Wednesday, March 30, 2005
OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Humans are damaging the planet at an unprecedented rate and raising risks of abrupt collapses in nature that could spur disease, deforestation or "dead zones" in the seas, an international report said on Wednesday.
The study, by 1,360 experts in 95 nations, said a rising human population had polluted or over-exploited two thirds of the ecological systems on which life depends, ranging from clean air to fresh water, in the past 50 years.
"At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning," said the 45-member board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
"Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," it said.
Ten to 30 percent of mammal, bird and amphibian species were already threatened with extinction, according to the assessment, the biggest review of the planet's life support systems.
"Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel," the report said.
"This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on earth," it added. More land was changed to cropland since 1945, for instance, than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.
"The harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years," it said. The report was compiled by experts, including from U.N. agencies and international scientific and development organizations.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the study "shows how human activities are causing environmental damage on a massive scale throughout the world, and how biodiversity -- the very basis for life on earth -- is declining at an alarming rate."
The report said there was evidence that strains on nature could trigger abrupt changes like the collapse of cod fisheries off Newfoundland in Canada in 1992 after years of over-fishing.
Ecosystems and the services they provide are financially significant and...to degrade and damage them is tantamount to economic suicide.
-- Klaus Toepfer, head of the U.N. Environment Program
Future changes could bring sudden outbreaks of disease. Warming of the Great Lakes in Africa due to climate change, for instance, could create conditions for a spread of cholera.
And a build-up of nitrogen from fertilizers washed off farmland into seas could spur abrupt blooms of algae that choke fish or create oxygen-depleted "dead zones" along coasts.
It said deforestation often led to less rainfall. And at some point, lack of rain could suddenly undermine growing conditions for remaining forests in a region.
The report said that in 100 years, global warming widely blamed on burning of fossil fuels in cars, factories and power plants, might take over as the main source of damage. The report mainly looks at other, shorter-term risks.
And it estimated that many ecosystems were worth more if used in a way that maintains them for future generations.
A wetland in Canada was worth $6,000 a hectare (2.47 acres), as a habitat for animals and plants, a filter for pollution, a store for water and a site for human recreation, against $2,000 if converted to farmland, it said. A Thai mangrove was worth $1,000 a hectare against $200 as a shrimp farm.
"Ecosystems and the services they provide are financially significant and...to degrade and damage them is tantamount to economic suicide," said Klaus Toepfer, head of the U.N. Environment Program.
The study urged changes in consumption, better education, new technology and higher prices for exploiting ecosystems.
"Governments should recognize that natural services have costs," A.H. Zakri of the U.N. University and a co-chair of the report told Reuters. "Protection of natural services is unlikely to be a priority for those who see them as free and limitless."
Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Here are some fun facts:
- There are enough Lego on the planet for every person to have 30 pieces.
- Ukulele is the Hawaiian word for "jumping flea." (In yesterday's failed blog, I told the whole story of the uke, featuring Portuguese sailors and songs of thanksgiving and Hawaiian kings. Too bad it wouldn't publish).
- Songbirds like the wood thrush have two voice boxes, so they can sing two different songs at once.
- If you square any odd number except one, and then subtract one, you will always get a number that is divisible by eight. Example: 7 x 7 = 49, 49-1=48, 48 is divisible by 8. Try it!
It is migration time, so if you pay attention you might see some interesting birds passing through your neighborhood. Audubon society is sponsoring a whole month of nature activities for Dallas area people. For a calendar of these activities, go to www.destinature.org. A lot of them look really fun, and would be extra good if you have kids.
Hey, how does everybody think the Rangers are gonna do this year?
Enjoy the sun today. Here goes my attempt to publish...
