Val Fox Writes

About Earth's Inhabitants



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Oromo Wins Boston

Posted by Val Fox on April 23, 2013 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Oromo athletes recently showed the world their skill and stamina by winning three major marathons in one week.

Following the April 15 tragedy that happened at the Boston Marathon I want today's post to draw attention back to this year's winner of America's oldest race.  Congratulations to the Oromo runner, Lelisa Desisa (pictured on the right)  who crossed the finish line in the Mens Elite with a time of 2:10:22.

Congratulations also go to Tilhaun Regassa for winning the Rotterdam Marathon in the Netherlands, and to Tsegaye Kebede Hordofa who earned a second win at the London race just days later.

The world has been watching and we share Ethiopia's pride in your accomplishments. Perhaps one day you will be free from a colonialized system - free to run for Oromia.  We will be waiting and watching.


   
Tirfi Tsagaye (L) and Lelisa Desisa Banti (R) celebrate their January 2013 win in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  Source: Pinterest


The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group from the Oromia state in Ethiopia.  They number about 30 million people, with other groups located in northern Kenya and parts of Somalia.   

Sources:





Art Meets Conservation

Posted by Val Fox on April 23, 2013 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)


     

      Off the coast of Granada in Moilinere Bay this sculpture

      memorializes the state-sponsored, systematic enslavement

      and annihilation of First Nations by European, Middle Eastern

      and American Nations and their collaborators since 1441.

      More than 100 million have been murdered or enslaved.

      This includes all First Nations people of all continents

      except Antarctica.



Set in the tropical waters off Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuk, Mexico is a spectacle that leaves visitors amazed and inspired.  Named Museo Subacuatico de Arte (MUSA), this underwater museum contains more than 450 permanent, life-sized sculptures, haunting and thought-provoking in their realism.


Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor has created an underwater world where art meets environmental science to form a complex reef structure where marine life can grow and thrive.  The sculptures allow visitors to enjoy snorkeling or diving while protecting existing natural reefs.




The Silent Evolution,  Cancun, Mexico


Taylor has also produced underwater galleries in Moliniere Park, Bahamas and Canterbury, U.K.  His most recent work is a piece called The Musician, designed in collaboration with master illusionist David Copperfield.  It is a real-sized replica of a Steinway Concert Grand piano located in Copperfield Bay, Bahamas.


The following links will provide further information on this magnificent display and details about Taylor's life, his work and items for sale from this gifted artist.  His submerged figures share a message while developing living coral reefs.


Today's letter M - the Museo Subacuatico de Arte - will amaze and inspire you.


My next post will examine the letter N as we continue our journey through the alphabet during the April 2013 A to Z Blog Challenge.  We will take a look at one of earth's Natural eternal flames.  See you again soon, my friends!


Links:


http://www.underwatersculpture.com

http://www.jonathanlevinegallery.com

http://www.mushacay.com

http://www.underwatersculpture.com/pages/artist/bio.htm


http://www.a-zchallenge.com





Learning Ballet at 79

Posted by Val Fox on April 22, 2013 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Inspiring people come from all walks of life.  I couldn't let this blog challenge go without sharing with you the story of John Lowe, who learned ballet at age 79, then performed in Prokofiev's The Stone Flower.

Lowe is a former Japanese prisoner-of-war and a retired teacher.  He is also the founder and artistic director for the Lantern Dance Theatre Company based in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England.  His love for theatre even helped during his dark times as a P.O.W.  So it's no surprise that this artist had more to give and experience at a time when many people are slowing down.

The following video gives you a glimps of this remarkable and inspiring man.  The Lantern Dance Theatre Co's birthday present to 90-year-old John Lowe was a ballet choreographed by Helen Pettit, staring Lowe himself.  It was performed August 21, 2009 at the Ely Theatre and was set to Johann Strauss II's "Artist's Life."

Jason Lowe - Living life, dancing his way into his 90's.  We should all be so inclined.  What do you think?


