The best of the week on the Mother Nature Network

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There's always interesting stuff to read on our sister site, the Mother Nature Network (I just learned why our cat Cal likes boxes so much). Here is a recap of some of the posts that caught my eye this week:

For U.S. Christmas trees, a festival of blights

Great play on words in that title of a post where Russell McLendon explains some of the threats facing the Christmas tree industry:

Farmers in North Carolina, the country's No. 2 Christmas tree state behind Oregon, are losing $6 million every year to Phytophthora root rot, the Associated Press reports. This genus of oomycetes — weird, fungus-like protists — has a long history of killing crops, earning it a scientific name that means "plant destroyer." Phytophthora is a native pest but can run wild on tree farms, reportedly rendering soil unfit for production once it's there.

But he still concludes that real trees are the way to go. More in MNN


Companies support nap time for their workers

Bucky Fuller used to take naps in the day, claiming to sleep only 30 minutes every six hours. He gave it up because his business associates thought he was nuts. Now Starre Vartan writes that businesses are catching on to the trend, and even providing spaces in which to catnap.

“The nap for me, personally speaking, really allows me to approach the second half of the day with a lot more force," Mike Karalewich, Nationwide Planning’s chief compliance officer, told the "Today" show. Since almost half of Americans don't get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night, a nap can also help make up for that deficit. Arianna Huffington is a fan of nap time (after collapsing a few years ago from exhaustion), and so are plenty of creatives and entrepreneurs, who may be working beyond the 9-5 (but aren't we all these days)?

More in MNN


The future belongs to drones

Shea Gunther describes some of the tasks that drones are going to be put to.

In the future, we’ll fight a lot more wars with drones. We’ll film our weddings with drones and get the latest "Wimpy Kid" book delivered by them. Drones will deliver our pizzas and track our movements through a city. They’ll help us fertilize our crops more efficiently and capture people trying to sneak across the border. Plus the thousand other reasons that we’ll think up along the way, good and bad.

The thing is, they are already doing all the bad things he listed. We are still waiting for the good, and it better be more useful than pizza delivery. More in MNN.

Texas-sized gingerbread house attracts bees, raises bucks

Matt Hickman describes the construction of the world's largest gingerbread house, saying And although the plus-sized structure may scream 'excessive waste' to some, it's not without a big, charity-minded heart."

As our thoughts turn to the less fortunate among us this holiday season, it may seem tacky, even transgressive, to erect a temporary structure made from 7,200 eggs and 1,800 pounds of butter...the primary building materials consist of brown sugar, flour, molasses, eggs, butter, and an ungodly amount of candy (22,304 pieces in this instance.)

The money raised selling admissions to this house will be donated to help fund a trauma center at the local hospital. No word on how much trauma might have been avoided if 7200 eggs and 1800 pounds of butter had been donated to a food bank. More in MNN.

© Witricity

Wireless car charging is coming

Jim Motavalli describes the Next Big Thing in making electric vehicles easier to use: Wireless charging.

WiTricity said in a release, “Toyota has identified this technology as a key differentiator in the marketplace because of its seamless operation and the convenience factor it offers the vehicle owners."

He shows a photo of the head of WiTricity lighting a light bulb through his head. I seem to recall in the 50s people used to drink radioactive liquids to show how safe they were. Do people actually think this is a good idea? More in MNN.

10 signs that it's time to unplug

Jenn Savege does an only slightly tongue in cheek list.

How attached are you to your smartphone and other gadgets? If the thought of leaving your gadgets behind or turned off for the holidays makes you twitch, don't worry, you are not alone. But if you find that you can't make it through a family dinner without scrolling through Facebook or Instagramming your meal, you may need to step away from the gadgets for a few days.

More in MNN. I see at least 4 of the ten signs in myself. And it is Sunday morning and I am sitting and doing this post, enough, I am going to take her advice and unplu

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