Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sad To Hear
A hiker fell to his death in Zion National Park.
ST. GEORGE — A 55-year-old man died Friday after falling about 20 feet while on a hike with friends at Zion National Park.

The man fell around 3 p.m. on an unnamed canyon trail near state Route 9, about two miles west of the park's east entrance, according to park officials. A visitor to the park who reported the fall told officials the man had fallen about 20 feet and landed mainly on his head.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Update: the hiker has been identified.

Craig B. Forster, a professor behind many environmental initiatives at the University of Utah, fell to his death Friday in Zion National Park.

Forster, 56, was hiking with his wife and three friends Friday when he scrambled up an unnamed canyon near Highway 9 and he fell about 20 feet.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

First Death
In this years war on Christmas. By the conspicuous consumption of wealth faction.

NEW YORK – Police were reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down.

Criminal charges were possible, but identifying individual shoppers in Friday's video may prove difficult, said Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, a Nassau County police spokesman.

Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

At least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries. The store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Icebergs at Breidamerkurlón, originally uploaded by arnitr.

Scientists are figuring out the details of global warming.

OSLO (Reuters) - U.S. scientists have figured out how icebergs break off Antarctica and Greenland, a finding that may help predict rising sea levels as the climate warms.

Writing in Friday's edition of the journal Science, they said icebergs formed fast when parent ice sheets spread out quickly over the sea.[...]

"For iceberg calving, the important variable -- the one that accounts for the largest portion of when the iceberg breaks -- is the rate at which ice shelves spread," the study said.

A fast spread means cracks form throughout the shelf and make it crack up. A slower spread means that deep cracks do not form as fast and the ice sticks together.

"The problem of when things break is a really hard problem because there is so much variability," lead author Richard Alley, of Pennsylvania State University, said.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Alice's Restaurant

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Time To Brine
England is having trouble with bees.

LONDON (Reuters) - Where in the United States, fruit farmers pay to have bees trucked thousands of miles to pollinate their crops and in parts of China, humans with feather dusters have taken on the task, in Britain most bees go nature's way.

Britons have a deep nostalgia for home-grown honey and its associations with an ordered rural lifestyle. But here, too, the honey bee population is dwindling, and with winter under way faces a tough fight for survival.

Besides warnings the country will run out of English honey by Christmas, there is a threat to growers of fruits such as apples and pears.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Goblin State Park

Goblins in Goblin State Park, originally uploaded by tony tarry.

A hiker is missing near Utah's Goblin State Park.

UTAH — Authorities found the vehicle Monday afternoon of a New Castle woman who went missing during a hiking trip to Moab, Utah, on Nov. 16.

Rose Backhaus, 54, was last seen checking out of the La Quinta Inn around 8 a.m. in Moab Nov. 16. Friends, family and a co-worker said it was extremely unusual that she didn’t return home Sunday night or to work early Monday morning as planned.

Emery County Sheriff’s Capt. Kyle Ekker said Backhaus’ Ford Explorer was found in the Goblin Valley area south of Green River.

“We’re in the middle of a search. We’re trying to get a helicopter up,” Ekker said around 4 p.m. Monday.

Lets hope she gets home for Thanksgiving.

Time To Go
George Walker Bush it is time to go. More and more people are going to be calling for his head. In Japan, the would be asking him to commit suicide, the honorable thing for a Samurai to do. Of course, Bush has no honor. Here is James Baker, who worked extra hard to get Bush selected by the Supreme Court.

"What we're seeing out there today is a lack of confidence," Baker told NBC News' "Meet the Press." "And the president-elect and, as a matter of fact, the current president have to face this problem over the next 60 days."

Praising Obama's appointment of "some extraordinarily capable people," Baker said that "something very useful might even come out of the two of them (Obama and Bush) sitting down together and addressing ... (the) stability of our financial system."

As Maha says how much money did he loose in the stock market? Co-presidents? Not going to happen. Anything Bush can do to make Obama's job harder he will. Bush does not care about America. He cares only for himself.

Even Little Tommy Friedman is getting into the act. Remember Tommy had so much patience for Bush's great and glorious war in Iraq, always asking for just six more months, that the term Friedman unit* was coined. But, I guess lossing 3.6 billion in just two months will do that to you.

*Term coined by economics professor Dr Duncan Black. Also Known as the blogger and DFH Atrios.

Scott Williamson and Tattoo Joe Kisner
Scott and Joe ste the speed record for an unsupported hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Just under 72 days. It is an amazing feet. You will not catch me hiking an average of 37 miles a day. Nope not going to try. The Sierra Sun has a surprisingly good article about their hike this summer.
TRUCKEE — After another long day’s hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, Truckee’s Scott Williamson sat down next to a High Sierra creek in the darkness and began to fill his water bag.

Minutes passed as he scooped water from the snowmelt-driven rivulet when the tall, wiry, long-distance hiker looked down to see he was pouring each cup over his maps and guidebook pages — not into a container.

