Jun 30, 2012

Penguins Everywhere!

Emperor penguin populations in Antarctica

Emperor penguins on the sea ice close to Halley Research StationThe population of emperor penguins in Antarctica is nearly twice as high as previously estimated according to a new satellite-based assessment.

The census technique is based on detecting penguin colonies and then counting individual birds. Colonies are located by looking for large patches of ice discolored by penguin poop or guano.

This approach turned up 44 colonies across Antarctica — including seven that hadn't been detected previously — and 595,000 birds. The emperor population had previously been thought to range between 170,000-350,000.
“The methods we used are an enormous step forward in Antarctic ecology because we can conduct research safely and efficiently with little environmental impact, and determine estimates of an entire penguin population, said co-author Michelle LaRue from the University of Minnesota in a statement. “The implications of this study are far-reaching: we now have a cost-effective way to apply our methods to other poorly-understood species in the Antarctic, to strengthen on-going field research, and to provide accurate information for international conservation efforts.”


Jun 29, 2012


"Everything should be made as simple as possible...but not simpler."

- Albert Einstein 

Jun 28, 2012

French Fries as a Fuel Source?

Air Canada wrote: "Flight AC991 from Toronto to Mexico City is expected to generate at least 40 per cent fewer emissions by using jet fuel derived from recycled cooking oil and through other fuel-saving measures, making it the most environmentally-friendly flight ever flown by Air Canada. The flight is supported by Airbus and is part of an environmental demonstration by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to coincide with the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development."

Jun 27, 2012

Great Household Tips

Use a (clean) dustpan to fill a container that doesn't fit in the sink

Place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on, and keep paint off the side of the can.

Use a staple remover to save your fingernails when trying to add things to your key ring!

Jun 26, 2012


"Let a man's talents or virtues be what they may, he will only feel satisfaction as he is satisfied in himself.“
- William Hazlitt 

Jun 25, 2012

A real Enterprise???

The year 2245 is just too distant — we should build and commission a real USS Enterprise right now, cracking the champagne across her hull within 20 years, according to an enterprising engineer. The gigantic ship would use ion propulsion, powered by a 1.5-GW nuclear reactor, and could reach Mars in three months and the moon in three days. Its 0.3-mile-diameter, magnetically suspended gravity wheel spinning at 2 RPM would provide 1G of gravity, and the thing looks just like the "Star Trek" ship of lore.

This project is the brainchild of an engineer who calls himself BTE Dan. As in “Build The Enterprise.”

“We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it,” BTE Dan writes. He even sifts through the federal budget and proposes tax hikes and spending cuts to cover the $1 trillion cost.

Though the "Star Trek" connection lends the project an air of sci-fi fun, BTE Dan is hardly the only engineer dreaming up a next-generation spaceship to the stars. DARPA's 100-Year Starship project is designed partly to foster ideas just like this one, from a project planning roadmap to a real ship.

Jun 23, 2012

Mobile EV Charging

Prn16 Aaa Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging 1yhigh

In an effort to reduce range anxiety for owners’ of electric vehicles, AAA announced it will offer mobile charging roadside assistance trucks.

The roadside assistance trucks will be equipped with the capability to provide Level 2 and Level 3 charging for members when their EV’s batteries become discharged. The trucks will be able to provide 10-15 minutes of charge time, which should provide enough juice for the EVs to travel three to 15 miles to a charging station to top off the charge, according to AAA.

Initially AAA will offer the mobile electric vehicle charging trucks in six metropolitan areas across the U.S. Starting this summer AAA will begin testing its pilot program starting with Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; the San Francisco Bay area; Los Angeles; Knoxville, Tennessee; and the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

Jun 22, 2012

Windcent Van Gogh

live wind map

Fernanda B. ViĆ©gas and Martin Wattenberg, founders of Many Eyes, have created one of the coolest maps I’ve ever seen — it looks like a living Vincent van Gogh masterpiece.

You can see a still of the map above, but you have to check out the (nearly) live wind map to get the full effect.

Jun 21, 2012

Slow Down Occassionally

How might you build more savoring into your life? Try one of these:

1. Designate one meal a day — or even one a week — during which you take the time to notice the aroma, flavor, and texture of what you're eating. 

2. Curl up in a favorite chair at some point after you return home from work and spend at least a half-hour reading a book purely for pleasure. 

