Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Should Green Bay Try to Speed Up Rodgers’ Recovery

Aaron Rogers has now been off the field with a fractured collarbone since he incurred the injury on the first play against the Chicago Bears in week 10. The NFC North286_1r10_5_08s_packers_falcons_5 is as tight a division as can be, with the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions both tied for first with a 7-6 record. The Packers are in second, with a 6-6 record; only a half a game behind the current leaders. There are three games left in the regular season, and with the NFC as competitive a conference as it is, winning the division, especially in a weak division, is about as important as can be to make it to the playoffs.

The Packers, since Rodgers’ collarbone injury, have started three quarterbacks in his place: Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace (out for rest of season), and signed Matt Flynn, a very very mediocre quarterback who lost his starting job to Russell Wilson last year on the Seahawks, and now has bounced around teams as a backup since. The Packers have only managed to tie a game since Rodgers has gone down, and that was to the Minnesota Vikings. All things considered, with how the division is shaping up to be, and the playoff picture getting hazier, Green Bay making it to the playoffs has a lot of implications for the team as a whole, and many decisions need to be made. Among these questions are:

Do the Packers need Rodgers in order to have a playoff berth?

Is it wise to bring back Rodgers so quickly after a substantial injury?

Does his coming back risk a more severe injury down the line, and will it affect his career with the Packers?

Is it worth it to just tank the rest of the season and just look to next season?

jadeveon-clowney All of these are valid questions. Rodgers has not been cleared to play by the team’s medical staff. Even if he was, over the past five years, Rodgers has been the most sacked quarterback in football. Despite the injury being on his left side, his non-throwing arm, that’s also his weak side. Even if his collarbone is fully healed, if he gets tackled on his left side, it could re-fracture the bone. More to the point, with how competitive the NFC is, it’s hard to say whether or not the Packers would even do well in the playoffs. The offense and defense are both riddled with injuries. Bringing Rodgers back has numerous implications for his career with Green Bay, in that it could be a short one if he continues to sustain injuries like these. It seem to me that tanking the rest of the season and picking up a decent pick in the draft would do wonders for our defense, since this year’s college draftees have some of the best defensive players in the last five years.

We need Rodgers going forward for years to come. He’s still young, and is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He got us a superbowl ring, and got us close to others. With how long he’s been out, and how severe the injury is, it’s not too much of a disappointment to tank and plan for next season.

from Sports and the Green Bay Packers

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Bringing Nature to Urban Youth, the Youth Reap the Rewards

So, i’ve always been a big believer of kids living in urban city centers getting their fair share of access to more rural and less industrialized areas. That’s one of the reasons why I’m such a big fan of kids going to camp. It gets children the opportunity to get outside of the city, breath some fresh air, enjoy the natural beauty of their planet, while also learning a great deal about the world around them. There’s so much more out there than just a city can offer you, so I’ve become a strong advocate for programs that allow kids from the city the opportunity to go on outdoor hiking or exploring programs. Even surrounding cities there’s plenty of nature to be explored, and frankly, you don’t really have to travel all that far to see beautiful and scenic natural landscapes, and breathtaking views.

I was exploring around the internet recently, and found this wonderful article written in Medill Reports, Chicago, about how programs are being develop to assist urban, inner-city kids in getting the opportunity to get a good dose of nature. I’ve attached the article below, and I hope that people take the time to read it, and begin supporting programs that help give kids a good dose of nature every now and again.


“Look at these, right here! What are these?”

Lake County resident Sara Knizhnik points to a clump of mushrooms nestled at the base of a tree. Three-year-old Nora Snyder leans closer, peering at the mushrooms NATURE1(1) before offering a guess:


Knizhnik laughs. “Close!” she says.

Knizhnik and Snyder are part of a hodgepodge of parents and children participating in a “Playdate with Nature” at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods.

The day’s program, sponsored by the Lake County Forest Preserves, takes full advantage of the riotous October foliage in the woods. Participating children receive small, plastic color samples, which they match to the shades of fallen oak and maple leaves during a short hike through the woods. They also use hand mirrors to observe the trees above them and magnifying glasses to get a better view of fungus on a decomposing log.

