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Bottling lightning

Lightning strikes
Image credit: Rob Ross (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
The last few days in my land have been marked by brief, yet intense summer storms. The lightning that laced the orange sky was so frequent as the storm receded that both Mme. Ross and I tried to get pictures of them, but our efforts were met with very different levels of success. Mme. Ross has a consumer-grade DSLR camera to work with, while I have my iPhone, and I think that might have had something to do with the speed of her success. I held the camera still and snapped hundreds of photos as electricity zipped across the sky, calmly trying to track the explosions of ancient wars across the whole my view, only being able to catch a quarter of that view at a time and so hoping that I was not shooting a dark section while another was lighting up.

Lightning is quick. The whole thing occurs in the fraction of a second, so if you’re not close enough to be struck, then by the time you see it it’s already gone, and that’s the challenge in capturing it. As the arc is formed between the sky and ground, the air column in its path is transformed into a plasma — the electrons stripped from the oxygen molecules, making that column a conductor. The light of the arc begins travelling toward your eyes at the speed of light. The heat of the arc causes the air around it to explode thunderously. As the light travels in a wave toward the sensor of a camera, the options for capturing a pretty picture of a lightning strike come down to quick timing.

With fancy cameras it’s a very attainable thing but when you’re shooting with an iPhone you enter the realm of probability. Hundreds of shots, I think, are likely to yield at least one good photo. Because as I noted while going through those shots, deleting all the lookalikes as I went, when you’re too late you mostly come up with phantoms: large fields of diffusing purple light. Less frequently you get the arc in its full brilliance and it washes out the camera sensor because in all reality, it’s only an iPhone. Fancy phone, ho-hum camera (in the grand scheme of cameras, I mean.)

Like any wave, you have to time it just right.

In hundreds of shots, I got two hum-dingers. It was so worth it.

Lightning strikes
Image credit: Rob Ross (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Looking for something to do with that fancy-schmancy camera and/or phone? Check out the Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge.

Musical Monday — Looking Out My Back Door

Looking Out My Back Door
by Surfer Rob

Hey
It’s me again
Your little talking friend
From the planet in your head
I’d
Like to propose a toast
To the humble host
Of all the crazy shit
That’s been running through my yard

It’s been a while
since we’ve felt like this
a lot of lingering love
from a literary kiss
It’s got me thinking
and I’m thirsty for more
of singing “doo doo doo”
looking out my back door

Hey
is that a flying car?
maybe you’ve gone too far
or maybe it doesn’t matter
It’s
not a DeLorean
Maybe I’ll get me one
when I’m making fat checks
writing for TV
there’s killer robots there
they’re flying through the air
and mopping up rebel meatbags
And
they’re not the only ones
’cause blotting out the sun
is an all-consuming ooze
made from future processed foods!
I know it’s crazy but just give it time
while purple plant people plot
to plunder your mind,
until they’re Roundup Ready
and we’re runnin’ to shore
a-singin “doo doo doo”
looking out my back door

(cue the face melting guitar solo)

(outro riff with some tribal tom beats)

singing “doo doo doo”
looking out my back door
 


 
There you go. I wrote you a song, bringing back the nostalgia of 90’s alternative pop (if you hear it the way I do, something akin to Jimmy Eat World) with a little nod to Creedence.
 
Happy Monday!

Stuck for an idea? Try today’s Daily Post prompt.

Fill-up Friday — takin’ care of business

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t worked Fridays since about April.

With one or two exceptions, I’ve been home every Friday for a few months, and it’s both glorious and ignominious at the same time. I know that for three solid years I worked 48+ hours a week 90% of the year, and I didn’t like it. I don’t like being indebted to such an extent. And all it took was a few changes in leadership to cut off our overtime altogether. It felt like the water was draining out of the boat on its own, like “YES”. But then I realized what had happened.

We had become complacent with the number of hours I had been working. Mme. Ross needed a car. I needed a decent computer. We had to see this family or that. I had to go surfing.

You know I had to.

