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Showing posts from June, 2013

A Day to Relax

I'm running behind schedule today.   It happens.  Normally, it happens because I need to relax for some reason or another, and today is no exception.  I've been extraordinarily busy.  Like, oh-my-gosh-I-need-a-nap busy. It's actually a pretty good feeling.  Crazy, I know.  Who wants to be exhausted, right? Me, evidently.   It feels good.  I enjoy working hard enough to feel it in my muscles for more than a few minutes.  It's a sort of stress relief. Every time I ache like that, it feels as though I've just accomplished a major victory. I have no idea what kind of victory, of course, but a victory nonetheless. It also means, however, that I need to take a moment to rest - something I'm not particularly good at.  So I'll be resting today... but I refuse to leave you with nothing just so that I can take a break.  If I'm going to take a break, I need to give you something relaxing, as well, right? And so I'd like to leave you with a view

The Problem With Wild Strawberries

M y daughter and I decided to head up to my grandmother's house on the North Shore of Lake Superior for a while, and I wasn't able to bring her strawberry garden with me.  It's doing quite well right now, having survived the winter (Hooray for container overwintering success!), and we were both pretty excited about it. Unfortunately, small hatchback cars don't exactly have a great deal of space for packing large planters, on top of everything else, so I had to leave them behind. I was sad for a little while, but only for a little while. You see, I had completely forgotten about one really awesome, completely cool aspect to being at my grandmother's house. She lives "off in the woods".  We're talking about a totally rural environment where you wake up, look out the window, and get to view a herd of deer a few meters away that are happily munching on various plants.  You may spot a wolf.  A bear could even amble past the house. Totally rural.

Don't Drink the Water! Well, Not Much of It, Anyway...

You may remember me going a bit gaga over some old water in Canada. Specifically, I'm talking about two billion year old water trapped within some rock in Timmins, Ontario. Well, most people would just let that go.  I mean, that was last month's news. But I'm not most people. Nope.  I'm the type of person that can't let something interesting go.  Not at all.  That includes water older than the dinosaurs.  Thankfully, I was rewarded.  I went to check up on it, and I found an interview with a University of Toronto Earth Sciences professor via the LA Times. Deborah Netburn, you rock ! Netburn, obviously, was the person that conducted the interview with the aforementioned professor named Barbara Sherwood Lollar. I was in geogeek heaven. Netburn was very thorough, asking about the water's age, point of discovery, and potential for holding ancient life, as well as asking about how this may guide research dealing with the possibility of water trap

So There Were These Chickens...

It all started when I drove by a couple of chickens.   Downtown. In a public park. For the past few days I've been looking into what sort of fascinating places are located within the North Shore area of Minnesota, specifically the area in which my mother lives. I think I've gone to heaven. No, really.  It's an amazing area!  The city of Duluth, for example, actually has a Sustainability Team.  That's some pretty exciting stuff.  Taken straight from the city's website, "Sustainability is a governing principle in implementation of the City of Duluth Comprehensive Plan. In 2011, the Duluth City Council endorsed the first City Operations Energy Action Plan for years 2011 -- 2015. The plan sets targets to reduce energy use in buildings, operations, and transportation." ( source ) But Duluth doesn't stop at that.  This community doesn't just work on energy use and pat itself on the back.  No, Duluth goes even further than that. How fa

A Partially True Meme and Its Food Forest Awesomeness

Sometimes those facebook memes actually do something good for you. Yeah, I know... I sound like a crazy lady. But every once in a long while, that statement is actually true.  See, a friend had posted a meme on her wall which featured the branch of an apple tree.  The text atop that branch talked about Seattle, WA and its attempt to create a "food forest" in one of its parks.  This park, the meme said, would be the first of its kind in the nation. As with most memes, it was partially true. Seattle is indeed creating a fruit forest for its residents.  Total Awesomeness! It's called the Beacon Food Forest , named after Beacon Avenue, its future location. Not only will the Beacon Food Forest have a fully functional fruit forest available to the public for free, but it is being designed using permacultural practices.  This means that the trees, shrubs, and ground plants in the environment will be totally self-sustainable.  Perennials will be planted, ensuring

Is Cheap Solar Energy Currently Possible?

