Number 85 - To see a tree asmiling.

Reply Tue 5 Jan, 2010 06:10 pm
danon! thank you for sharing more of your work. it's great that your talent is appreciated.

dance class started again last night. I'm feeling a couple of muscles that might maybe have been neglected over the holidays.

clicked clicked and clicked!
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Reply Tue 5 Jan, 2010 06:11 pm
oh gosh, look at danon's mom go!

excellent! love that spirit and joy

lots of soft fluffy snow falling for the last coupla days. I don't mind it when it's like this - not too too too cold - and the snow's not crunchy.
Reply Tue 5 Jan, 2010 09:02 pm
Lazy day...sipping tea and dvd...n'

Warm one day, cold the next... weather potpourri

Keep on rockin' wildclickers!

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Reply Wed 6 Jan, 2010 10:20 am
January 5, 2010
C.I.A. Is Sharing Data With Climate Scientists

The nation’s top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government’s intelligence assets " including spy satellites and other classified sensors " to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change. They seek insights from natural phenomena like clouds and glaciers, deserts and tropical forests.

The collaboration restarts an effort the Bush administration shut down and has the strong backing of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the last year, as part of the effort, the collaborators have scrutinized images of Arctic sea ice from reconnaissance satellites in an effort to distinguish things like summer melts from climate trends, and they have had images of the ice pack declassified to speed the scientific analysis.

The trove of images is “really useful,” said Norbert Untersteiner, a professor at the University of Washington who specializes in polar ice and is a member of the team of spies and scientists behind the effort.

Scientists, Dr. Untersteiner said, “have no way to send out 500 people” across the top of the world to match the intelligence gains, adding that the new understandings might one day result in ice forecasts.

“That will be very important economically and logistically,” Dr. Untersteiner said, arguing that Arctic thaws will open new fisheries and sea lanes for shipping and spur the hunt for undersea oil and gas worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

The monitoring program has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering, federal officials said, but instead releases secret information already collected or takes advantage of opportunities to record environmental data when classified sensors are otherwise idle or passing over wilderness.

Secrecy cloaks the monitoring effort, as well as the nation’s intelligence work, because the United States wants to keep foes and potential enemies in the dark about the abilities of its spy satellites and other sensors. The images that the scientific group has had declassified, for instance, have had their sharpness reduced to hide the abilities of the reconnaissance satellites.

Controversy has often dogged the use of federal intelligence gear for environmental monitoring. In October, days after the C.I.A. opened a small unit to assess the security implications of climate change, Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, said the agency should be fighting terrorists, “not spying on sea lions.”

Now, with the intelligence world under fire after the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day, and with the monitoring program becoming more widely known, such criticism seems likely to grow.

A senior federal official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, defended the scientific monitoring as exploiting the intelligence field quite adroitly.

Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and a member of the monitoring team, said the program was “basically free.”

“People who don’t know details are the ones who are complaining,” Dr. Cicerone said.

About 60 scientists " mainly from academia but including some from industry and federal agencies " run the effort’s scientific side. All have secret clearances. They obtain guidance from the National Academy of Sciences, an elite body that advises the federal government.

Dr. Cicerone said the monitoring effort offered an opportunity to gather environmental data that would otherwise be impossible to obtain, and to do so with the kind of regularity that can reveal the dynamics of environmental change.

“It’s probably silly to think it will last 50 years,” he said of the program in an interview. “On the other hand, there’s the potential for these collections to go on for a long time.”

The C.I.A. runs the program and arranges for the scientists to draw on federal surveillance equipment, including highly classified satellites of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Officials said the effort to restart the program originated on Capitol Hill in 2008 after former Vice President Al Gore argued for its importance with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who was then a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee; she became its chairwoman in early 2009.

The Obama administration has said little about the effort publicly but has backed it internally, officials said. In November, the scientists met with Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director.

“Director Panetta believes it is crucial to examine the potential national security implications of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels and population shifts,” Paula Weiss, an agency spokeswoman, said.

The program resurrects a scientific group that from 1992 to 2001 advised the federal government on environmental surveillance. Known as Medea, for Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis, the group sought to discover if intelligence archives and assets could shed light on issues of environmental stewardship.

It is unclear why Medea died in the early days of the Bush administration, but President George W. Bush developed a reputation for opposing many kinds of environmental initiatives. Officials said the new body was taking on the same mandate and activities, as well as the name.