All of a sudden, all the payments we were making were biting a huge chunk out of the weekly take-home. And when it comes to pay, the bills get paid first, so things have been drying up for over six months with no overtime. Suddenly, it was like the air was slowly leaking out of our bubble.

Then, the hammer falls.

Our customer — our only customer, who by the way owns everything inside the plant — thought it might be a good idea to shut down for a few weeks to give them a chance to sell all the inventory that had been stockpiled due to their borderline manic drive for production.

Remember all that overtime? Well, we became quite good at what we do!

Our company managed to negotiate for five 32-hour work weeks instead. We get to work, they don’t have to pay unemployment, and they can ensure that some employees will still be left when the production shortage is done.

I know I’ll be there. I’m a sucker. Who’s got two thumbs and is a company man?

This guy.

Another bright ray of sunshine is that this week was only three days — 24 hours — due to the opening of deer season. Right now I kind of wish I was a hunter because it seems like I could have gotten some meaning out of Monday.

I refuse to use PTO to cover the loss, because if we shut down over Christmas, there’s no reduced hours. It’s just a total shutdown. But never fear, I’m Surfer Rob and I’ve got this covered. I cut down our monthly bills budget by over $200. Almost everything is paid off. For extra ducks, I donate plasma, which I absolutely enjoy. It gives me a chance to read a real book (made of paper!) for an hour. We have an extra daycare kid starting this month and that is definitely one of the pillars of strength in our financial lives right now.

But back to this business of Fridays. I keep telling myself, “you’ve got Fridays off. Why aren’t you posting at least once a week? The weekend is all ‘getting out’, and ‘getting stuff done’, I get that.” So for that end all I have to say is, I needed to clear up some concerns.

And that’s the Kwai Chang Kane way of saying it. If that dude was gonna kick your ass, he’d look you straight in the eyes and say without emotion, “I don’t want to fight you.”

As it turns out, life didn’t know I was gonna sweep the leg. I knew how the whole fight was going to go before a single punch was thrown. I saw into him, and I saw the lie of him.

Surfer Rob wins.

It wasn’t a flawless victory, but I’ll take it. And in the spirit of a (much) clearer mind, I inaugurate Fill-up Fridays: because I gotta fill them up one way or another.

So today I played Bioshock Infinite for a few hours after Lil’ Miss woke me up and declared that it was time to wake up and go downstairs. I love that about the weekend. That game, and others like it — I will now confess — is the reason why I needed a decent computer. By decent I mean “top of the line because I want to play awesome games” and that’s what I got. I’m a little behind on the latest games, and that works well for me because I game on a platform called Steam. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a service that is not unlike Vudu (not Netflix) because you buy your games through them and through them you assure that whatever happens to your computer you can always get them back and play again. Steam is awesome, it’s over ten years old now and the best thing about it is that you can compile a wishlist. On the right side is the price of each line item in your wishlist and you can see if it’s on sale; the old price; the new price; and the percentage off.

I check it daily. I never pay full price on Steam, and I rarely pay over ten dollars for anything.

When I first got my computer, I didn’t even know what Steam really was. I thought it was a DRM scheme — like while you’re playing your game the software periodically checks in to make sure you’re not playing a pirate game — but that’s not it at all.

Steam is a community, a marketplace, and a damn good place to get good games for dirt-cheap.

When I first got my computer almost a year ago, I got three games for free as a promotion for choosing to get an AMD Radeon card in my computer.

NVidia fans, shut your mouths. I know what you’re going to say because I’m a NVidia fan, but I saved $500 on the computer and I got three free games so whatever!

So this is cool — whenever I talk to friends IRL we inevitably bring up the games we’re playing because we’re friended on Steam. We talk about them. I talked to a friend recently who said “I saw you’re playing Bioshock Infinite; that’s a good game.”

I said “yeah, I’m really enjoying it.”

If you’re a video gamer of any sort — even if all you do is Angry Birds and World of Goo — then you might want to look into Steam if you haven’t done so by now. That’s all I have to say about that. They have stuff for everyone, and the communities to support them.

