Goat Rentals

October 29, 2009

Rather than spending tons of money and time on diesel-powered machines, filing the proper permits, and administering dangerous herbicides, the Seattle-based Rent-a-Ruminant organization will loan your a team of 100 goats for all your brush-clearing needs–all at a very modest rates. As Serious Eats explains, the benefits of goats are numerous: they eat just about anything, they can work on uneven ground, you don’t need permits to use them, and they can clear a quarter-acre in about three days.

Rent-a-Ruminant


Flesh-eating Parrot

October 27, 2009

“Happy, little green parrot who calmly burrows through the still-living flesh of sheep and dines upon their kidney fat while they lay bleating in terror.”  More stuff to worry about from mother nature. Info and video here.


Being Idle for the Environment’s sake

October 21, 2009

I enjoyed this book, but hey who wouldn’t enjoy someone encouraging them to step back, take a break, consider what you’re working for and why, and just do a little enjoying of life.

Read the rest of this entry »


Town hall meeting

October 21, 2009

This was my first experience at a town hall meeting, and one that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since we attended.  The first thing that I noticed was during the first two issues, was that immediately following the proposal, the decision was cleared within seconds it seemed like. The members that were voting on the issues didn’t even seem to think about what they were voting on. For example, the second issue was a proposal to extend the parking lot at a car dealership on 23. My initial thoughts were that, 1)I had passed that car dealership and seemed plenty big enough as is, 2) With the poor economy and people saving money, what is the point of adding a few more cars to the lot? is that really going to help sell that many more cars? 3) Did anyone care that this extension would be killing a small section of the environment?  After seeing the quick process I didn’t think that the observatory stood a chance, but I stayed anyway just to hear what the proposition was. After hearing the presentation given by the real estate company and then the designer of the neighborhood, it hit me that they do not care about the environment or what they are destroying by creating this new set of homes. It seemed that all they were concerned about was the money that could be made and the homes that would be provided. Similar to the first reaction I had, I began to think, are these houses really going to be sold that quickly in this poor economy?  I also began to think what it would be like as a car passenger on your way into Delaware. Currently, in my opinion, that is one of the most beautiful parts of Delaware. Driving down that slope and viewing the golf course and all of the trees is just a wonderful picture, not to mention the fact that perkins would be useless after the homes were constructed.  With so many negative thoughts in my head regarding the construction, I wanted to play devils advocate and possibly find some positives in this situation. After some research I found that golf courses are one of the largest polluters in our country. Due to the chemicals placed in the soil for ideal greens, fairways, etc and chemicals placed in the water for picture perfect blue, golf courses are actually causing damage to the environment.

At the end of the day, it will be up to the land owner and the town committee, but it just didn’t seem fair to have only  a small group of chosen people that have the power to make decisions that can have an effect on many lives, some that they know and some that they don’t.


What Ive been thinking of since 09/09 proposal

October 21, 2009

Originally torn between project ideas between the geography of wine, beer, or honey; I’ve decided, and have done much research on, the Geography of beer.

So what is the geography of beer? That i intend on thoroughly explaining via power point presentation. the geography of beer can more or less be displayed through history, biogeography, and thus defining evolution. So, this project would more aptly be called the “Evolution of Beer”.

Many things have shaped the evolution of beer. Going far back as the beginning of time of beer, we might suspect that the egyptians first utilized the concept of fermented barley as a mildly alcoholic soup; it tasted sweeter and lasted longer. Just a little later down the road, the beverage was born and was composed directly from withing the environment it was made. Many styles of beers are the direct result of the world’s many different environments, thus it is the environment that is single handedly the strongest influence in the geography of beer, and the many variables possesed by an environment may characterize further change. These further changes are culture, economy, agriculture, trade, and politics. 

The ingrediants and how they are shaped by their environment is important, and i will break this down in presentation and also by experiment. The experiment will include making 2 batches of beer with very similar ingrediants, however, geographically distinct.

Hops: Are extremely variable in different strains, so this will require very careful consideration and selection, hopefully obtainable fresh and from overseas.

Yeast: yeast cultures for ales have been recultured for typically many centuries and the colonies of yeast themselves have evolved incredibly over this time frame since yeasts reproduce via budding and can do so very quickly. The convenience of obtaining geographically distinct yeast strains is a garente, and it goes to show just how different strains are. yeasts have been recultured for so many years because it is very difficult to obtain a compatible strain in the wild, and the methods of reception are not understood due to the complexity and mysteriousness of wild yeasts.

Water: important, but lets be practical, i’m not going to order water from germany. However, water is a very important ingrediant and the wuality of water reflects the quality of beer. Interestingly, regions with poor quality water rely heavily on beer as measure of purification, for the metabolism of yeasts and production of alcohol have shown to purify the water, and is thus a safe beverage to drink almost anywhere.

