“With this new technique, scientists now have a way to observe soil processes, live and in situ. This is exciting because there are so many things to discover in soil and we don’t know yet what they are.”
That would be Dr. Lionel Dupuy, whose clear soil (also known as Napion, a synthetic substrate) is turning heads in botanical circles. It looks a little like the contents of the silica packet that comes in a box of new shoes when dry, but add nutrient-rich water and it becomes, well, a little like loose agar (that stuff at the bottom of a petri dish).
What’s important about this translucent mush? Plants can easily use it as a soil substitute, a substrate that allows them to set down roots.
The importance of this material spans a number of applications, but for now, scientists are excited to observe how root systems grow, how they interact with other species’ roots, and how disease can spread among plants. Personally, I just want some of the stuff so I know when my desk plant has outgrown its terra cotta. —MN
Project Unbreakable: Stories of Surviving Sexual Assault
“It’s time to talk about it,” is 20-year old Grace Brown’s message. “Sexual assault isn’t talked about. It’s time to talk about rape. We need to talk about it in elementary schools, and high schools, and middle schools, and we don’t. It’s not brought up.”
Her way of talking about rape is Project Unbreakable. Brown has a Nikon D90 DSLR camera and a desire to put the spotlight on a problem which is still too common. At high school, Grace had considered becoming a sexual assault counselor. In her last year at school, she began to take an interest in photography. “I went through a lot of guilt; photography was shallow in comparison to therapy,” she confesses. In her first year of college, Grace combined the two.
What men mean when they talk about their “crazy” ex-girlfriend is often that she was someone who cried a lot, or texted too often, or had an eating disorder, or wanted too much/too little sex, or generally felt anything beyond the realm of emotionally undemanding agreement. That does not make these women crazy. That makes those women human beings, who have flaws, and emotional weak spots. However, deciding that any behavior that he does not like must be insane– well, that does make a man a jerk.
And when men do this on a regular basis, remember that, if you are a woman, you are not the exception. You are not so cool and fabulous and levelheaded that they will totally get where you are coming from when you show emotions other than “pleasant agreement.”
When men say “most women are crazy, but not you, you’re so cool” the subtext is not, “I love you, be the mother to my children.” The subtext is “do not step out of line, here.” If you get close enough to the men who say things like this, eventually, you will do something that they do not find pleasant. They will decide you are crazy, because this is something they have already decided about women in general.” — Lady, You Really Aren’t “Crazy” (via ikenbot)
Cried when I read this.
“They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.
But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.
Maybe we were too much alike.
I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that. “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”
____________ _________ _________ _________
To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. He knew something was different.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t
matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones —-“sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”
He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.
And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive.
I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with .. and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he
If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.
All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.
____________ _________ _________ _______
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver
Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.
The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months. “Tank,” I whispered.
His tail swished.
I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my
face into his scruff and hugged him.
“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
“So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again.
“Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.”
OMFG TOO EMOTIONAL FOR THIS
Cats and dogs are not substitutes for napkins
Chocolate milk does not come from brown cows
Spaghetti sauce is not the same as water because a goldfish cannot survive without oxygen or in boiling liquids made out of tomatoes
Pulling the emergency brake in the car while the vehicle is in motion is not ok
The hole at the bottom of the toilet is not for exploring, your arm will become stuck if you explore too far
The 911 operators never find your late night conversations as funny as you do
If your teacher ever calls home and couples your name with the words explosion or fire hazard in the same sentence, I will always side with them
Beer was made for drinking, not chugging, they give it a flavor for a reason
Being a teenager does not give you a license for stupidity or the right to drive
But you do have the right to sing out loud
Singing is for the tin eared and the musically impaired
The ones who think treble cleft is something fixed with plastic surgery
When you open your mouth you are Sam Cooke in his prime, Marvin Gaye and Al Green with 10X the charm and don’t let anyone tell you differently
Because songs may end past the lips
But they start somewhere between the shoulders and hips
That’s where the soul resides
And all souls are equal
Dancing is not just for school functions
And no, it’s not the motion people make in music videos where they’re trying to make their zippers kiss one another
I give you permission to stake every walking surface as your own personal dance floor
As if you are a footloose Christopher Columbus and the only way to claim the Americas was to do the electric slide
You’re going to discover that
conversations are best at 4 am
The heavier the eyelids, the sincerer the words
Those are the talks you’ll remember
It’s ok not to know the answer and silence is not awkward
so share it more often than not
Labels are for soup cans
When you were created you weren’t mass produced
(just ask your mother if you don’t believe me)
Pornography is only two people getting paid
Authentic romance doesn’t begin when the background music starts
Son your sweetheart is not a princess, she’s a temple
And your body a burnt sacrifice
Daughter your lover is not a knight, he is a compass and you a map
So do not treat each other like glass, with delicate hands
Because like dough we need to be punched and kneaded to
know our weight and worth
Remember that sincerity may not always gain you friends but it will keep heaviness from your heart
Love the world or love God
For you cannot do both
Just don’t grow up too fast
Don’t be afraid to run so fast both feet leave the ground
When you stop learning hopefully it’s the same time you stop breathing
For every kid is born with color vision but adults have chosen to see the world in black and white
So when you’re offered a pair of 3D glasses grab them like your life depends on it,
because it does
The adult world is full of numbers that will make your head spin and wallets and bank accounts that are filled with abstracts,
it will tell you that you are what you make, you are what you have, you are what people remember you to be
But realize this if nothing else, that you have a God and Father that says, I always was, I always am, and your empty palms and open heart are enough for me.