Sunday, June 24, 2007

Plastic Ocean

An article from Best Life magazine about a gentleman sailing approximately 800 miles over Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean and his "findings".

It began with a line of plastic bags ghosting the surface, followed by an ugly tangle of junk: nets and ropes and bottles, motor-oil jugs and cracked bath toys, a mangled tarp. Tires. A traffic cone. Moore could not believe his eyes. Out here in this desolate place, the water was a stew of plastic crap. It was as though someone had taken the pristine seascape of his youth and swapped it for a landfill.
As Alguita glided through the area that scientists now refer to as the “Eastern Garbage Patch,” Moore realized that the trail of plastic went on for hundreds of miles. Depressed and stunned, he sailed for a week through bobbing, toxic debris trapped in a purgatory of circling currents. To his horror, he had stumbled across the 21st-century Leviathan. It had no head, no tail. Just an endless body.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We're In!

Well, actually we've been in since Wednesday the 13th. But it took me over a week to get my internet connection back.

Sympatico...ugh. But what do you do? We detested the "service" we'd received from Rogers over the years and would have felt stupid ADDING more services to include internet. So we bundled up with Bell and are giving them the opportunity to treat us like crap. So far, they're making the most of every opportunity. Good for them!

In any event, I recently posted about additional options we were considering for our little "green house". Now that we're in (and have a number of expenses to deal with), a couple more have come to mind.

The first is doing away with unnecessary power use. For instance, there must be a dozen devices (including appliances) in this place that include a digital clock. How many do we really need?

And what the hell is the use of a "stanby" light? To tell me that something is off? I don't need a standy light to tell me, for example, that my sound system is off. Because it's QUIET.

So I'm trying to get in the habit of unplugging those, at least at night. Why would I pay to power those various clocks and what-not while I'm sleeping? I don't need to know what time it is when I'm dreaming about Jessica Biel giving me a sponge bath while feeding me organic grapes.

Or something.

The other is to finally go Bullfrog. I've been considering Bullfrog for some time but since it's a little bit more pricey and we were saving to move, we never pulled the trigger.

Also, I wanted to keep an eye on them to make sure that they were legit. In the past year, I've heard nothing to indicate that they're anything but genuine; quite the opposite.

Finally, I wanted to be certain that they'd be around for the long haul. Since they've recently announced that they're expanding their service to Alberta, I have no reason to question that either.

So once we get our first power bill, assuming our jaws don't hit the floor, I'll suggest to Mrs THIT that we take the leap, as it were (pun intended, though not very good).

Man. I've never looked forward to a power bill before...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Miracle Cure to Lowering Gas Prices!!

I hadn't taken the time to read the Urban Legends Reference page in a while, but I was very pleased to come across one debunking of an e-mail that's commonly sent about one method by which people can unite to lower gas prices.

There are two variations; Either everyone chooses to not buy gasoline on any given day, or people boycott a specific company.

They have one thing in common. Neither would work, and this page explains why.

I'm not knowledgeable enough to know whether the same rules apply in exactly the same ways in Canada. But I think the conclusion at the end of the page is a logical one. Buy less gas. How much simpler could it be?

No doubt there are some trips that one can't make without a vehicle. But having known people to drive three or four blocks to reach a convenience store leads me to think that a great many drivers out there could stand to trim many such small trips from their total consumption.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Caboodle of Kits

Or something...

In this photo provided by the Zoological Society of San Diego, five South African bat eared fox kits have emerged from their birthing den at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park on Friday, June 8, 2007. The kits were born sometime in late April, but have only recently started making a public appearance outside the den. These foxes are native to African savannahs and are rarely seen in zoos. (AP Photo/Zoological Society of San Diego, Ken Bohn )

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tower of Power

This thing is incredible. From the BBC, whose article supplies a video tour as well.

From a distance, as we rounded a bend and first caught sight of it, I couldn't believe the strange structure ahead of me was actually real.

A concrete tower - 40 storeys high - stood bathed in intense white light, a totally bizarre image in the depths of the Andalusian countryside.

The tower looked like it was being hosed with giant sprays of water or was somehow being squirted with jets of pale gas. I had trouble working it out.

In fact, as we found out when we got closer, the rays of sunlight reflected by a field of 600 huge mirrors are so intense they illuminate the water vapour and dust hanging in the air.


It is Europe's first commercially operating power station using the Sun's energy this way and at the moment its operator, Solucar, proudly claims that it generates 11 Megawatts (MW) of electricity without emitting a single puff of greenhouse gas. This current figure is enough to power up to 6,000 homes.

But ultimately, the entire plant should generate as much power as is used by the 600,000 people of Seville.

It works by focusing the reflected rays on one location, turning water into steam and then blasting it into turbines to generate power.

Awesome. Going forward, Seville will be known for something other than its great barbers.

Surely you saw that coming...

