Saturday, December 20, 2008

So what have You done?

I've been reading a few other blogs lately including Living the Scientific Life and Pharyngula. On Living the Scientific Life I found this meme and thought it would be an interesting post. Take a look at the list. What have you done? I have done the things in bold print.

started my own blog
Slept under the stars Joshua Tree, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, San Juan River,
Played in a band
Visited Hawaii
Watched a meteor shower
Given more than I can afford to charity
Been to Disneyland/world
Climbed a mountain
Held a praying mantis -not yet, but I have held a stick insect
Sung a solo- nope, and NEVER will
Bungee jumped
Visited Paris
Watched lightning at sea
Taught myself an art from scratch well, if knitting counts....
Adopted a child
Had food poisoning
Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
Grown my own vegetablesnothing like a home grown tomato
Seen the Mona Lisa in France
Slept on an overnight train
Had a pillow fight
Taken a sick day when you're not ill
Built a snow fort
Held a lamb
Gone skinny dipping
Run a Marathon
Ridden in a gondola in Venice
Seen a total eclipse
Watched a sunrise or sunset- lots of times!
Hit a home run
Been on a cruise
Seen Niagara Falls in person
Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
Seen an Amish community
Taught myself a new language
Had enough money to be truly satisfied
Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
Gone rock climbing
Seen Michelangelo's David
Sung karaoke- right. See "sung a solo" above
Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
Visited Africa
Walked on a beach by moonlight
Been transported in an ambulance
Had my portrait painted
Gone deep sea fishing
Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
Played in the mud
Gone to a drive-in theater
Been in a movie
Visited the Great Wall of China
Started a business
Taken a martial arts class
Visited Russia
served at a soup kitchen
Sold Girl Scout Cookies
Gone whale watching
Got flowers for no reason
Donated blood, platelets or plasma
Gone sky diving
Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
Bounced a check
Flown in a helicopter
Saved a favorite childhood toy
Visited the Lincoln Memorial
Eaten caviar
Pieced a quilt
Stood in Times Square
Toured the Everglades
Been fired from a job -
Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
Broken a bone
Been on a speeding motorcycle
Seen the Grand Canyon in person
Published a book
Visited the Vatican
Bought a brand new car
Walked in Jerusalem
Had my picture in the newspaper
Read the entire Bible
Visited the White House
Killed and prepared an animal for eating It was a trout.
Had chickenpox
Saved someone's life
Sat on a jury: I have gone to jury duty many, may times, but I have never been seated on a jury.
Met someone famous
Joined a book club
Lost a loved one
Had a baby
Seen the Alamo in person
Swam in the Great Salt Lake well, I stood in it.
Been involved in a law suit
Owned a cell phone
Been stung by a bee
Ridden an elephant

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

World Wildlife Fund announces discovery of more than 1,000 species in the Mekong Delta

In the last 10 years scientists with the World Wildlife fund have discovered more than 1,000 new species of organisms in the Mekong Delta. One rat species was believed to have been extinct for over 11 million years. New species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals birds were found along with over 500 species of plants. One of the most startling discoveries is of a hot pink millipede named the dragon millipede. You can see this millipede along with some of the other species in this video.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Superb bird of paradise

Many of you may have watched the amazing Planet Earth show on PBS a year or so ago. I wasn't able to watch during the broadcast, but have seen several of the episodes lately and immediately saw how I could use segments in my classes. The photography is amazing. One of my favorite segments is of the birds of paradise in New Guinea.

There is a segment on You Tube of a short sequence of video taken in New Guinea of the a couple of the species of birds of paradise. The male birds of paradise have elaborate feathers and engage in a host of courtship displays. Take a look

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Ecology Review Questions

1. Define resource partitioning and give an example of it.

2. How is a parasite different from a parasitoid?

3. How is a parasite different from a predator?

4. How are density dependent limiting factors different from density independent limiting factors? Give examples of each.

5. Coevolution happens also between parasites and their hosts. Why is this not surprising?

6. Define and give examples of the following: Mutualism, Commensalism, social parasite.

7. What are common strategies predators use to capture prey, and common defenses found in prey?

8. Draw a food web that could occur in your backyard or here at Cerritos. Include all the trophic levels we discussed in class.

9. Why are there fewer members of the upper trophic levels as compared with primary consumers or the producers?

10. What is carrying capacity?

Biome Review Questions

1. What are two important factors in determining what type of Biome one will find in a given area?

2. What causes the seasons here in North America?

3. What are three strategies plants have developed to survive in the cold dry,and sometimes dark conditions of the Tundra?

