Archive for Science

Golden Threads in the Darkness

GOLDEN THREADS IN THE DARKNESS

One time during a spa therapy session
A reiki master told me something like
I had a golden thread coming out of my crown
It sure sounded interesting and unusual
Rather like a colorful radiating thread perhaps, making some
Sort of cosmic connection I figure.
Must have been in a state of enlightenment or deep tranquility at that point.
Seems now that the golden thread-feeling is not as
Strong as it was then or recently;
Something perhaps about big city living
With its discourteous people, hard and harsh and uncaring people around
With its hard surfaces and jostling mass transit rides
With delays, constant noise, irregularities in the day and in the schedules of others;
Bickering and complaining and pests inside and outside…
Worldliness can tarnish the natural good inside of us;
Making us prone to sickness and vulnerable to troubles of all sorts and from all sides;
The world and where you work can indeed make you sick;
Just the getting there can make anyone rattled and unsettled.
That does not mean we can be rude or stop caring.
We can be even more civil and caring and disciplined and gracious-
The more people who are so, the better everyone will be.
Golden threads connecting us all, inside and outside and with each other,
Radiating rainbow colors and light, life and vibrant energy to others and within us.

Divi Logan, Chicago. 2013.

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Seasonal Solitude: On Observation of the Cooper’s Hawk

ON OBSERVATIONS OF A COOPER’S HAWK IN NASHVILLE

Inspired by reading Walt Whitman and William Wordsworth in an hour of peaceful solitude… in downtown Chicago… in winter.
________________________________________________________________________________________

When the weather was neither hot nor cold;

When in our at that time unmanicured back yard… that quiet back forty

Where we have wildlife and birds that come and go with the seasons;

There chanced oneo day when I was strolling

Out in that back forty plainly loafing

And thinking of nothing in particular, with mind wandering,

There came into my vision from the left, over the low tree and bush level

A gray gliding form, a spectacular bird,

And perched it upon a tree trunk

Sheared of many of its limbs due to this and that condition but left

For the birds to use and in this case

That majestic nearly mature Cooper’s Hawk certainly did.

It swooped silently in and landed in the top third of the trunk where some sturdy limbs remained;

And in silence I watched to see what it would do.

All details of the bird were plainly visible, so close it was to me;

Its beak, eyes, coloring and stripes, its mottling and size… a female most likely and on the hunt.

For as later observations proved, there were plenty of fat mourning doves in that part of our yard,

That chanced to gather near the back door.

But the many times the hawk came round, it followed a particular pattern as it circled the yard.

It would go to the same trees at about the same height, and thus had a splendid view

Of our yard and the surrounding yards as well, to spot its evening meal.

I silently tracked it as it branch – hopped, going to the perimeter, the front, the other side and then back to its starting place.

Then after a time it would fly away, heading south at almost the same angle and height and over the same yard.

Naturally the doves began to disappear; the hawk probably had a family somewhere around the neighborhood.

How majestic and beautiful a sight;

To commune in peace with this wild, silent, graceful creature

In peace and solitude in our backyard.

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2013.

** I have since thought that since we get so many different types of birds and wildlife, some migratory birds as well, that our yard might be part of a flyway or passing point for animals such as red foxes, Cape May Warblers, some species of owls such as the Screech and the Barred, the Cedar Waxwing, the Black and White Warbler, the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, and some species of Kinglet and Tanager. We have a wealth of nature’s offerings, and it is marvelous to see and be around them. **

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Nashville Nature: Naturally Every Day

Dateline Nashville, Tennessee: Featuring a fine listing of the good things that are natural in Nashville.

White-breasted Nuthatch in Algonquin Provincia...

White-breasted Nuthatch in Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada. This image is not upside-down. Français : Sittelle à poitrine blanche dans le parc provincial Algonquin, dans l’Ontario. Cette image est à l’endroit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just in our yard alone, for bird species we have had the following birds of prey: Peregrine Falcon, Northern Goshawk,
Cooper’s Hawk, Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl,  Red-tailed Hawk, and Barred Owl.

We have seen the following smaller birds that love to hang out in the berry-bearing shrubs, trees, and plants: Cedar Waxwing,
Black and White Warbler, Cape May Warbler,  Black-Capped Chickadee, Titmouse, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.Our usual visitors include the American Robin, Blue Jay, Cardinal, American Crow. We have also been visited by the Pileated Woodpecker, “Yellow-shafted” Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Brown Thrasher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,  Mourning Dove, White-throated Sparrow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the House Finch, Common Grackle, Dark-eyed JuncoRuby-crowned Kinglet,  Great Crested Flycatcher, and the White-breasted Nuthatch.

