SUGAR BATTERIES.

March 13, 2014

I love Science magazines because I always find seemingly impossible things that could come true. From Virginia Tech’s Y. H. Percival Zhang comes this information:

Even today’s best rechargeable lithium batteries do lose their ability to hold a charge after a while, and are considered toxic waste once discarded. In just a few years, they may be replaced by batteries that are refillable and biodegradable, and that will also have a higher energy density yet a lower price … and they’ll run on sugar.

 

“Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,” says  Zhang, who is leading the research. “So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.”Its energy density is “an order of magnitude higher than others,  a type of enzymatic fuel cell.” The catalyst in its anode is made from inexpensive enzymes, as opposed to the costly platinum that’s used in regular batteries. When the maltodextrin is combined with air, water and electricity are produced. Unlike the hydrogen fuel cell, the sugar battery is non-explosive and non-flammable.

 

Zhang envisions users refilling the batteries with sugar when they need refueling, “much like filling a printer cartridge with ink.” He hopes that they may be powering electronic devices in as little as three years.

 

A paper on his research was published today in the journal Nature Communications.

Well, shoot, I guess pouring sugar in your gas tank isn’t going to happen.  I was hopeful, though until that last sentence, “electronic devices.”  But then, sugar batteries would probably make our chocolate bars, candy, and sweet rolls  VEEERRRRYY expensive if we tried to run cars on sugar. Maybe solve the obesity problem. Reminds me of that song, “….sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar in the sumertime…” I think that was a different kind of sugar though.

Sugar does alleviate boredom between a doctor’s appointment, taxes and my haircut yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

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There are times the only opportunity I get to be with some friends is at a meeting. Pam Quyle’s hours are long, John and Wanda Hofstetter stick close to home when they are home or they go away for months at a time, like me.

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So, even if we have business, it makes sense to have some social time and enjoy a meal together. Wanda brought us a beautiful dessert.

It was quite nice since most of my day was taxes, insurance, logistics on the new building in Oregon,  problems at the television studio with their brand new equipment, and so it went. In fact, the new equipment was part of the reason for the meeting.  Resolutions in sight.

My seven-foot long table is covered with paperwork. Hopefully by next week we’ll actually be able to eat there. Oh, oh!  I think I’m whining.

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Time to appreciate my Christmas poinsettia. I love them because they keep their bright beauty until late July. Cheers.

DESIGNING A HOUSE

April 5, 2013

I worked two days on designing a small house to replace the flooded mobile home for my Oregon property.  I wanted to limit it to 1000 square feet or under. Plus, I wanted to make it wheel chair accessible which calls for wider doorways and hallways. My thought was that as the population ages, handicapped accessible dwellings, will be in more demand. Who knows, it might be me? I love Portland and looked to buy a retirement condo there, but Oregon is an unfriendly tax state for retirees if you make over 250,000. While that doesn’t affect me, the Beaver State shares with Hawaii the distinction of imposing the highest tax rate on personal income in the nation for incomes over $250,000. No tax on social security, but, Oregon’s inheritance tax even applies to investments and bank accounts. They have no sales tax, but property taxes are high.  If you love Portland its best to buy in Van Couver, WA. and trip over to Portland by bus and cross the border to buy non-taxable items. Hmmm! I f I ever sell my house, that is what I’m going to do.

Hey, Oregon isn’t the worst.  Vermont has the highest property tax in the nation.

Minnesota taxes social security, and all retirement income no matter where it was earned.

Nebraska is slightly worse than Oregon, then comes California ranking number 5 with its top income tax rate kicking in for folks earning $46,767.  An odd number.

Or maybe I’ll go where the good food is.  Louisiana is so friendly and fun besides. But, in summer, they have mosquitoes as big as helicopters.

If you love Thai food, my recommendation is retire to Mission Viejo for the best Thai Food ever. I’ve been to at least 30 different Thai restaurants not counting those I visited while in Thailand. There is only one entre, fried squash blossoms,  superior in Thailand to this restaurant in Mission Viejo. Siam Cuisine Restaurant, 27001 La Paz Dr. I never miss it when I travel there.

If you are a barbecue fan, I have a friend, Bud Harlan, who says the best is in Crawfordsville, GA. at a place called Heavys Bar-B-Que. It is where they filmed part of Sweet Home Alabama.

