When Dawn Erupts with Sunshine (Earth Whispers – Part 3) by Janine Donoho

Earth from the space station

Earth from the space station

As a conservation biologist, it’s difficult to keep from running around screaming, “The sky is falling.” Not only does that abuse my throat, it’s not at all productive. Besides, there are success stories associated with projects that could be emulated worldwide. Let’s shift gears and tout those for a change.

Shidhulai fleet boat

Shidhulai fleet boat

Amid our earth’s manmade landscapes—a veritable crazy quilt of sprawling urban centers punctuated by degraded swathes of natural resources—we’re also under the constant influence of our radiant sun. For many of us, that means gallons of sunblock and fabrics woven to keep our skin from flipping out and punishing us. Then there’s solar energy and I break into a happy dance. As Elon Musk said, “We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun, you don’t have to do anything, it just works. It shows up every day.” So how’s that harnessing of the sun’s energy going?

In at risk Bangladesh, you’ll find Mohammed Rezwan’s nonprofit ‘Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’, which means self-reliance. You see, inundated Bangladesh is drowning with over a third of its landmass underwater each year. Rezwan’s floating and solar-powered fleet of schools, libraries, sustainable farms, and health clinics work to offset this loss of actual land. Solar photovoltaics (PV) power this vision. Brilliant on so many levels.

SolarPACES Members

SolarPACES Members

Other projects worldwide include concentrating solar power (CSP), often by transferring energy into steam. At this time, nineteen countries are committed to these forms of solar energy. The issue at hand? Connecting generating sources of solar power into a grid that delivers to urban centers. The usual suspects of fossils—er, fossil fuel tycoons—continue to make this more difficult than it needs to be.

Solar Energy

Solar Energy

Not listed as a member nation? Sweden. One of their most successful solar projects is Ripasso Energy with 32% solar-to-grid energy so far. And the Swedes just get better. Since 1970, this country’s renewable geothermal, wind, and solar use, including collaborative infrastructure along with rigorous building codes, have led to 90% less oil dependency, nearly 10% decreased CO2 output, and markedly reduced sulfur pollution. Woo-hoo!

So yes, let the sun shine down. The star at the center of our solar system still belongs to all. The lower cost of residential solar power has also adjusted into a more doable realm. Now it’s up to us to block insatiable oil magnates and their legislative minions from further taxing that, too.

Are you using solar power to rock your world? If not, do you plan to do so?

Fusion for all

Fusion for all

When the Cougar Pounces by Janine M. Donoho

Tiny Predator

Tiny predator in the wild.

This isn’t about silly contemporary names attached to women of a certain age. And I suppose it isn’t actually about the wild cats known as mountain lions, panthers, and pumas, even though a hunting cougar provides the inciting incident. No, this blog’s about resilience and how you respond to stress.

One recent evening, I was hiking the national forest near dusk—okay, too close to dusk—with my 13 pound predator, otherwise known as Nina Sophia, Italian Greyhound extraordinaire. After staring intently into a thicket which she was focused on, I continued up the trail. Four strides later, she yelped.

I pivoted. There she was—facing off with a cougar.

He was ticked off, tail twitching, and considering his next move. Thus far, Nina, who unlike me can go from 0 to 25 mph almost instantly, was unscathed. I pulled not my gun, but the bear spray and started toward the mountain lion, about 90 pounds of volatile wildcat.

“Back off now!” I said. When I was half a VW length from him, he turned and disappeared into the forest.

“Come,” I told my little hound.

She aligned herself with me as I traded bear spray for pistol and headed up the trail. I howled, roared, and periodically spun around to catch any prowling cat midstride. That’s how the remaining ¾ mile to the truck passed. My sense of relief once Nina and I were safely inside the cab—well, it worked for me.

How I roll

Not pretty, but how I roll.

Oddly, I wasn’t shaken. Instead, I recognized my arrogance in taking this hike too late in the day, then analyzed my response to the threat. An over-reaction would have ended with a dead animal—too little a pushback with at least two dead animals. This outcome came from years living in the food chain while being both mentally and physically prepared for contingencies.

First I’m a conservation biologist—study of life, baby. Second, I had a plan. Third, I tend toward equal and opposite response. Thus we all lived to celebrate another day. My biggest regret? I failed to get a photo of the standoff between my tiny predator and the feral 90 pounder. Also in retrospect, I should have delivered a 1-2 second shot of bear spray to the cougar. He needed to learn there are consequences to bad behavior.

This entire suite of reactions equates with resilience, not a bad way to approach living in general and adversity in particular. Adapting well when faced with difficulty works. Even in something as ordinary to a writer as rejection. Never mind the occasional crazy maker.

Why I arm myself—yes, a fawn's ear in the cougar scat.

Why I arm myself—yes, a fawn’s ear in the cougar scat.

Resilience depends on behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be developed. We can all:

  • Make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out.
    In this case, I looked big, acted tough, carried bear spray and a 9 mm (last resort);
  • Keep things in perspective.
    The cougar appeared young and healthy, although inexperienced and there was no wind, thus the bear spray;
  • Nurture a positive view of yourself along with confidence in your strengths and abilities.
    Practice using your tools of choice e.g. bear spray and 9 mm;
  • Build skills in communication and problem solving.
    “Bad cougar, bad!” or equivalent;
  • Maintain a healthy and flexible body.
    Yes, step away from the Ben & Jerry’s and stay active;
  • Shore up the capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses.
    No animals were harmed in this episode—including yours truly.

With those skills, you can face down an editor who tells you you’re in the wrong business and who asks, “Whatever made you think you could write?”

Really, this happened to a well-published and renowned author and friend.

You can also apply this to team building. I have that option with BookTrope, my 21st century hybrid publisher. You recognize the potentially great book manager, editor, publicist, and cover artist, then aren’t shy about asking them to play with you.

So be prepared, do the work, and build resilience into your daily life. You never know when a mountain lion might pounce—but you’ll be ready.Mountain lion

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27, 2015
The big day is here.

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