MastersConnection 2020
Issue 381 In This Issue June 7th, 2014

Editors Corner

By now, most everyone has heard of Genetically Modified Organisms, but have you ever heard of Synthetic Biology, or "synbio" for short? In case you haven't, synbio is where they insert computer generated DNA sequences into living cells, as opposed to inserting a gene, that already exists in nature, from one organism into another. Click here

On the opposite end of the food spectrum from GMOs and synbio, have you ever wondered what foraged foods are available in your area? Well the people at www.RipeNear.Me have a service just for that. It's still relatively new (it's been around for a little over a year) and, at the moment, the search results for this area seem a little sparse, but I think this service has potential. Click here

You most likely know, or have heard, that Salmon and Trout are known for their ability to find their way back to their place of birth after being out at sea for years. Researchers are now starting to wonder if all the iron and steel used in man-made hatcheries are messing with the fishes internal compass. Click here

Fish, of course, live in water. Other animals that don't, still need it to live. What goes in, must come out, and cows are no exception. Researchers at MSU have come up with a way to reclaim a lot of water from cows. The contraption they came up with also separates out other useful compounds. Click here

Well, that's about it from me for now. Don't forget to check out "99 interesting facts" click here, and the colorful pictures of "Life: Magnified" click here.
Have a wonderful week.

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Food Watch

Your Vanilla Ice Cream Is About to Get Weirder
Synthetic biology—or "synbio" for short—is the stuff of science fiction brought to life. Whereas standard-issue biotechnology involves inserting a gene from one organism into another, synbio entails stuff like inserting computer-generated DNA sequences into living cells: i.e, creating new organisms altogether. And the technology has made a major breakthrough: A company called Evolva has managed to create a compound called vanillin—the one that gives vanilla beans their distinctive and wildly popular flavor—grown not on a vine but rather in a culture of synthetic yeast. Even though you'll likely soon be ingesting its products, synbio—like nanotechnology, which I looked at in two posts last week—is virtually unregulated and can show up in consumer products without any labeling requirements. But unlike nanotech, whose tiny particles already pervade more than 1600 consumer products (including 96 food ones), the industry around synthetic biology is only beginning its push its inventions into things we encounter daily.

Click here to read full article

Want to Find or Sell Foraged Foods?
There’s an App for That.

A new urban foraging app – RipeNearMe – is aiming to take urban foraging to the next level by letting growers share, swap, or even sell their bounty. Crowdsourced apps that encourage urban foraging are nothing new. What makes RipeNearMe special is the ability to tell folks how you’d like to interact with foragers. What if you could trade the mulberries on your over-producing tree for blueberries from a neighbor? Or sell those extra muscadines, and treat yourself to a fancy coffee?

Click here to read full article

Something Worth Knowing

Ask Umbra: What’s the most efficient way to heat and cool my house?

Q. I’m building a house just south of Boston. What are my options for efficient heat/cooling?
Dighton, Ma.

A. Dearest Mark,
If the home is indeed a man’s castle, then your attention to energy efficiency makes you a most benevolent king. And that’s wonderful, because not only are green homes one of my favorite topics, but building anew gives you the freedom to play around with eco-friendly design techniques in a way you can’t always pull off when renovating an existing home. Before we start debating furnaces vs. heat pumps, though, I’d like to look at some of the bigger-picture choices you can make to slash your need for heating and cooling systems in the first place. These issues will depend on your particular lot, budget, and preferences, but the more you do now, the better. And of course, seek the counsel of a pro before you commit to anything – he or she will have plenty more details tailored to your dream home.

Click here to read full article

15 Brilliant Uses for Vegetable Oil

In the Kitchen.

1. Prevent Sticky Lids. The lids on honey, syrup, and other sticky stuff often stick to the container. Here’s a quick way to prevent that from happening: run a vegetable oil-coated paper towel along the threads of the jar.

2. Measure Sticky Ingredients. Sticky ingredients like honey and peanut butter can be a pain to measure accurately, but you can prevent that by applying a light coat of vegetable oil to the spoon or cup before adding the ingredient.

3. Grate Cheese with Ease. Grating semi-soft cheeses is a huge pain — the cheese clumps up, sticks to the grater, and is difficult to clean up at the end. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Lightly coat the grater with vegetable oil (you can use cooking oil spray, too) before grating to make the process go a lot more smoothly.

