Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mystery of the Acorns

Where are they this year?
"I'm used to seeing so many acorns around and out in the field, it's something I just didn't believe," he said. "But this is not just not a good year for oaks. It's a zero year. There's zero production. I've never seen anything like this before."
We've seen a few, but not like usual.


Saw this last week in the NY Times Magazine. Check out the faces of kids playing video games.

Perhaps a follow up would be their faces doing something cool outdoors. I remember having some intense expressions when faced with a ten foot wave on the Kennebec, or stepping up on that dime-sized nubbin in the Gunks. You get the idea.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Clean Breakthrough

Vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy.

Some research is paying off, it seems.

A "field" of cylinders built on the sea bed over a 1km by 1.5km area, and the height of a two-storey house, with a flow of just three knots, could generate enough power for around 100,000 homes. Just a few of the cylinders, stacked in a short ladder, could power an anchored ship or a lighthouse.

Systems could be sited on river beds or suspended in the ocean. The scientists behind the technology, which has been developed in research funded by the US government, say that generating power in this way would potentially cost only around 3.5p per kilowatt hour, compared to about 4.5p for wind energy and between 10p and 31p for solar power. They say the technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation.

The system, conceived by scientists at the University of Michigan, is called Vivace, or "vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy".

More here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bike Fitting

Yes, they fit bicycles.
The technology put to work in a bike fitting is often an attention-grabber. Lasers, cameras, data readouts and computer imagery that can be manipulated to be seen from multiple views add a certain sizzle to a process that was previously, more often than not, an eyeball estimation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Club Fails

Ever hear about the Yellowstone Club?

Bad idea. And now it's gone broke.

Read about it from the ski bum perspective here.

I eventually learned that the Yellowstone Club had so few skiers that sensors were installed so lift operators would know when someone was actually riding a chair. Powder lasted for days and they had a run named EBITDA, which I learned stands for “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.’’ The employees were apparently treated well, but good luck trying to get an invitation to visit. For the masses, it was a mirage of a ski area, even though you could look down into it from Big Sky.
Buh Bye.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Turn of The Damn Lights

We've written in the past about the night sky. Getting outdoors at night is especially important to really experiencing nature. There's really nothing like gazing at the milky way on a crisp Fall night.

We would do night hikes up to Gray Knob in any weather just to experience the nocturnal feel of the woods. With a full moon, we'd get out in the winter time above treeline, or get out on skis to experience the different world of a moon lit night. I've been lucky, living in places with minimal "light pollution" impacts from human development.

There's a big new hotel being built near where I live, and despite the planned opening of Spring of 2010, they already have the place lit up like it's daytime. We drove by it last night and were amazed at the degree of star killing light pollution. I then turned my head east to see a wall of light from the exurban sprawl and DC beyond that. Where were the stars?

The case is the same driving home from work, where I pass the Charles Town races to the west, whose light likely destroys anyone's ability to see any celestial objects except the moon.

Verlyn Klinkenborg has a piece in this months National Geographic that laments this loss, while reminding us that it's not only the stars we lose, it's an awful lot of energy as well.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More green RVs

Blogged about green RVS several months back. Here's an update.

“When people talk about conservation, they get so bogged down with recycling and living lightly they forget what they are trying to save," said Brian Brawdy, a 47-year-old former police investigator turned wilderness expert. “I want people to get out there and camp, hike, rock climb."
Damn right.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fat Burn Drug

BBC is reporting on a new drug that tricks the body into burning fat (in mice right now).

The drug worked by shifting the metabolism to a fat-burning mode that normally takes over only when energy levels are low.

At higher doses, the drug completely prevented weight gain. It also improved the rodents' blood sugar tolerance and insulin sensitivity, which are important for warding off diabetes.

Apparently it's a derivation of red wine. Combine it with some good hikes and that might do the trick.

Monday, November 3, 2008


See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Sunday, November 2, 2008


85 year old Mayo on his bike

Yesterday we held our annual Unison Heritage Day in our tiny village of Unison. About 250 people showed up to revel in a beautiful indian summer day, including neighbors, friends, and lots of Civil War reenactors.