Friday, March 25, 2005
Hello K and T,
Welcome to the Freedom Exchange. I have to tell you, I just listened to three of your songs. (the ones you pointed out which had vocals) "Song For Poncho" had me almost in tears... and laughing at the same time. Great, great song, with wonderful vocals and really good musicianship. I think you folks are doing amazing things. Your music, and obvious talent, stands out in all these songs. Kudos all the way around. I've bookmarked you site, to go back and listen more. Most of all it sounds like you're having a great time doing it. That's what music should be about! Good job. I encourage anyone on the FE to go give a listen to the "Palo Pinto House Pants House Band"!!!
The freedom exchange is a website where Kev put our songs to get help with recording advice from home recording geeks. Kinda like the great Nowhere Radio. So, pretty good review, huh? I must make sure Julie and Rob see it.
It has been a rough and busy week for me at work, and I am happy the weekend is here at last. I think we are going to plan a trip to stay in the woods in a cabin by a lake with a canoe as soon as possible. This is a good cheap relaxing type of vacation. Just what I need. My silver hairs are multiplying exponentially (that spelling doesn't look right) lately, and I have noticed an increasing need to lie down flat on the floor (a big sign of Tara stress). Hopefully, all this stress will pay off with many new clients, leading to mo' money, leading to an Alaskan adventure or a new hybrid car.
Political update: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has not yet responded to my letter, fax, call, or email. Kev is worried that the FBI has started a file on us.
Have a very happy Easter, if you celebrate it. Don't eat peeps...they are bad for you.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
This morning, there was a ruby-crowned kinglet splashing around in the bird-bath in our back garden. RCKs are very cute birds who can't seem to sit still. Their wings constantly flicker. They are tiny birds, smaller even than chickadees. The one in my yard is getting ready for his journey to Cananda, or maybe even Alaska, to spend the summer. I wish I could spend summer in Canada or Alaska. I reckon we're gonna have a hot one this year. Anyway, if you live around here, pay attention, and maybe you'll see a ruby-crowned kinglet in your yard.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Melodica is the name given to a wind instrument created by the German company Hohner in the late 1950’s. Variations of this keyboard have since been manufactured by numerous companies in different regions of the world, each giving the instrument a different name i.e. pocket piano, blow accordion, melodeon, diamonica, melodyhorn, wind piano, keyboard harmonica, pianica, cassotto, etc- enough to give this little instrument a massive identity crisis requiring an orchestra of therapists. This sites mission is to educate, sell & promote unusual keyboard instruments.
So thanks to Larry Feathers for the info. It is possible that the melodica is the instrument for me. I wish I could rent one for a couple days to try it out. I think it would add a lot to the PPHPHB sound. Kev says it's just another one of my phases.
Right now I am listening to the latest Elvis Costello CD. It is great. I forgot to tell you one more cool thing about the show. See, he had to be finished by 11:00pm. So instead of leaving and coming back for encores, which is silly if you think about it, he just played straight through, allowing time for at least two more songs during time that would have been wasted with the whole "if you clap and yell loud enough, I just might come back and do "Alison" " game. I hope this is a trend that will catch on.
I am about to meet one of my kids and his family for an afternoon of bowling to work on his social skills. Remind me not to complain about my job.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
First of all, I went to the Elvis Costello show at Nokia Live in Grand Prairie with my brother on Tuesdsay night. This at least the 5th Elvis Costello show I have seen, and it was great as usual. Elvis Costello has my very favorite singing voice...nobody else sounds like him. One of the best parts of his show is when he goes off-mike and just sings. It's pretty amazing. His band was awesome, especially the great Steve Nieve who this time had a theramin among his various instruments. He was smart enough to use it effectively and sparingly. Too much theramin is not a good thing. Anyway, more proof that Elvis Costello is still good and still relevent. Go to see him if he comes to your town, and you will have a good time. Plus it's fun to watch a lot of white-people dances. Thanks to Jeff for the ticket.
Nokia Live is a pretty good venue. Our seats were great (center stage, about 15 rows back), and it seemed like pretty much any seat in the place was good. The people who worked there were friendly and seemed to like their jobs. My only complaint is the ridiculous 12 dollar parking fee. People should really revolt against that. As long as we keep paying it, they'll keep raising the price of parking.
