Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's killing the sea stars?

This is my favorite animal.
There are a ton of reasons that I love Riftia pachyptila, most of which have to do with their unique biochemistry and physiology that allows them to live on the bottom of the ocean near, even on top of, hydrothermal vents. They aren't the only weird creatures that I love, I have a soft spot in my heart for any animal without a backbone, so you can imagine how my heart sunk when I pulled this issue of Science out of my mailbox.
There is an epidemic affecting sea stars on the west coast, starting with the most vulnerable deep water species, but affecting those in intertidal areas as well.  This condition causes white lesions to form on the animal, the tube feet die, and in later stages the arms start to break off. Several large aquariums on the coast have seen their star populations decimated, as the unknown disease causing agent enters their tanks that are fed by ocean water.

Scientists at universities around the country are using genetic testing to try to identify the pathogen (suspected to be either a virus or a bacteria), by comparing the bacteria present in healthy and sick animals.  Scientists are starting with bacteria because methodology for testing for bacteria is far less costly than that for viruses.

When we were at Olympic National Park in Washington state, we saw the starfish as thick as they are in the picture above.  We lost count of all the stars, anemones, and other invertebrates we saw while we were picking our way through the tide pools.  It's my sincerest hope that scientists will be able to identify and stop this pathogen in time to save this fascinating family of keystone predators.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Round Up: March & April 2014

I've been trying to do monthly round ups this year a-la Katie the Scrapbook Lady,  clearly I didn't get around to finishing March, so I figured I'd do March and April together.  Better late than never...right?

Lets start with March

What have I watched, read, or listened to?

This is the kind of thing that gets lost when you don't do your round up right away, but I'm an audiobook junkie and we had a road trip, so I picked up
Wildwood & Faerie Wars from the library. I usually go with YA books for car rides because they're usually pretty safe for the kids to hear.  You never know what books aimed at grownups will get into.  I liked them both, but Faerie Wars got into a little bit more risque material that I would have liked for the car ride.

What fun things did I do with friends and family?

Road trip!  The whole family got to spend a week with Crystal and Cliff in Orlando.  We went to Disney World and Alfred and I even got a whole day to ourselves at Epcot and Magic Kingdom

What milestones, holidays, or special events did we celebrate?

Casey, Alyssa, Brooke and Jordan all have birthdays in March, so we did lots of celebrating.  Poor Casey lives on the other side of the country, so he had to settle for a card and a phone call, but Alyssa got dinner, cake, and cookies at Mom's house.  The twins had a birthday party at a local skating rink.  It was a ton of fun.  I hadn't been to a roller rink in 19 years, so I was pretty proud of myself for not falling down.  Lilah LOVED skating.  I definitely need to take her to do that again soon. I made the girls' birthday cakes.

How am I doing on my goals?
House? Still under construction
Teaching?  Going well, students improving
Potty Training? Don't ask
Weight? Down (but not as much as I'd like)

Did anything good, bad, or unusual happen?
I babysat Loraine's nieces so she and her sister could go out for St. Patrick's Day.  It was the first time I've babysat kids not related to me or outside of my own home.  Let's just say they took advantage...but not too much

What was our everyday routine like?
Things haven't been very routine around here in a while.  I really want my house back!

And now April

What have I watched, read, or listened to?
The entire run of Game of Thrones (I wish he'd hurry up and write the next book already)
More Murder, She Wrote (I still like that meddling old lady's voice to drift off to sleep to)
I've been catching up on my podcasts again.  I got behind

  • The Digi Show: I was so sad to hear that the show is ending.  I'm going to miss it so much
  • Paperclipping Round Table: love all the scrabook chat
  • The Moth Podcast
  • Backstory
  • The Daily Digi Digest
  • Freakonomics Radio Podcast
  • PRI's The World Podcast
  • The Splendid Table
  • This American Life
  • Radiolab
  • Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me
Can you tell that I really love my NPR?

What fun things did I do with friends and family?

It's finally starting to warm up a little, so I've been able to get outside and do some yard work done.  Last year I couldn't keep up with it, so we hired a service, but this year I'm going to get back to doing it myself.  I use a push mower, and I figured it was worth it to buy myself a grass catcher for it so I don't have to rake up the clippings.  I haven't used it yet.  We'll see how it works.  I also trimmed back our rose bushes.  It always boggles my mind how much those things grow every year, so every year I cut them back a little more and a little more.  Alfred said that the poor things looked like they'd been bombarded.  With any luck they won't get out of control.

What milestones, holidays, or special events did we celebrate?

We celebrated Easter this month.  Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling too well, so it was a bit of an understated affair.  We did manage to get to church, have an Easter egg hunt, open baskets, and have a family dinner at Grandma's house, but I had long naps between activities.  Thank goodness that Alfred watched all the girls (ours and the twins!)

How am I doing on my goals?
House?  Still in end in sight.
Weight? Down 10 lbs. (Thanks Fitbit)
Teaching?  The semester is over, final grades are turned in, and I'm ready to start looking towards the future.
Potty training?  Better, but still in pull ups.  I know that I should bite the bullet and just switch to regular underpants, but I hate cleaning up all the accidents and I can barely keep up with the laundry as it is.

Did anything good, bad, or unusual happen?

I did a guest design spot for Susan K. Weckesser, Inc.  that was a lot of fun.  Her products were just beautiful.

What was our everyday routine like?

The kitchen is finally done enough that we spend a lot of our day in there.  We have breakfast, clean up, and watch the world go by out the window until naptime.  Then all bets are off, and there is no routine for the rest of the day.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Counterfeit Kit: Happiness

It's May!  MAY! Can you believe that?  I'm having a little trouble with the fact that the year is going by so fast, myself. May means another LOAD is here, so I'm back to putting together a counterfeit kit (because I'm going to go through a massive amount of product this month).

Paper Camellia is being featured on the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog this month. I'm counterfeiting their Everyday Life Kit.

It's the same lines as the other featured kits, but I just liked how they were arranged in the pocket pages kit.  Here is mine; I'm calling it Happiness (because of that journaling card, of course).