Jun 29, 2011

Are You Lonely?

When I cam across the below referenced entry on loneliness, it gave me pause.  I know that even though I appear to be outgoing at work and in social situations, that is actually a learned response.  I am really an introvert by nature.  I find it so easy to spend my non-work hours without being around others, content in myself, my interests, and my home. Any errands are dispatched quickly, so I can return to our little sanctuary. As I target retirement in the next decade, people often comment on how I will never stop working.  They have no clue :o)

Below are some interesting thoughts regarding loneliness:

loneliness and solitude are different. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.
Nurturing others -- raising children, teaching, caring for animals -- helps to alleviate loneliness.
many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment
try to figure out what's missing from your life, if anything. The more clearly you see what's lacking, the more clearly you'll see possible solutions.
take steps to connect with other people if necessary. 

Jun 27, 2011

Peanuts' Lessons In Leadership

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip.  You don't have to actually answer the questions.  Just read straight through and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world?
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners?
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant?
4. Name ten poeple who have own the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last six Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?   The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.  These are no second-rate achievers.  They are the best in their fields.  But the applause dies and the awards tarnish.  Achievements are forgotten.  Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.  Now here's another quiz.  See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Was that a bit easier?  So what's the lesson in this?  The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials... the most money... or the most awards.  They simply are the ones who care the most.

Are you on someone else's list?  If you are reading this, you are most likely on mine :o)

Jun 21, 2011

Cicada Ice Cream :o)

COLUMBIA, MO — Those looking to taste the seasonal flavor of cicada ice cream at Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream will no longer have an opportunity to do so.
Sparky's approached the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services and asked about the use of cicadas in the ice cream, Gerry Worley, environmental health manager for the department, said.
"The food code doesn't directly address cicadas," Worley said. "We advised against it."
Sparky's introduced the cicada ice cream last week and met with such surprising demand that it sold out the day before it was set to debut. The store was going to make another batch for the weekend, but a sign on the door told customers it would not be back until 2024.
When making the first half batch of ice cream, the cicadas were boiled and fully cooked through, Sparky's manager Ashley Nagel said. Food code does not address how cicadas should be cooked.
"The food code tells us how high the temperature should be," Worley said of normally cooked foods such as fish, chicken and beef. The department does not have that information for cicadas.

Jun 20, 2011

Desert Bound :o)

Light posting and commenting this week. I am headed to the Arizona desert to do an assessment and benchmarking trip to Palo Verde Nuclear Generation Station.  Desert, June, do I know how to boondoggle or what :o)

Jun 19, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi - Update

New Filters Remove Radiation from Seawater
June 15, 2011

Plant Status
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has begun full operation of seawater filtering systems near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Installed near the water intakes of reactors 2 and 3, the filters absorb radioactive cesium then return the water to the ocean. Tests indicate the system reduces cesium levels by 20 percent to 30 percent. TEPCO is seeking ways to increase the filtering capability.
  • Japan’s health ministry has ordered TEPCO to release from duty 23 workers who had been exposed internally to more than 10 rem of radiation early in the accident. The ministry took the precaution because the employees’ continued work at the facility could result in exposure beyond the temporary 25 rem limit. The limit was raised in March from 10 rem to the emergency level of 25 rem. TEPCO said earlier that two workers were exposed to more than 60 rem and announced on Monday that six more were believed to have been exposed to up to 50 rem. TEPCO is screening 3,700 workers for exposure.
  • TEPCO has completed tests on a U.S.-made system that will be used to absorb radioactive cesium from water that has accumulated in various locations at the Fukushima Daiichi site and has also begun tests of a French-manufactured water-treatment device. The company plans to begin full operation of the systems by Friday. More than 105,000 tons of radioactive water has accumulated at the facility. The U.S.-based water treatment system is from Kurion Inc. and the French system is from AREVA.
  • Inspection of farmland in the no-entry zone around Fukushima Daiichi will begin next month. Rice planting has been suspended within an 18.5-mile radius of the plant and no agricultural products are being shipped from within the no-entry zone. Government officials will study soil in the area in response to concerns from residents who have inquired about the status of their farmland.
  • TEPCO plans to install rooftop vents for the seven reactor buildings at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear energy facility in north central Japan. The vents are designed to prevent hydrogen from building up during an emergency. Hydrogen build-up caused explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi facility in March.

Sunday Silliness - Corruption :o)

Corruption Demotivator

Jun 16, 2011

Refashion NYC?

New York City's new textile recycling bin, flanked by two promotional sidekicks.RefashionNYCNew York City’s new textile recycling bin, flanked by two promotional sidekicks.