The loud songs of the Carolina Wren and the movements of the House Wren; the odd call of the Common Nighthawk, the stunning colors and calls of the American Goldfinch, the melodious trilling of the elusive Wood Thrush, and the call to tea of the Rufus-sided (Eastern) Towhee have also graced our landscape.

Unusual visitors include the Great Blue Heron, which one day landed on our roof. There have been possible sightings of Summer Tanager, Prothonotary Warbler, and American Redstart. Also a possible hearing of the call of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker- the sound described is so distinctive and it was in the Woodmont- Hillsboro area of Nashville. The call sounds like a toy trumpet, a high-pitched nasal yank, like a loud version of the eastern White-breasted Nuthatch, and that is exactly the sound I detected. A single note but very loud and close by one day many years ago. There are many tall, old trees in the area so it is a fine place for a large woodpecker to reside and find food. One sighting of Whooping Crane; possible sighting of Ivory Gull and also a Little Blue Heron. In the area are reports of other hummingbird species off course every so often (birds that probably should be at that time in California or other places west of Tennessee turn up in middle Tennessee!).

In the Nashville area, aside from the usual city birds of Mockingbird, European Starling, Pigeon (European Rock Dove), Turkey Vulture, Catbird and Canada Geese, you can also see the Green Herons (a family of them hung out in a tree in Centennial Park one year), the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron (with their magnificent plumage), Kingfishers, Rough-legged Hawk, and the American Kestrel. You also see the Red-winged Blackbird, Ovenbird, Eastern Bluebird, Barn Swallow, Killdeer, American Coot, Merlin, Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Harrier, and Mallard Duck.

Also seen are coyotes, deer, red foxes, and raccoons. We also have an abundance of dragonflies. Species you might find in the Nashville area include the Gray Petaltail, the Common Green Darner, Comet Darner, Swamp Darner and Fawn Darner. You might also see the Shadow Darner, Ashy Clubtail, Cobra Clubtail, Eastern Ringtail, and the stunning Royal River Cruiser. Possibilities include as well the Widow Skimmer, the Twelve-spotted Skimmer, and the strikingly colored Spangled Skimmer and Eastern Amberwing.

English: Common Green Darner (Anax junius), bl...

English: Common Green Darner (Anax junius), blue form female, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yellow-crowned Night Heron flying over water.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron flying over water. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isn’t nature wonderful? Let’s all work together to keep our environment safe, clean, healthy, good and beautiful!

English: A female ruby-throated hummingbird (A...

English: A female ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) sipping nectar from scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma). Français : Un Colibri à gorge rubis (Archilochus colubris) femelle butinant une fleur de Monarde (Monarda didyma). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.

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Illinois Prays for Rain

A Dust Bowl storm approaches Stratford, Texas ...

A Dust Bowl storm approaches Stratford, Texas in 1935. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We in the dust bowl listen
Listen for the patter of nourishing rain;

We look to the skies for those gray-black lines
Heralding the approach of precipitation again.

The rolling thunder we await;
The darkening and humid veils of moisture
To give relief to the farmers again.

In this monotonous lack of rain,
In the days of partly cloudy, mostly sunny and
“A chance of rain”…

We look to those skies for that precious water
To bring us, parched in mind, arid in spirit,
We who look day by day
Skyward at the slightest mention of rain,
We who hope for rain
Pray it shall come soon.

The forecasters say we really need
Nine to fifteen inches just to bring
Even the slightest relief to the drought.
What extra must we have
For the crops to prosper?
Is there even a chance for any of the farms to green again?
Is there a chance for so great an amount of rain?

O let the rolling storms come again,
And bring relief to this dry land.

raining sheets

raining sheets (Photo credit: mytimemachine)

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.

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Transit of Venus “Generates” Energy

Sharing my experience of the Transit of Venus with everyone…

"Images from photographic plates of the T...

“Images from photographic plates of the Transit of Venus” Deutsch: Venustransit am 6. Dezember 1882 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Chicago, as in many parts of the country, many people were not treated to a complete experience of the annular eclipse last month. Thus when the day came for the Venus transit event, I thought to myself, “If we have good weather and I am feeling up to it, I’ll try to get in that experience!”