“With the lack of sleep I had minor hallucinations and altered perception,” Williamson said. “A lot of the hike seems like a blur now.”

37 mile days will do that to you. Scott who has hiked the trail since 1992 has seen some changes.
With 11 trips on the Pacific Crest Trail over the last two decades and more than 40,000 miles of Pacific Crest Trail in his legs, Scott Williamson has witnessed some changes in the west.

Fire has stripped many of the shade-bearing trees in the first 700 miles of trail in Southern California, Williamson said.

Likewise pine forests are retreating to higher altitudes, Williamson said.

“My first hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1992 there used to be some reliable streams. They’re no longer reliable,” he said. “And the last few years every summer hikers are running a gauntlet of fire.”

Smog has found its way into the High Sierras, Williamson said.
“There has been a little magic lost,” he said.

Monday, November 24, 2008


meat face, originally uploaded by tombland.

Too funny not to post. I guess it is some kind of bologna product. Mystery pork pieces ground with fat and made into a smiley face. What could be more yummy?

Ford Begging On Both Sides Of The Atlantic
How bad off is the auto industry?

The head of Ford Germany said the European Union should make around 40 billion euros (50 billion dollars) in loans available to the continent's ailing auto sector, in an interview with the Bild newspaper published Friday.

Bernhard Mattes said such assistance would not be state aid but was "in order to allow all European carmakers the possibility to meet EU requirements on fuel efficiency and emissions, etc., more quickly."

Those rich republicans are so dependent on government welfare. They should be embarrassed but of course they are not.

Sad To Hear
A California man fell to his death Sunday.

A Glendale man died Sunday, a day after falling 50 feet while hiking in Los Padres National Forest near Gorman, authorities said.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department's Air Squad 9 rescue helicopter was called about 2:30 p.m. Saturday to the Trail Canyon area near the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area, according to a statement from the department.

Hugh Blanchard, 79, and his friends were found at the base of a waterfall near the Castaic Mine. Blanchard was unconscious, according to the release.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Back On The Trail

Lion King Is back on the trail after his side trip to Hollywood.
Oil Companies To Exploit Global Warming
With the polar ice cap melting, oil companies are planing on ways to get oil and gas from under the arctic ocean.
I'm convinced, based on models and observations, the trend is one of accelerated ice loss, and we're probably looking at a scenario, even with the best efforts to mitigate (global warming), that we'll continue to see loss," said Richard Spinrad , director of research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration .

Already, shipping already has increased within the Arctic Circle to serve the oil and gas industry.

The recent increase has been the result of a spike in commodity prices, not to capitalize on retreating sea ice, said Lawson Brigham , a former Coast Guard captain and climate scientist who made many voyages into the Arctic and around Antarctica .

The pull is strong in a world dependent on petroleum. In July, the U.S. Geological Survey issued the first public estimate of the petroleum resources north of the Arctic Circle . Its findings: 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ethanol, Bad!
Farmers are more and more reliant on ethanol production than food production.

Scott Irwin says agriculture’s fortunes are now tethered more to ethanol than food, making crop growers vulnerable to sharp price swings at filling stations rather than the typically slower cost shifts at grocery stores.

“We’re just experiencing the full brunt of this new source of volatility,” said Irwin, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics. “When food prices were the main trigger, recessionary impacts were much less direct and much more gradual. Now, there’s this new connection through energy costs that immediately gets translated to agriculture.”

With fuel prices coming down and the Wall Street credit crunch many ethanol plants may close. There never has been a natural market for ethanol. It is time to end it's subsidies.

Connecticut Regulates Olive Oil, Say It Ain't Soy!
Connecticut becomes the first state in the nation to regulate olive oil.

Luciano V. Sclafani Jr. has imported enough olive oil over the years to know when something is not right. So when he saw an advertisement for a three-liter tin of extra virgin olive oil for $9.99 when the market price was between $25 and $30, he knew something was up.

He purchased the oil, had it analyzed and, sure enough, the "extra virgin olive oil" was actually 90 percent soybean oil and 10 percent pomace oil, a low-grade of olive oil.

Sclafani of Norwalk-based Sclafani Importers alerted the state Department of Consumer Protection and its agents' own analysis determined that not only was the oil not extra virgin olive, but it was also four ounces shy of the labeled weight.

The republicans and their free market friends always say that the market will take care of it's self. It is acceptable to republicans for you and your children to die for corporate profits. Even sensible regulation like requiring olive oil to be olive oil is unacceptable to them. But, Chef are you going a little over the top here. No! No! No! With children allergic to nuts like never before what if the distributer put in peanut, walnut, or hazelnut?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh The Humanity!

