Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

Step It Up: reduce carbon emmissions

April 3, 2007 Leave a comment

the Step It Up website is really slow right now, so i can’t completely understand who or what they are – but the basic gist seems to be public involvement and education to get congress to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions.  their target is 80% reduction by 2050.  that’s ambitious for the US b/c our govt. is loathe to do anything – at least the Bush Admin. is.

just today Bush held a press conference, and one of the questions posed was in regard to the recent Supreme Court decision that it is the EPA’s responsibility to set carbon emission guidelines for the US – this came in relation to setting emission reductions for vehicles.  Bush then replies that his administration has done a smashing job addressing global warming and that there they’ve produced a plan that only needs to be approved by Congress.  what’s the plan?  pushing ethanol instead of gas.  that is not a plan, and ethanol is most definitely not the answer.  in fact, i’m rather against corn-based ethanol.  not only is it an inefficient way to produce ethanol (sugar based ethanol produces far more energy), it’s merely a kickback to america’s farmers.  i’m all for helping out an industry if it’s in the best interest, but this is not.  first of all, encouraging corn production is going to result in a single-crop industry, which will be ripe at some point for a major blight.  then it will encourage genetically modified corn – and of course the genetically modified corn can’t be kept under control and will eventually infiltrate the food supply.  additionally, falling back onto corn ethanol won’t encourage auto makers to increase fuel efficiency – such a simple thing that would save so much gas.  and it also does nothing to support research and implementation of alternative fuels such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, wave hydroelectric, etc.

in fact, Bush replied that he won’t support any type of carbon emission capping because it will hurt the American economy, and that in order to move forward with carbon reduction the country must be prosperous in order to pay for research and technology to reduce carbon emissions.  catch-22.  if China and India don’t jump on board w/ the same restrictions imposed on the US, then he won’t support any restrictions – they would more than offset any of our reductions.  so by this logic, we shouldn’t do anything until they also come to the table.  what about lead by example?  what about thinking of the health of our country and its citizens, and the greater world for that matter?  what about our quality of life?  the US is the leader of the free world, and has been the moral arbiter of the 20th c.  obviously the Bush Admin. has kind of screwed that up moving forward, but they maintain that their actions are moral.  so how is this not the most pressing moral issue facing modern civilization?

so what it comes down to is a grass roots movement to bring the US more inline w/ reality and the rest of the world.  this movement has obviously been gaining momentum recently, as green this and sustainable that makes headlines every other day – heck, i’m graduating architecture w/ a specialization in sustainable design!  just recently, TXU was bought out and 8 of 11 proposed coal power (fast-tracked by Gov. Perry) plants were scrapped due to massive opposition, and the 3 remaining now look like they’ll be required to be clean coal.  it really makes you wonder about the energy crisis doomsday scenario pushed by TXU if those plants were not to be built.  in fact, i was at the anti-coal rally here in Austin the other month.  it’s only by being vocal that anything will happen.

so if anybody here in Austin wants to join me at the Step It Up rally on the capital steps on April 14 from 12-2p, your body and voice are appreciated.  if you’re not in Austin, Step It Up rallies are occurring all over the country on  April 14.  go to to find out the location for your local rally.  get involved!

don’t hurt the squirrels!

April 3, 2007 2 comments

i just got some flickr mail in regard to an old photo of mine, in which my wife Cindy is seen holding a pellet gun in her backyard. she’s holding this gun b/c her parents’ practice of running off nuisance squirrels from one of their trees is shooting at them. the first time i heard about this, i was baffled, but now i think it’s kind of funny assuming you generally avoid, you know, killing the squirrels (though that’s exactly what happened once – the squirrel fell to the ground, and my dog – who had been barking incessantly at the squirrel – thought he killed it just by barking. he was a very happy and proud dog for a long time after that). anyway, i completely forgot that pic was on my account until i got this note this morning:

In regards to the photo of Cindy with the gun, and the
comment about shooting squirrels, I feel the need to spread
awareness of squirrels in the Dallas area. Please visit my

Thank you for your time, and enjoy.

i took a look at this blog, and am having a hard time figuring out if it’s a joke or not. some of the posts seem ridiculous – Squirrel Awareness Tip #4, for instance, in which the writer advocates eavesdropping on conversations about squirrels, and either joining in if the conversation is geared positively towards squirrels, or explaining why you like squirrels and why they’re so great if the conversation is about hating/hunting squirrels.  another post contains this observation:

