Monday, October 19, 2015

Electric and smiling rainbows

What is a rainbow? Rainbows are observed when rain is falling in one part of the sky while the sun is at the observers back. They can also be seen through sprays from waterfalls or sprinklers. When one sees a rainbow, they see sunlight that has been slowed and bent by a water droplet with violet light refracting the most and red light the least. While most of the light passes right through the water, some of the light strikes the back of the water droplet at such an angle that it is reflected inside of the drop. This angle is called the critical angle (48 degrees). The light that strikes the back of the drop at an angle which exceeds the critical angle is internally reflected toward our eyes. Since a raindrop isn’t a box with straight lines and drops vary in sides, the angle of light in different drops can vary. Each ray refracts from its own drop a slightly different angle. The light that exits the drop disperses into a spectrum of colors from red to violet. Since we see only a single color from each drop, it takes multitudes of raindrops (each refracting and reflecting light back to our eyes at slightly different angles) to produce the brilliant colors of a primary rainbow. Since everyone watching the rainbow exists in a slightly different location, every rainbow seen in person is a unique gift for the individual. Can a rainbow smile? Read moreRead more.

Friday, August 28, 2015

'All the Wild' layers meaning with a gut-punch of resonance

All the Wild that Remains; Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West, by David Gessner, Norton, 2015, 320 pages. The U.S. cultures of East and the West implicitly claim to own the dualistic personality of the nation, while the middle of the nation is perceived as bland, uptight, and irrelevant. So Midwestern may approach this apparent homage to the West with a chip on their shoulder. Do we need another book that celebrates the West? In only a few pages, the answer emerges: yes. The promise of narrative non-fiction finds fulfillment as Gessner layers the facts and interpretations of the work of Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the landscapes of their lives. Continue reading by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Rarest wolves in the world apparently abandoned

The Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced yesterday, June 30, 2015, that they will suspend reintroduction of red wolf (Canis rufus) into the wild while it gathers additional science and research. No specific information was provided about how long the management and reintroduction activities would be abandoned, despite the precariousness of the population. Historically, red wolves roamed from Pennsylvania to Florida and as far west as Texas. Currently less than 100 red wolves make up the wild populations in northeastern North Carolina, including Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The small population of rare red wolves has been hanging on due to management and reintroduction activities. The rarest wolf in the world will no longer be managed to preserve and expand its population. Today Attorney Taura Zuardo of the Animal Welfare Institute responds in an exclusive interview. The Red Wolf is a distinct species Wikipedia Commons 1. Why do you think the USFWS would halt reintroduction when the Red Wolf is one of the most endangered animals in the world? T.Z. In this particular case, USFWS is responding to the concerns of the few in NC -- namely the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and a few very vocal landowners -- in holding back the program instead of continuing activities consistent with its adaptive management program that have been maintaining the status quo for the population. 2. Are controversies over the distinct genetic make-up of the Red Wolf valid, and are these controversies providing pressure for the FWS to abandon the recovery program? T.Z. Not really - there is a lot of established science out there indicating that red wolves are a distinct species, and USFWS has always maintained that they are distinct. Any controversy surrounding this subject is, arguably, the result of a few uninformed individuals without a scientific background questioning the species. Continue reading at

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book review of Himalayan travel adventure: 'Between Heaven and Hell'

Between Heaven & Hell: Trouble and Joy in a Lost Himalayan ParadiseBetween Heaven & Hell: Trouble and Joy in a Lost Himalayan Paradise by Bob Shacochis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can we invest our spirit in an unadulterated landscape and find sacredness? Bob Schacochis’ new travel adventure explores this question within a community of travelers. The Nepalese district of Mustang fosters the original Tibetan culture and was about as undeveloped as any place that harbors ancient culture can be (a highway has since cut the region). This seems to be the place where one would be able to explore the human connection to wilderness. Yet it is the focus on the people acting in response to the raw places, more than the place itself, which reveal the sinuous threads of meaning. Rest of review at

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Have you every wondered about the land that contains and surrounds the famous shack from the classic A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold? This land has had a rich history and contiues to evolve as culture, climate, and people change. Learn about it in: Living a Land Ethic: A History of Cooperative Conservation on the Leopold Memorial Preserve, by Stephen A. Laubach. University of Wisconsin Press, 2014, 107 pages. About a decade ago, I asked dear friend Nina Leopold Bradley, daughter of Aldo Leopold, about the relationship between the Leopold Study Preserve, the Sand County Foundation, and the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo Wisconsin. She said “It’s complicated” and in my memory she uncharacteristically rolled her eyes before changing the subject. The subtle hint at complexity and conflict served as my only answer. Nina died in her Leopold Preserve home in 2011 at age 93. Stephen Laubach has finally answered the complicated questions about how many organizations and individuals cooperated in honoring and managing the Leopold Preserve and associated organizations in Living a Land Ethic.
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Beef and butterflies

Photo courtesy of Environmental Defense Fund Austin-area ranchers  and conservationists show beef and butterflies  can thrive...