Bird Corner: Bird Migration is Happening

A Common Yellowthroat on Long Island, these birds winter in Central America and the Caribbean.

In the winter, Long Island is home to birds like Long-tailed Ducks, Common Loons, Snow Buntings, and even Snowy Owls! But when spring comes, these birds migrate to their breeding grounds in eastern North America north of Long Island, many even going as far as the Canadian tundra.

A Black-and-White Warbler in Connetquot River State Park on Long Island. These birds spend the winter everywhere from Florida and Colombia.

At the same time, billions of birds in Central and South America begin to fly north. Many of them will stop on Long Island to rest and eat before continuing their journey north to forests in New England, upstate New York, and the boreal forests of Canada. These include the Bay-breasted Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and many, many, more species.

However, many amazing birds stay here on Long Island all summer long to breed and raise their young. Among them are the Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Osprey, Chipping Sparrow, and Eastern Towhee. So many species breed on Long Island that it would be impossible to list all of them in one article.

Migration doesn’t last for very long, so get out there and see those birds!



Science Fiction Series: “Turing de Force,” by Edward M. Lerner

This story is based on the Turing Test, a test developed by Alan Turing to test artificial intelligence. The test is carried out a human judge interacting with humans, and sometimes robots, through text messages, and the judge must decide if they are talking to a robot. This seems like a good idea, but it is thoroughly flawed. One of the main flaws is that humans regularly associate intelligence with things that aren’t actually intelligent. Another flaw is that language is not something that is all pre-programmed at birth, it is also a learned cultural thing. I guess we will end up having to answer all those hard problems about consciousness after all. 

For over thirty years, Edward M. Lerner worked in the aerospace and information technology industries while writing science fiction part-time. He held positions at numerous companies such as Bell Labs, Hughes Aircraft, Honeywell, and Northrop Grumman. In February 2004, after receiving a book deal for Moonstruck, he decided to write science fiction full-time.

Man Threatens to Call ICE in Restaurant Where People Were Speaking Spanish

Recently, a man in New York yelled at an employees and a regular customer for speaking Spanish to each other. He told them to speak English in America and threatened to call ICE (U.S. immigration police force) and was screaming at the top of his lungs, being very rude saying things like, “If they have the balls to come here and live off my money, I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here. The least they can do … is speak English!”  

Suns Out Guns Out: Dieting

There are many diets in our society that people use for weight loss or for increased health.  Many of these diets are some that are hard to maintain, but others that are easier to maintain and the answer to optimal health has maybe been in front of us the whole time.  

Eating unprocessed whole foods is the cornerstone of the paleo diet. 

Back in the paleolithic age, also known as the stone age, our ancestors who were cave men were hunters and  gatherers. This means the men would hunt for meat and the women would gather fruits and vegetables. According to scientists, these early humans were taller and more physically fit than we are today. Today, we call their diet a ‘paleolithic diet.’ This diet is very regimented and it has helped people all over the world lose weigh and improve overall health. The ‘paleo’ diet focuses on lean meats and other protein foods such as eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

This useful chart displays the types of food that make up the paleo diet.

Followers of the paleo diet also must not consume salt, oil, or processed carbs such as white bread and cereal (sugars, essentially).  Whole grains are okay. This diet is a very popular one used by many people. The amount of weight one can lose in this diet depends on the dedication to it. Sticking to the diet and eliminating processed foods- especially fast food- from one’s diet should give good results- within a year of sticking to the diet and pairing it with consistent exercise, individuals should see the best results. 

A man that has been on the paleo diet for a year.

Science Fiction Series: “Neural Alchemist,” by Tedd Roberts

“Neural Alchemist” follows a professor who was revived from a stem cell creation. Tedd Roberts, the author, shows us he is an expert on this. He understands that stem cells could potentially replace damaged cells in parts of the body that don’t replace easily. The story shows an understanding of the sources of stem cells used in current research: bone marrow, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, transformed endothelial cells and only very rarely, fetal tissue. “Now we know that certain areas of the brain, such as the dentate gyrus of hippocampus, have the ability to make new brain cells. Most brain areas do not. What if we could replace the neurons damaged by stroke, injury or disease? Like the old time alchemists trying to turn lead into gold, the Neural Alchemist turns stems cells into any brain cells we need.” What is not so accurate about the story is the idea of reviving dead humans. Stem cells are pretty amazing, but we have no research to support the ability for bringing deceased humans back to life.

