Cyber-Rattling – the Skeletal Remains of Abandoned Blogs

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“Flash Dance” Oil on 20 x 16 canvas; framed

We’re all eager to start them. We want our own public space in the sun to share our personal trivia or our hopes and dreams. Millions of blogs attest to that fact. But what happens when the enthusiasm fades and a blogger moves to another space? What if a blogger leaves his or her audience hanging on as weeks turn into months and months into years?

Admit it, we’ve all clogged search engines with the skeletal remains of our blogs which end up littering the pathways of cyberspace. I was amazed as I searched for viable art blogs how many of them have not been updated in months; some for more than three to five years! Many don’t even have a follow button so they probably won’t have readers or customers returning any time soon.

Amongst the casualties were new mother blogs, created by first time mothers who wanted to share the miracle of birth and their amazing adventure into motherhood. Others wanted to share a wonderful vacation with humorous stories and full-color photos. But when the vacation excitement fizzled, the dazzle of motherhood wore off, so did the blog.

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(My first great grandchild)

Many blogs are started with good intentions, but they fail miserably when the blogger realizes there is no substance. There are no long-term goals. There was a beginning, but no ending. The blogger had no vision for the purpose of his or her blog or the discipline to finish it.

Clanking around in this gigantic wasteland, I still found some good information, an interesting fact or two; but it required an investment of time to find that juicy low-hanging fruit, that bright star among the scattered bones of defeat. Some bloggers move frequently from space to space, leaving their old blogs behind like breadcrumbs that lead their followers back home. Some links failed, leading me on a wild goose chase.

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“With these Hands Hope” Oil on 16 x 20 canvas

With all the apps and gizmos out there, I sometimes have difficulty uploading my own updates, especially in the evening hours. The large sites like Facebook and Twitter become unpredictable and double tweets or failed tweets happen on occasion.

Abandoned bytes and cyber debris join other waste materials in the heavens. Our Satellite Station over the years has dropped scraps and junk that still circles the globe endlessly polluting the atmosphere.

Our oceans are filled with garbage and the ghostly remains of plastic bags. Japan’s Tsunami debris still floats around the globe, butting up against foreign shores and introducing the local flora and fauna to alien species.

Our “throw away” society continues to add to our mountain of debt and our growing landfills. Wouldn’t it be great if someone would find a way to clean up this wasted space or manufacture things that would last? If our economy is so bad, why do so many people throw thousands of pounds of food in the trash each year? Solutions not rhetoric is what we need. Suggestions anyone?

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“Sandhill Crane dreams” (They all wish they were Indians)

Tides by Any Other Name Would Smell as Stinky

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"Seashells by the Seashore" on the Gulf

“Seashells by the Seashore” on the Gulf

What is coarse, toxic, sweeps up marine life in its wake and kills? If you guessed a broom, we’re done here. If you answered pollution, you’re close. If you said red tides, you’re dead on. Never heard of these menacing algae? Let me introduce you.

Every summer at the height of tourist season, a tangle of brownish algae and dead fish cascades onto the Gulf Coast’s pristine beaches and the stink is overwhelming; as my mother used to say, “Enough to gag a maggot.” What makes these algae such a menace? They produce one of the deadliest toxins known to man.

These harmful algal blooms or HABS wreak havoc on local fishing industries to the tune of $82 million each year. The toxins affect the central nervous system of fish, killing them in vast numbers; limiting the quantities of fresh fish that fisheries depend on. Toxins also may poison shellfish like clams, oysters, and mussels, and make the humans who eat them sick.

"Pelican at Rest" Gulf Waters

“Pelican at Rest” Gulf Waters

These red tide masses affect marine ecosystems in a number of ways. Dense blooms can block sunlight that benefit good algae and sea grasses needed for food. Wildlife and marine mammals like seabirds, manatees, turtles and dolphins may get sick or even die. Humans may suffer severe respiratory or skin ailments. In addition to that, red tides are downright unsightly.

My first reaction to walking on the beach after a red tide wash up was repulsion. Hundreds of putrid dead fish trapped in strange-looking seaweed covered the white sand driving me and many other tourists back to our hotels. Like them, I wanted to know what this stuff was, what it did, and how we could stop it.

Red tides are composed of microscopic algae known as dinoflagellates; their scientific name: karenia brevis. The algal cells are asexual. They produce simply by dividing. To complicate matters, each cell is capable of movement via two flagella that propels them through the water. There is no brainwork involved in this confluence or joining of forces. They drift with the water’s ebb and flow, bumping together to form large clumps or “blooms” as their numbers increase.

What makes dinoflagellates different from other microscopic algae? At least two things: their rapid growth and their toxicity both of which raise more questions than answers. Why do these organisms suddenly explode into a massive growing binge? What triggers this growth and why does it produce toxins in some algae and not in others?

Biologists and scientists believe pollution of our waterways may be the leading factor. Pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals are washed into surrounding rivers and lakes and eventually find their way into the sea. At the mouth of these inlets and tributaries, red tides get their first burst of growth which certainly points to pollution as the cause.

But there’s a catch: red tides are not a new phenomenon. Fish kills from deadly algae were recorded in 1840 and as long ago as the Spanish explorers who wrote about them in their logs. After years of red tides research, there is still no conclusive evidence or link to pollution. Like many quirks of nature, the trigger may be from natural causes or a series of events that are little understood.

"The Perfect Ending" acrylic on canvas

“The Perfect Ending” acrylic on canvas

The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) in Florida conducts Red Tide Reports on a regular basis during critical growing periods. Using satellite imagery, high levels of chlorophyll are monitored for possible resurgence of red tides. With the help of modern technology, experts record the size, rate of growth, and location of these HABS.

FWRI works in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NOAA’s goal is to “provide the tools to prevent, control, or mitigate the occurrence of HABS.” Because red algae can be found in almost any waterway, research labs are positioned worldwide.
If you would like information about red tides in your own locale, go to http://www.noaa.gov.

What is the missing component that explains why red tides grow faster and wilder during certain times of the year? Is pollution the cause as some suggest? Or is it increased water temperature that naturally encourages the growth of most algae? Until the mystery is solved, Gulf residents and vacationers around the globe must continue to endure the irritation, the blight and the stink of red tides.

Do you have a “stinky” problem in your neck of the woods? Please share it with us.