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'tis the season

It IS the season. For sharing. For caring. For giving — of your time, your resources, your abilities. For sharing your table with family, friends, neighbors. This holiday season, as we reflect on the gifts we’ve been given, may we be eager to give, and eager to bestow acts of kindness on our loved ones, or even on strangers in need.

Ruth Ebenstein, an American-Israeli writer, relates a story of a Christmas Eve in 1944, a Christmas Eve that her grandmother, uncle, and mother spent in a concentration camp in Austria, on the verge of starvation. Ruth’s mother, who was only three years old, could not even leave the bed because she had no shoes to wear. Late that Christmas Eve night, Ruth’s uncle Gyuri, a young boy of 12 at the time, snuck out of the concentration camp and walked four miles to the nearest town. When he arrived in Deutsch-Wagram, he came upon a house and, knocking at the door, he begged the sleepy woman who answered for some food for his family. She whispered, “Come back tomorrow.” When Gyuri returned on Christmas day, the smiling Austrian lady gave him food, clothing, shoes, and warm woolen socks that she had knitted for his young sister.

November 11 — Honoring those who have served.

On November 11 of 1918, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11thmonth, an armistice went into effect, a cessation of hostilities between the Allied Nations and Germany, ending the “war to end all wars.” The official end of World War I would not be declared for seven more months, at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, but the end actually came on that November day, when the truce was signed, the opposing forces laid down their weapons, and the war known as the “Great War” was over. Now, all over the world, people set aside this day, November 11, to honor those who have served their countries well —bravely and selflessly. 

Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day. A day to honor all those who have served.  

 


www.military.com

Winging South for the Winter

As the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder; as long, languid summer melts into crisp, cool autumn; as nature takes on russet hues and puts on fancy dress; as you marvel at the beauty of the season, don’t forget to look up. One of nature’s great marvels is the show in the sky as the birds of North America migrate south. Migration is the annual movement of birds, often north and south along a flyway, between their breeding grounds and their wintering grounds. One of the best known, and certainly the most familiar, of North America’s migrators is the Canada (not “Canadian”) Goose (Branta canadensis).  The impressive V-formations of Canada geese flying south are seen all over North America; indeed, Canada geese are found in every one of the contiguous United States and every Canadian province. However, they are not our only journeying birds. “Of the more than 650 species of North American breeding birds, more than half are migratory.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology

50 Inches of Rain

Hurricane Harvey, now downgraded to tropical depression Harvey, dumped 50 inches of rain on parts of the Texas coast this week. This epic storm has wreaked havoc on a large swath of the southwest and left destruction and devastation in its wake. When a large low pressure system moving in from the sea runs smack dab into a high pressure system over the coast, it’s a recipe for a natural disaster. Counter-clockwise circulating air vacuums up moisture from the Gulf, and all that warm, moist air rising up must eventually come down. And come down it did. “Harvey came inland about 200 miles south of Houston, and the outer rain bands pushed into Houston on Saturday. . . Houston lies a few dozen feet above sea level, and during normal rainfall residential yards drain into streets, streets drain into bayous, and bayous carry water into Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

But this was not normal rainfall; it was extreme tropical rainfall. Meteorologists measure rainfall rates in inches per hour at a given location. A rainfall rate of 0.5 inches per hour is heavy, while anything above 2.0 inches per hour is intense (you'd probably stop your car on a highway, pull over, and wait out the passing storm). [In the Houston area], from 11pm to 1am that night, 10.6 inches of rain fell, about as much rainfall as New York City gets from October through December. That happened in two hours.   Ars Technica

 

Total Eclipse of the Sun

Monday, August 21, 2017. Mark that date in your calendar, because this is one you don’t want to miss. On August 21, North America will experience a rare and awe-inspiring astronomical event —a solar eclipse. The last time a total solar eclipse spanned across the continent of North America was almost a century ago—June 8, 1918. The most recent total eclipse of the sun that could be viewed from anywhere in America was 38 years ago, February 26, 1979, and was visible in five US states as well as parts of Canada and Greenland. Needless to say, this just doesn’t happen every day.

 

From One End of this Continent to the Other

July 2017. This month, North Americans will be celebrating the birth of their country, their identity as a people and as a nation. From Winnipeg to Washington, D.C., from Calgary to Corpus Christi, from Toronto to Tallahassee, we will watch fireworks and watch parades, we will sing and laugh and make merry. And EAT. Whether your celebration will include barbecue and watermelon, or haddock and butter tarts, there will certainly be some good eats. Join the celebration!

Plant a Garden

Summer begins on June 20 this year, so this is an excellent time to begin thinking about a summer garden. A garden can transform a drab yard into a showplace. As you think about your garden, take advantage of all the resources available, and plan before you plant.

First, it is helpful to know some flower basics . . . 

Drinking Water Week

Did you know that next week, May 7-13, is Drinking Water Week? A week in which we observe the absolute vital role that drinking water plays in our daily lives. A week to celebrate WATER! This year’s theme is “Your water: To know it is to love it!” and it encourages us to get to know more about the water we drink. 

1 Trillion Gallons of Water

1 Trillion Gallons of Water.

Sometimes when we hear numbers that large, it's hard to really conceive of what they mean. How much water is 1 trillion gallons, really?
Well, 1 trillion gallons of water is:

  • the amount of water in about 40 million swimming pools. 
  • the amount of water in about 24 billion baths.
  • the amount of water in Florida's Lake Okeechobee (669 square miles).
  • the amount of water used in one year by 11 million homes.

AND . . . 

  • the amount of water wasted every year by household water leaks. Washington Post

That's really an astounding figure. Every year, enough water to serve 11 million homes is needlessly wasted. (EPA ) Down the drain. That leaky faucet or constantly-running toilet is more than just an annoyance; it is wasting water at an alarming rate. 

Food & Water: Innovation in Agriculture

Food and water. We can’t live without them, but many people around the world are living without enough of either. The good news is that amazing work is being done to combat both drought and famine. 

We’ve written about some incredible advances in the production of clean water, including these articles:

There are so many more exciting new tools being utilized to give fresh, clean water to the thirsty, including this new and vastly improved solar-powered water purifier

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