Fortunately our weather cooperated perfectly and the Adler Planetarium held a viewing event… and offered free general admission, which was a pleasant perk for the day. Getting to the Adler is so easy on the #146 bus- takes you straight to the Planetarium and a stunning view of one of America’s best lakefronts. Well, on that day I took my binoculars just to catch a good view of the area, some blank paper, snacks, and the happiness of being able to see the special event.

Around 5 P.M. the transit began, and that while I was standing in a long line of people waiting to use one of the telescopes, a very nice Coronado SolarMax model fitted with one of the excellent H-alpha filters that turns the image orange-red but provides fine viewing conditions. That is when I put my binoculars to use, turned the small end toward the paper and focused in order to get a reverse image of Venus just starting to cross the sun. Now I do not have to look directly into the lenses in order to know the image is projecting properly onto the paper. The bright image comes into view when the lenses are at the correct angle, and a dot of light shows up in the lens area. All you have to do is maneuver the binoculars until the image projects on the paper, and cover one of the lenses so a single image shows up.

As I waited, Venus edged into view and then I was able to look at it through the SolarMax.

After that I and hundreds of others went inside to see the live feed from Mauna Kea observatory, courtesy of NASA, which provided views in three colors of filter: purple, white, and the orange-red.

It was very nice of the Adler team and some other observers who made telescopes available for the thousands who came to share the event. People of all ages showed up, from the elderly to the young family out to witness something unique to share with the kids. Being around all those fine people made the event even more special. Astronomy has not lost its romance, nor has it lost its magnetic attraction. Science and technology, society and the draw of the marvelous and the beautiful in nature…certainly everything came out for the best on June 5.

Sunspots were also visible (and in fact are today, with a fine cluster visible even with the reverse-binocular method of projecting the image on white paper). An observer at the transit event brought along one of the “sun-spotter” instruments which projected the white light onto the center of the instrument.

Sadly such an event will not be visible for another 105 years, so everyone there had the chance to mutually benefit from something to talk about, dream about, share around, write about, photograph, and research for decades. People in Chicago shared that event with people the world over, with folks atop a mountain and folks at sea level (or at least at lake level). We learned, we stood in silence and reverence, we shared and laughed, we witnesses, and we took home vivid memories.

Thanks again to the staff at the Adler Planetarium, the keepers of the stellar Chicago lakefront, the CTA, the drivers for that day on the #146 route who kept everyone safe and got us there in time, the Chicago Park District, and everyone who brought out their telescopes.

Venus over Witton Lakes

Venus over Witton Lakes (Photo credit: ringsofsaturnrock)

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

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Agent Orange Corn: A Little 2,4-D in Your Sauce?

Hello Chicago and Good Day, World!

English: Image from MolInspiration's 3-D struc...

English: Image from MolInspiration’s 3-D structure of 2,4-Dichlorophenoaceric acid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listening to local radio station NewsRadio 780 WBBM in Chicago this morning, I heard the introduction to a story that seemed curious and serious at the same time. It referred to something called “agent orange corn”, and the reality of the “super-weed“. Certainly the super – weed concept has been known for decades, if some documents are accurate, and the use of extremely toxic herbicides has also been known for decades. Also known is the excellent book, Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. I am presently reading that scientific treatise, and by coincidence a page I just finished mentioned the extremely potent compound known as 2,4-D. What exactly is 2,4-D? According to a book titled The Science of 2,4,5-T and associated phenoxy herbicides, which I found in the reference section of the Harold Washington Library in the Chicago Loop, the full name of the chemical is 2,4-dichlorophenoxy acetic acid. That’s a mouthful, and wow what it can do to you or to anything it gets into!

In fact, on page 213 of Silent Spring, is the following quote:

The herbicide 2,4-D has also produced tumorlike swellings in treated plants. Chromosomes become short, thick, clumped together. Cell division is seriously retarded. The general effect is said to parallel closely that produced by X-rays.

Other quotes or sections in Silent Spring where 2,4-D are mentioned are page 43, with a curious case of the discovery of that weed – killer compound; and pp. 75 – 79

Threaten MY soybeans and corn, will you, eh? Yecchh.

As I later learned in the news article, the substance 2,4-D is also a compound of the demon chemical used in the Vietnam War and known as Agent Orange. A rather graphic photo of a man exposed to that chemical is at the end of this article.