The other night when I got home from work, I was happy and surprised to see I had received a package from Team Earth! Remember when I was talking about wanting to be on Team Earth? I guess some of their members read my blog, because they sent me a Team Earth flag, as well as an Ecology flag! It really made my day. I will admit I didn't know what the Ecology flag was, and searched the internet with no luck for about 20 minutes. When I left for the concert, Kev got on line and figured it out in about 2 minutes (of course). Anyway, thanks to the NY chapter of Team Earth for the cool and thoughful gift. I will post pictures of the flags soon.
All this steroid stuff is making me so mad. Oh wait, this is a blog of positivity, so I will skip the steroid talk.
Band news: I am excited to report that Rob and Julie have agreed to do some vocals for the PPHPHB once again, this time helping with the back-up to Blue Christmas. And Steve Nieve has inspired me to learn a new instrument, which is a small keyboard that you blow into. I don't know what it's called, but it sounds like a cross between a harmonica and an accordian. Kev has put his foot down, and won't let us get a sitar. I guess that's ok. Too much sitar is kinda like too much theramin.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Today the U.S. Senate voted by a razor-thin margin to take the first step towards drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of the Federal Budget Resolution. A bipartisan group of Senators attempted to safeguard this national treasure and the native people and wildlife that depend on it, but 51 Senators voted against an amendment to strip Arctic drilling revenues from the Budget Resolution.This obviously is a disappointment, but many hurdles remain before the budget is adopted and signed into law. The Sierra Club will continue working at every step along the way to keep this pristine wilderness from being despoiled forever.We owe our thanks and heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has helped with this fight by signing our petition, calling their Senators, and supporting the Sierra Club. We promise to keep you informed as the situation unfolds and to let you know when and how you can help in the future. We have lost this round, but the fight to save the Arctic Refuge continues. You can still make a difference by staying involved.
The Sierra Club
Received this from the Sierra Club today. Thanks to everyone who tried to helpby calling the number yesterday. It sucks, but it ain't over 'til it's over. If you want more info, check out sierraclub.org.
I immediately fired off an email to Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who voted against the amendment to stop the possibility of drilling. According to her website, she feels this is a matter of national security. What a bunch of baloney. Our other senator (Cornyn) voted the same way. Sometimes I really hate Texas. Please forgive me. I'm just really mad. Tomorrow when I am not so mad, I will blog about the great Elvis Costello, and cool mail I got from Team Earth.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Monday, March 14, 2005
Props to the Fort Worth Zoo. I got to commune with birds. I will post a picture or two later. Still, I have mixed feelings about zoos, and wanted to set the animals free. The gorillas seemed particularly depressed. I won't tell you what one of them picked up off the ground and started to eat.
I will be going off food for a while after Kev's parents leave. Popcorn and ice cream have been big players this weekend.
Kev's dad recorded the vocals to Blue Christmas for us. He did a regular Floyd version, and one where he "Elvis-ed it up." I reckon we'll put it on Nowhere radio as soon as Mixmaster K is through with it.
Special note to John: Kev bought a mower. Our yard looks nice now.
A very very special shout out to any LRHS readers on Long Island and their good boxer dog. Come to Texas. We will give you all the biscuits and gravy and barbecue you want.
Tomorrow night is the Elvis Costello show. I am very excited. The problem is that my brother never received the tickets in the mail, so we don't know what's gonna happen when we get there.
We took Kev's mom and dad to Uncle Calvin's to see Lowen and Navarro. Their music is very singer-songwritery, and about 2/3 of their songs were about rain. I'm not exaggerating. The best thing about Uncle Calvin's is coffee and pie.
