Category Archives: Science & Nature

Skills I Can Learn in a Short Time?

What can you learn in a few weeks to a few months that would look good on resumes or college applications and maybe give you something interesting to talk about at parties?

Learn HTML and CSS – Okay, this may not make you the life of the party but it will look good on resumes. has a free online course that can teach you how. The estimated course time is about 7 hours.

Learn First Aid and CPR - The American Red Cross offers classes (the ones in my area are $90 to $110 each). Sometimes schools, businesses, churches or other organizations will pay someone to come teach CPR and first aid to interested members can learn for free, so it’s worth asking around.

Improve Your Public Speaking Skills - Join Toastmasters. They have 15,400 clubs in 135 countries. It’s a non-profit organization that helps members improve their communication and leadership skills.

Learn American Sign Language - Or the sign language appropriate to your country. You’re not going to be an expert within just a few months but you can learn some basic communication. Start ASL has some free online classes. ASLU has tutorials and lots of resources. ASL Pro has video tutorials along with resources for students and teachers.

Or, if you’re not good with your hands, learn a language from or Both are free.

Social Media Marketing - There’s more to this than being popular on Twitter or Tumblr, it’s about presenting an image and delivering a message. DS106 is an open online course on digital storytelling presented by the University of Mary Washington.

The University of Salford, Manchester offers an open online course covering search and social media marketing for international business.

ALISON offers an online course called Diploma in Social Media Marketing. The course if free but you will need to register to access the course resources.

Dinosaurs! - The University of Alberta offers Dino 101 – Dinosaur Paleobiology. It’s a 12-week free online course. It may not do anything for your resume, but it sounded interesting so I’m including it.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack?

1. Chest discomfort – this may be pain or may just be a sense of fullness or squeezing, particularly in the center or the left side.

2. Jaw, neck, upper arm or shoulder pain or discomfort.

3. Shortness of breath – this may be the first symptom that you notice.

4. Nausea and vomiting.

5. Anxiety or feeling of panic.

6. Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.

7. Cold sweat.

ab pain
8. Stomach or abdominal pain.

9. Unusual fatigue or unexplained weakness.

If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 (or your area’s emergency phone number) immediately. Different people will have different symptoms so do not put off seeing a doctor just because you don’t have the same symptoms that your uncle, or next-door neighbor, or co-worker had.

Things People Think That Aren’t True?

        1. Getting cold will give you a cold/the flu. (It might weaken your immune system, but getting sick is all about germs, germs, germs! It is true that not wearing a jacket when it’s cold will make your mother cold. Really. Trust me on this.)
        2. Vikings wore horned helmets. (That came from opera costumes.)
        3. Carrots improve eyesight. (WWII propaganda.)
        4. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. (No, but it makes you annoying.)
        5. Goldfish have 3-second memories. (They can remember information for up to five months.)
        6. Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. (Things that attract lightning once are likely to attract it again.)
        7. Monsanto sued farmers when GMO seeds blew onto their farms. (No, they sued farmers who used various methods to circumvent paying Monsanto for patented seeds.)
        8. Jellyfish stings should be treated by peeing on them. (No, get out of the water, rinse the area with salt water and seek medical treatment.)
        9. “420” is the Los Angeles Police Department code for marijuana use. (No, it’s the code for juvenile disturbance.)
        10. We eat 8 spiders a year in our sleep. (It’s just 3. Not really, I kid, it’s zero. Spiders don’t want anything to do with you.)
        11. Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16 dress. (You’d like to think so, wouldn’t you Chubs? Nope, she had a 22-inch waist and weighed less than 120 pounds. If she were alive today, she’d probably wear a US size 4.)
        12. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. (Unless, of course, you can’t, then it’s…)


Herbs to Grow for Cooking and Health?

Here are herbs that you can use to liven up your cooking. Some people claim that they have health benefits too. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow herbs in a planter on a deck, patio or balcony. Some will even do well inside on your windowsill.

Health: It’s supposed to reduce flatulence and improve the appetite. (I have to admit, that warm, spicy flavor is appetizing!)
Cooking: Use to season soups, stews, and sauces.

Tomato Basil Soup
Salami, Oven-Roasted Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Omelette
Basil Pesto
Summer Chicken and Basil Stew

If you’re trying to grow your herbs in a small space – a planter or container garden – look for “Spicy Globe Basil”. It’s a more compact plant. Pick the leaves early, before it blooms, for the best flavor.

Health: They’re low in calories and high in Vitamin A, C, and K.
Cooking: They provide a light onion flavor. Chop them up and add to salads or scrambled eggs. Use as a garnish on potatoes or other vegetables.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts in Creamy Chive Sauce
Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes
Chrispy Herbed Shrimp with Chive Aioli

This is a grass-like perennial. You can grow it on your windowsill and just snip off some when you need it. Trim them back to soil level to keep fresh sprouts coming.

