The Best Thing I Overheard Today

It’s somewhat ironic how often I struggle to get out the front door to walk the dog, because there are plenty of days that that walk is the highlight of the day. Last week I saw a blue heron in the woods (you might have seen my failed attempt to take a photo of him).

This morning’s highlight wasn’t visual, though. It was auditory.

Common Yellowthroat. Photo by kenschneiderusa via Flickr.

As dog and I returned to the corner near our street, a little boy with short blond hair was standing there waiting for the school bus. Walking toward him was a girl about his age.

“Hey!” he called out to her. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” she answered.

The boy pointed to some Douglas Fir trees behind a nearby home. “The birds! They’ve returned from migration.”

The girl stopped, looked in the trees, and listened to the birdsong. She said, “Cool!”

“Know why they’re so chatty today?” he said. “It’s because it’s sunny.”

I have no idea if those were actually birds freshly returned from migration, or whether they actually sing more in the sunshine. Doesn’t matter. The boy was outdoors, he noticed the birds singing, and he knew that many of them migrate, and they often come back in the spring. He shared what he knew with the girl, who appreciated it.

Damn, that made me happy.

The Inconvenient Truth about Produce

[I write a sustainability tip for my company’s electronic newsletter. This is a re-post of this week’s story.]

bobolinkThe New York Times recently ran an editorial from a biology professor that points out some inconvenient truths about imported produce: “fruits and vegetables found in our shopping carts in winter and early spring are grown with … pesticides that would often be illegal in the US.”

As a result, migratory birds “are being poisoned on their wintering grounds by highly toxic pesticides,” some of which are so lethal they can kill 7 to 25 songbirds per acre. Some bird populations have declined by nearly 50 percent.

These birds are also “modern-day canaries in the coal mine,” revealing a rash of environmental problems:

  • Latin American fruits and vegetables are three times as likely to violate EPA standards for pesticide residues
  • CDC tests show that most Americans carry traces of pesticides in their blood

A recent study in the US confirmed this, finding that “the urine and saliva of children eating a variety of conventional foods from area groceries contained biological markers of organophosphates, the family of pesticides spawned by the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II.”

By buying organic, many of these problems can be reversed. The same study noted that “Within eight to 36 hours of the children switching to organic food, the pesticides were no longer detected in the testing.”

The Times editorial recommends avoiding inorganic coffee and bananas, as well as nontraditional Latin American crops such as melons, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers and strawberries. “We should buy these foods only if they are not imported from Latin America.”

Further reading:

Postscript: Juuust today, there’s yet another post on Treehugger, “Thank Your Lucky Bat for Shade-Grown Organic Coffee,” that notes:

a study from the University of Michigan has shown that during the summer wet season, bats eat more bugs than the birds at Finca Irlanda, a 740-acre organic coffee plantation in Chiapas, Mexico. This is just one example of a great ‘ecological service’ that went unnoticed until now. How many more do we benefit from without realizing it?

True true true. Think of it like a free market for bug control. If you don’t tinker with the “market” (by dousing the fields with pesticides), then the birds and the bats eat the bugs. If you do tinker, you kill the bugs and the birds and the bats — oh, and poison people, too!

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Death, Lies, and Golf Clubs


Anyone who follows golf has probably heard that pro golfer Tripp Isenhour (above) hit a golf shot that killed a hawk. Unlike a similar situation, when pro baseball player Dave Winfield killed a seagull, this one wasn’t an accident.

From an early report:

After the hawk moved within about 75 yards and perched in a tall pine tree, Isenhour allegedly said: “I’ll get him now” and aimed for the hawk.

“About the sixth ball came very near the bird’s head, and (Isenhour) was very excited that it was so close,” officer Brian Baine of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, wrote in a report.

According to witnesses, Isenhour hit the hawk a few shots later. The bird, protected as a migratory species, fell to the ground bleeding from both nostrils.

Let’s recap: Isenhour said “I’ll get him now” and hit at the bird SIX TIMES.

After being charged for two misdemeanors, Isenhour was interviewed on the Golf Channel about the incident. As the Associated Press reported, Isenhour said of people’s reaction,

“That’s obviously people who don’t know very much about golf,” he said. “To say it’s a one-in-a-million shot for an accident like that to happen, you know, and when it did happen, I was very remorseful, very upset that it happened.”

After he remorsed all over himself, a GolfWeek story quoted him as asking people to “be respectful of my family’s privacy.” WTF?

I couldn’t care less about his alleged remorse or his family’s friggin’ privacy, but I’m interested that he tried to hit something SIX TIMES—and then after he hit it, he called it an “accident.”

Actually, that’s called a “lie.”

Here’s another sordid thing: no one is going to call him on it, because golf is a “gentleman’s game.” That’s why the Golf Channel had him come on to plead his remorsefulness. (The photo above is a screen capture from the interview.) Actually in the video he lies again, saying, “I was just trying to hit the tree.”

And if you don’t believe me that everyone’s going to work real hard to sweep this under the rug, consider that the Golf Channel interviewer actually wishes him good luck in the trial! The only bright spot is a good portion of the people who commented on the video clip on the GC site called BS the same way I am.

Having been a golf journalist, I can say from experience that there’s typically a dearth of actual news in golf. So let me clue you in: this is actual news: golfer commits a crime, and then lies about it.

But don’t worry. This story will get buried just as quickly as that poor bird. (Though it was actually later exhumed and preserved for possible evidence.)

Crazily, the only person to come close to having the right perspective is PGA Tour
executive vice president Ty Votaw: “hitting a golf ball at a living target is clearly inappropriate behavior.”

That’s putting it lightly.