Well, now that I’m on the subject of food, they say Diamond Jim was a big eater, but how about this bit of trivia:

An average dinner eaten by King Louis XVI (1643-1715) consisted of four plates of soup, a whole partridge, a whole pheasant, two slices of ham, a salad, mutton with garlic, pastry and hard-boiled eggs. At his death it was discovered that the king’s stomach was twice the size of a normal stomach.   (It would have tripled if he’d lived in Louisiana.)

Picasa claims it solved its picture loading problem on March 26th. It isn’t fixed. No auto load. After considerable effort, I was able to load my Easter Photos. Or, at least that is what I entitled the folder. I took pictures the day before Easter and the day after. I was elated when I saw them loading. I erased them from the camera, and then?  Only the first days pictures loaded into the folder. So, my Easter Sunday pictures are gone forever. Bummer.

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Kind of past the point, but I got pictures of the kids coloring eggs.

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And son-in-law Cedric making the beautiful Easter Bread he baked on Sunday.

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Ken and Virginia discussing the bike route they planned for Easter morning.

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The bouquet of lilacs that hid a purple egg.

I dug up an older photo of an Elks dinner I attended.

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The Chaplain was fascinated by my Faberge Egg Purse.

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And I made a sandwich that tasted so good, I made another and took a picture. I sautéed a Portobello mushroom in a scant touch of oil. Both sides, flattened it with a spatula til it was good and hot and juicy all the way through.  I put a half slice of good sour dough french bread on top of the mushroom covered it for a minute to warm it. Then I put a 1/4 inch thick slice of mozzarella cheese on top, covered it again until it was soft and melty. Scooped it out of the pan intact and covered it with a handful of water cress, the hydroponically grown kind from the store. It would be better with the spicier type you can pick yourself in the creek. Yum. I liked it so much I tried it again with sesame seeds in the cheese and added mustard. It tasted like a hot dog, the mustard overpowers the subtle flavors.

Got my taxes delivered to the tax man, yesterday. Brian, my computer guru has been sick all week, so I’m hoping within the next few days he can help me repair this indispensable torment of a computer and figure out how to get Picasa working again.

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Here a photo of a re-enactment where Confederate meets a Union soldier. All in fun.

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Women played their part. In fact we all costumed up and learned much about the Civil War period as it affected the Mormons at this museum.

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Frontier women were very feminine, but able and ready to protect themselves in a clinch.

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Jim, with his New England accent could only play the part of  a Yank.

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Most people visit Las Vegas to gamble. The one-armed bandit was present at this museum.

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And, neon signs? An R about seven feet tall.

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And this wagon and livery stables? Amazing.  Right in the middle of the city. People who visit Las Vegas don’t see it in the colorful brochures that abound. This picture is worth clicking to enlarge for detail.  We were there in 2010. A great shift from all the glitz. I believe the re-enactors volunteer on Saturdays if memory serves. Great fun!

Still no fix on my Picasa photo uploader. Its time to get working on my taxes, anyway.

ANTI-SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE

October 13, 2012

The White House has called on federal agencies and departments to improve the ability of government scientists to openly discuss their research and findings with media, policy makers, and the public. Some agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation, have put forward policies that encourage such communication.

Government scientists should be able to alert the public when their research indicates a potential public health, safety, or environmental hazard.

Strange that we should NEED such a call to listen to science. Our whole world of inventions and weaponry , space travel and architecture, astronomy, road design, medicine, comfortable furnishings, computers, fabrics, mailing materials, machinery, building safe structures, growing more food per acre, improvements in glass, car safety, new technologies be it a bicycle or a car medical device have been invented or strengthened by  scientific testing and  investigation. We live every day with the things science has made possible.  We, as a country, used to lead the way in  scientific discoveries and investigation. Now we are #17 in the world.  Such a long fall from dominance.

How did we turn into a society that denies the overwhelming evidence of climate change?  It has hurt us as a country financially and in leadership around the world.

Part of it stems from the conflicted discoveries that appear to undermine religion. Red states with high numbers of fundamental religions, are where most climate deniers and anti science attitudes come from. Yet, many scientists believe in God and have religious beliefs.

The truth and nature of the world, which includes people, is a factual, solid place, not changed by science, but understood by science. However, people are more comfortable in their own beliefs and somehow feel it affects their self esteem if what they have  believed for most of their life is challenged.

Uneducated people regard scientists as some elite, arrogant class of know-it-alls that live off the taxpayers and deserve trashing. In fact scientists don’t make a lot of money. They have houses, a salary and spend into the private economy and pay taxes just like everyone else unless they work within a mega corporation where they can make better money. Where they buy houses, buy into the private economy and pay taxes like everyone else.

