Below The Salt News http://www.belowthesaltnews.com Honoring Creativity · Pondering Possibilities · Sharing Knowledge · Valuing Usefulness Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:19:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Quotable You: “Not All Were Sprinkled With Happiness…” http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/quotable-you-not-all-were-sprinkled-with-happiness/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/quotable-you-not-all-were-sprinkled-with-happiness/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:19:24 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16397 A dear friend has a favorite saying she shares as needed.  Words of wisdom told to her by a boss early in her work life.  Since she had her 99th birthday a few months back, one can assume she knows what she is talking about. “This Too Shall Pass!”  she confidently assures… A simple reminder to step back and […]

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A dear friend has a favorite saying she shares as needed.  Words of wisdom told to her by a boss early in her work life.  Since she had her 99th birthday a few months back, one can assume she knows what she is talking about.

“This Too Shall Pass!”  she confidently assures…

A simple reminder to step back and put the drama or stress of the moment in perspective.  It seems pretty self-evident, but think of how often we get caught up in the emergency of the moment and let it become all-consuming.  Or how many times we let harsh words or negative encounters mushroom into a lifetime supply of negative energy that we carry on our back for days on end.

Whether the dark cloud is self-inflicted or generated by forces beyond our control, we need to remind ourselves that life isn’t meant to be lived in anger, sorrow, and regret.

Joy is waiting to happen.  Delight and wonder are bubbling up all around us.  We just need to take a moment to look around at all the special somethings waiting to break through the gloom and make us smile.

Sprinkled with happiness

Windowsill sprinkled with happiness. Photo credit: Linda Anselmi

The somethings can be as universal as a beautiful sunrise or a kitten playing…

As personal as your dog’s jaunty sashay with ear tips flopping in rhythm …

As unexpected as a bird’s song or stranger’s smile …

As  energetic as a windowsill full of sun-powered motion toys doing their happy dance …

As peaceful as a babbling brook or a baby sleeping…

Or, as sharable as a Steward Perkins’ Storyshucker tale “sprinkled with happiness”…

Desserts waited for me in neat rows behind glass at the end of the line where Mama paid for lunch. As she did, I looked over pudding options searching for those with sprinkles on top. There were many desserts but not all were sprinkled with happiness and I became frustrated if I could find none. Mama waited patiently for me to discover them, knowing I’d just not seen them yet.

“Sometimes you really have to look for sprinkles.” Mama said. “Just keep looking.”

Stewart Perkins, from Look For Sprinkles posted at Storyshucker

So what little moments break through the gloom and make you smile in spite of yourself? Do you look for “sprinkles” or do you wait for them to happen?

Have you read a Steward Perkins’ story?


STEWART PERKINS

Writer and storyteller
Blogger at Storyshucker
Human observer
Cow appreciator

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Patricia Arquette: “It’s Our Time” For Equality http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/patricia-arquette-its-our-time-for-equality/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/patricia-arquette-its-our-time-for-equality/#respond Tue, 24 Feb 2015 19:54:07 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16571 Patricia Arquette’s “it’s our time” appeal on behalf of women’s equality brought excitement to an otherwise lackluster Oscar telecast.  Upon accepting the award for Best Supporting Actress, she stood before a worldwide audience of 1 billion and declared: “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and every citizen of this nation, we have fought […]

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Patricia Arquette’s “it’s our time” appeal on behalf of women’s equality brought excitement to an otherwise lackluster Oscar telecast.  Upon accepting the award for Best Supporting Actress, she stood before a worldwide audience of 1 billion and declared:

Patricia Arquette feminist

Patricia Arquette – at Oscars

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and every citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

She got a sustained standing ovation and enthusiastic whoops from none other than Meryl Streep, not to mention worldwide twitter love for her statements.  And whether or not you like politics mixed in with your awards telecast, Arquette is right.

It was widely assumed in the press that in asking for women’s equality, Ms. Arquette was referring to the under-representation of women in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera. Women helm only 6% of film projects and are outnumbered 4 to 1 in on screen representation.  SONY also got a black eye last year when it was revealed that its female execs made far lower salaries than their male counterparts and Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence was paid less in America Hustle than her lesser known and less celebrated male co-stars.

Arquette would not be the first to speak out on women’s behalf.  Upon winning the Best Actress Oscar last year, Cate Blanchett noted that stories about women do sell tickets.  Women do fascinate beyond “Bond girls.”  Was Arquette addressing this as part of the issue …yes.  Was that her main point?  I think not.

