Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Does Al Gore Know?

From  Wi-Fi Killing Trees?

WiFi may bring with it all of the good things in life — fun, entertainment and more — but it may be bringing about a miniature environmental apocalypse along with it: the death of the trees around you.

The surprising finding comes from the city of Alphen aan den Rijn in the Netherlands, which noticed that its trees were starting to mutagenically sprout strange growths and other abnormalities otherwise not usually seen in arborology.

To figure out what was behind the strange outbreak, Aplhen aan den Rijn commissioned a study half a decade ago from a researcher at Wageningen University. He found that over 70% of the trees today in the urban areas of the Netherlands exhibited strange tree growth, while only ten percent did five years ago.

It’s not entirely certain what is causing the outbreak, but there’s some pretty strong correlation suggesting that the rise of WiFi is to blame. As part of his study, the researcher exposed twenty ash trees to various radiation sources for three months; those placed closest to a WiFi router quickly developed a “lead-like” shine on their leaves that was caused by the death of the upper and lower epidermis of the leaves, and eventually kill off parts of the leaves entirely.

It’s not just trees: the researcher also discovered that WiFi could inhibit the growth of corn. Is the death of the plants around you enough to make you shackle yourself to a Cat-5 again?

Read more at Antennebureau

Monday, November 22, 2010

Biggest Moth in the World?

More news from slightly north of me:
From Fox News:
HOBBS, N.M. – The discovery of what could be a complete mammoth skeleton in Lea County has local archeologists excited.

The New Mexico Natural History Museum Foundation will hold a special event at the Western Heritage Museum next week during which Executive Director Calvin Smith will announce the historic find.

"It is a major discovery," Smith told the Hobbs News-Sun. "We usually find pieces and parts, but if this is a complete skeleton, it is very important."

So far, amateur archaeologists have unearthed a femur, tibia, fibula and a carpal.

Smith helped excavate more than 20 mammoths at a dig site near Waco, Texas, and has found the remains of five mammoths in Lea County, but this could be the first complete skeleton.

"It is a significant find and one that deserves a lot of attention," he said. "If we are on the bottom of it, we are through, if we are on the top of it, we have another year's work."

How important it could be for Lea County is yet to be seen, but the potential is huge, Smith said.

"When I was at Baylor, I heard about the mammoths found out in (the Waco) ravine," he said. "There were five found. My first trip I found three more eroding out of the bank. We ended up with 23 mammoths and they are building a $4 million building over the site and it is being approved to become part of the National Parks system.

"I am not saying this is what will happen, but it is certainly a possibility."

The mammoth was discovered last year by Lea County resident Delbert Sanderson, who saw the femur bone fossil sticking up out of the middle of a two-track road in the desert.

Sanderson was visiting the area to explore a different archaeological find he first noticed as a teenager more than 50 years ago.

"There was this bone running all the way across the road," he said. "I dug at it with my pocket knife and pried a piece out."

Sanderson took the fossil fragment to Smith, who immediately knew what he was seeing.

The announcement of the find was delayed for several reasons, one being worries about thieves. Another was getting permission to keep the fossils in Lea County from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, which has authority over all fossil finds in the state.

Smith petitioned the museum for permission to keep the bones local for an exhibit at the Western Heritage Museum and was granted a loan of fossils previously found in the area that are currently in the state museum's collection.

Smith will be using the fossils to create an exhibit on the Guadalupe Reef, as many of the fossils are of extinct sea animals that lived in a small sea covering what is now southeast New Mexico.

Other mammoth fossils found in Lea County include pieces of a skeleton found south of Jal in the 1940s or 1950s and a piece of tusk found during excavations for building foundations at the Urenco USA site, Smith said.

There are rumors an intact skull has been found in Lea County and, if true, Smith believes the find could be one of the greatest for the area.

"I would like to know more if someone does know of a significant find like that," he said.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Longer Lost

A touching story from a few miles north of me:
From KQRE and other places:
By Levi Hill

HOBBS, N.M. — Hidden among the prairie grass and mesquite bushes a few miles east of Jal, an old barbed-wire fence and wooden cross were the only evidence four nameless children lost their lives at that spot more than a century ago.

On Oct. 25, 103 years after the children were laid to rest, the names and faces almost lost to history have been returned to Violet, William, Newton and Earl Sparks.

For their nephews, Jack and Frank Sparks, the story began on March 16, 1957.

According to the Sparks family’s oral histories and research by local historian David Minton, that was the day the four children’s mother, Effie Sparks, broke down crying and told a niece she had four children buried somewhere in New Mexico or Texas but had no idea where.