Think about synthesizing a strain of corn that is resistant to pests that are resisting such potent herbicides as 2,4-D. Now those researchers would have to be exposed to the compound in order to test the effectiveness of the experiment; and that also means mention of the people who must safely – and emphasize the word SAFELY- transport the hazard to the lab.

The article seemed rather confusing as it went on, seeming to imply also that the corn must also resist the potency of the 2,4-D that is meant to kill off the invading superweeds. Thus the compound might also impact the environment wherein it is being tested, getting into the air, the groundwater, the wells, and onto other plants.

Well, I’d rather have my corn without any 2,4-D sauce, thanks.

Related Vocabulary:

* Phytotoxic; hydrocarbon

* Oxidation; cell division

* Lindane, malathion, parathion, chlordane, dieldrin, heptachlor

* Carbon tetrachloride, DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane), toxaphene, benzene hexachloride, methoxychlor, phenothiazine, dinitro compounds

Suggested Sources:

1. Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. The Classic that Launched the Environmental Movement. Boston: Houghton Mifflin/ Mariner, 1962.

2. Bovey, Rodney W. The Science of 2,4,5-T and associated phenoxy herbicides. New York: Wiley Interscience, 1980.

Major Tự Đức Phang was exposed to dioxin-conta...

Major Tự Đức Phang was exposed to dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

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Climate Change: Observations and Insight

ENERGETIC TAILS AND ENERGIZED TALES

The inkling that something was not right in the wild world of weather happened in 1999. I had moved into my almost-hilltop bungalow in Nashville, and had a marvelous view all around. I could see to the horizon and the hills, and with a short walk to a slightly higher hill I had a stunning view for miles around, and photograph-worthy for certain sights.

One night not long after I was preparing for bed, I looked out a western window and saw lightning flashing white and frequently from an approaching storm. It was far enough away that thunder was not yet audible, and it was after 1o PM. I thought it odd, but stayed awake till well after midnight to make sure the bad weather passed. 1999 was the start of what I later realized was a change in the weather in that part of the world.

When I was younger, it seemed bad weather happened in the morning or early afternoon. It seemed rare to get tornado-producing storms late at night, as happened in 1999 and into 2003 and beyond. From my bungalow I would see lightning flashing from storms so distant no thunder could be heard, and there were spectacular storms that came from explosive systems of clashing fronts and dry lines and unstable air.

Oklahoma and points west were the marker for storms we would get in those years. Explosive is an understatement for the cells that invaded Tennessee, setting off sirens in the middle of the night, dropping hail, producing high winds that whistled through the bars of the storm door, hail that pounded the windows and sounded as though someone was trowing ice cubes at the panes, and generating greenish and bluish lightning that would sear the skies for an hour or more.

These were storms that, unless one was a very sound sleeper, would either awaken one or, if on to the weather reports, might keep me up to watch and make sure danger was past. Even in 2002 there was an unusual day for bad weather, and I documented some of that in still color photos.

The conditions that hung over Tennessee on Veterans Day weekend of 2002 produced gigantic storms. In the afternoon it was sunny in Nashville, and I was going about my chores in the bungalow. I had the news on and the reports kept talking about storms going on, and eventually I was intrigued and went outside to ascerain if I could see anything or if some storms was approaching Nashville. What I saw was stunning.

Nearly due east of Nashville was a massive storm with a high top in motion. It was so large I could actually see the clouds moving in a clockwise direction and that feature came out in one of my photos. I snapped more pictures of that storm, which was not even in Davidson County but about 70 or so miles away. Incredible power,wild beauty, and the striking forces of nature took over that day.

As evening came I went outside again to photograph storms south and east of Nashville. Sunset colors painted those large clouds with pink and gold, and fine features of the cumulus clouds were highly visible as the storms were so big. Nashville eventually had storms that night.

2003 was another year of massive storms. Oklahoma was hit again and endured significant damage. Tennessee had storms from one of the larger systems that year, and the sirens went off over and time again.

2004 was a strange year. First odd happening was the death of my younger brother in April. Things went from bad to worse in the week we planned to lay him to rest. We were preparing to drive to the Johnson City area for the funeral and other events, and we stepped out of my parents’ home. At once I sensed very heavy and humid air, the skies with a milky gray appearance and cloudy. We drove on to the home of my dad’s best friend, and still we had no idea of what we would encounter less than an hour later.

