Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

If you are still searching for that perfect Valentine’s Day gift or card, there are still a handful of items with a heart theme in each of my shops, EDCCollective and EclecticSkeptic. All jewelry and accessories will arrive in a gift box, ready for you to add some ribbon and a bow for presenting to your Valentine.

If you are not a stickler for the heart theme but want something romantic for your guy or gal, a set of rustic wooden tea light candle holders or a wooden mini oil lamp holder to set the mood for a romantic “candle light” dinner may be more appropriate.

Other gifts are available too. I will ship your order promptly but please watch the calendar to allow enough time for first class mail to get your order to you. Contact me about expedited shipping before ordering if you think you need a shipping upgrade.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Science Rocks!

At least that has always been my take on science. I thoroughly enjoyed my science (and math) classes throughout school, going so far as to earn a BS in Physics from UTA many moons ago. It was with great interest that I read the “Message from the Dean” titled “Why science?” in the fall 2011 issue of Maverick Science. Pamela Jansma, Dean of the College of Science at UTA did an excellent job of describing why science has always been and will continue to be of paramount importance to society. Read her timely musings with regards to the question, “Why science?” below:

“In the technologically driven society of today, we understand and appreciate the utility of advanced devices to deliver drugs and directions, faster computers to improve data transmission and analysis, and alternative energies to transform industries and transportation. What we frequently don’t recognize, however, is the underlying science and its connection to technology.

Science comes from the Latin scire, which means “to know.” Scientists seek to know, or understand, the universe around us. Curiosity drives them. They delve ever deeper to get at the fundamental essence of nature through testing ideas and refining hypotheses. Layers are peeled away one at a time.

The phenomena being observed occur increasingly at smaller and smaller scales: macroscopic to microscopic, cellular to molecular, atomic to sub-atomic. Through this, progress can be unpredictable.

Steps can be incremental, but build through time creating leaps in understanding at unexpected moments and in unanticipated directions.

While seeming inefficient, this nonlinear path of discovery is essential to the accumulation of knowledge. By asking why and responding to the hints of each potential answer, science guides the way forward and forms the framework for invention.

Without the contemplation of why, we would not have the action of how. When Johannes Kepler sought to explain the motion of the celestial bodies, he was not imagining the placement of communications satellites around the Earth.

When Marie Curie pondered radioactivity, she did not dream of therapies that would be effective in the treatment of cancer. And when Gregor Mendel wondered what caused variations in pea plants, he likely did not foresee the genetic engineering of food and disease-resistant crops.

These outcomes happened years, if not centuries, later. Indeed, the work of Mendel had little impact on the society of the nineteenth century and was largely ignored. Yet he stands today as the father of modern genetics.

Every day, we are besieged with evidence of the weakening of American competiveness in technical fields. Fingers point to universities, which are hailed as ivory towers conducting esoteric and irrelevant research for the most part with exceptions granted only if results are immediately applicable to providing solutions to recognized problems.

Scientists must constantly remind us of the importance of asking why and the nonlinear path to discovery. Our future depends on it.”

I strongly agree that science is important and needs society’s support and I think that scientists and science geeks should be proud of their interests and accomplishments and share their enthusiasm with others. What better way to start a conversation about what you love to do than when someone compliments you on your fashionable science, math or tech themed piece of jewelry or accessory? I started carrying a small assortment of just such items almost a year and a half ago. I have recently discovered some exciting new supplies that I expect will allow me to expand my selection. Keep an eye on EclecticSkeptic’s “Geekery” section as I add new items later this year. You can also watch for announcements of my new items on my blog, EclecticDesignChoice's facebook page (like it for updates) or in my newsletter if you have subscribed to it.