And I’m all about community.

After Bioshock Infinite, I had a few loose ends to tie up with this plan to end our financial downfall. Things went . . . not exactly according to plan, but all in all I can’t complain. So now we’re on a new track. A better track. Then I went to donate plasma, made a few more stops, and came home to knock out some chores.

All in all, not a bad Friday.

🙂


Stumped for a blog post idea? Try today’s Daily Post Prompt!

Thirsty Thursdays: exploring the wave–particle duality of writing

They say it’s a bad idea to apologize to your  readers for not writing.

“Never apologize.” That’s my motto. I mean, it’s not like I’m getting paid to write, after all!

So I make it a point not to mention it.

We know that sometimes writing does get put on the back burner for other pursuits – home repair and restoration, playing video games, binge-watching Arrow on Netflix, heavy drinking, etc. But that doesn’t mean that writing isn’t important. It’s HUGE, big enough to threaten the structural integrity of the cast iron grate on that back burner. It’s boiling over, and my tendency of late is to hope that it stays that way while I’m attending to other, somewhat less meaningful pursuits.

When I’m writing my mind is this closet that I’m always dipping into, and when I write, what I take out of the closet goes back in when I’m done with it. From time to time I would get an idea and try to find a nice spot for it in the closet. But when seasons change you might forget what’s even inside the closet; you just throw your ideas in there and shut the door again. Then one day you open the door out of some morbid curiosity and this is what greets you:

picture of a messy closet
Not my closet, but if I weren’t tidy that’s what it might look like. (Photo credit: Scott Rubin)

And yeah, there’s a whole shelf of haiku buried in that morass.

Sometimes writing acts like a wave. That’s what you went out there looking for in the first place, to just have this great big idea splash out of you onto the world. What you got, however, was much more than you expected. But that’s why we ride, isn’t it? It bears down on you with crashing, primal strength. You catch it so it can lift you up and carry you forward. You ride it out, a symbiotic force of nature. You come away from it exhilarated, and you can’t wait to catch the next one.

Sometimes writing acts like a particle. it’s just this little thing that by itself is hardly worth mentioning. But if you pump yourself up you can watch the spontaneous particle spring forth from a single atom in the gas-filled tube of your imagination, watch it bounce back and forth between the mirrored ends. You’ll see it coax other gas atoms to sacrifice just a bit of energy to release other particles to run with it, and each particle added to the run multiplies the effect until eventually that one particle has become a powerfully concentrated beam of inspiration, capable of cutting through writers’ block like nobody’s business.

Writing is a perpetual task. When you’re a writer you write for life. Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing. That’s why I never make promises when it comes to my writing: that promise would have to be delivered in perpetuity. I couldn’t do that because eventually I’d be forced to break my promise through one means or another, if you get my drift. So for me to call this post Thirsty Thursdays might invite one to infer an implicit promise that next Thursday will bring you another post called Thirsty Thursdays. I assure you that to make this assumption would be a mistake; there are no guarantees in life.

That being said, I think I’m going to try to tackle this closet.

“Help Not Wanted” — Rob’s Sunday Soliloquy

Have you ever considered that a robot might be doing your job some day?

How about your spouse’s job, or your parent’s job? What if only 1 in 100 were employed? Or 1 in 1000?

This morning I woke up to find a Planet Money podcast waiting for me on my phone. It’s called This is the End. Planet Money tends to clock in around fifteen minutes, so I cranked it up and set about making coffee. They’re talking about how jobs are going away in successive recessions and not coming back, because at the end of that recession the businesses that had to downsize for the recession is able to recover their lost productivity through automation. They begin to explore the idea of what a jobless future will look like.

I listen, I process – jobless automatically means poor, right? Because you need a job to earn money and buy at least the stuff you need to survive.

I imagine.