We all love the idea of solar power.   But is it possible to get cheap solar energy?  According to the city of Palo Alto, California, the answer appears to be... YES. No, really.  While reading an article on written by Eric Wesoff, I discovered that they have things worked out so that they'll be able to supply about 80 Megawatts at just 6.9 cents per kilowatt hour over a thirty year term. That's good.  Like, holy crap good. Well, ok.  They won't be supplying all of their residents' energy via solar power.  It'll only be around 48% when everything comes online in 4 years. Tee hee!  I just said only .  That's actually pretty amazing for, well, anywhere in this country. What's even more cool than that?  The fact that the state requires that cities have at least 33% of their energy coming from renewable sources by 2020.  Palo Alto will be way ahead of schedule, and way above the guidelines. Sweet! Go, Palo Alto!!!  ::ins

One Scary Article, and Why it Matters to the Environment

It started out pretty scary. The article I was reading, Financial Totalitarianism: The Economic, Political, Social and Cultural Rule of Speculative Capital , not only had a daunting title, but also had a fear-inspiring aspect.  Finances cause blood pressures to raise, and totalitarianism ... well... who doesn't freak out when they read that word describing out county's current climate? Naturally, I continued reading. It begins, as it should, with the author's definition of "financial totalitarianism", which can best be explained in his own words.  Max Haiven explains that totalitarianism in the United States, as he sees it, is an " totalitarianism where financial power and modes of thinking increasingly stain the social fabric. And like the totalitarianisms of old, the "financialization" of life is ultimately directed by and benefits a tiny minority, at the expense of everyone else." Financialism is segmented into two diffe

Deep Thunder: Even the Name is Cool!

Heads up! This piece is heavily biased.  Why, you ask?  Because I learned about it through an Op-ed in Live Science.  An op-ed about the Deep Thunder software, written by Lloyd Treinish, chief scientist of IBM's Deep Thunder program. Best. Program name. Ever. See?  I told you it was heavily biased. But it's so cool!!! Deep Thunder is weather prediction software of the most awesome variety.  Basically, research to create Deep Thunder began due to the fact that our standard weather prediction software is rather... uh... crappy. There's a reason people always make fun of meteorologists, and it's not because they're really that dopey... it's because the prediction software they use... isn't good at predicting.  Not really, anyway. So, in steps Deep Thunder . (Sorry... I just really like the name.  Can't. Stop. Using. It. Deep Thunder! Weeee! ) What's the story behind it, you ask?  What exactly makes me think it's awesome (besides th

Food Waste is Water Waste

And now it's time for me to state the obvious: Agriculture consumes a lot of water. Duh, right?  We all know this.  What's the point, then, in saying it?  The point of it is that while we all realize this on an intellectual level, we have a habit of not thinking about it. So what's so bad about that? Well, nothing, on the surface.  Nothing in general , for that matter.  Problems arise not from the water that goes into growing our fruits and vegetables, but from our own actions once we buy them. I'm talking food waste. Wasting food is easy to do.  We may prepare too much, so it ends up getting thrown into the trash. Maybe we buy too much.  It goes bad and begins to grow fuzzy mold, causing us to stare at it with disgust... and maybe a little fear.  Nobody is actively trying to do anything wrong.  It just happens. Unfortunately, it happens a lot, and it's something we need to actively try to prevent.  Indeed, as stated in a story from NPR, &q

United States Emissions Outsourced to China's Poor

Does it really mean anything when we talk about how much companies in our country have done to reduce emissions? On the surface, this sounds wonderful.  We pat ourselves on the backs, and we talk about reduced emissions with pride. But! How are carbon emissions actually being reduced?  Are companies really being more environmentally conscious?  My argument is that no, they're not.  Not at all. Don't get me wrong.  Some companies are reducing their emissions, I'm sure. The majority, though...? We outsource jobs to other countries.  Everyone knows this.  People scream about it quite a bit.  But did you ever take a moment to consider that we may be outsourcing our pollution ? Yep.  The more restrictions that are places on companies in the name of decreasing carbon emissions, the more export of those emissions takes place. No, not like that... If laws forbid high emissions, what do you do?  Well, most of us cut back on them.  But what if you're a large

Supreme Court Agreement On Gene Patents?! Wow!