The classic WKRP Thanksgiving turkey drop. The incompetent Sarah Palin, pardoned a turkey and then gave an interview while they slaughtered turkeys in the background. Her answers were as incomprehensible as ever.
Chef is going to let out his inner heretic. Yes, this thanksgiving I am going to fight for the right not to stuff my turkey. Lindsey at Majikthise has a great list of tips for cooking a turkey. I like this one.
6. What I'm about to say sounds heretical, but stay with me: Don't cook the stuffing inside the turkey. Instead, fill the body cavity with a quartered raw onion, an quartered cored apple, half a lemon, and fresh herbs.

I would use lemon, half and orange, and fresh herbs. Also, I like to give my bird a subcutaneous rub.(Under the Skin) For my rub, I use butter, lemon zest, and garlic powder. If you do not brine your bird add salt to your rub.

If you have relatives that demand cranberry sauce from a can you can always fake them out by making your own and refrigerating it in a can so it has the classic shape. Depending on your recipe you may have to add some pectin to jelly it up.

VW 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel Engine

VW 2.0 l TDI Clean Diesel engine, originally uploaded by beedubz.

VW's Jetta TDI diesel won green car of the year.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A clean-burning diesel sedan, Volkswagen AG's Jetta TDI, won the "Green Car of the Year" award at the Los Angeles auto show on Thursday, the first time a diesel-powered car has taken the industry's top environmental honor.

"This signals that clean diesel has arrived," said Ron Cogan, editor of Green Car Journal, the trade magazine that awards the prize.

Diesel, a conventional combustion approach long favored by Europeans, has been making inroads into the U.S. market as a here-and-now option to make engines run more economically and pollute less.

It gets 41 mpg. Here is a picture. This guy has modified his for corn oil and claims 55 mpg.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Good News
Waxman defeats Dingell for House Energy and Commerce Committee. Good news for the environment. Look at this list of their supporters and see who is owned by oil and coal. Now something can get done about global warming.

No one will shake Bushes hand. He is not liked! It could not have happened to a more deserving ass.
Skull Found!
I have never found anything very interesting in my hikes and I would like to keep it that way.
As George Garrigues hiked Tuesday through the Frazier Park hills with Poppy, his dachshund-Chihuahua mix, his dog started sniffing at something in the brush.

The 67-year-old retired journalist and professor has lived in Lake of the Woods for three months and said he likes to hike near his home on the 7000 block of Ivins Drive. He decided to take a new route this time, about a half-mile north of his home, he said.

“It looked like a rock, a stone,” Garrigues said. “I turned it over with my foot and saw it was a skull.”

It is possible that the remains belong to a lady who went missing earlier this year.

According to The Mountain Enterprise newspaper, 48-year-old Brenda Melech disappeared May 13. Forensic tests will be performed Thursday.

My condolences to her friends and family.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Gift Of Eggs
Someone has been leaving eggs on, The Slow Cook, Ed Bruske's door step. It reminded me of some Pacific Crest Trail magic.

I was walking along the trail minding my own business, and I see my buddy K-Too standing in the middle of a dirt road staring at a carton of eggs, that he is holding in both hands. So, I asked what he had. He looked at me and told me this story.

He said some guy happened to be driving by in a truck pulling a camper. He just stopped and told me he had something for me. The guy went into the trailer and handed me a dozen eggs. Got back in his truck and drove off before he new what happened.

We sat on the side of the road scrambled them up with some cheese. Put them on bagels and served them with hunger sauce. Man were they a nice treat!
Ample Celebration

Ample Celebration, originally uploaded by jayinvienna.

It is getting to be Celebration across the nation time. It appears that Sierra Nevada has added a new beer to its year round collection. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra Ale can't wait to try it!

Bush Hates You And Your Parks
Bush is working hard to pollute the country on his way out.

The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, even though half of the EPA's 10 regional administrators formally dissented from the decision and four others criticized the move in writing.

Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the administration's push to weaken Clean Air Act protections for "Class 1 areas" nationwide has sparked fierce resistance from senior agency officials. All but two of the regional administrators objecting to the proposed rule are political appointees.

The proposal would change the practice of measuring pollution levels near national parks, which is currently done over three-hour and 24-hour increments to capture emission spikes during periods of peak energy demand; instead, the levels would be averaged over a year. Under this system, spikes in pollution would no longer violate the law.

Coal plants are worse than nuclear plants.

Via Warren Street at They gave us a republic.

Body Found
In Northern New York.

Authorities in New York state have discovered remains they believe might be those of a Camarillo man missing since last month.

Fred Gillingham, 72, disappeared while hiking in the Adirondack Park Preserve in northern New York. He was reported missing Oct. 15.

A hunter found human remains near Rock River in the preserve Monday afternoon, according to a statement released by David Winchell, spokesman for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The agency had conducted a search for Gillingham in the weeks following his disappearance.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Have Athletes Foot Fungus?
It is hard when backpacking to keep your foot hygiene up. Fortunately Chile's copper industry is working on the answer.

"In clothes there is another venue ... where it has excellent anti-fungus qualities," he said.

Codelco is already working with the private sector to market socks, towels, pillow cases and even underwear sewn with copper fibers that fight fungi and even help combat acne.

