Urban Almanac: November 2021

November 1, 2021

By Greta Belanger deJong


Sunrise: 7:58am. Sunset: 6:23pm. Average high and low temperatures for today: 57º/ 38º. The 10-year snowfall average for Salt Lake City, 2010-2019, is 6.5 inches for November. This is down from the 30-year average (1981-2010) of 7.6 inches


Boxelder bugs are ubiquitous this time of year. Their cheerful colors and penchant for sunbathing make them rather endearing. They won’t eat your food, plants or clothes and are not known to carry disease. And they don’t bite or sting. Nonetheless, about 175 Utah-registered insecticide products are labeled for both indoor and outdoor boxelder bug control. If they annoy you, do not squish; that releases a stink and a stain. Just vacuum them up.


“Using up” simply means using up those last bits. Got leftover bread heels? Dry them and make breadcrumbs (which you can freeze if you can’t use them now). Or use them in panzanella, ribollita, romesco — a salad, a soup and a sauce which actually require stale bread. NYT, 8/25/21


Where does the moon go when it is “new”? Today the Moon is located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere. www.seasky.org


Biological activity in compost piles and bins slows down in cold weather but the quantity of food waste doesn’t. Compacted in the landfill, your leftover lettuce, bones and pizza crusts will likely sit there for years, giving off methane (a greenhouse gas 23% stronger than carbon dioxide) and ammonia, a major contributor to our winter inversions. Momentum Recycling (if you have glass recycling at your house, that’s Momentum) is conducting a survey and trial run on pickup for food waste, which they will deliver to Wasatch Waste Recovery in North Salt Lake where methane is captured and recycled.
Take the residential food waste survey at Momentum ▶


If you live in a house and have a garden, you probably already winterized the outdoor water system. No, not yet? Me, neither. But just one night of 32º weather can damage an undrained hose’s lining, especially if there’s a nozzle attachment. So let’s do this: Disconnect the hose and drain it. Turn off water to outside faucets, too, to prevent pipes from bursting. Need more details? https://peppershomeandgarden.com/forgot-disconnect-hose-winter/


Many people use the end of Daylight Saving Time (2 am this morning) as a reminder to complete annual tasks. For example: Replace the batteries on smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Put an ice scraper and snow brush in your vehicle. Make sure outdoor lights are in working order. Put lights and reflectors on bikes as it’s now dark so early. Turn off your outdoor water system and drain hoses if you haven’t done so yet. (See Nov. 6.)


Insect poop can potentially harbor more than 100 harmful bacteria, causing allergic reactions and asthma in some people. By contrast, spider poop contains no harmful bacteria. In fact, it contains no bacteria at all. It’s mostly guanine — the main constituent of bird excrement, aka guano. https://ScienceDirect.com


“Take in a deep breath. And now relax. You just shared oxygen with the largest animal — ever, in the history of life on Earth. In a single blow, this animal expels a column of water vapor that would reach the top of a two-story house; the air that passed through its lungs is enough to fill half a cement-mixer truck. Its blood cells pass through a heart with vessels the diameter of dinner plates and run through a body with over twenty billion miles of arteries, capillaries, and veins. Blood must carry oxygen to every cell in this animal — all 1,000 trillion of them — including nerves whose fibers reach over 100 feet from its brain stem to every extremity, including its tail fluke. With a flip of its fluke, the animal descends to a depth beyond the limits of light, where it makes the most acoustically powerful sound made by any organism, a low tone that spreads for over 900 miles, echoing off undersea canyons. Everything about this animal, in all the ways that we can measure, is superlative. This animal is, of course, a blue whale.” — From Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures, by Nick Pyenson (Penguin, 2018).


The first freeze of the season, usually happening this month, triggers an exodus of migrant waterfowl at the Bear River Bird Refuge. However, some bald eagles are settling in for winter and Tundra swan numbers will peak the week before Thanksgiving. The auto tour route is open during daylight hours 365 days per year, weather and road conditions permitting. Birding information: (435) 734-6426. Refuge Information: (435) 723-5887. http://bearriver.fws.gov


Carl Sagan’s birthday. It’s a good time to look up into the sky and think about the expanse of the cosmos. Remember, the day sky is full of just as many wonders as the night sky—we just can’t see them; so bring your imagination.