I can’t imagine, however, a future of widespread, abject poverty. There must be, I thought, some way for people to make money. For one thing, there’s no way a person would allow all of their friends and family to starve, or to go homeless and be beaten to death by the elements. In a way, it reminds me of my mother’s response back before the year 2000, when I told her about the government’s program to phase out analog television in favor of digital, and how we’re going to have to purchase a box for every old-style television we have that we want to watch our shows on: she said, “there’s no way they’re going to do that. They can’t do that. There would be riots in the street.”

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But there were no riots; digital TV took over without much fanfare. Sure, there might be a few analog channels yet, but the technology phased us away from the old paradigm, and now we find ourselves in this future where we really aren’t all that worried about it. We watch our shows – perhaps some of us not as obsessively as we used to, but I like to think of that as “growing up and getting in step with the real world” – and the idea of rioting doesn’t even enter my mind.

I do, however, remember a certain amount of disgust over my inability to pick up digital signals no matter where I was. The television industry had failed to provide a viable replacement for analog TV, but at that point I felt like the point was moot anyway; I already had access to much better content, because guess what? Netflix had started this streaming video service that actually worked pretty well. In seamless fashion, our “revolutionary” snail-mail DVD rental service stepped in right when a lot of us needed them, and we haven’t looked back since.

So who or what is going to step in for employment?

One of Planet Money’s guests for today’s show is Andrew McAfee. He’s an associate director at MIT who studies how information technology affects business. They asked him how this jobless future might work, and what it would look like, and guess what?

He said it makes his head hurts to think about it.

No kidding, right?

Forty years out in this “ridiculously abundant economy” McAfee says that “[w]e’re going to be freed from want and from privation. . . . However, in that economy do we have prices? Do we have money? If so, how do you get that money, because you don’t really have a job in that economy; there aren’t very many of what we used to consider jobs, and that was the way we distributed the money you could use to buy things, and that system . . . works really, really, well.”

That’s when it hit me: we’re all going to be Muppets.

Bear with me for a moment here.

When you strip it down to the studs the only way to “make” money is to create value for someone else, or by extension, for society at large. When we create value, the money seems to roll in all by itself because we’re used to performing and they’re used to paying for it . . . so what’s left when a massive paradigm shift has taken that assumption and turned it on its head?

I have an idea – how about we go wherever we want and do something we enjoy?

I know it all sounds kind of pie-in-the-sky, but this seems like it could be the Star Trek future coming at us fairly fast: an abundant economy, no want or privation, i.e. no real need for money. So why worry about money?

Ding!

It’s like the old TV, we don’t need it anymore so just let it go.

Money? Psht! What’s that?

So what do you do?

The answer to that is, you live your life the way you want. In a future where the work is taken care of and there’s no need to provide the basic needs for yourself or your family, you’re free to pursue the things that interest you. Every person will find their talent and fit in where they can do the most good, not because they’re forced to by the economic model of the day, but because they want to, and eventually because that’s what they love to do. This transcends doing right by the family, and instead places the individual in a position of responsibility to the society as a whole.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

Because of this, people will probably still entertain. People will probably still write and create art, and they will certainly explore worlds without and within. They’ll research, study, and innovate. They will push the boundaries of science and philosophy ever outward, because we love to do that. We were made for that. We’re insatiable for it. The people of the future will, in fact, create value by being good and happy citizens who have the leisure to make society a better place by just . . . having fun.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but it’s a lot easier to believe than thinking that in a world where robots do all of our work, we’re left out in the cold to suffer with scant means; because that would be a world torn apart by war – a neo-luddite war against the machines and the corporate oligarchy that use them to displace the masses: those who will stop at nothing to tear the whole system apart and build a new world where they will be free to do it all over again.

That might make an interesting movie, however.

Of course the world of the future will look alien and outlandish to us – do you think our parents at our age even dreamed that we would have the things we have today – the cell phones, the Internet, driverless cars? In that light, some skepticism on the part of pretty much everyone is understandable when someone says that someday we will be largely unemployed and yet everyone will be happy and money will truly be no object.

It’s like saying we’ll have tigers for pets and they won’t eat us alive.

But then again, why should they?


