Archive for September, 2009

Lunk’d!

What the what?  Grow meat in a kitchen gadget?  I can’t tell if this sounds more unappetizing or unlikely.

Via The Economist, a study on how greenhouse gas emissions vary across some major cities.  Cities tend to use resources more efficiently than less-densly populated areas, partly because of access to public transit, but they vary widely in how efficient they are.  This study quantifies ghg emissions for some cities and identifies reasons why some might emit so much more than others.

Environmentalists and the Colombian government try to deal with the legacy of Pablo Escobar’s zoo of invasive hippopotamaii.  Poor Pepe.

Solar is sunk without water.

The EPA is pushing ahead on greenhouse gas regulations (woop woop!), but lawmakers are hoping to forestall their efforts by passing a comprehensive bill.  The Senate put out a version of their plan today, too (the hose got to Waxman Markey in June, remember?).  I just want it to get done well, so coming at it from two sides bodes well.  There is speculation that the EPA’s action will goad Congress to a bill more favorable to reducing emissions, faster, but I have great faith in Congress’s ability to disappoint and prevaricate, so I’m expecting this to be almost as painful a show as healthcare.

Party at the Solar Decathalon!  It’s happening again this year, on the Mall- 20ish solar houses from Universities all over the world will be open for tours and other sorts of envir-oogling.  Catch it October 9th-13th and 15th-18th- all the details are here.  I’m so neglecting my homework for this.

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A Christmas Nightmare/Miracle

So I was in Target tonight- Friday nights are pretty bumpin’ these days as you see- and they’ve got the Christmas stuff out already.  It’s not even hidden behind the Halloween stuff.  I see no Thanksgiving stuff?  That’s weird, I guess I wasn’t looking.  Anyway I was going to be horrified about rampant consumerism eroding the true meaning of our cherished traditions but then I started looking for adorable penguin cards and forgot about being outraged (only had trees and doves on the recycled content ones, bah).

But!  They had out the LEDs!  I got some a couple years ago, but every other time I’ve tried to find them at Christmas they’ve already been sold out.  So I stocked up, and now I’ll tell you about it so you can beat the rush.  It’s cool, go ahead, I got the ones I want.

Of note:  Philips and some other companies have a whole bunch of different LED bulb types and colors for about $14.  Nets and Icicles and strands and ropes and stars and everything.  There is an off-brand version now, same amount of lights for only $7-cheapest I’ve ever seen them, plus they’ve got the UL and EnergyStar ratings.  All the brands of LEDs now have white lights in both the bluish color I don’t personally like and a new ‘warm white’ option.  I snagged 4 boxes.  My tree is gonna be so amazing.  Oh and I found a strand of solar LEDs to put on my balcony with the other solar lights.  Those were $15, but that’s a small price to pay to spread Christmas cheer to my parking lot.

Anyhoo, Target, has LEDs, get them while the getting’s good.  Is it seriously still September?  Really, Target? September?  Ah whatever worked for me.

Junk Science: MIT Throws It All Away

Heard a story on NPR about this today- a group at MIT is throwing away garbage.

Oh, right, there’s an interesting part:  they’re putting tags on individual pieces of the trash they toss, and they’re going show you where it goes on the internet.  Can’t find the NPR write-up at the moment, but MITnews has a supportive explanation here.  Check out the project’s website for the real goodies, though:  pictures of where stuff you don’t care about anymore actually ends up (your plastic container of liquid soap might only be 15.5 miles away by now!  Do you need a street address?  They can do that for you).

Inherent humor value of smart people playing in the trash aside, I think this project will generate some important data that could convince people the stuff they toss doesn’t actually go away.

Wonder what the first thing to make it to the Pacific Garbage Patch will be?

Review: Tackle Box, With a Side of Overdue Research

The Wednesday before last I had dinner at the Tackle Box with a visiting Uncle.  Technically a first cousin once-removed by marriage, but let’s leave it at uncle.  He emailed a few days in advance requesting good seafood, and I found out about them through WaPo’s restaurant guide- best-reviewed not-gaspingly-expensive seafood restaurant in DC.

Perspective:  I don’t like fish.  Well, live ones that I have to look at or let be anywhere near me.  Fish are ugly and slimy and might bite me.  In theory, I’m ok with living fish far away from me.   I’m usually happy if they’re fried in chunks without visible fish-resembling portions.  And I just finished reading Taras Grescoe’s Bottomfeeder before I left for NZ, which describes plenty of the incredibly destructive and disgusting ways most seafood is raised and harvested around the world.  More on this later.  In conclusion, eating seafood was daunting before, and now I find it possibly revolting.

Still, I happen to like this Uncle, so seafood it was.  Luckily, the Tackle Box (a less ritzy version of it’s big-sister restaurant Hook) has a big old section of their website devoted to their sustainable fishing practices, with earnest promises that they source local and smaller fishing operations and change their menu based on availability, etc.

I don’t know of any way to make sure it’s true.  That’s one intimidating thing about seafood- oversight from the fisherman to the table is more often than not lax, and fish are often labelled incorrectly.  But their website does sound earnest, and a little googling doesn’t reveal any scandals.  So, tentative trust, Tackle Box?

I had the bluefish with the sweet potato fries and asparagus.  I enjoyed the asparagus- crisp enough, well flavored, and the sweet potato fries could have been less oily, but were pretty good anyway.  Bluefish tasted fine, had some pleasing darker portions of meat.  Again I have no real fish experience with anything but fried slabs of the stuff, so don’t rely on my palate.  Uncle seemed to like it.

Afterwards (tonight), I looked up the species to see about overfishing issues.  I started at Wikipedia, but that was silly of me:  if you want to know more about fish that are safe and sustainable for your eating pleasure, go straight to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch site.  They keep close tabs on this stuff, and they say Bluefish are a “Good Alternative” in their rating system- though they are overfished in the Atlantic and they contain lots of toxins, beign at the higher end of the food chain.  Whoops.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium rates fish choices as Best Choice, Good Alternative, or Avoid- and you can print out their pocket guides here or check out their website on your fancy internet phones.  A better choice at the Tackle Box would have been the tilapia- if it was farmed in the US.  Or the trout, if it were US-farmed Rainbow Trout and not so much the wild-caught lake trout.  The staff seemed very nice and informed- go ahead and ask them.

The more you know, hunh?  I’m printing out a guide for the next time Uncle comes into town.


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