(please click this link and leave it open in the background while reading this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4daJ8gMtE-g)
So why is the 4th of July, 1776 so famous? The obvious answer is that it’s the day that the U.S. Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain. Wait, nope, that happened on july 2nd. Oh wait duh, it must have been the day that we started the revolutionary war. Nope, you’re wrong again. That happened a year earlier in 1775. OK so was it when a draft of the constitution was written or when it was signed?? Wrong and wrong-er. That was June and August of 1776. Ok so what the heck really happened on July 4th, 1776? Congress did something they haven’t done since the 1960s: they agreed on something. To be specific, they agreed on the final draft of the document. Super exciting. So why do we celebrate the 4th? Following the war of 1812 (yes there was a war in 1812, bet you all didn’t remember that from middle school history) there was great ideological division in the United States. Copies of the declaration were circulated around the nation with the date July 4th at the top. This inspirited national unity around the date (incidentally Thomas Jefferson and John Adams also died on July 4th, 1826 so that may have helped).
A lot has happened since then though. The liberty bell cracked beyond repair while ringing to celebrate Washington’s birthday in 1846, the Civil War divides the nation in 1861, the statue of liberty is gifted to the U.S. by France and erected in 1886, the U.S. and Spain go to war briefly (you probably also forgot about that), the Panama Canal is established in 1903, World Wars I and II erupt in 1914 and 1939, man walks on the moon in 1969, and finally and most importantly, the US EPA is founded by Richard Nixon on December 2, 1970.
The 4th of July these days is still a cause for celebration. Festivities usually involve buying cheap meats and American flag apparel from Walmart, public intoxication on beaches and pontoon boats, BBQs, cheap beer, and of course fireworks. Mostly though it’s a holiday for spending time with friends and family. My family’s usual tradition is to go up to Old Orchard Beach, ME with a bunch of family friends. This is the first year I couldn’t make it but those of us at Hatfield, including Collin who drove up here for a night, have been having a blast. We went out to the Sandbar on Friday, drove down to Otter Point yesterday, and had a huge communal BBQ courtesy of Walmart (pics included below). Needless to say I’m excited to see what the actual 4th brings.
Since I do feel somewhat obligated to talk shop on my Sea Grant blog post here we go: this week at the office was pretty sweet for three reasons. First, not only did I learn how to extract DNA for qPCR but I didn’t even screw it up (I don’t think…I’ll get back to you on that one)! Second, Amy has also been helping me to put together my own project I can work on during the down time in our sampling. Since I’m definitely more interested in biology than general water quality, my project is investigating on the role of Eelgrass (Zostera marina) in promoting the growth of Enterococci ssp. (a fecal indicator bacteria). Almost all surfaces in the natural world have biofilms on them as a result of bacterial growth. Eelgrass is no exception and the aquatic habitat it lives in serves to expedite the growth of this film. Suspended bacteria can adhere to the plant’s leaves and reproduce rapidly. I want to know if these indicator bacteria can become suspended due to leaf decay, storm events, or tidal flow. If so, this resuspension could be contributing to the exceedance of regulatory limits for indicator bacteria thereby yielding a false positive. Third, I got to go on some unplanned fieldwork this Friday in Tillamook with Jess and one of her mentors, Jody. Although I couldn’t reach the site I needed to due to a higher than usual low tide, it was a gorgeous day and I was able to collect some samples for my own project. Jody did make us go get ice cream and lunch at the Blue Heron though…that was pretty rough.
All things considered it’s been a pretty great week in Oregon but how time flies…
Here are the pics from fieldwork, Devil’s Well, the Otter drive, and our glorious BBQ: