Hmmm, Part III. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Climate model changes. Well, this is good news.¹

Or not.²

It seems a group of scientists have found more time in their studies for humans to respond to global warming/climate change.

Hmmm, really?  For your consideration, I’m going to drop some thoughts, ponderances, and questions on global climate change and science here:

  • The recent discovery that Mars has unexpected weather.³ The nights are cold, cold, cold. While this information might ‘help future explorers colonizing the planet’, may I suggest that it could be useful in understanding the colonization we have on Earth already?

“It’s a bit like a Russian doll,” planetary scientist Paul Hayne from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who wasn’t involved with the study, told Nature, “with each successively higher-resolution model fitting inside the other.”³

I like this quote. It illustrates that climate scientists have a very difficult job. Peeling away the layers, uncovering the next doll. They are working with a very complex system and small changes in modeling, make measurable differences in projected results.

  • I’m totally gobsmacked when I read ” … we have more than 700 billion tons left to emit to keep warming within 1.5°C. ‘That’s about 20 years at present-day emissions,’ Millar said.” ¹

Well, hold the phone even though it’s ringing, statements like this released into the wild give us permission to continue bad habits that harm the environment. My individual contribution to 700 billion tons is just puny. I could jump up and down on that scale and it wouldn’t register so not my fault, right?²

I’ll be as cold, cold, cold as Mars at night here, but human life on earth may be a passing age regardless of any action we take. Regardless of any scientists, politicians, soothsayers, sooth-nay-sayers, we may all be doomed regardless of any action we take.

As evidence, the K-Pg event which sounds like a children’s show was actually a cosmic collision of the earth with an asteroid or comet. It extincted the dinosaurs.  “In the geologic record, the K-Pg event is marked by a thin layer of sediment.” Whoa! Big dinosaurs time left a geologic thin layer. Humans en masse? A geologic smudgy smear. Maybe. Who will know?

So regardless, let’s do the right thing.  Governments will argue, politicians will posture, manufacturers will whine about fairness, et cetera et al ad nauseum.

Let’s bring back “pollution”, the word, not actual pollution. Individuals can identify pollution and change pollutive habits and consumption. Personal actions and changes done by the millions have a HUGE measurable impact on the environment. (See also, plastic continent at the bottom of the ocean.)

And as we start environmentally hygienic habits and start trends designed to leave a smaller footprint, we unwittingly become consumer activists. (See also Hmmm, Part II. Remeber the Aerosol!) Rather than wait for government regulation and limits, dirty manufacturing cleans up due to market demand, clean-up happens because consumers require it.

And we remain the enthusiastically skeptic gardener.


¹Mooney, Chris. “New climate change calculations could buy the Earth some time — if they’re right.” Washington Post. 18 September 2017. Web. 19 September 2017

²Viva Nostradamus predicts that any time humans have gained by this news is just another distraction for politicians, governments, businesses, et al to argue about cause, effect and blame.  So, if you’ve read this far, just do what you can do today.  Stop polluting as you know it to the extent possible.  Trust me.  Micro actions in macro numbers makes a difference. To the planet.

³ Dockrill, Peter. “We Have First-Ever Evidence That Mars Gets Intense Snowstorms in The Dead of Night.” Science Alert. 22 August 2017. Web. 19 September 2017.

Good news!

On this morning after a weekend of being riveted, horrified, saddened, dismayed, disgusted, angered by the violence and news coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia; after my amazement that the POTUS’ response to the violence correctly used the multi-syllable big word ‘egregious’ coupled with a clear dog whistle;  after all of that I would like to take a moment and celebrate some good news!