While I’m sure Patricia Arquette was addressing women’s inequality in all its forms, her Oscar speech made a passionate plea for the recognition of women of all social strata – 73% of us are in the work force and 40% are sole breadwinners or head of household, yet 2/3 of minimum wage jobs are held by women.  So to those in Congress, like Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who say that getting and enforcing equal pay laws for women don’t matter – think again.

In her award winning role in “Boyhood,” Arquette plays a single mom who educates herself to provide a better life for her two kids.  Arquette was no stranger to this reality, as she became a single mother at 19 and juggled several jobs between auditions in order to care for her son.  Per The New York Times, her maternal instinct to, as she put it, “drag meat back for my young,” helped to steel her and grow her career rather than stall it, as one might expect.  In this regard, it was lovely to see an actor celebrated for playing a mommy who, while imperfect, always showed up with everything she had for her kids.

Arquette co-founded GiveLove and works to build homes on behalf of the disadvantaged, so she has experience with women’s lesser representation in governments (here and abroad) directly equating to the empty lip service paid to women’s equality or laws that would benefit working mothers.

Per a study just released by the Department of Professional Employees this month:

“Women make up more than half of the professional and technical workforce in the United States. While the status for women in the workforce has improved over the last several decades, many women still struggle for equality in many occupations. Women are earning post-secondary degrees at a faster rate than men are, yet a wage gap persists. Some portion of the wage gap may result from decisions women make, personal job preference, or socio-economic circumstances; however, many still face overt or subtle employment discrimination, contributing to continued inequality.”

Meryl and JLo reacting to Patricia ArquetteWhile I am typically not a fan of the political at an awards show, I confess my own bias on this particular issue and appreciated Arquette’s honesty in noting that women are great at championing the rights of other groups – as we did with Civil rights and Gay rights.  We are also the ones encouraging our husbands to get their prostates checked – among other things.  Just as the kids in “Boyhood” take their mommy for granted, women are often taken for granted in our society.

As Ms. Arquette rightly notes, it is now our turn to count on those we have stood up for to stand up for us.

The rousing reaction on twitter worldwide championing Arquette’s statements may signal that we are finally beyond the stage of polite acknowledgement of a cause without also demanding results.

My discussion of Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech continues:

In an always spirited chat with Jerry Doyle on The Jerry Doyle Show, as to whether Oscars Activism: Right or Wrong?

With Dan Maduri on NewsTalk Florida’s The News Hour regarding Patricia Arquette Common Sense Approach to Oscar Speech.

So what are your thoughts on her speech and the Oscars?


Original version published at Anita Finlay’s blog Reposted, in full, with permission of the author.

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Book: THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH by Christopher Scotton http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/books/book-the-secret-wisdom-of-the-earth-by-christopher-scotton/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/books/book-the-secret-wisdom-of-the-earth-by-christopher-scotton/#respond Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:11:51 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16548 THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH by Christopher Scotton has received a great deal of pre-release accolades – all well deserved. I suspect, however, the spell it cast over me is a bit different than the one cast for others, mainly due to my own geography and relationship to mining. (Not in Kentucky and not coal […]

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THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH by Christopher Scotton has received a great deal of pre-release accolades – all well deserved. I suspect, however, the spell it cast over me is a bit different than the one cast for others, mainly due to my own geography and relationship to mining. (Not in Kentucky and not coal mining, but in southern Arizona where copper mining “is king” as was quoted recently in our local paper over a mining ‘victory’ that will scrape away sacred Native American land.)

Book The Secret Wisdom of The Earth This debut is a fabulous coming-of-age story about 14-year-old Kevin, who bears witness to a horrific family tragedy and upon going to Kentucky to live with his grandfather, “Pops,” does a great deal of growing up. In many ways, the story reminded me of the popular Stand By Me film (originally a Stephen King novella titled, The Body) in its depiction of a simpler life and boyhood friendships (Kevin falls in with local Hollow kid, Buzzy Fink). But while Kevin is introduced to the slower pace and spiritual connections of the earth, he is also witness to the ravages of coal mining on the environment. And to the brutal ignorance of members of a small town.

