Surferbird News-LInks, 17th Edition


Welcome to the 17th edition of Surferbird news-links. Take a peek at some of today's highlights: make a burlap window shade, jellyfish lodges, paper straws (yes!), cow burps, a smog-filtering tower, kites that power the grid, banana cream pie, and always an earworm!

Craft project

Make a burlap shade. ( - When I came across this project, I fell in love. Many of you will appreciate that it doesn't require a sewing machine - only a small amount of hand sewing. This shade doesn't fit our decorating needs at the moment, but I'm storing it in the recesses of my brain and here on my blog - since I don't always trust my brain. Being a blog owner has some fringe benefits! :)




Paper straws ( - I found these cool paper straws this past week! Aardvark straws are plastic-free, and they're available in a variety of styles, quantities, and sizes. For example, the green and white striped straws are $4.99 for 24 straws. In addition, Aardvark straws are chlorine-free, biodegradable, made from FDA and EU food grade paper, and compostable. Another option is to save money by purchasing in bulk.

Farming and agriculture

This grass will reduce cow burps. ( - Seriously? Danish scientists are developing a super grass that will be easier for cows to digest, which decreases methane production. But has anyone asked the cows how they feel about this?


Cleaning up our rivers and streams with jellyfish lodges( - I hope this comes to pass - floating jellyfish lodges that grow food, purify the air, and clean rivers and streams. They look so peaceful.

Smog-filtering tower in China ( - Many of you may have already heard about this. However, it was too cool to omit from this post. A giant tower, designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, filters over 75 percent of two different kinds of pollutants from the air, cleaning the air around parks and playgrounds. Currently located in Beijing and operating on wind energy, it will travel to three other cities in China. In addition, the tower collects particulate matter, which is compressed into jewelry - rings. Visitors may purchase these as souvenirs.  The article in the link above features a video of the tower in action.

Renewable energy

Powering the world with kites in Scotland ( - This is for real. The kites measure 40 meters wide (about 131 ft.) and rise 450 meters (about 1,476 ft.) above the ground. And just like the kites we flew as children, these attach to a line, which turns a turbine to generate power.

Beautiful places and spaces

Paris is getting even greener. ( - Just when I thought France couldn't get any greener, Paris is now encouraging and supporting urban gardening to a level I've never seen, which will include city walls, roofs, and urban agriculture.

Foula, Scotland ( - Foula is part of the Shetland Islands in Scotland. These photographs of Great Britain's most remote inhabited island capture its stark beauty and seem to celebrate living life on the edge of the world.

Houses connected to nature ( - Sometimes, it's that special tree, or collection of trees, that makes living in an urban area more meaningful. But these houses blur the lines between nature and urban living, thereby creating sacred spaces.


Fair trade blog post and movie( - Read the blog post, or simply watch the movie, below. You'll be inspired. I promise. And just to clarify, this isn't a movie about how bad thing are in the garment industry; it's about possibilities.



Banana Cream Pie ( - I've been craving cream lately. Unfortunately, I've been satisfying my craving by indulging in Haagen Dazs. But this recipe just might do the trick because of the cream, and it's relatively low in sugar. I haven't decided what my plans are regarding the crust, since it's a traditional pie crust made with wheat flour, which I currently choose to skip. However, I plan to experiment. Do you have any ideas?

Cooking pasta with less water ( - If you live in a waterlogged part of the world, this article may not interest you. But here in California and other parts of the Western U.S., saving water is a big deal. Learn about cooking pasta in less water. Alternately, cook the pasta directly in sauces.

10 U.S. coffee companies forging a path for sustainability ( - Wow! I learned the coffee we purchase, Peet's, is among these ten companies.

Amazon wants to scan your license plate ( - What the heck does this have to do with food? Amazon is planning to launch drive-thru convenience stores for staple food items like milk and meat. However, they want to scan license plates to reduces the amount of time you have to wait in line. But there may be more to it than that. I don't know. I guess we'll have to wait and see.


Ancient grains health study ( - Eating ancient grains, whether grown conventionally or organically, may have health benefits. I love that little word may.  Admittedly, scientists feel the study population size was too small, but the preliminary results suggest that ancient grains lower blood glucose levels. High blood glucose levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Scientists noted other benefits, also, but they remain cautious about making firm recommendations.

What about pink ribbons? ( - I appreciate this perspective on pink ribbons and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many organizations claim to support breast cancer awareness, but they also manufacture products that have been linked to breast cancer (

A new report on mammography ( - Are breast cancers overdiagnosed in women? I'll leave you to read this one without commentary from me, since it's such a controversial topic.

 Science news-links

The sounds of ancient birds( - Scientists recently discovered the oldest bird voice box, which provides clues to the sounds of ancient birds. It's amazing to think that this particular bird fossil was 66 million years old.

Beware the calcium supplements ( - Whereas, foods naturally rich in calcium are heart and artery protective, calcium supplements may increase the risk of both arterial plaque build up and heart damage.

Promising research on killing antibiotic resistant superbugs( - Could we use star-shaped peptide polymers to kill superbugs instead of antibiotics? This is fascinating research that needs further testing, but kudos to the team at the University of Melbourne that made this discovery.


Today's earworm was inspired by the kites in Scotland that will eventually provide clean energy for parts of Great Britain. I'm afraid this earworm superseded the Marvin Gaye song I had planned to use. Because of the kites, Marvin will just have to wait. Enjoy your weekend! We're basking in a blessed wet one.    Laura