“I’m extremely pleased with what’s been happening,” said Michael B. McElroy, an atmospheric scientist at Harvard University and a senior member of the group. “It’s really first-rate.”

Among the program’s first responsibilities has been to assess earlier Medea projects to see which, if any, produced valuable information and might be restarted or expanded.

Dr. Untersteiner of the University of Washington said that in June the government posted some imagery results from that assessment on the Web sites of the United States Geological Survey in an area known as the Global Fiducials Library, which advertises itself as an archive of intelligence images from scientifically important sites.

Among other things, the online library displays years of ice imagery from six sites inside the Arctic Circle, including the Fram Strait, the main route for icebergs moving from the Arctic basin into the North Atlantic.

Scientists consider the Arctic highly sensitive to global warming and are particularly interested in closely monitoring its changes as possible harbingers.

In July, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences released a report that praised the monitoring.

“There are no other data available that show the melting and freezing processes,” the report said. “Their release will have a major impact on understanding effects of climate change.”

Dr. Untersteiner said the federal government had already adopted one of the report’s recommendations " have reconnaissance satellites follow particular ice floes as they drift through the Arctic basin rather than just monitoring static sites.

For this summer, Dr. Untersteiner said he had asked that the intelligence agencies start the process sooner, “so we still see the snow cover, maybe in early May.”

Such research, Dr. Untersteiner said, promised to promote understanding of the fundamental forces at work in global climate change, including the endless whorls and gyres of polar ice.

“We still have a problem with ice mechanics,” he said. “But the dynamics are very revealing.”
Reply Wed 6 Jan, 2010 06:52 pm
That's interesting and a good thing, sumac.

Reply Thu 7 Jan, 2010 02:41 pm
Extra blankees for all Wildclickers tonight. It's going to be approx 15 degrees the next three nights in a row. And, stay freezing during the day. But, no snow, just sunshine.

All qwicked today.

Reply Thu 7 Jan, 2010 03:01 pm
Sunshine and degrees low 50's, but a.m. temps cold.

Staying in for a few more days until either snow or rain. Maybe by Spring i'll have enough energy for picking up pine needles...maybe not.

Stay warm ya all and thanks for the weather report, Dan. Not certain that the foothills will drop below 25 degrees. Ya never know though.

Did you read about the Kentucky couple who won 128M Powerball lottery? I say absolutely fantastic! Very Happy


Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2010 09:39 am
Stradee, that reminded me of a funny I have saved for awhile - it's nothing personal, just some fun stuff and doesn't apply to all Kentucky people.

A guy from Kentucky passed away and left his entire estate to his beloved widow, but she can't touch it 'til she's 14.


How do you know when you're staying in a Kentucky hotel?
When you call the front desk and say, "I gotta leak in my sink,"
and the clerk replies, "Go ahead."


How can you tell if a Kentucky redneck is married?
There's dried tobacco juice on both sides of his pickup truck.


Did you hear that they have raised the minimum drinking age in Kentucky to 32?
It seems they want to keep alcohol out of the high schools.


What do they call reruns of "Hee Haw" in Kentucky ?


Where was the toothbrush invented?
Kentucky. If it had been invented anywhere else, it would have been called a teeth brush.


Did you hear about the $3 million Kentucky State Lottery?
The winner gets $3.00 a year for a million years.


The governor's mansion in Kentucky burned down!
Yep. Pert' near took out the whole trailer park. The library was a total loss too. Both books - poof! up in flames and he hadn't even finished coloring one of them.


A new law was recently passed in Kentucky. When a couple gets divorced, they can STILL be cousins.


A guy walked into a bar in Kentucky and orders a mudslide.
The bartender looks at the man and says, "You ain't from 'round here are ya?
"No," replies the man, "I'm from Pennsylvania ".
The bartender looks at him and says, "Well, what do ya do in Pennsylvania?"
"I'm a taxidermist," said the man.
The bartender, looking very bewildered now, asks, "What in the world is a tax-e-derm-ist?"
The man says, "I mount animals".
The bartender stands and raises his drink and hollers to the whole bar..."It's okay boys, he's one of us!"

A Kentucky State trooper pulls over a pickup on I-64 and says to the driver, "Got any I.D.?" and the driver replies "Bout wut?"

Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2010 09:59 am
Some nuggets in there, Danon. Yes, we are awaiting the second arctic blast for tonight and this weekend, then looking forward to some relief for next week.

