Tag Archives: winter

European Solar Decathlon – Solar home creates twice the energy it uses

Our homes were never designed for energy efficiency. So what happens when designers, architects, and engineers approach the problem?

From the European Solar Decathlon:

“The house generates twice as much energy in Hungarian conditions and three times as much in Madrid as the house itself spends,” the Odooproject team states. “This amount is able to serve two other house’s needs, or provide a 70-kilometer (43.5-mile) long travel distance – daily – for an electric car.”

Designs like these bring us closer to taking homes off the electrical grid. And that is something I’ve heard engineers say is the solution, and the where the trend is going.

Photos of the home:

The central idea is the home is 100% energy-efficient. In winter that means the slightest amount of heat from the sun gets trapped in the house, and can provide the majority of winter heating.

Continue reading

Is it possible to only shop at farmers markets?

With so many benefits to shopping at farmers markets, is it possible skip supermarkets altogether and only shop at farmers markets?

It is, and I have been doing so for 3 years. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly find everything I needed. Maybe one meal’s worth, but all three? everyday?

Yep, it’s possible and the benefits are extraordinary. I spend less money, eat much better, my health is actually improving (I’m losing the fat!), and I have become part of a community. I know my bread-lady, meat-man, old-school Italian (he says to me: “hello-uh big-uh boy”), the avocado savant, and even a Mexican cactus farmer.

The variety of foods at the farmers market is quite deep, so deep that it will take you months to explore all of them. There is no lack of possibilities for feeding yourself. This makes three meals a day easy. The only snag is that while you know how to make Mac n’ Cheese, you probably don’t know what to do with Chard. There is a learning curve but most people seem to enjoy that part of it.

Next, is cost. If you compare, item to item, the food at the farmers market is more expensive than the supermarkets. But, if you compare value (i.e. nutrition) then the farmers market is an extreme bargain.

The easiest way to explain this is think of foods considered to be of very little nutritional value, like popcorn. You can eat a whole jumbo popcorn and still feel hungry. Popcorn is food and a vegetable but it doesn’t contain enough of the vitamins and essential nutrients our bodies need. Yet, it is extremely cheap to buy at the supermarket. Think of farmers markets as the exact opposite. The foods sold there are designed to be jam-packed with vitamins and essential nutrients. So much so, that you get full really quickly. I often find myself eating half of what I used, sometimes one-fourth.

When you’re buying half as much as you used to, or even one-fourth, the amount you spend drops pretty fast. This is hardest part for folks to understand. Always at the farmers market I see people shocked at the prices and I just want to stop them and say “it’s quality not quantity.”

That is especially true when it comes to our health. When you put less food in your body, you lose weight. When you put higher quality food in your body, your health improves. Oh, and higher quality food tastes better too. I could talk for hours about the impact this has on how I look, but suffice it to say, I’m in the best shape of my life.

Depending on the size of your local farmers market, there are some things you won’t be able to find. Coffee is the most obvious one, so is chocolate and tea. For specialty items like these I shop at my local health store. They tend to stock higher quality, more nutritious products (though nowhere near the quality at the farmers market).

Lastly, is the winter stores. There are still plenty of things to buy during the winter, even in especially cold regions. In fact, a large part of French and German cooking is about cooking things sold only in the winter (French Onion Soup, mmm!). But, sometimes you just want a tasty watermelon or juicy pear in January. This is easily solved by creating your winter stores. Buy your favorites at the farmers market when they are going out of season and on sale for steep discounts. Cut them up into squares, freeze them, and don’t let anyone touch until the depths of winter.

These are the important things to know when making the switch to an all farmers market diet. Everything else you can learn at the market, from buyers and farmers. You can ask them anything, about quality or how to cook, and they will answer. That’s why they sell at the market and not the supermarket. They’re part of the rising sub-culture dedicated to ideal health and amazing food. Go ahead, make the switch and see what happens!

 

Continue reading

NASA releases a full 360-degree panorama of Mars surface – feels like you’re there

NASA has released an amazing panorama shot of Mars:

 

This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter.

Its release this week coincides with two milestones: Opportunity completing its 3,000th Martian day on July 2, and NASA continuing past 15 years of robotic presence at Mars.

 

And, Panoramas.dk has turned it into a it’s-like-you’re-there 360-degree view. Make sure to visit Panorama.dk, the shot will make you feel like you are on the surface of Mars.

 

A screenshot of 90-degrees of the panorama:

 

Continue reading

Southern California ends rainy season in a drought – El Niño possibly coming

The 2011-12 rainy season — which ran from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 — has come to an end with less than impressive numbers, according to figures compiled by the National Weather Service. None of the six key sights where the weather service records long term precipitation reported above average rainfall.