Titled RefashionNYC, the program has been in the works since last year, when the city started accepting bids for a 10-year contract committing a New York-based charitable group to regular pickups of clothing, linens, shoes and clean rags throughout the city.No more hauling your hand-me-downs in plastic bags and shopping carts to your nearest green market or thrift shop, New Yorkers. City officials say they have partnered with Housing Works, a group that helps homeless people infected with the H.I.V. virus, to pick up donated clothing at apartment buildings in one of the first large-scale consumer textile recycling programs in the Country.
The goal is to capture most of the 200,000 tons of textile and apparel materials that New Yorkers throw away each year but that could be reused instead, reducing the city’s garbage disposal costs.

The new program is free and open to residential buildings in all five boroughs. All it takes, Department of Sanitation officials say, is for a landlord, building manager or superintendent to sign up online, obtain a metal bin from the city and assign a staff member to monitor the bin and schedule pickups when it is full.
Donations are tax-deductible, and the program will pay for itself through the sale of the donations, the officials said.
Although textiles, including shoes and accessories like handbags and belts, are among the most valuable recyclables, textile recycling by consumers constitutes only a fraction of all recycling in the country.
Officials with the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, a trade group, say that materials like stained or ripped clothing, buttons and zippers can all be reprocessed and find a second life as wiping cloths, carpet padding, seat stuffing and other products. In the end, they say, less than 10 percent of what is donated goes to a landfill.
But it has often been more convenient for car-less New Yorkers to throw old sweaters away than to carry them over to Goodwill. Residents can still find the closest thrift store or drop-off location for clothing donations atwww.nyc.gov/stuffexchange, but soon they may prefer to use the donation bin in their lobby or right outside.

Jun 15, 2011

Privilege vs. Principle :o)

"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Jun 14, 2011

Horseradish anyone?

Never would have thought of putting chocolate and wasabi together.

Unfortunately, it is a promotion in Japan only.


Jun 13, 2011

Science Scene - Not Hot Air!

Canadian firm Thin Red Line Aerospace is working on the first test deployment of its energy storage system for use with off-shore wind turbines. The Energy Bag provides power storage as "undersea compressed air energy storage" (CAES) to store compressed air deep underwater, and then release it again to drive generators when more power is needed. Storing power for peak load demand or for periods of intermittent wind are an important part of developing a responsive wind generation system that can effectively contribute to the grid at all times.

The process is conceptually straight forward: Wind turbines fill the balloon-like underwater bags with compressed air that later drives electrical generators on demand. While initial application is ideally linked to floating wind turbines, excess electricity from the grid—or from clean energy sources such as tidal and wave power—can also be used to drive compressors to fill the energy bags. The technology is especially suited to countries with relatively deep waters near their coasts.

Instead of engineering a heavy pressure vessel to store large amounts of highly compressed air, the Energy Bag uses a deep water location to serve as the pressure vessel to store the compressed air at extremely high pressures. The prototype Energy Bag itself weighs only 75 kilograms (165 pounds), but is able to displace 40 tons of seawater. It will be located about 600 meters (2000 feet) below the surface, where pressures are 60 to 70 times atmospheric pressure. The power storage in just one bag can be considerable. "At depths of around 600m, there will be enough pressure in one 20m-diameter bag to store around 70MW hours of energy. That’s around the same as 14 hours of energy generation from the largest offshore turbines currently in operation."

The Energy Bag has the potential to be orders of magnitude less expensive than industrial battery storage systems, and even just a fraction of pumped hydro storage systems. Not every location has deepwater locations suitable for this power storage, but several areas in Europe in particular have both good wind potential and deep water close by offshore as potential locations where this could be implemented.

Jun 10, 2011

Science Scene - CeOThermal?

Krafla Geothermal Power Station in Iceland Ásgeir Eggertsson via Wikimedia
Common geothermal electricity setups generally involve extracting hot water from subterranean rock formations deep inside the Earth’s crust and using that heat to turn turbines. Common carbon sequestration schemes involve pumping carbon dioxide from the surface deep into the ground to prevent it from becoming atmospheric CO2
In any case, two University of Minnesota Earth Sciences researchers were able to put two and two together. What would happen, they asked, if you replaced the water in conventional geothermal rigs with compressed carbon dioxide? Models suggest that the new CO2-based method--termed CO2-plume geothermal, or CPG--should work just as well if not better, with the added benefit of sequestering carbon dioxide in the ground.

In fact, the researchers think it could work even better than water. For one, carbon dioxide penetrates porous rock more easily than water, so it could potentially be used in areas where conventional water-based geothermal would'nt work. Moreover, CO2 won’t dissolve minerals it comes in contact with as readily as water, so there’s less of a chance of CPG suffering from the mineral blockages that water can cause.
It’s important to note that this is just an idea at this point--the duo has applied for DOE funding (in addition to that it has already received for studies) to take CPG to the pilot stage. But if it works, it could be big.