  1. Elon Musk powers up on an island. I want to take more time and look at the data presented in this article,  but I celebrate continued solar energy use and development combined with battery storage.
  2. Bruno Mars donates $1M to Flint, Michigan for the water crisis that started in 2014. For today, I celebrate Mr. Mars’ acknowledgement of the problem and contribution.
  3. Waymo, Google’s self-driving car arm is considering automobile exteriors with adhesive properties such that if you’re hit by a Waymo, you do not become an equal and opposite reaction into something else. This sounds like really kewl technology and while I celebrate that Waymo is looking into options, it almost sounds like pedestrians are at risk? Really, Waymo? So,  I celebrate, wonder, and will continue to watch this development.
  4. Paul Manafort’s home was searched for evidence by the FBI using a ‘no knock’ warrant! Whoa.  The good news: Didn’t see that one coming! And thank you Ann for pointing out that the search occurred outside the leaky communication channels residing in the White House and Mr. Manafort was not tipped off that it was coming.  I celebrate that not all of government leaks!

And to end, good news from a favorite scene in Futurama. Professor Farnsworth presents Fry with a pill, number 7 on this link if you want to listen.

Fry: I can’t swallow that.

Professor Farnsworth:  Well then, good news! It’s a suppository …

Loon balloons & remote internet.

I’ve returned from Vivacation in the beautiful remote north woods of Minnesota where the loons are on the lake, loons can be heard, and Internet connectivity is scarce, sparse, or both. It’s truly lovely. (Well, once you get acclimated.  In my opinion, loons sound like the start of a horror movie; I’m always sure Bigfoot is near.)

In my news feed this morning, the ‘thing to know’ is that Google has a secretive lab working to bring internet connectivity to remote locations.  Google calls it Project Loon.  Some day soon, a Vivacation could include the sound of loons on the lake and floating Google X Loon Balloons overhead. Synchronicity. Beautiful.

Google, Division X, Project Loon brings information to a “… rural schoolhouse that had never been able to receive high-quality Internet signals.” Cassidy was able to help a teacher “supplement that day’s lesson with Google maps and Wikipedia. … Later when Cassidy spoke to the kids, they shared their goals: One wanted to be an engineer; another, a doctor.” (Project Loon. The article is worth the read.))

Engineers and doctors.  Not unlike the kids who currently enjoy full internet access to all the questions and answers anytime all the time. Although Project Loon is developing under the guise of “high-quality Internet signals”, we are not fooled. The curation of the high-quality Internet signals and free-flowing data gives internet access its value.  It is the teacher looking over the shoulder or directing classroom access that shapes all that information into knowledge.

But back to me.  Here is what the sketchy internet connection interrupted on Vivacation:

  • Facebook.
  • Clickbait.  Michael Phelps raced a shark.
  • The New York Times. Although wait, what? Evidently Michael Phelps versus shark was a real thing. Really? Ugh.
  • Access to the Viva blog.

In the absence of continuous connectivity, it became painfully obvious that the Internet is crack for an information junkie. Attention span? In an attention second.

And then I read three books. In hand. Beginning, middle, end. A vacation dream.

So please forgive me for being a cynic about connecting everyone everywhere all the time. People living in remote locations might not need or want an Internet connection. What is the purpose of the Internet? Connectivity?

Most of the time we like to watch who and what we know.  I watched a documentary in the early 1990’s of a small remote French village that was given a free local-access channel by a cable company that wanted to expand.  It turned out that the villagers were most interested in watching the local channel. They liked to watch each other. (A favorite featured two women overcome by a bottle of wine while cooking. Billed as a cooking show, it looked like a drinking game.)

Are we arrogant in thinking that remote peoples benefit from our presence? That they need our inclusion? Are we using technology to promote Western Civilization? And how ethnocentric is technology to Western Civilization? If we consider education, what does a remote villager need to know? What do they want? What could we offer them? An introduction to electronic attention deficit disorder?

Well then! Get your Googles on and welcome to my world!

Tequila math.

Yesterday, Diageo announced they are purchasing Casamigos tequila brand for $700 million up front with the potential for an additional $300 million based on the tequila’s performance over 10 years.  Wowza! That’s a lot of wim-wams¹ for some might-tee fine liquor.

And snap!  George Clooney is one of the co-founders of Casamigos. He will gain many dollars US bigly.

