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Notes, comments and observations from the Lifestyle and Entertainment desk by Lifestyle Editor Aixa Torregrosa-Vazquez.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Young cancer patient sets an example

This photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society shows wild animal keeper Jeremy Sanders, left, and Aghelos Kouvaras, 6, of Port Washington, Long Island, N.Y., feeding magellanic penguins at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo on Monday, April 25, 2011 in New York. Aghelos, who read about penguins while undergoing cancer treatments, is raising money to help save the species by participating in the WCS Run for the Wild at the Bronx Zoo on Saturday, April 30. (AP Photo/Julie Larsen Maher,Wildlife Conservation Society)

Arbor Day Guide to Greater Philadelphia gardens' favorite trees

To commemorate Arbor Day, Greater Philadelphia Gardens’ arborists and horticulturists collaborated to identify a few of their favorite trees and where to find them at maturity in area public gardens this Spring. The resulting self-guided tour and 2011 Visitor’s Arbor Day Guide to Greater Philadelphia Gardens’ Favorite Trees now available at It is the 8th in its series of Guides to Greater Philadelphia Gardens launched in 2010.
This area in particular is a tremendous and historic resource for discovering and planting trees. According to R. William Thomas, chair of Greater Philadelphia Gardens' and director of Chanticleer, "The greater Philadelphia area is host to more arboreta than anywhere else in the continent." "As host to so many of America’s oldest, tallest and most diverse collection of native trees, we thought it would be useful to writers and visitors to discover Greater Philadelphia Gardens' horticulturists favorite trees," stated Louise R. Eliason, coordinator for Greater Philadelphia Gardens, "particularly to help guide homeowners, schools and community groups in the decision of what tree to plant as a legacy to celebrate Arbor Day this Friday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

NASA And Boy Scouts Of America Unveil New Merit Badge

Boy Scouts and Robotics fans get a boost with this one: Boy Scouts now have the opportunity to work with NASA and other technology professionals to design, build, and demonstrate a robot to earn the new Robotics merit badge. To view the badge go here: WASHINGTON -- Boy Scouts now have the opportunity to work with NASA and other technology professionals to design, build, and demonstrate a robot to earn the new Robotics merit badge. NASA and BSA developed the badge because of the wide-reaching impact of robotics and its role in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM careers. The badge is now part of the BSA's new curriculum emphasizing STEM activities and will help young men develop critical skills relevant and needed in today's competitive world. The new merit badge is one of 31 STEM-related merit badges. Scouts will have access to engineering software and work with professional mentors worldwide to earn the badge. "This unique partnership is another clear example of NASA looking at new and creative ways to inspire our youth to consider STEM careers," said Lyndon Bridgwater, NASA aerospace engineer and lead badge contributor from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The badge involved approximately 14 months of development and input from 13 organizations and more than 150 BSA youth members and leaders and industry professionals from across the nation. To earn the Robotics merit badge, a scout is required to understand how robots move, sense the environment and understand how to perform an operation. Scouts will spend approximately 14 hours meeting the requirements of the badge, during which they will design a robot and demonstrate how it works. The BSA anticipates more than 10,000 Robotics merit badges will be earned the first year. "While the guiding principles of Scouting -- service to others, leadership, personal achievement, and respect for the outdoors -- will never change, we continue to adapt programs to prepare young people for success in all areas of life," said BSA Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca. For more information on BSA and a full list of the requirements to earn the badge, visit:

If you like frogs ..... (not to eat them of course)

Among the e-mails in my inbox this morning was this one ... I just feel like sharing it with you ...


Frog enthusiasts to converge on DC to raise awareness of worldwide frog extinction

Santa Cruz, CA, April 12, 2011 – Frog lovers and environmentalists of all ages are gearing up for the 3rd Annual Save The Frogs Day, set to take place Friday, April 29th. The annual celebration of amphibians is expected to be the largest day of amphibian education and conservation action in the planet’s history – and a Save The Frogs Day Rally in Washington DC will be the focal point of the worldwide events this year. The rally will take place at the steps of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and is intended to raise awareness of the rapid disappearance of frog species worldwide, and bring attention to the harmful effects of Atrazine, one of the most commonly used pesticides in America. The Save The Frogs Day Rally is being coordinated by SAVE THE FROGS! (, a nonprofit organization dedicated to amphibian conservation. Amphibian populations worldwide have been declining at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Up to 200 species have completely disappeared in recent years. Amphibians are faced with an onslaught of environmental problems, including climate change, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades. Many pesticides have come under scrutiny in recent years. Atrazine is currently being reviewed by the EPA after several scientific reports have emerged linking it to immunosuppression and hermaphroditism in frogs. A recent study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley showed that Atrazine acts as an endocrine disruptor and can cause complete sex reversal in male frogs at 2.5 parts per billion. Atrazine was banned in the European Union in 2004, but eighty million pounds of it are used in America each year. Half a million pounds of Atrazine come down in rainfall in the USA annually, much of it on the east coast, downwind from the Midwest where it is used heavily on corn. "Atrazine is the 21st century’s DDT" says Dr. Kerry Kriger, Founder & Executive Director of SAVE THE FROGS!. Dr. Kriger will be leading the Save The Frogs Day Rally and will provide the keynote presentation later that afternoon at Lafayette Plaza across from the White House. Dr. Kriger hopes the rally will bring attention to the problems associated with Atrazine, and lead to a federal ban on its use and production. "Once Americans know about Atrazine, there will be overwhelming support for a ban. If people are uninformed and unconcerned, Syngenta’s lobbying power will be difficult to overcome", says Dr. Kriger. Atrazine is produced by Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide company. Syngenta, based in Switzerland -- where the chemical is illegal -- reported over $11 billion in revenues in 2010. So what exactly will happen at the Save The Frogs Day Rally? "We plan to form the first ring of humans around the EPA in the nation’s history", says one volunteer who is helping coordinate the rally. At noon, Dr. Kriger will deliver over 10,000 signatures to the EPA, collected from the group’s petition to ban Atrazine. After the rally, participants will march up 14th Street and arrive at Lafayette Park, where there will be celebrations and Dr. Kriger will give the keynote presentation, on frogs and amphibian conservation. Save The Frogs Day events are being planned in at least 17 countries, including the Colombia, Nepal, South Africa, South Korea and Australia. Save The Frogs Day has been legally recognized by former Governor of Virginia Tim Kaine and the Mayors of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Santa Cruz, California. You can learn more about the Save The Frogs Day Rally and other Save The Frogs Day events at: What: Save The Frogs Day Rally Where: EPA Headquarters (1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington DC). Afterwards, rally attendees will March to Lafayette Plaza, across from the White House. When: Friday April 29th, 11am – 1pm rally, followed by a 2pm presentation in Lafayette Plaza Who: All ages are welcome. Cost: Free & open to the public. More info:

NOTE: The photo of Litoria chloris is courtesy of