Scientists provide the infrastructure for great companies to succeed and compete. They are necessary to our capitalistic economy. And suspicions that they are liberals with an agenda to sway the public in some sort of conspiracy would take thousands and thousands of scientists to agree to a shady plan. It is unreal, untrue and unfortunate for all of us that such anti-scientific attitudes have been promoted and enhanced by politicians for their own gain. It is up to each of us to confront that attitude when we see it if we want to be the America we grew up with.

 

 

 

 

POETRY AND TAXES

April 5, 2012

April has been designated National Poetry Month. Don’t know why. I know I love poetry and I’m still mired in tax paperwork so this poem will have to do:

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he’s fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won’t be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He’s good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he’s laid…

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
‘Taxes drove me
to my doom…’

When he’s gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

I don’t know the author of this fun poem but it made me chuckle. I may be frustrated with the process, but unlike Pierpont Morgan, I don’t believe we can run a country without taxes.  I love my National and State Parks, my bridges, my roads, airports, trains and universities. I love my clean water, clean air, museums, vast wilderness, clean beaches and…I could go on and on. I once had a friend retired from the IRS. I used to tease him that he must have a hard time making friends. “Not in America,” he said.  For all the complaining I do about current political shenanigans, this is yet a great country.  The yet implies it may be getting worse,  worse than taxes.  Amen.

ECONOMICS CLASSES.

April 2, 2012

 

 

I wonder why trickle down economics never worked, but today, trickle up poverty is sweeping the country?

If 1 % of the people own wealth equal to 90 % of the rest of us, why do they need more wealth before they will create more jobs?

What industry gets 7,610 dollars a minute in tax breaks (that’s four billion of OUR tax dollars ) while making 35.5 billion more profit  in this quarter than last quarter?    (Hint: A three-letter word beginning with O and ending with L.)

Who was the first President to borrow from Social Security?  ( Hint:  He also started that trickle down theory and was once a movie star.)

Who said “I vote for the rich guys, they are the only ones that can pay me?”    My cousin Rose said that.   (I guess I have that  backwards. I always thought a business couldn’t run if people didn’t show up to work everyday)

What is the most expensive cost to taxpayers?   (President Eisenhower warned us against it)    (Hint:  Its not housing, education, health care, or welfare.  The next time you are asked to donate, ask your candidate of choice about the cost of the military/industrial complex.)

The Federal Communications Commission has the power to provide a free elections channel or two or even three, just like most industrialized nations.  Why don’t they?  Wouldn’t it save money?  (Duh!)

Why is it the  rich are incentivized by tax cuts, while the poor are incentivized by lower wages, no benefits, no health insurance and  minimum wage?

Shouldn’t all corporations have to pay SOME taxes?

Isn’t money the same as speech?

Corporations are the same as a person, aren’t they?  (My friend Domenic said he’d  believe it when they execute one.)

In a democracy, anyone in America (with enough money)  can run for public office, right?

I’m sure I got that last one right. But, in general,  I failed economics. Jim says I should get back on the road so I don’t get riled up about these matters.

Or maybe I should go into a business like this?  But how would I get the politicians into the truck?

 

 

BICYCLING AMERICA

October 20, 2011

I have friends who walked across the United States at 61 and 63.  They came up against the brick-bats of a world made for cars 28 years ago.  Their journey revealed the total disregard for humans over the automobile.  It was evidenced in driveways, street crossings, short cuts, freeway overpasses without pedestrian or bike lanes,  attempting to cross bridges with signs  that warned NO PEDESTRIANS ON BRIDGE. Especially dangerous were freeways, four or five lane highways with no place for a walker or bicycle to cross without walking miles out of their way, and often no meridian center to stand on to make the second half of a crossing.   The highway engineers were basically saying, you cannot cross this river or this highway, or this freeway if you are on foot. And, now, they wall freeways in with huge costly edifices to protect  residents from noise.