Earlier today, I saw a buck in my church’s inner courtyard. He was eating grass, possibly to obtain nutrients he can’t otherwise get from acorns.

i’m sorry, but stream of consciousness does not make for particularly interesting reading.  plus, the song that automatically plays on every page load is super irritating.  even if i liked the content of this blog, i would probably stop visiting just because of the music.  all of these things make the blog seem ridiculous, but then the author writes  a post that seems legit, regarding the barbaric poisoning of already endangered prairie dogs.

all in all, i think the site is legit, and i think it’s kind of funny.  i’m not going to take down the picture of my wife w/ a gun, and i’m not going to change my behavior regarding squirrels – which is basically nothing.  i think squirrels are cute, but i also despise them since they dig up my plants and cause my dog to bark like a savage attack animal.  i don’t shoot them or harm them, but i’d sure like to add some cayenne pepper around my plants to spice up their meals.  either that or shoot them w/ water guns.

Categories: haha, nature

Wait – what??! When?! How?!!

November 15, 2004 Leave a comment

WHAT THE FUCK?! WHEN DID THIS GET PASSED??! bush admin silently passing evilness under the radar…

for real, yo. it’s 90% humid outside and 85 degre…

October 24, 2004 Leave a comment

for real, yo. it’s 90% humid outside and 85 degrees. it’s almost november. actually, i wouldn’t care that its almost november b/c different locations have different climates. fine, i can deal with that. but its opressive out there! i feel like the air is sucked out of me when i step outside.

Categories: nature

dear god, hope you got the letter…

October 17, 2004 Leave a comment

dear god,

why did you make austin’s weather patterns so horrendous? it’s been muggy and humid and hot for months. you gave us a week of cool weather, but now it’s back to nastiness. was that a taunt? are you fucking with us? it’s the middle of october already! why 90 degrees and humid? come on already! snap the fuck out of it and make it bearable outside!



Categories: Austin, frustration, nature

so damn pretty

September 16, 2004 Leave a comment

Categories: nature

man, what a week.

April 17, 2004 Leave a comment

man, what a week. let’s start w/ last weekend – drove to dallas thursday night to visit w/ cindy’s parents and see a doctor, but all is ok. on friday morning, following the doc appt., we went test driving w/ cindy’s mom in the infiniti g-35. awesome car – my dad already has one, so i knew what was up. love that thing. but the salesman, as all salesman are required to be, was an ass, and lost the sale by not negotiating at all. granted, they seemed to have an amazing service dept., which was his selling point, but hey – there has to be some negotiation in a car sale.

following that, we went for lunch at the pancake house (not IHOP), where cindy and i, observing passover etiquette (i guess only partially, as were weren’t really eating at a kosher place, but whatever), ate no pancakes or waffles. the biggest egg white omelette i’ve ever seen was served to us, alongside some of the worst grilled salami and potato pancakes ever. you know, potato pancakes aren’t supposed to be mushy. they’re supposed to be crispy, crunchy, soft in the middle, but not mushy. it was like slop – porridge slop hidden inside a deep fried case. yuck.

we go home, where i proceed to answer cindy’s parents long held tech questions. they seem to make a list of questions for when i come to visit. unfortunately, i couldn’t help too much this time around – cindy’s mom bought some silly software that allows you to create ringtones for your wireless phone. that’s fine, but this software sucked, and after 2 hours i finally gave up.

here’s where it gets good – we then went out to dinner, but i noticed cindy’s dad’s car had a flat. so we went to a gas station to fill it w/ air, found a nail in the tire, then went across the street to firestone so they could fix it. tire’s fixed, we get on the road to dinner when cindy’s dad notices his phone is missing. is it at firestone? nope. must be at the gas station. is it there? nope. i call the phone, and some guy picks up – uh hello? yeah, you have my phone. oh, i picked it up at a gas station. yeah it’s mine, where are you? oh, i’m really really far away from you. well, where can we meet so i can pick it up? oh, in the bad area of town where all the hookers and drug dealers hang out. umm, that doesn’t sound so good – how about you drop it off at the gas station where you took it from? conversation ensues – but actual conversation. her dad finds out that the guy is a cable installation guy, and they’ve been thinking about high speed internet. a deal is reached whereby this guy will provide cheap cable installation in return for the phone.