4. What kind of adaptations have animals developed to survive in:
A. The tundra
B. The deserts
C. Coniferous forests

5. What is a rain shadow, and how does it account for different plant communities occurring at the same latitude, but on opposites sides of a mountain range?

6. In what biomes does fire play an important role, and what is this role?

7. To what kind of environmental stresses are the plants and animals in the chaparral adapted?

8. How is a deciduous forest different from a coniferous forest, other than the types of trees found in each?

9. Why don't grasslands become forests?

10. What is the one thing all deserts have in common?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More Review Questions

Here are the photosynthesis questions for review:

1. Which colors of light are most strongly absorbed by chlorophyll?
2. How is oxygen released during photosynthesis?
3. Why is water needed in photosynthesis?
4. What are the products of the light dependent reactions?
5. What is made in the light independent reactions?
6. What is the role of RUBP in photosynthesis?
7. What kind of plants use PEP and what advantage does it give them?
8. How are CAM plants different from others in the way they do photosynthesis?
9. What kind of organisms can do photosynthesis?
10. Where inside the cholorplast do the light dependent reactions happen?

Plant Review Questions
1. Compare and contrast the movement of water and food in plants. Include in your answer what kinds of tissues and processes are involved in both.

2. Xylem is functional when dead at maturity while phloem is functional only when alive. Why?

3. In phloem, what is the role of the companion cell?

4. What is the difference between xylem in flowering plants and the xylem found in gymnosperms?

5. What is cohesion of water, and how is this different from adhesion?

6. What part of the root absorbs water?

7. What is the function of the anther in the flower?

8. Which of the following is where one would find ovules?
A. in an anther
B. in the ovary
C. in the stigma
D. in the style

9. Ovules are
A. eggs
B. spores that will become pollen
C. spores that will become eggs
D. immature seeds
E. pollen grains

10. In double fertilization the first sperm fertilizes the egg and the second
A. dies
B. is only used if the first sperm cell dies
C. fertilizes another egg
D. fertilizes a haploid endosperm mother cell to make diploid endosperm
E. fertilizes a diploid ( n+n) endosperm mother cell to make triploid endosperm

11. What is the function of fruit?

12. Microspores become
A. the embryo sac
B. the mature male gametophyte
C. pollen grains
D. all of the above
E. only B and C above

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cellular Respiration Review Questions

Here's some questions to make those brain cells churn out the ATP!

1. What are the differences between aerobic and anaerobic respiration, and which is more efficient?

2. What are NAD+ and FAD used for?

3. What are the three steps in aerobic respiration, and where does each occur?

4. During which step of cellular respiration is the most ATP made?

5. During aerobic respiration, how many ATPs are made from one molecule of glucose in most cells?

6. What is the role of oxygen in aerobic respiration?

7. Describe how the ATP is made during chemiosmosis

8. What is produced by your muscle cells if there is not enough oxygen available at the end of glycolysis for aerobic respiration to continue?

9. Yeasts do a kind of anaerobic respiration called ____________, and produce ___________ and _________ along with 2 ATP

10. What are the important end products of the Citric Acid Cycle, and what happens to each of these products?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was announced this morning and relates to what we have been discussing in class lately. The prize was shared by three men all involved in the discovery and use of a protein that glows.

In the 1960s Osamu Shimomura gathered jellyfish and isolated a protein that makes them glow when exposed to ultraviolet light. Decades later Martin Chalfie and co-workers put the gene for this protein into a small round worm called C. elegans. This allowed them to track the protein and cell activity in the worm, and since then Roger Tsien changed some amino acids in the protein to make it glow different colors. Inserting genetically engineered proteins that glow into cells allows medical researchers to watch the spread of cancers, and the development of other disease. So, the glowing protein from a jellyfish turns out to have very practical uses in medicine and biological research.

Read more here

See a slide show here

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Genetic Engineering Review Questions

1. What are restriction enzymes?
2. What kind of cells have restriction enzymes, and what is the purpose of these enzymes in the cell?
3. What is a plasmid?
4. How are plasmids used in genetic engineering?
5. Why does human DNA work in a bacterial cell?
6. What is gene therapy?

Mitosis and Meiosis Review Questions

1 If a cell has 8 chromosomes and does mitosis, how many cells will be made, and how many chromosomes will each cell have?

2. If a cell has 8 chromosomes and does meiosis to make sperm cells, how many cells will be made, and how many chromosomes will each cell have?

3. Mitosis creates cells which are ________, while meiosis makes cells which are _____.

4. What are homologous chromosomes?

5. What are sister chromatids?

6. What is crossing over, and during which process, (mitosis or meiosis) does it occur?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

DNA Review Questions

Here are some review questions about DNA from the lecture today.