This week I learned about the guy who got a $42 fine after killing a bicycler. Then another about a driver (who refused toxicology and breathalyzer tests) who plowed into five bicyclers. Five!  Outrageous. The number of bicycle deaths is unacceptable.  I got a message from Pot Calling the Kettle Black from Delaware who has a blog about bicycling in his state. It seems to me its time to go National with this problem. There must be a bike organization in every state.  In any case, check out his blog at:

http://www.bikede.org/2011/10/19/pot-calling-the-kettle-black/#comment-1397

And BikePortland.org as well. If you are unfamiliar, as I was with the bicycling community, you will learn a lot. My whole perception of bicyclers has been quickened by this accident and has changed me forever. It shouldn’t take an accident.  Previously, I thought of bicyclers as hobbyists, racers, trekkers, exercisers, but not as pursuing an alternative method of everyday transportation and long distance vacation travel, even though my youngest daughter is a bicycle commuter.  It could be your son, daughter, parent or grand child who meets an offending vehicle on a bike.   PLEASE DRIVE SAFELY AND MAKE IT A POINT TO SEE BICYCLES AND PEDESTRIANS.

As I said once before, the words are inadequate.

http://bikeportland.org/2011/10/04/collision-on-hwy-101-north-of-gold-beach-leads-to-serious-injuries-60050

Maybe we should tax vehicles by the mile and more people would  stay off the road or use alternative methods of travel  for short distances, and promote public transportation.

Geez!  All I do is rant anymore. Must be time for me to get back on the road.

 

In my last blog I identified a cow parsnip as angels lace and I appreciated the correction.

A showy plant that grows very well in this cool, wet area. A Western Garden book would help, but its huge in a small motor home where space is at a premium.
Yesterday, we curled in with our books. Into reading John Lescroart legal thrillers. Took a swim before dinner and it felt good. The pool has a unique design, two shallow ends and the deep part in the middle.  Today is also moving day.

I read a lot. Sometimes junk, sometimes serious stuff. And, I thought the following essay by Will Moore had some interesting things to say. He is a political junkie and a member of the World Affairs Counsel.

Humans are a predatory species. We got to the top of the food chain on  this planet by preying on everything else. We prey on  animals, fish, on mollusks, and the other predators in the seas. Humans don’t eat a lot of insects, we prey on them for honey, silk and certain beetles whose shells we use for dyes. We prey upon many more killing millions and millions of tons of insects in the process of agricultural competition with them. All those millions of  tons of insects are the food supply for birds, fish and other species, so we’re preying indirectly on those species as well.
 We prey on everything including other humans.  We no longer kill and eat other people, but we prey upon their products, their labor, their lands and their resources.  Humans  preying on other people is the source of all the wars that are going on.
In the old days raiding distant lands and “lesser” peoples seemed like a good idea. It was profitable. The world has changed. The idea that we have a God-given right to raid and cheat “others” and plunder the earth is an idea that has outlived its time like cannibalism and slavery have gone with their times.
Wall Street is now the top predator on this planet and the working man is the prey of  Wall Street imperialism for their mental resources, their labor and the products of their labor.
A lot of anti-liberal, anti-socialist, anti-communist small government advocates think that socialism is evil and capitalism is good. They seem to think that the government is the enemy of the people and Wall Street is our friend. That isn’t true. We’re the prey species in the  unholy marriage of Washington and Wall Street.
There is no such thing as a power vacuum. If you take a bone away from a  dog some other dog will take the bone. If you take power from one force in a power struggle, the power struggle doesn’t end. Some other power will immediately fill that power vacuum. We’re going to have a government whether we want one or not. If we don’t have the government we have, we will have something else. We will have a warlord, a dictator, a military junta, a panel of judges, a Pope, or something else. That  something else will be Wall Street. We will have a corporate plutocracy, a corporatocracy (which is where we are going). If Washington takes a penny from us in taxes, everybody knows about it;  it’s a visible tax. But we actually get something for that tax penny – roads, clean air, fresh milk, mail delivery, police protection, paramedics who  will rush to your house when you have a heart attack, and many other services that we all take for granted. There can be such a thing as enough taxes. There can never be such a thing as enough profit. The corporatocracy is trying to diminish, defund, demolish, dismantle and disenfranchise the government we have with no clear idea about what is going to replace it. The government we have is legally limited in how predatory it can be and it has a constitutional mandate to serve the “general welfare” of “We the people.” Those who are trying to dis-empower the government  we have are merely handing more power over to Wall Street capitalism. They are granting an unrestricted license to the primary predator on the planet to prey upon  “We the people” with no legal limits and with no mandate to serve the “general welfare.” Yeah, taxes are high, but government for profit will be ever more onerous. Perhaps we can agree that there can be no real freedom for debt slaves, and  that the greatest threat to us all is the unholy marriage of two powerful predators, government and capitalism and that we should work to dissolve that marriage.



Food for thought.

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