Monthly Archives: November 2014

What a Friend We Have in Cheeses

Life on the Last Frontier in the 21st century could be all wood cutting, an outhouse, and a dry cabin. And many folks do still choose that lifestyle. But it is interesting that we humans generally go all out to have our creature comforts within reach. I am reminded of just how much crap these creature comforts can represent as we’re buried in seasonal advertisements for just about anything you might wish to buy. Gigantic television sets bigger than small children? Choose your model.

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Thinking about polar bears

It has been unseasonably warm here in Beringia so far this winter, with temperatures up into the 20s and even 30s—above zero! It has also been unseasonably dry, with very little snow so far. It makes you wonder about climate change and how it might affect us at a local level.

While I was out splitting wood, my mind was wandering, as usual, and I remembered that polar bears diverged from brown bears a long time ago, and that polar bears had survived through the last interglacial period, which was warmer than this one (so far). In refreshing my memory, I (re)learned that polar bears split off from brown bears about 600,000 years ago and actually survived through multple interglacials. The last interglacial (we’re in one now, the Holocene), was called the Sangamon interglacial or the Eemian. It was about 130,000-115-000 years ago and was perhaps the warmest of the interglacial cycles experienced by polar bears. That interglacial period was warmer than today, and it is considered that the polar ice caps melted—the Arctic Ocean probably only had ice in the winter.
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From the Archives: Jam

The humidity was low for a change, and the day wasn’t too hot yet, although some big thunderheads would brew later. In the bright sun the blackberry bushes were dense along the small dirt road, with big, luscious berries just begging to be picked and eaten. Not even trying to resist such a temptation, Rose and I worked our way slowly along, filling our berry buckets and our mouths as we went. Oh, my gosh they were good! In the afternoon we made a huge batch of jam, and in the evening we canned it. It was superbly delicious, and we were glad we’d made a lot.

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The Ebola Song

Turn on any news program these days and you’ll probably be exposed to high levels of irrational fear and paranoia of the Ebola virus. Never mind that the number of cases in North America is minuscule, or that you have a higher chance of being struck by lightning. Yes, it is an ongoing tragedy in several countries in West Africa (see image below), and the global medical community needs to continue efforts to stamp it out. But throughout North America the news industry should stick to a simple and effective message:

“Ebola is still a very low-risk proposition. If you want to do something effective about your health, get a flu shot.”

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