Friday, January 20, 2017

Aquatic Ecosystems and Their Threats

Aquatic ecosystems make up the majority of planet Earth. But there are many types of aquatic ecosystems, each with its own physical environment and threats from human impacts.

Lakes and Ponds
Lakes and ponds are aquatic ecosystems with standing bodies of water. They can range in size from less than a square acre to covering thousands of square kilometers. Light, temperature and oxygen vary in lakes depending on their location, size and depth. For example, temperate lakes only have a seasonal thermocline, while tropical lowland lakes have a thermocline year round. Human impacts have caused algae blooms, oxygen depletion, and fish kills in lakes where they have produced runoff from fertilized land, as well as dumping wastes and pollution into the lakes.

A wetland is an aquatic ecosystem that is covered in water at least part of the time during the year. Plants that live in wetlands have to be adapted to living in a constant water-saturated soil. Some wetlands are covered in water at all times, while others are seasonal. Both types of wetlands are used by migratory birds, reduce flooding, and help purify water for drinking. But draining and filling for farmland have destroyed up to 90 percent of the wetlands in the United States.

Streams and Rivers
The well-known characteristic of streams and rivers is the current. Headwater streams are usually cold and turbulent, while downstream is usually calm and warmer. Rivers usually occur when several streams join. Damming of streams and rivers had led to problems for this aquatic ecosystem. Damming and agricultural use of water has led many rivers to dry up before they even reach the ocean. Others carry pollutants to the ocean and create dead zones.

Estuaries are the changeover area between the river and ocean. Seawater can flow into this aquatic ecosystem, which allows many species to reproduce in these waters. In fact, many species spend their entire lives in this brackish water. Majority of crabs and shrimp humans consume come from estuaries. Unfortunately, pollution that has been carried from upstream converges into this ecosystem and has resulted in destroying the water quality worldwide.

Oceans have many different aquatic ecosystems within it. They include Intertidal, Ocean Pelagic, coral reefs, and Marin Benthic zones. Coral Reefs are largely calcium carbonate skeletons of corals. Corals reefs are located in shallow seas. Intertidal zones are high in oxygen and nutrient levels and are renewed with each tide. Oceanic Pelagic Zone is the vast sea of open blue water. The Marine Benthic Zone consists of the sea floor below oceanic pelagic zones, which receives no sunlight. Overfishing and pollution are the main human impacts for the ocean. Many ocean fish stocks are being so overfished that they are on the brink of collapse.

Labels: Aquatic Ecosystems and Their Threats

A Rant on Apostrophe Abuse and Misuse

Is it my imagination that there are rules for using apostrophes? Am I the only one left on the planet who learned these (perhaps imaginary) rules? I live in ever increasing dread that due to constant abuse, misuse, and seemingly complete ignorance about proper apostrophe use, the (they’re not imaginary, are they?) rules about apostrophes will be officially stricken from the grammar books as quaint and obsolete.

The apostrophe is such an exquisitely useful little gem. It’s like a whole secret code coiled up in one tiny curve. The explicit and unambiguous rules for its use make it easy to convey your exact meaning whenever you employ the agile apostrophe. I’m showing single ownership here, and now I mean joint ownership. I’m leaving out some letters here. I’m doing fancy things with abbreviations. To see apostrophes flung about randomly is painful.

Here’s my theory. At some point in the recent past, aliens did an experiment to test a new mind control device, which they are planning to use in one part of their elaborate plan to take over our planet. They needed a subtle test that wouldn’t alarm people, yet which would have readily observable results, so they could be sure about whether or not their device was effective. Here’s what they did: they sent out a mind control wave containing the conviction that, contrary to what we all learned in school, the plural of an everyday noun needs an apostrophe before the s. This conviction pulsed its way, unnoticed, into the American mind. (Maybe I was behind a lead wall?) Now our mini-mart advertises “Hot Pizza’s” . Our variety store posts notices about this week’s ” Summer Special’s”. I cannot bring myself to look at the digital sign boards at the local schools, where such errors are especially egregious. “Way to Go, Bulldog’s!” Newspapers, oh, oh, it’s too depressing. Newspapers are supposed to be staffed with people who know how to use punctuation marks, aren’t they? Many times I’ve been tempted to send a polite letter to the editor of this or that paper, not for publication, summarizing the rules for apostrophe use in simple language. They could make copies and have their writers tape them to their computer monitors.

