Go to Top
  • No products in the cart.

February 2011

Stopgates, levees and riverworks O&M in ancient China

Yesterday (Sunday, US time) we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim in New York – such a  treat. In the special exhibition “The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City” (see http://www.metmuseum.org/special/index.asp for more about it) we saw amazing artworks from the 1700s collected for the 2-acre private retreat built inside the Forbidden City in 1771 as the retirement residence of the Qianlong Emperor who …Read More

Erosion control – the international conference EC-11

The February 2011 conference of the International Erosion Control Association, or IECA http://www.ieca.org/, was a wonderful experience. Held in Orlando, Florida, it started off with a whole day of technical training workshops on Sunday 20th, followed by three days of a half-day workshops and papers from Monday to Wednesday. It concluded on Thursday 24 February with a half-day of tests for people seeking accreditation for the erosion control training they …Read More

World’s sweetest birdsong – and it’s frogs!

The wildlife in Florida is something else – the sweetest evening chirruping in the trees turned out to be tiny little tree frogs called Spring Peepers! Gorgeous. Apparently there are about 4 species of tree frog that call like birds from the top of the trees, including Green tree frogs and Squirrel tree frogs. When we went out to see the tiny bats hunting mosquitoes on the lake, we could …Read More

Greening Florida—sponsor a highway…??!!??

I saw several billboards along the highway between Orlando and Gainesville, with only the top line (‘Greening Florida’) coming to my attention as we flashed by. After seeing several, I resolved to look at the foot of the billboard, and was astounded to see it say ‘Sponsor a highway’. Not normally something one would associate with a greening program! Apparently – and I couldn’t find any more information than this, …Read More

That sinking feeling…

Paynes Prairie, a big park on the edge of Gainesville, used to be a huge lake, covering over 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares), with big paddle steamers crossing it and coming up to the town itself. Then one day in 1891, an entry opened up to a huge sinkhole underneath it, and the entire lake drained away underground in two days, as if someone had pulled out the bathplug. Apparently there …Read More

Alligator vectors

With five small ponds around their house, Jeanette Hostetler, my host’s mother, was telling me how they hear the alligators calling in the mating season. The bull alligators make an extremely loud sound that she was only able to describe as something between a deep bark and a roar. Mark describes it as a lawnmower trying to start up. Then the female will respond and they find each other. Jeanette …Read More

Alligators in the stormwater treatment pond…..

Health and Safety in the workplace took on a whole new meaning for me when Mark Hostetler said there are so many alligators in pond-filled Florida that they quickly take up residence in any new watery real estate that becomes available as part of low impact urban design! A major complicating factor for stormwater pond maintenance. And I thought pukeko pulling out newly planted ponds and wetland were a pain …Read More

Limestone *rocks*!

How did I, a certified limestone nut, not realize that Florida is mostly limestone! This explains the many lakes – apparently sinkholes open up regularly as the underground systems cave in, sometimes swallowing entire buildings. Then the holes fill up with water from the underlying limestone aquifers. The state as a whole has quite low topography, being not much above sea level, so the underground water is often close to …Read More

Florida—state of lakes

Orlando is full of lakes, as is the whole of Florida – I remember Lake Okeechobee from 5th Form Geography – but forget the geological reasons for there being so many. I won’t have time to see the (Kingston Trio / Tony Joe White) Everglades this trip, alas – but just looking at the maps (I’m a geographer, remember! – we like them!) reminds me of being in Europe and …Read More

San Fransisco—the city and the sea

It seems such a shame to only transit through San Francisco on my way to Orlando – on my next visit to the US, I’ll make sure I spend some time in this beautiful city. But even flying over the harbour was amazing – the waters are very intensively used in what looks like the inner harbour – a big salt farm, and many partitions that may be marine farms …Read More