Monday, March 30, 2009

Eau de Star Trek

These are the scents of the starship Enterprise....

"Hoping to profit from the May 8 release of J.J. Abrams' new "Star Trek" film, Maryland-based Genki Wear will release three Star Trek-themed scents on April 24.

Soon, Trekkies will be able to channel their inner Starfleet commander with Tiberius, based on Capt. James Kirk's character. The scent, which carries the tag line "Boldly go," is described as having a "warm vanilla, white musk and sandalwood" base.

For those living like the next workday could be their last, there's "Red Shirt." This cologne, with the tag line, "Because tomorrow may never come," is in honor of the unnamed Enterprise officers who don't typically survive past the TV show's first scene. It's described as having a "leather and gray musk" aroma.

The "Pon Farr" perfume is for the ladies. A great gift for Mom for letting you crash in the basement for 50-some-odd years? Maybe not. It refers to the Vulcan mating ritual, which occurs every seven years. So maybe this one's only for special occasions?"

--Associated Press

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Naomi Shihab Nye Poems

This week and next I have been / will be in a writing workshop with visiting writer Naomi Shihab Nye. This will be my last "class" ever as a student. I was thinking of dropping it because I'm just so tired, and there's grading and PhD paperwork to format, but I'm glad I stayed in because she is such a lively, inquisitive, passionate person. For example, I think she is on a mission to eat at every locally-owned restaurant in town, and this weekend is visiting the sandhills and the migrating cranes. And she really, really likes W.S. Merwin and William Stafford. Check plus plus.

Here are two poems of hers I particularly enjoy for their silences (which is what makes a good poem so lasting and meaningful, not the words):

The Art of Disappearing

When they say Don't I know you? say no.
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.
If they say we should get together.
say why? It's not that you don't love them any more.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished. When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf. Know you could tumble any second. Then decide what to do with your time.


A man leaves the world
and the streets he lived on
grow a little shorter.

One more window dark
in this city, the figs on his branches
will soften for birds.

If we stand quietly enough evenings
there grows a whole company of us
standing quietly together.
overhead loud grackles are claiming their trees
and the sky which sews and sews, tirelessly sewing,
drops her purple hem.
Each thing in its time, in its place,
it would be nice to think the same about people.

Some people do. They sleep completely,
waking refreshed. Others live in two worlds,
the lost and remembered.
They sleep twice, once for the one who is gone,
once for themselves. They dream thickly,
dream double, they wake from a dream
into another one, they walk the short streets
calling out names, and then they answer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Drugged Up Fish Found Near Water Treatment Plants

Fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major U.S. cities had residues of pharmaceuticals in them, including medicines used to treat high cholesterol, allergies, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder and depression, researchers reported Wednesday....

A person would have to eat hundreds of thousands of fish dinners to get even a single therapeutic dose, Brooks said. But researchers including Brooks have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of pharmaceutical residues can harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species because of their constant exposure to contaminated water....

...tested fish caught in rivers where wastewater treatment plants release treated sewage in Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Orlando, Fla....

Much of the contamination comes from the unmetabolized residues of pharmaceuticals that people have taken and excreted; unused medications dumped down the drain also contribute to the problem.

They found trace concentrations of seven drugs and two soap scent chemicals in fish at all five of the urban river sites. The amounts varied, but some of the fish had combinations of many of the compounds in their livers.

In an ongoing investigation, The Associated Press has reported trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals have been detected in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans.

The EPA has called for additional studies about the impact on humans of long-term consumption of minute amounts of medicines in their drinking water, especially in unknown combinations. Limited laboratory studies have shown that human cells failed to grow or took unusual shapes when exposed to combinations of some pharmaceuticals found in drinking water.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wooden Stick USB Drives, Roadkill Rug, Fake Blooming Plants

A computer with a stick up its.... Cool. But 60 euros.