Fermented foods are ever more popular as their health benefits become better known. An interesting twist on the standard Korean kimchi is apple kimchi, from Evan Mallett’s book Black Trumpet. Great local apples can be found at the  Downtown Winter Market tomorrow at Pioneer Park and then, starting next Saturday, at the Gateway. Recipe here: Chelsea Green’s Apple Kimchi


When buying a deicer, check ingredients. As issues with old school deicers containing urea, potassium nitrate (KNO3), salt and other common chemicals become better known (besides damaging plant and soil life, they hurt the paws of our four-leggeds), pet-friendly sugarbeets (also called sugarbeet juice) are gaining popularity as a nontoxic deicer. However, 95% of U.S.-grown sugarbeets are GMO and are therefore treated with toxic Round-up. If we buy it, says Dawn Gifford at https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/eco-friendly-de-icing more sugarbeets will be planted, requiring more Round-up, which destroys soil fertility and creates herbicide-resistant superweeds. What’s a Utahn in winter to do (besides stay home)? Gifford gives the green light to deicers made of calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), potassium chloride (KCl), or calcium chloride (CaCl2). Melt, SafePaw, NaturalAlternative IceMelt and Ecos pass the test. She also offers a recipe for preventing ice buildup on your car windows: Combine three cups white vinegar with one cup lukewarm water in a spray bottle. Spray liberally to the windshields, side windows and outer mirrors before you go to bed. She says the vinegar and water solution will help keep ice from forming overnight, even if your windows get covered with snow. I can’t wait to try this! Oh wait, yes, I can wait.


Carefully choosing, planting and watering a fruit-bearing tree or shrub is a great start to a healthy harvest. Pruning makes you a pro. Study up now for some late winter action with the pruning shears. This Utah State University fruit-specific tutorial covers everything you need to know. 


Four days before my wedding in 1986, washing my antique dress according to the Smithsonian Institute’s recommendations for this fabric, I accidentally shrunk it. Had I read “How to Unshrink Clothes” http://www.TipsBulletin.com I would not have had to go out and buy another wedding dress at the last minute. In case you find yourself in this situation, this article tells you how to unshrink almost anything — cotton, rayon, polyester, wool and cashmere. Also, today is America Recycles Day. Recycling has become a buzzword for “reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink,” and that’s a good thing.


Wild turkeys are way more interesting than their domesticated relatives. They sleep in trees, can fly 55 mph in short bursts, have periscopic vision, gobble loud enough to be heard over a mile away and turn crazy colors when aroused. (Thank you, Diane Olson!)


National Unfriend Day was instigated by TV comedian Jimmy Kimmel in 2010. Look over your FaceBook “friends” and, if you feel compelled, say ‘bye. Alternatively, instead of outright unFriending someone, you can stay friends but stop seeing their posts by clicking the three dots and choosing “unfollow.” https://www.facebook.com/NATIONALUnFriendDAY/


Pray for clear skies: The second lunar eclipse event of the year begins tonight. Earth’s shadow will cover nearly the entire moon’s surface, leaving just a tiny sliver of moon untouched, per NASA predictions. Beginning at 11:02pm Thursday, Utah stargazers can watch Earth’s shadow cross the moon’s surface, with the moon mostly covered at 2:02am Friday. https://www.Smithsonianmag.com


This morning’s full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Beaver Moon because this was the time of year to set beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. In his book, EAGER: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, journalist Ben Goldfarb explores the historical extent of beavers in North America and the dramatic transformation of the entire landscape as a result of the truly barbaric fur trade that led to the near extinction of the species. You can listen to an interesting interview with him by Ben Bombard, of KUER’s RadioWest, here: https://radiowest.kuer.org/post/secret-life-beavers



When economist John Maynard Keynes was once purportedly accused of being inconsistent on an issue, he replied: “When I’m wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?” (According to https://quoteInvestigator.com, there’s no known record that Keynes actually said this, but it’s still a good quote.)