1. Describe the structure of the DNA molecule

2. If the sequence of bases on one stand of the molecule is AAC TGC CCG, what is the sequence on the complemetary strand?

3. During DNA replication, what enzyme breaks the hydrogen bonds between the base pairs, and what enzyme matches up nucleotides to the existing ones on the parent strand of DNA?

4. Why is this type of replication called Semi Conservative?

5. How is RNA different from DNA?

6. The production of messenger RNA from DNA is called ________, and this happens in the __________ of the cell.

7. The parts of the mRNA molecules which are edited out before RNA reaches the cytoplasm are called __________

8. mRNA gets a cap and a tail prior to being read by the ribosome. What is the function of the cap and tail?

9. If the DNA strand being copied had this sequence: ACT GGC ATA CTA what would the sequence of the mRNA be?

10. The function of transfer RNA is ?

11. What is the name of the enzyme that produces RNA from DNA?

12. If the sequence of DNA is the same in your body cells, why are all cells not the same?

13. The DNA in you, an earthworm, and a fungus is the same. So why are you a human and not an earthworm?

14. What is an anti-codon and where is it found?

15. The protein synthesis process that occurs at the ribosome is called _____________

16. What is a stop codon?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bio 120 Review Questions exam 1 fall 08

1. What are the building blocks of carbohydrates?
2. What is the difference between a saturated and unsaturated fatty acid?
3. Why is the shape of an enzyme important to the function of the enzyme?
4. At what level of complexity do proteins usually become functional?
5. What makes up a nucleotide?
6. What bond forms between amino acids as they react to form proteins?
7. How is the function of carbohydrates different in plants and animals?
8. What is the name of the carbohydrate human cells use to store glucose?
9. Which of the macromolecules we discussed stores energy in the most efficient way?
10. What is the most common steroid in the body?

Here's some more questions for you to answer !
1. A cell must maintain an imbalance of sodium ions on either side of the membrane for it to function. What process would it most likely use of the ones we discussed today in class?
2. How are polar and non polar covalent bonds different?
3. What is a hydrogen bond, and why are these bonds important to life?
4. Oxygen has 8 electrons, with 6 in the outermost energy leve. Will this atom react?
5. How are ions formed?
6. A solution with a pH of 5 is how many times more acidic than a solution with a pH of 7?
7. What determines if an atom with react with another?
8. A plant cell in a hypertonic solution will under go _____________
9. An animal cell in a hypotonic solution may undergo _____________
10. A Paramecium can survive in fresh water without bursting. Why?

1. How are the mitochondria and chloroplasts similar?
2. Why do we think the mitochondria was once an independent organism?
3. Describe the plasma membrane. Include how a lipid membrane functions in a watery environment.
4. What role do the proteins in the plasma membrane play?
5. How is active transport different from diffusion and osmosis, and faciliated diffusion?
6. How is dialysis different from osmosis?
7. What affect would a hypertonic solution have on a cell?

How is a hypothesis different from a theory?
What are five characteristics of living things?
How are prokaryotic cells different from eukaryotics cells?
What can cyanobacteria do that the bacteria living in your mouth do not do?
How are archebacteria different from the bacteria living on your skin?
Describe briefly what organelles would be involved in making a protein and exporting it from the cell.
Give an example of two cell organelles working together to accomplish a task.
What organelle is found on the ER?
What is the function of lysosomes?
Where is the nucleolus?
What are the functions of the Golgi bodies?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bolsa Chica Afternoon and Coastal Clean Up Day is Saturday Sept 20

It's been awhile since I've posted to the blog, so hello again. I was out at Bolsa Chica yesterday afternoon and while most of the terns have gone south, the shorebirds are back from their northern breeding grounds. Pelicans and cormorants were busy fishing, and there were round rays hunting in the mud by the foot bridge.

Next Saturday the Bolsa Chica Land Trust is participating in Coastal Clean up Day at Bolsa Chica State Beach from 8-11 AM. Admission to the beach is free for those coming to help clean the beach, and you are welcome to stay all day. You need to bring shoes, work gloves, a hat and sunscreen. There is also a form to fill out which you can download by clicking here.

Round rays are related to sharks, but have flattened plate like teeth instead of the sharp teeth sharks have. Rays use these teeth to crush the clams, mussels, and other shell fish they prefer as food. 

When you visit the Aquarium of the Pacific be sure to go to the downstairs exhibit about Oceans on the Edge. There is an area where you can touch the round rays, and the success of groups such as the Bolsa Chica Land Trust is celebrated in a display about how Bolsa Chica was saved from the devastation that would have come from the construction of 4,884 houses that at one time were planned for this area. 
Cormorants prefer fish to clams. This one was feeding, successfully as you can see, by the footbridge. 

