Archive for June 24, 2008

Red-Shouldered Hawk Moves In


SwampMan looked up as I walked out the door. Dang. Busted.

“HEY! What are you doing carrying bacon outside? You said we didn’t have any bacon.”

“No, I said YOU don’t have any bacon. I have bacon.”

“I KNOW you ain’t gonna be feeding MY bacon to that ol’ dawg of yours….”

“No…..”

“And you better not be feeding any sick vulture again, either. Another possum? Raccoon?”

“Naw, nothin’ like that. Remember that hawk I told you about with the broken leg? I’m putting bacon on top the wooden swing set for her.”

“Uh hunh. Did you actually SEE the hawk eat the bacon?”

“No, but when I looked, it wasn’t there, and she’s sitting on top the post where it was like she’s looking for more.”

“Yeah, well probably a cat climbed up there and ate it!”

I looked at the cats. They are old, fat, and slumbering in the sun. The only thing they were interested in climbing was up the steps and onto the porch to the food bowl.

“Why did you have to feed it bacon, anyway?”

“I didn’t think she’d much care for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

I walked outside and the hawk was there, peeping in an annoyed manner. She flew a short distance to a tree and watched as I put one foot onto the flexible swing, grabbed the chain with one hand, hoisted myself way up on tip toes and then jumped to reach the wooden bar on top and deposit the slice of bacon, and then fell off the swing. Feeding wildlife can be hazardous.

I went off to feed the livestock and squirrels, and walking back, I could see her tearing greedily at the bacon.

“Hey, the hawk is eating the bacon.”

“That’s nice”, said SwampMan absentmindedly as he looked over the computer program he was working on.

“Damnit, she’s right outside the window. Now get up and LOOK!”

We had built the swingset outside the oversized livingroom window so we could keep a close eye on the children playing outside. I never thought it would be a wildlife viewing area.

“Wow, she’s really hungry. Look how beautiful she is!”

I don’t think I’ll hear any other comments about his bacon. Obviously she needed it a lot more than he does.

Update: I was wrong about not hearing any more about the bacon. SwampMan pointed out that I had lots of lil’ chicks and ducklings running around out there and didn’t really need to use his bacon. Why didn’t I just staple them to the swingset for the hawk instead?

He’s feeling mighty full of himself since I hyperextended my right arm at the elbow and am having to avoid making any sudden throwing movements with that right arm and avoiding lifting anything heavier than a slice or two of bacon. Sigh. Time for another anti-inflammatory.

The lovely hawk photo came from a USGS wildlife ID website.

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New UGA Invention Effectively Kills Foodborne Pathogens in Minutes

Athens, Ga. — University of Georgia researchers have developed an effective technology for reducing contamination of dangerous bacteria on food. The new antimicrobial wash rapidly kills Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 on foods ranging from fragile lettuce to tomatoes, fruits, poultry products and meats. It is made from inexpensive and readily available ingredients that are recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The new technology, which has commercial application for the produce, poultry, meat and egg processing industries, is available for licensing from the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., which has filed a patent application on the new technology.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, in the U.S. alone, foodborne pathogens are responsible for 76 million illnesses every year. Of the people affected by those illnesses, 300,000 are hospitalized and more than 5,000 die. These widespread outbreaks of food-borne illnesses are attributed, in part, to the fast-paced distribution of foods across the nation. Recently, raw tomatoes caused an outbreak of salmonellosis that sickened more than 300 people in at least 28 states and Canada.

Currently, a chlorine wash is frequently used in a variety of ways to reduce harmful bacteria levels on vegetables, fruits and poultry, but because of chlorine’s sensitivity to food components and extraneous materials released in chlorinated water treatments, many bacteria survive. Chlorine is toxic at high concentrations, may produce off-flavors and undesirable appearance of certain food products, and it can only be used in conjunction with specialized equipment and trained personnel. In addition, chlorine may be harmful to the environment.

“We can’t rely on chlorine to eliminate pathogens on foods,” said Michael Doyle, one of the new technology’s inventors and director of UGA’s Center for Food Safety. “This new technology is effective, safe for consumers and food processing plant workers, and does not affect the appearance or quality of the product. It may actually extend the shelf-life of some types of produce.”

Doyle is an internationally recognized authority on food safety whose research focuses on developing methods to detect and control food-borne bacterial pathogens at all levels of the food continuum, from the farm to the table. He has served as a scientific advisor to many groups, including the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The new antimicrobial technology, developed by Doyle and Center for Food Safety researcher Tong Zhao, uses a combination of ingredients that kills bacteria within one to five minutes from application. It can be used as a spray and immersion solution, and its concentration can be adjusted for treatment of fragile foods such as leafy produce, more robust foods such as poultry, or food preparation equipment and food transportation vehicles.