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Sources:  











Horned Hercules Hunts

Posted by Val Fox on April 16, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Here's another titanic of the insect world, suitably called the Hercules Beetle, the largest of the rhinoceros beetles native to Central and South American rainforests (Dynastes Hercules.)

This member of the Scarab Beetle family is considered the strongest earth creature for its size, with an ability to lift 800 times it's own body weight.  When it hunts you can see it sometimes carrying large, rotting wood chunks that comprise much of it's diet.

Another noteworthy feature is a set of long, horn-like pincers jutting from the head.  Males have smaller bodies but appear larger due to the horns.  Females do not grow horns but have a larger body.  Hercules beetles stay in a larval stage for one to two years, growing to 11 cm. or 4.5 inches long.  They live on a diet of rottinbg wood and decayed plant matter.

This insect is threatened due to deforestation and pollution.  Predators include bats, rats, birds and reptiles.

Here are two photo's of the Hercules Beetle.  If you'd like to learn more about this weight lifter of the jungle, follow the links listed below the pics.

The next post will feature the letter I and the topic of Indecision.  Have a great day, everyone.



 
 Larva           Source: mdolla.com


 
 Source: 2.bp.blogspot.com





tags:  large insects; entomology; Scarab Beetle Family; bugs and insects 


Giant Weta Threatened

Posted by Val Fox on April 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi everyone!  Today's blog features the letter G and here is what I found for you - the largest insect in the world - The Giant Weta.

This large, nocturnal insect is one of about 100 weta species found in New Zealand.  The Wetapunga (Moari name) of Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf is the largest of five main groups of wetas - the giant, tree, cave, tusked and ground-dwelling.

The green-leaf-and-shrub-eating creepy crawly can grow up to 82 mm long with a wingspan of seven inches.  It has a large head, small, strong jaws and antennae that reach twice as long as it's body.  Females lay 100 - 300 eggs that hatch when the soil is warm and damp.

The slow-moving Giant Weta sheds it's exoskeleton as it grows.  Entomologist Mark Moffet found the largest weta ever photographed in 2012.  The following image shows the huge insect eating a carrot.


                                       
Source:  Pinterest via telegraph.co.uk

Much of it's habitat has been destroyed by humans clearing the land for development. Predators such as rats, ferrets, hedgehogs and cats are also a danger to this creature. Although threatened, there is not yet enough information on the weta to form a workable conservation plan.  Scientists are still discovering species they didn't know existed.

I've included a couple of links that will take you to sites where you can learn more about this mammoth of the insect world, as we continue our celebration of..

Earth and It's Inhabitants.

The next post will feature the letter H.  Stop in again and see what our world has to offer among it's most strange, yet interesting creatures.  Bye for now.







Tags:  jungle creatures; tropical insects; insect sets Guinness world record; New Zealand wildlife; threatened species of N.Z.; conservation efforts in N.Z.


Filthy Frightened Fiona

Posted by Val Fox on April 16, 2013 at 12:05 PM Comments comments (0)



Fiona is the story of a small, blind dog that was rescued two years ago from the streets of Los Angeles by the Hagars, who operate a non-profit organization called Hope For Paws.


While most animals in this condition would have been euthanized, this viral video shows the Hagars' efforts to transform Fiona from a starving waif to a healthy - and sighted - household pet.  This was accomplished with plenty of TLC and the efforts of Dr. Michael Chang, who restored Fiona's sight in one eye.  She was eventually adopted into a loving home.


Donations came in from all over the world and helped Fiona get the medical treatment she needed.  This is an inspiring story of love.  Hope you enjoy it.

 

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Women Breaking Tradition

Posted by Val Fox on April 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)



Elisabeth Blackwell was her name.  Born in 1821, Elisabeth's father taught all his daughters Latin, Greek and mathematics - an unusual practice when women's roles were usually confined to marriage, children and running a household.


              Source: Pinterest
                                                              

Although Elisabeth Blackwell became a teacher, she also had a keen interest in medicine, citing that most women would prefer to consult with a female physician.  After being rejected by 29 medical schools she was finally accepted by Geneva Medical School in the state of New York.

