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Earth Overshoot Day


I gave a lecture on human population yesterday and showed some of the videos I included in A very late celebration of World Population Day. At the end of the lecture, one of my students asked if I did that because it was Earth Overshoot Day. I said no, I would have given that lecture that day no matter what. It turned out to be a happy coincidence. Now I'll have to remember to check for Earth Overshoot Day in the future to observe it at my main blog.
neonvincent: Detroit where the weak are killed and eaten T-shirt design (Default)


I ended Driving update for December 2013: My car by postponing making good on a promise.
Also, I made a promise at the end of the last report.
Yes, I bought this car in October 2003. I have a story about that, but I'll save it for the next report, along with why I named my car Yuki. Stay tuned.
I'm going to take a rain check on this promise. These look like the kind of stories I would write to post while I'm traveling, which I might do over the next two weeks.
Instead, I explained the name of my wife's car.
It's late and I'm tired, so I'm not up to it. Besides, this report is about my wife's car, which I call Ruby (my wife doesn't give her cars names). I gave her that name because of the car's color and because my wife and I are fans of "Once Upon a Time," which had a character named Ruby, who is really Red Riding Hood, for the first two seasons.
Well, my car turned over 220,000 miles today, so it's time to tell her story.

My previous car, a Nissan I called Molly, died in October 2003 after she turned over 210,000 miles during a drive back from an anime convention in South Bend, Indiana, although I didn't realize it at the time. I heard the engine knocking, which it did when the oil was low. I put in two quarts of oil (!) and continued driving home. Within a week, I had to put in more oil, and the engine began to sound just horrible. I took it in for service, and found out that all the seals had blown and the engine was getting ready to throw a rod. That was the end of my driving Molly. I had to get a new car.

About this time, one of the local Kia dealerships was advertising its deal. "Got a job? Got $100? Get a new Kia!" I qualified, so I rented a car and drove over to the nearest Kia dealer and got Yuki. It wasn't even the right dealership, but that didn't matter. I picked out a car from the previous model year that had a rebate to entice people to get it off the lot. I was able to roll that rebate into the down payment and was able to drive Yuki home without paying a cent. Ah, the long-gone days of easy credit!

As for Molly, the dealership accepted her as a trade-in worth $50 and had her towed away. At least I was able to get scrap value and free towing. Best of all, Yuki's interior looked exactly like Molly's. From the inside, it was as if I had just gotten a newer version of the same car with an automatic transmission. As I wrote back in 2011 and again in 2012, it was a concession to comfort and age.
When I needed to buy a car, I got a Kia instead. It got 32 miles to the gallon, but it was an automatic. I was willing to sacrifice a few miles to the gallon so that my left foot and right hand could rest. Yeah, I'm a sucker for convenience, too.
At least it wasn't the Aztek my son wanted me to buy. That would have been an environmental and economic disaster.

As for the name, my younger daughter suggested Yuki after Yuki Saiko, a character in the manga and anime "Silent Mobius." The character's image is the one I used at the head of this entry. It's the same one my younger daughter downloaded as a wallpaper on the computer I owned at the time. Why Yuki? In addition to "Silent Mobius" being a mutual favorite of ours, my daughter picked her out as the kind of woman she'd want for me; she was sweet, pretty and owned a coffee shop.* Yes, I love my coffee. Besides, the artist who drew the manga was named Kia Asamiya. My daughter wanted to name a creation of one Kia after the creation of another Kia. It stuck and that's how a Korean car got a Japanese name.

...
Now to celebrate my finally following through on something I've been teasing since March 11, 2010, when I was still posting these updates on my LiveJournal, I present the opening to Silent Mobius. Yuki Saiko appears at 0:45.



*Yuki wasn't my favorite character from the anime. That was Lebia Maverick. Even so, people who know the series would understand why a real person like her would have been a bad match.

**That was the day the renewal of my car registration was due. It was also my ex-wife's 65th birthday. That's as much as I'd like to think about her, thank you very much.

Adapted from Driving update for April 2014: Yuki, a longer entry at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
neonvincent: Detroit where the weak are killed and eaten T-shirt design (Default)

NaBloPoMo July 2012


Follow up to Nablopomo for July: Kids Week 3.

Here's the blurb I wrote to promote my blog in the comments to James Howard Kunstler's site.  This week's entry isn't up yet, so my flist here at Dreamwidth and LJ get to read it first.
As for the future of the Olympics, I'm sure they'll last until at least 2020 and maybe decades longer. After all, it took the Roman Emperor Theodosius banning the games to stop the original after more than 1000 years, and world wars to interrupt the modern version. They'll definitely have more longevity than the activity I described in last week's "Christmas in July," the videos for which have already been taken down from YouTube for copyright violation. I knew that would happen; I just didn't think it would occur that soon. After all, people in the First World, particularly Americans, are quite clear about their screwed up priorities. They want their entertainment to continue. Bread and circuses, everyone!