Clicking and reading.
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Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2010 11:10 am
My friends from LA will luv these...

How to Tell You're in Southern California
* Your co-worker tells you he/she has 8 body piercings...and none are visible.

* You make over $250,000 and still can't afford a house.

* Your child's 3rd grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Breeze.

* You can't remember ... is pot illegal?

* You've been to more than one baby shower that has two mothers and a sperm donor.

* A really great parking space can move you to tears.

* A low-speed police pursuit will interrupt ANY TV broadcast.

* You assume every company offers domestic partner benefits, a fab exercise facility, and tofu takeout.

* You're thinking of taking an adult class but you can't decide between aromatherapy and conversational Mandarin.

* Your best friends just named their twins after her acting coach and his personal trainer.

* It's sprinkling and there's a report on every news station about "STORM WATCH '99."

* The three-hour traffic jam you just sat through wasn't caused by a horrific 9 car pile-up, but by everyone slowing to rubberneck at a lost shoe laying on the shoulder. (that's anywhere in the entire world)


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Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2010 08:39 am
Clicking and burning fuel.
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2010 09:28 am
wearing my big shearling coat inside the house


cold weather alert today

I'm definitely wearing my Sorels when I go out - I'd like to keep my toes.
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2010 06:58 pm
Stay warm all - Stradee, thanks for the funny..

All clicked
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Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 08:09 am
Did you feel that one?
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:46 am
Ten for ten with clicking this year.
Good Sunday to every one.
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Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 09:54 am

Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 10:46 am
Hi all Wildclickers ------ another tree saved today.

Stradee - hope you are ok after the shake-up......

OmSigDAVID - hello and welcome to our save a tree a day site. If you visit more often sometimes we have some REALLY interesting stuff we talk about.

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Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 10:57 am
Like this one:

State rescues pelicans in Southern Maryland that failed to migrate for winter

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 9, 2010; A01

This is the lesson of the frozen pelicans of Southern Maryland: It is one thing to believe in natural selection.

It is another thing to watch it.

This week, as a curtain of bitter cold descended on the region, about 40 brown pelicans were spotted -- starving, freezing and in danger of dying -- on a wind-blasted shoreline in St. Mary's County. They weren't supposed to be there: The birds, relatively new arrivals on the Chesapeake Bay, usually migrate south to escape mid-Atlantic winters.

But these birds didn't get the message. They stayed behind.

At the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, officials knew the normal thing to do would be to leave the birds to an ugly, frigid fate. In the wild, after all, evolution doesn't give mulligans.

But this week, most of the birds were rescued by the state, and they're waiting out the winter in a Delaware shelter that provides heat and therapeutic foot baths.

Their story, as it turns out, tells us as much about people as it does about pelicans.

"Scientifically, biologically, you might not take action" to save the birds, said David Heilmeier, an official with the Department of Natural Resources. "A lot of it is driven by the public's desire [not] to see wildlife out there suffering. . . . Just letting them sit out there and die is not an option for us."

The explanation of how the state bird of Louisiana came to be huddled in snow outside a Maryland seafood restaurant is above all a tale of success.

The brown pelican, which dive-bombs schools of fish and scoops them in the pouch under its beak, nearly disappeared from its heartland on the Gulf Coast. The birds' eggshells had been fatally weakened by traces of the pesticide DDT. Adults were slaughtered by commercial fishermen trying to protect their catch.

But then DDT was banned, and the pelican was protected as an endangered species in 1970. Like the better-known bald eagle, the pelican came soaring back. It officially came off the protected list in the fall.

As part of that recovery, the pelican has spread north to the Chesapeake. The first nest in Maryland was spotted in 1987. Two decades later, 2,000 pelicans nest in the central Chesapeake every summer, according to Maryland officials.

In winter, all of them migrate to the Carolinas or beyond. Or, almost all of them.

Four years ago, Maryland officials received reports of dead pelicans washing up in wintertime. Dissections showed that they had died of starvation and cold. And the bad choice not to follow the crowd south.

That year, reports also came in about other birds, nipped on their feet, pouches or wingtips by frostbite. Volunteer wildlife rehabilitators tried to save them, and state officials hoped that these were just a few outliers, young and dumb. They might have stayed because fish were ample in nearby creeks or because they were being fed by charter-fishing crews disposing of rockfish guts.

"They're teenagers that made poor decisions," said David Brinker, the state's pelican expert.