“The effectiveness, easy storage and application, and low cost of this novel antibacterial make it applicable not only at food processing facilities, but also at points-of-sale and at home, restaurants and military bases. The development of this technology is timely, given the recent, sequential outbreaks of foodborne pathogens,” said Gennaro Gama, UGARF technology manager in charge of licensing this technology.

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Retail Theft Hits Record Low

A new report by ADT Security Services says retail theft nationwide has hit a 17-year low and is on a six-year downward trend.

The results of the annual survey, conducted by the University of Florida with a funding grant from ADT Security Services, were announced June 23 during the National Retail Federation’s Loss Prevention conference at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

Retailers surveyed reported losing more than $34.3 billion, or 1.4 percent of overall sales last year, which compares with $40.5 billion and 1.57 percent of overall sales in 2006, the National Retail Security Survey says.

Retail theft includes shoplifting, employee theft, administrative error and vendor fraud.

Retailers have likely been able to keep theft down because of their long-term investment in anti-shoplifting and anti-theft technologies and training, UF criminologist and survey director Richard Hollinger said in a prepared statement.

But retailers are still battling organized retail crime, where individuals or organized gangs work to systematically steal large quantities from retailers in stores, warehouses, distribution centers and goods in transit, according to the report.

The preliminary report shows that more than half of the 124 retailers questioned to date believe that organized retail crime is increasing and 19 percent say that they now have their own organized retail crime task forces.

The Loss Prevention conference is the retail industry’s premier educational forum and trade show. This year’s conference, which runs through June 25, is expected to draw more than 2,900 loss prevention executives and retailers nationwide.

Source:  Jacksonville Business Journal

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Alligator Bites off Swimmer’s Arm Near Lake Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — A man whose arm was ripped off his body by an 11-foot alligator survived the attack by gouging its eyes during its death roll.

Kasey Edwards, 18, was swimming with some friends at Nubbin Slough, a canal near Lake Okeechobee, Sunday when he was attacked.

“(The alligator) took my left arm off about 4 inches above the elbow,” Edwards said. “It was a pretty humbling experience.”

 Edwards said he was face-to-face with the gator during the attack.

“I looked back and the gator surfaced and I looked him right in the face and stared at him for 10 seconds,” Edwards said from Holmes Regional Medical Center in Central Florida.

 Edwards said during the fight with the alligator, he was not aware he was missing an arm.

“He dragged me under the water five times,” Edwards said. “Finally, (the arm) ripped off and I wasn’t aware at the time. (It) hit me in my stomach and knocked the wind out of me and I dug and took my finger and gouged its eye. It spun and turned around and went away from me. (I) didn’t know I was missing an arm until I was swimming back.”

The alligator was captured and Edwards’ arm was found inside its stomach, the Palm Beach Post reported.

The arm was too damaged to reattach, officials said.

Edwards said his two friends brought him to shore and kept him from bleeding to death. He said he owes his life to them.

Source: Local6.com news

And a hat tip to Ed at Gulf Coast Pundit because for some reason, I had completely missed another alligator story.  How did a guy in Houston see it before I did?

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State of Florida Agrees to Buy U.S. Sugar Corp. Assets

Press release of U.S. Sugar:

Clewiston, FL — June 24, 2008 — The proposal announced by Governor Crist is the right thing for the State of Florida and appears to be at a fair price for our shareholders. It will preserve 187,000 acres of land (292 square miles or three times the size of the city of Orlando) located in environmentally strategic areas that will help resolve restoration issues for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and the Everglades. Sufficient land also will be available for critical water storage and treatment. This acquisition should allow remaining Everglades Agricultural Area farmers and the Everglades to be sustainable.

Even as the Governor has announced the District’s planned acquisition of the assets of U.S. Sugar, we remain proud of our farming history in South Florida. The majority of our stockholders have held this investment for many decades and many of our employees’ families have worked on our farms and in our sugar factories for generations.

Although many of the details of the proposal need to be worked out, we expect to operate our businesses for at least a six-year transition period. This will enable us to fulfill our long-term existing business obligations. During this transition period, BMO Capital Markets Corporation will act as financial advisor to US Sugar. This transition will also allow our employees and the communities around the lake to move in a new direction with new economic and lifestyle opportunities. In addition, it will give the government agencies time to plan the use of this land.