Over at Crazy Eddie's Motie News, I haven't blogged about the Olympics yet, although I have a post or two about the science of the games planned. Instead, I have a retrospective of one of my posts from last year that I did compose with the readers of this blog in mind, about how a group of artists and designers completely avoided the real problems of surburbia. Their solutions were quite impractical, but they did become an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art that is showing for another three weeks. By their standards, that would count as a success. I also posted some videos about sustainable agriculture I showed to my students, including one about the MetroFoodPlus project Michigan State University is planning in Detroit. I also continued my series about science crime scenes, space news, endorsements for the upcoming Michigan primary, and climate news. Finally, I razzed the best man from my first wedding, who trolled my blog asking for Jell-O recipes. I found a good one for him.
Now, the links to the posts.

The top post of the bunch was Christmas in July. Too bad the videos for it have been taken down.
neonvincent: Detroit where the weak are killed and eaten T-shirt design (Detroit)



Back in June, I described how I'm not a fan of driving.
I've already seen the light of how urban living can be a good thing, so I am one of those people who already lives close to a downtown and walks to the store. Six years ago, I drove 48,000 miles a year. Now I drive less than 10,000. I'm much happier driving much less.
...I've been walking to Friday meetings at the nearest worksite, which is a mile and a half away, as well as walking to the grocery store, which is half that distance.
I returned to all of the above yesterday when I posted the following status update to Facebook.
Time to walk to work. I love living only a mile and a half from one of my worksites.
This prompted my wife and two of my friends to express their envy and share their commuting horror stories. All of them hated commuting. My friends wished they didn't have to drive so much for work. My wife was relieved that she didn't have to commute any more. I expanded on how I've been reducing my commute for the past five years.
From 2000-2004, I regularly put 40,000 miles on my car. In 2005, I began driving 1000 miles a week when school was in session to three different colleges and a tutoring service. Then on the weekends, I'd judge marching bands or cover drum and bugle corps shows. From May 2005 to May 2006, I drove 48,000 miles. That was the year I put my house up for sale, stopped seeing my long-distance girlfriend, and eventually sold my house. In June, I moved to the middle of my jobs and cut my driving down to 700 miles a week. Then I changed one of my jobsites and cut it down to 500 miles a week. Then I got a full-time job and quit my part-time jobs and dropped to 300 miles a week. Finally, we moved and I now drive 70 miles a week. I'm so close to work I could ride a bike on a good day.
Yes, the goal for next year is still to buy a couple of bikes. I'll probably pedal to work the two days a week I finish before sunset, which will reduce my driving even more.

As for today's walk to work and back, I thought it was wonderful. I love my walkable neighborhood.

Originally posted to Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
neonvincent: Detroit where the weak are killed and eaten T-shirt design (Detroit)
A couple of hours ago, I posted Sustainability news from midwestern research universities for the week ending June 25, 2011 on Crazy Eddie's Motie News. One of the themes that emerged as I wrote this post was "how I have to add information I've learned in these posts to my teaching." This is one of the reasons I justify my blogging to my colleagues and superiors at work. They agreed, and list my science blogging as professional development. Seriously.

Following are three examples of why I use that justification and my co-workers agree.

Indiana University: IU Public Policy Institute releases report on private, public value of higher education
June 23, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS -- With recent headlines asking "Is college worth it?" and reports of a burgeoning student loan crisis, there has been considerable public discussion about the costs and benefits of higher education.

Often, those discussions are limited to how much individuals pay for school and how much they earn upon graduation. But from a policy-making perspective, evaluating higher education requires broader measures of economic and social benefits.

This is the purpose of a research review released by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute as part of its Policy Choices for Indiana's Future project. The Policy Choices initiative is designed to provide objective recommendations on key issues for future Indiana legislative and gubernatorial candidates.

"From lower incarceration and obesity rates to higher levels of civic engagement and volunteerism, education is associated with a broad array of benefits to both individuals and society," according to the report. "While the costs incurred educating our society are enormous, and growing, we must be aware that the costs of failing to do so might be even greater."
One of the mistakes people make about higher education is to consider it to be primarily an economic activity that improves the student's future earning power and decreases the student's risk of unemployment. I'm guilty of this myself, as I use Calculated Risk's graphs of unemployment over time for Americans of different education levels, such as this one.