The revelation set Effie’s grandchildren, Frank and Jack, on a quest that would take them more than 50 years.

“It means closure in a sense,” said Jack Sparks, looking across the site where his uncles and aunt were buried. “Our great hope is when we walk through those pearly gates, those children are going to meet us there. If they know what we did now, they are certainly rejoicing. In the hereafter we will certainly be able to share the story.”

The brothers, along with Frank’s son, Joe Bill Sparks, and family members Bobbie Sparks and Marc Bradberry placed a four-foot headstone to honor their long-lost relatives.

Minton, who has placed headstones on unmarked graves across Lea County for years, joined the family in cleaning up the site.

“To me, it is just a great thing that these children are no longer lost to history,” Minton said. “They have been found and remembered.”

The search for his long-buried relatives drew Jack Sparks into the Lea County Assessor’s Office one day in 2008 in search of records on the homestead his grandfather, James Monroe Sparks, claimed near Nadine in 1902.

It was perhaps fate that Sparks told one of the staff the story of the Sparks family just as David Minton walked into the office. The words, “lost graves” sparked Minton’s curiosity and the two began to talk.

It came to Minton’s mind — a Jal resident had told him years ago about an unmarked grave east of the small town that was the final resting place of four children who died of scarlet fever on their way to the doctor.

The story fit with what Spark’s father, Cecil, had told him and a search began.

“It was just so lucky I had walked in the door when he had said that,” Minton said. “It never would have happened otherwise.”

As the story goes, and as Minton writes it, it was 1907 and all six of the Sparks children — Cecil, Violet, William, Newton, Earl and infant Eva Mae — became ill with either diphtheria or scarlet fever.

The family loaded them into a wagon and started for Midland, the closest and best medical help at the time. A rider was sent ahead to get medicine and meet the family on the trail, but along the way four of the children died.

They were buried, and the wagon, bedding and items taken for the trip were burned to prevent the spread of the disease.

James and Effie Sparks returned to Nadine with their surviving children, Cecil and Eva Mae, where they lived until about 1915, when the family returned to Coke County, Texas, along with two new children, Relia and Vera, who had been born in Nadine.

Minton, with the help of Jal area ranchers who still remembered the story passed down from their fathers, found the family grave.

It is unknown who put the barbed-wire fence or a more recent pipe-fence around the site and the marker, a wooden cross tied with barbed-wire, was also added by some unknown Samaritan.

Around the site, pieces of crockery and shards of glass bottles aged by the sun until they have turned purple are still evident. A single nut and bolt, possibly from the burned wagon, was found not far from the grave.

The headstone reads, “In memory of four children lost to scarlet fever in 1907 along this trail trying to get to a doctor.”

On the other side are lyrics from a song Effie Sparks was believed to have sung to her children as they lay dying — “Dear mother, put my little shoes away.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Robert in Uniform

 October 29 was the last home game of the year, and the junior high band (including Robert) got to march with the high school band for the very first time!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Red Ribbon Week/Fall Festival/Spook Parade

(Photo from KISD website.)  Liz wore this costume for Red Ribbon Week.  She's supposed to be a hippie chick, but some thought she looked like Ozzy.

You won't be able to sleep tonight until you check out all 32 pictures of Red Ribbon Week on KISD's site.

Spelling is important:  This student's priceless drawing of a "h*** storm" actually got hung in the hall.  (Click image to make it biggerer.)

For the Fall Festival, Liz hosted the dance party.  Behold the twin skeletons of John Travolta.

Gift bouquet from fellow teacher.

(From the KISD website.)

Liz dressed as a jester for Halloween, but some of her kids were reminded of this fellow.  Now, how do you suppose they knew about that?

Liz hung this cute sign on her projector as a gentle reminder to the techs and administrators.  (Click image to enlargerate.)

Be sure to see all 87 of Kermit Elementary's pictures of the Fall Festival.

Kokomo (aka Koko) didn't care much for the alien costume.

Robert doesn't care much for holding the dog.

Examine all 104 (and still growing) of the Winkler Post's photos of the Spook Parade.

The M-I-B and his alien captive.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Haunting of LCU and Other Links

Here are some things, some wise and some weird, that I'm in the mood to share:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Darth Vader's Hawaiian Vacation

From Hawaiian Seamonkey by way of Neatorama:
Even the Dark Side takes a break every now and then, and Darth Vader’s choice of getaway is Hawaii! Jill Ulander caught a series of photographs of the Dark Lord kicking back on the Big Island.
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