Urban Almanac

Almanac April 2020

By Greta Belanger deJong

April 1  Average temps today: high 58º, low 38º. Sunrise: 7:10am. Sunset: 7:53pm.

April 2  Red cedar is not a cedar, Norfolk pine is not a pine, Douglas fir is not a fir and Australian pine isn’t even related to pines, says The Curious Coniferite author Jerome David Belanger, who turns 82 today. He is the author of many books, including Enough!, a critique of capitalist democracy and a guide to understanding the New Normal. Happy birthday, bro!

April 3  Bar soap vs. liquid? Many people think bar soap retains germs. Not true, according to the CDC. In addition, studies show people use almost seven times more liquid soap than bar per washing. Almost 300 million plastic soap containers end up in the landfill each year, complete with their mixed-materials pumping mechanisms.

April 4  “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” ― David W. Orr, Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World

April 5  The tiny Troglodytes aedon, aka  house wren, often lives in association with humans. These insect-eating cavity nesters construct nests in hollow trees, buildings and nest boxes. Females lay three to seven eggs, which hatch in about two weeks. Young are attended to by both parents and leave the nest about 12 to 18 days after hatching.

April 6  New word of the month: zoonotic—an infectious disease caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites that spread from non-human animals to humans. Major modern zoonotic diseases: Ebola, rabies, anthrax, tularemia, West Nile virus, bubonic plague, Lyme disease, coronavirus.

April 7  Supermoon Full Moon @ 08:35pm. The Moon, the third of four supermoons for 2020, will be at its closest approach to Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers.

April 8  Dogs tend to be more farsighted than nearsighted. That’s where whiskers come in handy. These special facial hairs relay spatial information. They may also play a role in locating food and dispersing pheromones.

April 9  On this date in 1934, acclaimed American poet Robert Frost appeared onstage at the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall as part of the U’s Masterminds and Artists series. Admission: 75 cents. Frost is famously known for “The Road Not Taken” (1916) and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (1924).

April 10  Easter Week rituals are very different this year as Roman Catholic priests around the world perform all ceremonies without people present. On Good Friday, today, among the formal prayers of petition in the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, Pope Francis instructs there should be “a special intention for the sick, the dead, for those who feel lost or dismayed.”

April 11  Bitters trigger the hormone gastrin which stimulates saliva and hydrochloric acid, needed in order to break down proteins and absorb minerals from your food. They also stimulate the flow of bile, helpful for digesting fats, and help prevent acid reflux. For tomorrow’s Easter dinner, consider serving the salad first (featuring arugula, endive and other bitter greens) or enjoy a small glass of Campari, dry sherry or dry vermouth as an aperitif.

April 12  Easter usually happens in April, though it can be as early as March 22. It’s what’s known as a moveable feast, always occurring on the first Sunday (today) after the first full moon (April 8) on or after March 21(an approximation of the vernal equinox, as decreed in the year 325 by the Council at Nicaea).

April 13  Americans use an average of 141 rolls per person a year. Yet, most of the rest of the world does not use toilet paper at all. The French use half as many rolls, at 71 per year, while in Brazil the typical person consumes only 38 rolls.

April 14  Wind-pollinated plants are the ones that make you sneeze—the males, that is. They send out lots of pollen in a scattershot fashion in hopes of colliding with a female of its species. This pollen is of little use to bees and other pollinating creatures, as it’s not very nutritious. Most are from trees (pine, spruce, fir, cottonwood, nut trees) grasses, and the infamous ragweed. One natural remedy: stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). I got mine at Dave’s Health (call first for hours).

April 15  Got downtime? Consider making yourself the superhero of your household by acquiring skills useful in a variety of disasters:  Learn first aid and CPR; how to use a fire extinguisher; how to shut off the water, electricity and natural gas (yes, you’ll need a utility wrench);  and how to compile an emergency kit. www.ready.gov/safety-skills

April 16 If you haven’t made it to the Salt Lake Film Society’s Tower Theatre in the 9th & 9th neighborhood to see the spectacular, re-watchable Fantastic Fungi, which has been running since November, you can now watch it from home—$5 to rent for 48 hours, $15 to purchase. Donate to SLFS while you’re at it. https://slfsathome.org

April 17  A whopping 82% of Americans say they’ve never heard of A Green New Deal. Another 14% have heard only “a little.” Those in the know say it can be the modern-day version of FDR’s New Deal, which enabled Americans to get back on their feet after The Great Depression. Study up here (long but good), from Vox: https://bit.ly/2UtgPH2

April 18  The first laundromat, known then as a washateria, opened today in 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas.

April 19   Each year the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the most and least contaminated produce. For 2020, here are the most pesticide-laden—if there’s an organic alternative, choose it: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes. And the “clean 15”: avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, onions, papaya, peas (frozen), eggplants, asparagus, cauliflower, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage, honeydew melon and kiwi

April 20  We love vinegar as a cleaning agent but, alas, there is no evidence that vinegar is any good at killing the coronavirus.

April 21  Lyrids Meteor Shower, one of the oldest recorded meteor showers (according to some historical Chinese texts, the shower was seen over 2,500 years ago), peaks today and tomorrow. Best viewing after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra but can appear anywhere in the sky.

April 22  New Moon @ 08:27pm. Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In 1970, oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife were considered the price of progress. The “teach-ins” that occurred throughout the nation that day were the catalyst for significant change, resulting in the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

April 23  How to clean your cell phone: Turn it off and remove from case. Wipe with a lint-free cloth lightly sprayed with a mixture of 1-to-1 distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. Clean any gunk out of lenses and ports with a cotton swab and wipe again. Clean the case, focusing on any textured edges. Reassemble only after everything is dry. Now… try to avoid using your phone while in the bathroom.

April 24  Plant a tree to celebrate National Arbor Day. The USU Tree Browser offers an interactive list of 245 tree species adapted to the Intermountain West. https://treebrowser.org/

April 25 Not that we hope to see it in stone any time soon, but what epitaph would you like to see on your grave—what short phrase characterizes you? (Mine is “You should write about that.”)

April 26  Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.

April 27  The Great Sunflower Project is a program for citizen scientists (that could be you). Count and identify pollinators for a national survey. www.GreatSunflower.org

April 28  Are you planting nursery plants that are already blooming? Snip off the flowering stems just above a pair of leaves. The plant will put more energy into establishing much-needed roots, resulting in healthier plants and, in the long run, more flowers. And you get a spring bouquet!

April 29  “Can we use this time as an extended Sabbath, to dive within and surrender beyond fear? Can we find and rest in that which connects us, that which is whole?”—Dale Borglum, The Living/Dying Project. www.LivingDying.org

April 30  Average temps today: high 66º, low 45º. Sunrise:  6:26am. Sunset:   8:23pm. u

Greta Belanger deJong is editor and founder of CATALYST.


This article was originally published on April 2, 2020.