This is the End | Planet Money

If you like audio drama, I also highly recommend listening to The Last Job, an audio play by the PRX podcast The Truth, in collaboration with Planet Money.

Hold the Crickets?

It’s been a busy weekend!

I had Friday off, and I managed to get quite a bit done! I helped move new couches into our house; orchestrate a fiasco that caused Mme. Ross to realize that we were never going to get the old couch into the upstairs den; then I helped get rid of the old couches. They went to a nice couple who just moved here from Montana, who thought fee couches were pretty cool. I got all the carpeting and padding that Mme. Ross tore up from the first floor and stairs of our house picked up from the side of the house where she had put it and staged it in one of the garage doors to be dragged out the night before garbage day on our upcoming Spring cleaning week. Today, we worked together to get the windows in our living room to open for the first time since we moved in; I even got to go running both Friday and Saturday, and I did all of this while listening to podcasts.

🙂  <– This smiley face means I’m happy.

Some of my to-dos got moved, however. Taking down the DirecTV dish on our roof? I’m pretty sure I can pay someone else to do that and not risk falling to my untimely demise. Cutting back the lilac by the lamppost? Well . . . it turns out Mme. Ross agrees that it doesn’t need to be so big. Next week, I’m buying a chainsaw and taking that f***er down a few notches.

We think of Spring as a time to organize, rearrange, open the curtains and let the sunlight do some disinfecting for us; but also it’s a time to take out the old and bring in the new. For example, our new couches were someone’s old couches. Even though they were beautiful, they could not have gone to waste and we were glad to buy them for a song. We passed down our booger-encrusted couches to someone who was glad to take them for free.

But what happens when something hits the end of the line?

That’s what they made Spring cleanup week for, isn’t it? We put everything on the curb that we’re not allowed to put out during the rest of the year (even if some of us do) and it gets carried off to the dump. Our carpet is a great example of that. I hate carpet with a passion — although it feels great on the toes — because it’s got a way of trapping dirt, dust, and allergens over time. If you wanted proof of that then you should have seen the amount of dirt, dust, and sand that was built up underneath those carpets when Mme. Ross tore them out; the sheer volume of it could have choked an elephant.

So of course it’s getting thrown out. Part of me feels guilty about that because energy was put into making the carpet, and now it’s going to be buried for who knows how long, until natural geological forces can return it to the Earth (arguably, the padding was breaking down at a faster rate.)

Remember when our carbon footprint was a big deal? It’s something that picked up less than a decade ago — they talked about how much energy it took to create this, that, and the other thing, and how our lives would be measured in that — how the costs we paid would be measured in that. Back then, UPS started charging their customers a surcharge to offset their carbon footprint because of that, but today I’m suddenly wondering where all that hubbub went because of a podcast I had been listening to.

It was Science Friday, PRI’s weekly rundown of science news, hosted by Ira Flatow. If you’ve seen that episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon makes an ass of himself on public radio, this is the show I’m referring to. Ira ends the second hour of this week’s episode with this little idea to chew on:

. . . the California drought is forcing . . . all of us who enjoy their produce to think about how our eating habits might affect the water situation out west, because that hamburger you’re having tonight? It costs about 1,700 gallons of water per pound of protein. You’d rather switch to a porkchop? 700 gallons a pound. “Ah, but I’m going to go with a chicken, that’s gotta be better.” Well, a little bit: 250 gallons a pound. And if you think vegetarian sources of protein are much better, those chickpeas used to make your falafel and hummus? They suck up 1,200 gallons of water per pound of protein. . . . I want to propose a much more water-friendly option . . crickets, checking in at just one gallon of water per pound.

As it turns out, there’s a new concept on the horizon. One that’s already being formulated and that will soon be foisted upon us as the new metric that we should be watching closely. It’s the new conservation: forget turning your lights off when you leave, since you have LED light bulbs. Forget turning off your computer or your TV, since they will automatically go to sleep. Now, we have to be concerned about our use of water.

