Friday, September 19, 2014

Chasing Monarchs: Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage by Robert Michael Pyle

Summary from Amazon:
Although no one had ever followed North American monarch butterflies on their annual southward journey to Mexico and California, in the 1990s there were well-accepted assumptions about the nature and form of the migration. But to Robert Michael Pyle, a naturalist with long experience in monarch conservation, the received wisdom about the butterflies’ long journey just didn’t make sense. In the autumn of 1996 he set out to uncover the facts, to pursue the tide of “cinnamon sailors” on their long, mysterious flight.
Chasing Monarchs chronicles Pyle’s 9,000-mile journey to discover firsthand the secrets of the monarchs’ annual migration. Part road trip, part outdoor adventure, and part natural history study, Pyle’s book overturns old theories and provides insights both large and small regarding monarch butterflies, their biology, and their spectacular migratory travels. Since the book’s first publication, its controversial conclusions have been fully confirmed, and monarchs are better understood than ever before. The Afterword for this volume includes not only updated information on the myriad threats to monarch butterflies, but also various efforts under way to ensure the future of the world’s most amazing butterfly migration.

Review from Yale University Press:

Documentary: Tracking the Monarch Migration from Nova:

Robert Michael Pyle's Facebook Page

Other Books by the author:

Recent Reading at Penn State, September 4, 2014:

ID tools for Identifying Butterflies and Moths:

In the Washington State Magazine: Life Histories of the Butterflies of Cascadia:

Some mentioned Butterflies of the West Coast of US:
Woodland Skipper:
Clouded Sulphur:

Compton tortoiseshell: 


Becker's White: 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

Interview with Robert Michael Pyle:

Discussion Questions to Follow:
1. What predators do monarchs encounter along their journey? See pp 35, 41, 48
2. What plants are similar to milkweed? See page 26.
3. When did migration actually start? Discuss the "Columbus Hypothesis", page 50.
4. Discuss other things that challenge monarchs along the route, including weather, difficult water crossings, etc. 
5. Discuss tagging of monarchs.
6. How have the changes in the landscape including damming effected migration patterns?
7. How did the author's theories about monarch migration influence research and lead to its confirmation?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913/1914 by Frederic Morton

Summary from Good Reads:
"Thunder at Twilight is a landmark of historical vision, drawing on hitherto untapped sources to illuminate two crucial years in the life of the extraordinary city of Vienna—and in the life of the twentieth century. It was during the carnival of 1913 that a young Stalin arrived on a mission that would launch him into the upper echelon of Russian revolutionaries, and it was here that he first collided with Trotsky. It was in Vienna that the failed artist Adolf Hitler kept daubing watercolors and spouting tirades at fellow drifters in a flophouse. Here Archduke Franz Ferdinand had a troubled audience with Emperor Franz Joseph—and soon the bullet that killed the archduke would set off the Great War that would kill ten million more. With luminous prose that has twice made him a finalist for the National Book Award, Frederic Morton evokes the opulent, elegant, incomparable sunset metropolis—Vienna on the brink of cataclysm."

Article from the BBC News: "1913: When Hitler, Trotsky, Tito, Freud and Stalin all lived in the Same Place"


Vienna Review Interview with Morton: At Home with Language:

Discussion Questions:
1. What were the factors that made Vienna at this time the center stage for many significant persons of the century?
2. What were the different groups and who were some of these people?
3. How did the rigidity of the culture and society of Europe, especially in Austria, as mirrored in the relationship of Franz Ferdinand and his wife, help make the war inevitable?
4. What made the relationship between Franz Joseph and Franz Ferdinand so difficult?
5. Discuss the relationship between Austria - Hungary and Serbia and the issues that caused tensions between these countries.
6. Was Austria unreasonable in their ultimatum to Serbia?
7. What other action could they have taken in response to the assassinations?
8. What were factors that caused the war to be so horrific, and why was this not better anticipated?
9. How and could Franz Ferdinand have made a difference in preventing the war if he had lived?
10. Why did so many people mistakenly think that his views made war more likely?