3. Take the time to really listen to someone you love — to give that person the space to speak without interruption, for as long as it takes. 

4. Choose a place that interests you — it could be in the city or the country — and spend a couple of hours just exploring it without any specific end in mind. 

5. Buy a journal, and before you go to bed, take a few minutes to reflect on what you feel grateful for that day, and what went right. 

Jun 20, 2012

Gates on Energy

What will it take to deliver affordable energy while drastically slashing carbon emissions? Bill Gates has a prescription: political courage, innovation and a lot more funding.
The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray discussed these issues with the entrepreneur and philanthropist. Here are edited excerpts of the conversation.

Getting to Zero
MR. MURRAY: The Gates Foundation is focused on health, development, education. It's not focused on energy. Why are we here?
MR. GATES: If you want to improve the situation of the poorest two billion on the planet, having the price of energy go down substantially would be the best thing you could do for them. That, along with the carbon constraint, is hugely important, partly because global warming makes tropical agriculture virtually impossible.
MR. MURRAY: You've said we have to not just slow the growth of carbon emissions, but get to zero. Why?
MR. GATES: You'll never get to zero. But if you want there not to be increased warming every year, you have to get to extremely low numbers.
MR. MURRAY: How long will it take until only 50% of our global energy needs, as opposed to 80% today, are met by fossil fuels?
MR. GATES: People underestimate how hard it is to make these changes. They look at intermittent energy sources, they don't think about storage and transmission. They look at things that are deeply subsidized and forget they're deeply subsidized. They look just at the rich world, and they don't look at where all the energy increase is taking place, middle- and low-income areas.
If we fund basic research at a reasonable level, which the U.S. and other countries do not, if we encourage experimentation, if we do the right things, there is a chance to meet very aggressive goals in a 75-year time.

Next-Generation Nuclear
MR. MURRAY: You've said there are five miracles that we need to make this happen.
MR. GATES: We don't need five. We need one of the five.
Let's take carbon capture. If supplies of natural gas continue to expand and drilling technology keeps getting better, all you need to do is put carbon capture on that and be willing to pay for it. You can imagine a future where you're using a lot of natural gas and you're able to do extremely good capture, like 95%. That miracle alone would get you a long ways, because the planet has a lot of coal and a lot of natural gas.
The next miracle is nuclear energy. The plants that are out in the world today are basically generation-one and -two plants. There's a few generation-three plants. The thing I'm investing in is a fourth-generation design.
MR. MURRAY: Can you explain a little bit about how this technology works?
MR. GATES: The part of uranium that's fissile—when you hit it with a neutron, it splits in two—is about 0.7%. The reactors we have today are burning that 0.7%. There was a concept that you would do a different type of reactor that would make a bunch of another element called plutonium, and then you would pull that out and then you would burn that. That's called breeding in a fast reactor. But plutonium is nuclear-weapons material, it's messy, and the processing you have to get through is not only environmentally difficult, it's extremely expensive.
The concept of the TerraPower reactor is that in the same reactor, you both burn and breed. Instead of making plutonium and then extracting it, we take uranium—the 99.3% that you normally don't do anything with—we convert that and we burn it. The 99.3% is cheap as heck, and there's a pile of it sitting in Paducah, Kentucky, that's enough to power the United States for hundreds and hundreds of years.
MR. MURRAY: What's the timetable for this?
MR. GATES: By 2022, if everything goes perfectly, our demo reactor will be in place. And by 2028, assuming everything continues to go perfectly, it will be a design that could be replicated.
MR. MURRAY: How often does everything go perfectly?
MR. GATES: In nuclear? If you ignore 1979 and 1986 and 2011, we've had a good century. No, seriously. Nuclear energy, in terms of an overall safety record, is better than other energy.

In Search of Storage
MR. MURRAY: You've got three miracles to go.
MR. GATES: You can have a miracle having to do with the rest of these energy sources, whether it's sun, wind or biofuel. The amount of land involved, the place that you can do it suitably and—in the case of wind and sun—the intermittency create a huge problem. All of them require storage and transmission.
MR. MURRAY: Do you put probabilities on these miracles?
MR. GATES: It's pretty hard. I think for society's sake, we need to fund basic energy research at least twice as much as we do right now. And for some of these things, you have to put on a serious carbon tax.
MR. MURRAY: What are the odds of that happening in the next couple of years?
MR. GATES: It depends on the I.Q. of the U.S. public.
MR. MURRAY: And your current assessment of that?
MR. GATES: Anytime you really look close at politics, it has looked pretty ugly. Yet the U.S. has managed to do the right thing in a variety of issues. I do think, over time, that consensus will emerge.
MR. MURRAY: Is natural gas a good thing or a bad thing?
MR. GATES: If you put aside climate change, which you shouldn't do, this natural-gas thing is phenomenal. It's amazing that there may be dramatically more than the proven reserves we have right now. Unfortunately, even though natural gas has less CO2 emission per unit of energy, you get some leakage, and any leakage is a dramatic negative.