Tedd Roberts is a neuroscience researcher, educator, and writer. He advises up and coming science fiction authors, TV writers, and game developers. His acknowledged consults include novel brain diseases and the medical nanites to cure them, exotic toxins, and brain effects of a zombie virus. 

Great Neck and Manhasset Students Win Rep. Souzzi’s Art Contest

On May 9th, three students who go attend schools on the north shore of Long Island were winners of the Congressional Art Competition. The awards were presented by national representative, Tom Suozzi.

Kyra McLaughlin standing with Souzzi as she receives her certificate.

Kyra McLaughlin, a student at Manhasset High School, won the first prize. The painting was oil on wood and called it “Ticky-tac?” McLaughlin described her painting as “a crying boy sitting next to his Grandpa who, in his thick Italian accent, is offering him a ‘ticky-tac’ to cheer him up.” The painting also has special meaning to her, “My grandpa always carried tic-tacs around with him, and often used them to brighten our spirits.”

McLaughlin’s painting will be on display in the Capitol Building for one year.

Emphasizing the importance of the competition, Suozzi commented that, “Artists play an important role in society, and it turns out we have some pretty talented young artists right here in our district.” He continued, “All of the parents and teachers should take pride in themselves for supporting the artists in their lives.”

This special event took place in Dix Hills, at the Art League of Long Island. The teachers of the students who won, the parents, and school administrators came to the ceremony. There were thirty-nine contenders from sixteen different schools.

Honorable mentions were given to Isabelle Lin and and Sarah Tang. Isabelle Lin is a student at Manhasset High School. Sarah Tang goes to Great Neck North High School.

Isabelle Lin with her painting, “Who Am I / Who Am I?”

Isabelle Lin created a piece called “Who Am I / Who Am I?”. This piece involved acrylic paints. Lin also gave a description of her work. She stated, “a painted relief of my face and lively eyes placed over an American flag and a Taiwanese flag, the colors of the flag drip down onto my face, representing personal identities.” This painting will be on display at Suozzi’s office in Queens for the next year. 

Sarah Tang’s painting was called “Sunset in G-String,” which also used acrylic paint. Tang said that her work was about “a sunset sweeping over the music room at school – pink, blue, and warm yellow hues modify the natural colors of each surface.” Tang says that the music room in her school was the inspiration for this painting.

Sarah Tang standing with her painting, “Sunset in G-String.”

Tang said, “I chose the music room because I thought there was something really beautiful about how messy and energized it was,” Tang said. “I was really inspired by my school’s after school orchestra program, which sometimes runs late, and I’ve noticed the sun always sets really nicely in the music room, and that was the inspiration for my color scheme.”

She also wanted to thank both her art teacher, Joseph Giacalone, and her music teacher, Joseph Rutowski, who she credited for helping her in both subjects throughout her journey in high school.

Tang’s work will we displayed in Suozzi’s district office, which is in Huntington.  

Man Suffers a Fatal Blow to Head by Giraffe

Last week, filmmaker Carlos Carvalho was killed on set in South America from a head trauma caused by a giraffe. Carvalho, 47, was filming at Glen Afric Country Lodge last Wednesday when he was struck and suffered a fatal blow to the head. The incident occurred when Carlos was attempting to film extra footage of Gerald the giraffe after filming with the other animals had come to an end. This was when Carlos was struck by the giraffe when it swung his head causing Carlos to be knocked off his feet. He then was flown to a nearby hospital but later succumbed to his injuries. Carvalho’s crew shares their condolences with his family and the lodge claims that Carlos may have gotten a little bit too close. Carlos left behind a family and 2 daughters.