But the prize-winning worst instance I have seen is a brass plaque inside a nearby high school. On the plaque, thanks are expressed to various people who donated money towards the building of the new school. The plaque reads: “We thank our sponsor’s.” It was put up in 1981, according to the date engraved on it, and hangs there, uncorrected, to this day. In a public high school. So anyway, we know the aliens did their experiment at least 26 years ago.

It may have been included in the original mind-control wave, or perhaps it was an unintended side effect, but no one now appears to know the difference between its and it’s. Doesn’t occur to the writer that it’s means it is, and its is just a possessive pronoun. Okay, so this might be a little confusing, seeing as how other possessives need an apostrophe, but not possessive pronouns, see? His, hers, its. Simple. You add apostrophes to pronouns, you’re making a contraction, usually with the word is. She’s going crazy. He’s oblivious. It’s hopeless.

Don’t worry, I’m winding down. One final lament. You want to make a sign to let us know who lives at your address. Or, possibly, you want us to know to whom the address belongs. Either way, that’s great. Very informative. But if your family name is Compton, and more than one Compton lives at your house, you have two, not three choices. You can tell us that the Comptons live here. Or you can tell us that this is the Comptons’ house (since it belongs to all of you). But if you make your sign say Compton’s, you’re telling us you live there alone. Or you weren’t standing behind a lead wall at the right time.

Don’t be confused and ignorant. Don’t just mindlessly stick apostrophes here and there. Get a book. Every grammar text and handbook for writers has a tidy little section on apostrophes. Wouldn’t you love to confuse the aliens?

Labels: A Rant on Apostrophe Abuse and Misuse

A Regular Guy's Review of His Memory of "Cats"

It’s time again for another installment of reviews that should have been written 10-25 years ago.

The other night, the family went to watch my young daughter perform in a ballet put on by the dance studio where she takes classes. It was a big deal, and her first dance in a real performance hall (about 1500 people). Well, I don’t have to tell you that it was fantasic, she was most assuredly the best dancer, and she will probably end up going to that “Fame” school. Do they still have that? Tuition is free, right? Well, this review isn’t of my Kindergartener and her classmates’ ballet performance.

This is actually an unorthodox review. Usually one might watch a movie or see a performance, and then write a review some time in the next couple of days. It’s not typically done 10 years or more after said viewing. But the second act of the dance performance (done by older dancers) was a sort of Cats retrospective. As in, Cats, the musical. And it just reminded me of everything I hated about Cats, the musical. So, it’s really a review about a Memory and not any recent viewing of the actual performance. Is this then a legitimate review? I will state that this review has not been influenced by any sort of exchange of currency, though I am always open to that sort of thing should someone approach me.

First, a disclaimer. I am not generally a theater-goer, and thus am speaking from the role of a dude who goes to about as many of these things as one is forced to, being married to a non-dude. That being said, I don’t hate all theater performances, and I don’t hate all musicals. Offhand, I’ve seen several different other shows and found them to be decidedly “not terrible”.

Moving on, these are the reasons that I did not like Cats, the musical.

1) I was fooled by all of the people who gave it awards and said it was great. I hate when shoddy work is hyped. I returned the favor by telling everyone else that it was great. Misery loves company. I didn’t want to be the only fool I knew who wasted his money on something so horrible. But by now, I think it’s safe to break my silence.

2) There’s very little variation throughout the show. In all respects. Dancers are dressed up like cats. OK. They are making some motions which the choreographers believe are cat-like. OK. They move around with their fingers spread out, like cat claws. OK, I get it. Everyone’s a cat. Is that it? “Phantom of the Opera” at least had a chandelier crash. Wake me when it’s over. Maybe there’ll be good music at least…

3) The music sucks. No, I don’t expect every musical’s soundtrack to be “Back in Black” or “Dark Side of the Moon”. But it’s very forgettable. Or worse, in desperate need of forgetting. Sure, everybody’s heard “Memory”. Not that I have it on my iPod (OK, I don’t have an iPod, but if I did, it wouldn’t be on it.) I lot of people like it, but that song doesn’t even seem to belong in that show with the rest of the featured music. Besides, a lot of crappy albums have one “good” song, but still qualify as being completely awful.

4) I hate actual cats. As in cats, the animal. They smell. Under the best of conditions they still go to the bathroom inside your house. And not in your toilet, unless they have opposable thumbs. Their urine is toxic and can burn through concrete, and it has a half-life of about 3 million years. And to top it off, I’m allergic to them.

