Dirt is Good :)

Remember this slogan by Omo? or was it Sunlight? Okay… by Unilever? Much as I don’t enjoy soil science much, thanks to an interesting experience a few years ago, here are some facts proving that dirt/soil (will use them interchangeably) is not just good but amazing.

  1. soillayersMost soil has 6 layers. It’s also known as the ‘Soil Profile’.
  2. Soil consists of 50% water and air. The other 50% is made up of broken rock and minerals from decaying flora and fauna.
  3. It takes 500 years to produce just under an inch of topsoil, this is the most productive layer of soil.
  4. The amount of sand, clay and silt is what gives different soil types their various textures. Most soils are a mix of all three as can be seen in the image below:
    soil-type
  5. There are more microorganisms in a handful of soil than the world population. For example, there are approximately 5,000 different types of bacteria in just one gram of soil.
  6.  Soil acts as a sink/ storage /sequestrator  of approximately 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
  7. It stores approximately 0.01% of the Earth’s total water.
  8. Soil acts as a pollutant filter for underground water
    and finally,
  9. About 1.4 Million earthworms can be found in an acre of cropland. WOW. 1.4 Million! o_O. They enrich the topsoil by feeding on organic material and converting it into nutrients. They also make soil more absorbent and aerated.

    Isn’t dirt great?

    Read more about soil here, here, here and here.

Travel: Africa Dream Destinations

rusinga-island
Rusinga Island, Homa Bay County

I would be lying if I said that I like travelling. I LOVE LOVE travelling! I really enjoy travelling which is interesting because I also enjoy staying indoors. Hmm…even I don’t understand how that works. Anyhoo, today I share a few of my dream travel destinations in Africa. In no particular order:

  1.  A boat ride on Lac Rose (Senegal)
    Lac Rose is a direct transaltion from Pink Lake. It gets it’s pink colour from Dunaliella salina which is a type of algae. The lake also has very high salt content which makes floating easier.
  2. A game drive on Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania)
    The world’s largest inactive and intact caldera. Rich in biodiversity.

  3. Ruwenzori Mountains and Virunga Mountains (Uganda/ Rwanda/ Congo)
    Perhaps attend a gorilla naming ceremony (Kwita Izina) in Rwanda or dare to see the boiling lava lake on Nyiragongo volcano in the DRC. 
  4. Hike or Drive across the Namib Desert  to the Atlantic Ocean (Namibia)
    What fascinates me about the Namib Desert is it’s proximity to the ocean. I can only imagine the feeling you get when you climb up a dune and are surprised by the sound of waves lapping on the beach and the sight of water. 
  5. Drive on the Garden Route (South Africa)
    This route stretches from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape. It is very scenic with lots of biodiversity. Imagine the sunrises and sunsets…:)…sigh… 
  6. Stay with a local in Chefchaouen (Morocco)
    In this city, there are quaint blue houses that are nestled in the Rif Mountain. Maybe hike up the mountain and enjoy the views, peace and serenity.

  7. Bungee jump… hmm… no… just see the Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe/ Zambia)
    The falls simply look majestic. 
  8. Hike up Mulanje Massif (Malawi)
    Simply because I have never seen a monadnock (an isolated hill).

  9.  Quirimbas Archipelago (Mozambique)
    The last time I tried snorkelling I almost drowned when I realised how big the coral I was looking at was. This time round I would be more psychologically prepared to do even more daring water activities like diving. This would be my attempt to redeem my reputation with the ocean.

  10. Fishing in Lake Turkana (Kenya)
    Lake Turkana is also known as the Jade Sea because of the turquoise colour it has when algae rises to the surface in calm weather.  The Turkana call the lake Anam Ka’alakol which means, ‘the sea of many fish’. It also is the world’s largest permanent desert lake.

Not another conference

Conferences, workshops and trainings are a great way of  advertising, meeting new people, gaining new information and insight on various topics. They are an even greater method of promoting tourism, because a majority of the time these activities are out of town.

In my world, we have had and have myriads of conferences, workshops, trainings and different kinds of fora that deal with issues to do with sustainability, environment, climate change, wetlands, renewable energy, biodiversity, water… the list goes on and on. I have attended a few of these and though a majority of the time I am working, I mostly enjoy them.

However, a trend I’ve noticed over time, is that there are some people who attend literally every training being organised. One of my former colleagues calls them, ‘serial conference attendants’. How effective are these events to the ‘attendants’ and the organisations that they represent?

Albert Einstein, one of my most favourite people, once said, ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing’.

So here goes my questioning:

i. At the end of every conference, training or workshop there are action points. Is there any follow up structure to find out whether the participants made use of the knowledge obtained? Where is the proof of action that has taken place on the ground as a result of the various events?

ii. In an era of 4G internet, webinars and online courses, why must we meet physically so frequently to discuss issues that have previously been discussed… then come up with solutions that had once been suggested but never implemented?

iii. Instead of all the expenses (per diem, flights, accomodation) associated with such meetings, why can’t these funds go towards active action like investing in innovative sustainable solutions such as large scale use of biogas or something? Has anyone done a cost benefit analysis of conferences, workshops and trainings?

thinking-face
Hmmm…

 

 

 

Return

Return in Swahili is Rudisha… and that’s what David Lekuta Rudisha, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, world champion and world record holder in the 800 metres, did on Tuesday; he returned the 800 M Gold Medal home. See what I did there… 😉 :). I wrote this on Tuesday and thought it was fresh until I saw a similar statement in one of the local dailies yesterday :/. Oh well, Great minds think alike. 🙂

In the spirit of the current Olympic Games being held in Rio, try out this fun test to see what amazing Amazon animal athlete you are. I’m a jaguar, the all star. 

 

Squirrels

I once had a colleague who would play every hit song loudly, in the chipmunk version. So think of any hit song, then imagine Alvin and the Chipmunks singing it. At first, it was cute then, after a few weeks, it got tiring…. really tiring.I just had to let that out…:|

But aren’t squirrels adorable? With their little paws, large eyes and bushy tails… so so cute. Squirrels (Tree, Ground and Flying), Chipmunks, Marmots and Prairie Dogs are all part of the Sciuridae family.

Some interesting facts about them include:

  1. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa.
  2. There are over 250 species worldwide. The smallest being the African Pygmy at around 13cm and the largest being the Indian giant at 3 ft from head to toe.
  3. Females have a gestation period of 29 to 65 days depending on their size. Their kittens are born blind and rely on their mothers for 2-3 months.
  4. They have four front teeth that never stop growing; this is to ensure that they don’t wear out to stubs as they are constantly gnawing.
  5. Unlike Hammy in “Over the Hedge’, they are quite intelligent. In cold regions, they store nuts and seeds in preparation for winter. They also have fake burials to deceive potential thieves into thinking that they’ve stored their food there. The potential thieves then focus on the fake site allowing the squirrels to bury their stash elsewhere.
  6. They run in erratic paths to deceive potential predators
  7. Squirrels don’t dig up all of their buried nuts, which results in more trees… 😀 😀
    Scrat_Ice_Age
    Scrat

    Read more about these cuties here, here and here.