‘Holland in Haymarket’ Brings the Hues of the Netherlands to Northern Virginia

I’ve been looking at flights to Amsterdam so extensively lately that all of the Google ads that appear while web browsing are for travel companies, tours and hotel deals in Netherlands’ capital. “Book a day trip to the Keukenhof Gardens from Amsterdam,” the ads compel. “Daily tours from March through May.”

The world’s largest flower garden, Keukenhof is a 79-acre park outside of Amsterdam that bursts into bloom for eight weeks each year with more than seven million flowers; the garden’s most famous floras are its 75,000-plus tulips in more than 600 varieties.

2014-05-05-burnsidefarms.jpgWith flights from Washington, D.C. to Amsterdam averaging around $1500 this spring, my trip to the tulips may have to wait. But just 45 minutes outside the Nation’s Capital is another garden with a propitious nickname: “Holland in Haymarket.”

Welcome to Burnside Farms, a family-owned property in Haymarket, Virginia, near the historic Manassas National Battlefield Park where flowers aren’t just admired for their beauty; they’re ripe for the picking.

Burnside Farms is one of the largest pick-your-own flower farms in the United States. Visitors pay an entrance fee ($3.00 for a single day, $5.00 for unlimited entry during daffodil and tulip season, $6.00 for unlimited entry that includes Dutch irises later in spring) and then snip or pull flowers directly from the ground, paying a set price per stem.2014-05-05-tulipsburnsidefarms.jpg

From late April through mid-May, tulips and daffodils bloom aplenty; a few weeks later, it’s time for and Dutch irises, then return to the fields in July for a sea of sunflowers and fall, when dahlias peak.

It’s the tulips — more than 100,000 tulips in 50 varieties bloomed in 2013 — that have brought Burnside Farms its renown and led to the annual “Holland in Haymarket” festival, now in its third year.

Before entering the fields, an employee reads a few rules: pull tulips from the base and try to dig out the entire bulb (or use small scissors to carefully clip daffodils), don’t trample across the rows, don’t pick anything you’re not buying.

And then you’re handed a basket and free to wander the fields, greeting a menagerie of farm animals and gathering flowers as you go. (My bouquet became an early Mother’s Day gift for my mom.)

2014-05-05-photo13.JPG“You could be in Holland!” someone commented on Facebook after I shared photos from my day trip. After clomping around in a pair of wooden clogs — dozens of pairs are available to try on — and posing with a wicker basket holding my haul, I almost felt like I’d been transported across the Atlantic Ocean.

Until, that is, we drove past a Cracker Barrel en route to the highway and realized that our time among the tulips had come to an end. We were truly back in Virginia.

This post first appeared on erinruberry.com

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Hunters are some of the biggest contributors to wildlife preservation in the US!

Hunters are some of the biggest contributors to wildlife preservation in the US!

PETA might not believe it, but hunters are also lovers of wildlife. In fact, according to National Geographic, many species of birds might not survive were it not for hunters. Many of them carefully take the wings of birds they have harvested and place them into prepaid envelopes, recording the date and location of the hunt, and then send them to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for scientists to study and determine the age and condition of the animal. Scientists use this data to determine the next year’s bag limits for hunters.

Hunters have long been friends to wildlife in fact. Since 1934, hunters have spent $700 million on duck stamps which has added 5.2 million acres of land to the National Refuge System. They also contribute $250 million annually in excise taxes on guns, ammunition, and other equipment.

(Source)

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White House Report Gives The Media Another Chance To Actually Cover Climate Change

By now, the media’s failings when it comes to covering climate change are well known.

Many outlets barely cover it, and when they do, you often almost wish they hadn’t bothered in the first place.

But climate change is always going to be a big, important story, and there will always be chances for journalists to finally get their coverage right. Tuesday brings another opportunity, with the release by the Obama administration of a major new report on the effects of climate change in the United States.

The White House is even dangling a major carrot in front of news outlets: an interview with Obama himself. The president is speaking to a number of meteorologists, such as NBC’s Al Roker, about the report on Tuesday.

Moreover, the report seems designed to attract attention from local markets around the US: Reuters says it includes details on climate change’s effect on “every part of the country.”

The only remaining question is: will news networks and other outlets take the bait?

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Climate Change Is Already Here, Says Massive Government Report

WASHINGTON -– Climate change is no longer a distant threat, but a real and present danger in the United States, according to a government report issued Tuesday.

