Puppy Lovin’

Here’s a picture of my cousin’s and my puppies laying around.

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Eyes of a Child

I asked my niece to tell me what she thought of nature. This is what she said:

“Nacher is very prity. I like nacher because it is a fun, funny, and you can clime treees! I have been on a walk with my dog Hank and I have sean many trees, animals, and plants! It was so fun seeing trees, animals, and plants! I have been to the creek and the river and it was a fantastic place to go to! I love they flufy animals.”

Allow me to translate:

“Nature is very pretty. I like nature because it is fun, funny, and you can climb trees! I have been on a walk with my dog Hank and I have seen many trees, animals, and plants! It was fun seeing trees, animals, and plants! I have been to the creek and the river and it was a fantastic place to go to! I love the fluffy animals!”

This is a child who has grown up in the city, and while I have tried to take them to different parks and hiking trails, both my nieces’ ideas of nature revolve around their dogs and the animals they have seen in the zoo and the aquarium. Are we doing future generations a disservice??

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Nature Walks

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Lama Cures Leg?

A Tibetan lama (not llama) believes he has cured his gangrene leg, diabetes, and Pott’s Disease with meditation. Specifically Tsa Lung meditation. So now he is being treated by scientists as all extraordinary humans are: as a human guinea pig. Scientists are studying his brain to see what makes him tick and to see if his claims are realistic.

It’s hard to find good information on Tsa Lung meditation because most sites are advertising for a course, retreat, etc., but here is what I’ve found: Tsa Lung meditation uses the 5 Warrior Syllables to enhance your ability to make your lung (inner wind) flow through your subtle body (the body’s energy dimension). It uses 5 specific exercises and body movements that correspond to the 5 elements (air, water, space, earth, fire) to open one’s 5 chakras (energy centers). There’s a lot of the number 5 in this method if you can’t tell. Those who practice Tsa Lung meditation are said to visualize a wind working through, clearing any blockages in the way. Tsa Lung meditation is used to “help you connect to your chakras, clearing gross and subtle obstacles and enhancing your meditative state.”

According to the Daily Beast, Lama Phakyab Rinpoche claims by powerfully meditating almost all day, every day, for a year, the ooze from his gangrene leg went from black to green to cloudy to clear and then fully healed itself, and he is learning to walk again. His leg is supposedly “back from the dead.” Now I’m all for not dying, and this is great. But how are we supposed to use this? This guy gave up everything for a year for a do-or-die mission to save his leg. Two questions: A) Why didn’t his meditation work before his leg became horribly gross? I mean he’s a Tibetan Lama. He meditates for a living. I mean he ordained at 13 years old! And B) How are every-day people supposed to use this to help them? We’re not all Buddhist priests. We’re not trained in meditation. And we can’t just give up life as we know it for a year. Every-day people have every-day responsibilities.

Great for him if it worked, but the whole sudden healing when I know he’s been meditating every day of his life seems a little strange to me. If anyone knows more about Tsa Lung meditation, or finds a good website about it, please let me know. I’d love to have some more information about this!

Thanks for stopping by, and come back again for the next installment of MotherNaturesPen.

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Worlds Largest Penis… Sort Of

BARNACLES! I know. It seems strange. But they do. The largest penis in the world! (Relative to body size that is… The actual largest penis belongs to *SHOCKER!* the largest animal, the blue whale.) Barnacle penises are up to 8 times their body size. In human terms, this would be like a 6 foot tall man having 48 foot long penis!

You may be wondering… Why do barnacles have such long penises? Well the answer is simple… SEX! Okay, so maybe I should explain. Barnacles are sessile, meaning they don’t move. Could you imagine trying to have sex without moving? It’d be quite difficult! Barnacles are hermaphroditic and lay on their backs, so they have extra long penises to reach across to their neighbor and fertilize their neighbor’s eggs. In return, their neighbors (sometimes multiple) fertilize their eggs. And what about those lonely barnacles all by their lonesome? Well they fertilize themselves. Power to the species!

More Links:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080206150703.htm

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/02/080213-barnacle-penis.html

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16971-penis-length-isnt-everything–for-barnacle-males.html

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2 Species, Not 1

Africa has two elephant species, genetic analysis confirms.

Here you have it folks. There are the African forest elephants and the African savanna elephants.

Modern genetics really is amazing what it can determine. Apparently the difference between the two is as old as the difference between chimps and humans. Whoda thunk it?

Now I’m going to be honest. I can’t tell the difference between the two, and I don’t doubt that a number of people at zoos will confuse the two as well. Supposedly there is a significant size difference between the two, but I can’t tell from the pictures. I’d like to see 10 of each new species next to each other, so I could attempt to see the size difference.

I have two questions about this whole thing:

1. How significant are the genetic differences between the two species? The human and chimp genomes are 98% similar. What’s the percent similarity between the two species, and why is it significant to determine that there are in fact two distinct species here?

2. Which new species’ ears look more like Africa?

 

 

Top: African forest elephants. Bottom: African savanna elephants.

 

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Unlucky Hunter

I woke up this morning to go hunting. I was excited and nervous. Today was going to be a good day. It was beautiful outside. A layer of snow covered the ground. Snow-laden branches drooped with excess snow. Tiny icicles glittered in the sunrise. Snow came tumbling down as the wind whipped through the trees. Today was a damn good day. And then… nothing happened. Today, like every other day I’ve gone hunting in my life, was a bust. I got nothing, zero, zilch, nada.