Jun 9, 2011

Boudreaux Cruising with Penguins

A police officer sees a man driving around with a pickup truck full of penguins.

He pulls the guy over and says: "What is your name?" The man replies "Boudreaux". The officer says, "You can't drive around with penguins in this town! Take them to the zoo immediately." Boudreaux says, "OK", and drives away.

The next day, the officer sees Boudreaux still driving around with the truck full of penguins, AND now they're all wearing SUN GLASSES. He pulls Boudreaux over and demands: "I thought I told you to take these penguins to the zoo yesterday!" Boudreaux replies: "I did . . . Today I'm taking them to the beach!"

Jun 7, 2011

Ask Uncle Kerouac @ Wildcat's Lair

Always entertaining, always funny, and I WON AGAIN :o)

Science Scene - Forest Canopy Height

Scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center have produced a high-resolution “National Biomass and Carbon Dataset for the year 2000” (NBCD2000), the first ever spatially explicit inventory of its kind. The dataset was produced as part of a project funded under NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology Program with additional support from the Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools Project (LANDFIRE). The project has generated a high-resolution (30 m), year-2000 baseline estimate of basal area-weighted canopy height, aboveground live dry biomass, and standing carbon stock for the conterminous United States.
Development of the dataset is based on an empirical modeling approach that combines USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data with high-resolution InSAR data acquired from the 2000 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) and optical remote sensing data acquired from the Landsat ETM+ sensor. 
The production of the NBCD Canopy Height and Aboveground Live Dry Biomass Layers comes at a time when understanding and quantifying the carbon balance for North America is more important than ever.  This spatially explicit, high resolution (30 m) dataset of vegetation height, biomass, and carbon stock is the first of its kind and provides a baseline from which to detect future changes. 

Jun 3, 2011

Science Scene - NG Trucks

An 18-wheeler can burn as much fuel in a year as 40 cars. What if it burned domestic natural gas instead of imported oil? 

That is hardly as arresting a vision of America's energy future as electric cars, whose power could conceivably could come from the wind or the sun. 

The typical semi-trailer truck guzzles 20,000 gallons of diesel annually and uses the same roads day after day. So switching trucks to natural gas from diesel, which comes from oil, could make a big dent in U.S. petroleum use. And it wouldn't require building nearly as many new fueling stations as switching America's roughly 240 million cars and light trucks to something other than oil. 

An 18-wheeler can burn as much fuel in a year as 40 cars. What if it burned domestic natural gas instead of imported oil? 
The typical semi-trailer truck guzzles 20,000 gallons of diesel annually and uses the same roads day after day. So switching trucks to natural gas from diesel, which comes from oil, could make a big dent in U.S. petroleum use. And it wouldn't require building nearly as many new fueling stations as switching America's roughly 240 million cars and light trucks to something other than oil.

Exact figures for the number of natural-gas vehicles on the road are hard to come by, but it is estimated that 15% of U.S. buses and trash trucks run on natural gas.

Trucks configured to burn natural gas cost more than trucks that run on diesel. They need modified engines and bigger and stronger fuel tanks. How much more they cost differs wildly depending on the type of truck.
A trash truck that costs $200,000 outfitted for diesel costs only another $10,000—or 5% more— equipped for natural gas.

Long-haul trucks present a bigger challenge. In the U.S., they consume about 10 times as much diesel as trash trucks and buses combined. The biggest guzzlers are 18-wheelers, which average six miles per gallon. 

United Parcel Service Inc., which runs one of the country's biggest truck fleets, pays about $95,000 for an average long-haul "tractor"—the front part of the 18-wheeler, housing the engine and driver. It recently ordered 48 natural-gas versions at a cost of $195,000 apiece—about double the cost of a diesel model.

UPS bought its natural-gas trucks only after getting $4 million in federal stimulus money to help defray the cost. At current fuel prices, the trucks should easily pay for themselves in less than the 10 years UPS expects to drive them, he says. But UPS typically expects equipment to pay off within three years.

If America could affordably manufacture natural-gas trucks and build enough fueling stations to keep them on the road, the economy could shave billions of dollars a year in imported-fuel bills, backers of the technology say. 

Lets hope that the subsidies keep rolling.

Jun 1, 2011

Allergy Up :o)

People with seasonal allergies may be able to reduce allergy symptoms by changing their eating habits.

If you are allergic to tree pollen, don't eat almonds, apples, carrots, cherries, pear, kiwifruit, parsley, celery, hazelnuts, peaches and plums.

These may cause oral allergy symptoms.

If your are sensitive to ragweed, ingestion of cantaloupe, watermelon, honey dew, banana, zucchini, echinacea and chamomile tea can aggravate symptoms.

Protect Yourself Now :o)