I hope everyone had a good weekend and took advantage of spring weather. Too bad it won't last. Go Mavs.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Last night I went to the Sierra Club meeting. First of all, I have to tell you that they have the meetings at the Greenhill School in Addison. I think I would have liked going to this school. It has a nice courtyard, and when I walked through said courtyard last night, I'll be damned if there weren't two giant peacocks and three pea-hens just walking around like they owned the place. They were so cool looking. Then they started talking, which was a little creepy, as their call sounds very much like a little girl saying, "help me, help me." The courtyard at my high school only had grackles.
The meeting was interesting. There were three speakers. A very pompous dude from the EPA ( I think all the Sierra club members were suspicious of him), a nice geo-physicist man, and an environmental lobbyist named "Smitty." Most of their talk was over my head...a little too science-y. But they did make their point very clear. We are headed toward a very bad, very real energy crisis if we don't do something quick-like. This isn't left-wing propaganda, or hippy tree-hugger mumbo jumbo. This is science. So I am on board. Renewable energy is the way, and I have some letters to write this weekend to some State Senators and so forth. I was happy to learn that the wind turbine people have been working closely with the bird people to design windmills that won't hurt the birds. You see, most of the wind in East Texas comes in from the Gulf Coast, so they have to put the turbines there, and millions, maybe billions, of birds migrate back and forth on the same path. Anyway, the scientists have it all figured out, how not to hurt the birds. Guess what else gets blown into DFW via the Gulf winds? Smoke from something like 30 (or did he say 130?) coal plants between here and Houston. Coal is bad for people. It is dirty. Wind, which I admit I have personal difficulties with, mainly because of my hair, is good for people. It is clean. So, support wind and renewable energy and hybrid cars! And turn off your lights and stuff too.
Two nights ago, we watched Super-Size me. We were both disturbed. Kev was so much so that he went to the kitchen and got us a big bowl of grapes to eat while we watched it. Then, the next day, I ate at Bennigan's and he ordered a pizza. How quickly we forget. I do have to say, though, that I only ate one wedge of my Monte Christo sandwhich. I won't tell you how many slices of pizza Kev ate.
Probably this will be my last blog for a while. Kev's parents are due to land at DFW in about 20 minutes, and we have a full agenda while they're here. There is going to be lots of fun, and maybe even pie! See you next week.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Bird of the Day: Most of the birds that hang out on the wires near my office building are pigeons, however there is also a pair of American Kestrels that must be nesting around here. I saw them today in the parking lot. American Kestrels are COOL. They are very small birds of prey with interesting markings. Very pretty birds. I will try to post a picture from home later.
Here is something that bothers me, and since I am lately very irritable, it has been bothering me even more. It is when people say the word "is" twice in a row, for example, "The thing is is that..." That can't be grammatically correct, can it? If it is, somebody please set me straight. Otherwise, people need to stop saying it. I also hate the words "dollop" and "unfurl." I am shuddering now at the thought of those horrible words. A fun word to say is "bedraggled." My friend Bryce hates the word "compote." It is fun to say that word around him. My other friend Ken is freaked out completely if you put your mouth on an empty paper towel roll tube and blow like a horn, or even just talk through it. He runs screaming from the room. Today when I woke up with a headache, I told Kev that my Kryptonite is dust (which is what I think caused the headache), but he said I already have too many Kryptonites and I can't have any more.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
I was thinking of trying to take advantage of the latest reality/designing trend and start a show about cubicles, where people who work really hard get surprised a team of designers to help them make over their boring cubicles into fabulous cubilcles and it makes them happy and is good for company morale. Who's with me? I am taking suggestions for the name of the show. The cornier, the better, I say.
One thing I hate about my office and most offices is flourescent lighting. It makes my eyes hurt and makes my skin look green. All the people on my new show would get natural lighting lamps in their cubicles.
Bird of the day: The cedar wax-wing. This is the Fonz of the bird world. Look for them in large flocks in high trees. They are small and yellow-ish, with a black mask and a crest (like a cardinal or blue-jay). They have a shrill and quiet "song." They like berries, and will come down lower to eat them. When I get home I will try to find a picture of one to post. A very cool-looking bird.