Jun 19, 2012


" Every man stamps his value on himself... man is made great or small by his own will."

- J.C.F. von Schiller 

Jun 17, 2012

Sunday Silliness - Mistakes :o)

Mistakes Demotivator

Post KIT™, Family & Friends II

wafer_happy_fathers_day.jpgFirst, here is wishing the Dad's out there a Happy Father's Day.  With my "Dad's" gone, and for other personal reasons, this is a melancholy holiday for me...

This morning, after a quick workout, we bid adieu to the Langham Huntington Hotel, a fine hotel in a fine town.  We headed a few miles east to the Huntington Library.  We were meeting our nieces Jennifer and Heather, Heather's husband Ray and charming son Liam, and our great friends Kim and Steve.  We had a pleasant day wandering the grounds, visiting the art gallery, and seeing a science exhibit based on many collected books.  Here are a small sample of pictures I took today of this awesome place (desert, lily pads, roses, Japanese Tea Garden); however, I am pretty much blogged out from this trip, so there is little commentary associated with this pictures, just enjoy.  


After about four hours of this, we headed to the Green Street Restaurant for a great meal and lots of visiting.  All in all a pleasant day.  

We will have a great day with Kim and Steve tomorrow visiting the Getty, having a bite to eat, and then retiring to finish our packing for our trip back to Nutwood Junction on Monday.

Jun 16, 2012

Post KIT™, Family & Friends I

Tuesday, we got in a great workout at our Marriott hotel, then headed down to the Santa Monica Pier.  Our first objective was to get a bite to eat, so we headed out to the Mexican restaurant at the end of the pier, and filled the hole, but is was horrible service and the food was only so-so.  The only redeeming factor was watching the Pigeons grab chips out of the basket on the tables outside.

Next on with our mission, which was twofold, first was to make sure we could find the End of The Road Kiosk owned and operated by Dan Rice.  Dan was not there, but Matt (Dave's nephew) was there and he was most helpful and full of information.  We picked up a few souvenirs.  Second, we wanted to get pictures of the entrance of the pier.  Mission Accomplished!

Then the highlight of the day, dinner with Mr. Marty Gordon (thanks Marty), a resident of Santa Monica, a gracious host, and the first fellow blogger we met in person (2009 in Las Vegas).  We have been following him at Heard At Starbucks for many years.  We had a lovely meal at Coast, outside on the terrace, with the ocean as a backdrop.  Great end to a great day.

Wednesday morning, it was up early and then we headed to 7th and Montana to witness Heard At Starbucks in person.  While we did not experience any true loons, it was a great visit and fun to meet some of Marty's friends and neighbors.  I was even able to turn the tables so to speak and get a picture of Marty and post it to Facebook before he even knew it happened (Who Dat Under Da Hat :o).   It really is a little community there.  We will definitely return for another visit.

After our visit to 7th and Montana, we headed out toward the Fontana/Yucaipa area.  Our first order of business was to visit Green Acres, where my Grandparents, my father, and my uncle are buried.  Not getting out to this area frequently, I wanted to pay my respects.  I love the setting, looking over a Masonic garden, with lush lawns and trees...

Next up was Cousin Ros's house and a visit with family.  Ros, her husband Glen, daughter Kristi (she just graduated high-school and we had a card and gift for her, she was so appreciative), and little Richard-Wife-Son, my deceased cousin's family.  We had a cookout, lots of talking, and they wanted to see our Route 66 pictures, so we hooked up a projector and screen and fired up our blogs for a recreation of our journey.  It was fun to share our experiences.  We were so busy we did not take any pictures, but here are some recent ones of Ros, Glen, and Kristi.

