Category Archives: Environment

Hawaiian Canoes Reach Satawal

A pair of Hawaiian sailing canoes, the Ho-kule’a and the Alingano Maisu reached the island of Satawal yesterday. The Alingano Maisu is a gift to Mau Piailug, the navigator who taught his skills to the Hawaiians and reintroduced traditional navigation to the Hawaiian Islands.

The Hawaiians left Oahu in mid January, and battled stormy seas, constant rain and contrary winds to reach Satawal. After the presentation of the canoe to Piailug, the Ho-kule’a will continue on through Micronesia, visiting Palau and Yap, before heading to Japan to celebrate that country’s strong ties to Hawai’i. The Ho-kule’a even has a blog to track the voyage.

My Newest Nemesis

I have made a new enemy here on Guam, and he absolutely hates me. He hates me with a passion. For three days in a row, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, he physically attacked me. Luckily he’s only about 10 inches long.

Here he is, the Picasso Triggerfish, or the pulonnon in Chamoru. This mean spirited fish lives on the reef flats and is very, very territorial. This particular fellow has set up his home in the waters off the Marriott hotel in Tumon Bay, directly along the course I swim four or five times a week.Friday night I was swimming along and “POW!”-he got me on my thumb of my left hand. Saturday at roughly the same time and place he hit me again, this time on the right arm. And Sunday evening he got me once more, on my right leg that time. I just know he’s hanging out in his house waiting for the big haolie guy to come by swimming so he can shoot out and pop me one. Sunday I jumped up and cursed loudly at his repeated attacks. I ducked my head back underwater and there he was, about three feet away, quivering in rage and sizing me up for another shot. Mean little bastard wanted another taste of me.

I’m going back in the water tonight and I am actually dreading it. Maybe I should swim with a net so I can catch the little bugger…

Global Warming Claims First Inhabited Island

I might as well get into the swing of things for 2007 with an actual link to a story I read last weekend. Seems rising waters in the Bay of Bengal inundated the island of Lohachara, once home to 10000 people. Yeah, that global warming sure bites if you happen to live in low lying coastal areas. Or if you live in the polar regions, where things are heating up rapidly.

Time for me to drive home in my nice big SUV, crank up my air conditioner and live the good life.

The Crocodile Hunter’s Last Moments.

Well the internet is just alive with stories about Steve Irwin and his last moments. Nothing like a celebrity’s bizarre and grisly death to capture everyones morbid fascination.

Curiously, Monday I watched Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog’s documentary on Timothy Treadwell, the bear enthusiast and environmentalist who was eaten by Alaskan grizzly bears back in 2003. What an odd synchronicity to finish watching that movie, then read about another wildlife filmmaker dying in the field. Guess it bears repeating that wild animals are dangerous and unpredictable creatures.

Now some bloggers are laying the blame on the Discovery Channel for sending these people into harm’s way to seek fame and celebrity. Isn’t that an indictment upon ourselves though, since the Discovery Channel is only responding to our demands for more Shark Week, more up close with dangerous animals?

Did Hell Just Freeze Over?

So now suddenly Pat Robertson is sidling up to the godless environmentalists and liberals in his acceptance of global warming? Is this some sort of joke? Not two weeks ago he ran an interview with Senator James Inhofe, implying that environmentalists were in league with Al Queda and sacrificed babies to Satan, to say nothing of conclusively proving that the Lord Almighty did not see fit to cause global warming. Guess that’s a 360° in world view, or maybe a change of heart. Anyway, welcome aboard Pat, though I don’t know how assassinating Hugo Chavez will reduce global warming, your welcome to try.

Stirling Solar Power

I mentioned it a couple years ago, but it looks like the initial pilot project for Stirling Energy is about to be authorized by the state of California. Eventually Stirling Energy will operate one of the largest solar power facilities in the country, a 500 MW, 4,500 acre behemoth in the countryside around Victorville, CA. At this stage however, plans are for a pilot project of 40 Stirling solar collectors instead of the projected 20,000 that will dot the landscape.

Stirling engines are cool. I really wish something like this would come to Guam, we get lots of sunshine. And wind too.

Random Links

Time for a flurry of random, unrelated links to marginally interesting stuff. Behold the power of the internets!

