Surferbird News-Links, 14th Edition


Welcome to Surferbird News-Links. Join me on an exploration of health, food, science, and the environment. For more information on the name and origin of Surferbird News-Links, see here. Oh, I almost forgot; there's always an earworm at the end of every edition.What's an earworm? you ask. Well, scroll on down to discover!

Surferbird News-Links, a weekly summary from across the web

Harvest Moon

By the time most of you read this, the Harvest Moon of September 16, 2016, will have already occurred. But the show will continue for several days, with the moon appearing bigger than normal in the early evening sky. Sometimes, the Harvest Moon takes place in October, not September. For interesting facts about this once a year event, take a look at this article in Treehugger.

It's a ritual in our house to look for the moon each evening from our kitchen window. It delivers quite a performance as it rises above the hills. Years ago, my mom began the practice of connecting family members to the moon. When we've been separated by geographical distance, the moon unites us. We look into her face and think of the loved one that is off on some adventure - like when my daughter was in Africa. Alternately, the one that is away looks at the moon and thinks of home and family. Somehow, that helps us feel not so far apart. Enjoy.



Costa Rica ( - In the last edition of Surferbird News-Links, I reported on Costa Rica's ability to run on 100% renewable energy for 113 days. However, I came across a recent article in Vox that presents a slightly different perspective. Without minimizing Costa Rica's achievements, the complexities of geology, cars using old-fashioned gasoline, and coal-fired cement plants paint a more nuanced picture - but one that still deserves admiration.

Solar and wind-powered textiles ( - A professor at Georgia Tech created a new type of fabric that generates a small amount of electricity from sun and wind. Photoanodes and triboelectric nanogenerators are interwoven with wool strands to create a textile that's flexible, breathable, lightweight, and environmentally friendly. One day, your clothing could potentially be your portable power source.

Mining for diamonds in the ocean  ( - I don't have a good feeling about this. Although touted as a girl's best friend (It depends on the girl!), diamonds have value in industrial markets, also. But I fear the environmental implications. Maybe we need to buy less stuff!

Patagonia now offers a neoprene-free wetsuit made from natural rubber. ( - Wetsuits are usually made from neoprene, a petroleum based product with a negative environmental footprint. This is an issue the surfing and diving communities have been concerned about for years. And Patagonia has delivered a solution.  But don't take my word for it. Explore their website for more information - how they source natural rubber, reduce CO2 emissions by 80%, improve communities, and help sustain rainforests.


Giving up straws for the month of October ( - Actually, you don't have to give up straws to help the environment. By planning ahead, you can purchase reusable straws and enjoy the best of both worlds. Read all about the "One Less Straw campaign" on the Life Without Plastic website and the environmental impacts of single-use plastic, here. Stainless and glass straws (affiliate link) are available at Life Without Plastic. Kudos to this brother and sister pair who aim to change the world one straw at a time.

France is banning single-use plastic bags and tableware. ( - Thank you Plastic is Rubbish for this tip - another website out of the UK spreading the word about plastic. And here's the link to their Facebook page. I love having you visit my wood, but please do check out these other websites. I learn so much about reducing plastic use from these dedicated champions. A list of blogs and websites is included on my Healthy Planet Resources page.


Pho and Vietnamese identity ( - Have you ever tried Pho - a beef noodle Vietnamese soup? I haven't, but I would like to try some after reading this article. The image alone is enough to make you hungry, especially as we head into cooler evenings. You can read all about the history of Pho and the Bon Appétit video debacle in the link above. But I hope you'll focus more on the Pho than the debacle. Perhaps you'll even find authentically prepared Pho in your community, or heaven forbid - learn to prepare it yourself. If you do, I'd like to hear all about it!

Enjoy a Comté cheese plate. ( - For a while, before I stopped eating cheese and driving to Trader Joes, we enjoyed Comté on a weekly basis. Read about the restaurant in New York City that serves thin slices of this delectable cheese with authentic French miche bread (a French sourdough made of whole wheat and rye). In addition, check out the link to Comté, and learn fascinating facts about this French artisanal cheese. You can learn more about miche ,here. For someone who gave up gluten and cheese, writing about these foods is creating some angst.