I’m not making fun of this issue: it takes a lot of water for one person to live a modern life, and if you were to see how much water you actually use, you might question how it is that you use so much more than that. Do you let the water run while you’re lathering your hands with soap? Does every opening of the commode invite a flush at the end? Do you wash out your recyclables? (Yes, you should!) Our days are punctuated with brief hits of water use, and they add up. But the water footprint also incorporates the hidden water costs of our consumption.

Here’s one question: is this sensationalized? I mean sure, it’s a public radio show and it’s science news. But consider the number that Ira gave us for a hamburger: 1,700 gallons per pound of protein. Let’s consider that the typical burger that any American wants to eat (except me, because I tend to eat twice as much) is a quarter-pound, that should be more like 425 gallons. Right?
English: Hamburger.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, consider this: a quarter pound of hamburger is around 30 grams of protein.  When you consider the words “per pound of protein”, then you might be encouraged to do the math: 30 grams is about .064 pounds, times 1,700 gallons is more like 109 gallons of water.

What a relief, right? That’s only enough water to fill two bath tubs!

Let’s just say that the more processing a product requires, the more water it uses, and if you’re the end user then it’s on you. But meat and dairy are special, because they come from living organisms that require water the same way that we do. This is not to put you off your steak, of course, but it’s estimated that on the planetary scale, consuming animal products makes up around 25% of our water footprint. Most of that is actually used to make the feed for those animals.

Insects food stall in Bangkok, Thailand
Insects food stall in Bangkok, Thailand (Image credit: Wikiped

But hey, if we turn to entomophagy, we could save a whole bunch of water!

Where did I get robbed? Was it being brought up in a steak-and-chicken culture? Was it being taught that insects were disgusting and unclean? I ask, because it turns out that around 80% of the world’s population eats over a thousand species of insects!

Consider this a fair warning: they’ve been talking about eating insects for years. This really isn’t anything new. Heck, some of you may have tried some, even if it’s just chocolate-covered grasshoppers or something. But now it looks like they plan to ramp it up. If it came down to paying something like fifty dollars for a steak, would you turn to a diet of scorpions and cockroaches?

Personally, I’d go vegetarian.


The hidden water resource use behind meat and dairy | Arjen Y. Hoekstra

Insects could be the key to meeting food needs of growing global population | Damian Carrington

It’s Not Magic: Mushrooms Can Change Our Experience

In case you ever thought a haiku was something I tossed off in a moment after looking at a picture — something I composed and posted in just a few minutes, consider this:

It took me two and a half hours to write today’s haiku. Do you want to know what I learned about mushrooms while writing this haiku? Because they’re fairly amazing.

(Image credit: Didier, a.k.a. didier.bier @ Flickr)

The mushrooms growing on this cone are simply fruit — the outgrowth of a significantly less apparent organism. Like the shadowy few that stand behind the play of world politics, this organism stands in the background and performs the unseen transactions, deals with the silent partners, hides all of the secrets . . .

and the potential of its power, boy, is really what impresses me.

See the little white hairs growing at the base of the mushroom? They call that mycelium. Sometimes it’s visible, and sometimes it’s too small to see; but this is the powerhouse behind the more apparent fungus that is sometimes eaten, sometimes toxic, and often the bane of picky horticulturalists. It turns out that getting rid of mushrooms is just like plucking an apple from a tree, though, because they’re growing from mycelium that suffuses the surrounding earth. And although some find them annoying, very few mushroom varieties are parasitic, in effect feeding from live organisms; most are saprophytic, which means they live on dead or decaying material. They are the forest’s recycling system, transforming old carbon-rich organic material into fresh soil.

And oh, they get extensive. In Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, author and mushroom expert Paul Stamets describes a 2,400-acre site in Oregon that

“had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it. Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees.”

There’s a case against deforestation, am I right? Point one, nature does it for us; point two, why not just grow natural plastic and take some of that wood out of the equation?

Oh wait, did you know about the plastic?

