California Needs Alaskan Water?

A proposal to ship millions of gallons of water to California was recently in the news. This idea has been brought up a few years ago, but now, Janice HahnĀ D. of California arranged an “exploratory” meeting with Alaska Bulk Water CEO, Terry Trapp, and other CA. representatives on taking water from Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska.
Formerly known as True Alaska Bottling Company, Alaska Bulk Water has been shipping water as far back as 2002. In 2006, they acquired more extensive water rights, and in 2008 the company “split” into its current name and True Alaskan Water: their bottled water division. While it might seem like they are very ambitious, they are not alone. Canada, Japan, and some other U.S. States have purchased water rights permits in Alaska.
Considering that each permit can be for millions of dollars, it is no wonder why this particular type of export is so enticing. Pipes are being built for municipalities and to bottling facilities by private companies. Alaska Bulk Water will charge 6 cents per gallon, and they can export up to 9 billion gallons a year.
At first this drought looks like a great investment opportunity, but it is really as if we are spreading the drought around. When you look at the U.S. Drought Monitor, there are some patches in Alaska that are classified as “abnormally dry”. I guess its is OK to rob Peter to pay Paul, but Paul is really bad with money and blows it all at the gumball machine. For example, look up current pictures of mansions in California. They all have super green lawns and just on the other side of their property line, the California drought is shaking its dry, brown fist at them.
Something has to be done and everyone knows it. Desalination facilities are already being built, but that is not really as effective as it sounds:

  • First, the technology is expensive and while it is slowly getting better, it is not entirely adequate for large scale needs.
  • Second, it consumes more energy than a waste water treatment plant. They are costly to operate and maintain.
  • Third, what are they going to do with all that extra salt and brine? It cant go back into the ocean. Just ask anyone with a saltwater aquarium what would happen if they just dumped a bunch of salt into their tank.

There has to be a balance: upsetting the equilibrium in one place to compensate an imbalance in another is foolish. There is no replacement for responsibility and good stewardship. California has enough water, just look at the lawns and golf courses.

Drones to Save the Forrest

A few days ago, an article about drones saving the planet with seed pods scrolled on my Twitter feed. A startup called BioCarbon Engineering has plans to repair all the deforestation around the world with this use of drone tech! This idea seems great as long as you don’t think about it too much.

Just because you have the ability to throw money at Mother Nature and fly some fancy helicopters around her, doesn’t mean she will show a little leg. They are going to use some geography mapping software to get a lay of the land, then bomb targeted areas with a gel containing sprouted seeds. They learned from their past attempts that throwing a handful of dry seeds at barren land didn’t work very well, so covering parts of it with an unknown gel is better(?). At any rate, it takes a special person, like an ecologist, to understand how nature works and grows. I decided to look through their founders to see who these Robo-Planters are.

  • Lauren Fletcher (a dude by the way) CEO: Civil and Environmental Engineering, worked for NASA; so he is an industrial landscaper.
  • Matthew Ritchie CFO: Has lots of experience with money and accounting but no real stated environmental knowledge. I guess he doesn’t have to since he is the finance guy.
  • Susan Graham: Loads of experience in the Biomedical field and she worked for Cochlear, which is cool, but not an environmentalist.
  • Shuning Bian: Biomedical and Electrical Engineering, but no environmental studies. I suppose he and Susan will be working on the drones.
  • Martin Tegler: The “PR” guy. He comes from a background of helping companies and corporations become more green.
  • Irina Fedorenko: She has some interesting environmental sounding degrees which are only offered at Oxford. Her history of education seems to be only in research though. This is not to discredit her, but while it would seem that she is the only one who would know the most about the environment, she is not an experienced ecologist.

As you can see, there is not one who is specifically an experienced environmental researcher. There are a few who have some experience in dealing with large scale environmental factors, but building a forest is more of a balancing act. You need the person who is sitting in the woods armed with a pen and paper, observing all the little relationships around them.

When I see this group, I see good people trying to do the right thing, without the right people involved. Where is the hippie? Where is the person who sleeps in a tent for work? I want to see that in my forest recovery team, not a team of business associates treating nature like a struggling subsidy.

Three tips every musician should know

There are many things that a musician should know, but there are 3 specific things that will send you beyond being mediocre. They might seem obvious, but it is their application that is crucial to your development.

Listen

This might seem like a pretty obvious thing for a musician. How else can you hear what is going on if you don’t listen? How many times has another member of the band asked how they played a particular section of a song, and the response was, “Oh, uh…I wasn’t paying attention.” If people said this during a conversation, we would be very irritated, but in a band setting it is easily brushed off. It takes practice to listen to the band as a whole and to what you are doing.

