Walrus spotted sunning itself in the Inner Hebrides

Creel fisherman Lorn MacRae saw the Arctic animal basking in the winter sun on Cairn Na Burgh Beag, a small island which is part of the Treshnish Isles in the Inner Hebrides, on Monday.

Marine conservation charity, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT), described the walrus as “massive” after seeing photographs.

HWDT, which has been been monitoring wildlife for 25 years, said Monday’s sighting was the first record of a walrus on its database, meaning it is “significant” for the region.

One of those moments when I start thinking about finishing my remaining retirement years back in the Hebrides where so many of my Canadian kin were born.

Tree burials in Japan

As early as the 1970s, public officials in Japan were concerned about a lack of adequate burial space in urban areas. They offered a variety of novel solutions, from cemeteries in distant resort towns where families could organize a vacation around a visit for traditional graveside rituals, to chartered bus trips to rural areas to bury loved ones. Beginning in 1990, the Grave-Free Promotion Society, a volunteer social organization, publicly advocated for the scattering of human ashes.

Since 1999, the Shōunji temple in northern Japan has attempted to offer a more innovative solution to this crisis through Jumokusō, or “tree burials.” In these burials, families place cremated remains in the ground and a tree is planted over the ashes to mark the gravesite…

While many families electing for tree burials do not explicitly identify as Buddhist or associate with a Buddhist temple, the practice reflects Japanese Buddhism’s larger interest in environmental responsibility. Perhaps influenced by Shinto beliefs about gods living in the natural world, Japanese Buddhism has historically been unique among Buddhist traditions for its focus on the environmental world.

All good news as far as I’m concerned. Over time, both of my parents were cremated and ended up in our family flower garden.

I wouldn’t mind just blowing in the wind up on top of the Caja del Rio mesa. Many fond memories of exploring walks up top. It commands the view to the West every day on my fenceline exercise walks.

Let the sunshine in…

Thanks, gocomics.org

I doubt anything scares the Republican Party more than sunlight finding its way into Congress.

So, I played this … just now … for myself. I admit, I broke down in tears. I was fortunate enough not only to attend a performance of “HAIR” early days in the late 60’s … it not only was the original cast; but, Gerome Ragni and James Rado, the authors of the lyrics were both in the country, in the city, the same day and impulsively decided to come by and sing the leads.

My closest friend … with me that day … has been dead a decade or so, now. I think, sometimes, the optimism I had that day about changing the course of political and social life in America, the world, hasn’t died. Sometimes, it feels as if it should.

And I turned to my wonderful wife … yes, much younger than I am … and she laughed and said she couldn’t comment on the Sixties as I might. She was barely in elementary school, then. But, she feels I should not, I must not, turn my face away from the heart and minds of those keeping the flame of freedom alight. As usual, she’s right.

“Unique” corona shape?

Read this blog often enough over this summer, you know I love the numbers of Osha in our meadows here in Northern New Mexico. I also get a chuckle when I see articles about the shape of the coronavirus being unique. In nature in general, not so unique. Whether you’re enjoying the scent of Osha on a sunrise walk or – for that matter – fishing from a coastal breakwater and catching a spiny Pufferfish. :-]

Researchers are publishing and sharing coronavirus data at an unparalleled pace

There are 1581 articles and counting on Covid-19 on the preprint servers medRxiv and bioRxiv. This represents a phenomenal deluge of publications, given that the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 was first described in early January and only formally named on 11 February.

Peer reviewed papers are now coming out at breakneck speed. ‘It is essential that scientific information is made available as quick as possible, but also evaluated as quickly as possible during a pandemic,’ explains Magdalena Skipper, chief editor of Nature.

…’Sharing data straight away can be crucial to people’s lives. We know this from previous epidemics,’ says Skipper, who became editor of Nature in 2018. Nature also sends new data to the World Health Organization, which is aggregating information on Covid-19.

The pace of research and presentation of research is astonishing,’ says Tom Gallagher, a coronavirus scientist at Loyola University Chicago. He says quality can be variable, but ‘some of the papers are the best of the best, and it is truly remarkable that they’ve come out so quickly.’ Under normal circumstances some of the virology papers might take years. ‘To have them completed in a month, I find truly amazing,’ says Gallagher.

The article is delightful, describing the response from the scientific community. Graphics are mind-boggling. Truly a worthwhile read.

Greenland, Antarctica, melting away, accelerating

Observations from 11 satellite missions monitoring the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have revealed that the regions are losing ice six times faster than they were in the 1990s. If the current melting trend continues, the regions will be on track to match the “worst-case” scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of an extra 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) of sea level rise by 2100.

The findings…are the most comprehensive assessment to date of the changing ice sheets. The Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise team combined 26 surveys to calculate changes in the mass of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets between 1992 and 2018…

The team calculated that the two ice sheets together lost 81 billion tons per year in the 1990s, compared with 475 billion tons of ice per year in the 2010s — a sixfold increase. All total, Greenland and Antarctica have lost 6.4 trillion tons of ice since the 1990s…

“Every centimeter of sea level rise leads to coastal flooding and coastal erosion, disrupting people’s lives around the planet,” said Andrew Shepherd [University of Leeds – led the study].

RTFA for more quantitative data. Not likely that many of our politicians will. Maybe if sufficient voters do – and act upon their understanding – we might acquire some useful politicians.