…on this day in 1963 the US Congress passed the first Clean Air Act.
So, what are the effects on the average US citizen of the US implementing the Clean air Act?
> 10+% reduction in pollution in counties that still exceeded pollution thresholds set by the 1970 Clean Air Act.
> $4,300 is the estimated gain in personal income for each individual affected by this improvement in air quality.
In other words, clean air helps us to protect our health
and is profitable for the U.S.
…comments by Lyndon B. Johnson upon signing the first Clean Air Act in to law in 1963…
“I AM GLAD to approve this legislation which is to be known as the Clean Air Act. It will make possible a national effort to control air pollution, a serious and growing threat to both our health and our safety. Ninety percent of the population of our cities, over 100 million people, already suffer from a degree of air pollution that demands immediate action.
There are over 6,000 communities which need assistance. This act will permit expanded research, foster cooperative efforts among the States, provide better State and Federal control over pollution. The Federal Government will encourage industry to seek effective solutions to problems of pollution and organize cooperative projects with local, State, and Federal participation.
Now, under this legislation, we can halt the trend toward greater contamination of our atmosphere. We can seek to control industrial wastes discharged into the air. We can find the ways to eliminate dangerous haze and smog. All of us are very grateful to Congressman Roberts, to Senator Ribicoff, Senator Muskie, to the Chairmen of the Senate and House Committees, Senator McNamara and Congressman Harris, and to all of their colleagues in both the House and Senate who developed and guided this important bill through the Congress. They truly can be proud of the efforts they have made and the achievements that have resulted.“
*The Clean Air Act is Public Law 88-206 (77 Stat. 392)*
From the US EPA web site:
Some principal milestones in the evolution of the Clean Air Act are:
The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955
First federal air pollution legislation
Funded research for scope and sources of air pollution
Clean Air Act of 1963
Authorized the development of a national program to address air pollution related environmental problems
Authorized research into techniques to minimize air pollution
Air Quality Act of 1967
Authorized enforcement procedures for air pollution problems involving interstate transport of pollutants
Authorized expanded research activities
Clean Air Act 1970
Authorized the establishment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Established requirements for State Implementation Plans to achieve the National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Authorized the establishment of New Source Performance Standards for new and modified stationary sources
Authorized the establishment of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants
Increased enforcement authority
Authorized requirements for control of motor vehicle emissions
1977 Amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1970
Authorized provisions related to the Prevention of Significant Deterioration
Authorized provisions relating to areas which are non-attainment with respect to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards
1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1970
Authorized programs for Acid Deposition Control
Authorized a program to control 189 toxic pollutants, including those previously regulated by the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants
Established permit program requirements
Expanded and modified provisions concerning the attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Expanded and modified enforcement authority
Established a program to phase out the use of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.”
Go *here* to check out the US EPA page on Solving Air Pollution Problems with Science and Technology.
For additional information on The clean Air Acts signed in to law and the impacts… go here! Wikipedia has a good page on the history and impact of The Clean Air Act, go check it out!
1(+) teaspoon vanilla (or almond extract, or mix 😉 )
2 1/4 all-purpose or whole wheat flour
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (walnuts)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
Pre-heat oven to 400º F.
Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. How firm you make them changes the consistency… pack them very firm for Russian Teacakes (baked= very round and firm), my understanding is that the less packed are Mexican / Wedding Tea Cakes (baked= loosely round and softer)…
Place about 1 inch apart using ungreased cookie sheet, parchment, or silpat.
Bake 10 – 12 minutes, until set but not brown.
Remove from cookie sheet, and allow to cool slightly.
Roll cookies, while still warm, in powdered sugar.
Set aside to finish cooling.
I roll them in powdered sugar one more time…
You can freeze them, to store, up to 6 weeks.
You can use *other* nuts: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans…COVER them in chocolate! (any type) and roll in more chopped nuts!
In bowl, combine flour, nut meal, and baking powder.
In another bowl use electric mixer to beat the egg with the butter and sugar; beat to *creamy* and gradually add the flour mixture until it’s all mixed in thoroughly.
Form dough into ball and put it in the fridge while you prepare the *cap* dough. If you’re going to leave it for more than 20 minutes, wrap dough in plastic wrap.
In bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, sugar, and baking powder.
In another bowl use electric mixer to beat the egg with the egg yolk and add butter. Mix until it’s mixed in thoroughly.
Gradually add the flour mixture until a ball of dough forms. The dough ball should be smooth, but not sticky. If needed add more flour (from the additional 1/2 cup set aside). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and cool it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Baking
Preheat oven to 355° F ( 180° C).
Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Take the *Stem* dough out of the fridge and tear it into chunks. You can quarter the dough to make estimating number of stems easier). Roll out each chunk into thin, firm logs and cut it into pieces ~ 3/4″ to 1″ long (~2-3 cm).