You can practice listening to your music in your car or on your headphones. Hear each instrument and practice isolating it from the rest of the music, then listen to everything and all the different sounds at once and note the way that the other instruments and sounds interact.

Learn your mistakes

You make mistakes. Why do you make mistakes? Many mistakes occur because of sloppy fundamentals. Remember that practice it wrong, you will learn it wrong. Identify you errors and fix it. Your friends are great at pointing out you flaws, so try not to take it personally.

Do not be afraid to invent your own technique or exercises. Imagine how the first person who ever played that instrument learned to play: there were no tutors or instructors for them. However, do not rehearse your drills! Change things up and modify your practice so that you do not become an expert in those little warm-ups.

Don’t Give Up!

Playing music is not an easy task. You alone are responsible for the way you sound. There is no shortcut or easy way to learn it all quickly. Determination is the greatest asset you have when playing. Sure you may have a limit to your abilities, but you can always be better than what you think.

Unsafe Cola in Nigeria

In Nigeria, two half-full cans of Sprite have heated a lawsuit. The cans were discovered amid tension from the Nigerian people, who have claimed that Coca-Cola (the owners of Sprite) is putting their health at risk. Coca-Cola and the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) have been scrutinized for unsafe and unhealthy bottling practices. The issue was filed with the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), and neither Coca-Cola, nor NBC appeared when requested. This failure to appear is punishable by jail time, but it is unknown who would go to prison.

The half-full cans may sound petty, but the contents had evaporated. This means the product is not safely sealed and may grow mold or bacteria. Other complaints include rusty bottle tops, rusted interior linings, and foreign materials in the soda. The issue is one of health and a sanitary bottling process, which was why it was reported to the CPC.

However, Coke refused to even allow officials to inspect their bottling practices. The people of Nigeria have received this news and latest turn of events with outrage. They believe that Coke sees them as an inferior country, and bears no responsibility for their safety in consuming their products.

In Nigeria, Coca-Cola owns over 8 different brands, not including all of the diet varieties and optional flavors. Coke has a huge interest in Africa and has ongoing clean water campaigns for different regions. They produce an annual sustainability report, to try and implement a new awareness each year for environmental actions and workplace rights.

They do have a history of actions contrary to this. They have been taken to court for unsafe working conditions, alleged use of hit-men, bribery, and other strange things. Many suits have been settled out of court or been thrown out due to lack of evidence.

The 2016 Olympics

The next summer Olympic games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the same country as the 2014 World Cup. There are some things that that we now know about Brazil which may surface in 2016 and these are not exactly positive, but goal to overcome.

Prostitution is legal if you are over 18. There was a crackdown on child prostitution right before the World Cup, but this seems like it it should have constant pressure anyway. I don’t know how many athletes will try this out because there is a rumor that the AIDS rate is pretty high.

Many people are poor in brazil. At the world cup, some people were forced from their homes to make room for the event. Working conditions are not what they are in 1st world countries, and they get paid poorly despite the revenue coming into the country.

There was also a ticket scandal, where a member of FIFA was scalping tickets. There are so many different things going on simultaneously at the Olympics, and his might be something to look out for.

Going forward, all of these issues should be fixed, and the Olympics would be just about the games! There are problems in the past that Rio can learn from, and I think they will. It will give us time to focus on what we enjoy about competition and sport.

There are 3 “new” sports for 2016: golf, rugby, and kitesurfing. Golf and rugby were once Olympic sports and kitesurfing is supposed to replace wind surfing and be included in the sailing division.

This will be an exciting time for the world to see the best that it has to offer. The sheer endurance, strength, concentration, determination, and patriotism will be fascinating. Hopefully, the scandals will not eclipse all of this.

Good Tea is Hard to Find

I was an avid coffee drinker, but after puking my guts out from a caffeine overdose, I quit pretty quickly. I came across tea and its multiple types completely by accident. I discovered teas for indigestion, relaxation, mental acuity, and unique flavor. I needed to find the best, and I sampled most of everything I came across. Here is my experience that may just help you with your well being, and that is not just a line of stupid hippie voodoo.

The Tea Container

Tea bags come in types of fabric, blends of paper, and even plastic. Stay away from the plastic. Some people claim that there is no harm because the FDA said so. That would be the same FDA that approved all those medications that have been recalled for their dangerous side effects, you know what I am talking about, just watch TV. Plastic will leach chemicals like BPA into your tea. As for the other two, the package will not usually list what it is, but you can taste it. The NOW Foods tea left a dusty taste because of their choice of tea bag. Loose leaf (no tea bag) needs a stainless steel or copper tea ball to steep. Aluminum leaves a strange taste and it has been proven that too much is bad for your nervous system

Ingredients

This might seem like an obvious thing from the label on the package, but turn the box over and look and the ingredients. If you see “natural and artificial flavors,” put the box back. Natural cherry flavor and cherries are entirely different things.