dinner was good, but we left and picked up finding nemo at blockbusters – the best movie perhaps ever. i had meant to bring it w/ me, but left it on my bed. her parents had never seen it, so, as is my duty regarding pixar movies, i required the uninitiated to view the movie. as we leave blockbuster, there’s a lady collecting huge bags of bread outside panera bread company. i figured she worked at panera, so i asked her what they were doing w/ all the bread – assuming it would go to charity. well, it turned out she was the charity worker collecting the bread, and she proceeded to talk our ears off for 5-10 min about what they do. ok, guys – slowly back away towards the car.

the following day after some more computer stuff, cindy and i (and nathan the doggie) packed up and headed back to austin. we encountered one of the fiercest storms i’ve ever hit while driving. there was a 5 car pileup w/ a turnover. many others skidded off the road. lots of bad stuff. but the worst for me was that my car started leaking. yup, suddenly water started pouring on to cindy from the light above the passenger visor. that explained how my car flooded the previous week during another intense rainstorm. we made it home ok, and got to work. i left my car out in the intense rain (which didn’t let up all night), to discover a 1/2 inch pool of water inside my car the next morning. just a little pissed off. DON’T BUY VOLKSWAGEN! i have a golf, and though i haven’t had any major problems w/ it in the 2 years i’ve had it, i haven’t been overwhelmed by the car, and have a lot of friends who have had major problems w/ their volkswagens.

so the week was spent doing studio work and other school stuff, but most excitingly, working to complete work for the first major deadline of the Solar Decathlon. if i haven’t mentioned it before, the US DOE holds a competition for universities to design and build a solar powered house on the national mall. the first one was in 2002, the next one (which we’re working on now) is in 2005. for april15, we were required to post at least 5 pages on our website and have project summary#1 sent in. we have basically the same info in the summary as on the website, so we have lots of info on our website. the three of us on the publicity committee (with some help from our design correspondent in el paso 😉 ) stayed up till 6:30a april15 pulling it all together, then came back and worked from 11-5p. it looks great, but we’re still trying to figure out how to get images inside the text on the site (flash site using text files to load text, getting the images alongside the text this way is different from a normal website, and we’re pretty new to flash). i spend 5 hours yesterday trying to figure it out, and i think somebody on the macromedia discussion board just showed me how, so i can’t wait to get it going.

check out the UTSolarD site, it’s going to be updated all the time, and of course by sept.2005 will be a veritable smorgasbord of information and images.

and if any of you know of good ways to submit your sites to search engines, or of good site trackers, let me know.

everything are made from PLASTICzes

March 25, 2004 Leave a comment

here’s a little insight for you: just about everything you own has been saturated w/ or is composed of or has been doused in chemicals. plastics, treated wood, computers, light bulbs, plates and utensils – everything. but we never give this a second thought. what’s only starting to be recognized is the negative health impact imposed on humans by daily inundation of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) at work and at home. this epa page gives a brief description of ‘sick building syndrome’, the condition associated w/ VOC related sickness. it is a growing concern, and is addressed more often by green/sustainable architecture, which focuses not just on energy conservation, but also health. office buildings designed w/ such concerns in mind will often end up w/ lower rates of absenteeism and higher productivity. the resulting financial gains are significant, and often result in higher profits. check out natural capitalism by amory lovins for a little intro to the financial gains inherent in a sustainable economy.

anyway, the target of this rant is that beside reduction of the cause by using healthier building materials, we can reduce the amount of VOCs found in our air by the simplest of methods. not turning on the AC or blowing fans, though they can help. PLANTS. think about it – plants breathe. they breathe our toxic off-gassing (CO2) and produce our fuel (oxygen). well, not only do they absorb CO2, but they absorb nearly everything in the air, including VOCs. incredible as it is, this was not taken for truth until NASA studies in the early 1980’s scientifically demonstrated plants’ abilities to clean the air . continuing research continues to bolster the concept of using plants to clean our air, yet plants still are not a design criteria.

other studies have shown that hospital patients tended to heal faster when exposed to natural light and plants, as do worker productivity and creativity.

putting plants in the areas you tend to spend most or your time – desk, bed, kitchen, living room – not only help clean the air, but look friggin pretty, and help connect us, in our techno-industrialized urban society, in some sense w/ nature.

every room, apartment, building should be filled w/ plants – they should be a design criteria, not a second thought as place fillers in the corner.

Categories: architecture, health, nature