Surferbird News-Links, 12th Edition

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Welcome to Surferbird News-Links. Join me on an exploration of health, food, science, and the environment. For more information on the name and origin of Surferbird News-Links, see here. Oh, I almost forgot; there's always an earworm at the end of every edition.What's an earworm? you ask. Well, scroll on down to discover!

Surferbird News-Links, a weekly summary from across the web

A New Theme

My family chided me about the weekly summary part of the header above. No, I haven't been posting Surferbird News-Links every week. So, I admit, weekly is a bit of a stretch. But if you click on home in the menu above, or the green box, maybe you'll understand why the surferbird hasn't been around these parts as frequently.

I've been hard at work on my homepage. First, I had to resize all of the art. Then, I had to resize the art all over again. I didn't follow directions the first time. I've been busy - much like Penelope, who wove a shroud by day only to undo the work by night.

Besides the fact that I love the layout of this new theme, it allows me to sell dish towels and tablecloths made from organic and sustainable fabrics on my blog without paying someone to write additional code. Who knows where the Owl is headed, next? I hope you enjoy this edition of Surferbird News-Links. So, on with the news-links!

News-Links

Environment

How many BTUs do you need to cool your home? - Your Best Digs helped create an air conditioning energy saving calculator to determine how powerful your air conditioner needs to be to survive the summer heat. This allows you to use the smallest amount of energy possible to cool your home while saving money on your energy bill - along with spending the minimum necessary on your unit. Use it for both central air and portable airconditioners.Yourbestdigs

Wow! Humans actually manged to enhance the environment over the last 13,000 years in British Columbia (sciencedaily.com) - The coastal First Nations in British Columbia improved the environment by using fire and stockpiling shells. Is it possible to live in harmony with nature?

Recycling statistics in California aren't looking so good(motherjones.com) - California leads the way on many environmental fronts, but recycling isn't one of them. Increased consumption and construction supported by a recovering economy and a decrease in oil and other commodity prices, have decreased the use of recycled materials. And the final blow - manufacturers are using more petroleum-based plastics. Well, there you have it. It's a cry for political leadership from all levels.

Green Technology

Harnessing ocean winds (nytimes.com) - This is a nice short piece on powering the U.S. with ocean winds.

These off the grid solar lights that charge your cell phone are freakishly amazing!(treehugger.com) - I want one. And I'm not even a camper. The video explains how they work, but be careful. You just might get seduced into buying a Revel Gear solar light. Also, you have the opportunity to help those in Africa who must rely upon kerosene lamps. After reading this, the Owl wants to go off grid.

Carless apartment(fastcoexist.com) - How would you like to ride your bicycle straight into the kitchen? It sure would make unloading groceries easier.  This apartment building in Sweden doesn't even have parking spaces - at least not for cars!

Food

The woman who talked about eating food back in 1978(food52.com) - I was hanging out on Mark's Daily Apple (here) and happened upon this article about Joan Gussow. Michael Pollan credits her with the inspiration behind the idea - eat food.

However, Joan addresses more than the importance of eating food. She's concerned about eating food within the context of so many other important issues such as climate change, poverty, big ag, advertising, and school lunches. I have to confess that my eyes were watering by the end of the article.

She understands the complexities we face today and in the future with a profound level of sensitivity and understanding. Take a look, and be inspired by this 87-year-old woman who's still growing her own food.

Berkeley soda tax(Pacific Standard) - I confess that I've been on the fence about the whole soda tax issue. Not that we drink soda in our house - in fact, I haven't bought or brought soda into the house in years.

When my older children were teenagers, soda was reserved for special occasions such as parties and sleepovers. I was a single mom with a degree in foods and nutrition (I'll bet you didn't know that!). Money was tight. And I placed a high priority on nourishing foods.

However, I'm going to admit that according to the article, the sugar tax appears to be working in Berkeley, CA. Soda consumption in poor neighborhoods has decreased. Water consumption has increased.

The Japanese art of making buckwheat noodles - soba (npr.org) - This article will delight. I don't think I've seen authentic soba noodles quite like these in the U.S. And even if I found some, it's doubtful that the cook would serenade me. These noodles are both grain-free and gluten-free.

Farming

Will we be able to feed everyone on the planet(ensia.com) - Our best bet is to use land wisely. And biointensive farming accomplishes just that. A family friend introduced me to this method back in the late 90's. At the time, I was growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs at my UC Davis community garden plot.

Learn about the global impacts of Ecology Action and how to grow more food by caring for the soil, sequestering carbon, and using less water. Would you like to read more about biointensive farming? Here's the link to How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons.  It's for backyard, front yard, and side yard gardeners, also!

Health

Drink up that morning cup of Joe. (sciencedaily.com) - More good news about caffeine suggests that it helps prevent memory loss in the aging process. You won't hear any arguments from me.

Reducing your exposure to pollutants when stuck in traffic(treehugger.com) - For those of you who commute, here's an easy way to significantly reduce your exposure to pollutants. All of us, at some point, end up in a traffic jam or two.

Using screen time to calm kids down (motherjones.com) - Using the power of the screen as a tool to calm children came as no surprise to me. We use it every night as transition time. Well, we are blessed with a child on the autism spectrum. We do what works. But in this case, as the article describes, screen time can reduce anxiety before surgery - decreasing the need for additional anti-anxiety medication.

Science/Technology

It's not just what you say, but how you say it - even with dogs. (motherjones.com) - Dogs can separate the meaning of words from their intent. And just like humans, they can integrate both. Dogs and humans understand language similarly, which probably comes as no surprise to those who share their lives with dogs.

The making of a diamond (fastcoexist.com) - Manufactured diamonds aren't new, but the quality has always suffered, until now. Diamond Foundry, in Silicon Valley, is poised to challenge tradition - producing high quality diamonds that rival their mined counterparts. 

3D printers for disaster relief (fastcoexist.com) - What if you experienced a natural disaster in a third world country. One of the most difficult challenges is getting supplies to these remote locations. But what happens if a piece of equipment in a hospital fails and needs a replacement part? Well, just pull out your trusty 3D printer, of course! Take a look at the role 3D printers play in disaster relief.

Female fiddler crabs visit males in their burrows - how scandalous! (sciencedaily.com) - Well, now don't get all excited. As it turns out, they're looking for protection - not sex.

Earworm

Well, I kept thinking about how much better my website was going to look with the new theme. And the line from "Hey Jude" (the Beatles), "Take a sad song and make it better," popped into my head.  I don't think my blog was sad before the theme change. But I do think it's better, now. Earworms don't have to be particularly sophisticated. Have a great weekend everyone! Thank you for stopping by.

Laura