Don't know how copper socks will feel but it might be worth a try.

Big Agra VS Food Security
James Surowiecki of the New Yorker has good article about the food supply.
This spring, disaster loomed in the global food market. Precipitous increases in the prices of staples like rice (up more than a hundred and fifty per cent in a few months) and maize provoked food riots, toppled governments, and threatened the lives of tens of millions. But the bursting of the commodity bubble eased those pressures, and food prices, while still high, have come well off the astronomical levels they hit in April. For Americans, the drop in commodity prices has put a few more bucks in people’s pockets; in much of the developing world, it may have saved many from actually starving. So did the global financial crisis solve the global food crisis?
The World Bank and the IMF worked to get developing countries to abandon staple crops that could be bought cheaply for export crops that would give farmers more money. The market was more efficient than the governments or so the arguments go. But if there is severe drought in one or two parts of the world, people could starve everywhere.
These changes did not cause the rising prices of the past couple of years, but they have made them more damaging. The old emphasis on food security was undoubtedly costly, and often wasteful. But the redundancies it created also had tremendous value when things went wrong. And one sure thing about a system as complex as agriculture is that things will go wrong, often with devastating consequences. If the just-in-time system for producing cars runs into a hitch and the supply of cars shrinks for a while, people can easily adapt. When the same happens with food, people go hungry or even starve. That doesn’t mean that we need to embrace price controls or collective farms, and there are sensible market reforms, like doing away with import tariffs, that would make developing-country consumers better off. But a few weeks ago Bill Clinton, no enemy of market reform, got it right when he said that we should help countries achieve “maximum agricultural self-sufficiency.” Instead of a more efficient system, we should be trying to build a more reliable one.
We need to start working on local food security here in the United States.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Things That You Do Not Need

A new twist on the treadmill. A treadmill on wheels. Because it is no fun to walk in place, walk in place while moving. For those people that love their treadmill so much they want to take it with them.
Something Posing As Meat

wall of spam, originally uploaded by chotda.

Spam sales are up.

AUSTIN, Minn. — The economy is in tatters and, for millions of people, the future is uncertain. But for some employees at the Hormel Foods Corporation [HRL 26.76 --- UNCH (0) ] plant here, times have never been better. They are working at a furious pace and piling up all the overtime they want.

he workers make Spam, perhaps the emblematic hard-times food in the American pantry.

Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce.

The article goes on to say things like Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, rice, and bean sales are up too.

The generic name for Spam Is potted meat food. Do you really want to eat something that has to remind you that it is indeed food?


Fortification Hill, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

A las Vegas man fell to his death while hiking on Fortification Hill in Lake Mead National Recreation area.

A 35-year-old Las Vegas man died as a result of injuries from a 75-foot fall while hiking Sunday morning on the Arizona side of Lake Mead National Recreation Center, according to National Park Service officials.

The man has not yet been identified, pending notification of relatives, according to park officials.

My condolences to his friends and family.
Update the hiker has been identified as Jay Brown Jr.
Close Call
Mike Simmons had a rare wildlife encounter.

"It could have been ugly," he said. "There would have been claws, antlers, hooves and coffee as we all scared the hell out of each other."

Instead, Simons was far enough off the path of what he's calling his "once-in-a-lifetime moment" when he witnessed a bear chasing a bull moose "full bore" and even got off a couple of shots with his camera.

"He is very lucky to have seen that and gotten some shots," said Fish and Game Department bear biologist Andrew Timmins. "It's a very unique situation."

It is an interesting article worth a read.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Preparing For Sea Level Rise
I think California will be the first state to have a plan for rising oceans caused by global warming.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered preparations for rising sea levels from global warming, a startling prospect for the most populous U.S. state with a Pacific Ocean coastline stretching more than 800 miles.

Recorded sea levels rose 7 inches during the 20th century in San Francisco, Schwarzenegger said in the executive order for study of how much more the sea could rise, what other consequences of global warming were coming and how the state should react.

The study is to be completed by 2010. Florida and Delaware could be almost wiped off the map by a significant rise in sea levels. The planing can not start soon enough.

Too Little Too Late?
California is slowing the diversion of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California officials ordered on Friday an additional 17 percent cut in the amount of water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect a fish in the most populous U.S. state's fresh water hub.

Combined with a prior U.S. court order to reduce pumping to protect another fish in the delta, the amount of water drawn from it by state and federal water systems will be cut by nearly half from average levels, said Don Strickland, a spokesman for California's Department of Water Resources.

Water from the delta, which is east of San Francisco, is distributed as far away as Southern California, where a number of local water authorities in the most populated part of the state have already imposed water use restrictions after two years of below-average rainfall and snow in California.

Is it enough to bring back the smelt that the salmon feed on, and have the salmon return? I kind of doubt it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

While Waiting For That Corn Burger
Americans burned 16 million gallons of gas at Burger King drive through windows alone. No word on how much gas is wasted in all drive through windows.
Via Biomes Blog
Regulation And The Market
From the politically prosecuted Eliot Spitzer.

