Monthly Archives: November 2011

Future of wind power? I vote for Dutch Windmills and small pinwheels

I recently encountered a state-of-the-art wind tower on the freeway. The base was separated into three parts and the turbine into another three. Carried by six trailers flagged with “wide load” and trailed by escort cars. Yeah, it was big.

The current trend in wind power is to go bigger and bigger with more complex features. Including mag-lev, upper-atmosphere turbines, helicals, loopwings, skyscrapers, and highways (21 different types) .

But, none are more interesting (to me) than the Dutch Windmill and the tiny pinwheels. I really hope our future is a landscape dotted with structural beauties and childhood toys, rather than industrial aluminum.

Doug Selsam’s Sky Serpent uses an array of small rotors to catch more wind for less money. The key to increasing efficiency is to make sure each rotor catches its own fresh flow of wind and not just the wake from the one next to it, as previous multi-rotor turbines have done.

That requires figuring out the optimal angle for the shaft in relation to the wind and the ideal spacing between the rotors. The payoff is machines that use one tenth the blade material of today’s mega-turbines yet produce the same wattage. A wonderful and controversial design of which the inventor says:

“This is a 1,000 year-old design” of the single-bladed turbine, “I knew if I could get more rotors, I could get more power.”

The idea board – what to do with all these images around us?

Da Vinci would carry around a sketchbook for those everyday genius moments and fill it with drawings, notes, and ideas.

I create a wall of images. Dare I say print objects! They creep up the wall until the whole surface is covered like a mosaic.

Wherever I go a wall of images trails me. I think I do it because it completes my half-photographic memory, but also because it encourages me to be creative in a way I cannot explain.

Which is why it’s awesome to see this commercial with Ron Howard using an image wall.

I’m totally copying his set-up: ginormous black board on a stand. It looks so much more sophisticated than my scotch tape wall, plus when it fills up I can replace it with a fresh one and save the old one for future ideas.

Science fiction is now science fact – spacecraft Curiosity on its way to Mars

A signal from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, including the new Curiosity rover, was received by officials on the ground shortly after spacecraft separation. The spacecraft is flying free and headed for Mars.

The journey will take eight months before its innovative and futuristic landing on Mars.

“Our spacecraft is in excellent health and it’s on its way to Mars,” said Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. He thanked the launch team, United Launch Alliance, NASA’s Launch Services Program and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for their help getting MSL into space.

Interesting that the brainpower behind NASA resides in Virginia, California, and Florida.

John Grotzinger of CalTech: “I think this mission will be a great one. It is an important next step in NASA’s overall goal to address the issue of life in the universe.”

Doug McCuisition, director of the program: “Science fiction is now science fact.”

Takeoff
Leaving the planet.

 

Depression: keep in mind that they can’t “snap out of it”

Keep in mind that they can’t “snap out of it.” Remember that the other person has a real illness. Like someone with cancer, they can’t simply “get over it.” Try not to express your frustration or anger in ways you’ll regret, but don’t suppress your own feelings either. You can say for example, “I know that you can’t help feeling down, but I feel frustrated.”

If the person is an unrelenting pessimist, as so many people with depression are, try to point out the positive things that are happening. The negative childhood programming–the “inner saboteur”–will probably prevent them from seeing these for himself. The depressive illness has a vested interest in the lie that nothing will go right.

via Dr. Bob

The depressed mind…is curable, needs boundaries, and is often involved in a relationship
 
 
// photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Depression: keep in mind that they can't "snap out of it"

Keep in mind that they can’t “snap out of it.” Remember that the other person has a real illness. Like someone with cancer, they can’t simply “get over it.” Try not to express your frustration or anger in ways you’ll regret, but don’t suppress your own feelings either. You can say for example, “I know that you can’t help feeling down, but I feel frustrated.”

If the person is an unrelenting pessimist, as so many people with depression are, try to point out the positive things that are happening. The negative childhood programming–the “inner saboteur”–will probably prevent them from seeing these for himself. The depressive illness has a vested interest in the lie that nothing will go right.

via Dr. Bob

The depressed mind…is curable, needs boundaries, and is often involved in a relationship
 
 
// photo by D Sharon Pruitt

‘Tis The Season For Pomegranates

If you live in Southern California, one fruit that’s no stranger to farmer’s markets and CSA-boxes is the pomegranate.

I only recently discovered how much I enjoy this fruit, after years of watching it be bastardized and exploited by food companies. The fruit has long been celebrated for its health benefits (it’s a good source of vitamin C and B5, potassium and polyphenols) as well as for its externel beauty (it makes a great decorative fruit, especially around the holidays) and has a deliciously rich history:

The pomegranate tree is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region of Asia, Africa and Europe. The fruit was used in many ways as it is today and was featured in Egyptian mythology and art, praised in the Old Testament of the Bible and in the Babylonian Talmud, and it was carried by desert caravans for the sake of its thirst-quenching juice. It traveled to central and southern India from Iran about the first century A.D. and was reported growing in Indonesia in 1416. It has been widely cultivated throughout India and drier parts of southeast Asia, Malaya, the East Indies and tropical Africa. The most important growing regions are Egypt, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, India, Burma and Saudi Arabia. There are some commercial orchards in Israel on the coastal plain and in the Jordan Valley.

Ripe and in season, typically from September/October to January/February in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s like eating sweet cranberry-flavored corn of the cob (I’ll admit this not the most elegant description but you get the point). The juicy red seed casings (what I refer to as “kernels”) are called arils and can be eaten on their own (I hear they’re great with a little salt and pepper).

Getting the arils out of the skin and inner pulp can be tricky (I’ve stained a couple white shirts with the red juice) but if you score the shell correctly and use a bowl of water (as shown below), you can save your countertops and clothing from a speckled red motif.

Happy pomegranate eating!