Nature Feed

Everybody's a critic, even the New Jersey's chief economic officer if one state senator's tax credit for performers is enacted. Republican Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. this week renewed a push for his bill that would provide a tax break for so-called A-list performers in the Garden State. 50,000 fans packed the beach in Atlantic City to see to see pop band Maroon 5 and its popular front man Adam Levine. Click image for full story and video from Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI. The bill is designed to boost amusement offerings in Atlantic City. Under S. 2721, qualifying acts, which include... Read more →


If recent winter storms left you stuck on an icy road or without power, you can quit cursing Mother Nature, highway departments and power companies. Your anger might be better directed at cows. Most scientists say a major contributor to climate change, which covers not only global warming events like Australia's recent hot spell, but all types of extreme weather worldwide, is carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. But a group of international researchers say we also need to pay more attention to other greenhouse gases associated with livestock. In the opinion commentary "Ruminants, Climate Change and Climate Policy" published in the... Read more →


Helping Oklahoma tornado survivors, planning for the next natural disaster

It is that horrid time of year. Instead of enjoying the return of welcome warm weather, we're watching the tragic aftermath of Mother Nature's fury. As everyone knows by now, what will likely turn out to be the second category F5 tornado in 14 years devastated Moore, Okla., a suburb of Oklahoma City, on Monday, May 20, afternoon. Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy But while Moore residents took the hardest hit, that city isn't the only one that must rebuild. Over the last four days, more than 50 tornadoes have been reported in... Read more →


Mother Nature has been seriously ticked off recently and the folks in the Northeast have sure been on the receiving end of her temper. On the heels of Superstorm nee Hurricane Sandy, a nor'easter blasted, well, the northeast. And some of the areas that were declared major disasters because of Sandy also were hit by Winter Storm Athena. Winter storm names: What? You didn't know the northeaster had a name? Don't worry; you're not too far behind the curve. The naming of winter storms just began this week. The names are not official christenings from the National Weather Service (NWS).... Read more →


I grew up in West Texas so I know about living in an arid region. In recent years, that drier lifestyle is something that many more folks across the rest of the Lone Star State have had to learn to live with. Texas, like much of the rest of the United States, has been dealing with drought conditions for years. Late September data from the National Drought Mitigation Center show that 54.77 percent of the country is in moderate drought or worse, the largest percentage so far recorded at that level and a slight increase from the previous week's percentage.... Read more →


If the weather isn't too hot where you are, take a walk today in honor of Henry David Thoreau. He was born on July 12, 1817. Thoreau is known by most as the author of "Walden," also often referred to as "On Walden Pond." The book was the product of Thoreau's stay in a cabin at Walden Pond, now part of Massachusetts' Walden Pond Reservation, from July 1845 to September 1847. Because of Thoreau's legacy, Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement. But Thoreau was more than just a... Read more →


This Earth Day 2012, the hubby and I hiked a portion of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve near our home. It was a wonderful outing. The morning was cool, wildflowers and butterflies were out in force (as the hubby's cell phone snapshots show) and we got a great view of the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. Sorry, the bird wasn't nearly as accommodating as the butterflies when it came to picture taking. Many of our neighbors are dismissive of this lovely little bird. What they really don't like is that it gives the U.S., city of Austin and Travis County governments so much... Read more →


Pardon me for being a bit parochial today, but most of my Labor Day weekend was consumed by Central Texas' wildfires. I'm not trying to be flip using a variation of firebreak for a headline or the term consumed. There's no room for wise-ass remarks when firefighters are working 24/7 on dozens of wildfires raging in my home state. This weekend, the dire situation got way too close for comfort. And because of that, those words are at the top of my mind right now. As folks who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know, the neighborhood just northwest of... Read more →


What the heck is up Mother Nature? I know we humans are an annoying bunch, but do you really have to keep whacking us? In less than 24 hours, strong earthquakes have rattled the East Coast and the Rocky Mountains region. The 5.3 temblor that shook Colorado Monday night was the strongest recorded there in more than a century. It also was felt by residents of Kansas and New Mexico. Then this afternoon, a 5.9 quake centered in Virginia prompted evacuation of buildings in the nation's capital and shook folks from North Carolina to New Hampshire. It was the strongest... Read more →


Regular readers know that in our precious free time, the hubby and I go birding. We started following birds recreationally when we lived in Maryland, and most of our vacations are a combination of attending some sporting event and visiting a bird habitat. The Midatlantic was a great training ground, with the mountains to the west, the spectacular Chesapeake Bay and Maryland's great Eastern Shore to the east and a nice variety of birding spots in between and within easy driving distance. I'm talking about you, Hawk Mountain, Pa. While Maryland residents, we also took frequent vacations to Florida for... Read more →