The report is the latest update from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and details ways that climate change — caused predominantly by the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases — is already being felt across the country.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the report says in its introduction. The full report, at more than 800 pages, is the most comprehensive look at the effects of climate change in the U.S. to date, according to its authors. (Even the “highlights” document provided to reporters the day before the release weighed in at 137 pages). The report includes regional and sectoral breakdowns of current and anticipated impacts, which have implications for infrastructure, agriculture, human health, and access to water.

Those impacts include increased severity of heat waves and heavier downpours. On the coasts, sea level rise is already contributing to increased flooding during high tides and storms, the report notes. And in the West, conditions are getting hotter and drier, and the snowpack is melting earlier in the year, extending wildfire season.

Average U.S. temperatures have increased 1.3 degrees to 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the part of the country) since people began keeping records in 1895, and much of that warming has come in recent decades. The report notes that the period from 2001 to 2012 was warmer than any previous decade on record, across all regions of the country.

The length of time between the last spring frost and the first fall frost also has increased across the U.S. The average time between frosts in the Southwest increased by 19 days in the years 1991 to 2012, compared with the average from 1901 to 1960.

Heat waves are already the top cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., and that will only get worse. Extreme heat can cause more heart, lung and kidney problems, especially among the poor, sick and elderly. The number of days where temperatures top 100 degrees is predicted to increase in the future. If emissions continue to rise, temperatures on the very hottest days during the last 20 years of this century may be 10 degrees to 15 degrees hotter across most of the country, the report finds. Under a lower-emission scenario, those hottest days of the years 2081 to 2100 would still be 3 degrees to 4 degrees warmer than now.

Another impact that scientists are already seeing that they have linked to climate change is an increase in major precipitation events. In the Northeast, for example, there has been a 71 percent increase in storms that would classify as “very heavy” -– in the top 1 percent — from 1958 to 2012.

While the outlook could be considered bleak, Radley Horton, a scientist at Columbia University Earth Institute’s Center for Climate Systems Research and the lead author for the assessment’s chapter on the Northeast, said the report “delves into much more detail about opportunities to address climate change.”

“The climate hazards are looking as severe as ever, but I think there is a message contained in the report that our ability to respond is about getting going,” Horton told The Huffington Post. “The question is, are we able to meet the challenges, given the growing understanding of how much the climate could change this century?”

The amount of climate change in the future, the report says, “will still largely be determined by choices society makes about emissions.”

The report notes that American society and its infrastructure were built for the past climate — not the future. It highlights examples of the kinds of changes that state and local governments can make to become more resilient. One of the main takeaways, said David Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Cornell University and a coauthor of the chapter on the Northeast, is that “you don’t want to look at the weather records of yesteryear to determine how to set up your infrastructure.”

This report, said Wolfe, signals that the country is “beginning to move beyond the debate about whether climate change is real or not, and really getting down to rolling up our sleeves” and addressing it.

A 60-person advisory committee comprised of government, private and academic representatives oversaw the assessment, which took four years and involved more than 300 scientists, engineers, and technical experts.

In an appearance at the White House press briefing on Monday, White House senior counselor John Podesta said the updated assessment provides “practical, usable knowledge” for state and local decision-makers as they prepare for climate impacts and is the “most authoritative and comprehensive” to date.

The reports are supposed to be issued at least every four years under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, and are meant to analyze “the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity.” The reports are to be presented to the president and Congress.

This is the third report of its kind. The first came in 2000, during the Clinton administration. The Bush administration was accused of tampering with reports from the office (at that time called the “Climate Change Science Program”), altering them to downplay the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. The last report from the program was released in June 2009, as the Obama administration was making a push for climate legislation in Congress early in its first term.

President Barack Obama plans to meet with meteorologists to discuss the report’s findings, and the White House has several related events planned later this week.

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Pack Your Trunks: Here Are 20 Perfect Trips For People Who Love Animals

You’re probably a lot like us: dreaming of that perfect getaway where you can cuddle with pandas, kiss cows and sleep with sloths. Let’s add in some swimming with pigs and paragliding alongside endangered Nepalese birds of prey, as a way of helping their survival — seriously, it’s good for them — while we’re at it.

Pack your trunks, like-minded friends, because here are 20 of the best ways to combine the world’s two most perfect things: animals and traveling.

Know an amazing place animal lovers should be sure to visit? Want to share a story about animals? Get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com

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Tree Trimming Gone Wrong As Falling Branch Knocks Man Off Ladder (VIDEO)

Here’s how you DON’T trim a tree.

