Inspiration Meets Sandstone

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Eric Tonningsen's Awakening to Awareness

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“Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

This is a short, meaningful read.

Ra Paulette is an amazing confluence of passion, creativity, inspiration and living at choice. He is proof that people can follow their chosen path, as unique as it may be.

At 69, Ra demonstrates that even when we play, our efforts and contributions can stir the hearts and imaginations of others. To say the man has a vision might be an understatement.

For 25 years Ra has been axing, sanding, and forming exquisite sandstone caves in Taos County, not far from where I live in the New Mexico High Desert.

Following is a CBS video of Ra and some of his work. Or is it really work? If you enjoy being inspired and awed, sit back and enjoy this 5.5 minute story.

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If you’re looking for the intersection of…

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Environment Notables

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Leonardo DiCaprio threatened with deportation by Indonesian government

“Activists may love Leonardo DiCaprio, but right now, the Indonesian government doesn’t. The actor recently incurred the ire of the government through efforts to raise awareness for the Leuser Ecosystem, which faces deforestation for the palm oil industry. After criticizing the destruction of the forest for the industry on his Instagram, the government threatened deportation.”

57% of Scotland’s energy came from renewables in 2015

“A new report published by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change shows that 57.7% of Scotland’s electric consumption came from renewable sources in 2015, exceeding the country’s 50% target for the year. This milestone comes in spite of the UK government’s recent decision to end public subsidies for onshore wind farms a year earlier than initially planned.”

Researchers discover toxic heavy metals in Portland’s trees and air

“United States Forest Service researchers, including economist Geoffrey Donovan and moss and lichen expert Sarah Jovan, weren’t searching for pollution. They were working on a study to demonstrate how trees benefit cities when they began the moss experiments, which health experts say is the first type of this research. Yet their 346 samples revealed toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, and the concentrations were greatest near two glass factories, one in southeast Portland, the other in north Portland.”

New Swedish wave energy buoy boasts 5x the output of existing technology

“We already harness energy from the sun, the wind, and many other natural processes for our own uses, and electricity generated from ocean waves could be the next big thing in renewables. Known as wave energy, the concept is relatively new and technologies are still a bit rudimentary (and expensive), especially when it comes to large-scale energy generation. CorPower Ocean, based in Sweden, has developed a buoy that is surprisingly productive. One small buoy can generate enough electricity from the ocean to power 200 homes. Imagine what a farm full of floating buoys could do.”

U.S. has potential to get 40 percent of its electricity from rooftop solar

“The NREL issued the new report (PDF) at the end of March, marking the first time since 2008 that national estimates of solar power potential have been calculated through such precise methods. The report is the culmination of three years of research, evaluating rooftops for their “suitability” for solar power generation. For a very simplified comparison, this is like using Google’s Project Sunroof on the entire country all at once, to get an idea of how much solar power could be produced if an array is placed on every rooftop that would be worthwhile.”

Animals Tab Purge

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Cambodia rescues half a tonne of smuggled tortoises, pythons

“The animals—102 elongated tortoises and 17 pythons—weighed a total of 570 kilos.
They were confiscated Monday afternoon from a cargo truck in Cambodia’s Kandal province, forestry official Y Sophy told AFP.
“They were being transported to Phnom Penh where they would then be smuggled to Vietnam,” he said, adding the creatures were scooped up from Cambodia’s Battambang province.
No arrests were made as the truck’s driver fled after being pulled over, the official said.”

Jon Stewart rescues runaway bull in NYC

“A bull escaped from a slaughterhouse in NYC and sought refuge on the campus green at York College in Queens. For some bulls, this might have just been a brief reprieve before heading back on the road to the slaughterhouse, but this lucky bull was rescued by Stewart and his wife and taken to their New Jersey animal sanctuary to live out the rest of his days.”

American bat epidemic jumps the Rockies

“White-nose syndrome (WNS) first appeared at a New York cave in February 2006, kicking off a historic epidemic that has stubbornly pushed west through the U.S. and Canada. It has obliterated bat populations along the way, with a nearly 100 percent mortality rate in some colonies. By February 2016, the disease had been confirmed at bat hibernacula in 27 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces.

But on March 11, hikers found a sick bat near North Bend in Washington state, about 30 miles east of Seattle. They took it to Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in hopes it could recover, but the bat died two days later. It had visible symptoms of a skin infection common in bats with WNS, so PAWS submitted it for testing to the U.S. National Wildlife Health Center, which confirmed those suspicions.

“We are extremely concerned about the confirmation of WNS in Washington state, about 1,300 miles from the previous westernmost detection of the fungus that causes the disease,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe says in a statement. Until now, the fungus’s western frontier had been in Nebraska.”