No major market problem has been resolved through self-regulation, because individual competitive behavior doesn't concern itself with the larger market. Individual actors care only about performing better than the next guy, doing whatever is permitted -- or will go undetected. Look at the major bubbles and market crises. Long-Term Capital Management, Enron, the subprime lending scandals: All are classic demonstrations of the bitter reality that greed, not self-discipline, rules where unfettered behavior is allowed.

Those who truly understand economics, as did Adam Smith, do not preach an absence of government participation. A market doesn't exist in a vacuum. Rather, a market is a product of laws, rules and enforcement. It needs transparency, capital requirements and fidelity to fiduciary duty. The alternative, as we are seeing, is anarchy.

One of the great advantages U.S. capital markets have enjoyed over the decades has been the view -- held worldwide -- that there was an underlying integrity to the representations market participants made, because the regulatory framework in which they were made was believed to provide genuine oversight. But as we all know, the laws requiring such integrity are meaningless without a government dedicated to enforcing them.

How did the deregulation and non enforcement work out for us? It got us to the point of financial meltdown. We are talking about it in relation to The Great Depression.

No Mr Big
No mater how much they spend, the growing will continue.

The U.S. Forest Service pulled twice as many marijuana plants from the San Bernardino National Forest this year compared to 2007 because it had twice as much money, a special agent in charge of eradicating marijuana said.

Special Agent in Charge Ron Pugh, who oversees law enforcement in California forests for the U.S. Forest Service, said his targets are the chiefs of the drug organizations.

He says arresting them is the best way to decrease the amount of marijuana planted. Finding fewer plants next year would be a good measure of success, Pugh said.

"We want to get to the Mr. Big who is profiting from this," Pugh said. "Until we get to that we are just chasing the farmers."

They are not going to catch the guy who bank rolls the operation. The farmers as Pugh calls them will not tell if they know. And most likely they do not. It would be a death penalty for them. If you want to stop them from growing on public land legalize it. Tax it. Regulate it. Prohibition has not worked for the last 70 plus years. The time has come to change this failed policy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ex Parrot

Via Susie we find that Monty Python's ex parrot sketch is an old classic.

ATHENS (Reuters) – "I'll tell you what's wrong with it. It's dead, that's what's wrong with it."

For those who believe the ancient Greeks thought of everything first, proof has been found in a 4th century AD joke book featuring an ancestor of Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch where a man returns a parrot to a shop, complaining it is dead.

The 1,600-year-old work entitled "Philogelos: The Laugh Addict," one of the world's oldest joke books, features a joke in which a man complains that a slave he has just bought has died, its publisher said on Friday.

"By the gods," answers the slave's seller, "when he was with me, he never did any such thing!"

In a British comedy act Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, first aired in 1969 and regularly voted one of the funniest ever, the pet-shop owner says the parrot, a "Norwegian Blue," is not dead, just "resting" or "pining for the fjords."

The English-language book will appeal to those who swear that the old jokes are the best ones. Many of its 265 gags will seem strikingly familiar, suggesting that sex, dimwits, nagging wives and flatulence have raised laughs for centuries.

The End Is Near Lets Cheer!
The devastation to the environment caused by Bush is coming to an end.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. conservation groups on Thursday hailed the imminent end of "environmental abuse and neglect" by the Bush administration and promised to work with President-elect Barack Obama to reverse this course.

"The Bush administration has done a lot of damage to our nation's environmental protections over the last eight years," said Mike Daulton, the National Audubon Society's legislative director.

"And nowhere is that more evident than the Bush administration's drilling policies, which have been slanted dramatically toward the oil industry."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Corn Burger
Your burgers are made from corn.
Jahren and her colleague Rebecca Kraft collected hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and fries from three separate Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's locations in six U.S. cities: Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The scientists were looking for the amount of carbon 13 (13C), a variety of carbon with an extra neutron (known as an isotope) that makes its atom heavier.

Corn tends to have more of this 13C than other plants. That telltale signature persists as the corn travels through the complex system that turns it into feed, which is consumed and processed by cattle to grow tissue. It continues after the animals are slaughtered and the meat is cooked. The result: 93 percent of the tissue that comprised the hamburger meat was derived from corn.

In fact, only 12 samples from the entire country did not show this unique corn signature: all from a Burger King on the west coast. "My best guess is that it represents meat from another country," Jahren says.[...]

As Jahren notes, Americans spend more than $100 billion a year on such fast food, making it a significant part of the diet. "Diet related disease is causing more and more suffering in this country and the information you can get is either vague or nonexistent," says Jahren, who spent the last two years trying to get information about what specifically goes into fast food at these chains and how it is made, with no success. "You shouldn't have to use stable isotopes to get the answer to what's in something I just spent my money on and am about to put in my body."

We might not eat it if we knew.