4. Repair Nonstick Pots & Pans. Vegetable oil is commonly used to season cast iron cookware, but this pantry staple can also help nonstick cookware. Pour a little oil in the pan, rub it into the nonstick surface with your fingers, and wipe away any extra oil.

Click here to read full article

Nature Watch

Hatcheries May Be Wrecking Fishes’ Sense of Direction
Salmon and ocean-going trout are famous for their ability to return to the streams of their birth after years at sea. Growing evidence suggests the fish use the earth’s magnetic field to find their way home. That could be a problem for fish raised in hatcheries, according to a new study. It finds that common construction materials like iron and steel can throw off the fishes’ navigation. The earth’s magnetic field runs in long, arcing contours from the north to south pole. The closer it gets to the poles, the stronger the magnetic pull. “The earth’s magnetic field varies in a predictable way. It has a couple components that are useful for telling an animal where it is,” says Nathan Putman, a fisheries biologist at the Oregon Research Hatchery Center, and the lead researcher on the new study. He believes salmonids (which include ocean-going trout like the steelhead trout used in this study) and other marine creatures use magnetic intensity to gauge how far north or south they are from their home stream. He also thinks it’s possible for the fish to use another magnetic property—inclination, which is the field’s angle relative to the earth’s surface—to map their position to the east and west.

Click here to read full article

Dying seals and walruses washing up on Pacific coast with crumbly livers and other mysterious symptoms
A federal investigation into the mysterious and ongoing deaths of marine mammals all along the Pacific coast has ended, with investigators still dumbfounded as to the cause of this disturbing phenomenon. Throughout the past several years, seals and walruses have reportedly been turning up with skin lesions, breathing problems, extreme fatigue, hair loss, and various other symptoms for which experts say there is no identifiable cause. The investigation began back in 2011, not long after the Fukushima disaster occurred in Japan. Record numbers of sick animals, many of which ended up dying, were showing up in California and as far north as Alaska, prompting an inquiry into the cause. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began studying the animals to look for clues that might point to a culprit. At the time, more than 100 animals were found to be afflicted with the mystery disease, having mostly been discovered off Alaska's northern and western coasts.

Click here to read full article

History Watch

Massive Ancient Underground Cities & Mysterious Aqueducts

RSE Newsletter

4 wins posted to the RSE-Newsletter:

Canadians -
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Debbie’s -
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Kitty McKim’s win –
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and German translator's husband Bob -
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Mr. G and Jellybean
A goat too depressed to eat until reunited with its best friend

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Garden Watch

Fight Invasive Species With Every Meal
If you can’t beat them, eat them! Invasive species management as a whole is extremely complex. However, cooking with certain edible invasives is a creative, fun and healthy approach to reducing the population sizes of species that have the ability to dominate and damage our native ecosystems. Here, I have provided one example of a full-day menu (with recipes below!) using an invasive species in each tasty dish, along with a brief description of the species. As you explore the topic more, you’ll find countless culinary options and scrumptious ways to knock down invasive numbers and keep your stomach happy at the same time (Cajun-style Rusty Crayfish, anyone?!).* *As with any edible plant, please use extreme caution in ensuring the proper identification, harvesting method, and use before consuming.


Breakfast – Dandelion Blossom Pancakes
Common dandelion is originally from Europe, but is now very prevalent in North America (found in most Canadian provinces). Due to their highly mobile, wind-dispersed seeds, dandelion invasions can spread rapidly. This flowering “super plant” is rich in vitamins A & C, fibre, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. It is a good place to get B complex vitamins, trace minerals, organic sodium and even vitamin D.