This book is cocooned in so many layers of moral/ethical/environmental themes, yet it is not in any way preachy. It does what today’s journalism should do: it presents an unbiased, two-sided story illustrating that the world’s appetite for natural resources isn’t cut-and-dry. It’s one of many themes tucked neatly into Kevin’s journey, through the lives of multigenerational mining families and opponents who appear in the story as flawed and realistic characters. Mining presents a fitting backdrop that parallels the personal loss suffered by many of the characters within this book.

In THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH, Scotton has created a novel that entices readers to think – one that challenges the “it’s ok as long as it’s not in my backyard – or as along as I can’t see it” mentality toward large-scale mining operations – all in a way that is not the least bit overbearing.

During an extended mountain trip with Pops, Kevin is explaining the wild beauty of the mountains surrounding him: “The trees were lush and large, with holly, mountain laurel, and dogwood filling in the forest floor.” And then he notes the sight as they come toward the evidence of mountaintop-removal mining: “As we came over a gentle rise, the trees ended abruptly. What lay before us was a scene of unimaginable devastation.”

Midway through this whopping 480-page book, I had already decided it was going to be passed along to my 14-year-old nephew: for its wisdom, for its introduction to the redemptive nature of nature (a concept completely foreign to so many young people today) and for its entertainment value (Pops has some good one-liners).

Yet for all of the environmental takeaways I personally experienced, THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH is just a GOOD story: a book offering lessons of hope and forgiveness, acceptance and tolerance, loyalty and trust.

If you are a fan of young adult fiction (while the story is a recollection of an adult Kevin looking back, it reads in his 14-year-old point of view until the very end), and enjoy coming-of-age stories, this is the book for you. Could it have been shorter? Sure. But despite its heft, it is a quick, satisfying read with true substance. I look forward to Christopher Scotton’s future work. Bravo to this debut author!


Original version published at Goodreads.  Reposted, in full, with permission of the author.
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Recipe: Paleo Non-Wheat Thins To Tempt Even Non-Paleo Eaters http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/recipe-paleo-non-wheat-thins-tempt-even-non-paleo-eaters/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/recipe-paleo-non-wheat-thins-tempt-even-non-paleo-eaters/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:00:53 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16150 It’s winter.  It’s cold.  Another record arctic blast is predicted.  Time to fire up the oven and distract everyone with the delicious aromas of something warm and wonderful wafting from the kitchen. Last year, my husband and I made a 3-month commitment to tackle some serious health issues and it became A Paleo Year of Change.  One of the best things […]

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It’s winter.  It’s cold.  Another record arctic blast is predicted.  Time to fire up the oven and distract everyone with the delicious aromas of something warm and wonderful wafting from the kitchen.

Last year, my husband and I made a 3-month commitment to tackle some serious health issues and it became A Paleo Year of Change.  One of the best things to come from this major change in our eating habits, besides our improved health, is our enjoyment of cooking.

Paleo year - Paleo Non-wheat thins

Roll out and cut the Paleo Non-Wheat Thins

Here is one of my favorite recipes: Paleo Non-Wheat Thins.  It is quick and easy and yummy enough to tempt even non-paleo eaters.

Paleo Non-Wheat Thins

I double this recipe so we have enough to last in the fridge and freezer for about six-weeks.

3 cups Almond flour
1 teaspoon Himalayan Sea salt
½ cup organic Sesame seeds
2 Eggs
2 tablespoons Olive, avocado, or grape seed oil
1 tablespoon  dried Rosemary
1 tablespoon dried Basil
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
½ teaspoon Onion powder
½ teaspoon Garlic powder

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Pre-heat oven 350 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Combine wet ingredients, including eggs, in separate bowl and whisk until frothy. Pour wet into dry ingredients and mix well.

Form balls of dough about the size of a baseball. Roll between two sheets of parchment paper until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut one-inch squares using the back of table knife.  (I also trim sides so it doesn’t crumble after cooking.) Remove top piece of parchment paper and place bottom piece with dough on cookie sheet.

Cook for 15 minutes. Sprinkle a small amount of Himalayan salt while sizzling hot from the oven.  Enjoy!

We eat these with Paleo ranch dip (2 parts homemade mayonnaise, 1 part organic plain yogurt, and seasonings) or crumble and sprinkle on salads.

I’d love to know what works for you. I will also answer Paleo questions though I’m still a novice. The picture I’ve included is from my kitchen.