Also, check out the solar birdhouse that attracts bugs for birds to eat:

The roadkill rug (I REALLY want this):

And fake blooming plants, like gum tree, red coral, and lettuce (just add water!):

Fisherman Refuses Rescue, Fish Were Biting

A fisherman floating on a Lake Winnebago (Oshkosh, WI) ice slab refused to be rescued, telling authorities he wanted to stay because the fish were biting.

Winnebago County sheriff's officials say Joseph Dake used a ladder across open water to get to the ice slab, about a quarter mile from shore.

Lt. John Zimmerman says the slab was connected to ice that led to shore, but a large crack had formed.

The Oshkosh Fire Department sent a rescue boat to Dake Tuesday evening. But, the 35-year-old Oshkosh man refused assistance, saying the fishing was good.

1) I do miss them hardy northern folk
2) I do miss them stubborn northern folk
3) I do miss Battlestar Galactica already

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Free Pot & Honeybee in Bird Feeder

Over 200 I imagine. See?

That's 1.5 seasons, and the #1 reason why a few people say my garden looks like it's been here longer than it really has. $$$

And what's this in the bird feeder? A honeybee?

The elm is blooming (above), though I'm afraid the development graders might have ripped up too many feeder roots, and hence its many dead branches.

Chokeberry is budding. And so are the three various willows. And just this weekend the martagon lily has come out of the ground--may she bless us with dozens of blooms this year.

And here is the latest and last tree--I swear, really--I will ever plant on this property: a 'Prairie Fire' crabapple (I now have 13 trees). If you go to Campbell's nursery the price ain't bad for this lovely 8 footer, and for just $10 they deliver later that day. Suhweet. This crab will, some day, umbrella itself over the entrance to the garden with its sweet rosey blooms, delicate red fall fruit, and lots of bird droppings. It is already just barely leafing out.

That widget to the above right is really starting to freak me out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tree Trimming, Crabapple Search, Spring, and Pushcart

Our neighbor's pond has, overnight, become its annual, throaty (froggy) self. Intense emanations of sound echo from the water's surface. It's time to get it on, the call says. The spiraea has green buds. The tansy has green shoots. The chokeberry buds are swelling....

Yesterday, during our second plus-70 degree day in a row, I trimmed up two river birch trees. They've been in the ground not even a year, but many many dead branches were on them. The clump birch probably because the nursery delivered the tree parched. That's not even a strong enough word. The single trunk birch because I either overwatered or underwatered it--apparently the symptoms are the same, a loss of lower leaves and branches.

I do HIGHLY recommend Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning. I needed to know how to make cuts, and when and on what plants. But I really needed to know how. Her advice, and humor, were spot on and I feel confident about my choices outside. I will forever remember the 2/3 rule--leave 2/3 of the canopy, and if 2/3 of the branch is dead just cut the whole thing off to avoid those little sprouts that go straight up.

I've also been searching for a small flowering fruit tree to grace the entrance to the garden and block out the neighbor's front porch. My results:

1) Dogwoods -- just too finicky, and need more shade than I can give them.
2) Redbud -- Me thinks they dost protest my clay too much, and may perhaps branch too low (I need them to clear 6' almost right at the trunk).
3) Crabapple -- here we go. 'Royal Raindrops' sounds delightful. Get's purple leaves early in the season, lovely red / purple flowers, red berries, interesting branch structure, adapts to clay, loves sun, very disease resistant (particulary to apple cedar rust--the neighborhood cedars do have rust). And its leaves are deeply-lobed so look like some laceleaf Japanese maple--perfect for my "Japanese" side garden. If I can find one. Otherwise I got backups.

I was also thrilled this week to discover on a blog--because they didn't notify me--that the literary journal Hayden's Ferry Review has nominated a poem of mine for the Pushcart Prize. Every journal and press can nominate just a few pieces of writing each year to this annual prize anthology, so it's cool. Really cool would be to get a prize. A fellow poet and UNL grad student was also chosen by the journal, same issue even. Go Nebraska.