This is a bittersweet moment for a company that has been farming this land for more than four generations. However, we believe the cause is good and U.S. Sugar is proud to be part of this historic opportunity with Governor Crist to make extraordinary progress in Everglades restoration and restore much of the natural footprint of South Florida.

Details:

STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES FOR THE ACQUISITION OF
UNITED STATES SUGAR CORPORATION PROPERTY FOR THE
RESTORATION OF THE EVERGLADES

1. This Statement of Principles is entered into this 24th day of June 2008 by the South Florida Water Management District (“SFWMD”) and the United States Sugar Corporation, a Delaware corporation(“USSC”). This Statement of Principles provides a framework for the possible acquisition of property for the restoration of the northern and southern Everglades that include elements as set forth in paragraphs below.
2. USSC and its affiliates own interests in real property in Palm Beach, Hendry, Glades and Gilchrist Counties, including a sugar mill, a sugar refinery, an office building located in Hendry County, a citrus processing plant/tank farm, an internal railroad and an external short-line railroad, together with other fixtures, buildings, structures, and other improvements erected thereon, and permits, licenses, rights, privileges and appurtenances thereto as set forth on the attached map made a part hereof (“Lands”). The Lands consist of approximately 187,000 acres (or approximately 292 square miles) owned in fee simple.

3. USSC and its affiliates also own tangible personal property used in connection with the operation of USSC’S agricultural business, including furniture, equipment, tools, machinery, vehicles and railroad rolling stock, all to be more specifically described in the contemplated Purchase Agreement between SFWMD and USSC (“Personalty”). In no event shall Personalty be deemed to include planted or harvested crops (including sugarcane and citrus fruit), stubble cane and other consumables used or produced in USSC’s business operations.

4. For consideration as set forth in Paragraph 8 to be paid by SFWMD to USSC, USSC will convey or cause to convey to SFWMD and/or third parties designated by SFWMD all of USSC and its affiliates rights, title and interests in and to the Lands and Personalty.

5. Lands owned in fee simple will be conveyed by the appropriate general warranty deeds. To the extent applicable, Lands leased or in which an easement interest is held will be transferred by assignment of lease or easement. Personalty will be conveyed by appropriate bill(s) of sale and applicable warranties or guarantees transferred. The SFWMD or USSC shall have the option of deferring closing on particular parcels pending completion of environmental remediation of pollutants on such parcels.

6. The conveyances will be subject to USSC’s retained use and possession of the Lands and Personalty to continue its existing operations for a period of time ending on the sixth (6th) anniversary after the closing date, unless extended by the agreement of the two parties. Up to 10,000 agricultural/crop acres of the Lands, as selected by the SFWMD, will be subject to release of USSC’s retained use and possessory interest on the fifth (5th) anniversary of the closing date. USSC will pay all fees, costs and expenses arising from continued use and possession of the Lands and Personalty, including lease payments, applicable taxes, and applicable assessments. USSC will continue to implement generally applicable BMP requirements on the Lands during this period.

7. Following termination of USSC’s retention of use and possession, USSC shall be responsible to deliver at its expense the Lands and Personalty in compliance with all federal, state and local statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations, including the environmental remediation of pollutants.

8. Subject to SFWMD’s receipt of its own independent appraisal which must be satisfactory to SFWMD, USSC is willing to sell and SFWMD is willing to buy the Lands and Personalty for $1,750,000,000.00, together with the retained use and possessory rights of the Lands and Personalty as described in Paragraph 6 hereof (which includes the right of USSC to retain the rents and revenues derived therefrom),.

9. USSC and SFWMD will use best efforts to negotiate and execute a Purchase Agreement within seventy-five (75) days of the date hereof and to close by November 30, 2008. The Purchase Agreement may include third party exchanges and purchases of portions of the Lands and Personalty. The Purchase Agreement will also be subject to public and/or private financing of the purchase price and the limitations such financing imposes.

10. USSC and its affiliates will not transfer any right, title or interest in the Lands or otherwise encumber its interests in the Lands prior to the closing, unless such transfer or encumbrance is cured/satisfied prior thereto. USSC and its affiliates may sell Personalty in the ordinary course of conducting its business.

11. This Statement of Principles is non-binding and is subject to the negotiation and execution of the Purchase Agreement in form satisfactory to SFWMD and USSC. Until such Agreement is fully executed, no party has any financial or legal obligation with respect hereto.

Nice to know that Florida has an extra couple billion kicking around in the budget that they had no other use for.  I *hope* that this doesn’t mean that farmland will become sprawling houses, but…..hope isn’t very realistic.

