Thursday, August 31, 2006

my ecological footprint

Everyone needs to go to this website and take the quiz to determine your ecological footprint. And if it doesn't seriously start you thinking, there's something wrong with you.

I've decided that if I'm going to be an environmental studies major, I need to start considering the way my habits effect the environment if I'm going to avoid being a major hypocrite. So this year, I'm getting involved. I'm joining Environmental & Wildlife Club, I'm volunteering to help empty the recycling bins in my dorm (and making the effort to walk down the hall to actually put things into them more often), and I'm going to try to start doing some of the little things suggested on the above website, like eating less meat (meat production is apparently really wasteful and really bad for the environment) and even just turning off my computer when I'm not using it. It's so funny, I've had exactly two class periods of Environmental Alteration and read the first two and a half chapters of the book, and it's already got me thinking and changing some of my habits. Pretty amazing.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

i think i sprained my vocal chords

I can still talk, but my throat is sore and feels like it has a big lump in it, and when I was singing along to Harry and the Potters' new album earlier today I discovered my voice went about an octave lower than usual. It was weird. That's what I get for screaming so much.

You see, last night a couple of my friends and I drove for three hours to hear Harry and the Potters and Draco and the Malfoys live in Lakewood, OH. And it was awesome. Picture a mosh pit, but then picture it in a public park with librarians and eight-year-olds, and a couple of dorky Jewish guys in red-and-gold ties jumping around on the stage with guitars, and you'll start to have an idea of what it was like. And, I bought a T-shirt, and Paul DeGeorge autographed it (though he signed it Harry Potter). It was the most fun I've had all summer. Who can resist songs with lyrics like "You may have freed our house-elf/ And brought doubt to our family name/ But your parents still got toasted by a big green glowing flame" and "Oh the bus don't go to Hogwarts/ You gots to take the train"? Punk rock, Harry Potter style. Freaking awesome.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

this settles it... snape is good!

I found this on the website of the Hindustan Times, of all places, after reading an article on Mugglenet that (to my frustration) mentioned Salman Rushdie's theory without explaining what it was. Yes, Salman Rushdie is apparently a Harry Potter fan, and he showed up at a reading J.K. Rowling was giving to ask her about his theory about Snape and Dumbledore.

Some of the more tantalising tid-bits she let fall are that although Albus Dumbledore – the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – was murdered in Half-Blood Prince, he would still have an important role in the final book, and furthermore, his killer Severus Snape (whose role is assayed by Alan Rickman in the Harry Potter films) is actually a good character.

The latter bit, which had been a topic of much debate and speculation among Potter fans, was first voiced at the concert by author Salman Rushdie, who offered his theory that Snape and Dumbledore were in cahoots (over the latter’s murder) and that Dumbledore’s death was a hoax.

“In my opinion, Snape is good,” he declared.

Rowling’s answer: “And your opinion is right, but I feel I need to make one thing clear about Dumbledore: he is dead.”

I almost can't believe she'd come right out and give a definitive answer. Maybe Salman Rushdie has some extra pull with her, being a famous author himself. :) You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

bluebirds and other blue birds

Why, when I almost never see bluebirds around my house, has a pair been hanging around the telephone pole in our backyard on and off this afternoon? I've even seen them disappearing out of site on the top of the pole with something (nesting material? food?) in their beaks. I wonder if one is actually a fledgling with a parent following it around with food? I guess I need to look up when bluebirds typically fledge.

Anyway, I finally finished with work on Friday, and now I have three weeks before I go back to school. My favorite thing about work, I think, was the drive there and back. It took about twenty minutes each way, but it gave me a little time to be by myself and think and decompress, and I had the added bonus of heron-watching every morning.

Birdwatching while driving can be a dangerous pastime, but I couldn't resist looking for this heron each morning as I drove past. On my way to work I would take a road that followed the bank of a river for a little ways, and right where the river bent away from the road was a shallow area where every once in a while I'd spot a Great Blue Heron hunting. I'd just get a glimpse of it as I drove past, this enormous bird standing absolutely still in the bend in the river, neck arched, waiting for a fish to swim within range.

Great Blue Herons are actually pretty common around here -- you see one in about every shallow stretch of river or patch of marsh or lakeside inlet. But they're so gorgeous that I never get tired of watching them. They're so incredibly graceful, with their long legs and long necks, still as stone until the moment when they explode into motion and come back up with a silver fish struggling in their beak. So if there's one thing about work I'll miss, it's the drive, and the heron. The park near campus at school has its own charms, like the Northern Flickers I see there every once in a while, but there's no place to see herons within walking distance of my dorm.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

some people don't know what's in their own backyard.

So to speak.

A couple weeks ago my parents, my nephew and I went hiking at a state park near here. At one end of the park is good-sized lake, and there's a pair of bald eagles in the area (as there is at most of the reservoirs around here, really). When we got there a man was standing on the dam with a spotting scope, watching one of the eagles. Later, when we were going back to our car after our hike, I said something about the bald eagles to one of my parents. A woman standing nearby overheard and said, "Bald eagles? Here? Really?"

Today at work, a guy at my lunch table was talking about how much he enjoys hiking and canoeing in this same state park. When I said something about the bald eagles, his reaction was the same: "We have bald eagles around here? Really?"

Yes. We also have beavers, foxes, coyotes... just because you don't often see them from the windows of your car while you drive to the grocery store doesn't mean they're not there.

On a related note, I came across a really cool website, mentioned in a book I'm reading. It's called eBird, and it lets you keep track of what birds you've seen where and when. Not only can use it as a personal life list and record of your birdwatching, but scientists use the information on the site, too. Makes me want to go birdwatching right now!