Green sea turtles are no longer endangered in Florida and Mexico

“Decades of conservation efforts have paid off for green sea turtles in Florida and Mexico. In the late 1970s, populations dwindled due to heavy commercial harvesting of turtle eggs and meat – but protection programs have helped numbers increase to the thousands. As a result of the population growth, the species has been elevated from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act. Although the turtles will continue to be protected, they are no longer on the brink of extinction.”

Costa Rica’s ‘Land of the Strays’ is a canine paradise where nearly 1,000 dogs roam free

“Costa Rica offers more than just pristine beaches and stunning surf—the tropical country is also home to a dog and dog lovers’ paradise filled with nearly 1,000 happy and healthy dogs. Founded as a no-kill shelter and haven for strays, the volunteer-run Territorio de Zaguatas—the Land of the Strays—is located on the green pastures of Santa Bárbara in Costa Rica’s Heredia province. The sprawling free-range doggy heaven runs an active adoption program, but also invites curious visitors and dog lovers to come for a free hike and to play with the dogs.”

Tigers declared extinct in Cambodia

“Wild tigers have not been found in Cambodia since 2007, leading conservationists to declare the animals “functionally extinct.” The Cambodian government recently approved a $20 to $50 million Tiger Action Plan to try and save the majestic wild cats.”

Report reveals 11 million people and half of World Heritage sites are threatened by industry

“The World Wildlife Fund issued a new report that warns nearly half of all World Heritage sites are being threatened by industrial activity. Oil and gas exploration, mining, and logging (legal and otherwise) all endanger some of the world’s most beloved and natural locations, many of which are home to biodiverse animal kingdoms. WWF is calling on world leaders to respond by taking more aggressive action to protect natural sites from commercial development and corporate interests.”

Found, Hacked, And Crazy People

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Text in lost language may reveal god or goddess worshipped by Etruscans at ancient temple

“The lengthy text is inscribed on a large 6th century BCE sandstone slab that was uncovered from an Etruscan temple.
A new religious artifact is rare. Most Etruscan discoveries typically have been grave and funeral objects.
“This is probably going to be a sacred text, and will be remarkable for telling us about the early belief system of a lost culture that is fundamental to western traditions,” said archaeologist Gregory Warden, co-director and principal investigator of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which made the discovery.”

US hacks iPhone, ends legal battle but questions linger (Update)

“The extraordinary legal fight pitting the Obama administration against technology giant Apple Inc. ended unexpectedly after the…FBI used the unspecified technique to access data on an iPhone used by gunman Syed Farook, who died with his wife in a gun battle with police after they killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December. The Justice Department said agents are now reviewing the information on the phone.”

US company to sell smartphone-shaped gun

“Americans will soon be able to buy a smartphone-shaped gun that can hold two bullets and easily slip into a pocket. The Minnesota-based company Ideal Conceal says it will sell the new weapon from mid-2016.
“Smartphones are everywhere, so your new pistol will easily blend in with today’s environment,” it adds. “In its locked position it will be virtually undetectable because it hides in plain sight.”

That is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. Get ready for more gun violence.

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U.S. will finally get its first offshore wind farm this year

“The project was initially planned for completion in 2012, but set backs and plan changes have delayed it. GE, the makers of the five 6-MW “Haliade” turbines that will make up the project, has just announced that the wind farm is on target to be up and running by the end of the year. Even with the delays, it will be the first completed offshore wind farm in the country.”

Bacardi wants you to “hold the straw” with your next drink

“By going straw-less at the gin distillery will save 14,000 straws from landfill every month. It’s a small drop in the bucket, but at least it raises awareness and will hopefully encourage people to transfer those straw-free orders to other areas of their life.”

Second environmental activist murdered in Honduras; government detains surviving, injured activist

“Environmental activists in Honduras continue to be threatened and murdered following the assassination of environmental activist Berta Cáceres earlier this month. Gustavo Castro, an activist staying at Cáceres home, witnessed her murder and was shot twice during the attack. Now, he is being detained by Honduran authorities. Nelson García, a fellow member of the organization COPINH, was killed 13 days after Cáceres’ death…COPINH says the attack builds on the intimidation and death threats they’ve already received. Eight of the nine coordinators of the organization have been interrogated without a reason for up to 12 hours.”

