroll down to her picture, Barbara Harrington of Arvada looks like a friendly, motherly sort.

But she is obviously twisted, when you consider her entry in the Denver Post's Peeps contest..

Third place? It should have been first. (Here is background.)

March 20, 2008

Birds in the House

At the Bookslut blog, Jessica Crispin links to her review of some nature-writing titles with the obligatory disclaimer:

As an urban dweller, most days the only nature I encounter is the mouse that lives behind my bookshelf ...

But by the end of Roger Deakin's Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees, she continues,

I too wanted to sleep in a house where birds and bats are allowed to fly freely through the rafters.

Here is the book's editorial blurb:

From the walnut tree at his Suffolk home, Roger Deakin embarks upon a quest that takes him through Britain, across Europe, to Central Asia and Australia, in search of what lies behind man's profound and enduring connection with wood and with trees. Meeting woodlanders of all kinds, he lives in shacks and cabins, builds hazel benders, and hunts bush-plums with aboriginal women. At once autobiography, history, a traveller's tale and a work of natural history, "Wildwood" is a lyrical and fiercely intimate evocation of the spirit of trees: in nature, in our souls, in our culture, and in our lives.

Coming as I do from a line of firewood contractors, furniture makers, and foresters, I think I need to read this one.

March 16, 2008

Blog Stew -- Lunch Special with Mashed Potatoes

Classic diners of Colorado. I have eaten in two of them.

¶ Testing continues at the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel treatment plant in anticipation of handing the backed-up polluted water.

¶ Chris Wemmer is still trying to squirrel-proof an owl nest box. The squirrels are winning. And he has some new bobcat photos as well.

¶ A white-water rafting guide critiques the recent Grand Canyon "flood," and compares it to the Salmon River's flow regime.

¶ While walking the dogs this morning, M. heard sandhill cranes overhead for the first time this spring, although thick cloud cover kept her from seeing them.

March 15, 2008

New Mexico Barbie

No, I don't know who started it, but friends in Taos sent it.

Santa Fe Barbie: This princess Barbie is only sold in Santa Fe. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a longhaired foreign dog named Wolf and an authentic adobe house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with "augmented" version.

Northeast Heights [Albuquerque] Barbie: This modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation or secondary education. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.

Española Barbie: This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy Low Rider with dark tinted windows and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and can only be paid for in cash. Preferably small untraceable bills. Unless you're a cop, then we don't know what you are talking about. Hair spray and fake fingernail kit available.

Sandia Heights [Albuquerque] Barbie: This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.

Clovis Barbie: This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR shirt and Tweety Bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Coors Light and a Hank Williams, Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a Confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

Canyon Road [Santa Fe] Barbie: This collagen-injected, rhinoplastic Barbie wears a leopard print ski outfit and drinks cosmopolitans while entertaining friends on Canyon Road. Percocet prescription available.

Valencia County Barbie: This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased Beer-Gutted Ken out of Belén Barbie's trailer. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter top. Also available with a mobile home.

Taos Barbie: This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, archless feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her "Willow". She does not want or need a Ken doll, but you if purchase two Taos Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

Nob Hill [Albuquerque] Barbie: This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his '79 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.

Raton Barbie: She's perfect in every way. We don't know who Ken is 'cause he's always hunting.

Hobbs Barbie: This Spanish-speaking-only Barbie comes with a 1984 Toyota with expired temporary plates and three baby Barbies in the back seat, but no car seats. The optional Ken doll comes with a Meat Packers uniform and is missing three fingers on his left hand. Green Cards are not available for Barbie or Ken.

Trinidad [Colorado] Barbie/Ken: This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or subtracting the multiple "snap-on" parts.

Rio Rancho Barbie: She is a software engineer with great social skills. Comes with a laptop and cell phone. She can juggle late night phone calls and supervising not-quite adult children. Grandchildren at no additional cost. Optional Barbie neck brace available.

March 12, 2008

Platte River Crane Camera

You can watch live streaming video from of the sandhill crane migration rom the banks of the Platte River in central Nebraska. (A brief advertisement will precede the video.)

I want parity for Colorado -- where is our Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge crane camera?

March 10, 2008

A Grizzly Bear Paternity Suit? Not Really.

Sorry, Senator McCain, there are worse examples of government waste than this grizzly bear study.

In fact, I think it's fascinating. Mystery writer Nevada Barr has given it a fictional treatment.

If McCain is going to invoke Teddy Roosevelt in his TV ads, do you suppose that he could imbibe some of TR's conservation ethic?

March 08, 2008

"Children and Nature Now"

Educator Cheryl Charles talks about children's need to be outdoors.

Blog Stew with Psychotropics

¶ Colorado leads nation in teen depression. Do you think nature-deficit disorder is involved? Berkeley Breathed might say so.

¶ The best sex on campus is in Environmental Studies. CSU-Pueblo used to have an Environmental Studies minor; I was on the steering committee. Then there was a change of deans, and it was canceled, for reasons I never fully understood.

¶ Game halted on account of owl: An eagle owl (the Eurasian equivalent of our great horned owl) flies into a Finnish soccer stadium during a game with the Belgian national team. The game is delayed while the fans chant, "Huukaja! Huukaja!" ("eagle owl" in Finnish). (Hat tip, Pluvialis).

¶ In Florida, meanwhile, professional golfer Tripp Isenhour kills a red-shouldered hawk -- by repeatedly driving golf balls at it -- for the crime of interrupting the filming of his instructional video.

Funny, it's soccer that is associated with thuggish fans. Golf is supposedly the gentleman's game.

¶ That must be some storm sweeping up the Ohio River country. This blog has had several hits today from people searching some variety of "thunder while snowing." And they are all coming from Ohio and Kentucky. One of my nature-writing students blogged about thunder snow in April 2007.