It’s no secret that plastic is made from oil and it takes a bajillion years to break down. Everyone knows that’s a problem. Enter bioplastics: technically not plastics, but similar in behavior and function, they are newer materials that could replace plastics across entire industries. They’re environmentally friendly; they’re grown, they’re biodegradable, they’re recyclable, and they’re made from mycelium, those mats of tendrils that transport nutrients from decaying organic matter to their fungal fruit. According to Marc Gunther’s article in The Guardian Can Mushrooms Replace Plastic?

“They can produce packaging, home insulation, fiberboard for furniture, even a surfboard.”

Mushroom surfboards? Sign me up, dude!

So here’s the simple list — the upshot of why making plastics from mushrooms is an awesome idea:

  • The base material is plentiful and inexpensive — crop waste, like corn stalks, are bought from American farmers, giving them additional revenue and saving buckets of ducats over the precious oil used to make traditional plastics. Could this bring down fuel prices as well?
  • Because it’s grown and not drilled, it’s renewable.
  • Because it’s organic it can break down naturally, in effect biodegradable.
  • Because it’s biodegradable, it can help alleviate waste issues — specifically, burgeoning landfills and the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.

In addition, mycelium can be used to:

  • break down soil contaminants, such as oil and chemical spills, in a process known as mycoremediation;
  • remove contaminants like chemicals, bacteria, and heavy metals from water in a process called mycofiltration;
  • prevent soil erosion due to water runoff, which is another application of mycofiltration;
  • enhance crop yields and forest sustainability — mycoforestry;  and
  • control insect populations — mycopesticides.

I get excited about stuff like this – essentially, we could use the Earth to restore, renew, and rescue the Earth. Everything we need is right here, homegrown. And the following videos also got me excited:

Yes, I’m excited to live in a magical world where every day we move toward improving our symbiotic relationship with it. This is stewardship;

and thus your adventure may continue. Go live it.

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I heard it coming and yet it caught me unawares!

So for the last several days I have been hearing talk on the local NPR channel about that famous speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. – the one titled “I Have a Dream.” I’ve actually learned more about that speech by hearing about it on the radio than I ever did in school, even though I was raised in the Metro Detroit area and despite the fact that Dr. King was such a popular dude in our area that he had his own holiday that we got to take off of school every year.

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...
Dr. Martin Luther King giving his “I Have a Dream” speech (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know, in fact, that today – August 28th 2013 – is the 50th anniversary of the delivery of that speech? If you haven’t heard yet and you do not hear it today, then you certainly heard it from me, didn’t you? And with the delivery of that speech, Dr. King joined the handful of the most famous notables who declared that all people should be free and enjoy the rights associated with American life; including Thomas Jefferson, who was the first to introduce that into an American legal document when he wrote in the Preamble to the Constitution, “[w]e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Despite the fact that he is rightfully disputed to this day to be an exploitative slave owner, he did write that and most certainly felt it at one time, even if it was suppressed in the interest of business. Jefferson was, after all, a slave to his own pleasurable life and did his best to hold onto it. Abraham Lincoln, hailed as the great emancipator, runs much in the same vein; he helped shape modern America by introducing an amendment to the Constitution which led ultimately to the abolition of slavery in America. It wasn’t the most popular choice to make, nor was it something he rushed to do – but it was something he ultimately decided would help save and preserve the fractured Union; in other words, abolishing slavery was a tool for saving the nation.

Dr. King was naturally different, because he was black and the fight for civil rights was one that he ended up leading to America’s front door, declaring that freedom had not yet been claimed by all Americans. His speech invoked the words of both Jefferson and Lincoln, bringing them forth from the hollow past of history to stand at his side as he grabbed national attention with his speech.

Photograph of a reproduction of the Emancipati...
the Emancipation Proclamation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And it’s interesting to note that I could easily post the entire Declaration of Independence if I wanted to, or the Emancipation Proclamation – and sure, it’s because they’re old documents. But I am not ready to reproduce more than the title of Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech because it turns out that it is protected under copyright law. Now that’s a trick. According to what I heard on NPR, Dr. King copyrighted his speech to help fund the civil rights movement, and when he was murdered five years later, the copyright passed to his estate, and in the time since they have actively defended their copyright, which does not go away until 2038. Because of this it might be difficult to find a transcript online of the speech, so we might not even know what it says. Apparently I can pay thirteen dollars to get a copy from Amazon, but I can’t just read it online.