National parks need crash taxes

The presumption and idiocy of so many people still astounds me, the most recent examples coming from folks who think they can do any wild thing and be safe, or least be rescued if they aren't, because of their high-tech connectivity. But what many are doing is abusing accessibility and running up national park costs -- costs that all taxpayers eventually pay. As an ever more wired and interconnected public visits the parks in rising numbers, reports the New York Times, technology often figures into mishaps: People with cell phones call rangers from mountaintops to request refreshments or a guide;... Read more →


As a long-time birder and a bit of an opera buff, I got a kick out of the story that a U.K. woman who shared my interests had left most of her sizable fortune to New York's Metropolitan Opera and a British nature charity. Even better, there's a tax connection. The bequests to the Met and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust came from the $16.3 million estate of Mona Webster (left), whom the New York Times reports was at one time during her 96 years a clerk in the British tax office. But wait. There's still more about taxes. A... Read more →


Yes, it's an old joke about blood-sucking IRS agents. So maybe that's why it seems so fitting that a tax lawyer has just published "The New Annotated Dracula." Leslie S. Klinger is a Los Angeles tax attorney with clients in the entertainment industry. You can insert your own Hollywood blood-letting wise cracks here. After his office closes, however, Klinger turns his attention to genre literature. The Wall Street Journal reports that Klinger's closer look at Bram Stoker's famous vampire novel is the tax lawyer's second such annotation. He previously edited the three volume, 2,700-page "The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes." The... Read more →


Insurance tips for storm victims

I was delighted to see that Sanibel, the lovely island on Florida's Gulf Coast that I was worried about in this earlier post, came through Tropical Storm Fay unscathed. Many other Sunshine State residents weren't so lucky. Gerry Willis, personal finance writer for CNN, has some insurance tips for those storm-battered folks. You can watch a video version here. Elsewhere on CNN, a Willis article from about a year ago looks at the damages that a lot of homeowner polices don't cover. That's always good, although very distressing, to know. Flimjo also makes that same point in his post, Lessons... Read more →


Tornadoes and taxes ... too soon!

I hate writing today's blog item. I knew I would have to eventually, but it's way too soon. I'm talking about the tornadoes that tore through the South on Tuesday. It was the worst twister outbreak in more than 20 years. There's nothing any of us can do to console those who lost family and friends. And there's very little we can do for those whose losses were confined to property. But we try anyway. The quickest way to reach out is to give to a charitable group that provides assistance to storm victims. These organizations, such as the American... Read more →


Free Tom!

Actually, it was May (pictured there at right with Dubya) and Flower who were pardoned, if not actually freed, this year in the annual pre-Thanksgiving event at the White House. Every year, representatives of the National Turkey Federation and the farmer who donates the turkey (or, this year, turkeys) join the President in the White House Rose Garden. The prez gives his "happy holiday" talk and pardons the birds for the assembled photographers and TV cameramen. You can read about this year's ceremony here. That page has more pictures, as well as audio and video links if you're already that... Read more →


Sand dollars

The U.S. was spared the worst of Hurricane Noel, but the system did inflict a lot of damage on East Coast beaches. First those in South Florida got whacked for days as Noel sat over Cuba and then the Bahamas. Now that he's finally moved, some of the high surf he'll produce could cause problems for North and South Carolina and New England shorelines. And that means problems for beachfront property owners. A story in today's New York Times examines beaches and erosion solutions, all of which are shrinking. According to the article: "Over the last decade or more, federal... Read more →


Hello … hello … hello
from Santa Elena Canyon

That headline is my admittedly weak attempt to textually relate an echo. Why? Because when we were in the canyon below yesterday, the echo effect was great. That's Santa Elena Canyon, in the far southwest section of Big Bend National Park. The wall to the right is Texas; to the left, Mexico. The terrain here along the Rio Grande River is nice and flat, unlike the place up-river where we stopped on Thursday when were driving to the park. There the bank fell off about 10 inches, but I was determined to put my toes into the waters dividing Mexico... Read more →


I and the Bird #60

David at Search and Serendipity is the host for the 60th I and the Bird. This particular birding carnival is notable not just because David is a fellow Texan, but also because he's produced the first birding blog carnival to be hosted by video. Amid the more than 30 postings from birders worldwide, David gives up four videos. Be sure to view each, including the outtake reel. But the core of every I and the Bird is, of course, the collection of fantastic reports from birding bloggers, or blogging birders. Among my favorites this time are: The photo blog from... Read more →


Who hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo is there?

Backyard birding continues to be spectacular of late, or in this latest instance, of early. Around 5 a.m. I woke up and decided I needed a snack. Trying not to wake the hubby, I kept the lights off as I crept downstairs and made my way carefully into the kitchen. Just as I was about to head to the fridge, I head the owl. It was a great-horned owl, probably male judging from our Peterson Field Guide's description of the call pattern. The lights were still off, so I eased my way to the back door and stepped out on... Read more →