Posted by: Green Knight | November 25, 2013

Phyto Revisited

I was chatting with a friend in England on Facebook yesterday, and mentioned that I’m gearing up to do some soil sampling for lead content for a planned community garden near where I dwell. Some community gardens just grow pretty flowers to make the neighborhood look nice. In less classy neighborhoods, like mine, they tend to grow produce for people to eat, and exist to give local kids something positive to get involved in. The problem is that plants will uptake toxic heavy metals into their tissues, along with soil nutrients, without negative effects to the plants, but if people are gonna EAT that veggie or fruit, look out.

You can see the stuff I’ve previously written about the negative and, yes, even positive effects of this phenomenon if you just go to the little “Search” window on the upper right part of this page and type in “vetch” or “arsenic” or “selenium” or “phytoremediation.” I even managed to work in van Gogh’s paintings of sunflowers, crafty me.

What Nic told me, though, was something I hadn’t heard of before, and thought was really cool. Here’s what he had to say: “The old way lead and silver  prospectors in the Mendips used to search was to plant gooseberry bushes, let them grow a season, then cut it down, burn it and look for globules of either metal in the ashes.”

Now that’s a testament to human ingenuity, and to being in touch with how the biosphere works. Folk wisdom at its best, no college required. If it works, what more do you need?

[This brings back to mind picking gooseberries on a camping trip, and my Mom making a pie out of them. Great days they were.]


Posted by: Green Knight | November 16, 2013

Go, Reverend Billy!

First Amendment trumps the BS charges, I think.

Posted by: Green Knight | November 15, 2013

Vote for the Frogs

Here’s a link where you can cast a simple vote to help the Save the Frogs organization. Just scroll down until you see Save the Frogs and vote:

frog on shroom

Posted by: Green Knight | November 14, 2013

Alert to Dog Caretakers

I haven’t talked much about biohazards on here, but I used to also do infectious waste inspections for the state. The attached article is alarming for those who have dogs as companion animals, both for the dogs and for the apparent ability for the mystery ailment to transfer to humanoids. What’s interesting is that the text doesn’t explicitly say that it’s a virus, because they don’t know WHAT it is yet, but it implies it, and I want to know more. The veterinarian says that they’d been taught that viruses don’t jump species, but viruses are nothing if not extremely opportunistic; otherwise humans wouldn’t be able to catch avian flu, swine flu, etc.

The problem seems to be concentrated around Ohio and Michigan for now, but it’s worth sharing with your vet and animal shelters wherever you live. They all need to stay on top of emerging health issues. Here’s the article:


Posted by: Green Knight | November 10, 2013

Programs for People and Pets

With the economy what it is, animal shelters have been seeing a large increase in people dumping their pets off because they can’t afford to feed them. Of course, nearly all of said pets are euthanized. In light of that situation, a few years ago an organization was formed here in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area called Bi-State Pet Food Pantry. Like pantries for people, they accept donations of food, cat litter, blankets, and the like, and give it out once a month. Participants must provide a list of pets owned, proof that the animals were spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and sign a statement saying that they won’t get any more pets (there might be a waiver if one of your pets dies; I don’t know). I imagine some sort of proof of low-income status must also be provided. I think they even deliver supplies to the disabled.

At any rate, it’s been a success, and I hope it serves as an inspiration to other communities. I’ve mentioned it on here in the past, but what made me think of it is that the other day I read about another program to keep people and their pets together. This one is aimed at keeping victims of domestic violence together with their pets. “Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T)™ is the first and only global initiative guiding domestic violence shelters on how to house families together with their pets. SAF-T enables more domestic violence victims to leave abusive households without leaving their pets behind and at risk. SAF-Talso recognizes the human-animal bond and that family pets can provide comfort, reassurance and healing to adult and child survivors.”

What a brilliant idea! Just the sort of thing we need more of. To read more about the program, and look at the rather horrifying statistics, check out their website,, and perhaps inform your local violence shelter about it.



Posted by: Green Knight | November 8, 2013

The Bee’s Knees

Well, the bees are ON their knees. As I’ve said before, honeybees aren’t native to the Americas, but we brought them here for a reason, and now they’re in trouble. The pesticides are also affecting native bees (bumblebees, etc.). Here’s a thought-provoking update on the situation with neonicotinoid pesticides:


Posted by: Green Knight | November 6, 2013

Odds, Ends, and Frogs, Good and Bad

I haven’t posted in a while, because I’ve been having Internet connection problems. I’ve also been out of town a couple of times, and various people I know have had surgery, and all sorts of other distracting stuff. There have been the usual oil spills and other enviro mayhem, but nothing major enough to write about here; I save that stuff for my Green Knight Environmental page on Facebook.

A complex of long-vacant attached commercial buildings across the street from me is finally getting renovated, to the tune of $3.2 million. Good news for the neighborhood, but not so good for one of the microtribes of feral cats I feed that hangs out there. I need to figure out a new strategy and a new feeding station for them. Some are possibly adoptable, but it’s a constant struggle finding people to take them in. To show how interests can overlap, I was looking for a particularly nice water dish that I’d had back there, and asked the demo/construction workers if they’d seen it (luckily, I found it). The crew chief & I were looking at each other oddly, because we seemed familiar to each other, and he finally yelled “Bob!!” Turns out that they were an environmental company that had been taking my safety and cleanup classes for years back before I sort of dropped off the map about 5 years ago. They remembered me fondly, which is always gratifying, and they told me they liked animals and would leave the kitties alone, which was relieving. It was also nice to see that they were using respirators for the lead abatement work they were doing.

Lastly, since there are so many frog fans on here, I’m going to copy verbatim an e-mail I got the other day from the Save the Frogs people. There’s not only a petition to sign about invasive frogs in California that are wiping out native species, but there’s a link to a TED talk by Dr. Kerry Kriger, head of the program. I love the TED videos.


A message from the leader




Posted By: SAVE THE FROGS! (campaign leader)


Please sign this petition calling on Governor Jerry Brown to ban the importation, possession, transport, release, purchase and sale of live American Bullfrogs in California! Frogs in California are rapidly disappearing, in part because over three million non-native American Bullfrogs are legally imported into the state each year. Bullfrogs eat native wildlife and spread infectious diseases, damaging California’s ecosystems. Please sign the petition and share! Together we can SAVE THE FROGS!

Dr. Kerry Kriger
Save The Frogs – Founder, Executive Director, Ecologist

Save The Frogs is the world’s leading amphibian conservation organization. We work in California, across the USA, and around the world to prevent the extinction of amphibians, and to create a better planet for humans and wildlife.

Please watch the SAVE THE FROGS! TED Video:


Posted by: Green Knight | October 4, 2013

Geology update

A friend found out the outcrops. Turtlehead mountain and other stuff. Have a look.

Vegas red rocksVegas mountains

Posted by: Green Knight | October 3, 2013

Is There A Geologist In The House?

Flying into Las Vegas from San Jose in August, I spotted these two really red outcrops of rock from my plane window, just northwest of town. Does anyone know what that formation is? I’d never been there before, and would hesitate to guess. My degree is in earth science, but not being on the ground to look at the stuff, I have no idea what it is; it just really stood out.

red rocks LVred rocks LV2

Posted by: Green Knight | October 3, 2013

For Frog Fans

I forget which airport this was; I was in so many in August, but there were all these little cute frog sculptures in the window.


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