One of the master teachers with whom I work, offered me two small walking stick insects three years ago – She told me that they are easy to care for, being vegetarians. She fed hers a few rose leaves each week (rose plants do not go dormant in our part of Northern California. I purchased a small plastic terrarium and it stands on my desk.
My desk-top walking sticks
All that first year my walking sticks grew larger each month – then one died during the winter- early in the summer my one remaining insect died. But this was not the end! Walking sticks are parthenogenic – they can produce viable eggs from one parent. And before dying mine produced eggs! Soon eggs hatched and my terrarium was once more full of walking sticks! I am now into the third generation. These are the ideal pet for the undemanding – they sit perfectly still – doing a good imitation of a stick – and every once in a while they move one of their six legs just a twitch.
The are not the sort of pets you want to give a name or take out and relate to… I have had some concern regarding the legality of owning walking sticks – might they decimate California agriculture if released? Today I saw a county Ag guy collecting insect traps looking for pests – and so I asked about walking sticks – he said that while they are not endemic they are not a problem…go ahead and enjoy them!
4. Brass: Brass instrumental music usually brings to mind loud blaring Souza marches or Christmas music… Judy and I this last week attended a concert of the Bay Brass in the Stanford Cathedral. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_Memorial_Church. The group is a labor of love by the musicians involved – it is made up of the top brass musicians from the major symphonies and ballet orchestras in the SF Bay Area. They have no formal director but make decisions together. They seek to explore the wide range of music available to brass instruments.
Stanford University Church
The concert was amazing with a range of compositions from many periods, composers and styles of music. They are a leading supporter of the music program at Menlo School in Menlo Park Ca - and for an entire week the professional musicians provided workshops and support for the music students. This concert was the Bay Brass demonstrating to the students the range of music that could be performed with Brass Instruments – much of it was the gentler side of brass... On other nights during the week there were various student brass groups performing in concert… It is amazing to me to see high school age students performing with such poise and skill!
5. Genetic manipulation in Corn: Need another complex moral dilemma? Suppose someone spent two years developing a new mechanical or electronic device – something brand new… Do you think that person should be able to apply for a patent to protect his or her intellectual property? Suppose the product is produced by splicing genes from different species or different varieties of the same species to produce a totally new genetic product. Once developed it can be bred true each generation. Same two years – same hard work… Should this be patentable? Suppose the product is special high yield corn?
Corn varieties with wide range of genetic variations - hardy, but low yield
Traditionally farmers grow a crop and save seed for the following year – Ah – but now that is enfringing on the copyrights of the owner… The farmer is now required each year to buy the high priced seed if he want to grow the high yield crop.
Mono culture of genetically similar corn
What and how far does it go?One of the common genetic alterations to corn is to make it resistant to herbicides so that the field can be doused with chemicals – how much of those chemicals end up in our food – either directly or through the meat we eat? Same is true of introducing genes that produce natural chemicals resiastant to predatory insects.The proponents say “ it is a hungry world out there – and we have to increase our production of food or face greater famine. That’s very true. But we are primarily benefiting large corporate farmers who can afford the additional costs, to grow these high yield crops, to make the maximum profits.
6. Links of the Week:
a. "History of stuff" has developed a series of short videos that help us consumers to understand the materials we buy in common products and their effects on us and on our environment. Excellent!! This is their latest production: http://storyofstuff.org/cosmetics/
b. Southern Poverty Law Center: Take some time to learn about hate groups active in America today. Educate yourself to human rights issues. http://www.splcenter.org/?ref=logo