I tend to shape the lower end of the stem slightly flared out and flatten the bottom edge.
Place them on your baking sheet, about an inch apart. I recommend using parchment paper or silpat.
Bake 10-15 minutes; baking they will rise slightly and the edges get lightly golden brown. Cool.
When the dough for the caps has chilled (minimum 30 minutes), take it out and form it into small balls. I recommend quartering the *entire* dough so it is easier to estimate the amount of dough for each ball, matching the number of stems you make). Place them on the baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or silpat.
Bake 10-15 minutes; baking they will rise slightly and the edges get lightly golden brown.
Take them out of the oven and start scraping out the centers immediately while they’re still hot(once cold this will be harder to do).
Take a small, sharp knife and cut small circle in the bottom of the mushroom caps and remove a small scoop. Do this over a bowl, because you need most of the crumbs for the filling (I use about 3/4).Set the scooped caps aside.
In bowl, combine ~3/4 of the cookie crumbs, nut meal, cocoa, (the optional rum), and jam. Mix this into a paste.
Fill the hole in the bottom of each mushroom cap with a bit of filling (varies according to the size of the hole in the bottom of each cap cookie). Then gently press a stem into the center.
Wipe away excess filling.
Set the cookies aside.
Place the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or fake one with a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water). Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter melt and the chocolate is smooth and glossy.
Decrease heat to warm (some people remove the saucepan from the heat entirely… I don’t… but if you leave it on low heat and the chocolate starts to thicken/stiffen too much due to overcooking, add a bit of a solid vegetable shortening to thin the chocolate again).
Dip cookies cap-down in chocolate one by one and stand or lay them on a baking sheet.
Dip all cookie caps (with stems attached), you *can* place the baking sheet in fridge for ~20 minutes to harden chocolate faster… I don’t usually bother.
Store cookies in airtight containers in the fridge (put parchment paper in between the layers of cookies), they should last at least a week.
Best served room temperature.Mushroom caps might crack a little as they bake. That’s fine.
Once the caps are dipped the cracks are masked!Dough can be made a day in advance, if you do wrap it in plastic wrap.Other nuts *can* be used… walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans… I haven’t tried others, but I don’t see why you shouldn’t if you want!
Other chocolate *can* be used!
…*and* you can add food color to alter the chocolate color!
Jams… as long as the jam/jelly is not chunky I think you can use what sounds good, just be careful to be subtle *or* complimentary!
I haven’t tried any flours than the all-purpose flour…
Chocolate Truffles… … mmm…
(I couldn’t get it narrowed down today, I’ll try to get it narrowed down to just one of the bunch to share…)
Chocolate Covered Banana Bites!
Almost any chocolate covered fruit
tastes great (imo ; ) … strawberries, oranges, blueberries… and bananas!
3 ripe bananas (2 if large)
11-12 ounce bag of chocolate chips or melting chocolate (dark, milk, or whatever!)
1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening
~6 Tablespoons of chopped nuts (optional)
Slice bananas into ~1/2″ chunks and set aside.
Place the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or fake one with a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water). Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter melt and the chocolate is smooth and glossy.
Decrease heat to warm (some people remove the saucepan from the heat entirely… I don’t… but if you leave it on low heat and the chocolate starts to thicken/stiffen too much due to overcooking, add a bit more solid vegetable shortening to thin the chocolate again).
Roll banana chunks in the melted chocolate one by one… at this point you can use a toothpick to roll the chocolaty chunks in chopped nuts… then set them on a parchment (or silpat) covered baking sheet.
If you’re feeling creative you can use this as an opportunity to practice your chocolate drizzling skills and drizzle another type of chocolate over the top.
To cool faster you *can* place the baking sheet in fridge or freezer for ~20 minutes to harden chocolate faster…
Store in freezer until ready to set them out to eat!
They are great straight out of the freezer as a frozen treat or as a dessert topper 🙂
Winter has held a deep significance for humans for, well, at least as long as we have been human. It is a time when the dark of the year is at it’s greatest, we know we have the challenge of the depths of winter ahead, and we tend to have more time for introspection (especially at the higher latitudes… you know… the further from the equator you get, the places that have greater seasonal/temperature variations).
We watch the world around us and use symbolism to help us describe things of great significance to us…
This post is an exploration of those changes that we see as we pass through the darkest time of the year and face the challenges of winter (especially historically, because human culture and biology are an expression of our accumulated history)… the plan is to edit this post each day for the 12 days before Yule / Christmas (Dec 13-24), and then to follow that with a post on the 12 days after (which are the traditional “12 days of Christmas”).
