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Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

The sand dune that swallows children

In Career, The Great Outdoors on November 7, 2016 at 9:43 pm

A few weeks ago I drove 3.5 hours (one way!) to the Indiana Dunes State Park for an impromptu afternoon hike.

Why?

Because I read an article, and it stuck with me.  This amazing piece of nature/science writing by Ariel Sabar reminded me of how little we truly know about our small planet. I was filled me with wonder.

Sabar’s article detailed the very human origins of a scientific breakthrough: a lost child. Mount Baldy, a well-known feature of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, did something that sand dunes weren’t supposed to do. It swallowed a child.

With Mt Baldy closed to the public (for obvious reasons), I pulled out a map and asked a park ranger whether there was a way to get near the dune. A glimpse would do.

Bad news followed me, it would seem. The ranger told me that the main trail heading to Mt Baldy was closed and any attempts to get there on the beach would be futile since recent rains had eaten into the shoreline.

He may have been misleading me, but with limited daylight I took the advice and stuck to known trails within the state park. My hike, a nearly four mile trudge across dunes, proved much shorter but just as beautiful.

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A blowout shows the wind’s power. Maram grass, on the left, helps stabilize the dunes.

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Looking down from the top of the dunes, Lake Michigan seemed serene.

A note: Trail 9, at 3.75 mi,  is listed as Moderate on park maps. Beware you are hiking on sand and dunes, which drain more energy and requires more water/snackage than you’d think. Also, your shoes… they will need to be poured out before you get in the car.

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CapitolTV: Mandatory for Fans and Marketers

In Career on October 23, 2014 at 8:35 am

Watch CapitolTV. It’s mandatory.

Lionsgate is ramping up publicity with a new video marketing campaign for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I” in the final month before the movie’s Nov. 21 release date.  After the numerous trailers, TV spots and teasers for the penultimate Hunger Games movie, Lionsgate did something different to capture fan attention without overexposing the movie.

There are 3 big reasons CapitolTV is awesome (I’m not being forced to say that, either).  It enhances the series with world-building, it celebrates YouTube and it embraces viral marketing to reach the film’s key demographic.

Check this out:

District Voices harkens back to the propaganda theme of earlier trailers.  The new campaign reinforces the movie’s trailers and, in a subtle way, tells the reader what to expect when they get to theaters in November.

Mockingjay was the most politically complex book of the series.  Transferring context for page to screen is tricky.  Building the atmosphere ahead of time will allow the movie to flow faster and focus on plot.

If you watched the video above closely, you may recognize some big name YouTubers such as Threadbanger.  Lionsgate (AKA The Hunger Games marketing team) acknowledges a cultural shift in how people – not just Millennials – consume media.

But CapitolTV spots don’t just star YouTubers.  They celebrate them.

Watch Closely:

Where was the video located on YouTube?  I’ll give you a hint/answer:  the District Two spot, starring YouTuber and self defense teacher fightTIPS, is uploaded on his channel then saved on a CapitolTV playlist.

The placement acknowledges that fightTIPS and other CapitolTV guests aren’t just performers. They’re creators.  Uploading the video to a YouTuber’s channel is a tip of the hat to the people who make YouTube such an interesting and entertaining community.

This is great because it increases movie exposure to a population segment that might not have tuned in otherwise.  District Two’s video on fighting skills highlights the action you’ll expect from Mockingjay Part I, targeting viewers who are obviously into defense and fitness.  District Eight’s video is about DIY crafts and costuming, an aspect of the movies that some viewers really enjoy.

That’s also why you won’t see a CapitolTV video posted to the Vlogbrothers channel.  Nerdfighters didn’t need any motivation to go see this movie.

5 Less Popular Animals That Are Also Endangered

In Career, The Great Outdoors on September 4, 2014 at 8:47 am

Polar bears, despite their ability to capture the collective attention, aren’t everything when it comes to the extinction list.  Extinction events at the base of the food chain (think insects or amphibians, not tertiary predators) can fracture entire ecosystems.

Here are five animals you should be keeping your eyes on.

Pteropods (Ocean Acidification)

pteropods, effects of ocean acidification,

(Steve Ringman / MCT)

Hidden beneath the waves, these Pteropods form the basis of many ocean food webs.  But ocean acidification – caused by excess carbon dioxide – threatens the small snails by dissolving their protective shells.