And I like to dive into the numbers as much as I like to dive into a salty margarita² on a hot, languid, thirsty summer day.  So for the common good, consider a purchase price of $1B ($1,000,000,000) and a 2016 production line of 120K cases or a purchase price of $5.8M/case ($5,800,000/case).

And we wonder, how many bottles of tequila are in a case? From Binny’s Beverage Depot, some tequilas ship 12 bottles to a case, others ship 6 bottles to a case.³  It appears Casamigos ships 6 bottles to a case so $5.8M/case divided by 6 bottles/case is $980K/bottle ($980,000/bottle).

There are 750 ml per bottle which works out to $1307 per ml. A generous shot is 2 oz. (60 ml) which translates to $78.4K ($78,420)!

But, ha-ha! These are funny numbers.  George Clooney and his house friends enjoying smooth tequila are not looking to charge $78K for a shot of tequila in my margarita.²  Their tequila was, and is an investment in the future.

And it looks like a future of serious drinking.


¹Wim-wams: Generic term referring to a unit of currency regardless of country of origin. (Wim-wam comes to us via Mr. Viva. Thank you)

²Casamigos tequila in a salty margarita would be a waste of a fine tequila.  I state this with certainty based on the Casamigos advertising which includes Mr. Clooney who can be very convincing.

³I hope Diageo used 6 bottles/case in their cost/benefit analysis and not 12 bottles/case.  If they used 12 bottles/case but they’re sold 6 bottles/case, they could be half as enthusiastic or twice as disappointed — the shot glass is half full or half empty.  Or could it be that they’re really buying Mr. Clooney’s continued involvement with the brand? And Mr. Clooney can be very convincing.²  Drink up.

Tilting toward windmills …

Ah! Finally a post on something other than politics. Recently I tripped across an article on a new small output, small wind turbine whose design is meant to resemble a tree!

And so I was thrown back down memory lane to the set design of my childhood filled with farms with barns and windmills dotting the landscape.  Windmills were used to pump water but somewhere between childhood and my teens, the cost of the electricity to run a pump became more economical than the cost of maintaining a windmill with a mechanical pump powered by free fuel (wind).  You have to look hard now to see a working windmill in Wisconsin.*

Wind farms which generate power measured in megawatts, like other power generation (coal, nuclear, gas, oil), are sited outside of the sight-line of large population centers. When the wind stops blowing, the power that was being produced by a wind farm needs to be replaced with power generated by other means.  We the consumers don’t see the wind turbines stop spinning, we don’t know the source of fuel for our power, and so we don’t modify any behaviors based on a change in the availability of our  “free” windy fuel source.

But! I am excited by the prospect of smaller, scalable, distributed wind generation:

  • Visibility.  Consumers can observe when the wind is blowing.  When the wind is not spinning the blades, usage can be modified to reduce reliance on electric grid power.
  • Portability. I presume smaller would be easier to re-site to take better advantage of available wind.
  • Battery storage!  Integration with battery energy storage!  When the wind is blowing and you’re not using much power — sleeping, working elsewhere — the wind generation can be used to charge a battery.  When your consumption goes back up — making coffee, cooking — the battery helps to supply the additional load. (Developments in battery technology are amazing too … but that’s another story.)
  • Costs.  As demand goes up, the market will get bigger, costs (purchase, maintenance, life cycle) will come down.
  • Better designs.  As demand goes up, the market will get bigger, designs will be more diverse.  (I am not a big fan of the aesthetics of the little tree, but hey! It’s a great start. There will be better designs.  There will be worse.  Take joy along the way.)
  • Business creator.  There will be a need for electricians and training for people installing and servicing small wind generators.
  • Other.  I leave this bullet for the unintended consequences that always come with new technologies and new development.  I know my list is incomplete

So here I am full circle tilting at windmills …


*Aside: These.people.know.windmills.  Their website is to get wonderfully lost in — windmill parts, photos, information.  It’s all here. Ball valves and Marcy cylinders. Whoa!