Have you Seen Black Racer Snake Comes in your Backyard?

Saturday, August 1, 2020
A black racer snake in the backyard.

First, we saw skin of snake on our backyard sometimes ago. Its could be Black racer snake, because this snake is a common reptile in the southern USA.

Coluber constrictor is scientific name for black racer. It is said the snake is active during daylight, and not poisonous.

Few other characters of black racer are:
- fast moving snake (why called as racer)
- length could reach to 55 inches (140 cm)
- color blind
- yearly to shed its skin
- live in woody, garden or yard areas
- predators of snake are hawk and bigger birds.
- similar appearance to venomous snake called water moccasin.

Black racer in other position

We might wonder about what kind of food Black racer eat. Here some:
- mole
- bird
- lizard
- frogs
- rodents
- insect
- smaller snakes

We never saw snake’s eggs in our yards. Some sources said the snakes could have about 20 eggs yearly with 40% survival rate for young born.

In fact, black racer snakes have positive impact on yards, because they may eat or get rid of the animals which cause damaging to the plants in the garden or yards.

However, in case you do not like this snake to stay in your yard, the best way that you snatch this reptile by trap.

Have you seen any snakes in your gardens or backyards? If so, what do you do?

What is Safe Dosage of Covid-19 Vaccines? – Virus 14

Tuesday, July 28, 2020
A vaccine for Covid-19 (credit to Reuter UK)

At previous posts, we talked about possible vaccines for Covid-19 (please read: Updates of Vaccines to Combat Covid-19 – Virus 12 and When Will Vaccine for Covid-19 Available? - Virus 4).

The good news that we are in phase 3 clinical trials with 30,000 volunteer at 89 different site in the USA now.

We might have questions:
- is safe for human?
- what is safe dosage of Covid-19 vaccines?

Yes, vaccine, in this case, developed by cooperation between federal agency and biotechnology company, National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH) and Moderna is safe.

It is reported safe because it had been went through two clinical phases, and will complete final phases with thousand volunteer soon.

There are 3 dosages are tested so far:
- 25 micro gram (µg)
- 100 µg
- 250 µg

The results shown that all 3 dosages have positive impacted where its generated immune responses. No serious effects have been recorded.

The phase 3 will involve dose of 100 µg, it is medium doses. Researchers use this medium dose, because:
- at first shot, there is little reaction.
- after 1 month, there is moderate reaction at second shot.

In case of 25 µg dosage, the reaction is mild. There is severe reaction when using 250 µg dosage.

We are waiting the best outcome from clinical trials of 300,000 volunteer as soon as possible, probably by next 3 months!

Farmer Market is Dominated by Homemade Products

Thursday, July 23, 2020
Homemade face masks

We have at least three farmer markets close by our neighborhood, they mainly selling produces from vegetable to fruit, flowers to potatoes, honey to cheese and any farming relate produces.

The markets open hours from 6.30 AM to 6.30 PM, and 7 days a week. Not quite short hours compared to ethnic groceries which open from 9.00 AM to 7.00 PM only.

However, one of our neighborhood “farmer market” is different than others in term of selling items and opening hours, the market called as “Harb Oasis.”

This market is collection of small vendors (farmers), they rented the available spaces. Market management said that there are 50 stalls.

It is open about 5 hours, from 8.30 AM to 1.30 PM. But, some booths may little bit longer, maximum at 3.00 PM, depend very much on the number of visitors. If there is crowd, then longer opening hours will be.

Bracelets, homemade accessories

The Harb Oasis is a weekly “farmer market,” every Saturday. 50 vendors fall in categories of:

- farmers
- food sellers
- craft makers
- artists 

Summer style and accessories

We may find plenty of products to buy. Selling items include:
- handcrafts
- art works
- jewelry
- toys
- soaps
- fashion accessories

Art works from community

In addition to shopping, visitors may enjoy live music. We may tastes many different kind of foods sold by food trucks at the corner of market.

Is there weekly farmer market or any weekly market in your area? How long its opening hours?

Tea for Diabetes Patients – Diabetes 24

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Tea bag of diabetes tea.