And don’t think that you missed the boat to get involved with science because you didn’t get a science degree. There are many citizen scientist opportunities that you can get involved with that are fun and will contribute greatly to our understanding of our world.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Garden Pond Clean Out – Part 2

Day three began with more rock removal from the middle and bottom levels of the pond and rock washing. (If you have landed here without reading part 1 of this garden pond clean out project, you might want to bring yourself up to speed by reading part 1 first.) In addition, as the dirty rocks and silt were removed, the liner cleaned and enough clean rocks returned, we began to restack the bottom two walls of large rocks and replace pebbles on the ledges. Finally by early evening the silt and sediment were declared banished along with the last of the water (see first photo). Now we just needed to replace a stone bridge that serves as a fish hiding place on the lowest level and the pebbles before we could begin to add water, treat it and return the crowded mosquito fish to the pond. Since we had some rocks to clean still, we only filled the bottom level of the pond so that we could add the water lilies and mosquito fish before it got totally dark. I didn’t want the fish to spend another night in their crowded temporary housing. The mosquito fish were so taken by the change back to a larger body of water that they swam in a tight school round and round the edge of the bottom level of the pond for quite some time before splitting up and investigating their new environment individually. It was actually quite amusing to watch them. We also placed a small pump in the water to circulate it since we couldn’t turn the waterfall back on until the pond was full.

The next day meant a return to work or school for my two guys. I spent the week looking for appropriate containers for the upper ledge plants that I wanted to return to the pond. Also, with the help of the other two when they could, we replaced the remaining pebbles as we cleaned them. It was the next weekend before we were able to fill the pond up the rest of the way. I had no luck locating the smaller hollowed out stone planters that my local stone yard used to stock so I made my own rock planters using small slabs of stone from Whiz Q Stone and fixing them in place in the pond using black expanding pond safe foam. Once the new “pots” were made, I replanted the dwarf papyrus and pickerel rush and then treated the water as we refilled the pond. Once filled, it was time to turn on the waterfall, replace the snails and tadpoles (which had grown tremendously in the week they spent in their bucket with the pickerel rush and dwarf papyrus). The next weekend I purchased 5 new goldfish and some pond starter to help re-establish the beneficial microbes in the pond that help break down organic matter and help keep algae from forming.

We did leave the stream section untouched during this project, hoping that the good bacteria from that section would help repopulate the pond. It is the last piece of the water feature installation that has not been cleaned since it was installed. Since we had to leave the waterfall off for a week, this was not as successful as I believe it would have been if we could have turned it back on before it dried out most of the way. However, the water for about 6 feet downstream from this untouched section did clear up and stay clearer than the rest of the pond, so it seemed to help some. When the weather warms up enough in the spring, I will begin to add more beneficial microbes to help combat the string algae that has moved in with the cooler weather. (We will mechanically remove much of it too.)

All ponds will silt up and require some maintenance over time. This siltation can be minimized by avoiding certain plants that tend to create large root masses, such as water clover and horsetail (dwarf or not). I still have a bit of edge work maintenance left to do around the pond and I expect that we will clean the stream section this coming summer. After that we should be able to enjoy our water feature without major maintenance for many years to come.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thanks for the Treasuries - December 2011

Four different Etsians let me know that they had featured one of my items in a treasury during December. Four December Etsy treasuries, that treasury makers let me know about, included one of my items. You can see a collage below of my items from EDCCollective that were featured during December. (Click on the collage to see a larger view.)

I really appreciate being featured by the treasury makers. To thank them, I have listed below (in alphabetical order) links to the 4 Etsy shops that let me know that they featured at least one of my items, as well as an item from their shop that I like.

Enjoy window shopping and please click on the shop links of anything that catches your eye.

Find one of a kind innovative and custom made art and crafts to suit your design needs including modern sculpture, unique wall decor, wooden clocks and paintings.

This shop sells handmade & vintage clothes, lingerie, accessories, jewelry & gifts for any occasion. They use new, old & recycled supplies in their handmade items.

Corkycrafts' unique wine cork wreathes and cork crafts make the perfect gift for the wine lover.

This shop is stocked with rag dolls, teddy bears, stuffed animals, pincushions, clutches, & wallets.