  • San Diego – 8.03″ (avg. – 10.34″)
  • Orange County – 6.32″ (avg. – 13.33″)
  • Riverside – 5.53″ (avg. – 12.04″)
  • Los Angeles – 8.69″ (avg. – 14.93″)

The season that starts today could be different. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center says that an El Nino appears to be developing in the eastern equatorial Pacific. If the periodic climate change system continues to strengthen, it could lead to above average rainfall this winter in Southern California.

SourceGary Robbins, U-T San Diego

 

 

Continue reading

Calvin and Hobbes – quotes and life lessons

On life’s constant little limitations

Calvin: You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.

 

On the cruel reality of commercial art

Hobbes: Van Gogh would’ve sold more than one painting if he’d put tigers in them.

 

On the falling of sparrows (or providence’s lack of a timetable)

Calvin: Life is full of surprises, but never when you need one.

 

On why winter is the cruellest of seasons

Calvin: Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery.

 

On the truth

Calvin: It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…Let’s go exploring!

 

Find more atSixteen Things Calvin and Hobbes Said Better Than Anyone Else

Continue reading

Beach Report Card – for Los Angeles, San Diego, & Orange County (2012)

San Diego County

San Diego continued to exhibit excellent beach water quality, with 93% of all monitoring locations receiving an A grade during summer dry weather.

Winter dry weather water quality was also excellent with 93% A grades. During wet weather 77% of locations received an A or B grade, besting both the five-year average for San Diego (68%) and this year’s statewide average (64%).

 

Orange County

Water quality in Orange County was excellent this year with 94% A or B grades (89% were A grades). Beach water quality during the winter dry weather was also very good with 87% A or B grades. Wet weather grades were fair (69% A or B grades) and bested the five-year average by 15%. Two Orange County beaches appear on the dreaded Beach Bummer list: Doheny State Beach at San Juan Creek outlet and Poche Beach.

 

Los Angeles County

Summer dry weather water quality in Los Angeles improved 7% from last year with 82% A or B grades. Winter dry water quality was nearly the same as summer dry water quality with 81% A or B grades (besting the five-year average by 13%). Wet weather water quality in Los Angeles continues to be poor overall with 49% of monitoring locations receiving F grades this year (27% worse than the state average).

Los Angeles County was also host to seven out of the 10 beaches on the statewide Beach Bummer list this year: Topanga State Beach at the creek mouth (No. 10), Escondido State Beach at Escondido Creek (No. 9), Cabrillo Beach harborside (No. 6), Dan Blocker County Beach at Solstice Creek (No. 5), Surfrider Beach at the Malibu Lagoon outlet (No. 4), Puerco Beach at the Marie Canyon storm drain (No. 3) and Avalon Harbor Beach on Catalina Island (No. 1).
Continue reading

La Niña leaves on Thursday – El Niño could be coming

Changes are brewing in the equatorial Pacific, and they could profoundly affect weather across the U.S. and much of the globe next winter and spring.

La Nina, which has held sway since last fall, will be officially declared a goner Thursday, an official at the Climate Prediction Center in Maryland told InsideClimate News. And while nobody is quite certain what will happen next, some long-range forecast models are pointing to the possible emergence of the opposite phenomenon: El Nino.

Climate scientists are still trying to determine what role climate change plays in the La Nina/El Nino cycle. One study by scientists with NASA and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle suggests global warming may already be affecting the intensity and impacts of El Nino.

Regardless of climate change’s role, a shift away from this year’s La Nina could dramatically alter temperature, precipitation and extreme-weather patterns.

…keep readingAdios, La Nina. Hola, El Nino?

 

// Photo – Vinoth Chandar

Renewable energy production variability by hour of day, and by season (graph)

- …illustrate the variability of wind and solar generation relative to the comparatively smooth output from other generation sources

- Power produced by geothermal, biomass, biogas, and small hydro generators can be easily dispatched, meaning it can be either increased, decreased, or controlled to remain fairly constant.

- Wind resources are often more available at night.

- Solar power is not generated until the sun comes up, and can increase and decrease quickly as the sun rises, sets, or is blocked by cloud cover. However, much of California’s utility-scale solar capacity is based on concentrating solar technology, which embodies enough thermal storage to continue generating power for a few hours after the sun goes down

- The variability of wind and solar power generation leads to challenges in power system operations and planning.

- The contribution towards total generation from eligible renewable resources also varies seasonally. For the dates charted above, the amount of renewable generation as a percentage of the total generation ranges from 8% on Oct 18, 2011 to 14% on May 9, 2011.

via - Today in Energy, EIA