Grain: Barley, wheat, corn, rice, you name and its probably been done. The previous four types mentioned are responsible for the 4 most general beers in the world.

The environment directly effects the variation in all 4 of these ingrediants, and thus the beer iteself. Also to be taken in consideration is the physical climate; the temperature and altitude are going to have a profound impact on the physical features of your beer.

All these factors are to be thoroughly considered more in the experiment to see if geography alone can alter the recipe of a beer. I am currently thinking about using a german and american or british recipe for a honey wheat ale; the yeasts will be distinct, the wheats will be obtained from the regions, and honey will be representative of the regions flora, as the bees collect pollen from the environments plants.


Project idea as proposed from 09/09/09

October 21, 2009

Here, I’m typing verbatim the project as it was in my mind from the getgo, 09/09/09, from a hardcopy that i though we were handing in. Just posting for the sake of showing something for progress to compare to. I had 3 ideas at the time;

1)Honey: the production of honey by bees, the manifestaation of apiculture, history, economy, ecology, and the current “cvolony collapse disorder”

sources;

Jacobsen, Rowan. Fruitless fall: the collapse of the honey bee and the coming agricutural crisis. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2008.

Horn, Tammy. Bees in America: how the honey bee shaped America. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2005.

Hubbel, Sue. A Book of bees and how to keep them. New york: Random House, 1988.

2) Wine: the science/production of, the history, geographical influences and agriculture.

sources:

Sommers, Brian J. The Geography of wine: how landscapes, culture, terriors, and the weather make a good drop. London: Plume, 2008

McGovern, Patrick E. Ancient wine: the search of the origin of viniculture. Woodstock: The Princeton University Press, 2003

Goode, Jamie. The Science of wine: from wine to glass. Los Angeles: The University of california Press, Berkely, 2005.

3)Beer: (specifically microbrew) the science and production of how to do it yourself, the agriculture, the economy, history, ecology, etc.

sources:

Unger, Richard W. Beer in the middle ages and Renaissance. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

PS Hughes and Baxter, ED. Beer: quality, safety, and nutritional aspects. Cambridge: The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2001.

Mittleman, Amy. Brewing Battles: a history of american beer. New York: Algora Publishing, 2008.


Town Hall Meeting

October 21, 2009

It was an interesting scenario. I believe that Joe and the gang (the board) had seemed predisposed to reject the idea of developing around perkins, since they are citizens of delaware and probably have alot more respect for the town and its characters, such as the historical Perkins observatory. Nevertheless, if one was to be completely unbiased and unmindful of the towns people, developing there does not really sound like the best idea unless ofcourse, you’re in need to make money, which developing along 23 provides for. Its not the best idea because of the watersheds, perkins (obviously), and if you saw the “mixed development”, than you saw just how un-special it was. The developers grandiose ideas of tradtion and beauty and passion in their plans seemed a little buttered up, to say the least. the pictures that they showed of similar mixed developments were of very poor examples of office buildings and franchises mixed together in the very ugly plot of polaris, and who could blame residents for not wanting to merely look at these things. I could not imagine how they could possibly resolve an issue such as this one. I believe that we will see the vast majority in protection for the land and perkins, and that the developers will be granted extreme limitation as for what they can actually do with their original plans, and will most likely (and hopefully) be forced to abandon the idea all together and revise for a completely different location. I suppose we may see proposals on both sides for the relocation of perkins, since its history and required conditions call for a large and  protected area of land, in which case the relocation by the developers may be one way to resolve the issue all together. the fact of the matter, and it seemed quite clear at the meeting, is that the development and perkins can definitely not coexist in the same area.


Planning Commission Meeting and a discussion on Smart Growth

October 20, 2009

I was happy to see that the Planning Commission had as many reservations about the golf course development as the Delaware residents did. The developers presented a very detailed proposal and talked about their hopes and dreams of turning this land into a “mixed-use” community to fit peoples’ new needs and desires concerning development. I was quite surprised, though, to hear they had put little consideration and research into working with Perkins and reducing light emissions. I guess they did not forsee it to be as big as an issue to Delaware residents as it was. I agree with statements already made in that there will be a lot of issues with this property that will definitely delay or prevent this kind of development. I also agree that alternatives ,such as Delaware buying the property or moving Perkins itself to a more ideal location, might be more feasible, better ideas. And since I do not know enough, I feel, to provide any intelligent commenting on Delaware development, I am instead going to discuss this idea of a “mixed-use” development. Now I didn’t catch all the details of how exactly this mixed-use area would work, but it immediately reminded me of this idea of “Smart Growth”. The developer seemed to be talking about a community that included more walking access to people’s basic needs and threw around the word ‘economical’ as well. How an isolated area like this could function as an effective mixed-use community confused me. But I did do a little research on Smart Growth to share with you all.

