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Date of Issue: March 12, 2008

Sandscript

You think you've got problems with a change in sun?

It's the "clean-off-the-desk" time again at Sandscript, and below are a bunch of articles that may be of interest. At least, I thought they were.

 

Time check?

While some are fighting to deal with biological clocks confused by "springing ahead" an hour last Sunday, folks in Norway are dealing with a somewhat more dramatic issue.

The town of Longyearbyen, population 2,000, is seeing the light for the first time in three months. Sunlight, that is.

Longyearbyen is billed as the northernmost city in the world. It's on an island 600 miles from the north pole and has this wintertime darkness problem, due to how the planet tilts and northern climes become darken climes.

Residents there, however, have started to see the light. Finally.

March 8 was "the day," with the sun actually rising.

Then, from April through September, "there will be perpetual day in this town," according to the New York Times.

The report offers some interesting items regarding how residents deal with the all-dark, all-light conditions.

Some folks find they sleep more during the dark - naturally. Call it hibernation.

Others do a little dance when the some comes out. Call it sundance.

But before we all decide to move to Longyearbyen, remember that its average temperature is 43 degrees. Its record high: 64.

 

'China: We'll boss rain at games'

That was a headline in the St. Petersburg Times over an Associated Press report of how the Chinese plan to deal with weather during the summer Olympics in Beijing.

In a nutshell, they will do the nutty thing of trying to control the weather. No rain, some rain, whatever.

Here's how the AP puts it.

"It's a bold - and, according to international scientists, dubious - bit of stage managing, even for a nation that has already outsized ambition to use the Olympics to showcase its development from rural poverty to an economic powerhouse.

"China already spends an estimated $100 million a year and employs 50,000 people for rainmaking."

FYI, there is no real definition of how or what those people do to deal with weather, but that number is more than the population of Bradenton.

But the AP article states that Beijing officials are prepared to "set up several banks of rocket launchers outside the city to seed threatening clouds and cause them to release the rain before it reaches the capital."

International weather experts are dubious of the Chinese claims of stopping the rain. It seems we'll all see who's right when the Olympics run from Aug. 8-24.

 

Critters

According to a Mote Marine Laboratory release, "A shark tagged by Mote scientists off Pensacola spent nearly 11 years at liberty before being caught last May by a fisherman who returned the tag to Mote. The tag return marks the longest period of time between tagging and recapture in the 17-year history of Mote's shark-tagging program."

It was a male Atlantic sharpnose shark, tagged by Mote scientists while aboard a National Marine Fisheries Service research cruise in the northern Gulf of Mexico in 1996. "The shark was caught again 11 years later by charter boat Capt. Kenny Bellais off Ship Island, Miss., about 103 nautical miles from the area where it was originally tagged," according to the release.

By the way, that species is small but relatively abundant.

"Some shark species move relatively short distances, while others travel thousands of miles and, in many species, the older a shark is, the greater the distance it will have traveled," said Dr. Robert Hueter, director of Mote's Center for Shark Research. "Tag returns are a snapshot showing where a shark was tagged at point A and recaptured at point B. It really helps our understanding of sharks when we get reports from a wide variety of areas | when fishermen from all over the state watch for and return or report our tags."

And you can help, too. According to Mote, "Fishers throughout the Gulf of Mexico can help scientists in their studies - and earn the chance to win a cash prize - by keeping an eye out for yellow or orange plastic tags attached near a shark's first dorsal fin. The tags can sometimes be overlooked because of marine algae growing on the surface of the tag. Fishermen are asked to cut off the tag if possible and send it to Mote. Alternatively, they may simply write down the tag number and mail or phone in that information as soon as possible. Scientists ask that the fishermen also send their names, addresses and phone numbers, date and location of capture along with the total length and weight of the shark (or an estimate) and whether it was kept or released.

"Anglers should send the tag and information about its capture to the Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota FL 34236. Anglers can call 800-691-MOTE (800-691-6683) to make a report. Fishermen who return the tag information to Mote have their names entered into a yearly drawing for the chance to win a cash prize."

 

Critter tale, kinda

I can't beat this lead from an Associated Press article last week from St. Louis:

"Dogs may have a hard time wrapping their paws around this one: Robotic competition is nipping at their heels in the man's-best-friend department."

Good lead, eh?

Seems that a study of real dogs versus robotic dogs revealed that both were pretty much equal among folks at an adult retirement facility insofar as who-liked-which "beast."

Seems that "robo-dog" slobbers less, but "real dog" also can deliver the happy goods, too. But real dog has those real-dog issues of going outside a few times a day.

With two of the mutts around, I think I like the robotic critter.

 

Sandscript factoid

Mote has tagged more than 16,000 sharks of 16 species in U.S. waters since 1991.

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