Friday, July 18, 2008

Least Terns at Bolsa Chica

Friday afternoon I noticed a lot of activity in the nesting area north of the walkbridge. This little fledgling California Least Tern had been picking at debris on the ground, when it suddenly heard the call of one of its parents. It was obviously glad to hear from mom or dad as it was hungry!

Both parents feed the chicks, and the male and female adults look the same. Least terns are the smallest of the terns. The adults weigh around 55 grams. That's as much as 55 paperclips!

After being fed it settled down for a short nap, but flew off a few minutes later.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Denali National Park and Alaska!

On a slope above Tattler Creek,  37.5 miles into Denali National Park

I am amazed and overwhelmed by Alaska. The scale of the landscape is really beyond my descriptive abilities. You all need to go there and see it for yourself. I'll be posting more photos soon, but wanted to get a few up on the blog.
The alpine tundra we hiked across during one day of the class.

The tundra was still fairly brown looking from a distance because the spring was very cold, and the summer late this year. However, once in it one could see a host of flowers in bloom. Lousewort

View into Denali from Stony Point. To give you an idea of scale, look for the interpretive sign at the edge of the pullout from the road. 

Heather bells. Tundra plants hug the ground to stay warmer and out of the dry,  desiccating wind.

Alpine Rhododendrons- much smaller than those one might find in a garden.

Arctic ground squirrel keeping an eye on hikers passing by. 

This very low growing "shrub" is actually a willow.

Grizzly bear sow with two cubs, Denali National Park.

We spotted this female bear and her two cubs while in the van driving back to our campsite after a long day of looking a wildflowers. At first the cubs were crouched down, but soon started running around after their mom.

Bald eagle grabbing a fish out of Auk Bay, north of Juneau Alaska

This may be my favorite wildlife shot of all time. My friend Karen and I very were excited to see a bald eagle on the rooftop of a building near the docks in Juneau. I, of course, took way too many pictures of the eagle on the roof, on a light post, flying overhead, in really bad light. Little did I know that in the Juneau area Bald Eagles are about as common as ravens are, which is very common. I was delighted to get this shot a couple of days later of an eagle in a more natural setting than a rooftop.  More photos coming soon!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Native Americans Protest Hearthside Homes Desecration of Ancient Cemetery at Brightwater

With recent reports of over 170 buried human remains dug up and stored in trailers on site, along with the removal of thousands of ancient artifacts, Native Americans and their supporters have started demonstrating their outrage. Every Wednesday night from 5 PM to 6PM at the corner of Bolsa Chica Road and Warner Ave in Huntington Beach there is an informational protest.

There has also been recent evidence uncovered that demonstrates Hearthside Homes withheld information about the human remains from the California Coastal Commission. In addition to demonstrating, the group has filed for a revocation hearing with the California Coastal Commission in an attempt to stop the desecration of the cemetery of their ancestors.

Friday, May 30, 2008


On the trips I took in May I found myself drawn to details, mainly to details in nature. Sure I took photos of big picture subjects too such as Zion Canyon from the trail leading to Hidden Canyon, but I was very drawn to smaller subjects. Now, of course, this may have just been because stopping to photograph flowers, or patterns in the rocks gave me a chance to catch my breath as I climbed up the switchbacks leading to Hidden Canyon, but the interest continued beyond that trail.

Tracks in Cathedral Valley. 

Do you see the face made by the moss and lichen?

Water-smoothed canyon walls in a narrow canyon.

Patterns of light and shadow in leaves along the trail to Hidden Canyon.

Contents in the cupboard of an old cowboy cabin in Cathedral Valley.

This horned lizard, closely followed by a smaller one,  darted across the dirt road in front of me as I was driving out of Horseshoe Canyon. I stopped to photograph them in the road when suddenly a jeep approached. I am not sure what the people in the jeep thought as I madly chased the lizards around the road to get them out of the way of the approaching car. 

Cactus flower just budding out in Zion National Park

This image of new growth on a conifer was taken at the Foxfire Gardens in Marshfield Wisconsin. This is a private garden on about 80 acres that is owned by a couple who have slowly turned their property into a tranquil, shady retreat. They are very kind to share this with the public at no cost. 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Great Gallery

The Great Gallery is a spectacular series of pictographs in Horseshoe Canyon in a very remote part of southern Utah. During the 3 mile walk to the Great Gallery one passes a series of other panels while walking in a canyon with walls of towering sandstone.
This is the first panel I saw in the canyon, and it has one of my favorite rock art images in it. The figure of the bird/human below being released perhaps by the figure below it, invokes to me the desire to be able to fly.