Now it's time to get my hair cut and remove the winter mullet.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Attention! Rain Barrels with 2.9% APR

Seriously. I'd like one, but who has $150? Go green--get a second mortgage on your house. $150 appears to be a lower end average for 50 gallons, particularly if you don't want a diverter on the down spout (which is extra for $30, and which you do want). I found a barrel for $85, but shipping was $70. And 99% of them are darn ugly--why must "barrel" be synonymous with "ye olde lemon juice container to prevent ye olde scurvy on the high seas, arrr?" I--mean--they--are--ugly. Perhaps 'tis time to make my own out of taped-together nursery pots and squirrel tails.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Like Ice Cream Trucks, TruGreen Arrives in Spring

Every day--seriously--I see TruGreen ChemLawn trucks perusing the neighborhood like bored teens. If they are actually doing anything, like making applications or such, is doubtful. I bet good money that they are simply mobile billboards. Sweet gig. Today one truck has been parked a block away over the lunch hour. Driver just sitting in there. Convenient time to park, isn't it? Think he's making out with someone?

I abhor TruGreen Chemlawn. I just do. Perhaps I shouldn't.

"A healthy landscape contributes to a healthy environment in many ways. In fact, healthy trees, plants, and shrubs actually:

--Purify and conserve water resources by reducing runoff and recharging the water table
--Maintain air quality by absorbing air pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and smog
--Trap dust particles that can reduce visibility and sunlight
Generate oxygen through photosynthesis

In addition, healthy lawns:
--Slow the spread of fire by providing a buffer zone around buildings
--Build topsoil through decay of grass clippings and other roots and shoots
--Reduce erosion of topsoil into streams

Keeping your landscape well groomed also promotes a healthy environment for you because it moderates temperatures and noise, reduces glare, and controls allergens.

Protecting and enhancing your grass, trees, and shrubs helps your pocketbook because it can increase your property value, and healthy, mature trees shading your home can cut your energy costs significantly."

What is "healthy?" And grass moderates noise? WHAT? Wouldn't more shrubs and trees do this, with the "side benefit" of providing lots of shelter and food to multitudes of wildlife?

Let's look at their tree and shrub care. How many treatments does a person need by this company? 7. 4 more if you want trunk injections (my god!) and trimming. I could cut that down to one.

How toxic are their products?

"TruGreen does not manufacture the products we use in lawn care, but the products we purchase generally contain the same active ingredients as found in products sold at retail garden stores and hardware stores.

Furthermore, the toxic potential of any substance is a function of dose or concentration. The spray applications most commonly made by TruGreen are dilute aqueous solutions of fertilizer and pesticides consisting of approximately 92 percent water, 7.5 percent fertilizer and 0.5 percent or less of pesticide. However, approximately 50 percent of our applications consist of dry granular formulations of lawn care products similar to those available at retail stores.

Twelve combinations of materials most regularly used by TruGreen in lawn, tree and shrub care were tested for oral acute toxicity in rodents using concentrations similar to those that are in the spray application. The term LD50 represents the dose that is lethal to 50% of the rodent test group. Eleven of the applications had an LD50 value greater than 20,000 mg/kg and one had an LD50 of 18,100 mg/kg.

What's more, a scale used for rating the toxicity of chemicals from Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, Gosselin, Smith and Hodge: Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1984 indicated the test results for liquid mixtures diluted for use in TruGreen ChemLawn programs can be rated as Practically Non-Toxic."

Did you get that one line with the implication that their treatments are safe because they are similar to ones available at retail stores? Dude, if Home Depot sold plutonium it doesn't mean I want it on my yard.