Is that really fair? Shouldn’t such an important piece of history be considered in the public domain? I certainly think so, but what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Oh, and the link below to the Miami Herald claims to be the full text of the speech. If you are interested, print it out while you can, or at least hit the print button at the bottom of the article and save that. I think we have a right to be able to read it.

Morning Surf Report: a board review, running reasons, etc

I thought that it might be a good thing to share a few of the things that I find around the Internet while I’m being distracted from running and writing in the morning – things that I like, things that I feel like I should share with my readers and that I don’t really know if I could do justice for in just one post. Hence we have the Surf Report: a roundup of things I have to share with all of my wonderful readers.


Yesterday morning I got a surfboard review in my YouTube email and I decided to watch it. Now, I don’t really know Thing1 about surfboards except that they’re boards you surf on, but after this video I realized that:

    1. I now know a thing or two about surfboards
    2. There’s a whole bunch of lingo attached to surfboards that I don’t know
    3. There’s all kinds of parts to the surfboard

If you’re interested in learning a little bit about them then watch this:


Last night I read my email newsletter from the Oatmeal, a comic blogger that you may or may not have heard of (it’s likely you have seen some of his stuff around, if nothing else). It was just one epic comic in six parts about why he runs so much. I swear this comic is all about me in someone else’s hilarious words; please enjoy it and check out all six parts by using the next button at the bottom of each part or the supplied navigational index.

image credit: http://theoatmeal.com
image credit: http://theoatmeal.com

Here’s a fond hello back to the good-ol’ days:

Well, it might be a little easier to get some readers now! But from the analog evolution to the digital revolution did we lose something else, like all the time we spend distracted, watching videos, answering emails, listening to the new Vampire Weekend album on Spotify? Possible. Quite possible.


Finally, I would feel remiss if I didn’t at least show these off:

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award
July 4, 2013
One Lovely Blog award
July 18, 2013

I want to thank my friend Rachel Folk over at All Night Knits for giving me these blog awards, and for being such a wonderful reader. Readers really are the best award a blogger and writer can collect, and I hope to be able to increase my readership as time goes by; to this end I will do my best to bring something interesting to the table every day.

Surf Artist Highlight: DAIKAIJU!

For this month’s Surf Artist Highlight we want to introduce you to a surf band that does it in all caps, selling itself with the enthusiasm of Japanese monster-movie hype and an image that would probably not fit in at the local tiki bar:

All reverb guitar action full on, GO!!!
All reverb guitar action full on, GO!!!

Daikaiju is an action-packed, kabuki-masked performance art band, which means that they’re just as interesting to see as they are to hear. They cultivate more mystery than history when it comes to figuring out who they are; all we can know for sure is that they formed in Huntsville, Alabama in 1999 and they have released two full-length albums to date: the self-titled Daikaiju in 2005 and Phase 2 in 2010. A visit to any of their online presences will reveal only these things:

Daikaiju (die-kie-joo)

Premium action heroes deliver most high rocket music! Special reverb skill combo for full impact! Loud sonic boom for earful pleasure!

Beautiful radiation of hyper-dimensional springy sound creates divine psychic wind for your special protection.

Worship Psycho-surf band Daikaiju daily for good luck and health!


(refresh your browser if the Soundcloud widget does not appear!)

Follow the links below to battle your way to more sonic goodies and reasonably-priced CDs!

Links:
WEB-HOME-DAIKAIJU!
REVERBNATION-DAIKAIJU!
FACEBOOK-DAIKAIJU!
TWITTER-DAIKAIJU!
iTUNES-DAIKAIJU!
AMAZON-DAIKAIJU!
LAST.FM-DAIKAIJU!
The Larryville Chronicles: Interview with Daikaiju (August 20, 2012)
Youtube: Double-fist Attack