This is the holiday season… so please be especially patient if we are late editing/posting… I promise, there is a cookie in your future for you if you do (if you remind me, ’cause lately i need the reminder ) .
< We’ll mark the topics covered within the “Twelve Days *Before* (Winter 2017)” blog post/s that we *explore more* from our “Explore the Wonder of the Season, 2017″ Winter Holiday Card with a nice bright apple! Why an apple?
Watch for our updates later within this post to explore that Quest_ion!
find it in the night sky so you can see it too.
… and, bonus points, it is there every year waiting for you like an early holiday gift, in early through mid December!
The Geminid meteor shower was first identified in 1862, and is believed to be intensifying every year.
Meteor showers have deep meaning for humans… some even taking them as a sign, as famously happened during the massive (and I use that word carefully ) 1833 Leonid meteor shower .
The 1833 Leonid meteor shower, which is credited for giving birth to meteor science, had rates of tens of thousands of meteors per hour (20 to 30 per second!), caused awe, wonder, and (yes, among some) panic:
“Upwards of 100 lay prostrate on the ground…with their hands raised, imploring God to save the world and them. The scene was truly awful; for never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell towards the Earth; east, west, north and south, it was the same.”
…from this report from South Carolina… Chambers, A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy, Volume 1, 1889.
I know this may seem crazy now… to think that people panicked because there was a meteor shower, but these people did not understand what was happening… and it was a *really* intense meteor shower!
Science has helped people to understand how to predict meteor showers, what danger they realistically present, what causes them, and to explore what they are made of…
Tonight’s show will be great, and while it won’t be the *greatest ever*, it will be really impressive… a great show… likely the best of the year… and, while hopefully it won’t cause you to panic, it could change your life (if you let it ; ) .
2} Christmas Bird Count BEGINS! (Dec. 14)
…and without the mess of dealing with all 184 birds from “The 12 Days of Christmas”!
YOU can participate in meaningful citizen science, even from your own backyard!
The Annual Christmas Bird Count, hosted by Audubon Society, begins Dec. 14, 2017, and goes through Jan. 5, 2018.
You can participate alone, get the whole family and friends involved, or join a group. It’s easy to participate! Go learn more about it *here* and use/ click on *this* map to find the local group you report to online to report the birds you see!
The Audubon annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) started in 1900 when Frank M. Chapman, an early officer of the recently formed Audubon Society, proposed that Audubon create a *new* holiday tradition, an annual bird census! Participants would *count* birds instead of hunting them, promoting conservation of dwindling bird populations, and also creating a tool for ornithology (the scientific study of birds!). Twenty-five bird counts were held that first day (Christmas Day, 1900), ranging from Ontario, Canada, to Pacific Grove, CA, USA. A total of 90 species were counted… Annual Summaries can be found here and from there full bibliographies (with links to Bird Count results) can be found *here*.
Information on help identifying birds visually and through calls can be found *here* at the Audubon web site!
(Cornell Birds is always a great source too!)
3} The Mistletoe Kiss (Dec. 15)
…as promised on our holiday card here is where we tell more of the story (or as much as we can without re-translating several conflicting versions of The Edda)
Kissing under the mistletoe stems primarily from Norse mythology….
the story goes like this … When Baldur (also called “The Shining One”, Odin and Frigg’s son), the most beloved of the gods ( so joyful, courageous, and generous that he gave off light/ illumination) began dreaming of his death, his mother Frigg (in some referred to as Frija), the goddess of love, went to the plants and animals to obtain oaths not to harm him.
The other gods, finding this whole situation ridiculous, that the invincible and loved Baldur could be harmed by anything, took to throwing things at him (axes, blades, etc.). But Frigg had overlooked the apparently harmless mistletoe.
When Loki, the god of mischief and envious of Baldur, learned this, he made a dart (in some stories an arrow or spear) from mistletoe and then teased the blind god Hodr about not joining in the fun of chucking things at Baldur… Hodr threw the dart at Baldur and he fell, dead.
At this point, again, versions vary… some say Baldur died and was resurrected again after 3 days, some say he died, not to return until after Ragnorak…… but we aren’t worried about that part of the story today, today we’re watching the mistletoe…
Frigg and/or Mistletoe wept for Baldur, and the tears became mistletoe’s white berries, from there versions vary again… but the result was that Frigg blessed the mistletoe, decreed it a symbol of enduring love and friendship, and promised a kiss to all who passed beneath it.
So… we share a kiss beneath the mistletoe to show our goodwill…
*symbol of vitality, fecundity, & goodwill*
Mistletoe can be found in many parts of the world and symbolizes everlasting life. It has also been used medicinally in traditional cultures, and was called “all heal” by the ancient Celts.