Two years ago, wildlife officials fired loud noisemakers in the fall, trying to scare pelicans with doubts into migrating. It seemed as if the birds were learning: Last year, a dozen pelicans were spotted. Thanks to a mild winter, most of them survived.

But this winter they were back. And there were more than ever.

"You see 'em shivering right now? That wind is cold," Tommy Courtney said Friday, watching remaining birds on a beach behind his seafood restaurant in Ridge, Md., where the Potomac River meets the St. Mary's River meets Smith Creek, and hard winds blow off all of them. At least 40 pelicans were near his restaurant Monday, some bleeding from frostbite on their webbed feet. It was far too late for them to head south.
The 'oddballs'

This is an old story of winter: Cold kills the unprepared, and the well-prepared pass on their genes. But Brinker said there was more to think about in this case.

"The ones that stay up here are the oddballs. . . . It's not something I want to encourage," he said. But if the state did nothing, he said, "you're going to have all kinds of people ringing up the phone. . . . We'd just have to keep explaining." (Virginia officials said they did not deal with any stranded pelicans last year but are open to helping pelicans.)

On Tuesday, a Maryland Natural Resources employee was sent to capture the pelicans -- using a net to catch the feistier ones, sneaking up and grabbing the others. He got 17 Tuesday and 12 Wednesday, expending four to five days' worth of state government time. "It's not a big expenditure," Heilmeier said.

The first 17 birds went up Maryland Route 235 in a state-owned truck to a place that was probably beyond their imagination: the Mechanicsville, Md., home of Lisa Fischer. Fischer, 42, is a wildlife rehabilitator, the kind of person who knows that the best way to feed a baby bat is with a sponge-tipped eye shadow applicator soaked in bat formula.

Fischer was helping a bald eagle with a head injury, a great horned owl with surgically implanted pins in its wing and Bruce, a black vulture with a bone-chip problem. ("He just looks like a Bruce," she said Friday.) She put the pelicans in a shed and started feeding them, the weaker ones by hand.

"They ate 50 pounds of fish in one night," she said. "And they wanted more."

All 29 birds wound up at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, a facility in Newark, Del. There, one pelican died of its injuries, and five more were judged so damaged that they were put down. The rest are kept in heated enclosures, and some are being given foot baths, with warm water and Epsom salts, to soothe their painful, swollen feet.

"We're hopeful that the rest of them will do just fine," said Heidi Stout, the center's executive director. The pelicans will stay there until spring and be released as other pelicans return to the area from the south.
No repeat offenders

Maryland officials say there is no evidence that this year's pelicans include repeat offenders -- birds that stayed too long in previous years, had to be rescued and didn't learn. They worry about that.

But they are planning to rescue the few birds still hanging around Courtney's restaurant if they weaken enough to let themselves be saved. On Friday morning, three were visible. Courtney walked out with a half-frozen menhaden, hacked it into swallowable pieces with a hatchet and tossed the fish to the pelicans.

The birds scooped up the pieces and held them in their pouches so they would thaw. Seagulls hovered, looking for an opening to steal the meal. Courtney said he didn't worry that he was encouraging bad behavior by the pelicans.

"I only feed 'em when they start dying," he said.
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Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 11:12 am
And this one:

The unintended ripples from the biomass subsidy program

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 10, 2010; A03

It sounded like a good idea: Provide a little government money to convert wood shavings and plant waste into renewable energy.

But as laudable as that goal sounds, it could end up causing more economic damage than good -- driving up the price of raw timber, undermining an industry that has long used sawdust and wood shavings to make affordable cabinetry, and highlighting the many challenges involved in decreasing the nation's dependence on oil by using organic materials to create biofuels.

In a matter of months, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program -- a small provision tucked into the 2008 farm bill -- has mushroomed into a half-a-billion dollar subsidy that is funneling taxpayer dollars to sawmills and lumber wholesalers, encouraging them to sell their waste to be converted into high-tech biofuels. In doing so, it is shutting off the supply of cheap timber byproducts to the nation's composite wood manufacturers, who make panels for home entertainment centers and kitchen cabinets.

While it remains unclear whether Congress or the Obama administration will push to revamp the program, even some businesses that should benefit from the subsidy are beginning to question its value.

"It's not right. It's not serving any purpose," said Bob Jordan, president of Jordan Lumber & Supply in North Carolina, even while noting that he might be able to get twice as much money for his mill's sawdust and shavings under the program.