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Words: Steve Jobs “Bicycle For Our Minds…” http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/quotes/words-steve-jobs-bicycle-minds/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/quotes/words-steve-jobs-bicycle-minds/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:54:14 +0000 http://belowthesaltnews.com/?p=12807 The common everyday bicycle is one of the most underrated inventions. In the US, we mostly consider it as a toy for kids. But the invention and wide use of bicycles, a simple tool of transportation, became a major force of innovation and change throughout the world.  It lead to mass efficiencies in many industries, gave […]

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The common everyday bicycle is one of the most underrated inventions. In the US, we mostly consider it as a toy for kids. But the invention and wide use of bicycles, a simple tool of transportation, became a major force of innovation and change throughout the world.  It lead to mass efficiencies in many industries, gave mobility and freedoms to major portions of the population world-wide, and spurred inventions within the automotive industry and the rise of the industrial revolution.

No surprise I’m a fan of bikes.  I’ve written about some of the history of bicycles in The Ubiquitous Bike: Still A Creative Force? and the possible resurgence of the bicycle in Pondering the Possibilities: Sweat Worthy Entertainment.  But Steve Jobs “Bicycles for our Minds” quote sums it up best and rightly gives credit where credit is due.

Computer = Bicycle for our Minds

"I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. 

I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. Steve Jobs BicyclesThe condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. 

It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. 

And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts. 

And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”

Steve Jobs, via video Michael Lawrence Films

Enjoy more Steve Jobs quotes:
Words: Steve Jobs “Poke Life …”
Words: “… You Tend To Get Told …”


STEVEN PAUL “STEVE” JOBS
(1955 – 2011)

Co-founder , Chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc.
Husband, Father,
Creator,  Inventor, Marketer, Entrepreneur
Co-founder and CEO of Pixar

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Grammys: Another Institution Failure On Domestic Violence http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/music/grammys-another-institution-failure-domestic-violence/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/music/grammys-another-institution-failure-domestic-violence/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 20:43:01 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16446 Sunday’s Grammy Awards became the latest institution failure on domestic violence. It featured a PSA by President Obama calling attention to the shocking number of women in America who are raped or suffer domestic violence.  “It’s on us,” he said, urging the artistic community to raise awareness to bring a stop to it.  Activist Brooke Axtell then […]

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Sunday’s Grammy Awards became the latest institution failure on domestic violence.

It featured a PSA by President Obama calling attention to the shocking number of women in America who are raped or suffer domestic violence.  “It’s on us,” he said, urging the artistic community to raise awareness to bring a stop to it.  Activist Brooke Axtell then shared her own experiences with abuse and human trafficking, capped by a powerful performance from Katy Perry who sang “By the Grace of God.”  But were their commendable actions diminished by convicted abuser Chris Brown and accused rapist R. Kelly being honored with Grammy nominations?  What about Eminem, long infamous for misogynistic lyrics, winning a Grammy for Best Rap Album?

 

Grammy institution failure on domestic violence

Katy Perry & Chris Brown

How can we impress upon a younger demographic, to whom the Grammy telecast appeals, the devastation of rape and domestic violence   As Ms. Axtell stated:  “Authentic love does not silence, shame or abuse.”

The conflict here is telegraphed by a culture that demeans women in music lyrics, in magazine pictorials (the new, near pornographic Sports Illustrated cover comes to mind), on television and in film while it still tends to turn a blind eye toward artists, athletes and actors who abuse.  We say women are equal in our society and deserve equal respect.  But we don’t mean it.

Famed director Roman Polanski may be banned from return to the U.S., but still practices his craft elsewhere unfettered and won an Oscar not too long ago.  Ray Rice knocked out and then dragged his unconscious fiancée from an elevator like a sack of potatoes but was recently reinstated to the Baltimore Ravens.  No less than 35 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault and other misconduct.  Charlie Sheen, with a long list of violent behavior toward women, is still working and raking in the dough. The list goes on.

Nowhere were the conflicting attitudes in our culture better illuminated than by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s excellent and harrowing TIME article, Colleges Need to Stop Protecting Sexual Predators.  His own celebrated status gives him deep insights into the way athletes, like pop stars, are elevated in our society.  Yet he urges us to re-examine that culture – especially among student athletes.  Abdul-Jabbar is also spot on in pointing how derogatory language toward women and girls and TV’s glamorizing of a certain kind of a “me Tarzan you Jane” attitude goes a long way toward objectifying, dehumanizing and devaluing women.

