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Friday, October 31st, 2008 | Author:

In light of sustaining my further development, and the fact that very few people will read this, I will suggest that Mines, in addition to harvesting all the crab apples on campus and making jam out of them, also harvest all the rose hips from those wonderful bushes near Kafadar Commons. Rose Hip jam is an expensive, nutritious, tasty item that we could make a fair amount of grass roots projects more successful with.

I intend to do this, and hopefully will get permission from those that are able to grant it.

Additionally, I think the satire of The Oredigger is its sustaining limb.

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 | Author:

Getting away from fun and drinking and back to serious things like job hunting and future planning: There is a huge movement in both renewable energy and power from coal.

Coal is good because we have a lot of it in the US, and it is better than is used to be, thanks to lots of emissions regulations out there. Actually, not too long ago I went by the old coal-powered steel mill, or something equally as evil and necessary at the time, that my mom grew up near in Dortmund, Germany. Guess what? It has been replaced by high-end condos, with the river restored, remediated, and made into a wilderness preserve-no more cheap housing for the Turkish immigrants there!

And, well, obviously we all know why renewable energy is good. I wonder, even if we could get Carnot cycles on photovoltaics, how much would we need to meet the demand? I recall hearing a stat (countering the green movement’s naivety) that all roof surfaces would need to be plastered with high efficiency panels to meet the current demand. This was a hypothetical approach, and there is plenty of wind out there to be used (and not nearly as many birds get affected by those giant turbines as they do by your window…), so not to worry too much. I’ll keep poking around for better answers.

[I also heard that there has been some sort of an issue regarding EPA enforcement and other such fun that Bush somehow found a way to get in the history books (I'll be looking into this issue and adding more later in the week)]

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Monday, October 27th, 2008 | Author:

Further on the last entry, of course using local ingredients (and hops does grow wild in certain secluded areas in Colorado) helps. Still, the water consumption rate is significantly increased when any sort of grain or fruit alcohol is included (not only for the re-hydration of the body after all the fun…) and that is of concern in arid places like our current home.

But, some places do try to make a good beer with little impact, New Belgium Brewery being the poster child, with wind energy, recycled water, and all that other good stuff. (Note: EarthWorks will be taking a field trip there soon, so come to the meeting this Thursday if you are interested).

And, to boot, home brewing on a larger scale is a lot cheaper (at least it can be) than constantly heading to Apple Jacks or Golden Liquors for a 6-pack. Please be sure to stay within state limits of quantity brewed, and you’re not allowed to sell it – only donations are legal.

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Friday, October 24th, 2008 | Author:

Now that I, and many other lucky Mines students, have survived the FE that we subjected ourselves to on Saturday, I should be back and blogging in full force until the end of the semester – at which point those of you who bother to read my blog will need to adjust to some one else’s tone on these issues.

Today’s issue is beer. I love beer, but I know that in terms of being sustainable, it pretty much isn’t. There are ways to get around that, mostly on a small scale: Homebrewing!

Be sure to compost your mash after brewing?

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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 | Author:

It really is a shame that it took this huge housing loan scandal to get some folks thinking twice about buying that new random piece of junk from China. Yet, I think the recession is good news to those that are already living sustainably and responsibly, and for the rest of the western world.

I heard today that markets in Europe are continuing to slip as the faith in the capitalist economic model wavers, and rightly so: consider conservation of mass. Now, substitute money for mass and consider the system again – the goal of ever-increasing profits and continued record growth is a physically impossible concept, strictly speaking (as in all smaller-scale models, something else entirely can happen, even Communism could work…).

In any case, what I am really trying to say is that finally it will make sense to not consume tons of stuff just because we (the average “Joe”) can, because we can’t. This may encourage folks to keep stuff out of landfills (of which the available land is diminishing quickly anyway), possibly decrease our national trade deficit (we can still export the same measly amounts, mostly steel and etc., and import less mass produced things from India, China, and Mexico – as long as we read the tag and use our brains as well as our wallet), and finally find ways to lessen our energy consumption (take the bus, turn off the light, grow our own food, compost…) – all the things I’ve been telling y’all to do for months now. It may be the best way to the new world, all by some crazy accident.

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Monday, October 20th, 2008 | Author:

Two quick thoughts today:

1) Why doesn’t Mines harvest the crabapples?
2) Some old-fashioned conventional wisdom: Waste not, Want not.

I have been working out of Stratton Hall for a long time, almost the whole time that I have been at Mines (come by and see me anytime, SH 104), and lately the amount of crabapples that are being swept up and tossed into the trash is really amazing. The trees this year have had a great season, wonderful flowers and now tons of fruit (not just crabapple tree, pears and apples and peaches, and cherries too).

Who is willing to join me in making some jam? I think it was at Berkeley, but definitely somewhere in California, where students got together and harvested the olives from the trees on campus, then the next year, the whole school got in on the action – let’s do it, and maybe make Mines a little more revenue…

The last bit is more of a bone I have to pick, and if I’ve already mentioned this, let me know: In my world, the reason behind being “green” and interested in “sustainability” is because it is the economic thing to do. We try pretty hard to re-use everything, or donate the things that we no longer need, compost food wastes, recycle (means we don’t pay for trash pick-up), try not to use all sorts of electricity (cheaper energy bill), shower fast and water early in the morning (save money on the water bill), etc. Now it turns out these are also good ideas for resource conservation. Wow, so, why waste? Is it a status symbol? Are we all just too lazy? Didn’t your grandmother teach you anything? Come on people, we can do it.