Health: It improves mood and sweetens your breath (which will improve the mood of those around you!) Traditionally, rosemary has symbolized remembrance and love. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Perhaps because of this tradition, people believe that it will help improve memory.
Cooking: It compliments chicken, beef, pork, and fish. It also works well with some vegetables.

Garlic Rosemary Chicken
Olive Oil Braised Vegetables
Ginger Rosemary Lemon Drop Cocktails
Make rosemary infused oil. Wash some rosemary sprigs and pat dry with towels. Let them sit out and finish air drying for a day. Drop the sprigs into a bottle of olive oil. Let it sit in a cool dark place (a cabinet or the pantry) for at least several days. The longer it sits, the more intense the flavor. Use in sauteing or in salad dressings. If you need the flavored oil RIGHT NOW!, heat a cup of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a few sprigs of rosemary – around 5 or so. Heat for about five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a bottle or cruet. Keep refrigerated when not using. Keeps about a month.

It will grow in a little pot, indoors or out. I see them at Christmas time in the grocery, trimmed to look like little Christmas trees. There’s usually at least a few on clearance after the holiday. If you see one, grab it because it goes well with winter comfort foods.

Health: Relieves throat inflammation. According to WebMD, “Sage is used for digestive problems, including loss of appetite, gas (flatulence), stomach pain (gastritis), diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn. It is also used for reducing overproduction of perspiration and saliva; and for depression, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease. Women use sage for painful menstrual periods, to correct excessive milk flow during nursing, and to reduce hot flashes during menopause. Sage is applied directly to the skin for cold sores; gum disease (gingivitis); sore mouth, throat or tongue; and swollen, painful nasal passages.” Wow. I’m impressed, all that and it flavors sausage too!
Cooking: It’s used in stuffing for chicken or turkey, sausage, cooking with pork, or in omelets.

Butter and Sage Sauce to serve over pasta
Pork Roast Stuffed with Apples and Sage (It also has thyme in it.)
Steamed Vegetables With Sage

Sage needs lots of sun, so it’s best to grow it outside. It can also become very bushy, so if you want to grow it in a container, look for a dwarf sage that will only grow 10 inches high. If your sage blooms, cut back only to beneath where it budded, not to the woody part of the stem. If you cut back too far, it may not come back.

Health: Thyme oil is an antiseptic and may help bad breath. It’s also rich in Vitamin A and C. Drink a tea made of it for use as a diuretic (increases urine flow).
Cooking: Rub chopped leaves over roasts before cooking.

Slow Baked Salmon and Lemon Thyme
Garlic Thyme Bread
Potato Gratin with Leeks and Thyme

Thyme needs full sun and likes to be slightly dry, so don’t over-water and make sure that the pot or planter it’s in drains well. Plant some outside to attract honey bees.

Health: It has Vitamins A, C, E, and K and fiber and is a potential anti-oxidant.
Cooking: Use it to make marinara or pizza sauce – or add flavor to sauce from a jar. If you’re cooking anything that has tomatoes in it, chances are it will be good with a little oregano in there too.

Meatball Vegetable Soup
Pizza Margherita (Also uses fresh basil.)
Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Oregano

It needs sun (at least 6 hours a day) and will grow in a pot but will need its space – it can be a foot tall. Pinch off leaves regularly so it will continue to sprout new ones and so it won’t take over your window/patio/garden.

A couple of articles you may want to check out:
Chow: How to Grow Herbs Indoors
Burpee Seeds: Growing Herbs for Drying

Ways to Identify Birds?

Spring has sprung, the grass is ris,
I wonder where the boidies is
The boid is on the wing,
But that’s absoid
From what I hoid
The wing is on the boid! – Anon.

There are two ways for the amateur birder to identify birds: by how they look and by how they sound. The best guides will walk you through identification by narrowing categories – shape, size, color – and then show you photos of possibilities.

– One of the most comprehensive online guides is All About Birds by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The guide will help you identify birds you see. There are also tips on how to attract birds to your yard.

If you get bored with your local birds, they have several bird cams you can watch.

– has a regional finder so you can see what birds are in your area and how to attract them. You can find birds’ migration times and routes. There’s an audio section with recordings of the calls of over 550 North American Birds.

Don’t forget to check it out again in fall. It has a list of the 15 best places to see hawks during their fall migration.

– The Guide to North American Bird Songs and Sounds lets you try to identify birds by their songs. Look through the options to find descriptions that most closely match what you’re hearing. Is it one note or more? High or low pitched? Does it change? When you’ve narrowed it down, listed to the recordings and see if you can find a match.

Every year in February, people join together for The Great Backyard Bird Count . You can do it from anywhere in the world. All you need to do is record the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. Then enter the information online. The site provides instructions and tools to help you identify the birds.

It also recommends some phone apps to help you:

Merlin Bird ID, which is free for Android or iOS.
Audubon Bird Identification, which is $3.99 for Android, iOS, Nook, Kindle, and HP Touchpad.