I guess I’m just more of a dog person.

If you liked this: Check out Decrocked or Ethics, Food, and You

If you hated this: Check out Big Winner or WWJD? (though you must read the whole thing)

Labels: A Regular Guy's Review of His Memory of "Cats"

Aquatic Dancing Zombies - A Poem

Aquatic Dancing Zombies

Arms bend at the elbow

statuesque bodies glow with bronze

The lady in the front

lips parted

incandescent teeth

bared in disgust

hair long and stringy like the rest

Medusa’s snakes coiled to strike

a tangle of orange, gold

fire on a summers eve

burning out of control

their faces appear white

masks tarnished with coal black eyes

flushed with aquamarine in the falling light.

The shrill of alarm in your ears

shimmer of water mirrors

branches stretching like streamers

beckoning you closer

tangle of grotesque frenzy

They dance as if nobody is watching

They dance as if the world means nothing

They dance as if the night is young

They dance because God is watching

Labels: Aquatic Dancing Zombies - A Poem

Advice from a Travel Agent

Now a days, it is imperative that you are careful when buying anything over the internet or phone. You never know if the person you are talking to or the website you’re on is the real deal. I work for a dependable travel agency, and have some tips to prevent you from getting scammed.

How to know the company is reputable – First off, a reputable company will be a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and this will allow you to feel secure while making your purchase. If the business you are purchasing your travel package from does not give you everything that was promised the way it was promised, all you have to do is file a complaint with the BBB and your money will be 100% refunded. Also, when partaking in a phone sale, ask to be directed to their website. See if your potential travel agent has a picture on the site as well as testimonials from other customers, number of packages sold, and amount of years in business. Members of the BBB will also do recorded confirmations. Listen very carefully on this part of the sale. Do not be coached to say things on this confirmation that was not promised to you! If the travel agency tries this, say on the recording that you do not want the package, not run your credit card number, and hang up. If you are on a website delete all your information and cancel the package.

Preventing identity theft – NEVER EVER give anyone your social security card number or date of birth to anyone. If this is asked of you, disengage from the sale!

Make sure they know their info – You do not want to purchase a vacation from a company that can’t answer simple questions. For example: “What’s the hotel like?” “What is specifically included in the package?” “How many adults and children can I bring?” “What’s the cost for extra nights?” If you ask simple questions like these and you are not given a detailed and precise answer, then you are not traveling with a company that knows what they are doing.

Don’t be afraid to purchase a vacation over the phone or internet, because there are plenty very reputable companies out there that will treat you well. The ones that don’t unfortunately give the ones like I work for a bad name. However, if you put the small tips above to good use, then in the end, you should feel confident that you are making an expert decision. Good luck and happy buying!

Labels: Advice from a Travel Agent

Accessibility and Support of Commercial Printing

It is important to choose your commercial printing company. Commercial printing has taken other roles other than what it has been known for. Printing is just a basic service but marketing solutions has become one of the key roles of such.

Printing companies have gone beyond the basic services that are required of them and they have reached a new level wherein they are already involved in the whole marketing process of a company by providing them all their materials needed for whatever marketing approaches that they may have. Your printers are now involved in providing you with the tools that you need for creating a design for your campaign and even to bring your materials to the doors of your customers. Your printer has become a valuable partner for your marketing campaign therefore, it is more compelling to choose one that you can really rely upon and work with for the rest of your printing projects. What are the things that we should look for?

1. Accessibility – Before, by accessibility we mean how near the printer is to us. Now, it goes beyond just the actually location. Here are some areas where accessibility is often seen.

Offline – you can readily order or make an order of your prints anytime of the day because the place is just within your vicinity. It is near, it is accessible and you can immediately go there in person.

Phone – This is when you place an order over the phone by just calling a certain number. You may also give out the details of what you want to see on your prints over the phone. Over the phone, transactions may include verifying of information to confirm your identity, giving out of credit card numbers to process payments and even checking the progress of your printing project later on. This may be a convenient way of placing an order because you do not have to go to the place and still give the same directives, as you will in person. The only setback is that you may need to take an extra effort in sending your printer the actual texts and designs that you want printed on your materials.

Online – if you really want accessibility and convenience, online business printers are for you. All you need to do is transact the whole printing project with them online. You may send them your design in PDF form. You may also communicate with them through email or logging on to their website. They can also give you proofs through sending it to your mail. It is actually easy but if there were any setbacks, it would be missing the actual feel of the real print or material.

