Early spring ‘a certainty’ - Pennsylvania groundhog Punxsutawney Phil

“Spring will be early, it’s a certainty.”

Punxsutawney Phil said it on Sunday, gotta be true. Read the rest

Bridal trend: "Extremely revealing," low-cut wedding gowns

How low can you go?

NPR is reporting that brides are willing to go really low with the cut of their wedding gowns:

Monte Durham works at an upscale wedding dress store in Atlanta and co-hosts the TLC show Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta. Turn it on, or the original Say Yes to the Dress, set in New York, and you'll plunge into constant drama about plunging matrimonial cleavage.

Illusion fabric does little to assuage concerns on the shows, those of mothers-in law in particular. Brides' penchant for dramatically dipping décolletage is not limited to reality television. Durham sees it among customers at his store, Bridals By Lori.

"Ninety percent of the brides want to try on a revealing gown," he says, adding that customers may not end up buying one. Still, he describes one of the top-selling dresses at Bridals by Lori as "extremely revealing." It should be noted, that this is the kind of store where dresses can cost upwards of $10,000. These dresses are not cheap.

Sociology professor Patricia Arend studies the wedding industry. She believes this trend was influenced by red carpet fashion, which itself, she says, was transformed in the year 2000 by the semi-transparent, super low-cut green Versace gown Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammy Awards. It exposed much of the singer's chest and midriff.

Brides Everywhere Are Saying Yes To The Low-Cut Dress

image by Ted Van Pelt (which, to be fair, was taken in 2008) Read the rest

Stop! Hammock time!

Spring is here, time to toss the ratty old hammock and get a new one! This $15 replacement hammock fits my stand well.

Couple years back I reviewed this fantastic hammock stand and hammock. I live in a harsh marine environment to say the very least, and the stand has held up amazingly well. It shows some patina but no real rust. I think I'll happily be using it for years to come.

Hammocks themselves are a different story. Normal wear and tear, forgetfully leaving them outside overnight, washing them in a machine washer and dryer, all destroy a hammock pretty quickly. Once every year or two I need a replacement. This $15 hammock is just great and will help make my Spring, Summer and Fall 2017 wonderful.

Double Wide Hammock Cotton Soft Woven Bed for Supreme Comfort Fabric Travel Camping Hammock 2 Person for Backyard, Porch, Outdoor or Indoor Use (Green & Blue Stripes) via Amazon Read the rest

Happy Spring!

It's the first day of Spring! To celebrate, here is a photo that science journalist Maryn McKenna took of her car windshield in Atlanta, Georgia, coated with a single day's worth of pollen. Please file "tree bukkake" under "Things I Do Not Miss About the South".

Interesting science side note on this: It's pretty well-documented that climate changes are affecting pollen production, pollen exposure, and allergies.

USDA scientist Lewis Ziska, among other researchers, has found that ragweed is one of the plants whose growth is most enhanced by exposure to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide. Not only does the ragweed grow faster when exposed to more CO2, it also produces more pollen. This is especially an issue in cities, which have higher concentrations of CO2 than rural areas, thanks to having a higher concentration of cars and other CO2 emitting sources. Extra bonus: There's also some evidence that allergy seasons are getting longer, as Spring starts earlier and Winter takes longer to truly set in.

You can read more about this in the report from the IPCC's Working Group II and in a paper on the effects of climate change on health written by Ziska and his collaborator, the late Paul Epstein. Read the rest