We talked about advantage of green tea to control blood sugar level (please read: Could Green Tea Improve Insulin Sensitivity? - Diabetes 11).

Actually, there are many teas that good for diabetes, some of them are:
- Hibiscus tea
- Ginger tea
- Black tea
- Bitter Melon tea
- Bigelow green tea
- Chamomile tea
- Cinamon tea

Tea for diabetes, ready for drink.

I just take picture this kind of diabetes tea in the ethnic grocery. It is said that the tea is herbal supplement, contains “polyphenols.”

Substance called polyphenols which may combines of:
- flavonoids
- theaflavins
- tannins
- catechins

Polyphenols is antioxidant used to improve insulin sensitivity, thus manage or prevent diabetes type 2.

Drinking tea is getting popular in America lately. American drink 155 cups of tea per year. They consume mainly black tea. Some drinks green tea.

It is suggested that people drink at least 4 cup of teas may reduce their risk get diabetes about 30% to 33%.

Have you drink tea? How many cups per day?

Algae and Weed on the City Park Lake

Saturday, June 6, 2020
Algae cover the lake surface

We visited city lake close to our former university several times a year. In recent visit, we found:
- Algae covers almost entire lake surface
- Weed seems decrease in number compared to previous visit.

In case of algae, it is said the algae is include in blue green algae species which contain dangerous poison called “microcystin.”

Blooming of Blue green algae due to several factors:
- excessive nutrient inflow to the lake
- temperature increase due to season
- shallowness of lake makes water warm easily.

Uncontrolled blooming has impacted on environment in general, at least to lower the aesthetic values of the lake. 

Blue green algae produces poison

Abundance of weed and algae not only affect on aesthetic value, but also have direct effect on:
- fish population due to present of dangerous poison, microcystin.
- swimming movement of people
- boating recreations
- other types of visitors and recreational activities.

Government and local communities have planning to clean up the lake as soon as possible. Project cost is estimated about US$ 50 million.

Hope, the lake back to its previous, natural condition sooner than later!

Disappearing and Reappearing of Asian Giant Softshell Turtle

Sunday, May 31, 2020
A softshell freshwater turtle

Asian giant softshell turtle with scientific name Pelochelys cantorii could reach 100 cm or 1 meter (3.3 feet) length size. One of biggest freshwater turtles known.

Pelochelys cantorii lives in South East Asia region, generally in Mekong River, Cambodia. This turtle may be found in the habitats such as:
- lakes
- estuarine
- seacoasts
- streams

The softshell is due to its cartilaginous carapaces which is “covered in leathery skin.”

This turtle has disappeared in 2003, then, scientists thought the animal was extinct. Luckily, turtles reappeared in 2007.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) enlists Cambodian softshell as endangered species.

Softshell freshwater turtles distribute worldwide, they may be found in the regions such as Asia, Africa and America.

However, the particular species of Asian Giant Softshell Turtle has been observed in the following countries:
- Cambodia
- China
- Bangladesh
- India
- Philippines
- Thailand
- Vietnam
- Malaysia
- Myanmar
- Indonesia
- Laos

Have you seen any Softshell Turtles in your areas?

Rising and Falling of Prices during Covid-19 Pandemic – Virus 13

Sunday, May 24, 2020
One of Japanese foods, just for illustration

Last two shopping trips at grocery stores, we noticed price increasing. Yes, we heard news from mainstream medias about price increasing of grocery items. We are not aware so much in real life.

It is said that grocery prices have been increased by average of 2.6%. But, we believe several items more expensive, may be more than 3.5%. Some of them:

- eggs (We saw supply shortages).
- bread
- doughnut
- muffin
- cookies
- fruits (oranges, apples, citrus)
- soft drinks, juice
- protein sources (chicken, fish, meat)
- vegetables, especially canned vegetables

Clothes inside Walmart supermarket

Panic shopping is the reason price increase at the beginning of Covid-19 Pandemic, now, here two prominent reasons:

- disrupting of “food supply chains” which include production, processing and delivery systems from farmers (producers) to stores across the nation.

- demand keep continue, even higher in some foods after panic shopping, but supply chains such as meat processing are closing, thus causes food shortages.