Friday, June 08, 2007


Sharon Kirkey , Ottawa Citizen

Published: Thursday, June 07, 2007

A simple vitamin to prevent cancer has finally been accepted by the mainstream.
Long after natural "cures" such as shark cartilage and laetrile from peach pits flopped comes the first study of its kind to show that vitamin D is a potent cancer stopper.

The Canadian Cancer Society has used that finding and others in deciding to recommend for the first time that adult Canadians lower their cancer risk by taking 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily - five times the current recommended daily amount for people under age 50.

The lead author of the new study called the Canadian move "outstanding," but said she would go even higher and recommend healthy adults pop between 1,500 and 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

"It's inexpensive, it's safe, and it's easy to take. It's something that should be considered by a lot of people," says Joan Lappe, professor of nursing and medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. "It's low-risk with maybe a high pay-off."

Lappe's team studied nearly 1,200 post-menopausal women from rural eastern Nebraska and found that those taking a combination of vitamin D and calcium had about a 60 per cent lower risk of cancer, including breast, lung and colon cancer, over four years of follow-up.

"In other words, it cut more than half the cancers over a four-year period," Lappe says.

Moreover, the higher the level of vitamin D in the blood, the lower people's cancer risks, according to the study, published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

An expert in cancer biology called the idea of using vitamin D to cut cancer risk one of the most important advances in cancer prevention. Dr. Michael Pollak, professor of medicine and oncology at Montreal's McGill University, said it may be time for public health authorities to consider mandating higher levels of vitamin D in milk and adding it to other foods, such as bread and flour.

Click on link above for the full article.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Yellow Cabs Go Green

Click on the artist's rendition of a New York City cab above or the Reuters link for the full article.

By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City's famed yellow taxi cabs will go green within five years under a plan that could serve as a model for other large cities, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Tuesday.

He said 1,000 hybrid taxis -- powered by gasoline and electricity -- would be introduced by October 2008, and that hybrids would gradually replace the rest of the city's 13,000 taxi cabs by 2012.

New York already has 375 hybrid taxis on the road, more than any other U.S. city, Bloomberg said.

"It will be the largest, cleanest fleet of taxis anywhere on the planet," Bloomberg said.

"And because taxis are so heavily used, the new standard will have the equivalent effect of removing 30,000 individually-owned gas-powered vehicles from our streets."

Hybrid vehicles are powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity, and they emit less exhaust and have better gas mileage than other vehicles. The plan, which is based on new mileage and emission standards for cabs, will reduce the carbon emissions of New York City's fleet by 50 percent during the next decade, Bloomberg said.

While hybrid cars are generally more expensive, Bloomberg said the plan would save cab drivers more than $10,000...per year in gasoline and other expenses.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Water You Talking About?

Mrs THIT and I are now a little over a week removed from taking possession of our new house.

We've had some fun along the way in having the thing built as "greenly" as possible. And I was pretty pleased with our progress! The house itself is Energy-Star certified, it appears that every bulb is fluorescent (I thought originally that only certain ones would be and that I'd have to replace the others, but that's not the case) , and we bought appliances with Energy-Star certification as well.

We dropped by Home Depot again recently (among one of many stops, now too numerous to recall their exact purpose) and I came across their Eco Options magazine. I'd previously posted about this little freebie that the offer throughout the store.

What it brought to my attention is that it's easy to focus on energy consumption and forget some of the other areas where one could be more efficient. And aside from a couple of Energy Star appliances, we hadn't given much thought to water consumption. So when we (finally) take possession, we plan at looking into a couple of options, both obvious and not-so-obvious.

From Eco Options, Spring 2007 edition:

Consider installing a faucet aerator and reduce the flow of water from your tap by 25% to 50%. Aerators are inexpensive, easy to install and come with either internal or external threads...

I love when they say "easy to install". They have no idea what a dumb-ass I am with these things. "Easy" is rather relative, isn't it?

Showerheads: Want to lower your electricity and water bill? Switch to a low-flo showerhead. They use less than 9.5 litres (2.5 gallons) of water per minute, compared to up to 30 litres (6 gallons) for older versions.

And lastly, attaching a rain barrel is another option.

This seems rather self-explanatory though the idea didn't jump out at us when we were discussing our plans. A barrel is attached to the eavestrough and collects water which can then be used for gardening, lawn care, etc. It's suggested to get one with a screen at the top to keep the creepy crawlies out.

Though I don't know how much a rain barrel costs, the aerator and shower head should be a small expense with potential long-term savings when matched with energy efficient clothes and dish washers.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Global Warming: A Guide to the Perplexed.

New Scientist Magazine attempts to resolve a number of claims in relation to global warming, climate change, whatever you want to call it. While I prefer to err on the side of caution regardless, there are some claims that occasionally cause me to question the whole thing.

I have yet to read then entire article, but I believe it will make for good reference material. Here it is.