  • Mapping Medieval Townscapes – An atlas of the towns founded by Edward I between 1277 and 1303. That’s Edward Longshanks, the evil king from Braveheart. Make no mistake, these villages were founded in Wales for the exact purpose that Israel plopped down all those settlements in the West Bank.
  • Nazi aircraft carrier located – A Polish oil exploration outfit has found the wreck of Nazi Germany’s only aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin. The ship never saw action in World War II, and there is some speculation about how it was sunk.
  • Book of Psalms found in Irish bog – A thousand year old copy of the Book of Psalms was discovered by a construction in a peat bog.
  • Virtue Desktops – If you own a Mac, this is worth it’s weight in gold. This gives you four different virtual desktops to play with, just like any other Unix/Linux system. VirtueDesktops is the bee’s knees. I can’t sing it’s praises enough.
  • 86400 Moments – An interesting photo exhibit, documenting a day in Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Apple Support Specifications – Can’t get enough information about current and older Macs? Check out Apple’s support pages with details about every Powerbook, iMac, iBook, iPod, eMac, PowerMac, AirPort, MacBook, Mac Mini or display Apple’s ever made.
  • Mechanical Turk – Looking to make a few bucks doing a mindless job for Amazon? Turns out it is a lot easier for them to pay scads of people a bit of money to identify stuff (pink shoes, jazz records, tabby cats) than to write software to do the same thing. Get in on the action and earn a couple bucks today.
  • Underground Russia – Morlocks
  • Rachel Ray and the food snobs – Just digging through the long tail here folks. I think she looks cute, though maybe a little too perky.
  • Underground Japan – More Morlock technology.
  • Camera phones are ‘obstruction of justice’ – This guy was arrested for taking a picture of cops in a drug bust on his street.
  • Pat Robertson and Senator James Inhofe on the threat of environmentalism – Whoa. That just creeps me out.
  • The Eco-Bubble – Speaking of the environment, maybe it is starting to look like the tech bubble of the nineties. But that ain’t exactly a bad thing.

Tropical Thunder

We had some crazy thunderstorms today, the paddling had to be called down in Merizo because of the lightning. It was rumbling all afternoon too. Thunderstorms are unusual here, and this week there’s been a spate of them. The storm today was wicked; we were right in the middle of a race when the lightning start striking all around us. Everyone turned to shore and raced to get off the water and after a half hour of lightning and driving rain, the remainder of the races were cancelled.

Speaking of nasty weather, here’s a page from the National Weather Service on last week’s thunderstorms and high winds in St. Louis. My brother sent me a movie clip of some guy getting walloped by a garbage bin careening out of control at Busch Stadium during the game. Check it out.

Bicycling’s Bad For The Environment?

Bicycling is actually bad for the environment? Well that’s a weird one. The thinking goes that people who cycle are healthier and will live longer, thus consuming more resources, than fat schlubs who drive around in SUV’s and die younger. Sounds iffy to me, and it opens a dangerous can of worms to continue down that line of thinking.

Oh yeah, GovGuam could be releasing their insurance rates today for next fiscal year. I’m always curious about the sticker shock for GovGuam employees and retirees. Health care is a long simmering problem on this island, and this problem of GovGuam health coverage is only one facets of the problem. Seems like people are just sicker here.

Maybe they should all be riding bikes.

It’s Hot In The Hometown Tonight

Looks like St. Louis got hit by a severe cluster of thunderstorms, knocking out power across the metro area. And of course the temperatures are broiling in Missouri, with temperatures easily in excess of 100° F in the city. I talked to the parents, they’re okay and the power is on in their building.

On a related note, I watched An Inconvenient Truth a couple nights ago. Pretty good movie with a sobering message.

Investment Opportunity

For those looking to invest in a little real estate, here is a real deal; the US Government’s office of Property Disposal is taking sealed bids for Johnston Atoll, all 625 acres of it. Yes, just what every savvy investor looks for, a tiny mid Pacific island liberally sprinkled with plutonium and chemical weapon debris and with every habitable structure razed to the ground.

Johnston Atoll

Johnston Atoll has an interesting history for the last one hundred years; naval base, nuclear test site, chemical weapons dump, and wildlife refuge.

Bike Lust

Got my eye on a bike… a nice all around commuter road bike from Schwinn. Put some fenders, lights and a chainguard on that bike and I’d ride it around all day.

And since the bicycle is the world’s most energy efficient vehicle, I might just drop the money and get one for my commute to work. But I’ve really got my eye on a bike at Hornet Sports right now, a Giant Revive DX that they have on sale. I am seriously tempted, though it is a bizarre looking hog that would be murder up the hill from Pago Bay.

And here’s an interesting statistic; in the U.S. only 1% of urban traffic was by bicycle, and 30% of the adult population is obese. In the Netherlands 28% of urban travel was via bike and only 10% of the adults were overweight.

Cuteness Overload

Check out these pictures of an orphaned baby sea otter that was rescued in Alaska and currently being treated at the Shedd Aquarium. It takes a hard man not to be moved by these photos. The critter is so cute I think my head is going to explode.

Baby Otter

Baby Otter

They are feeding him little bits of ice in the second picture because the little fella is teething. Awww…

Biofuel – A False Prophet

Alternet has a pretty good article up about the mistaken allure of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. They make a point I believe I’ve stated here before; we use too much energy and simply cannot replace fossil fuels with plant derived alternatives. It can simply not be done.

The United States annually consumes more fossil and nuclear energy than all the energy produced in a year by the country’s plant life, including forests and that used for food and fiber, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Energy and David Pimentel, a Cornell University researcher.

It is pretty obvious that biofuel is a stopgap measure, meant to extend existing supplies of petroleum until other sources can be found. But what is even more obvious is that reducing our voracious appetite for fossil fuels would help stretch the dwindling supplies further. “Improving fuel efficiency in cars by just 1 mile per gallon – a gain possible with proper tire inflation – would cut fuel consumption equal to the total amount of ethanol federally mandated for production in 2012.”