February 28, 2013

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Couple Feared Kidnapped in Peru Just Forgot to Call

Governments launched search

After a massive search, the U.S. and Peruvian governments have located a California couple feared missing and possibly kidnapped in Peru. Garrett Hand, 25, and Jamie Neal, 27, both of Oakland, had not been heard from since January 25, when they were known to be cycling from Cuzco to Lima. Their families became concerned when Hand stopped posting updates to his Facebook page and the couple could no longer be reached by cell phone.

A Facebook campaign was launched by the families, circulating flyers with Hand and Neal’s names, faces, and information, pleading for any information regarding their whereabouts. Peru’s tourism ministry, eager to quash any misgivings foreigners may have regarding safe travel in the country, dispatched two emissaries to track down the couple.

Hand and Neal were eventually found relaxing on a boat, traveling idly down the Navos River toward Ecuador. Hand, oblivious to his family's efforts and those of two different governments, reportedly said that they were fine and everything was “fantastic.” According to Reuters, Neal breazily signed on to her Facebook account to say that she was also fine and was "going to go play with the pet monkey we named Pepe ... he was just biting my toes."

And that’s why you always leave a note.


A 1950s-era Grumman canoe

A 1950s-era Grumman canoe     Photo: Courtesy of Grumman

Judge: Paddlers Can Cross Private Land

Renews a 1998 decision

Private landowners in New York can't prohibit paddlers from navigating streams on their property, a state Supreme Court judge ruled Tuesday. The Brandreth Park Association and Friends of Thayer Lake had sued canoeist Phil Brown after he wrote an article about a trip in which he used Shingle Shanty Brook, which crosses Brandreth land, to travel between two lakes in the public Whitney Wilderness Area in the Adirondacks.

In its ruling, the court pointed to a similar decision in 1998, in which the Sierra Club won a case over the right to navigate a stretch of the Moose River that crossed private land. Speaking to North Country Public Radio, Brown said he had some sympathy for the landowners.

I can understand why they wouldn't want the public walking on their land, but the state court of appeals has said portaging around rapids is part of the common law, it's a right the public has. And it's an understandable right, because you can imagine having a long waterway, that can go on for miles and miles, and you have a small stretch of rapids. Should that small stretch of rapids prevent the public from using the entire waterway?

The Whitney Wilderness area attracts about 2,000 visitors annually, according to New York's Department of Environmental Conservation.

Via Adirondack Daily Enterprise


Vibram KSO and Spring.     Photo: Chad D Stud/Flickr

Study: Vibrams Carry Bone Injury Risk

Ease your way into barefoot running

Want to start barefoot running? If so, according to a forthcoming study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, you probably want to ease your way into it.

Over 10 weeks, a group of researchers in Utah monitored 19 runners who transitioned to doing some training in Vibram FiveFingers, along with 17 others who continued to run in traditional shoes. The results: 10 of the Vibram users showed signs of foot-bone injury after the 10 weeks, compared to only one of the 17 conventional-shoe users.

The FiveFingers group followed a conservative transition plan based on one offered at the time of the study (early 2011) on Vibram's website. In the first week, they did one short run (1-2 miles) in Vibrams. During the next two weeks, they added another short run in Vibrams each week; that is, by the third week they were to do three runs of at least 1 mile in Vibrams. After the third week, they were told to increase the amount they ran in Vibrams as felt comfortable, with the goal of replacing one short run a week in conventional shoes for a short run in Vibrams.

As Scott Douglas writes at Runner’s World: “This study supports the idea that, while running in barely there shoes can strengthen lower leg and feet muscles, the lack of cushioning can increase risk of bone injury.”


Imagine this man flipped over and mauled by piranhas. Welcome to climate change in South Carolina.     Photo: Bruce Tuten/Flickr

Secret South Carolina Climate Report Predicted Piranhas

Shelved for being too bleak

South Carolina scientists working for the Department of Natural Resources drafted a bleak report last year detailing the potential effects of climate change in the state. But the research never saw the light of day, as the government decided to shelve it, saying that "priorities have changed." The details of the report were kept secret until this week, when The State obtained a copy.

The report found that temperatures could rise nine degrees in the next 70 years, which could lead to the invasion of non-native species such as piranha and Asian swamp eels. Such species have already found homes in Florida, but could move north as the climate changes.

The report also said that salt water could push up into rivers, killing some fish species and reducing available drinking water. Higher temperatures could also reduce plankton counts, which in turn will reduce the population of fish that feed on them.

Team members [on the study] left little doubt in the report that they believe rising global temperatures are linked to man-made pollution. That point is widely accepted in the scientific community. Data show sharp increases since the Industrial Revolution of pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, that cause global warming.

Some conservative politicians, however, have questioned the science and criticized efforts to curb greenhouse gases, fearing it will hurt industries by imposing unnecessary regulations.

Bob Perry, a [Department of Natural Resources] official and the climate report’s editor, said completing the study isn’t a major point of emphasis now that his agency is under new leadership.

“A lot of things have changed for the agency, and our priorities have changed,” Perry said.

Perry and current DNR director Alvin Taylor said that they are focused on other matters such as port expansions in Charleston and Savannah and a large goldmine in Lancaster county. The board further indicated that the "for information only" report required no action.