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I’m Somebody and I Can Do Something

Climate
I’m Somebody and I Can Do Something

I'm just one out of the million plus who traveled to Washington, DC last weekend for the Women's March on Washington. The passion and love amongst every person marching was infectious.

The signs were amazing and thoughtful. One in particular broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. It read:

"I'm a victim of rape and sexual assaults … Planned Parenthood helped save my life ... NO SHAME!"

Just one of the many reasons I made the last minute decision to book a flight and hotel room and travel to DC. It is now put up or shut up time. It was a great day that will remain with me for the rest of my life, the first day in a long time where I felt proud to be an American. Last Saturday proved to me that we are not divided, but more united than ever. And, knowing that millions of others around the world are in this fight with us is inspiring.

Last Friday, as I waited at LaGuardia airport for my flight, I saw on the TV Donald Trump being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. It brought me back to the night that Barack Obama won the election in 2008. That night, I cried with such immense joy. I remember sitting on my couch texting back and forth with a friend, and without quoting, I believe, she said something along the lines of: "He'll need more than four to get it done." I still have the New York Times from the day after he was elected and have since pulled it out and reread the front page.

On Jan. 20, I cried again as I watched Trump being sworn in and thought to myself, there will never be another Barack or Michelle, but we need to continue their fight and what happens next is up to us.

The fire in me burned stronger as I brought myself back to the night of Nov. 8, 2016—the night of the election. That night, it felt like someone very close to me had died. As I tried to process the results over the next few days, I decided to post to Facebook and share my thoughts and feelings. I wrote:

If you haven't seen what Dan Rather wrote, please read it. They are his thoughts and feelings and have given me a glimmer of hope. I know some of you are as devastated as me, if not more, by the result. I've cried more in the past two days than I have in the past ten years, but while I did not vote for him, he is now going to be President. Although I may not like it, and I am disappointed, disgusted and heartbroken, I have made the decision—echoing Michelle Obama's words, "When they go low, we go high."

The proudest day of my life, was Friday, February 18, 2000, Presidents Day Weekend - the day I sat in a Federal courtroom in downtown Manhattan—listened for my name to be called, and for the first time, stood and pledged allegiance to the flag, with tears of immense pride and joy streaming down my face.

As American citizens, it is our duty not only as a people, but as individuals, to get behind him, and work hard to mend the divide among the people of this country. We cannot go back, we need to move forward. We are AMERICANS, after all. We are STRONG. We are FIGHTERS. We are RESILIENT. We may have hit a low, but we will process and accept this, dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up, and continue the good fight and do everything in our power to prevent the outcome of this election from defining and defeating us ... LOVE WILL ALWAYS TRUMP HATE.

Someone in Ireland said to me on Wednesday on Facebook, "Your From Ringaskiddy, Cork Girl !! Your (sp!) not a Yank". It angered me so much. But this is my truth, I'm more American than Irish. I've lived here for well over half my life, and as soon as I became a citizen, I became an American. This country has made me who I am, given me opportunities and afforded me successes that I could have only dreamed of, had I stayed in Ireland. I came to this country in 1991 with little money in my pocket, worked hard, and now I walk proudly as an American citizen and pat myself on the back every single day, for all that I have been able to accomplish. I reaped the rewards this country afforded me, and I am so very grateful for this GREAT nation. I am living proof that the AMERICAN DREAM does exist!!! While Ireland may be in my heart, the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is my home. I am proud of my heritage, will never forget where I came from, or what it took to get me where I am, but I am also proud to call myself an AMERICAN!!

What happens next is up to us. We MUST come together, support each other and be the best that we can be. STRONGER TOGETHER!!!!

Little did I know that what I wrote then would end up being my future truth, and so, here we are, a few days after a historic march on DC and throughout the world with millions joining us wearing our "Pink Pussy" hats. We are standing up for what is right. We are continuing the good fight and we will make sure that our voices are heard. To think that it was one woman who started this ripple effect is just a phenomenal thing. This movement reminds me of my two favorite quotes of all time by two men who died within mere months of each other and whom stood up and died for human rights and justice. Their words are as true today as they were on the days that each one spoke them:

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance" — Robert F. Kennedy

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I STILL HAVE A DREAM." — Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is up to us. WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER. Let's keep this momentum going. Up next, the People's Climate March on April 29. See you there!

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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