G. Rendell

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Most Recent Articles

February 1, 2009
It's now a year since I started this series of miscellaneous ramblings. At such times the mind reflects, and may or may not like what it sees in the mirror. Since I'm often of two minds, mine tends to do both.
January 29, 2009
When I do a sustainability audit for departments on campus, one of the things I look for is "converters" or "chargers" or external power supplies. You know, those big bulky boxy plugs that go into the wall socket and are then connected to the electronic whatever by a thin electrical cord. The cord is thin because what comes out of the converter isn't 120 volt alternating current any more, it's direct current at a much lower voltage. All electronic equipment -- computers, monitors, telephones, etc. -- runs on low-voltage DC.
January 27, 2009
Back when he was in seventh grade, my son undertook a science fair project. For 60 days he monitored the germination and growth of four populations of bean plants: one control group, one with longer daily exposure to light, one with warmer soil, and one with both heat and light enhancements. His conclusion was that warming the soil significantly sped growth, but that lengthening the (simulated) sunlight did not.
January 26, 2009
Michael Pollan pretty famously wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma; A Natural History of Four Meals. If you haven't read it, you probably should. Unless you're really hung up on your current eating patterns. One of Pollan's points, of course, is that the way North Americans eat takes no account whatever of the lifespan greenhouse gas emissions created by the food we choose to eat. It's a legitimate point, and a significant one, and my family has changed -- to an extent -- the way we eat, as a result.
January 22, 2009
As any good student, the more I study this sustainability thing, the less I think I know. There's so much pragmatic certainty to the problem, yet so much technical uncertainty about the specific mechanisms, measurements and models. And the social/political/economic dimensions are Gordian. The good news is that, at least in the early stages, we know what we have to do.
January 21, 2009
I'm as over-inaugurated as anybody. For fully understandable reasons, the nation is partying hearty. Wall Street fell a full 4% yesterday, and nobody cares. We're all drunk (for good reason), and the hangover's gonna be a real monster. So be it.
January 20, 2009
If you believe that the truly educated never graduate, then I'm still a student. Certainly, I read a lot. And my interests are sufficiently eclectic (and my patience sufficiently short) that even the library at Greenback won't fill my needs. Still, a lot of the books I'm interested in are (or have been) used as teaching texts. And if I'm reading for my own purposes, I don't need the latest edition. So, I buy used. And cheap. Which usually means online.
January 15, 2009
(I thought about titling this "Lies, damn lies, and assumptions", or even "Making an ASS of U and ME". So many decisions, so little time. Sigh...)
January 13, 2009
Warren Buffett has seen the future of personal transportation, and it isn't spelled "GM". The Oracle of Omaha (or, more specifically, Buffett-controlled Berkshire Hathaway) has taken a ten percent stake in a Chinese firm called BYD Company Ltd. A subsidiary, BYD Auto, has announced that they will enter the US market in 2011, bringing us the world's first mass-produced plug-in hybrid and a five-passenger electric-only crossover vehicle which gets 250 miles between charges. (It also does 0-to-60 in about 10 seconds.)
January 11, 2009
When I'm not on campus, I farm. As a result, for the last 25+ years, I've lived a ways from pretty much everything. I believe in that time I've lived within 8 miles of precisely one small store, not counting the occasional crafter selling out of her house. For my family and me, shopping isn't a pass-time, it's a pain in the neck. And my commute to Greenback is over 20 miles, each way. My family probably drives 40,000 vehicle/miles per year, or more.

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