Thursday morning, after a workout and some laundry duty, we headed over to the in-house care facility where my Aunt is being looked after.  I had reservations about visiting her, wanting to remember her for the vibrant lady that she always was.  She has dementia, but there was definitely some recognition there - especially when I mentioned her brother, my Dad.  Ros, Beth and I were all glad that we went.  Sigh...

Today was a special day.  We headed over this morning to the campus of CalTech to attend the PhD graduation of our great friend  Andrew Joseph Downard (now known as Dr. Andy).  He received his PhD in Chemistry for detection and measurement of particulate (less than 10 nanometers) aerosols.  It is a beautiful campus, was a great ceremony, we attended the graduate lunch with Andy and his colleague and friend who arrived via CERN last night (she is from Greece but now studies in Frankfurt), and they met us tonight at our hotel where we treated them to a wonderful dinner and we had lots of conversation and laughs.

Last but not least, after the ceremony, we came back to our hotel while Andy and Linda took care of some business, and had a toast and a celebration.  You may have noticed a countdown timer on my blog, that is now complete.  This timer was to celebrate the graduation today of our friend Andy, our great vacation for the last three weeks, and also the end of any need to associate with a very negative force in our lives for the last 10+ years.  It was definitely worthy of a toast!!!

Jun 12, 2012

KIT™ Day 18, The Last Day...

After an quick workout, we hit the road for the last leg of our Kicking It Trip (KIT™)...

We went down the freeway a few exits and then exited to continue the Mother Road route.  We went through Cajon Junction/Summit, which indicated we were still at elevation 4350 feet, which is amazing since we are staying pretty darn close to sea level tonight.  Here are two shots, one looking up toward Cajon Summit, and one looking down our next 10 miles or so to get more into the San Bernadino valley.  Note the original road and the new road, next to each other, that was pretty neat.

Next up was Devore, were we were able to see, and drive for a very short distance on, pre-1926 Route 66 concrete.  Most likely the only part of pre-1926 road left, kind of fitting for our last day.  We could also not help but notice the smog, it was pure blue skies when we left Hesperia this morning, and I could not help snapping this.  LA is one city I do not like flying into because you can see what you will be breathing.

During most of the trip today, after the Cajon Summit experience, we were on Foothill Boulevard from San Bernadino to Monrovia, going through many towns.  Once we hit San Bernadino, it was pretty much nothing but businesses and residences, no open spaces, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  It is a very different environment.  It took us, using the back roads, more than five hours to go less than 50 miles.  This is one of the reasons I moved out of California in 1995.  

Near the San Bernadino / Rialto border, we came across the last of seven WigWam motels built in the country (two on Route 66, one we stayed in, one we only photographed).  This one was most likely built in the late 1950's.  

Next up was Fontana, which has a lot of memories for me.  My Grandmother (Nan), used to live here, and I visited many times.  Also in this area is Ontario, Rialto, and Yucaipa - with family that I have visited in the past.  On Wednesday, I will be out in Yucaipa visiting my Aunt and my Cousins, and we are looking forward to it. Later this week, I will also pay respects to my Grandmother, my Uncle, and my Father at Green Acres Cemetery.  But today, it was Bono's giant orange.

We hit Rancho Cucamonga for lunch, and this restaurant has one of my favorite words, and one of Beth's; mine is Brewing, Beth's is Cucamonga :o)

In Monrovia, was a restored gas station, a unique thing for our California stretch of the Mother Road.

As we wound our way through various streets and a detour, I was pleasantly surprised to find Santa Anita Park & Racetrack.  It looked pretty huge and going to a horse race is now on my list...

We made it to Pasadena an I was able to get this picture from a stop light.  There were not many signs left, and this one would be neat at night.  Makes me want to set up my train set, something that is on my list of things to do...

That brought us to the end of this adventure, first at Lincoln and Olympic streets in Santa Monica (the official end of Route 66).  It was very appropriate that there was a Penguin atop a sign here, for this end of our adventure made Beth very verkempt :o(  

We then headed to the end of Santa Monica Blvd for the monument that documents the end of the Route.  Here is a picture of the monument and a picture of the Santa Monica Pier.

Hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventure, I know I have enjoyed posting and sharing.  This is the last KIT entry.  This has been a once in a lifetime trip and we have thoroughly enjoyed it.  

I may have a few more entries as we spend the rest of this week here with friends and family.  We will have a few things to celebrate on Friday, so stay tuned :o)