I encourage you in the strongest terms to read his words:  An excerpt follows:

“…[T]hese colleges aren’t just ignoring the problem, but by doing so they are encouraging the problem to grow. As institutions of learning, our colleges and universities aren’t charged with just teaching the nuances of mathematical equations and the uses of metaphor in poetry, they are supposed to be teaching social values, if not directly then by their own behavior. Any tolerance of sexual assault teaches those students that women are somehow less deserving of protection than men in society, that sexual aggression by men is perfectly okay, and that even if we huff and puff about how it isn’t okay (wink, wink), nothing much will be done about it. It’s not enough to provide panic buttons around campus or train female students how to be alert to predators, we must attack the bros-before-hos mentality as not cool or high-five worthy.

As a former college athlete, I’m especially aware of the culture of entitlement that some athletes feel as they strut around campus with the belief that they can do no wrong. This ridiculous notion certainly has contributed to the alarming statistics concerning athletes and rape. A 1995 review of reported sexual assault cases at schools with Division I sports programs found that although male student-athletes made up only 3.3% of the campus population at these schools, they accounted for 19% of sexual assault perpetrators and 35% of domestic violence perpetrators. Related research has also found that athletes are far less likely to be convicted of sexual assault than members of the general public. These statistics should be shocking, but sadly they probably aren’t to most people.

A major contributing factor to athletes becoming sexual predators is our culture’s need to elevate them to heroic status.”

The same can be said of icons in the music and film business. Those in politics are not exempt either.

Senior Democratic staffer Donny Ray Williams Jr., 37, was just convicted raping two women he drugged with Ambien.  His punishment? Probation.  Another report shared that “the head of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania’s third largest county was forced to resign earlier this month after allegations surfaced that he had drugged and raped a female coworker.”

Add to that recent unfathomable comments by several Republican politicians who speculate that rape may not be a crime if the victim is sleeping (Utah Rep. Brian Greene) or “wearing a nightie” (VA candidate Dick Black) and it is no leap to realize how far we have yet to travel in treating women as partners and equal citizens, not pleasure objects no more respected than blow-up dolls.

The Grammys’ offering a public forum to courageous survivor and activist Brooke Axtell is a good first step, as are President Obama’s statements against domestic violence, but as Salon’s Katie McDonough was quick to point out, their words, along with Katy Perry’s song, felt isolated from the rest of the program and had an artificial, “Thus concludes our domestic anti-violence portion of the evening, now back to our regularly scheduled coddling of abusers.” McDonough further stated:

“This is so often how we are asked to think about domestic violence. As something separate and foreign and distinct from the rest of our lives. To be addressed solemnly and then ignored completely.”

When President Obama said “It’s on us,” that does not mean it’s on us to listen patiently for five minutes and pretend it has nothing to do with us the rest of the time, just because we may not be guilty of abuse.  What is required then is a higher level of engagement.  If you see something, say something.  Peer pressure is a powerful thing in any circle and can be a force for good.  Letting others know that demeaning language or abusive behavior will get one “expelled from the ranks,” for starters, would be a more powerful step than merely sympathizing with powerful words – and then changing the station.

Until there is a zero tolerance policy on violators across the board and a clearing of the baffles on politicians who think of women as mere appendages to be controlled, these are mere words that will do little more than paper over the problem.


Original version published at Anita Finlay’s blog.  Reposted, in full, with permission of the author.

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A Cool Thing Happened at Work: Baby Chinese Crocodile Lizards http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/cool-thing-happened-work-baby-chinese-crocodile-lizards/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/cool-thing-happened-work-baby-chinese-crocodile-lizards/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 14:07:30 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16269 It’s no secret that I love my job. Becoming a reptile keeper at the Knoxville Zoo last year was a dream come true. Incredible things happen there every day, and I’m so honored to be a part of it. We have a new exhibit. It’s a series of exhibits, actually; a building with lots of […]

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It’s no secret that I love my job. Becoming a reptile keeper at the Knoxville Zoo last year was a dream come true. Incredible things happen there every day, and I’m so honored to be a part of it.

We have a new exhibit. It’s a series of exhibits, actually; a building with lots of beautifully designed enclosures that house lizards. Many of the animals are very new to to our public, and most of them are new to me, as well.

One of these new animals is the Chinese Crocodile Lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus).