"The best thing they could do is forget about it. All it's doing is driving the price of wood up."

A range of renewable materials can be converted into energy sources: Wood pellets, rice hulls and fiber from sugar cane can produce electricity; algae and corn cobs can be converted into liquid fuel. The federal government is actively working to support the growth of as many of these biomass crops as possible, in part to meet requirements under the 2007 energy bill: The country must produce 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels annually in five years, and 21 billion gallons by 2022. Right now, almost no U.S. land is devoted to raising biomass crops; according to congressional estimates, by 2022 the country will need between 22.2 and 55.5 million acres for this purpose.
A struggling industry

The new subsidy provided a critical boost to an industry that took off in the late 1970s after the federal government mandated that utilities obtain part of their supply from independent power producers. Many of these contracts have now expired, leaving the industry struggling to compete in light of low natural gas prices and higher wood costs.

The future of the biomass program -- which will eventually include a subsidy to get farmers to grow crops such as switchgrass and an array of trees and shrubs -- could be determined by the Office of Management and Budget, which has been reviewing the federal rule for the program since September. In the meantime, federal money has started to flow: The administration sent $23 million to the state offices of the Farm Service Agency in the fall, and is poised to distribute another $514 million.

Biomass energy representatives, such as the Biomass Power Association president, Bob Cleaves, said those subsidies are critical to support a sector that currently supplies half of the nation's renewable energy (the other half coming from wind, solar and other sources). Seven of Maine's 10 biomass energy plants would have shut down without the new influx of funds, he said.

"The industry needs help," Cleaves said. "Is the country not prepared to spend half a billion dollars on half the country's renewable energy resources?"

The Agriculture Department, for its part, says it has no choice but to implement the subsidy the way Congress envisioned it under the 2008 farm bill. That legislation made no distinction between a waste product with little market value, such as corn husks, and the sawdust that sells for roughly $45 a dry ton.

Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess said his agency is strictly adhering to the statute's language and intentions. "We understand that policymaking, legislation and rule making are perfecting processes, not perfect processes, and we look forward to providing the best regulation possible to implement an important program with significant potential to benefit our national energy and agricultural economies," Coppess said in a statement.

But at least one key senator, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) -- who helped author the 2008 farm bill as Agriculture Committee chairman at the time-- now questions whether the program has gone awry.

"My bottom line is we have to examine those rules and make sure the payments incentivize the use of new, additional biomass for energy," Harkin said, "which is the objective Congress intends and wrote in the law."
'At what expense?'

In at least some cases, that's not happening. The federal government can provide up to $45 a ton in matching payments to businesses that collect, harvest, store and transport biomass waste to an authorized energy facility. That means sawdust or wood shavings may be twice as valuable if a lumber mill sells them to a biomass energy company instead of to a traditional buyer.

This is bad news for the composite panel industry, which turns these materials into particleboard and medium-density fiberboard, and outranks the U.S. biomass industry in terms of employees and economic impact, with 21,000 employees and annual sales of $7.9 billion, according to 2006 U.S. Census data.

The biomass subsidy program could "wipe us out," said T.J. Rosengarth, the vice president and chief operating officer of Flakeboard, the largest composite panel producer in North America. "You can say, 'I've made more alternative energy,' but at what expense?"

The much larger pulp, paper, packaging and wood products industry, which ranks among the top 10 manufacturing employers in 48 states, is just as worried. The American Forest and Paper Association sent a letter to OMB on Oct. 27 warning that the biomass program "could have the unintended consequence of jeopardizing the forest products industry and the many jobs it sustains, as well as the significant quantities of renewable energy it produces."

But pellet mill owners such as the Rolf Anderson, chief executive of Bear Mountain Forest Products, said the program will eventually create an incentive for people to bring small pieces of wood left by loggers out of the forest, which will give companies like his a cheap and steady stream of raw materials.

"It opens up economic opportunities. It opens up healthier forests, and it helps companies and individuals save on their energy costs," said Anderson, whose company is based in Oregon.
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Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 11:43 am
Uh uh, was way North by Eureka. They are a concern though for Calfornia.

Good articles, thanks.

Dan, temps mild again today, rain yesterday. Never know what type of weather will arrive anymore. Tomorrow may be freezing.

Beth, your poor feetsies! Dang, that's cold! Keep warm.


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