Sad warning on pesticide misuse

July 19, 2007

No, pesticides are not perfectly safe, especially when not used exactly as prescribed.  Poisons are poisons.  Be careful.  People can die.

News from Texas: Tech Meat Team wins national championship

July 19, 2007

Traveling Texas produces its own joys. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been through Wichita Falls, Amarillo, Dalhart, Eastland, Weatherford, Abilene and Lubbock, and a couple score of towns in between.

I loved this headline last week in Texas Tech’s newspaper, The Daily Toreador: “Meat Team wins national championship.”

Who knew there is intercollegiate competition in meat judging? Why isn’t this on ABC or ESPN?

Humor aside, in beef states such skills are critical. Since I love a good steak more than the average person — and I love a good roast beef at least as well — this is the sort of competition I would probably take some interest in, were it covered in daily media outside the affected universities. The team from Tech deserves wider recognition, it seems to me, and I wish Texas newspapers like the Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle would give regular coverage to such achievements — not to mention the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (is that a great name for daily newspaper, or what?)

The competition was held at the 60th annual Reciprocal Meats Conference, at South Dakota State University. Tech’s winning team had to beat another Tech team to get to the championship round, and there they faced another Texas team from Angelo State University in San Angelo (I haven’t made it there yet, this year).

Tech’s two three-person teams began the competition strong, neither losing a round until they faced each other. The team of Megan Mitchell, Travis Chapin and Austin Voyles came out on top, with O’Quinn, Landi Woolley and Matt Sellers falling into the consolation bracket. Because it was a double-elimination competition, each team had to lose twice to be out of the contest.

The Mitchell, Chapin and Voyles team lost one of their rounds later, leaving both teams in the consolation bracket. Winning their way through the consolation bracket, the two teams eventually faced each other once again, and this time O’Quinn, Woolley and Sellers won. They ended up competing against Angelo State University in the finals and emerged victorious.

“It wasn’t really like two teams,” O’Quinn said. “It wasn’t like one Tech team won and the other Tech team lost. It’s just a matter of formality. If all six of us could have been on one team, we would have. We consider ourselves all one team. The Tech team won.”

Rogers noted that combined the teams only lost three rounds.

“Two of our losses were to our own team,” she said. “It really was a group win.”

It was the third national championship for Tech in the competition in the past six years.

Don’t laugh.  Does your university even have a meat judging team?

And while in Lubbock, I had a great chicken-fried steak at River Smith’s. Eat the local fruits, I always say.

4 Stone Hearth #19

July 19, 2007

Prehistory and archaeology fans will want to check out the latest archeaology carnival from the 4 Stone Hearth series — Number 19 is up at Sherd Nerd.

Texans may want to pay particular attention to the links to John Hawks’s blog, where he talks about the coming display of Lucy, in Houston, with further links.  Hawks notes controversy among the U.S. community of Ethiopians; Texans may worry more about complaints from Texas creationists.

Either way, you need to check it out.  You can link back here, to my post on stories and history, too (thanks, Sherd Nerd!).

Use the work of local photographers

July 19, 2007

The Dallas Morning News offers a column by a mensch named Steve Blow two or three times a week. Most good daily papers in America have something like it — a column by a reporter or former reporter, or sometimes just someone in the community who can write, that covers the beat of being alive in This Town, wherever this town is.

About half the time the columns stake out positions on issues that make a few people angry enough to write letters demanding the column be burned and the author be dangled by the toes from the flagpole jutting out of the third story window of the newspaper building. The rest of the time, to careful readers, these columnists tell stories of the city, or talk about people you ought to know.

On July 12, Steve Blow wrote about a guy who takes pictures of birds at Dallas’ White Rock Lake. Texas has three major bird migration flyways coursing through it, offering opportunities for Texans to see hundreds of different species through the year.  J R Compton takes advantage of this, photographing birds and then posting the photos at his website.

Egret, from J. R. Compton

These are great photos for use in geography, biology and environmental science classes.  Heck, a Texas history course ought to note Texas’ great bird viewing, too, since it’s an important industry (if somewhat smaller than oil or auto customizing).

Most kids I see in school know almost nothing about birds.  Following bird migration routes is a fun and sneaky way to get kids thinking about geography, about paths of commerce for economics and history, and just to get them looking around their world to see what’s going on.

Particularly for Dallas and North Texas, these photos offer kids a chance to see what they should be looking for, literally in their own backyards.

Black-crowned night heron at White Rock Dam

Compton’s photos can also be found at his websites, such as J R’s Birds, and Addlepated Birder.  His chief site is

Especially with digital cameras so common, it is likely someone in your town is recording natural events, or pictures of the city that you can use in your classroom, too.  Be sure to credit them, to set an example for your students.

  • Photo of egret in flight and night crowned heron both taken at White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas, photos copyright by J R Compton.
  • Update, April 19, 2010:  Mr. Compton wishes to be contacted before you use his photos (see his note in comments); if you’re using these in a classroom PowerPoint, drop him a note.  Students can probably claim fair use for papers, but you should encourage them to ask, too.

Cool classroom tools – Malaria

July 19, 2007

Here’s a cool CD ROM on malaria — surely there is some use geography and world history teachers can put to it, yes?

Cover for Wellcome Trust CD on malaria

Biology teachers may find it useful, too. Alas, it’s pricey, unless you’re teaching in a developing country.

The disc has 13 interactive tutorials on various aspects of malaria, including control strategies (most relevant to social studies, I think). Perhaps of most use, it’s got 900 images suitable for PowerPoint or other illustration.

Image for animated show of malaria parasite, Wellcome Trust

At left, click the image to go to a Wellcome Trust animation of the life cycle of the malaria parasite.

Why is it the good stuff is so often expensive, and so often difficult to get for the classroom? It reminds me of Mark Twain’s line about how we value the truth so much — you can tell, because we economize on it so.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: