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Footwear : Nature

A Graphic Mapping of the Damage Caused by Sandy

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 2.22.28 PMPhoto: Spatial Information Design Lab

The Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University has built an informative and easy-to-use online graphic that shows the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. Currently, users can view maps of the New Jersey and Long Island coasts and click on different areas to see the number of heavily damaged buildings estimated by FEMA, how the damage maps up against various socioeconomic factors, and what the affected locations look like in photos.

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World's Largest Natural Sound Archive, by the Numbers

Shutterstock_107677163What an ostrich sounds like. What an ostrich chick in an egg sounds like. Photo: Shutterstock

You might know what an ostrich sounds like because you watched that episode of Dirty Jobs, but do you know the sound an ostrich chick makes as it's trying to crack out of its egg? There's now a place online where you can find out.

On January 15, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology announced that it had converted its Macauley Library sound archive into a digital catalog that anyone can click. "Our audio collection is the largest and the oldest in the world," said Macaulay Library director Mike Webster. "Now, it’s also the most accessible."

The institution said the new digital archive will help expert and amateur birders and other naturalists train, offer video and audio editors a place to find specific sounds, and allow the library to assemble a larger collection. "Now that we’ve digitized the previously archived analog recordings, the archival team is focusing on new material from amateur and professional recordists from around the world to really, truly build the collection," said audio curator Greg Budneyaid.

Here's a bit more about the sounds that have been collected and digitized, with a selection of some of the best recordings and a look at the numbers.

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An Entangled Dolphin Approaches a Diver And Gets Help

On the night of January 11, 2013, during a dive off the Kona coast to view manta rays feeding on plankton, something strange happened. After the divers went down and lit up the water, a bottlenose dolphin slowly swam around them before aproaching diver Keller Laros and turning over. In the underwater lights meant to illuminate the manta rays, Laros saw that the dolphin's pectoral fin was entangled in fishing line. He set about cutting the line with his dive knife.

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Putting Out Water for the Birds, And Getting Some Really Big Cats

Depending on where you live, the above video might make you think twice about putting water out for the birds. On January 17, a certain non-profit posted the video on their Facebook page with the following note: "During the drought in Colorado, a kind woman in a remote area put a pan of water out for the birds. Check out who else appreciated a drink!"

Watch the entire thing.

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The Art of Snow

Craig_SUSCFood for thought, at La Montanita Co-op. All poems courtesy of Snow Poems Project, Santa Fe.

It didn’t exactly come as a shocker: 2012 was the hottest and driest year on record. But winter isn’t dead yet. Literally or metaphorically. There’s fresh stuff under the boards from the Sierras to Maine, and in Santa Fe, a cool new creative venture is turning snow into art.

The Snow Poems Project uses spray-on fake snow to stencil poetry on windows around Santa Fe. For the past two weeks, poems written by local residents have been popping up on schools, galleries, government buildings, restaurants, libraries, and yoga studios in town. The poems are short—one or two lines of blocky, uppercase type—and most of them aren't even about snow, but the feelings they convey are the feelings of winter itself: stark, pristine, and wild. Reading them is a little like watching your breath turn to steam on a frigid morning, or following a single pair of footprints across a high meadow blanketed in powder. Dazzling.

Craig_SUSCPoetry is beautiful at Body Santa Fe.

The idea came out of the Cut + Paste Society, a group of Santa Fe women artists and writers, as a way to illuminate public spaces in the darkest of seasons. It's a creative statement as much as an environmental one: "Winter is a time for reflection and the incubation of ideas," says Cut + Paste president Edie Tsong, who partnered with the Santa Fe Art Institute for this project, "and poetry reflects this." Many of Cut + Paste's members are mothers, so it’s also a parent’s effort to bring art into the everyday and to turn cities into “living books,” written from the perspective of the people who live there. Tsong and her team vetted 175 poems submitted by locals (nearly half of which were from students) and winnowed them down to 40, including this one by 12th-grader Pedro Tena:

Craig_SUSCDrive-by art at the Solana Center.

Putting a poem on glass is harder than it looks. Tsong hand cut letters from cardstock, used them to trace the stencils, and then held a stencil-cutting party at Whole Foods. To install, she and her team of volunteers lay lines down with dry erase marker, yardstick and level, and then tape letters and words backwards, so the poem can be read from the outside. Next, the faux frosting: The spray-on snow is squishy until it's dry (when it just becomes chalk). Finally, they remove and wash the letters to reuse again. "People may wonder if it's worth it, but think of the amount of hours of training athletes will do to compete," says Tsong, "and you never forget a race or some physical challenge."

Poems will grace the windows of Santa Fe for the rest of winter; by the first day of spring, they'll begin to fade out, like melting snow.

Craig_SUSCSoup poem, Sweetwater.

For more information and a complete list of poems and places, go to snowpoemsproject.com and www.facebook.com/snowpoems.

—Katie Arnold
@raisingrippers

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