March 11, 2007
Bottle Deposit Legislation
A bill (HB39) was introduced into the Maryland Legislature again this year that would require "bottle deposits, returns, and refunds on specified beverage containers". As usual, the beverage industry is opposed. Thomas S. Saquella, a lobbyist for the Maryland Retailers Association, referring to "the perceived litter problem in Maryland" proclaims that "container deposits are just another tax on consumers, and an additional burden to their busy lives". He and other opponents of the bill say curbside recycling programs are a better way to encourage recycling than bottle deposits. In his opinion "Something that’s working very well, why would you want to disturb it?” As an example of how well the curbside recycling program is working in Montgomery County, I submit the photo below, taken today from a foot bridge over Rock Creek where I frequently walk.
Mar 7, 2007
I have a 6-year old friend named Maia. I have been trying to interest her in birds. I found a nest in the woods and put it in a fruit cake can and gave it to her. Later I found some old dried out but still lustrous eggs and we added those to the nest. She is learning how to use binoculars. Last year we saw a yellow-crowned heron in Sligo Creek Park. Maia has a taste for beauty and bright colors and is showing some artistic talent. Here is one of her recent pieces:
Mar 2, 2007
Three Woodcocks in Rock Creek Park
Warm today, in the 60's. Took an afternoon walk in the woods in nearby Rock Creek Park, with binoculars, hoping to see some new arrivals. I walked on muddy trails near the stream, watching, listening. Not much beyond the usual winter residents - cardinals, nuthatch, chickadee, titmice, a downy and a flock of robins. Looking mostly up, I was distracted by a rustling of leaves on the ground. There was a mottled brown bird, the size of a pigeon, with big dark eyes and a long straight bill, which I pegged as either a snipe or a woodcock. It was strutting about in unusual fashion, just a few feet away, looking straight at me but not alarmed. Then more rustling revealed a second one, and then a third. I was surrounded by them! I focused my binoculars on the
closest one and got a real good look as it flared its tail feathers and took on the appearance of a miniature turkey.
They never flew but simply strutted away into the brush. When I got home I looked in Sibley's Guide and was able to identify it as a woodcock, distinguished from the snipe by the broad stripes on its back. What a treat! I'm ready for spring!
Feb 8, 2007
No Child Left Inside
Last night I attended a lecture by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods - Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. He talked about how children today spend less and less time outdoors and mentioned some studies that are beginning to show the adverse affects on physical and mental health. One of the reasons why children spend less time in nature is that urban sprawl has diminished the number of natural places that are available. But there is also something called Stranger Danger, the fear of encountering dangerous strangers in the woods or anywhere not close to home. This fear starts with parents and schools. Someone in the audience mentioned a school with "NO RUNNING" signs on the playground. But Louv's book has struck a sensitive nerve and some communities are beginning to deal with this issue. Europe is ahead of us. In Germany they have Nature Kindergartens conducted entirely outside with no buildings. Similarly, in Denmark they are experimenting with Nature Preschools. As a child, I spent much time in the woods and farm fields of Michigan. I can imagine myself being quite a different person had I been deprived of that experience.
Jan 6, 2007
What to do about Iraq?
Nobody knows, not even the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.
Bush and McCain hope to turn
the situation around with a few thousand more troops but the military
experts don't agree. The plan is to secure Baghdad and train Iraqis to
protect themselves. Which Iraqis? How do we distinguish
the ones that are willing to risk their lives fighting for a political
solution from the ones that, once trained and armed, will defect and join
the civil war? The only way I can imagine achieving "victory" in Iraq
would be with unlimited numbers of troops deployed
over decades. That's not going to happen. Let's face it - invasion of
Iraq was a bad idea from the beginning and our misguided efforts there
have compromised the fight against terrorism. We should have "stayed the
course" in Afghanistan, now on the verge of being
retaken by the Taliban. Bush obviously doesn't know what he's doing.
We should bring our troops home, apologize to the world for creating this
mess and stop referring to ourselves as a superpower. It
will take generations to recover from this fiasco.