Monday, February 24, 2014

Dust is everywhere and you can not escape it

Dust is everywhere and you can not escape it
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
Author H. Jackson Brown said, “You either make dust or eat dust.” If you ate any snow cream during our recent events, you ate dust.
Our atmosphere is full of dust particles, and when an extremely cold-water droplet combines with dust, it forms a crystal. The crystal continues to fall, picking up other droplets eventually forming a six-armed snowflake.
Comedian George Carlin reflected, “Dusting is a good example of the futility of trying to put things right. As soon as you dust, the fact of your next dusting has already been established.”
Most dust falls into one of several categories: atmospheric dust, domestic dust, Middle Eastern dust, or cosmic dust.
Atmospheric dust includes soil particles, volcanic eruption dust, pollution and road dust which itself comprises 33 percent of air pollution. Cosmic dust is found in outer space and is the result of the creation of meteors, stars, and space debris.
Middle Eastern dust is a worsening problem caused by climate change and increasing desertification. Five million people in Iran have been affected by the poor air quality, and it is a major concern for the government.
Dust does not stay still either. Thirteen million tons of dust drift from Africa and the Middle Eastern area into the United States according to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors air quality and issues warnings as needed.
Researchers have discovered that U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait have inhaled particles containing toxic metals, bacteria, and fungi among other things. Scientists are trying to determine if this fact has any connection with ailments like Gulf War Syndrome, neurological and heart problems, meningitis, cancer, respiratory illness, post traumatic stress disorder, and depression.
Domestic dust is the in-your-face problem most of us worry about. Plant pollen, human and animal hair, textile and paper fibers, human skin, and dust mites make-up the dust that you see in your home.
Dust mites are members of the eight-legged arachnid class of animals. They and their feces are found in the warm, humid environment of beds, upholstered furniture, and all surfaces.
Even more of them are found in carpets where they love to breed. Mites grow best in 75-80 percent humidity but will not survive if the humidity is below 50 percent.
Humans give the dust mites plenty of skin cells to feast upon. In a way, they eat our dust.
After 10 years of infestation, the weight of a mattress can double in size and houses between 1-to-10 million dust mites. The weight of a pillow can be 10 percent dust mites. If you often wake-up with congestion, watery eyes, and sneezing, you might be allergic to dust mites.
Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters, house air filters, allergy bedding, mattress covers, and special laundry additives can reduce the problem. Washing sheets and blankets frequently can also help. Dehumidifiers can also assist in the home.
And you thought it was just a little dust.

Monday, February 10, 2014

If you're gonna be bird-brained, be a crow

If you're gonna be bird-brained, be a crow

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
Because of the weather, our bird food bill is larger than our people food bill this month. We enjoyed watching all the wildlife come to our cafeteria in the backyard.
Every elevated surface was covered in seed or corn after the storm. The suet feeders were especially busy with the aggressive diners.
A day passed before the red-winged blackbirds discovered the feast. No doubt, you experienced the same thing if you fed the flocks of hungry marauders. As I watched, I wondered what the difference was between blackbirds, crows, and ravens.
When I think about black birds in general, I associate them with Poe’s “nevermore” raven, the legendary guardians at the Tower of London, the ominous crows in the movie “Cold Mountain,” or even the cartoon characters Heckle and Jeckle.
Crows, ravens, magpies, rooks, jackdaws and approximately 120 other species belong to the family Corvidae. The Red-winged blackbirds belong to the Thrush family and are smaller and less intelligent than crows.
Throughout history, crows have sometimes been viewed as omens of bad luck, death, and evil. In Sweden, they were believed to be the ghosts of murdered people, but in Greece and Rome they were symbols of good fortune.
Because they will attack and kill a dying member of their flock, a group of crows is called a murder. Another strange behavior is that in early times they would gather at the site of public executions.
Scientists have become increasingly interested in the capabilities of crows and have done extensive research and discovered that they possess a variety of amazing talents. They have now been recognized as being more intelligent than members of the ape family.
Among birds, they have the biggest brain-to-body ratio, and they have a highly developed forebrain similar to humans. They can count to six and are believed to sunbathe to acquire vitamin D.
In 2010, PBS produced “A Murder of Crows,” a video that explores the startling research. The scientists discovered that crows could recognize human faces, remember what they had seen, pass information to their young, and could make tools of leaves and twigs.
While they do not have the biggest brain, that honor belongs to the parrot, they are tricksters and wise guys. They increasingly find urban living more to their liking because the resources for food and places to hide it are better.
These omnivores will eat 1,000 different food items including carrion, small animals, human vomit, and french fries. Nestlings can eat 100 grasshoppers in an hour. Crow meat is edible and is considered much healthier than pork.
Some scientists believe that crows can evaluate the character of humans by observing their faces and expressions. They can bond with humans and imitate their voices and have been known to name humans with certain calls.
So the next time someone calls you a “bird brain,” make sure they are talking about a crow.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...