Today it’s medicinal properties are being studied by science…
you can coat practically *anything* in chocolate!
…*and*, bonus, scientific research is showing that dark chocolate has health benefits!
*Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals.
*Better Cognitive Function.
*Improved Heart Health.
*Good for Overall Cholesterol Profile.
*Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Aid.
*Potential Cancer Prevention.
In honor of this delectable day we’re posting several recipes that we love to make during the winter holidays that, yes, are coated in chocolate!
…btw … if you received a holiday card directly from us, you know that glitter on the card?
Biodegradable glitter (for craft, food, and make-up) is now a *thing*!
Regular (non-biodegradable) glitter, micro-beads, and mylar have become *huge* environmental problems… they look like bits of food to many critters and can 1) directly kill them, 2) cause illness that can even impact offspring, and 3) can carry toxins to *us* (let’s say a fish eats that toxic glitter, processes it, and then *we* eat that fish…) …
…so, yeah, QuestX suggests using biodegradable products!
… (barring Hugh Jackman, and borrowing a bit of his *prestige* ; ) … one of the greatest every year… and, given seasonal weather, can be one of the most elusive to try to see…
Last year the Geminid Meteor Shower was largely masked by December’s super moon; this year the moon is only a small crescent and with the weather expected to be fairly clear across most of North America the geminid meteor shower is expected to be quite a show over night December 13 to early morning December 14, 2017. This meteor shower has been known to produce 120 (or more) visible meteors per hour!
To find the constellation Gemini (for which this meteor show is named) first find Orion (and his 3 star belt) and then look above and *over* Orion’s right shoulder (to us? look slightly left of and above Orion). The meteors can show up in other parts of the sky, but they will appear to radiate out from Gemini (see + ).
In 1997 NASA began a continuous “view” of Earth, the entire earth.
The amazing animation from NASA (below) shows, in a few minutes, the last twenty years of Earth’s plant life. The ebb and flow of the seasons, the breathing in and breathing out, and the changes from year to year.
White represents snow cover (a good indicator for following the winter season ) , brown to dark green on land represents low to large presence of vegetation (that light green on land is generally the growth spurt of new plants and the dying back of seasonal plants), and in the ocean purple to dark blue indicate low levels of phytoplankton with the brighter shades from green to yellow indicating high levels of phytoplankton.
In 1997 NASA launched SeaWIFS (the Sea viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor), which has allowed scientists to record and study, more comprehensively, life on Earth to gather information across all of Earth.
Obviously! …the kind of information/data generated from this type of scientific technology can make a big difference in helping us to monitor and understand life on Earth (and potential life on other planets), climactic events, and longer term impacts.
This morning we woke up to an early snow and an early visitor…
Coyotes eat most everything they can find… from deer and rabbits to berries and tasty late season treats… apples…
Coyote’s are really adaptable canids (members of the dog family = Canidae); they are omnivores (= eat both plants and animals, like berries and rodents) that over time have adapted from living primarily in prairies and brushy areas to also living in cities, forests, and even along ocean shores.
Coyotes were originally found in central western North America (in yellow). As habitat was altered by human use and wolf populations (and other predators) were reduced, coyote populations expanded and now include almost all of North America and Central America.
Coyotes were first called “jackal”, “Spanish fox”, “prairie wolf”, and “brush”or “little wolf”. The name “coyote” comes from the Nahuatl name coyōtl; the 1st published use of “coyote” was in Clavijero’s “Historia de Mexico” (1780).
Genetic analysis shows that the relatedness of coyotes, or other canids, is not as simple as once thought.
Scientific name: Canis latrans .(translates to barking dog)
Collective Noun: Pack!
Physical: 3′-4.5′ long (nose to tip tail), 20-45 lbs, similar coloring to a German Shepherd dog. Longer and narrower muzzle than most dogs. Wolves can look a LOT like coyotes from a distance, especially when young, but adult wolves have a much broader muzzle and larger nose pad.
Scat: varies a LOT! Usually 3″-4″ long and ~1″ diameter. Scat from meat tends to be very dark and smooth, from plant matter variable and crumbly.
Range: Almost all of North and Central America historical range western and central North America
Habitat: fairly ubiquitous (= almost everywhere on land is possible)
Food: Omnivore (eats plant and animals), commonly hunting at night.
Natural Lifespan (wild): usually about 4-5 years, but up to 14 years.
Breeding/Behavior: Sometimes mate for life, sometimes by year. Breeding takes place from early February through late March and pups are born from April through May. Pups stay in the den the first few weeks. Feeding growing pups can be very demanding, making this time of the year harder on coyote/human interactions;
coyotes are very protective of den sites and pups.
where coyotes are removed (hunted or trapped) the female coyotes will produce more pups per litter.