Click here to read full article

Technology Watch

Crazy contraption turns cow poo into clean water, fertilizer, and natural gas (ahem)
Some people look at a giant cow turd and think to themselves, “Don’t step there.” But not the intrepid researchers at Michigan State University. Oh no, they gaze upon that steaming pie and see refreshment in their future! Yep, it’s true: They’ve figured out a way to extract clean water from not-so-clean cow dung. I know what you’re thinking: “Water from cow shit? Bullshit.” And you’re right — it works on bulls too! The McLanahan Nutrient Separation System, which was developed at MSU and is now being primed for commercial use by the McLanahan Corp., aims to put an end to wasting all that, er, waste. The system starts with an anaerobic digester, a device that uses bacteria to extract methane – a natural gas that can then be burned to generate electricity. Then the McLanahan gets funky. In addition to the digester, it includes ultrafiltration, air-stripping, and a reverse osmosis system. The process produces not only gas energy, but also fertilizer and clean water. The water isn’t safe for you and me to drink, but it’s good enough to give back to the cows, “or, at the very least, to dispose of in an environmentally friendly manner,” according to the university.

Click here to read full article

GMO Watch

Printable List of Monsanto Owned “Food” Producers

In light of the recent public anger over the Monsanto Protection Act, here’s a simple, printable list of companies that use Monsanto products. By avoiding products made by companies on this list, you can help ensure your money isn’t going to Monsanto and also watch out for the health of your family and yourself.

Click here for the list

Chinese Army Bans All GMO Grains and Oil from Supply Stations
The Chinese army has ordered all military supply stations to only allow the purchase of non-GMO grain and food oil due to health safety concerns over GMOs. This move by the Chinese army is being seen as yet another step towards the Chinese government’s expected ban on the import of all GMO grains and oilseeds within the next 2 years, due to growing public concern over GMOs. The expected ban would be a huge blow to the Biotech industry worldwide. The Hubei Province Xiangyang City Grain Bureau’s website announced on May 6, 2014: “During recent years, as China’s grain and oil market has continuously developed, certain GMO grain and GMO food oil products have entered the market. In view that the safety concerns about GMO grain and oil products in China at present has not yet been determined, in order to overall assure the health of military members residing in our city and safety of their drinks and food, in accordance to the request from the Guangzhou Military Command Joint Logistics Department and the Provincial Military Grain & Food Oil Supply Center, from this date all military supply stations are allowed to only purchase non-GMO grain and food oil products from the designated processing enterprises. It is forbidden to supply GMO grain and food oil products to military units within their administration areas.”

Click here to read full article

TED Talks

Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self

On The Lighter Side

'Life: Magnified' Shows Off the Wonders of the Cell



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99 Interesting Facts About The World To Blow Your Mind

Satiate your curiosity for the world around us with these 99 bizarre, hilarious, and downright interesting facts

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Triad Theater
Calendar of Events

Saturday June 7th beginning @ 4pm: Educational Film Studies Part 1
Phillip Dick movies will be viewed and discussed.
$5 at the door

Sunday June 8th @ 4pm: Educational Film Studies Part 2
Continuation of Phillip Dick movies
Q & A to follow!
$5 at the door

Tuesday June 17th @ 7pm: Miracles & Inspiration

Alternative News Reports to wake up and change your world through meditation.
Hosted by Scott Mowry
Tickets $10 at the door

Wednesday June 18th @ 7pm: The Wisdom Tree
We bring you an exclusive screening of an indie film!
Click here for movie trailer.
Tickets are $8 and can be purchased in advance at or at the door the night of the screening.

Thursday June 19th @ 7pm: ‘Round the Poets Fire
Our monthly get together for poets! Bring your original poems and share with the world! This event is gaining in momentum. Even if you are not a poet, come enjoy this unique creative event! A wonderful way to spend the evening. For ages 21 and over please.
Tickets $5 at the door

Friday June 20th @ 7pm: Big House Band Dance Night
This is one of our regularly scheduled events! We bring you live music! Come dance the night away!
Tickets $10 at the door

Saturday June 21st @ 6pm: Conversations with Miceal
Please click here to pre-register
Tickets $35 at the door

Summerstruck - Annie Meets the Monsters
STANDING ROOM ONLY announces Summerstruck theater program for youth ages 8-18!
This is a three week theater arts performance class in singing, dancing and acting. Culminating in the musical production of “Annie Meets the Monsters”. Directed by Nancy Tribush Hillman.
Class registration began May 9th. Classes begin June 23rd.
Early registration for ages 8-12: $125
Early registration for ages 13-18: $100
After June 17th fees are: $150/$125
Limited scholarships and payment plans are available.
Email: OR
Phone: (360) 250-6591 or (360) 446-2188

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