Via Ezra Klien

Eielson Visitor Center

The view from the new platinum LEED visitor center in Denali National Park.

While the design, architecture, technologies, and remote location are fascinating in themselves, the Eielson Visitor's Center is notable for a more practical issue -- its low cost.

Operating costs are 84.7 percent lower than the average building its size (15,000 square feet), and Eielson was the first National Park Service building to receive a LEED Platinum rating within a federal budget.

Proving that integrated design and cutting edge technologies can indeed be cost effective, Eielson is set to be a model for future National Park Visitor Center designs.

More are to be built.

Full Moon During The Witching Hour

Full Moon!

Missing Hiker
In the Catalina Mountains of Arizona.
Authorities are searching for a 22-year-old man who left to go hiking a few days ago in the Catalina Mountains and has yet to return.
Alexander Wanamaker has been missing since Monday, when he was last seen at a trailhead in Catalina State Park, said Deputy Dawn Barkman, a Pima County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.
Update: Andrew was found alive and well. Also, he is the great-great-grandson of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eater In Chief

This Lawn is Your Lawn from roger doiron on Vimeo.
We need to grow more food at home as a nation. A plea for Barack Obama to set an example by planting a garden at the White House.

Via Emptywheel
Space urine to be recycled into drinking water.

ORLANDO, FL-- The countdown is underway for NASA's planned launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour Friday.

The mission will carry astronauts and a one of a kind sewage treatment plant to the International Space Station.

The new system is efficient enough even turn urine into clean drinking water.

Astronaut sandy Magnus will start up the water recycling system after it's transferred from the shuttle to the space station.

"There's five containers of waste water from the Russian toilet to start the regeneration system going," said Magnus.

Of course they will bring a sample back to earth for testing before the astronauts start drinking it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Code Name
Barack Obama: Renegade
Michelle Obama: Renaissance
Malia Obama: Radiance
Sasha Obama: Rosebud

GW Bush: Tumbler. No respect. I do not know if it is from his cheer leading days or he just falls a lot. That reminds me of a trail name.....

In 2001, on the Appalachian Trail there was a hiker from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He decided that his trail name was The Universal Adventurer. However, the his given name was Tom, and the Universal Adventurer name did not fit as he fell a lot. Certainly someone with the name the Universal Adventurer should not fall often. So despite his protestations, he became the Tumbling Tom.

Saffron Crocuses

Saffron production has come back to Italy.

SAN GIMIGNANO, Italy (AFP) – Purple crocuses, the source of the precious spice saffron, are abloom once again in Italy's Tuscan hills, centuries after they vanished.

For the rest of the day, nimble fingers will extract the tiny red filaments which will become saffron, used chiefly in cooking but also for colouring and in some medicines.

"A machine could never do this laborious, delicate and above all lengthy work of extraction," said Paolo Pieraccini, who runs the farm with his sister Tiziana.

"You realise it takes 125,000 flowers to produce one kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of saffron!"

Each flower yields three pistils, or stigmas, which provide the reddish-coloured saffron, used as currency in the Middle Ages and still hugely expensive today.

After the fragile pistils have been removed, they are dried overnight at a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), a process that removes 80 percent of their weight.

Then they are put into little sachets weighing a tenth of a gramme, a tiny fraction of an ounce, sold for 3.50 euros (4.50 dollars) each, making saffron worth 35,000 euros (45,000 dollars) a kilo, more expensive than gold.

I know you can grow them here. It would be interesting to try.

Destroying The Oceans
One little fish at a time.
Per capita meat consumption more than doubled over the past half-century as the global economy expanded. It is expected to double again by 2050. Which raises the question, what does all that meat eat before it becomes meat?

Increasingly the answer is very small fish harvested from the ocean and ground into meal and pressed into oil. According to a new report by scientists from the University of British Columbia and financed by the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, 37 percent by weight of all the fish taken from the ocean is forage fish: small fish like sardines and menhaden. Nearly half of that is fed to farmed fish; most of the rest is fed to pigs and poultry.

The problem is that forage fish are the feedstock of marine mammals and birds and larger species of fish. In other words, farmed fish, pigs and poultry — and the humans who eat them — are competing for food directly with aquatic species that depend on those forage fish for their existence. It’s as if humans were swimming in schools in the ocean out-eating every other species.

The case is worse than that. When it comes to farmed fish, there is a net protein loss: it takes three pounds of fish feed to produce one pound of farmed salmon. This protein pyramid — small fish fed to farmed fish, pigs and poultry that are then fed to humans — is unsustainable. It threatens the foundation of oceanic life.

Here in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay much of the menhaden is caught. The town of Northeast for many years had the largest commercial catch of any town in the country because of the menhaden. Now they are just catching a fraction of what they used to catch. Rockfish, the Maryland state fish, love menhaden. But now you will find rockfish feeding on blue crabs. Sadly, the blue crab has declined precipitously in the bay. The waterman and a way of life is soon to be lost forever.
Via Cab Drollery.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Looks like Obama is going to do good things for the environment from the get go. He is going to undo the Bush policy of breaking environmental laws.