Chinese Crocodile Lizard

Shinisaurus crocodilurus. Amazing little lizards!  (Photo credit: Heather D)

This species gets its name from its crazy crocodile appearance. All those bumps in its skin are osteoderms (literally, “bone-skin”). Tiny bits of bone offer protection and camouflage. Bumps break up the outline and allow the animal to hide. Its coloration is so cryptic that often, I have trouble seeing them even when I’m looking right AT them! It’s a semi-aquatic species, primarily found in China.

One cool fact? It’s monotypic; the genus consists of a single species. It is also endangered. Experts estimate fewer than a thousand animals left in the wild, with populations so splintered and small that their long term viability is in serious question. Some individual colonies have as few as ten animals.

Reproduction is slow for these guys. After a winter cooling period, the pair mates. The female then carries the offspring for 8-14 months. Let that sink in for a second.  A lizard that weighs less than a pound can be gravid for over a year! Shinisaurus are live-bearers, which is an expensive reproductive strategy. Much of the female’s resources will be allocated to her offspring, so in a bad year, she may not survive long after the birth . No wonder they’re  having such a hard time adapting to a changing world!

Anyway, a few weeks ago, the Shinisaurus keeper was doing afternoon checks. And he found…

Chinese Crocodile Lizard baby

Baby Shinisaurus! Squee! It looks a little skinny, but it has had a few good meals since then.   (Photo credit: Heather D)

This little guy was so well-camouflaged that we almost didn’t see him. She birthed in the water, and the babies found safe places next to the walls with only their little yellow heads visible above the water line. It was pretty exciting. We left her alone as much as we could. Every hour or so, we’d check to see if there were any new surprises. And sometimes there were.

Chinese Crocodile Lizard

And here he (she?) is with Mom. That’s a big baby!  (Photo credit: Heather D)

Shinisaurus eat insects, worms, snails, and the like. They are consummate little carnivores. The three babies are happily eating crickets and other feeder insects, and they’re growing like crazy.

Chinese Crocodile Lizard

Chinese Crocodile Lizard baby at about 2 months of age (Photo credit: Heather D)

The babies are being raised off-exhibit for now. They can achieve adult size in about a year. Their rapid development is probably one reason there are still a few of them left in the wild. Mom is also doing well. She’s having a well-earned rest before she is reintroduced to the male.

Does anybody wonder why I love to go to work? Congratulations to my co-worker, Brad! What a great addition to our collection!


*Original version published at BECOMING CLICHE.  Reposted, in full, with permission of the author.

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Cave Woman’s Musician of the Day: Cereus Bright http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/cave-womans-musician-day-cereus-bright/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/arts-media/cave-womans-musician-day-cereus-bright/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16248 I’m stepping out of my comfort zone here. I write book reviews often enough. Those require some thought, but usually they aren’t terribly difficult. I have an easy time with those mostly because I write books myself. I can verbalize where a writer succeeded or fell short because I can often see my own mistakes […]

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I’m stepping out of my comfort zone here. I write book reviews often enough. Those require some thought, but usually they aren’t terribly difficult. I have an easy time with those mostly because I write books myself. I can verbalize where a writer succeeded or fell short because I can often see my own mistakes or strengths reflected in the work of other authors, and I know what I aspire to. And sometimes I can recognize greatness.

Music reviews are different, more difficult. I do not play an instrument, unless you count the kazoo. Which, if my last three auditions are anything to go by, most major orchestras do not. I like music. Very much.

My life has a sound track. I have only to press play on  The Indigo Girls‘ SWAMP OPHELIA, and I am yanked back to my summer dorm. Play me The WallFlower’s ONE HEADLIGHT, and I am pulling into my driveway in the semi-darkness after a long day at the children’s center. I can smell the honeysuckle, feel the oppressive humidity, hear the incessant buzz of the cicadas. Music marks the passage of time for me the way nothing else can. I love music.

I can tell you why I like a book clearly and (hopefully) effectively. I can discuss character development and plot line with reasonable intelligence. When it comes to discussing music, however, I become a Cave Woman. “Music good. Like listen. Sometimes sing.” So bear with me.

cereus bright

Cereus Bright – modern folk/Americana

Let me introduce you to Cereus Bright, a modern folk band I discovered through my daughter about a year ago. They are passionate musicians with lyrics both witty and thought-provoking. They travel all over the country, and their stage performance is electrifying.

Cave woman says about Cereus Bright:

“Words good. Make think. Sound good, too. See live show.  Rate this band 4.5/5 Mastodons.”