Elisabeth graduated in 1849, ranking first in her class.  She was the first female physician in the United States.

Following graduation, Elisabeth travelled home to the home of her European ancestors and studied midwifery  While working in France her plans to become a surgeon ended when she lost an eye from an infection contracted by a patient.  In 1850 she moved to England to work at St. Bartholomew's Hospital where she became friends with Florence Nightingale, another pioneer in women's medicine.

Elisabeth Blackwell is today's letter E.

Stay tuned for more blog posts today featuring the letters F through N as we continue with the 2013 A to Z Blog Challenge.   Thanks for visiting. :-)




Tags:  inspirational women; women's roles; medical history; women's stories; writing about women; women breaking tradition; male dominated professions

Dangerous Rare and Beautiful

Posted by Val Fox on January 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (2)


Our world is full of amazing creatures and today’s blog features four birds that you may have not heard of before. Whether colorful, odd-looking or endangered, these birds will catch the eye and the imagination. Let’s take a look.


The critically endangered Araripe Manakin (Antilophia bokermanni) is one of the rarest birds in the world. This bird lives in only one place – a 50 km x 1 km wide spot in the Brazilian state of Ceara. The only known breeding ground for the Araripe Manakin is located in a theme park that was built in 2000, destroying a large part of its native habitat. Efforts are being made by Sir David Attenborough and others to protect this rare bird. Males have predominantly white plumage, black wings and tail with a bright red patch from crown to back. Females are mostly olive green, blending in with the lush, green surroundings. Here is a photo.


                                 Araripe Manakin



The Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) is noteable for its over-sized bill and huge feet (18 cm!) It inhabits central Africa (Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda) and is also known as a Shoe-billed stork, although it is more closely related to a heron. This odd-looking bird is also noted for slow movement and the ability to remain still for long periods. It prefers low-oxygen waters where fish surface to breath. It is a solitary bird that maintains a distance of 20 m (66 ft) from other birds when feeding on wetland invertibrates such as fish, frogs, water snakes and even baby crocodiles. It is classified as vulnerable with the main threat being habitat destruction. The following photo illustrates the strange appearance of this blue-grey hunter.


                                   Shoebill or WhaleHead


The normally shy Cassowary (Casuarius) is considered one of the most dangerous birds in the world and can be found in the rainforests of Australia and New Guinea. It looks like a cross between an ostrich and a turkey; it is a flightless bird and, if provoked, is capable of delivering fatal blows. The Cassowary can run 50 km per hour, jump up to five feet and is a strong swimmer. Males build the nest, care for 3 – 8 chicks for up to one year. Referred to as gardeners of the rainforest, they eat fruit, then shed the seeds elsewhere. Their biggest threat is destroyed habitat which increases the number of attacks on humans.  Note the bright blue/purple colors on the neck, which brighten significantly when this bird senses a threat.


                                    Cassowary


Native to sub-Sahara Africa, the Orange Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus) also known as the Weaver Finch was introduced to California back in the 80’s. Known for their woven globe-shaped nests suspended from low bushes, female orange bishops incubate 3-5 eggs. They can often be found eating ripe grass seeds in an upside-down position. Their song is reported to be harsh and metallic. While females are colored to blend in with natural habitat, the males are bright red-orange with a black cap as shown in the following photo. Beautiful.


                                    Orange bishop

The scientific study of birds in known as Ornithology.  A century ago ornithology was mainly concerned with descriptions and distribution of birds.  Today's scientists now seek more specific information so as to test theories and make predictions.  The four birds featured above are just a small sample of the thousands of eye-catching species that can be found throughout the world.  Future blogs will feature more rare and interesting inhabitants of our earth.  Thanks for coming and we'll "see" you again next time.  Bye for now.