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Dog Protects Owner, Pays With His Life

HUDSON — Baxter had saved his master’s life once before.

Early Monday morning, when two armed burglars broke through the front door, he tried again. He growled and bit and fought. He ran into the night, chasing the intruders.

A shot rang out. A .22-caliber bullet severed the boxer’s spine. A veterinarian ended his suffering.

Cathleen Coluzzi, who purchased Baxter as a puppy eight years ago, said losing Baxter was like losing a family member.

“I loved that dog just like I love these kids,” Coluzzi said, pointing to her two sons, Coty, 20, and Kyle, 19. “I’m not kidding one bit.”

Coluzzi, 40, was doing laundry about 1:30 a.m. when two men wearing hooded sweatshirts broke down the door of her one-room apartment in the Parkwood Acres subdivision in northwest Pasco County. Coluzzi said she could only see their eyes as they pointed guns at her and demanded cash.

They found Coluzzi’s purse and took about $130, she told deputies. Coluzzi, who is disabled from a work-related accident seven months ago, tried to call for help, but a burglar knocked the phone out of her hand.

Baxter jumped on the man and bit his leg. The burglar hit Baxter with his arm and “fired off a couple of shots,” Coluzzi said. Coluzzi was hit in the left thigh, but she fought back, swinging a candleholder and kicking. She suffered minor pellet wounds, a Sheriff’s Office report said.

Moments after Baxter bolted out the door, Coluzzi heard a shot and a yelp. She found him on the ground with a wound between his shoulder blades.

“He was my personal protector,” said Coluzzi, who was treated for her wounds at a local hospital. “This dog was the best dog I have ever known.”

One freezing night in January 2007, the temperature in Coluzzi’s room fell to below 30 degrees when her space heater failed. She said Baxter climbed on top of her and wouldn’t let her sleep. She called one of her sons, who took her to a hospital, where she was treated for hypothermia.

“If I would have stayed in the house, I would have died,” she said.

Her sadness over losing Baxter was tempered by one bit of luck.

“He just bred for the first time, and his puppies are going to be born next week,” she said. “That’s the only thing getting me through this.” She and her two sons will each get a puppy.

Source: TampaBay.com

RIP, Baxter. I would recommend shooting lessons and a gun to Cathleen, but I don’t think that is within her budget at this time.

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Solazyme Press Release: Solazyme Produces First Algal-Based Renewable Diesel to Pass American Society for Testing and Materials D-975 Specifications

South San Francisco, Calif. – June 11, 2008 – Solazyme announced today that SoladieselRDTM , a microalgae-derived renewable diesel, has passed American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D-975 specifications. SoladieselRDTM is the first algal-based renewable diesel to meet these standards.

In a 100% blend, SoladieselRDTM has been road tested in a factory standard 2005 Jeep Liberty diesel. The fuel’s chemical composition is identical to that of standard petroleum based diesel, and SoladieselRDTM is fully compatible with the existing transportation fuel infrastructure. Having fewer particulate emissions, SoladieselRDTM also has a more desirable environmental footprint than standard petro-diesel. In addition, it meets the new ASTM ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) standards.

“This now marks the production of our second fuel that meets current U.S. fuel specifications and is an important validation of our proprietary process using microalgae to produce renewable fuels,” said Jonathan Wolfson, chief executive officer of Solazyme. “Solazyme’s leadership in the green fuels space will continue to grow as we now execute on our strategy for commercial launch.”

The only advanced biofuels company producing at scale, Solazyme implements a unique microbial fermentation process that allows algae to produce oil in massive vessels quickly, efficiently and without sunlight. The process can utilize many forms of non-food feedstocks, including waste glycerol and many cellulosic materials including wood chips, corn stover and switchgrass. The resulting oils can be leveraged across a wide variety of industries and applications, including fuels, edible oils and chemicals and are completely biodegradable, nontoxic and safe.

###

About Solazyme:

Solazyme, Inc. is a synthetic biology company unleashing the power of aquatic microbes to create clean and scalable solutions for biofuel, industrial chemical, and health & wellness markets. The company was founded in 2003 and has its headquarters in South San Francisco, Calif. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.solazyme.com.

For more information contact:

Beth Starkin, Peppercom, 212-931-6108, bstarkin@peppercom.com

Interesting, huh? I knew that biodiesel had passed the ASTM D975 tests, but I don’t think I posted it last week.

As we all know, the company that pioneers an industry isn’t always the company that profits from it, because the companies that inevitably start up afterward have the advantage of knowing the most efficient method from the industry pioneers and can target their research into refining the best method.

I wish them all good luck.

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