I make the point that the students are engaging in an activity to increase their human capital, and they are. However, human capital doesn't just consist of the skills and knowledge they can apply to economic activity. It also includes one's ability to contribute to society. Just look at the list of social benefits--"lower incarceration and obesity rates to higher levels of civic engagement and volunteerism"--for examples.

Two more articles about the detritmental health effects of overpopulation combined with urbanization and climate change behind the cut. )

See what you're missing if 1) you're not reading Crazy Eddie's Motie News and/or 2) I'm not crossposting articles to Dreamwidth and LiveJournal?

Speaking of which, I ran a poll on my LJ for which posts from the past week on Crazy Eddie's Motie News I should repost on my personal journals. Right now, it's a three-way tie among Transformation Detroit, when Business as Usual attempts sustainability, Gas prices drop for a second week in Metro Detroit, and Kroger in Royal Oak, the videos. I'll be posting them after midnight as "fan" posts. If you want me to post more, go over to the poll and vote.  I'll comply.
neonvincent: Detroit where the weak are killed and eaten T-shirt design (Default)
flemco on Dreamwidth asked his readers to post a life lesson they've learned.  Here's mine.

I learned this lesson 30 years ago. Always be on good terms with three groups of employees at any workplace--the custodians, the security guards/public safety, and the secretaries/receptionists. Every workplace of any size has people in those positions and they are the ones who make whatever that workplace is supposed to do possible. Be nice to them and your work will go that much smoother.

It helped that one of my jobs in college was as a janitor. I was completely invisible to the rest of the employees. That experience of being a nobody stuck with me.

So, what life lesson have you learned?
neonvincent: Detroit where the weak are killed and eaten T-shirt design (Detroit)
My years of living in the country and dealing with insects taught me the following.

A biting fly hurts when it bites, but it doesn't have any worse weapons, so it will fly away from the least sign of a swat. Unlike the fly, a hornet will sit there when someone approaches it with a flyswatter, because it will sting instead of fleeing. Consequently, a well-aimed swat will always catch the hornet, while a fly might still escape.

This lesson can be applied to people as well. If you encounter an opponent that's like a fly, you'll have to be quiet, swift, and lucky to hit them, as they're primed to evade. On the other hand, if you run into an opponent who is like a hornet, you all it takes is a solid swat, preferably with a large foreign object, such as a book, to find its target, as the hornet won't budge.
neonvincent: Detroit where the weak are killed and eaten T-shirt design (Default)
About.com: Mercury Retrograde Dates for 2011

March 30th to April 23rd: Mercury in cardinal Aries. Refresh old ideas in time for Spring. A time to be brave, and confront others, if this is a loose end. Universe creates serendipity, via opportunities to speak courageously. Here we face the fear of expressing what might rouse others to anger.

It's a break from agreeing, or saying everything is fine, when its not. It's risking being authentic, when you know it's provocative. It's feeling lit up with passion, and allowing that to be a force that works on others. It's dealing with blowback from being forceful about your opinion. It's daring to face those who have been in positions of authority. It's being excited about new ideas, some that might have been threads of inspiration for you all along.

Rx periods can cause delays, frustrations, mix-ups. Watch out for hair-trigger tempers, raging and ranting, blowing a fuse. Deep breathing and physical activity helps blow off pent up intensity.
It's only one day in, and this Mercury retrograde is already living down to its reputation.

First, LiveJournal was misbehaving. True, it had a perfectly good explanation--LJ was the subject of a DDos attack--but so did the disruption of transatlantic flights last year because of an eruption in Iceland. That also happened during a Mercury retrograde.

Second, I got lost twice today. The first time was when I was trying to get to my car to retrieve some papers. I ended up at the opposite corner of the parking structure and had to figure out where I really was. I ended up being late to introduce the speaker. As for the papers I pulled out, one of them was for the wrong time, which means I didn't pull it out at the right time, either. That's two miscommunications in addition to being lost and late. The second happened when I took the speaker back to his hotel. Because of a misunderstanding of directions, I ended up taking the wrong offramp and going around in circles before I delivered him to his destination.

Then, I couldn't call home. My home phone would ring, but when my wife picked it up, she would get a dial tone instead of hearing me. We had to reset the modem and wait an hour for phone service to come back.

On top of all this, I'm having trouble getting access to a Google document.

Yeah, I'm a scientist and I know that's entirely likely that it's all a coincidence or self-fulfilling prophesy, or I was just having a bad day, but it is weird. On the other hand, Mercury retrograde makes for a convenient excuse. As I tell my students, my official position is that astrology is bunk, but it's fun bunk and generally harmless besides.

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