Poland is planning to log one of the last primeval forests of Europe

“One of the last remaining untouched forests in Europe will be opened up to logging activity, according to Poland’s environment minister. Around 180,000 cubic meters (6.4 million cubic feet) of wood will be taken from Bialowieza Forest over the next decade, much to the disappointment of environmentalists and naturalists. While government officials say the logging efforts will be controlled and limited, others worry this may be the beginning of the end of Europe’s last primeval forest, as well as the wild creatures who call it home….Government officials insist the logging will not take place in the area of forest UNESCO recognized, and activity will be strictly restricted to minimize damage. “We’re acting to curb the degradation of important habitats, to curb the disappearance and migration of important species from this site,” said Jan Szyszko, Poland’s environment minister, in a press conference.”

Horrifying rash outbreak leads many to criticize Canada’s healthcare for indigenous peoples

“An outbreak of rashes and open sores on children in Canada’s Kashechewan First Nation is leading many to criticize the health care and living conditions for aboriginal peoples in the country. Around 30 children were affected, and Kashechewan Chief Leo Friday said the rashes could be a result of mold, tainted water sources, or failing infrastructure in their community.”

And A Catch All Post

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Seattle’s Dark Knight rescues stolen bikes

“Bike Batman uses Bike Index to cross reference suspicious bikes for sale on Craigslist, then arranges a meeting with the suspected bike thief. To ensure safety, he usually informs the police of his actions. Like Commissioner Gordon’s team in Gotham, the Seattle Police complement Bike Batman’s work. In more than half of the successful attempts to retrieve a stolen bike, the culprit has been arrested by the police. As exciting as his work is, Bike Batman maintains important differences from his namesake. “I’m not out fighting crime and punching people,” he says. “I’m telling people: this is not yours.”

Children spend less time outside than prison inmates

“Children spend less time outside each day than prison inmates do in the United States. Inmates are guaranteed two hours of outdoor time daily, whereas one in two children is outside for less than an hour. A recent survey of 12,000 parents in 10 countries, who have children aged five to 12, found that one-third of kids spend under 30 minutes outside each day. The initial survey was conducted by laundry brands OMO and Persil, which, upon realizing how dire the situation is for children, launched a new campaign called “Dirt is Good – Free the Children.” The U.K.-based campaign is headed by Sir Ken Robinson, known for his work in the area of creativity and innovation in education, and Dr. Stuart Brown, head of the National Institute of Play.”

But you know, Monday through Friday they’re in school till, what, 3-3:30? How many are expected to come straight home and do their homework? That same homework that can take hours. So of course by the time they’re done it’s dark outside and is no longer deemed “safe” to go outside and play. So that leaves the weekends. Some people go do things, some people are tired and need the weekend to recover/reboot/ re-energize from the busy weekdays. Not to mention how attached so many people have become to their screens. Most would rather stay home and play games on their consoles while being connected to other people that way. So I can’t say I’m surprised by this, but in my opinion, it’s still super sad.

Update your Kindle by March 22 or lose access to books and more

“It will be possible to update an older Kindle after March 22, but it will be much more difficult. Instead of updating the device when it’s connected to the Internet over a wireless or Wi-Fi connection, you’ll have to do it manually with your computer and a USB cable.”

You’ll have to excuse me, I’m just happy I have yet another reason to be glad I stuck with real books.

AND!

“In simple terms E4K is a global endurance event. Participants are invited to pick an activity and invite their friends, family and members of the local community to pledge money. The more you do the more you’ll raise and the more acts of kindness you’ll help fund.
To learn more try these links:
Random Acts – E4K
About Random Acts and More about their fundraising

For Science!

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Scientists are growing ten different kinds of crops in Mars-like soil

“The Wageningen University team believes the first Mars colonists will likely grow food underground. They say it would be difficult to create a structure strong enough for the surface that would protect the plants from cosmic radiation. Mars settlers will probably grow food in engineered conditions in habitations below the surface, so in their experiments, the Netherlands team grew food in consistent, Earth-like conditions in a greenhouse.
While the research emphasizes paving the way for future Mars colonizers, the team also believes their findings could benefit those living in harsh environments here on Earth, such as the desert or a disaster area.”

Did these scientists just cure HIV/AIDS?

“Researchers at Philadelphia’s Temple University have made a thrilling breakthrough on the path to cure HIV/AIDS. In a recent experiment, they managed to remove HIV-1 DNA out of the human genome. And when they reintroduced HIV to the edited genomes, the cells were no longer infected with the virus.”

How 6 ant-inspired microrobots can pull a 3,900-pound car

“Don’t let their diminutive size fool you. The microrobots developed by the engineers at the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab at Stanford University might look like toys, but thanks to the power of biomimicry, the imitation of nature, they can move objects weighing more than 2,000 times their own weight when they work together.”