Sources:

www.En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araripe_Manakin

www.birdlife.org

www.birdinginformation.com

www.houstonaudubon.org

www.buzzle.com/articles/cassowary-facts.html

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornithology


Tags: wildlife; jungle birds; African birds; rare species; ornithology; zoology; ecology; ecological niche; conservation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Sandy Threatening

Posted by Val Fox on October 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

  


Today I am happy that my daughter's planned trip to New York City was cancelled.  I had planned to go with her but decided to go in the Spring instead.  Sad for the families of those already lost to this mega-storm.  Praying for those still in Hurricane Sandy's path.  Grateful that events like this draw people closer together from all over the world.


Photo:  science.howstuffworks.com


tags:  natural disasters, hurricanes, flooding, safety, evacuations. shopping in New York, NYC storm, east coast weather.

A wildlife Summer

Posted by Val Fox on August 14, 2012 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (4)

Hello Friends,


I am camped up in the Rocky Mountains and feel lucky to enjoy such magnificent beauty.  Since coming here I've seen a black bear bathing, a grizzly bear on a slope by the golf course, numerous white tailed deer, eagles and more.  The campers close by are quiet, away from their camps during the day.  There are many scenic trails in these mountains for people of all fitness levels.  Hiking boots and bicycles are a common sight.


Included for you are some photographs I shot recently near my camp.  Soon, it will be time to return home and get focused.  Until then, I will let the peace of the mountains and forest wash over me.  Wish you could join me.  Will write more later.                - Val



At  Crandell on the way to Red Rock Canyon.


White tailed doe




White tailed fawn




Young White tailed buck


tags:  Waterton Lakes National Park, camping, wildlife, serenity, campfire, tipi







Celebrate Canadian Athletes

Posted by Val Fox on August 4, 2012 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

    An August 3  newspaper article about Canadian Olympic athletes got me steamed.  The reporter wrote in a way that implied Canadians would be shamed if our team returned home without gold medals.  The writer's words did not support Canadian athletes that sacrificed most of the last several years to achieve enough skill to make the Olympic Team; rather, he used words such as disappointing, embarassment and loss.


Every time I read one of these pieces I have to just put the paper down and take a deep breath.  All athletes that made it to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London have already won a huge victory.  Just getting on the team takes a massive effort and years of training and practice.  I will never be ashamed of any one of them.  They did it.  They made it to London.


                                                                                                                                                        


Even if our athletes don't all make it to the podium there are many of us back home celebrating with you - your achievements, dedication and example.  I challenge any one critical of your performance to try and make it to the team themselves.  The added pressure of a Nation expecting only gold does not help.


ALL the athletes deserve our respect and support.  I am proud of them.


Olympians, coaches, London 2012, Canadian athletes, Olympic medals



HomeSoon

Posted by Val Fox on May 27, 2012 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (1)

It has been 15 days since I set up camp down here among the animals and birds at St. Mary's Dam Provincial Park.  To my surprise I am allowed to stay two more nights. then must break camp from this location.  I plan to return home Monday as chores beckon and I miss the kids and horses.  The children stayed with me for the first week then returned home to television and warm beds.  It's been a nice break from normal routine.  I'd love to stay here for the summer to write, photograph and be embraced by the creations around us, and plan to return soon.


Slender willows blow back and forth to the gentle prodding of the wind.  Bumble bees hover over the dandelions and buffalo beans, drawn by their sunflower yellow.  Last night while in front of the fire I saw an osprey swoop past then land on a branch offered by the cliffs.  It searched the water below for fish, unbothered by the darting swallows.  Their mud nests hang nearby under outcrops of sandstone.


A dad stands on the opposite shore teaching his young children how to fish.  A pink toddler cries her complaints, wanting to hold the struggling trout.  The brisk wind has died down and a Native family next door invites me to their camp for a bite.  The flank is burned but the humor is joyful.  Today`s gifts are many.  Thanks to the universe, the creator and to the trees and water that give life.   Here are three photos I took last week.  Bye for now, friends.




Campfire Heaven




Osprey Nest




The osprey overlooking the water for trout.


Photos by Val Fox









                    

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This is the personal website of writer Val Fox from Alberta, Canada: soon-to-be published author; freelance writer/editor; ghost writer; animal and child advocate; amateur photographer and avid camper.  Welcome!

                        

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