Surferbird News-Links, 54th Edition


The legal rights of three rivers, California wildflowers, the North Sea Wind Power Hub, Häagen-Dazs and farming, mending clothes, the adorable tardigrade and more: today's Surferbird News-Links!

News from my wood

A therapist once remarked how I never seem to stop processing information. Granted, she was partly correct. This past week, though, I've been considering how to combine my blog with freelance writing gigs. I might want to create a more focused website, partly to hide all those old posts that need editing!

So, I'm considering exporting Surferbird News-Links to a different website, which would include links to my published articles and an author page. Squarespace is a platform that looks interesting because it's an all-in-one package (for a monthly, or yearly, fee) that comes with technical support. Those of you who've considered starting a blog, or website, might want to take a look. Managing the technical aspects of a website can be frustrating and time consuming, so I see clear advantages to Squarespace's platform. If you have a chance to check it out, let me know what you think.

I can assure you, though, Owl In the Wood will stay put! Rest assured, I won't be making drastic changes anytime soon. But you never know what the Owl might do on a whim.


California's wet winter brings tourists from around the world to enjoy rare desert blooms. (

What's astounding is that some of these wildflower seeds could have been dormant for 10-100 years. They've been hiding underground, waiting for rain. People from all over the world traveled to California to see this rare event.

And here's one more—wildflowers in California hills (

And here's another view of California wildflowers, but these sweep across the hills. Perhaps I should leave my wood long enough to catch a glimpse.



The legal rights of a river—three rivers, actually (

An entity doesn't have to be human to be considered a "legal person." After all, in some countries, corporations function as "legal persons." But how will New Zealand and India execute and enforce the legal status of rivers? This will be an interesting story to follow.

climate change

Power plants emit more methane than originally thought. (

The downside of a report cited in this article is that oil refineries and natural gas power plants emit 20 times more methane each year than scientists previously thought. You can read more about methane and other greenhouse gases, here (

Renewable energy

Artificial island in North Sea to serve as wind power hub (

The North Sea Wind Power Hub "could supply as many as 70 to 100 million Europeans with renewable energy by 2050," according to this article in CleanTechnica. Countries that border the North Sea, such as the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark and Germany, could use the electricity generated from this project as well as trade it. In addition, the project might also include building islands in the North Sea.

Food and farming

Even more to love about Häagen-Dazs  (

Row crops and wild bee populations aren't necessarily mutually beneficial. Even though row crops need bees for pollination, this type of farming replaces native plants, which are critical to wild bees' survival. Häagen-Dazs is working with researchers and farmers to improve bees' habitats by planting hedgerows and incorporating sustainable farming methods. A centuries-old farming practice, hedgerows provide native plants for wild bees and other animals while reducing the need for pesticides—an additional reason for wild bees to visit the almond orchards of California's Central Valley. Welcome home, wild bees!


New data points to lead poisoning in additional communities across California (

California map of neighborhoods with elevated lead levels (

It's disturbing to think we have such a big problem with lead in the U.S. My older kids and I lived in Fresno, CA, for several years, and it's one of the communities mentioned in the above article. I checked out our old neighborhood, and fortunately, it wasn't one of the dangerous areas for lead exposure. But I'm concerned about other families who might not be so fortunate. It's important to note that in one area of Fresno, childhood lead poisoning rates were almost three times those of Flint, Michigan.

Home and textiles

Fixing clothes: the story of a woman's business (

Nicole Bassett is mending "broken" clothes and reselling them on her website,  The Renewal Workshop. She's partnered with PrAna, Toad&Co, Ibex, Mountain Khakis and Indigenous to keep our well-loved, and lightly-loved, clothing out of landfills. Be careful, though, when visiting TheRenewal Workshop: You might see something you can't live without!

Make a zig-zag patch for your jeans (

In case you were wondering, yes, you can see the zig-zag stitches. That's what I love about this tutorial on patching holey jeans. But, since I don't have any jeans, I'll have to buy a pair and wear them out so I can mend them with this fanciful zig-zag design. :)

Science and technology

An adorable microscopic critter that could one day contribute to humans' health (

Excuse me while I go vitrify (turn into glass). That's what the adorable and indestructible tardigrade does. But it vitrifies in conjunction with completely drying out (desiccation) and can survive in this state for up to 10 years. Adding water brings the tardigrade back to life. Learning more about this process has clear benefits for humans because vitrification might be a future solution for organ, drug and vaccine preservation.


An argument for a four-hour work day (

Would your boss let you work 4-5 hours a day? Hmm, maybe it's time to switch bosses or sail to another universe because working fewer hours in a day has clear productivity benefits. And it can also nurture creativity. Although the author of the article didn't suggest this, I'm smelling the upside of a basic guaranteed income.

Thanks for tuning in,