Oceans, Doors to Hell and Lessons Learned

I try not to throw anything away when I’m writing, whether I’m working on an article, blog post or poem. I save sentences or thoughts that don’t make the cut for the piece I’m writing. You never know if you might need them in a later draft or if they might come in handy for another writing project. I call them “leftovers.”

While my writing leftovers would be as popular on my blog as eating leftover liver for dinner, I do like the thought of sharing leftover ideas. Specifically, things that caught my eye online and elsewhere throughout the week. Things that I really wanted to blog about, but either ran of out time or need to think more about and come back to later.

Here are some things I came across this week: a few random facts about our planet, one cool idea, and a lesson I learned that has nothing to do with any of it.

num 1

Random ocean fact: Orcas are not whales, they’re dolphins. Did you know this? I live in the Puget Sound, part of the great Salish Sea, where orcas also make their homes, and it blew my mind when I learned this.

Another random ocean fact: By 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Some scientists predict this could happen sooner, as early as 2030—a mere 14 years away. What are some simple things we can do to prevent such a tragedy? Don’t litter, secure trash and recyclables near ocean areas, and drink from reusable rather than single-use plastic water bottles .

And how about this cool idea? Drink beer from companies like Florida’s Saltwater Brewery. The owners of this company were so concerned about the problem, they invented a fully compostable (even edible) plastic made from the leftover ingredients of brewer’s yeast.

Last random ocean fact: Our oceans are not too big to fail. Didn’t we learn this with banks? No? Let’s learn it with our oceans, before it’s too late.

Where did I learn all these random ocean facts? I learned about orcas and plastic (although not beer, that was Facebook) and much more this week from a National Geographic Live lecture by ocean wildlife photojournalist Brian Skerry. He’s been making pictures of our oceans, and traveling the globe, for nearly 20 years.

num 2

My daughter’s random-fact fascination brought her to the other side of Earth, to the deserts of Turkmenistan. Not in person, but online. Coincidentally, also through National Geographic.

“Did you know there’s a door to hell?” she asked.


“A door to hell. It’s a giant sinkhole that opened up 40 years ago. It’s full of methane and it’s been burning ever since. Look.”

door to hell

It’s a bit of a mystery how this happened, but the common myth is that it’s the result of a drilling incident gone wrong. Soviet scientists set fire to it, perhaps to burn off excess gases, and they underestimated— by a long-shot—the amount. I wonder how the Door to Hell is contributing to climate change? I don’t think they answer that question over at National Geographic where she found the story, but you can read more about the sink hole there—and the guy who repelled into it. Holy hell.

num 3

My third short share this week is not a random fact, but a lesson.

I let a job go this week that I really liked and wanted to continue, but someone else wanted it just as much. After much hemming and hawing, I did just what I knew I would do pre-hem/haw: I gave it to the someone else, who I felt had the skillset to do a better job.

I’ve been feeling really down about it, but when I woke up this morning I got a pleasant surprise looking through my Facebook feed. A deadline for another opportunity I wanted to explore, but missed, has been extended. I’ve got another shot for something else I’ve been working really hard toward.

When one door closes, another opens—and sometimes, it reopens. “Hey you! Yes, you! Stop dithering and get yourself in here. We’re giving you one more chance.”


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