Monday, March 07, 2005
I am blogging at work, which is risky as it usually causes my computer to shut down. But I was supposed to be having an evaluation now, and it had to re-sched because the kid is sick, and I have a conference soon that I am nervous about so I am blogging to keep from nervousing.
Question: What has become of Blogalicious? Gone to horseheadfairyland, I suppose.
On behalf of Kev: Ultra-Pointy-Toed shoes are bad.
What I learned on the weekend: Sometimes even pancakes can't make one happy. Gardening requires using muscles different from those used in every-day life. There are ladies out there who consider themselves part of the amateur "pie circuit." They have names like Phillis and Nadine. Kev likes lemon meringue pie. I never knew that.
Bird talk: Migration is nigh upon us!
Band talk: The Blue Christmas song has taken a Hawaiian turn. Should be fun to record.
Well, enough stalling. Better go prepare myself for this conference. Happy Monday.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
The other night I watched a show about this wacky American Explorer guy who decides he is going to canoe the length of the Limpopo River in southern Africa because of a Rudyard Kipling story he read when he was a kid, and because he likes saying the word "Limpopo." So he hires a guy from Zimbabwe named Bonus to be his guide/translator, and they set off, but since the American guy fears the summer heat and malaria, they go in winter, which is the dry season. So they end up having to walk and carry the canoe a lot because the river is dried up in many places. They get to see cool stuff like hippos and rhinos, giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, and lots of cool birds. But they are pretty beaten down. I learned that in Africa, some people eat stew made from chicken heads and feet. The stew is called "Scratchin' and Talkin'". At the end, Bonus gets to finally see the ocean for the first time in his life. That part was good.
Today I learned from my bi-lingual shampoo bottle that the Spanish word for "daily" is "diaria." How do you think Peggy Hill would pronounce that word? (Uh-huh-huh.)
On the way to CM, KERA taught me about a film they used to show in elementary schools in the 1950's to promote science. I will paraphrase the script for you:
A typical 50's family is camping.
Son: (looking up at the stars) I am going to learn about science. I am going to go to the moon. My sister doesn't have to learn science. When she grows up, she will hook a guy.
Daughter: What's wrong with that?
Mother: Nothing, dear. You don't need science to be a home-maker.
Father: But what if Mr. Right doesn't come along right away? If she learns science, she could be a dental hygeinist or a nurse!
Oh, the lofty ideas of the 50's!
Enjoy the weekend.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Note to Sirius radio programmers: "Bring on the Dancing Horses" is not Echo and the Bunnymen's only song.
Skunk smell update: Albert is smelling good these days. When I got to may parents' house this morning, he greeted me with such genuine excitement and enthusiasm that I almost cried. Albert is good.
PPHPHB update: If you want to hear our latest effort, you can check it out on Nowhereradio.com. It is called three piece suite (part III), and features Kev's new accordian. I play cello, which you probably won't notice, and violin (pizz.). Everything else is Kev. I like the song. It reminds me of some kind of Audrey Hepburn movie theme. Our next project involves Kev's dad, who is coming to town next week. We think we are going to have him sing Blue Christmas. We are probably gonna need the help of our previous guest vocalists for some back-up, but the arrangement is still in the works. Thanks for continuing to support the PPHPHB!
Bird update: The grackles and cowbirds are in charge. Tip: Grackles don't care much for safflower seed, but it is a little pricier than the sunflower mix. Last night I had a dream about some big puffy blue birds. I wish they were real. They were cool.
Oscar talk: The show was very boring, Chris Rock was mediocre, sweaty Antonio Banderas was HORRIBLE, and Beyonce didn't need to be marched out there three times. Best part was Yoyo-Ma, and that Morgan Freeman and Jamie Foxx were winners. I recommend documentary nominee "The Story of the Weeping Camel" to people who like good movies, because it is good.
I am looking forward to the weekend. Maybe, just maybe, there will be pancakes.