Four gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipes ( - Because life isn't all about climate change and the blessed Tuta absoluta (see below), here's a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe with four different flour options. Furthermore, they do a wonderful job describing the results from using each type of flour, so you can decide which one to use, first. Please, let us know how it goes. And put on a pot of coffee. I'll be right over. 


Our beloved tomatoes are in danger. ( - I don't like to be the bearer of bad news. But someone has to tell you. So, all my gardener friends out there - brace yourselves. The South American tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta) will be moving into the U.S. within one to ten years.

Although native to South America, it somehow made it into Spain in 2006. Since then, Tuta absoluta has spread across the Mediterranean and into the Middle East, Africa, and India. Currently, in the Western Hemisphere, the South American leafminer has made it as far north as Costa Rica.

Other plants in the nightshade family, such as potatoes, peppers, and eggplants, aren't immune from attack, either. If you enjoy harvesting tomatoes in your summer garden, take a look at this article. Being prepared is the best strategy for both farmers and home gardeners against this beastly leafminer.

Contaminated water from farm run-off in Wisconsin ( - We really do need to get this farming thing right. And we already have the capacity to do so. E. coli and nitrates from animal waste have contaminated about 30% of wells in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Grassy buffer strips and fertilizer management are two low-cost measures that help prevent run-off. Here's an additional article that explains the importance of farm conservation programs and the challenges of maintaining adequate funding.


Managing diabetes with diet - is it possible? ( - It's been a busy week in journalism for diabetes and diet. First, this piece came out in the New York Times about managing diabetes and obesity with low-carb diets in lieu of weight-loss surgery or drugs. And then there's this one, which is more skeptical of the low-carb approach, especially the severely restricted diets. Thinking about a low-carb diet? Check out both of these articles. I'm staying out of this argument - at least for now.

Triclosan was banned last week, but don't worry. It's still around. ( - Finally, the antibacterial ingredient, triclosan, was banned. However, it might be lurking in your toothpaste and other personal care products. Furthermore, industry has substituted other ingredients that haven't been proven safe. Triclosan presents so many health concerns. Take a look at this short read, and learn all about triclosan and its unwelcome buddies.


How to hang lightweight objects from your ceiling ( - Generally speaking, I don't delve into home decorating - at least not on my blog. What's with this Food52 website, anyway? They have so many good ideas that I'm getting sidetracked! Take a look at how they added so much interest to the space that lies above us - the ceiling.

A tiny urban cabin ( - I've been admiring tiny houses for a while, now. This one is a bit larger than most, measuring in at a whopping 400 sq. ft. Honestly, I would love to own one of these. With a fresh open interior and a cabin-like exterior, aesthetically speaking, I consider it a well-designed alternative to our lackluster, mass produced, oversized houses. And it's affordable. Take the virtual tour, and let me know what you think.

Science and Technology

Healing wounds with cold plasma ( - This sounds so futuristic to me. And it has far reaching implications in treating non-healing wounds that occur in diabetes, HIV infections, cancers, and slow cell division in the elderly.

Green Technology

Saving water with a faucet attachment ( - For those of us living in parched California and other dry areas, the Altered:Nozzle looks like a winner. Check out the short video, and learn how to save up to 98% of water use with this brilliant, sleek attachment that turns your water faucet into a water saver without losing any effectiveness.

Hop on over to Pennsylvania to test drive a driverless car ( - Really. You can test drive a Uber self-driving car in Pennsylvania because of few regulations. Actually, there's no special permit or license required at all. However, there does need to be a licensed driver behind the wheel. The Owl hopes this technology takes off soon as she doesn't like to drive - especially on the freeway.


Did you make it to the end of the Treehugger article on the Harvest Moon, above? If not, here's Neil Young performing "Harvest Moon." There's nothing left to be said. Have a beautiful Harvest Moon.    Laura