Bird Corner: The House Wren

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A House Wren singing in my backyard.

Now that it’s spring, many birds are migrating through Great Neck on their way to the forests of the northeastern US and eastern Canada. But many of them will stay here on Long Island to nest.

Among these is the House Wren, a tiny bird only 4.3-5.1 inches long. But what this little bird lacks in size, it makes up for with its attitude. House Wrens will often aggressively drive out birds much larger than themselves that are competing for nesting areas. They are cavity nesters, which means that they nest in holes like birdhouses, holes in trees, and even in things like old shoes that are left outside! They’ve nested in birdhouses in my yard for as long as I can remember.

These tiny birds eat small invertebrates like spiders, caterpillars, beetles, and flies, and they live throughout almost all of North and South America, from Argentina to Alaska. Although you may have never seen a House Wren, I can almost guarantee you’ll recognize their beautiful song. They may be tiny, but they’re very loud! Here’s a link to a video of their song, see if you can recognize it:http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYvXKGwtXug

Class Spotlight: Lab / Garden

At Village School, we have a lot of different and interesting electives. One in particular is Megan’s sixth period class, “Lab and Garden.” Lab and Garden serves as the required lab period for students in Common Core Biology and also offers science elective credit for students not in the CC Bio. Though this class has gained reputation for being one of the loudest classes in the school (!), the class has does some excellent work. Gardening is caring for plants is an interest of mine– plants can’t run away and you don’t need to take them to the vet annually. It’s a win-win situation – the plant stays happy and healthy, while it’s caregiver only has to water it once or twice a day!

This is one of the mushrooms that the Lab / Garden class grew.

A student enrolled in the class, Lucas, gave me some insight as to what the class is all about, “We go outside for half the period and tend to the crops and then the class comes back in to work [on corresponding labs]” says Lucas. Another student, Brian, says that the class is currently growing cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, and corn. It’s great to give students a very good opportunity to be able to grow fruits and vegetables in the school’s backyard so they can learn about different types of foods and maybe become inspired to grow some of their own.

One type of labs the class does are dissection labs. This is Margaret dissecting an organism.

I went in to see the class in action this past week. Students were learning about bear adaptations, and how environments can affect how organism live. For example, Megan taught about peppered verses non-peppered moths. Another example she discussed was green versus brown grasshoppers and how a green grasshopper is better for a spring environment.

Megan seamlessly wove traditional Bio topics with information that is relvant to gardening. She continued to explain that there many types of adaptations, such as camouflage and mimicry. For example, a tiger benefits from camouflage as the tiger can capture prey much easier. Megan also showed videos to reinforce concepts. One video showed an adaptation that zebras have, which is herding. The zebras run together in a herd so that it is much harder for a predator to catch them. I also learned something new as well– countershading.

This is an example of an organism that countershades.

Countershading is when an organism has protective coloration in parts where there are shadows or light. The areas exposed to light are lighter than the areas exposed to shadow.

The following day, I visited again as the class heading out to garden. On this particular day, they were cleaning the pergola.After a long winter, there was a lot of work to do! Fio and Bella were cleaning the dirt out from the corners and Natanel did some tasks requiring heavy lifting such as moving the the peat moss.  Bella and Natanel worked together to move a heavy board and clear out more areas for gardening tools and supplies. 

After speaking to members of the Lab/Garden class, I wanted to find out if the different foods harvested from this class is used by our Cooking class. This semester, the Cooking class has been experimenting with recipes using all vegetarian ingredients, and according to students, they have thus far used herbs and mushrooms from the Gardening class, and as spring continues, they plan to use more.

It’s great to see two classes working together to create awesome things!

Iran Nuclear Deal

President Donald J. Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by exiting the US from the Iran Nuclear Deal. 

On May 7th it was announced to the public that he US was pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Why? Because Donald Trump is displeased with Iran’s actions; he believes Iran is not following the rules set up as part of the deal.

But in doing so, he’s going against the other countries who are a part of the deal: United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany. They disagree that Iran is doing anything out of line, and therefore wanted the US to stay a part of the deal.