Friday, August 31, 2012

Deadly Yosemite Virus Warning to 10,000 US Campers

Four other cases of Hantavirus, a rare lung disease, have been reported. Yosemite park said it is getting about 1,000 calls per day from frightened visitors on its Hantavirus hotline.

There is no known cure for the virus, spread by infected rodent droppings. Symptoms can take up to six weeks and one third of cases are fatal. The virus is carried in rodent faeces, urine and saliva. When it dries out and mixes with dust, it can be inhaled by humans, especially in small, stuffy spaces. The disease can also spread if people touch or eat contaminated substances, or are bitten by an infected animal.

The first death was reported earlier this month - one of those who died was a 37-year-old man from the San Francisco Bay area.
The outbreak of the virus at Yosemite is thought to have been caused by mice nesting in the insulation of tents at a campsite in the Curry Village area of the reserve.

About 10,000 visitors stayed at the campsite between June and August and could be at risk of contracting the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Yosemite attracts millions of visitors every year The CDC added that they were looking into suspected cases of the disease in "multiple health jurisdictions".

They also urged doctors to report diagnosed cases of Hantavirus to state health authorities.

The park has contacted about 3,000 groups of visitors warning them to seek medical advice if they experience flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, shortness of breath, muscle ache and cough. Severe cases can lead to extreme breathing difficulty and death.

Earlier this week, park officials closed all 91 "signature" cabins after finding deer mice, which carry the virus, nesting between the double walls of the luxury tents. But they added that the outbreak of the virus had not led to a wave of cancellations.

"Right now it's normal numbers for Friday," Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

"There have been cancellations, but it would be grossly overstated to say they're cancelling en masse. There's quite a bit of people out there still.

"It's still summer and a holiday weekend. It's still the summer crowds," she said.

Nearly four million people visit Yosemite National Park annually and about 70% of them visit Yosemite Valley, where Curry Village is located.

The park has seen two other cases of the hantavirus in a more remote area in 2000 and 2010, but this year's deaths were the first.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Look in the Sky on August 31st to see the Blue Moon

August 2012 is a month with two full moons. Which means, by popular acclaim, that means it’s a Blue Moon month.That’s because a Blue Moon is sometimes defined as the second full moon in a calendar month. The first full moon is on August 1st. The second full moon is August 31, 2012.

There are two more definitions for Blue Moon. It can be the third of four full moons in a single season. Or, someday, you might actually see a blue-colored moon.

It is very rare that you would actually see a blue-colored moon, although with unusual sky conditions – certain-sized particles of dust or smoke can actually create them. 

Every month typically has a full moon (although sometimes February doesn’t). In fact, the word for “month” even comes from the word “moon.” Most of the time, the names for full moons coincide with particular months or even seasons of the year. So whether you define a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month or the third full moon of four in a season the name Blue Moon accounts for times when there are more full moons than is ordinary.

Blue moon as second full moon in a month. In recent decades, many people have begun using the name Blue Moon to describe the second full moon of a calendar month.

The time between one full moon and the next is close to the length of a calendar month. So the only time one month can have two full moons is when the first full moon happens in the first few days of the month. This happens every 2-3 years, so these sorts of Blue Moons come about that often.

The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month stemmed from the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine, which contained an article called “Once in a Blue Moon” by James Hugh Pruett. Pruett was using a 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac, but he simplified the definition. He wrote:

Seven times in 19 years there were — and still are — 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.

The next year of double blue moons is coming up in 2018.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Awesome Elf on The Shelf Ideas

Has your family adopted the totally awesome Elf on the Shelf tradition yet? Are you running out of crazy fun ideas each year? To help keep the Elf on the Shelf tradition alive, I’ve listed tons of awesome things your Elf can do this season:

Elf hiding in a glass:

Elf taking a marshmallow bath:

Elf hanging the kids undies on the mantle:

Elf tangled in the lights being naughty:

Elf brings a note:

Elf toilet papers tree:

Elf drinking syrup:

Elf leaving messages for the kids to reminding them to be good:

Elf playing Playstation:

Making snowflakes with the other toys:

Elf made green milk:

Elf playing scrabble:

Elf got into the toothpaste:

Elf made the toilet water green:

Elf colored a picture:

Elf hanging in the doll house:

Elf has Woody hog tied:

Elf snowball fight:

Elf playing dress up:

Elf goes fishing:

Elf shoots Grinch with nerf gun:

Elf is on Facebook:

Elf is stylin:

Elf hides out in the freezer:

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Sign up to receive a free kit to Celebrate Urban Birds. Learn about city birds, watch birds for science, get involved in projects to "green" up your community, and increase conservation awareness. Hold Celebrate Urban Birds activities that combine the arts, learning about nature in your own neighborhood, and science. The free Celebrate Urban Birds kits contain two posters to help you identify birds, a data sheet and return envelope, a packet of sunflower seeds to plant, a Zero Means a Lot sticker, and instructions. No knowledge of birds is required, it's easy and fun.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Top 10 Pinterest Pins This Week

Here's the top 10 most popular pins on Pinterest this week:

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Storm Isaac heads for U.S. Gulf Coast, hurricane warning issued

Tropical Storm Isaac swirled into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, threatening to disrupt U.S. offshore oil and gas supplies and strengthen into a powerful hurricane that could make landfall near Louisiana almost seven years to the day after Katrina struck.

The storm swiped south Florida on Sunday before moving into the warm Gulf waters, where it is expected to strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane and hit the Gulf Coast somewhere between Florida and Louisiana by midweek, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi declared states of emergency as a hurricane warning went into effect for the northern Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

It included New Orleans, devastated when Hurricane Katrina swept over the city on Aug. 29, 2005, killing more than 1,800 people and causing billions of dollars of damage along the coast.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley ordered mandatory evacuations beginning on Monday for residents in low-lying areas along the coast.

Energy producers in the Gulf worked to shut down some of their operations ahead of in what could be the biggest test for U.S. energy installations since 2008, when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike disrupted offshore oil output for months and damaged onshore natural gas processing plants, pipelines and some refineries.

Some Gulf residents started stocking up on supplies and securing their homes. In New Orleans, long lines formed at some gas stations and in Gulfport, Mississippi, people crowded supermarkets to buy bottled water and canned food.

"I sense a high level of anxiety," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "The timing, as fate would have it, on the anniversary of Katrina has everybody in a state of alertness, but that is a good thing."

Isaac is forecast to become a hurricane either Monday or Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to eventually intensify to a Category 2 hurricane with extremely dangerous sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (169 kph) as it swept across the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters are predicting a more westward track that could bring Isaac over the heart of the U.S. offshore oil patch, which produces about 23 percent of U.S. oil output and 7 percent of its natural gas.

With the threat to offshore oil infrastructure and Louisiana refineries, U.S. crude oil prices traded up 75 cents to $96.90 a barrel in Asia early Monday.