Programs such as “Playdate with Nature” provide more than just the opportunity for children to appreciate autumn splendor. Repeated studies prove that regular outdoor time offers immeasurable health benefits to an entire generation of young people – one-third of who are overweight, and who spend an average of 6.5 hours a day staring at a screen, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“The physical activity piece that comes from being outside has its own benefits. There’s no debating that anymore, it’s so well established,” said Christina Scirica, a Massachusetts pediatric pulmonologist with expertise in obesity management. And then comes the bonus. “There does seem to be a benefit from being outdoors in and of itself. Rates of depression go down, anxiety goes down, attention has been shown to improve,” she added.

Ann B. Maine, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves board, moved to Lake County so her four sons could have access to Ryerson Woods. “Children who are outdoors, they’re calmer. They can focus better. But with my own experience I don’t even need the studies. You can just see it,” she said.

Pam Lincoln sees it, too.

Lincoln, an environmental science teacher at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood, collaborates with Chicago’s Inner City Outings outreach program (an offshoot of the Sierra Club) to give her students – many of who have never been outside their own neighborhood – access to the natural world.

Pritzker, a high school of about 850 kids, is 96 percent Hispanic and 98 percent of students receive free and reduced price lunches.

“Last year when we were covering different types of forests and ecosystems, I was trying to get them to think about a time they’d been in the forest, so they could picture what it looked like. And one of the kids said, ‘Do you mean, like, Rainforest CafĂ©?’” Lincoln said.

“A lot of the time that’s what I’m working with – students who have never seen, or have no access to nature. It’s so vital for them to get out and see what it’s supposed toNATURE2(1) look like.”

Today, Lincoln and 40 of her students, along with students and teachers from two other Chicago-area high schools, are helping to remove and burn invasive species at Bemis Woods in Western Springs, part of the Cook County Forest Preserves.

They cluster around stands of European buckthorn, sawing and periodically shouting “Timber!” when a tree falls to the ground.

The students get community service credit for attending the Inner City Outings (ICO) programs, but “most of the kids who are here have already fulfilled their community service requirement,” Lincoln said.

“I just wanted to come. I mean, for real! I just found out today I get four hours [of community service] for this,” agreed Jose, a freshman and one of Lincoln’s students. The Bemis Woods trip is the fifth ICO trip he has attended this year.

“Being in the city, it’s a lot about phones, Facebook…right here, it’s just nature,” he said.

For all her enthusiasm about the Pritzker-ICO collaboration, Lincoln willingly admits that outdoor time is not a panacea for Chicago’s at-risk youth. But she has noticed it strengthen her relationships with her students and provide them with a sense of fulfillment.

She applauds one student who attended every ICO trip last year. The student spent a lot of time in detention and “was troublesome in other classrooms,” Lincoln said, but “he was always perfect in my class because I had that bond with him, of being able to see him in this setting.”

“For some students, the classroom isn’t the best outlet for them. They want to move; they want to have a job to do. Being able to work on a tree for half an hour, cut it down and watch it burn, that is more fulfilling to them than getting their math homework done,” she said.

“We’re constantly active. We have a goal. And at the end of this day, we can easily say, ‘it looks like we burned a bunch of stuff!’” said Chris Grenier, the lively, bearded chair of the Chicago ICO, as he overlooked the crackling heap of buckthorn that the students had piled in the center of the forest clearing.

Grenier was helping out at Bemis Woods despite the fact that it was his daughter’s first birthday.

“I grew up on the East Coast. I hiked the Appalachian Trail. To me, getting out, traveling, it’s what you do. The whole concept of not leaving your neighborhood…I can’t even comprehend most of the issues that they face or the mentality that they have,” he said of the program’s participants.

“It’s tough. I feel bad because there’s so much more I want to do for them. I feel good about bringing them outside and just letting them get out of their home environment. But I feel bad because I can’t do more,” he said.

Still, a few hours hacking at sprouting buckthorn trees works wonders.

At the edge of a clearing, six Pritzker students take turns sawing at a bigger invasive tree and discussing their attempts to cut it in two, despite adults’ protests that it is too big a job.

“I started, and I’m gonna end it!” says one.

“Everyone’s telling me, ‘don’t cut it!’” says another.

“‘Don’t cut it, don’t cut it’, and you’re like, ‘I can do it’!” interrupts the first.