On the road to the airport to collect my cousin who was coming in from Houston, I happened to turn back and look around. To the northwest was a dark, huge, gigantic storm bearing down on us fast. Shades of 1998 hit me all over again, and I had the feeling that storm had to be tornadic. It was, and we barely made it to the airport before the bad weather bulled on in. Heavy rain started just before we exited the interstate, and the rain was so heavy the airport roof started to leak.

Now that roof is fine when the weather is dry and sunny- the view is clear as a bell and the scenery is hilly. You can see the air pattern come in and work as usual, but in severe weather the last place you want to be is under a glass roof with a huge expanse. Fortunately no one in our party was injured, and I could see the storm moving off into other counties. Seems the reports said a tornado was down in Williamson County, but at last it was out of our way and we could resume our drive. Naturally we were careful along the way, and we arrived safely.

I learned a lot from those storms between 1998 and 2004, and did one more thing before moving to Chicago. I taught my mom how to read the clouds, to know the signs of incoming bad weather, such as the anvil, strange colors, vivid lightning, and of course tuning in to the weather. A severe storm that barreled through one afternoon as we were at the office inspired me to do that. Mom is a native Texan but still I thought it a good thing to do to fine tune her knowledge of approaching bad weather. It served us well when she visited Chicago in 2005, as there was a severe storm in that week.

Hopefully we will not get caught out in any of those conditions again, but we know what to do if we are fortunate enough to be around safe places to go. The storm that came through Chicago the week mom visited was heralded by diagonal clouds with an unusual color, greenish in appearance. We returned from the grocery store and had the television on. A tornado warning was issued for Cook County. It took only a second for me to say, “This IS Cook County!” And downstairs we went to wait it out.

Since that incident, Chicago has had its share of bad weather. Tornado warnings have happened at least once a year since I moved here, and there have been storms that painted the skies with layered clouds stacked like plates, rotating majestcally and with greenish appearances. Another storm produced a line of green lightning and a tornado strike in the north of town.

Yet another storm was one painted in my memory, and it happened to come in while I was at the Field Museum. On a top floor I was looking west and northwest and there was a massive, moving cloud making a bee line to the city. I left the museum and went to the Loop, figuring it a safe place to be in the face of the incoming weather. I visited my boyfriend at his workplace and he knew the storm was coming. He figured I might be able to make it home on the Red Line before the storm hit, and I tried to do just that.

Only seconds after I started walking down Jackson Street I looked around as usual for vigilance, and looked down the street. I paused- the storm was coming in and lowering with a grayish-black heavy cloud. I turned and started back for the shop but I was almost pushed down the street by a sudden driving rain and wind, and barely made it to the store before the area darkened with the full force of the tornadic storm. I stayed far away as possible from the glassy entrance of the store, and thought I heard a nearby tornado siren.

I feared for anyone stuck on the elevated tracks at that point, or anyone at the airports watching that hit downtown. The EL is close enough to the row of shops along Wabash Street that had the winds been strong enough, they might have shoved a train over to the street and possible into the store. It was a relief when the storm finally ended and I skedaddled for home.

One more well-documented storm happened during baseball season. The game was in the evening, and the event started as normal. Now, it is usual for cameras to pan around to gather the game-time atmosphere, and one of those cameras caught a sight that brought out a comment from one of the Cubs regular announcers. Northwest of the city was a lightning producing cloud and the lightning was green. Green lightning made the announcer nervous and it made me nervous too. Then the storm came in, Wrigley Field emptied and another camera caught the empty ballpark and the tornado warning siren could be heard. Again it was time to take cover, and the complex basement became the safe haven for a while. Our area of the city sustained no obvious or severe damage, and it was good when the bad weather finally passed.

Take nothing for granted- when conditions are ripe, pay attention to the skies. Watch and listen, know what is going on and what you are looking at. Have a plan of action- where to go, what to take along. Be careful when going above ground when the all clear is given. There could be structures damaged, glass and debris in the streets, and electric lines down and live. Stay out of the way of emergency vehicles and obey authorities’ instructions.

Lessons learned, photographic memories made, and still there is that little part of me that wants to chase those storms across the south and the prairie, camera at the ready, watching and listening. Someday perhaps I might take one of those tornado safaris or join a chase group… but seeing the average storms that come through here is enough for me right now.

Interesting reference: Veslind, Priit J. The Hard Science, Dumb Luck, and Cowboy Nerve of Chasing Tornadoes. National Geographic, April 2004. Includes fine photographs by Carsten Peter.

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2004 – 2012.

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