However, we have good news that rising and falling in price come together. I noticed these items are getting lower in price:
- sausage
- butter
- tomatoes
- cupcakes

In addition to groceries, following items and services are dropping in prices as well:
- gasoline (raw and at stations)
- clothes
- car and car insurances
- airfare (travel tickets)

Do you notice any increasing and tumbling in prices in your areas? What items and services?

Virus relate postings

Why Friendship may Improve Healthy Heart? - Heart 7

Sunday, May 17, 2020
Building a friendship (source: Exposure)

We all know that good friendship or socializing contributes to our mental health as mentioned in many literatures.

Several sources noticed about significant relationship between socializing and improvement of our physical health.

Some benefits of good quality friendship are:
- increase memory
- sharpen cognitive abilities
- not feel lonely
- improve happiness
- likely to live longer

The two specific advantages, make me surprising about socializing that:
- friendship through technology (social media) as important as in person.
- may reduce cardiovascular diseases.

The connections between friendship and heart diseases are following:
- no friendship means live lonely
- loneliness causes stress
- stress increases hormone cortisol production.

Positive friendship either in person or online or both means lower hormone cortisol production, lower blood pressure, lower damaging to our blood vessels, hence, improve our healthy heart.

Hope, our friendship may lead to healthy live, both mentally and physically even through online (blogging) only.

Relevant posts:

Do You Know that an Owl Flies Without Sounds?

Friday, May 15, 2020
An owl siting on the branch of tree

I saw owls in my backyard sometimes, but I never know that they fly so smoothly without sound.

To have an idea, you may compare an owl and other birds while they are flying in this video: Experiment! How Does An Owl Fly So Silently?

It is clear that other birds produce sound while their wings flap. The noise is due to air turbulence created by flapping wings.

In case of owl, no sound is produced is relating to at least to three following factors:
- the structure of two wings resemble to the comb
- wings have great quality of velvet feathers to form soft layers
- owl’s feathers form the ragged fringe on the wing trailing edge.

The combination of these 3 factors is believed to reduce turbulence noise while owl flying.

Another reason that owl has broad wings, thus make its gliding more, but flapping less. Gliding more means no noise, silent.

Flying silently make owls to be efficient predator in the night, their prey can not able to detect dangerous warning.

In many palm plantations, owls have been used to reduce damages due to rodent pests. They could catch 3 to 5 rats per night. Success story of using silent flying predator.

Updates of Vaccines to Combat Covid-19 – Virus 12

Monday, May 11, 2020
Vaccine candidates

Since my first post about vaccine (When Will Vaccine for Covid-19 Available? - Virus 4), the development is so fast.

We have about 20’s vaccine candidates at the beginning, then developed to be 70’s, then, at least 100 vaccine candidates now.

The vaccines belong to government, private and even NGO research institutes around the globe.

At least four countries have been involved in vaccine development and test its with quite clear steps:

1. Germany
- Vaccine called “BNT162” has been injected to 200 human volunteer with doses 1 to 100 microgram. No result was reported yet.

2. China
- This country has conducted clinical trial to 108 volunteer with vaccine called Ad5-nCoV, but no report yet.

3. USA
- USA had completed first clinical trial with “progression well” results. Vaccine called mRNA-1273 has been shot to two initial groups of 28 and 17 volunteer.
- Other 60 adults will be included in the trials.
- Second shot has been administered and will be followed about 13 months whether the vaccine is safe and effective.

4. United Kingdom
- Vaccine called ChAdOx1 has been success to cure infected monkeys with Corona virus.
- Then, 550 volunteers have been injected with vaccine. The temporary results shown that vaccine is safe to human.

Since ChAdOx1, UK vaccine is the most promising so far, moreover, one of largest pharmaceutical companies in the world ask for the production license.

This Indian based drug company intends to produce ChAdOx1 (vaccine) as soon as possible, might be by next month or no later than September this year.

However, UK government and scientists do not quite sure about timetable of mass production.

Research is still on going, not complete yet. It might be by the end of this year year (2020) or early 2021 for production.

We just wait and see.