“I can do it!” each student says in turn.

“I can do it!”

Article originally published here

from Nature and The Outdoors

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Green Bay Packers: How to Win Without Aaron Rodgers

Mike McCarthy, Scott Tolzien This will be the third week that the Packers are without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This week, the Packers face their long-time divisional rival, the Minnesota Vikings. Since the NFC North is about as tight a division as can be, the Packers need a win to still be competitive to win the division over the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears, both of whom are currently 6-5 going into this week’s games. It would help the Packers immensely to not only get another “W”, but to get a win from a divisional game.

However, it’s no coincidence that the Packers have gone 0-3 since Rodgers went down on the first play against the Chicago Bears, and was diagnosed with a broken collarbone. Since then, the Green Bay offense has predictably sputtered, along with the defense, which, without the presence of their star quarterback, needs to step-up in order for the Packers to remain competitive. Since Rodgers got injured, the Packers have had two back-up quarterbacks start in his place. First, it was veteran QB Seneca Wallace, who hadn’t played a single practice snap in the regular season; he took over for Rodgers in the game he went down, ending in a loss to the Bears. Wallace then started again in the next week, and was injured on the first play from scrimmage against the Philadelphia Eagles, ending up on season-ending IR. He was replaced by now starting quarterback Scott Tolzien, a guy nobody had heard of when he had taken the field. Tolzien showed himself to be competent, though, he didn’t have much of a chance to prove himself in that game, as the Eagles ate up the last 9:32 of game time. It’s not a good sign when Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense runs out 9:32 of clock, which is a fault more attributed to the defense rather than to Tolzien’s performance under center.

The main thing that the Packers need to concentrate on to win is for Tolzien to step up in the passing game. In his two starting games, he’s thrown five interceptions (Rodgers has 4 total on the season). Two of them were particularly egregious, as one occurred in the end-zone against Philadelphia, and the other was returned for a touchdown by Jason Pierre-Paul last week against the Giants. Tolzien needs to cut down on the turnovers, and provide a stable passing attack. Not just so that the Packers can make it up the field efficiently, but also to give room for their ground-game. Eddie Lacy has been an absolute horse the last few weeks, averaging over 23 touches on the ground per game. He’s the first stable running back the Packers have had in years, and if they have any chance of winning, especially against a particularly weak Vikings run-defense, the Packers will have to establish a reliable passing game to take the attention away from Lacy and give him room to run. That means for Tolzien to accept taking a sack, or throwing the ball away.

The Vikings are a particularly weak team in the NFC, and in the NFC North division. The Packers should come away with the win, but they need Eddie Lacy to establish an authoritative ground game to do so. Otherwise, the Packers can kiss the playoff hunt goodbye.

from Sports and the Green Bay Packers

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Climate Change Threatens Polar Bears in Canada

PolarBearsWalkingThroughWater_HowardRuby_219x219 In Churchill, Manitoba, a small town in Canada’s Tundra, there are more polar bears (900) than there are people (800). For those who love bears and hate humans, this is an ideal place to live. But with global warming, it won’t be for long.

Polar bears do most of their hunting and eating (of seals) on ice, and they often build up fat as reserve for when they’re on land. But the thawing of the ice caps now begins mid-June, a full 30 days earlier than it did three decades ago. This means Polar Bears now spend more time on land, which in turn means: bears are eating less and are birthing smaller cubs who probably won’t survive.

Polar Bears are the first vertebrate species to be listed by the U.S. Species Endangered Act to be threatened by extinction primarily due to global warming. People should be concerned about this. If the polar bears went extinct, how will Coca Cola market their product cutely?

(Sorry to the environmentally-concious readers for that reference. The fate of corporations seem to be the only thing that motivate some people. If we can use it to motivate them to care about global warming, why not?)

With more polar bears on land in Churchill, there are more possible clashes with local residents. Most of the bears usually come at night, and do try to mind their own business, but a few of them haven’t learned to be wary of humans. This year in Churchill, there have been two bears attacks that have injured three people. As they get hungrier and more desperate a decade from now, things could become much worse.

But the people who allow global warming to run a muck don’t care about any of their fellow humans, let alone Canadians.

from Nature and The Outdoors

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