Smart Growth:

According to Wikipedia: Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in the center of a city to avoid urban sprawl; and advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices.

Smart growth values long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short-term focus. Its goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place; expand the range of transportation, employment, and housing choices; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources; and promote public health.

Smart growth is an alternative to urban sprawl, traffic congestion, disconnected neighborhoods, and urban decay. Its principles challenge old assumptions in urban planning, such as the value of detached houses and automobile use.

Elements of Smart Growth include: Creating walkable neighborhoods, encouraging community and stakeholder collaboration, fostering distinctive and attractive communities with a strong sense of place, mixed land use, preserving open spaces and critical environmental areas, providing a variety of transportation choices, among others.

It’s a very interesting direction that I hope development can start to move in, but it gets a lot more complicated when applying these principles to existing areas. Clearly the developers we’re not considering a lot of these principles nor we’re they aiming todo so, but these are principles that I think the Planning Committee should start to consider as it examines future development projects in Delaware.

Here is a map of current Smart Growth projects going on around the county.

And here are some articles about Smart Growth projects going on or in the works in Ohio.

They discuss issues such as…

The problem of empty homes in inner-city Columbus and how “as gas prices rise and the green movement strengthens, walkable urban neighborhoods could become increasingly more attractive than the aged suburbs, with those that require long drives to jobs, services and entertainment likely to turn into the next slums”.

Also how Cleveland is discussed ideas such as expanding urban gardens and farms, growing and producing local food, generating renewable energy, and advance green technologies in their efforts to revive the city at the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit.

And how Cincinnati is working to turn an abandoned can factory into a mixed-use home, store, and office area.

All interesting stuff!


Delaware Development

October 20, 2009

For some reason I didn’t click ‘publish’ hard enough on this posting, so the draft sat here for a week and a half on my dashboard… but anyway:

From what I gather, the Mayor (who strangely reminds me of Howie Mandel) hit the nail on the head with his reaction to the designers’ plans for the development at Perkins. It probably wouldn’t get past all the technical problems before too long, and the project would become a burden faster than a benefit. The gentleman who described his specific designs was obviously passionate about his work, but didn’t give a realistic approach to how this would attract business and income to Delaware County. There is too much piled up against these plans. In my personal opinion I think there are plenty of other spaces on route 23 that would suffice for the small shopping centers and roundabouts being proposed, and why the Perkins area was chosen over these I am not quite sure. Some of the argument had good weight though, like how they cited the lack of a need for a golf course. If there is any effect, what would be felt on Delaware resident’s taxes, especially the property taxes in the Perkins area? The Mayor probably could entertain and ask more questions if there was more time, but the hearing was already hours long.

I found it slightly interesting how all the developers giving their presentations were middle-aged men but their boss was a young woman who looked to be in her late 20’s. She didn’t look too thrilled about things as the hearing progressed.

The presenter seated to the mayor’s far left seemed very dull in his presentation giving the ‘point-by-point’ tour of the area, which most of the audience is probably already familiar with to some degree.

What about developing on the other side of 23? Is there any realistically develop-able land there?


How to Be Idle (Hodgkinson)

October 20, 2009

I thoroughly enjoyed reading How to Be Idle. While all of Hodgkinson’s ideas are not necessarily ground breaking and many are utterly impractical, I liked enormously his social commentary on the pace of Western life. Since the book is divided into 24 chapters, one for each hour of the day, parts of it do become repetitive. However, the irony and sarcasm with which the book is written made for an interesting and fun read, and allowed me to stick through the dull sections. I really enjoyed how he tied in quotes and ideas of various idlers throughout history: poets, thinkers, artists, authors, religious figures, etc. This certainly provided for interesting perspectives and new ways of thinking about people you thought you knew well.

My primary complaint with this book is that at times, it made the act of idling seem very strictly defined. While certainly I don’t think Hodgkinson was saying that you have to do everything in this book in order to be an idler, at times I felt he was being a bit snobby. For instance, I don’t think you have to use loose leaf tea simply in order to enjoy a cup. OR, for that matter, to suggest that coffee drinkers are somehow inferior is ridiculous and contrary to the entire concept of idleness. If I want to be an idler, I will do damn well as I please. Mr. Hodgkinson should agree with me on this. Similarly, idlers should get up whenever they wish–even if that time happens to be 8am. While I do love sleep, I also enjoy getting up early sometimes at a cost to my sleep schedule, in order to have idle time in the morning. Below are listed some of Hodgkinson’s main arguments as well as points and quotes that I found interesting…

Read the rest of this entry »