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Monday, October 06th, 2008 | Author:

As a registered voter in the state of Colorado, I have been getting all sorts of things in the mail – one of which commented on the expiration of a moratorium on exploring oil shale in our happy state, but oddly enough it was from a national organization.

So far as I gather, and correct me if I’m wrong, theoretically there is a huge amount of oil in Colorado, stored safely away in shale deposits – deposited long ago, when the ocean coasts dominated the landscape of our now-semi-arid state.

The issue is that we (the U.S.) have been importing ~70 % of our oil from elsewhere and it is making us do strange things in regard to foreign policy… I’d like to see the U.S. standing on its own two feet someday soon-especially in regard to all the awful things happening to the stock market and banks lately. Using these oil shale reserves would also potentially contribute to the state’s economy: All good and wonderful, right? I know that CSM has been doing a bit of research in the area, and I am wondering what sorts of improved technology is out there:

The current technique of extraction is to:

1) Set a frozen perimeter (with some liquid that hopefully won’t cause huge environmental issues down the road, aka: water);
2) Heat up the shale with some fluid (same as above);
3) Break the oil from the cemented tiny shale particles and send it off for processing.

This technique sounds immensely inefficient, hugely wasteful, and not at all helpful in the reduction of energy demands for that small amount of crude to help change the status quo. Am I missing something? To me, the only way for this system to work would be if a considerable amount of renewable energy were used for the water heating/cooling and whatever else they need out there in the field.

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Friday, October 03rd, 2008 | Author:

Alrighty folks, I think this is a bonifide opportunity to comment, if you feel so inclined.

I have the need of advice or support, and it shows that even the “most devoted” of the greenies among us have mental challenges on occasion….

So, I have been driving a manual ’99 Subaru Legacy Outback since my junior (maybe even sophomore) year in high school (graduating class of ’02 to date myself), forest green with grey trim, and I am starting to look at saying goodbye to her. It is killing me – I never thought I would be so attached to a car! In any case, here is the situation:

My folks got divorced a few years back, and things are starting to settle. I’ve lived on and off at home while back in the US to go to Mines, and the Subaru officially belongs to my mom. She is planning on trading it in and getting a newer, automatic, smaller version. She currently drives my dad’s Sebring, but he drives his mom’s Lexus (there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye, trust me – very complicated family workings here…)

And the kicker: I will probably end up in Houston due to work and boyfriend and family ties and I would like to live in the biggest, baddest oil capital without a car – or with at least the sort of car that lets people know what I’m all about (challenging? Tempting fate?), so my plan was always to take the Subaru down there, full of my greenie necessities to survive.

Now, I face renting a U-Haul and trucking it all down there and really being stuck with no wheels, not to mention saying “so long” to my greatest companion across the US, in the Rocky Mountains, and more. Oh, and she just got new brakes, alternator, fog lights, and headlights, not at all improving her resale value but definitely increasing how much she means to me.

So, I ask: What would you do?

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Wednesday, October 01st, 2008 | Author:

This Thursday is an EarthWorks and Student Council on Sustainability (SCS) joint meeting at lunchtime in Berthoud Hall 106, and I won’t be able to make it. I am personally very pleased with the young/new blood that was at the last meeting – I am getting the feeling that this whole enviro-thingy may continue without me! Very cool.

Also, just to get it our there, there is a Presidential Sustainability Committee meeting this Friday from 11am to 1pm in the Student Center, Ballroom C. This event is open to the public, and the more students that show up, the better it will go. Mines recently got a C- grade from a third party group that was rating all the Colorado Schools on their level of greenness – CSU got an A- and I know we can do better.

Additionally, is anyone paying attention to the amount of renewable energy research going on in Colorado? Not just at Mines, or solar panels, but wind, and ‘green’ infrastructure, and more.

I am really excited, and confused with the whole recession coming and all the crap that has hit the fan in the banking world… I know Colorado has a lot of resources, like oil shale and sun and wind, and I am hoping that somehow these assets will ensure the state stays above water.

And on a side note, I am really enjoying the ripening fruit on the many trees in both Boulder and Golden-there is so much to be thankful for!

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Monday, September 29th, 2008 | Author:

I have finally gotten around to composting again, and all it took was a little fresh air to recall that we had two unused organizer boxes (the plastic kind with the interlocking fold over lids) in the garage – they are prefect for adding some dirt, worms, and all your kitchen and garden waste to make money saving, plant loving, eco-friendly soil.

Like I’ve mentioned before, composting properly takes some time, and I am still in the experimental stage, but I think this will work better than the system I set up for my boyfriend in Houston with two small-ish trash bins, for a couple reasons:

The lid: there are bugs, animals, and weather that would like to have a crack at the goodies decomposing, and I personally think there already are enough cockroaches in the world….

Size: it is actually really important to have enough moisture (not a problem in Houston), ‘brown’ material (~ ½ by volume; any sort of dried organic stuff will work – leaves, branches, grass clippings. Thicker pieces take longer to decompose), and ‘green’ stuff from the kitchen to get this stuff to do its deed. And the material adds up fast! It will eventually decrease to approx. 1/5 the size.

Movable/storable/hide-able: these boxes can go anywhere, and they are currently on the side of the house getting sun, chilling with the car in the driveway, out of sight, out of mind, very good for the conscience.

I’ll keep you posted, but so far we have been able to “educate” our new neighbor about worms and compost, and he’s a smart little kid (about five, I’m guessing).

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