Surferbird News-Links, 18th Edition


Welcome to the 18th edition of Surferbird News-Links. Some of today's highlights include making clean drinking water with solar panels, winter drought forecast in the U.S., seaweed and cow burps, rosemary for longevity, information on migraines, electronics, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Aunt Sylvia!

A photo in honor of my aunt's birthday, today!

I don't get to see my aunt much these days. But she loves pelicans. So, when I saw this photo, I thought of her. Just like you, she reads my posts. Hopefully, she'll be pleasantly surprised! Here's the link. I don't believe I've ever seen a pelican up close before. Beautiful.




Using solar panels to turn moisture in the air into drinking water ( - This is for real. And it has far reaching implications for those who lack clean drinking water. Every ten seconds, someone in the world dies from drinking water that's contaminated with microbes. But this technology could also be used in the U.S. and other areas where lead pipes have become a major health concern, since local water systems and its pipes are bypassed. Bottom line, this could vastly improve the quality of life for many people around the world.

Single-use plastic water bottle ban

Water bottle ban Washington University, St. Louis ( - Washington University is the first university to ban single-use plastic water bottles in the U.S. Just for the record, the University of Vermont was the first public university to ban single-use plastic water bottles. However, in the case of Vermont, sales of other sugary beverages increased while this hasn't been the case at Washington University. They used the information from the Vermont ban to improve the outcome.

Free press?

Attack on free press ( - Have you heard about this? Most of you probably have. But even so, I feel it's important to let you know - just in case. Journalists filming and photographing protests at oil pipeline locations are being slapped with felony charges, which in the case of Deia Schlosberg, could potentially lead to a 45-year jail sentence.

Climate news

U.S. winter drought forecast ( - There's a handy map on the site. But I'm interested to know the forecast for my friends who live around the globe. What does it look like for you?

Information on HFC refrigerant ban ( along with an excellent article in the New York Times on the ban, here.

Los Angeles is leading the way on sustainable energy ( - Los Angeles is one of eighteen cities in the U.S. leading the way towards clean energy. Their goals are even more stringent than those of California.


Seaweed might be the answer to reduce methane production in cows( - What's interesting is cows who live near the sea have always gravitated towards algae as a food source. As it turns out, one particular variety of algae reduces cow methane production by more than 99%. And it only needs to supplement 2% of their diet. It's all about the bromoform. It's important to note that mostly cow burps ( create excess methane, versus cow farts. :)

Reforesting Haiti with cocoa ( - Haiti has lost about 50% of its topsoil due mostly to wood charcoal production. Because cocoa grows well among coconut, breadfruit, mango, and avocado trees, it plays an important role in reforesting Haiti while providing an income for small farmers.


Roasting fruits and vegetables whole ( - Take a look at these lovely roasted fruits and vegetables. Directions are included along with links to recipes. Grapes, cherries, and cauliflower are just a few examples.

Sweet potato recipes( - I couldn't resist this one, especially when I saw the sweet potato biscuits! My grandmother made them for me when I was a child. I suspect you could make them gluten-free. But it's nice to know many of the recipes don't even include flour.

Cooking with fig leaves ( - Take a look at the delectable dishes prepared with fig leaves - even cookies!


Does rosemary increase longevity? ( - Maybe. But it could also be other factors. In this particular part of Italy, people cook with a more pungent variety of rosemary, which they consume daily. Of course, there's also plenty of olive oil and fresh fruits and vegetables lying around. And I don't want to make anyone blush, but they remain randy well into their 90's. :) Here's an additional article on rosemary (, as well.


A diet for migraines ( - Can a ketogenic/low-carb diet help migraines? I found this article a bit confusing as low-fat kept getting thrown in with low-carb along with low-calorie. But the point seems to be that low-carb diets, whether low-fat or high-fat, might help those who suffer from migraines. The authors of the study do point out, though, that they're not sure if the positive results stem solely from the ketone bodies produced from eating the low-carb diet. Further studies are needed.

Fascinating research on migraines and oral nitrate-reducing microbes ( And here's a more user-friendly version of the same study in Quartz (

Mental health

Philosophy for mental health ( - Would you see a philosopher instead of a therapist for counseling? Better yet, what if your practitioner was trained in both philosophy and mental health? This intrigues me.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink ribbon month and the safety of your cosmetics ( - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I can't think of a better time to check your cosmetics and personal care products for safety. The article above lists the worst offenders. What's in your products?


Decorating for beginners ( - I love to decorate. And I've had some challenging spaces in which to practice. Most of you are probably old pros at decorating by now. But I still think you'll enjoy this short read. I learned a thing or two, and it confirmed some of what I've already tried.

A 400-square-foot apartment with a catwalk( - I love these tiny living spaces, but he can keep his catwalk. Still, I love the use of space.

A treehouse in England ( - a beautiful living space with a copper tub!


Treating superbugs with a compound in Tasmanian devil milk ( - I just can't let these superbugs go. And there's a good reason for this - superbugs are a big deal. But even if we manage to synthesize cathelicidins, the magic compound in Tasmanian devil milk, further testing is needed. Additionally, we'll still have to use drugs like these responsibly.


All new Teslas are autonomous (

How to care for a laptop battery ( - I need to do more research on this one. But I did learn what not to do. I'll see if I can find additional information for next week!

The human cost to smartphones ( - I'm not anti-technology. Really. But I would like you to consider hanging on to that older smartphone until it dies. Take a look at the human suffering that takes place in order for us to have the latest electronic gadgets. And it's not just phones. Knowledge is power. Now, you know.

A modular phone that uses responsibly sourced materials ( - The article above,, has a link to this company. At first glance, I'm impressed. Because I just learned about Fairphone hours before publishing this post, I'll need to actually spend more time on their website over the next few weeks before recommending or purchasing one myself. But I must say, this looks promising.

Think twice before recycling that Apple phone( - Can you believe the owl just said that? Apple's robot, Liam, takes apart used Apple electronics and sells the components to recycling companies. Sweet, right? But Apple requires its recycling partners to destroy these parts to prevent less than honest companies from making counterfeit Apple products. Instead of recycling your phone, replace the screen and/or battery. Do everything possible to fix your old phone before buying a new one. Also, try selling it. Passing your old phone over to Liam is a last resort.

Words from the owl on phones and electronic whatnots

It's important to note that Apple, although far from perfect, has been an environmental leader among electronics companies. I'm providing a couple of links for you to check out so that you can shop more responsibly. They're both from Greenpeace, and the first one has to do with hazardous chemicals in various types of electronics devices from phones to TVs. The second is a green guide chart from 2012. And just in case you didn't see the links in my bookstore post, listed under New Society Publishers, here's a link on conflict minerals and an additional one on the slavery footprint of goods. Thank you, New Society Publishers, for providing this information.


I don't know why this song became my earworm. But it did. I'm not going to force or manufacture a reason. Dan Fogelberg's music expresses my teenage angst. And the owl has been full of angst lately. These songs take me all the way back to Mississippi and lying on the rug in front of the fireplace - a teenage girl basking in the reflective quality of Dan's music. It does make for a nice autumn song, though, doesn't it? "Stars" by Dan Fogelberg.  Laura