A guy nicknamed “Q-Ball” was taped cutting a branch and you can kinda tell from the beginning that something’s about to go wrong. He’s reaching up from the very top of a ladder and leaning over to cut a branch that’s barely within his reach.

The branch falls, but apparently decides that it’s not going down alone.

“My coworker cuts down a tree and the tree is not very happy about it,” Kurt Stepp, who posted the video to YouTube, wrote in the description.

As the branch gives Q-Ball a quick lesson in gravity, a voice can be heard shouting a profanity and then asking the immortal question: “911 or not?”

We don’t know if anyone called 911. But we do know what happened to the guy.

He is fine,” Stepp tweeted in response to a question from TheBlaze.

(h/t Sploid)

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The game Monopoly was invented by a woman who was trying to warn people of the dangers of capitalism

The game Monopoly was invented by a woman who was trying to warn people of the dangers of capitalism

How can someone take a game intended to show the evils and greed allowed by a property rental system and turn it into a game that rewards players who are able to rent as many properties as possible, turning a profit while forcing the other players into the poor house? Easy! It’s America.

In 1904, a Quaker woman named Elizabeth Magie was granted a patent for a board game she invented and called "The Landlord’s Game." Magie intended her game to be a teaching tool, alerting people to the economic dangers of "monopolies" of land and power. A follower of economist Henry George, she wanted to show how such "monopolies" would benefit few but be to the detriment of many.

Like the later game Monopoly, The Landlord’s Game had a corner on it’s playing board with "Public Parking," but it also had the "Poor House" and "Easy Street." If you trespassed on "Lord Blueblood’s Estate," you were sent to jail (and we are betting you did not collect $200).

Charles Darrow is credited with the idea of the board game Monopoly which obviously takes it’s set-up from Magie’s game, but the object of the game is the opposite. In Monopoly, the winning player is the one who can buy, rent, or sell as much property as possible to turn the highest profit. Family game night with a side of Capitalism, anyone?

(Source)

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Murphy’s Law was named after a real man. Hear his story

Murphy’s Law was named after a real man. Hear his story

We’ve all had those times when it seems nothing can go right. We’re running late and hit every single red light. The bread always lands butter side down. Wear white and you are guaranteed to spill on yourself. None of these examples are as painful as what happened to the man who inspired the saying.

There really was a Murphy, and he was an engineer in the United States Air Force. Captain Edward A. Murphy Jr. Worked on a project at Edwards Air Force Base in California in 1949 where he was trying to determine how much G force a human being could withstand. His findings were to be used in future airplane designs.

Colonel John Paul Stapp, a physician for the Air Force, volunteered to be the human guinea pig for Murphy’s team’s experimentation. Over the course of several months he suffered broken bones, concussions, and broken blood vessels in his eyes for the advancement of science (and the law isn’t even named after him!).

During one of the tests, Cpt. Murphy brought 16 sensors to be applied to Col. Stapp’s harness in order to measure the force applied when a rocket came to a sudden stop. After the first test, all of the sensors measured zero. Murphy investigated. Each sensor had two possible ways of connection. Defying all odds of probability, each one of the 16 sensors was connected incorrectly. Murphy allegedly grumbled about the technician whose job had been to hook up the sensors, saying something like, “If there are two ways to do something, and one of those ways will result in disaster, he’ll do it that way.”

Later, in a press conference, Stapp, known for his wit, quoted that line from Murphy, saying their good safety record was due to their awareness of Murphy’s Law, anticipating that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. The “law” was quickly incorporated into modern vocabulary. Apparently it is a universal idea most people can (unfortunately) relate to.

(Source)

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Potato chips were invented when one man’s attempt at revenge backfired!

Potato chips were invented when one man’s attempt at revenge backfired!

It is said that greatness is borne from adversity. Such is the case with the American potato chip. In 1853 in Sarasota Springs, New York, aptly named chef George Crum was fed up. Cooking at Moon’s Lake House, he was dealing with a customer who kept sending back his fried potatoes, claiming they were too soggy. Too soggy and not crunchy enough.

Frustrated by the criticism, Crum decided if the man wanted crunchy, he’d give him crunchy. He sliced a fresh potato as thinly as possible, fried the slices a good long time, and finally doused them in salt, thinking he’d accomplished his culinary revenge on the customer. But his “revenge” back-fired; the customer loved them. They were titled “Saratoga Chips” and quickly grew in popularity throughout New England. They can be found in many flavors now on convenience store shelves near you. Oh, who are we kidding? They’re on a shelf in your kitchen right now!

(Source)

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