It's Unanimous.  The Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. Supreme Court case has been decided.  Nobody can have a patent on naturally occurring genes. Synthetically derived DNA, on the other hand, is free game.  The case had to do with the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, which are associated with breast cancer.  The question involved was whether or not a company could hold a patent of a gene within the human body, in order to effectively have control over research involving the gene. This morning, the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that a company had no such right. I didn't know total agreement was  even possible with this group! This doesn't mean all DNA is safe from patent, of course.  As Justice Thomas pointed out in the majority opinion (or should I just say, "The Opinion"?), Held: A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated, but cDNA is patent el

Moving Can Be Horribly Wasteful

In case you didn't know, moving to a new place is wasteful. Moving to a new place that's around 1400 square feet smaller than the one you were previously in, therefore, is astronomically wasteful. Like, scary wasteful. Like, scary, oh-my-gosh-how-did-I-ever-manage-to-acquire-all-of-this- stuff wasteful. Let's just say that I was rather glad that we didn't use two of the rooms in the last house we rented, because... wow.  We ended up taking a good third of our house to the landfill. Eeeeewwwwww.... You have to understand: I'm the type of person that recycles way more than I place in the trash can.  I reuse a great deal, as well.  The idea of throwing a huge amount of items into a landfill, therefore, was enough to send my stress levels into overdrive. It had to be done, though. It wasn't the stuff.  I'm not a person that becomes horribly attached to stuff .  Well... except maybe books. We all have weaknesses, after all. It was the lar

Morristown Farmers Market: Small Quantity, But Spectacular Quality

Yesterday was my first farmers market of the year.   It was also my first farmers market in a new town. Morristown has a small farmers market.  Even for the very beginning of the season, which is a time that naturally has fewer vendor tables, this was pretty tiny.  There were only 4 tables in total. But quantity and quality are very rarely related. The vendors' goods were quite exceptional.  It's early in the season, so I found that almost everything dealt with baked goods and baking. Well, except for one table that had some green onions and asparagus.  Unfortunately, I'm growing green onions and my family isn't prone to enjoying asparagus. Drat. I elected to buy from each table, since there were only four of them.  This is not a luxury I'll be able to enjoy in the future, when more vendors arrive. So what did I get? freshly ground whole wheat flour quart-sized bag of popcorn small loaf of rhubarb bread 5 toffee chews 1/2 dozen m&m

Settling Into A New Home

Well, I'm in my new home.  I'm now in a small, rural town of under 1000 people, and I live on half of the upstairs portion of a four-plex.  I have to admit that I was a little leery of this, since I have two dogs (a small one that barks and a huge one that has heavy footsteps when excited.), but I'm actually pretty happy so far. Why? 1. I have a great view out my office window. 2.  The place is almost 2/3 smaller than the other house.   This is great because it's easier for me to manage.  Too big is... well... too big.  You know? Yeah, I know.  That explains so very little.  It's a truth, though.  Things escape you in a big house, and too much room means too much opportunity for things to go wrong. And the dogs agree.  Even though this four-plex is on a main thoroughfare of this tiny town, their stress levels have decreased.  They know where I am at all times, which makes them feel secure.  3.  We live three minutes (walking) away from a gig

Moving Progress

It appears that the whole "moving" thing is taking longer than I thought it would. Well, ok... moving is actually progressing rather nicely.  Finding all of the components to put my computer back together, on the other hand... Well, that's taking a bit of time. The good news is that I actually prefer the smaller home that I'm living in now.  I also enjoy seeing  the Cannon River every morning when I bring my dogs outside.  Who wouldn't, right? I think this will be a nice place, and I'll tell you more about it tomorrow, when I'm comfortably at my normal computer... Hopefully, anyway. Now where did that cable go to...?

A New Place is a New Brand of Interesting

Short post, today: I mentioned before that we were moving into a new place.  It's smaller, and doesn't have much of a yard to speak of, so things will get interesting for me.  Also, this new place is pretty much right on top of the Cannon River.  And it's in a rural area. This is going to be a whole new brand of interesting. What new things will I discover?  What new facts will I learn? And what new brands of failure will I have to deal with??? That's actually the exciting part for me.  We learn more from failure than from success, after all. I don't however, want any of that failure to end up occurring with the Green Boots, however, so I've done a couple of posts ahead of time... just in case.  This is one of them. Wish me luck! 

Black Walnut v Blueberry and Rhubarb, Round 2

It's time for another walk through BlackWalnutVille. At least, that's what I've decided to call that zone I live in which makes in-ground planting rather difficult.  Basically, black walnut is toxic to quite a few yummy fruits and vegetables due to a chemical throughout the entire tree called juglone.  Two of the plants effected by black walnut toxicity are blueberry and rhubarb.   I discovered the rhubarb problem last growing season after I discovered rhubarb beginning to grow in the wild area of the backyard... which quickly died after a couple of weeks. Later, I planted blueberries, one on either side of the treacherous trail.  Those died, as well.  Of course, that was entirely my fault.  I had forgotten that blueberries were sensitive to the juglone in black walnut. Oops. It appears, however, that the loss of those plants may not have been entirely due to the black walnut's toxicity.  I mean, yes... it was a factor.  I don't believe that