The president-elect has said, for example, that he intends to quickly reverse the Bush administration's decision last December to deny California the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles. "Effectively tackling global warming demands bold and innovative solutions, and given the failure of this administration to act, California should be allowed to pioneer," Obama said in January.

California had sought permission from the Environmental Protection Agency to require that greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles be cut by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016, effectively mandating that cars achieve a fuel economy standard of at least 36 miles per gallon within eight years. Seventeen other states had promised to adopt California's rules, representing in total 45 percent of the nation's automobile market. Environmentalists cheered the California initiative because it would stoke innovation that would potentially benefit the entire country.

"An early move by the Obama administration to sign the California waiver would signal the seriousness of intent to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and build a future for the domestic auto market," said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Before the election, Obama told others that he favors declaring that carbon dioxide emissions are endangering human welfare, following an EPA task force recommendation last December that Bush and his aides shunned in order to protect the utility and auto industries.

A good sign that Obama is taking the environment seriously.

A New New Deal
Nobel Laurette Paul Krugman

The economic lesson is the importance of doing enough. F.D.R. thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans; in reality, he was taking big risks with the economy and with his legacy. My advice to the Obama people is to figure out how much help they think the economy needs, then add 50 percent. It’s much better, in a depressed economy, to err on the side of too much stimulus than on the side of too little.

In short, Mr. Obama’s chances of leading a new New Deal depend largely on whether his short-run economic plans are sufficiently bold. Progressives can only hope that he has the necessary audacity.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Grotto Falls, Smokey Mountains

Grotto Falls, Smoky Mountains, originally uploaded by paterdr.

A hiker fell near Grotto Falls, in the Smoky Mountains.

A hiker is in critical condition after falling 30-40 feet Saturday afternoon in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Jeremy Frye, 25, fell from the top of Grotto Falls around 1:30 p.m. and landed on broken rock below. He suffered head and back injuries.

He was taken to Gatlinburg and the airlifted to UT Medical Center.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Have Mercy !

Lion King hikes through the Rockies before taking a detour where he gets chased by a....

Friday, November 07, 2008

Holy Smokes!
Liquid smoking. This can not possibly be good.
Smart Grid!
Nobel Prize winner, Al Gore is urging Barack Obama to build a smart grid for American electric system.
The plan advocates immediate investment in energy efficiency, renewable power generation -- including public investment in wind, solar and geothermal technology -- and the creation of a unified national smart grid.

"Modernize transmission infrastructure so that clean electricity generated anywhere in America can power homes and businesses across the nation," the alliance said in a statement.

The alliance favors "national electricity 'interstates' that move power quickly and cheaply to where it needs to be (and) local smart grids that buy and sell power from households and support clean plug-in cars."

This will create good paying jobs for several years. A good idea. It has the Chef seal of approval.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Urban Farming
Tokyo has added under ground and rooftop farms.

Kitazawa was one of many young people here left without a stable income as Japanese companies slashed jobs. But he finally ended years of job hunting when he found the position growing vegetables right in the middle of Tokyo.

"I felt a bit odd at first growing vegetables like this, but I've learned its merits," Kitazawa said.

The state-of-the art farm, known as Pasona O2, was created by Tokyo-based temp staffing agency Pasona Group Inc. The farm carefully adjusts temperatures, humidity and lighting so vegetables can grow under the ground.

Kitazawa grows a few different types of lettuce in one of the six "farms," which look somewhat like space laboratories divided by glass doors that slide open and shut automatically.

The other farming rooms grow rice, roses and vegetables such as tomatoes and pumpkins.

I do not think this type of farming will be cost effective in the US. Rooftop farms to cool the buildings from the heat island effect might be of use here.

Encouraged by environment-conscious Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a number of building owners in the capital have introduced roof-top gardening as a way to prevent overheating.

In the "Green Potato" project launched by two subsidiaries of Japanese telecommunications giant NTT Corp., city farmers not only help cool down Tokyo but also harvest sweet potatoes in autumn.

"Sweet potatoes grow strongly in the tough roof-top environment of harsh sun and strong wind," said Masahiro Nagata, a staff member of NTT Facilities Inc.'s environment business department.

The plants are particularly good for roof-tops because their wide leaves can cover the whole surface and are efficient at transpiration -- evaporating water -- which has a cooling effect.

The temperature of a roof area not covered by potato leaves was as much as 27 degrees Celsius (48.6 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than an area covered by the leaves, according to a survey taken on top of the NTT Facilities building.

All most fifty degrees!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Like This
Obama says
The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, "I don't consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.' So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."

The talking heads are such idiots.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thank The Goddess

Mini Muir
Ted Alvarez, over at the Backpacker Blog, tells the story of 13 year old Nicholas Clark's journey across the country, in his usual humorous tone.
He made his way east by following rivers, and even made his way above treeline. A boy after our own hearts, he traveled fast and light, packing just a sleeping bag, tarp, matches, two packs of cookies, trail mix, tortillas, honey, and four bottles of water. He "didn't want the weight" of toothpaste or soap.