Ocean acidification isn’t breaking news.  It happened before during the Permian-Triassic Extinction 250 million years ago, and that’s partially what makes the vulnerable Pteropod so alarming.  The snail forces a comparison between current climate events and the those took place millions of years ago.

Pangolin (Human Hunting)

pangolin cub, cute baby animals, pangolin extinction

With more than 1 million animals traded for meat and scales over the past decade, these scaly anteaters are one of the most trafficked species groups on the planet.

Not only are they hunted for meat, but their scales are supposed to contain medicinal properties.   As supplies dwindle in Asian markets, hunters are turning to Africa to source the Pangolin trade.  Human enthusiasm for Pangolins is driving the insect-eating critters into critical endangerment.

  • Chinese pangolin – critically endangered
  • Sunda pangolin – critically endangered
  • Indian pangolin – endangered
  • Philippine pangolin – endangered
  • Giant pangolin – vulnerable
  • Ground pangolin – vulnerable
  • Tree pangolin – vulnerable
  • Long-tailed pangolin – vulnerable

Vaquita marina Porpoise & Totoaba macdonaldi (Human Hunting)

vaquita marina, baja peninsula dolphins, fishing trade hurts dolphins, dolphin hunting,

Photo Credit: Paula Olson (NOAA Contractor)

The world’s smallest porpoise – and one of its most critically endangered – has been nearly wiped out by human hunting in the Gulf of California, the species’s native habitat.  Despite fishery restrictions and government protections, regulators haven’t been able to stop illegal hunters from making the catch.

But poachers aren’t even trying to catch the porpoise. They’re going after something much more lucrative:  totoaba bladders.

Poachers use gillnets to catch totoaba, a large drum fish that only lives in the Gulf of California.  Once the float bladder (i.e., swim bladder) is removed, the fish are often left to rot on the beach.

Float bladders from totoaba are considered a delicacy in China and can fetch upwards of $10 million dollars in Asia, making it a lucrative (but illegal) fishing market.  Coincidentally, totoaba are also on a critically endangered species, though their situation is not so bad as the vaquita marina, whose population has dwindled into the 100s, according to experts.

Great Apes (Habitat Destruction)

oragutan eating, what are great apes, orangutans endangered, habitat destruction affects apes

By Eleifert (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

I’m not sure if you heard it, but back in July primatologist Jane Goodall warned that chimpanzees and other great apes face extinction within decades if habitat destruction continues at its current rate.

As infrastructure development continues, ape habitats get cut off from one another.  Colonies become isolated, then inbred and then weaker.

Although  developers are being pushed to adopt no-deforestation policies, more than half of African land set aside for palm oil plantations overlaps with current ape habitat.

Hellbenders (Water Quality)

hellbenders, north american salamander, giant salamanders,

Image source: NPR/Robert J. Erwin/Science Source

Researchers from Purdue University found that Hellbenders, the largest salamanders in the United States, were declining in the wild.  The Ozark Hellbender, a subspecies that only lives in Arkansas and Missouri, has been listed as endangered since 2011.

Scientists aren’t convinced that Hellbenders are dying off – just that they aren’t where they should be in the wild.  Some guesses as to their whereabouts include:

  1. They moved, pioneer-style, in search of faster flowing rivers
  2. Silt and other debris gathers in the crevaces of the river, leaving young salamanders homeless and vulnerable to the environment
  3. The deadly fungus, which affects amphibians on a global scale, found the Hellbenders

So how do you help stop animal extinction?  A good first step is just to care.  Be conscious of where your products come from.  Try to buy animal-free toiletries from companies that don’t do animal testing.  This is harder than it seems because it basically rules out anything from Johnson & Johnson or Procter & Gamble.

You can spread awareness of animal trafficking, habitat destruction and water quality issues.  Humans are smart when we want to be, and I firmly believe development doesn’t have to mean the end of the animal kingdom.  We just need to plan better and to care about coexisting with nature.

If you are especially dedicated, offer up some time to organizations that fight against habitat destruction and animal trafficking.  The WWF is just one dedicated to conservation around the world.  If you don’t like them, find one that suits you.

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