Surferbird News-Links, 19th Edition


Welcome to the 19th edition of Surferbird News-Links. Today's edition is a little different. Because of all the election malaise, I thought you might enjoy a break from serious news. And I always accumulate more articles than I can possibly share in a single post. So, I did a bit of housekeeping.  Consequently, today's edition is a potpourri of both older and more recent articles - but nothing too serious or depressing. So, climb on board! Let's surf some news-links!

A lovely T-shirt shopping bag from my owlinthewood Facebook page

If you have a Facebook account, check out the beautiful blue shopping bag with birds and intricate fringe that a follower posted on my Facebook page. She's an artist by trade, so she made a work of art out of her no-sew shopping bag project. There's nothing funky about this shopping bag! If any of you would like to share your projects, let me know on Facebook.

A message from Canada ( - Is the election getting you down? I think we're all ready for it to be over. Meanwhile, here's a video of Canadians telling Americans they're great. It definitely made me smile. Thank you, Canada!



Green Halloween ideas ( - I'm kind of on the late side sharing this with you, but here's an article with excellent ideas on how to have an environmentally friendly Halloween and, more importantly, a non-toxic one. Be sure to check out the face paint section. Did you meet my eco-friendly ghost, Charlie, this past week? What a character - both Charlie and the owl are quite a pair.

An off-grid tiny solar house ( - Although this tiny house rides on wheels, I love the casual, fresh feel. It reminds me more of a beach house. I'm moving in ASAP.

From footsteps to electricity ( - What an ingenious idea - convert footsteps into electricity through the type of sustainable flooring used in buildings and homes.

Slow down! ( - These look like a herd of walking bicycles, but their mission is to slow down traffic. Reminding people to slow down keeps pedestrians and cyclists safe, at least that's the hope! I could get attached to these characters.



An article on eating meat, ethics, and climate change ( - This is a podcast with an optional transcript, where Chris Kresser interviews Diana Rodgers from Is is possible to raise meat while living in harmony with the environment? This is an excellent post/podcast which explores the answers to this question and more. After reading the transcript, I hopped on over to Diana's website. I enjoyed reading her story, and the photographs of the farm she shares with her husband and children highlight the bucolic nature of the New England countryside, which I visited over thirty years ago. I look forward to spending more time on Diana's website.

Environmentally friendly beer ( - Long Root Ale is made from kernza®, a perennial grain bred from an intermediate relative of ancient wheatgrass. Kernza® has long roots, which help with carbon sequestration and water conservation. Additionally, it grows abundantly without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. A collaboration between Patagonia and Hopworks Urban Brewery, more information is available on the Patagonia website, here.

A perennial alternative to traditional wheat ( - Would you like to know more about Kernza®? Take a look at The Land Institute website, above. A handful of restaurants and bakeries across the country are already experimenting with Kernza® in breads and other baked goods. Although it's lower in gluten, it's not gluten-free. Their work is fascinating, and the website contains additional information on other crops, food security, and sustainable agriculture.

Sweet potatoes with sage ( - What struck me most about this recipe was the combination of sage and sweet potatoes. This is one I have to try. Yum.


Gut health

Does eating ice cream cause weight gain? ( - Can you believe I Googled this question? Actually, my search terms were -  is ice cream good for gut bacteria? Well, it turns out, I'm not as crazy as I thought I was. :) Because everyone's gut microbiome is different, we can't categorize foods as being unequivocally good or bad - with the exception of processed foods. Those are bad for everyone! We've all been  hearing about the importance of the gut microbiome, lately. But I found this article particularly enlightening, especially in relation to foods, gut microbiomes, and blood sugar.

Processed foods and gut inflammation ( - This was a mouse study. However, to be on the safe side, I avoid all food additives, including common emulsifiers. The study suggests that some common food additives can alter gut bacteria, predisposing one, at least mice, to gut inflammation. It's a good idea to stick with unprocessed foods. If an ingredient is added to enhance a food in some way, maybe it doesn't need to be in there!


How much water should I drink? ( - The best way to sum up this article is to listen to your thirst signals. There's no need to force yourself to drink more water because someone told you to drink a certain amount each day - unless, of course, it's your doctor and there's a medical reason to do so.


Elate Clean Cosmetics (and sustainable packaging!) ( - I learned about Elate Clean Cosmetics from this article in TreeHugger on green cosmetic brands. The article lists about eight companies, but it's Elate's sustainable packaging that caught my eye. I haven't tried them, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do.

Mental health

Interesting discovery sheds light on depression ( - Scientists have a greater understanding of the physical origins of depression and now believe it affects the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain associated with non-rewards and sense of self. Interestingly, this part of the brain is activated by the absence of rewards, which then often leads to low self-esteem and a sense of loss. I know I may not be explaining the mechanism coherently, but there's one more interesting piece to all of this. Another characteristic of depression is less connectivity between the reward part of the brain in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and memory. Scientists think this may be why depressed individuals focus on negative thoughts versus positive memories.

Shakespeare and autism ( - Have you heard of the Hunter Heartbeat Method? This form of therapy for kids on the autism spectrum uses Shakespeare to improve eye contact, connect emotions with facial expressions, ease transitions from one activity to another, understand personal physical space, and teach turn-taking speech skills. The rhythm of Shakespeare's iambic pentameter and immersion into imagination are the two main components of the program.


Something I love about having a blog is connecting with other writers. One way we do this is by following each other's posts. It's a wonderful way to support one another on this adventure called blogging. Last week, I stumbled upon Davy D's thought provoking post on clowns. At this point, you might be able to guess where today's earworm is headed. Stephen Sondheim wrote "Send in the Clowns" as part of the musical A Little Night Music. Judy Collins performs it beautifully in this video. Piano arpeggios linger in my mind. What about you?  Happy Halloween,   Laura