Take a few 10-minute walks each day — immediately after breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Walking after meals encourages healthy digestive function as well as metabolic health. While gentle movement supports better (and speedier) digestion, vigorous training right after a meal may inhibit it. Instead, focus on gentle, casual movement that allows you to relax and enjoy the world around you. This quiet movement is a natural remedy for indigestion, and you may find yourself with less heartburn and indigestion,” says holistic nutritionist Jennifer McGruther, author of Vibrant Botanicals (Penguin: 2021).


Need some turkey-free (but turkey-like) ideas for Thanksgiving? Look for recipes including mushrooms, legumes, tempe, tofu, seitan or jackfruit.


Moderate alcohol consumption has known health benefits. However, better sleep is not one of them. It may make you sleepy, but alcohol will keep you from reaching the beneficial REM stage. “REM sleep helps you organize and store your memories. Too little REM sleep can be devastating for the brain and body,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., aka “the sleep doctor.” He recommends no alcohol within three hours of bedtime. http://www.thesleepdoctor.com


That said, you might greet each guest tomorrow with a glass of (dry) champagne. It’s more than simply celebratory. A happy Thanksgiving can certainly embrace good health. An aperitif — a dry, often bitter low-alcohol beverage served before food — stimulates saliva, which contains enzymes necessary for proper digestion. Even better are beverages containing bitters. Negronis, though sweeter, fit this bill. You can make a batch ahead at a ratio of 1:1:1 of Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. A cup of each in a quart jar will make eight 3-oz. servings. Pour over ice and add a slice of orange. Vermouth oxidizes after it’s open, so refrigerate what’s left over and use within a month or two — easy, in this season of feasting.


Beautiful, gentle instructions on how to have a good day, every day, for as long as you are alive: Enjoy these five minutes with Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Zl9puhwiyw


“Ethical shopping means embracing higher prices in exchange for better quality, fair labor practices, and sustainable processes that won’t destroy the planet. Black Friday is the hideous void where all of those noble ideas go to die,” writes political strategist Jess McIntosh. If you must drive today, balance the crazy by being extra kind: Let others merge. Give a smile or friendly wave if they let you in. Use your turn signal. And when others act like assholes, think up good excuses for them


For Small Business Saturday, celebrate farmers, cheesemakers, bread bakers and other purveyors of local deliciousness, at the Downtown Alliance’s Winter Market. 10 am – 2 pm, now indoors at The Gateway. Free two-hour street parking and one-hour garage parking — the North Garage is closest to market location. Enter from 100 South or 400 West. More details here.


Both Hanukkah (eight days) and Advent (22-28 days) begin today — not a common event, as they are based on separate calendars (lunar and Gregorian). The Hanukkah menorah and Advent wreath are both candle-burning traditions that speak of journeys, longing and light. Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates a miracle of light.

Advent is the period of preparing for the birth of Jesus, the “light of the world.” A popular Advent hymn is “Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel.” Here’s a haunting version on Spotify.


Woodburning smokeless firepits may be the answer to many of us who are conscientious about keeping a low carbon profile but sure do miss a nice outdoor gathering around the fire. While not totally smokeless, the woodburning smokeless firepit is designed to send oxygen directly into the base of the fire, and causes wood to burn much more efficiently. Many brands are now available. Popular Mechanics recently rated them as did the NY Times and Bob Vila. Many brands are available locally.


Average temps today: high 44º, low 29º. Sunrise: 6:31am. Sunset: 5:00pm. 

Seeing an outline of the United States, but with no states delineated, replaced with numerous other overlapping shapes, is a disquieting experience. These shapes are labeled with the names of indigenous nations that once occupied these areas — many at the time of Columbus’ arrival and the arrival of the first Pilgrims. The global map is the project of Canadian-based Native Land Digital. https://native-land.ca/about/how-it-works For more on America before Columbus, read 1491: New Revelations on the Americas Before Columbus. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39020.1491