2. Customer Support – Printing is easy but you would still need the help of the people you are your printing company to help you out on the background in printing, guide you through the whole process of printing your materials and even answer your queries. Here are supports that your printing company can do for you.

Technical support – printing companies should be able to provide you with a support that will help you understand the whole process of printing. This may include queries about the machines or equipment used for printing, the kind of paper to be used, the design needed for your concept and so on. It would help if you have someone with the expertise that you can run to.

Online job management system – this support will allow you to monitor the progress of your printing project. Through this, you would be able to check for any corrections that need to be done. This gives you enough knowledge and full control over your printing projects. Commercial printing continues to grow and it will continue to make impact on the lives of people and the ways of businesses. Each day we are learning innovations. It is good to know that you have your commercial printing company as a reliable partner to work with any printing jobs that you have.

Kaye Z. Marks is an avid writer and follower of the developments in commercial printing technologies by a commercial printing company that help businesses in their marketing and advertising campaigns.

Labels: Accessibility and Support of Commercial Printing

300 (2007) - Movie Review

I love a sword-and-sandals epic, and I love it even more when the actors look like the casting call for a Bally’s commercial.

Director Zack Snyder may have just created the ultimate anti-chickflick (dickflick?). Feast your eyes on 300, a superstylized, hypermasculinized celluloid interpretation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name. And it’s not only the men who are buff, waxed, polished and camera ready; every frame in 300 is like a panel of the comic book brought to vivid life in only the way special effects and CGI can accomplish. It’s a marvel to behold and considering the recent box office tallies, this virtual studio technology is about to blow up like no one else’s business.

Sadly, the “beauty is skin deep” adage applies here. While a wonder for the eyes, 300 tells a fairly linear storyline with stiff dialogue that also seems to be directly lifted from its comic book origins. Forgoing historical accuracy, Miller’s “300” recounts the very real events of the Battle at Thermopylae, where the Spartan King Leonidas in 480 B.C.E. manages to fend off Xerxes’ Persian army numbering – according to historical record – almost 150,000. Outnumbered with a mere 300 soldiers (and alongside some 4,000 Greek allies), Leonidas’ stand at Thermopylae is regarded, among other things, as history’s most epically lopsided battle. Snyder’s film takes its cue from the graphic novel and the battle serves as the movie’s main storyline with just a wisp of subplot involving Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) and the corrupt senator, Theron (Dominic West).

As King Leonidas, Gerard Butler cuts a fine figure of a king who loves his wife and country and embodies the Spartan ideal of dying a worthy death through battle. In fact, themes of valor, honor, duty and strength are so constantly hammered throughout the film that it becomes tiresome and one-note. I don’t understand why the Spartans’ battlecry is a reverse knockoff of Al Pacino’s, “hoo-wa!” from Scent of a Woman, but a little of that goes a long way. Overacting never equals believability, but I guess there’s no room for subtlety when masculinity and testosterone are in overdrive.

The battle scenes are graphic, gorgeous and beautifully choreographed. The sets are bathed in deep golden tones and rich chocolates so that only spurts of gore or the crimson capes of its warriors roll and billow in bold relief. However, if you’re looking for a humanistic and more accurate account of the sheer chaos and dread of war, Saving Private Ryan still remains the standard. Here, any form of violence is either an expression of mighty athletic prowess or artful depravity (the tree of corpses is such an example). Not that 300 aspires to be realistic in any sense; it’s not meant to be. Its otherworldly cinematography, floating half naked oracles and giant mutants suggest another reality with no vested humanity in the proceedings.

The only thing that truly touched a nerve for me was the androgynous Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro. With a decidedly effeminate air and blinged out as if he were on a float at Rio’s Carnivale, Xerxes is megalomaniacal, depraved, and ruthless; his court featuring a panoply of decadent tropes such as weird goatmen and disfigured women kissing each other. There’s a disturbing whiff of homophobia in this subtext for which I truly didn’t care.

At face value 300 is as beautiful and cheap as costume jewelry. I thoroughly enjoyed its visual swagger, the dreamscape setting, as well as its straightforward, albeit hyperbolized storytelling, but after the lights come up and it’s business as usual, you’ll find that 300 resonates no more than the half-eaten tub of popcorn you just left behind in the theater.

Labels: 300 (2007) - Movie Review

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