These figures are the most famous of those in the Great Gallery panel. The entire panel is about 100 feet long, and many of the figures are over 6 feet high. They were painted thousands of years ago with mineral based pigments.  

If you plan to do the 6.5 mile round trip walk to see these images, be sure to bring plenty of water. Even in mid May it was in the 90's on the canyon floor. The trail head is accessed by traveling about 30 miles on a dirt road. When I drove it in May it was in fine shape, but after a rain the road can become impassable so check with the rangers at Canyonlands National Park, or with a local BLM office about the condition of the road. 

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Disappointment at the California Coastal Commission

I don't remember being more disappointed in a group of public officials as I was at the Coastal Commission yesterday. The hearing I attended was to review the staff findings based on the Commission's actions on the upper Bolsa Chica wetlands area owned by the Shea Co. The purpose of the hearing was for the commissioners who voted in favor of the project in November
( the prevailing side) to confirm the staff had incorporated the commissions changes made at the November meeting. The only thing to be discussed were the changes made in the staff recommendations by the commission members last November.

Included in the staff report in November was a requirement for a 4:1 mitigation for wetland destruction that occurred on the property. The commission in November recognized the existence of a 4 acre wetland on the site. There was no discussion at the November meeting of the mitigation, and the commission did not make any changes to this requirement in November.

However, a 4:1 mitigation for a 4 acre wetland would mean the possibility of a 16 acre mitigation project, perhaps on the site, reducing the area available for the housing project. The representatives of the Shea Co. not only argued that the commission had removed this requirement in November ( in complete disregard for reality) but the commission agreed in a 5-0 vote.

Not only that, but during the hearing on the item, one of Shea's lobbyists handed out a yellow piece of paper to the commissioners with the motions the company wanted, and guess what-Commissioner Secord read motion by motion directly from the paper handed out by Shea's lobbyist.

Things got a little tricky with the last motion which included incorporation of language contained in an addendum handed out by the Shea Co. earlier in the day. The public had not seen this document, so we had no idea of what the last motion actually did. Plus since the document was handed out to the commissioners while they were deliberating on other agenda items, I doubt any of them had time to read the whole thing. Commissoner Wan pointed out inaccuracies in Shea's document she had found in the brief time she had to look over the information, but since she was not on the prevailing side of the vote in November, she could not vote on the motions.

So in essence they were passing motions written by the developer, including language they had not read, which had also been written by the developer. Even this motion passed 3-2.

As a member of the public, and a former Mayor, I was terribly disappointed by the way the majority of the commissioners did the bidding of the developer, and ignored the factual information presented by the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and members of the public.

So is this it? Can nothing be done? Well, in 1996 the Coastal Commissioners did the bidding of the Koll Company on a massive plan for construction at Bolsa Chica that violated the Coastal Act, the very law the Commissioners are supposed to uphold. The Bolsa Chica Land Trust sued, and won. That victory not only protected wetlands, and Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas at Bolsa Chica, but all coastal wetlands in the State. Maybe it's time to remind the commissioners, that as much as they would like to disregard the rules governing coastal development, there are groups out there who will challenge them when they do so!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Tanzania in black and white

A friend of mine sent me a link to a photographer's site who has dramatic black and white photos taken in Kenya. This inspired me to play around a little with some of mine. Here's a few photos I took in Tanzania in Dec 05- Jan 06 which I have altered a bit.

Elephant group on a rainy morning

Cheetah with a full stomach

Male impala

Acacia trees in early morning fog

Thursday, April 24, 2008


 Late spring and summer is the time of the terns at Bolsa Chica. The Forster's terns are courting and displaying and the least terns are back from their wintering grounds. 

Last summer I noticed several Forster's terns using the walk bridge railing as a perch from which they could launch themselves into the water after fish rather than hovering in the air. I'm not sure if this bird is one of the individuals I saw last year, but it was using the railing in the same way. This one stood its ground as I walked past it. Is it my imagination, or does it look like it has a bit of an attitude? 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earthday at Bolsa Chica

Wow! What a crowd! Over 500 people signed in to help clear non-native plants and plant natives on the Bolsa Chica Mesa.

Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook spoke, then the crowd walked along Warner Ave. to the mesa.
We hope that by the fall there will be a walk bridge across the channel so we don't have to risk walking in the bike lane on Warner any longer.
Over 1,000 new native plants were planted by the end of the day. It was a record turn out for participation at Bolsa Chica on Earth Day.