So what do you think of Cereus Bright?  Have you heard of them? Are you a modern folk/americana fan?

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Quotable You: “Kindness Can Outdistance Meanness” http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/words-kindness-matters-always/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/words-kindness-matters-always/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 05:41:21 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16316 Like many (most?) people (see twitter, facebook, etc) I like to find and collect quotes, bits of words, that speak to me in a time and place I recognize.  Whether the words take me to the past, the future or meet me firmly in the now, they become quotable because they strike a chord, answer a need, […]

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Like many (most?) people (see twitter, facebook, etc) I like to find and collect quotes, bits of words, that speak to me in a time and place I recognize.  Whether the words take me to the past, the future or meet me firmly in the now, they become quotable because they strike a chord, answer a need, or speak a truth that I don’t want to forget.

Traditionally these words come from famous people.  Because, somehow, when someone famous speaks we immediately think they have more wisdom, more insight, more eloquence than you or I.  But recently I realized that I haven’t been sharing some of the best stuff in my collection.  The words I see everyday on blogs written by the non-famous that are every bit as wise, insightful and beautifully expressed.

They are words that enrich my day and remind me of what is really important in life.  But most importantly, they are words that remind me that I’m not alone.  They connect me to fellow travelers in life.  And it dawned on me that others may not yet know of these wonderful quotes and may want to become connected with these fellow travelers too.

So here is a quote I found, from a not yet famous person, that eloquently speaks to one of my deepest beliefs that — every act of kindness matters.  It has power.  It creates change.  It is necessary.

KINDNESS CAN OUTDISTANCE MEANNESS

“We don’t know where
kindness will take us.
We don’t know where
it will take the person
to whom we’re being kind.
Each act of kindness
is only the first skipping of a stone,
but if we all pass that forward —
if we keep the stone skipping –
I know kindness can outdistance meanness.”

Karen Ballum, KINDNESS MATTERS. ALWAYS. posted at SassyMonkey

Please read Karen’s full post – KINDNESS MATTERS. ALWAYS.  It is beautifully written from beginning to end.

*****

KAREN BALLUM

a.k.a. SassyMonkey

Writer, blogger, community monitor
Runner, reader, crafter, meal planner

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How Long Do You Give a Leader To Succeed? http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/long-give-leader-succeed/ http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/peoples/long-give-leader-succeed/#respond Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:30:40 +0000 http://www.belowthesaltnews.com/?p=16225 How long do you give a leader to succeed when it comes to national, state or local government?  Is four years in office enough? California’s tax rates are high.  When Governor Brown re-took office in the midst of a fiscal crisis in 2010, we were asked to bear “temporary” higher taxes on the promise that […]

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How long do you give a leader to succeed when it comes to national, state or local government?  Is four years in office enough?

California’s tax rates are high.  When Governor Brown re-took office in the midst of a fiscal crisis in 2010, we were asked to bear “temporary” higher taxes on the promise that he would balance the budget.  How much of a chance would you be willing to take on such a message? I recently did a profile of Governor Brown’s 4 years in office.  Business is thriving once again. Despite a mixed report card, Brown is seen as a better fiscal manager than his two predecessors.

Is the sticker shock worth it?

leader to succeed - Jerry Doyle and Anita Finlay

Jerry Doyle and Anita Finlay – How Long Do You Give a Leader To Succeed?

For me, absolutely.  Clearly, Brown has brought California much closer to boom town status.  For radio host and EPIC TIMES founder Jerry Doyle? Perhaps he’s happy to have left the Golden State is his rear view.  Jerry and I have a lot to bat around when it comes to assessing CA Governor Brown’s seaworthiness and tax bills in general.

In your state, how much time would you give a Chief Executive to get your state back on track?  Would you give a chance to someone not in your Party? What about for the Presidency in 2016?

I ask these questions because our politics today is overrun with caustic bluster.  So how and who do you choose?  In reality, neither Party litmus tests nor big speeches have spelled success.  For me, it’s the stalwart manager who shows up day in and year out, chipping away at problems til the job is done. As my father used to say, “slow and steady wins the race.”

How Long Do You Give a Leader To Succeed?  Enjoy my discussion with Jerry (audio below) as you mull it over!  Share your thoughts!

*****

Original version published at Anita Finlay’s blog.  Reposted, in full, with permission of the author.

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