I'm curtailing this post because I need to go eat some chocolate. Anyone want to weigh in on this company?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Smorgasbord Recipes for Neurotic Goat People

As the four people who still read my blog occasionally might notice, my postings have become a bit neurotic. Like goat people. Hungry goat people. Hungry goat people who want hot dish. This is a sure fire product of my impending graduation and the refusal of my university to acknowledge two dissertations in their stupid and pointless paperwork combined with too many rejections still coming my way. I was heartened to recently discover that Einstein, in his mid twenties, questioned why he was alive, and wrote to his parents saying maybe he shouldn't have been born. Therefore, my melancholoy will breed genius. It's inevitable.

But, some good things have been happening on the writerly front, so I will list them in an attempt to create some coherence and pretend I'm happy and everything is easier than it appears (or closer than they appear, like in a rearview mirror, you know....):

1) Two essays from the hybrid memoir are forthcoming in two journals: Sou'wester, aforementioned in an earlier post I do believe, and a special environmental issue of Amoskeag.

2) I won $1,000 last month for some poems of mine. I need to do that about 20 more times this year.

3) Ted Kooser will be publishing one of my poems from my other dissertation, a poetry manuscript, in his nationally syndicated column American Life in Poetry. It should appear in about 40 weeks. The man plans ahead.

4) I've sent out the last batch of essays to journals and contests and books to publishers, I hope for some time. It was a busy weekend. I will now focus on editing the memoir for the oral exam, and with an eye toward its full-blown submission to presses this summer: Borealis Books (Minnesota Historical Society Press), Milkweed Editions, University of Iowa Press, University of Nebraska Press.

5) Classes feel, to me, like they are winding down. But it's simply the calm before the storm: portfolios of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and the other class has a 10 page term paper. Class workshops, conferences, two field trips and a film will buffer spring break for our weary souls. Which is next week. Thank the Lords of Kobol. (2 episodes left and it's just now getting good! Don't abandon the Galactica! Don't do it! I love you BSG!!)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hey You! Turn Off Your Freaking Skyscraper Lights!

I knew tall buildings where magnets of death for birds, but this is the first I heard about the Aububon Society's 'Lights Out' program in big cities during peak migration times. And, duh, who knew, your company can also save money. Huh. (Please not the sarcasm.) Have some stuff I stole from another website and tossed together:

The critical times for the birds are during their migrations: The spring migration runs from March 15 to May 31, the fall one from Aug. 15 to Oct. 31.

During those times, small songbirds, including warblers and thrushes, migrate at night, guided by the stars, the horizon and rivers.... It's believed that the light from buildings and communication towers draws birds off course -- especially when clouds are low and birds tend to fly lower.

Once drawn to the lights, birds end up circling in the glow, having difficulty finding the way out. Often they crash into buildings or drop to rooftops or the ground from exhaustion, she said.

Nationwide, estimates range from 100 million to 1 billion birds a year that die because they fly into buildings.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sandhill Cranes Are Here

I think we heard, and saw, sandhill cranes migrating late this afternoon, far up in the sky. I googled the call and it sure sounds like what we heard. The birds above were larger than most and the wings looked like the crane's, too. It's nearly peak migration time here in Nebraska, and these birds were heading west toward central NE and the Platte River. Pretty cool. Maybe I'm just outside more now with a garden, but it sure does seem like the wildlife are more present or noticable on the edge of town. Not a revelation I know, but I'm liking this, and want to go further out. And stay there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Most of Us Almost Died This Morning

A 200 foot wide asteroid missed the earth this morning by 40,000 miles, or 1/7 the distance to the moon, or, twice as far as some satellites.

It's likely that it was and will again be drawn to the Earth's gravity, and could make us extinct or something. Oh, and it was only discovered Friday.

If the asteroid had hit, it would've had 1,000 times the destructive force of Hiroshima. Carpe diem folks, carpe diem old school.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Battlestar Gallactica

Three episodes of BSG left. That's it.
After this there is no point in watching television ($500 says Caprica, the spinoff, blows). Back to books. Or watching water drip from the faucet with the cat. I kid you not. At least gardening season is only weeks away.