The Evergreen State has once again been named the best state in the country in which to live by US News, thanks in large part to its burgeoning tech sector, economy (the fastest growing in the country), low carbon energy system, and robust system of secondary education. It is the birthplace of Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks. It’s the first time that one state has been ranked number one in two consecutive years.
It is, of course, not without its problems. The state’s high living and labor costs leave it in the middle of the pack when it comes to opportunity for its residents. Equity remains elusive in tech, and in much of the rest of Washington life. Washington’s gender gap in employment is among the largest in the nation, and only in Colorado, California, and Hawaii is housing less affordable.
Yet its progressive politics, flat taxes, and welcoming atmosphere for venture capital funding–along with mountains, lakes, forests, and cities that beckon millions–make the other Washington a popular destination for many.
The Peach State is dealing with the arrival of millions of giant yellow spiders that spin golden webs–but it’s not a horror movie plot, it’s really a good thing! Joro spiders—about the size of a person’s palm—are brightly-colored, long-legged arachnids that emanate from East Asia, and have been spreading in Georgia since 2014. Now, researchers say, they’re everywhere, and they’re not going away.
According to a University of Georgia entomologist, “Last year, there were dozens of spiders, and they began to be something of a nuisance when I was doing yard work. This year, I have several hundred, and they actually make the place look spooky with all the messy webs—like a scene out of ‘Arachnophobia.’” The Joros spin webs on porches, power lines, and mailboxes. Scientists have found the visitors in 25 different counties throughout the state. According to a staffer at the Georgia Museum of Natural History, “Our best guess is that it came in a shipping container and dropped off here somewhere on I-85 in the Braselton area. They are great little hitchhikers!”
“The invasive species present us with excellent opportunities to suppress pests naturally, without chemicals, so I’m trying to convince people that having zillions of large spiders and their webs around is a good thing,” the researcher explained. “This particular species helps eliminate local mosquitoes and other biting flies. The Joros are also one of the few spiders which catch and eat brown marmorated stink bugs—which are pests that can destroy many crops.”
As these bug hunters die off later this month, the females will leave behind sacs full of eggs to keep the species going. These baby Joros will emerge in the spring and start hitchhiking again.
Lifesaving items such as gun locks and naloxone (narcan) kits, used to offset an opioid overdose, have been making their way to the checkout counters at a growing number of libraries across the state. And according to the Utah County Health Department Injury Prevention Coordinator, the library is the perfect place to have these resources available.
Why the library? Unlike a police station, for example, a library is a nonthreatening place for most people, according to the coordinator. She went on, “police stations can often be triggering places for people. Individuals in need of these things might also be afraid that they will be asked for their information. Libraries offer a safe place for people to get these items with no questions asked.” One library director recalled giving out 28 naloxone kits in 6 months.
A Spanish Fork resident who works with the city as a community advocate also nearly lost a family member to an opioid overdose. “Having a family member who almost died from an overdose is what has driven me to make things like gun locks and naloxone available to the people who need them,” she said. “Having these resources in libraries really does offer a safe place for people . . . because the families . . . don’t want to be seen, known or tracked down. She cited statistics showing that Utah is one of the few states that did not experience an increase in suicide and drug-related deaths during the pandemic.
What many people don’t realize, said the county coordinator, is that most gun-related deaths are suicides. “Having a gun lock gives the individual who is wanting to end his or her life those lifesaving minutes to think about their decision. Suicide is the most preventable form of death because if you can get people the help they need, they can continue to live—and many go on to live good and very fulfilling lives. It’s not that they want to die; it’s that they want the pain to stop.”
Read a good book and save a life.
Madison, Wisconsin, is known for many things: the state capital, progressive politics, the University of Wisconsin, several buildings designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright–and the recent discovery of a 1,200-year-old, 15-foot-long dugout canoe brought up from 27 feet of water in Lake Mendota. It is the largest intact boat ever found in Wisconsin waters.
According to Wisconsin’s state archaeologist, “Not only has it been underwater; it’s been under the ground. The reason it’s so well preserved is that it has not been exposed to the light. So that’s one of the reasons we have to start preserving it. There’s living organisms on it that are chewing away on it as we speak.”
The recovery effort, which went quite smoothly, began with divers carefully dredging around the canoe. Once sediment was removed and the boat fully exposed, rods of rebar were stuck into the lake bottom and a web of rope tied over the canoe to keep it in place. For the next two years, it will undergo a series of treatments. The first, in a 16-foot-long, 3-foot-wide tank at the State Archive Preservation Facility, will preserve its liquid environment, although mixed in the water will be a biocide to kill any algae or microorganisms. That’s followed with a treatment of polyethylene glycol designed to replace the water that has saturated the wood. The process will make the structure more solid and stable, and prevent further degradation.
While Wisconsin is home to hundreds of shipwrecks in lakes Superior and Michigan, many from the 1800s and early 1900s, such an intact find is extremely rare, say experts.
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