Well actually I didn’t see nothing. When my dad and I pulled up to our gate, we saw the chopped carcass of a deer someone else shot and left on our property. It was a doe, and you could see where someone had cut off the hind quarters and the backstrap, leaving the front half and guts behind for the dogs. I’d include a picture, but its pretty graphic.

You see, I’m what you call “The One,” and no, its not like Neo from The Matrix. I’m the “The One” that all the bad stuff happens to. I have a chronic case of bad luck.

So this is me reaching out to my compadres, the other unlucky ones who just can’t seem to get it right. Here are some tips to make the endless waiting not so bad after all:

1. Sit back and relax. After all, you’re going to be there a while waiting for nothing anyways. I find this is best done with several layers of clothing and waterproof gear, keeping you dry and warm. I also suggest peeing and eating before you venture outdoors.

2. Practice listening. The biggest problem with never seeing anything is inexperience. You wouldn’t know what a deer even was if it weren’t for roadkill. If you ever go out with your buddies, make sure you know your nature sounds beforehand. If you swear up and down a big buck is coming, but all that comes around the corner is a scampering squirrel, you’re going to be really embarrassed. I suggest you take some time out of season to go listen to nature and becomes accustomed to the differences between deer, rabbit, squirrel, rain, etc. This can probably be done on the internet, but why not have an excuse to go enjoy the outdoors.

3. Learn the difference between a maple and oak. Actually, learn a lot of dendrology. (Virginia Tech is a great resource!) And ornithology too. I find that the two things that never fail to be in the woods are trees and birds. So why not identify a few while you’re waiting for nothing? The birds go by pretty quick, but the trees aren’t really going anywhere. Test yourself by identifying them from the stand then going back later for a close-up to see if you were correct.

4. Place your bets. Make bets with your hunting buddies about how many gun shots you’ll hear that day. This can be a certain number or even just an under-over bet. For example, I heard three shots today. Whether for money or just bragging rights (my kind of betting), counting the shots will give you something to do when not getting a trophy of your own.

5. Three words: 5 HOUR ENERGY. I know that hunting forces you to get up early, and the eyelids often start to droop, particularly when its boring. I use 5 Hour Energy so that I know if I’m unlucky its not because I was snoring.

Hope these tips help make your next wasted trip a little more enjoyable, and I’ll see you next time for another installment of MotherNaturesPen!

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Kate Gosselin Goes Alaskan!

As seen on TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” Episode: “Alaskan Hospitality.” It originally aired two weeks ago, but I just got a chance to see it.

Kate Gosselin and her 8 kids have traveled to Alaska and joined forces with Palin crew for some camping fun.

First, they started with bear safety and gun classes. Kate just got scared.

Then, they went camping in the rain. The kids had fun. Kate complained.

They made moose hot dogs. Kate didn’t eat it because it was moose and there was no hand sanitizer.

The going got tough, and the not-so-tough got going… literally. Kate and her crew packed up and left.

Quote of the night:
“Why would you pretend to be homeless?” – That is Kate Gosselin everyone!

I guess not everyone is made for the great outdoors, but Kate is down a couple notches in my book (to -3).

Come back next time for another installment of MotherNaturesPen.

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Countdown to the Most Extreme Tides

The ocean’s tide is a powerful force that is controlled by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun. In some areas of the world, due to various factors, the tidal ranges are quite large. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, these are the most extreme tides in the world:

10. Cancale, France – Average Tidal Range: 27.8 feet

9. Banco Dirección, Magellan Strait, Chile – Average Tidal Range: 28.0 feet

8. Granville, France – Average Tidal Range: 28.2 feet

7. Koksoak River entrance, Hudson Bay, Greenland – Average Tidal Range: 28.5 feet

6. Río Gallegos (Reducción Beacon), Argentina – Average Tidal Range: 29.0 feet

5. Burnham, Parrett River, England – Average Tidal Range: 29.9 feet

4. Sunrise, Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet, Alaska, USA – Average Tidal Range: 30.3 feet

3. Port of Bristol (Avonmouth), England – Average Tidal Range: 31.5 feet

2. Leak Lake, Ungava Bay, Quebec, Canada – Average Tidal Range: 32.0 feet

And the winner is…

1. Burntcoat Head, Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada – Average Tidal Range: 38.4 feet

Hope you enjoyed the countdown. Come again for another installment of MotherNaturesPen.

(Note: I removed general area duplicates from the list in order to avoid having the top 10 be all Bay of Fundy.)

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World’s Largest Crystals

I just woke up from the aftermath of Christmas. Wrapping paper everywhere. Gifts covering my room. I found an iTunes gift card that I hadn’t seen the night before. My parents were watching TV in the living room. Oh, and there’s snow outside. First time for an Atlanta Christmas since 1882.

On TV, my parents were watching a National Geographic special on a cave in Mexico with what might be the world’s largest crystals. These things are massive!

The crystals are made out of gypsum (CaSO4 • 2H2O for you chemistry buffs!) and can are as big as 36 feet long! The cave is called Cueva de los Cristales (literally translated Cave of the Crystals) and was found in 2000 near Delicias in the region of Chihuahua. The crystals have been exposed by a modern mining company, which continues to pump water out of the cave. If pumping were to stop, water would once again fill the cave.

This cave honestly looks like something out of a science fiction movie or novel. Its amazing to me that Mother Nature can hold so many secrets that we don’t know about. We think we have canvassed every surface of this earth, but we are still only just beginning. Proof, once again, of Mother Nature’s awesome power!

Hope you enjoyed, and come back for the next installment of MotherNaturesPen.

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