It is good, you should read it all.
New Coating For Solar Panels
This could be big, if it reduces the amount of time it takes to "pay back" a solar panel.

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A new type of reflective coating can make solar panels far more efficient, soaking up nearly all available sunlight from nearly any angle, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Current solar panels -- which convert energy from the sun into electricity -- absorb only about two-thirds of available sunlight.

But surfaces treated with a coating developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, can harvest 96.2 percent of sunlight.

By pay back, I mean the amount of time it takes a solar panel to create an amount of electricity equal to the price of the panel based on your local utility's electrical rate. Essentially when buying a solar panel you are buying your electricity up front before you use it. Any electricity created after the pay back period is free!

Obama Wins
Dixville Notch.

DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. – Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, N.H., where tradition of having the first Election Day ballots tallied lives on.

Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday's first minutes. The town of Hart's Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns' ballots but got no votes.

New Hampshire wants to be first all the time. If all registered voters have voted they can count the vote. All in good fun.

Monday, November 03, 2008

No On 8

Stop the home invasions! This really is about certain religions trying to enforce their beliefs on the population. California voters please vote no on 8. No Hate!
New Rocky Run Shelter

rocky run shelter sign, originally uploaded by fuzzy bird.

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club built a new shelter at the old Rocky Run shelter site. They also rebuilt the old shelter. One of 15 left from the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC. Way to go guys and gals! I was last at the old shelter in 2001. It was pretty run down. Plus the design made for a dreary place. And if that is not enough it is close to where the Blair Witch Project was filmed. I did not feel good about sleeping there!

Originally, the club planned to take down the old log shelter and replace it with a larger one. But, noting its historic significance, Preservation Maryland provided funding for materials to restore the CCC-built shelter and PATC volunteers did the work.

Built of chestnut, several of the bottom logs had deteriorated. Workers jacked the shelter up and replaced them with round white oak logs, rechinked it, put on a new wood shake roof and installed a new wood floor.

Sheaffer said the shelter site was chosen probably because the hillside offers protection and Rocky Run spring bubbles forth nearby. Over the years, two decks, a grill pit, porch swing and a flower bed have been added, making it a homey sight for weary hikers.

The site for the new shelter, just a few hundred yards from the old one, was chosen because it's flat. Built of new half logs, it has three full sides, a wood floor and a plywood-floored loft, and sleeps 16 people. The roof extends over a large wood-deck porch, which could double as sleeping space. Large clerestory windows flood the shelter with natural light. Most AT shelters are dark inside, said Sheaffer.

New shelters typically cost $7,000 to $9,000 and take eight to 12 months of volunteer labor to build, he said. PATC is also building new shelters at Devils Racecourse in Maryland and at Rod Hollow in Virginia. "Every shelter is a little different," he said. "But basically they are three-sided structures."

Pictures: new shelter, old shelter.

I am glad they kept the old shelter.

Please Forgive Me!


Sunset@Dubai, originally uploaded by hk_traveller.

Dubai where they can build the worlds tallest building. The largest indoor ski area in the world. Islands that look like palm trees. You can play tennis in the sky but they can not clean up their municipal waste.

For several weeks some of the emirate's fabled beaches have been covered with the stinking contents of septic tanks as Dubai suffers the consequences of its frantic and poorly controlled development.

The foul effluent, which threatens to damage Dubai's image, highlights one of the paradoxes of the emirates -- it can build the world's tallest tower and six-star hotels but has not constructed the sewage works it needs.

Dubai officially had 1.3 million inhabitants at the end of 2006 but its population is ballooning.

If you build it they will come, unless your beaches are covered in sh*t. It is just stupid not to take care of your sh*t. Heck, they are building at sea level. Let us see how smart that is in a couple of decades.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dead or Alive

Veja Magazine/Bush, originally uploaded by print.magazine.

War and Peace

Veja Magazine/Bush, originally uploaded by print.magazine.


Snow! Wind!

Lion King encounters snow and wind in Argentine Pass. It is getting scary!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Obama's Got
Green cred. I do not think he will be bullied by the press into being the next Hoover. He knows we must spend money to get the economy back on track.
Obama told Time Magazine this month that with the economy flagging he wanted to launch an "Apollo project" to build an alternative energy economy.

Because "there is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy ... That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office."

And in his "closing argument" ahead of next Tuesday's election, Obama told an Ohio rally that his energy plan would create jobs while freeing America from Middle Eastern oil.

"And I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade - jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid..." he said.

The press does not complain about the 10+ billion a month we spend in Iraq. Just watch when Obama proposes some project, they will scream bloody murder about the cost. Largest deficits in history no problem, under Bush. But they will be all over Obama for any spending. The media is inherently conservative.