The Tyde Comes in Again

Since June of 2011, I have renewed the domain each year with the intention of resuming this blog at some point. That time is now — for some reason.

The last post on Rivertyde was soon after Borders Books, my previous employer, went bankrupt. At the time of that post, I had been out of work for 2 months and was focusing on making a career change from retail back into education.

That transition lasted about 9 months, during which time I did freelance work and took on two volunteer gigs. One was at the Philadelphia Zoo and the other at the Free Library of Philadelphia. To this day I still volunteer at the Zoo.

It was the English tutor role at the Free Library that eventually led to my current job at a Latino non-profit. It was through the coincidence of acquaintances that I was connected to the agency where I now work. A branch manager at the library knew someone who was looking for an English as Second Language teacher and introduced us to each other.

That’s how I became a part-time, temporary ESL instructor for 4 months. Although I was let go when the program ended in August, I was brought back as a regular ESL teacher the following October. A lot has changed since then. Now I am an administrator and proudly support the work of many teachers and case managers.

After Borders, and before getting a full-time position, I worked as a freelance German teacher for a series of eager, but short-term, students. I also did a year as a freelance editor for a friend hoping to publish an historical book about Philadelphia. His commitment eventually waivered and my services as an editor were no longer needed. It‘s just as well. The work I now do is highly rewarding.

I cannot explain why I am picking up this blog again. It’s probably that I want to brush up on my writing skills and share my current enthusiasm for becoming a polyglot. Recently, I have endeavored to push myself beyond the English and German that I already know toward fluency in Spanish and Hungarian.

Many of my previous posts were about birding, various natural history topics, and Philadelphia. New readers can expect some more of the same. Yet, as my interests in language learning have deepened, there will also be a focus on Spanish and Hungarian as well as on the general process of learning languages.

Thanks for joining me. I hope you find some interesting reads in this blog. As the tag line says, it’s a confluence of (many) thoughts. Check out some of the archived posts for a perspective on where this blog has been.

[Photo by Jason Schuller on Unsplash]

Recycling is picking up in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Rodrigo Muzell reports on a potential deal between Philadelphia and the non-profit RecycleBank that would establish an awards/incentive system for residents: “With recycling up 46%…” However, the real news-worthy information in his article is the improved rate of recycling since the city went to a ‘single stream’ system, which does not require residents to separate glass, metal, and paper. Since June 2008 the diversion rate, the percent of waste diverted from landfills to recycling, jumped from 8.4% to 12.4%, according to Muzell’s report. Overall there was a 46% increase in recycling in the city.

Thanks goes to Muzell for updating us on the successes of Philadelphia’s (still new) efforts at serious recycling. The one non-useful piece in his article is the comparison between Philadelphia and Germany, which he says has diversion rates up to 99%. Since 1991 Germany has had an ordinance that requires manufacturers to take responsibility for recycling their own packaging materials so a comparison between Philadelphia and Germany is not very meaningful. Even a city of our size does not have the market leverage to accomplish what Germany has.

It would be more enlightening to see how our city stacks up against other US cities and communities. That would be closer to an apples-to-apples comparison, and I suspect that we would not yet rank very high even in that group. The really good news is that our mayor is serious about improvements and an incentive program, such as the one Muzell reports on, might add to the momemtum we’re building toward being a much more environmentally responsible community.

2,000 Years Old or Just 3 – Which Is It?

Old Japanese Maple-Flickr image, thanks to Radium Rat for making this photo bloggable!

Trees are the longest lived things on the planet. Several are known to be about 2,000 years old, at least, but how about a sapling only 3 years green sprouted from a seed that was over 2,000? The previous record for a viable seed was 1,300 years. In an AP article by Randolph E. Schmid posted today the news is about a date palm seed from Masada and the healthy sapling it has grown into. It’s amazing that the seed remained viable so long, but it raises the question of how to think or talk about age? This genetic material is clearly 2,000 years old but the growing tree is only three. This may be a rare, natural case; yet, in the biological age (as opposed to industrial or atomic ages) that we find ourselves embarked upon future discoveries and creations will demand that we adjust to a more curious living world than what we thought we were living in.

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Phoenix Has Landed!!

Phoenix lander has made it safely to Mars! I’m watching NasaTV now and these guys are ecstatic. It’s like their team won the Superbowl (only actually much more important in the big picture). I heard one in the background yelling: “We’re down, baby. We’re down!” Nasa TV – exciting – who would have guessed.

Now – the questions, How much water, how easy to reach it, is there/was there life in the water that is now captured in the permafrost of the Martian pole?

Report is that the landing was PERFECT. However we are still waiting to see if the solar arrays deploy correctly in order for Phoneix to fulfill its mission.

A Gem in the City

Cira Centre Backdrop

Originally uploaded by Fen Branklin

One of the most successful parks in Philadelphia is the long, narrow Schuykill Banks in Center City. It runs along the Schuykill River on the east side from the Waterworks Museum & Restaurant south to Locust St. The photographer of this photo has noted that construction on the next segment – from Locust St. to the South St. bridge – is slated to start in August.

Schuykill Banks is a perfect example of the “Build it and they will come,” philosophy. From the time the asphalt path was laid, and well before other landscaping was complete, the park has attracted people in droves. Although I-76 parallels the park on the west side of the river offering a less than scenic backdrop, one perfect gem of a building does enhance the view to the west — the Circa Centre, the new headquarters of Amtrak.

Fen Branklin has captured this sight on a beautiful day just like today. Thanks to him for making his photos bloggable. Check out his Flickr account for some of the best photos of Philadelphia available.

The Nature Conservancy in Oregon – Explosives Aid Wetland Restoration – Upper Klamath Lake, Williamson River Delta

What does it take to destroy a dam and restore a vast marshland? Pyrotechnics. This video captures the explosive destruction of a dam in Southern Oregon to re-connect the waters of a man-made lake with the natural marshlands below it. The curtain of earth shooting into the air is impressive. The anticipation of a more naturalized water flow and the preservation of stressed fish species in the watershed is really impressive. (Note: I’ve been a contributing member of The Nature Conservancy since the 90’s).

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