There are real ingredients that can help you. Ginger, peppermint, and licorice have been proven to help an upset stomach or indigestion; green, black, and white tea have caffeine. Most companies have some info on the box.

What is the Best?

I like Numi Tea the most! They have some rather unique flavors, the freshest taste, and even a blooming tea that I am dying to try. For herbal teas, Numi still has some good choices, but Alvita has an incredible variety of teas that I never knew were teas.

You won’t find your average Earl Grey or Oolong with these two companies, but you will find something exquisite (maybe a chocolate Earl Grey from Numi?) that you will come back for. I like them both, but Numi I like a bit more. Try them both and see which one is your cup of tea.

Dad-again is… Mr. Mom (updated)

See the bottom of the post for the new humble-pie update!

I have a job that keeps me away from home and isolated in a large warehouse. Sometimes I get home and the kids are already asleep, and when I get up for work the next day, I get to see them sleeping and whisper a good-by. After another long day, it has been about 30 hours since I have seen my kids, and I haven’t even been away traveling on business! My days off are spent writing and playing with the kids. Note that house-work is not on my list. My work hours sightly improved while my wife was pregnant. When she got closer to having the baby I helped when I needed to, but I was not overly helpful.

The Baby Is HERE!

My wife went into labor last week and we now have a happy baby girl! I was able to take off work to help around the house. Actually, all that stuff I don’t normally do, I now have to do. In my head, it seemed like I was going to have plenty of time for all of that stuff, and have time to spare. I learned more than I thought in a short amount of time.

I Do Everything Wrong

I soon learned that I needed a method and a schedule to follow for all the chores. I didn’t know what all the chores actually were, so I did what I thought was necessary. I did it all “wrong” and not in the right order? Do not ask me to explain this, I don’t care if it was wrong, everything got clean and no one got hurt. Well, some of the dishes were not clean and I got yelled at for it, but if she ignore dishes, I can ignore dishes… right?

I am an Amazing Cook!

Cooking dinner was, and is, one of the more annoying tasks. I like cooking, I just don’t like cooking when I am tired and the kids are asking when it is going to be done. I found myself tossing crackers or carrots to the kids like birdseed to pigeons, to hold them at bay. When it was all ready, it was the best received dinner. “You cook good daddy,” and “Oh! This tastes great” and “Daddy! I DON’T WANT EGGS!!! WHY DID YOU GIVE ME EGGS!?!?” After everyone is done eating is the perfect time to clean up, not the next morning. I also learned how to clean as I go.

Bed Time and Getting up for School

I can bathe two kids in less than 20 minutes, my wife, about an hour. The whole sympathy factor is not available. Soap, scrub, rinse, dry–done! I must admit, they do not enjoy bath time as much, but they have their teeth brushed and are in bed on time. I rouse my oldest for school gently and make her walk and dress herself. I was told to carry and dress her because she was tired and sleepy in the morning. She now knows the routine and she won’t ask me to pick her up. She is more alert and I have to constantly remind her to not sing that Frozen song or she will wake her mother and new baby sister.

Would I do This Again?

Heck yah! I really don’t want to go back to work. I think I am doing a pretty decent job, and I have found some methods to become more efficient and organized. I have also noted some areas that need modification/ improvement, like the laundry room and the closets. I really like being home and really like my family.

The Humble-Pie Update

Well, I was going to try and wait a week before I posted this, but I couldn’t wait. I am here to say that I am not the bad ass I thought I was. It took me 2 days to realize that my wife was doing laundry behind my back. I was not able to keep up and my daughter still needed cloths for school.

At the end of the day I would miss my kids like I hadn’t seen them. This confused me, and my lovely wife said, “It is because you left them out of your day.” I had brought my fast paced work life home, and it did not include children. I observed my wife watching a movie, folding cloths, and talking to the children at the same time. I cannot do that.

I let the house get messy, and clean what the wife needs most of the time. I can’t do her job the way she can and don’t think I have the patients to do that anyway. By the end of the week I wanted to punch something, but I have never seen her lose patients.

A home makers job is hard. There is no pay. No one thanks you for your sacrifice. You tend the lives around you and nurture their growth. At the end of the day you are rewarded with exhaustion and kids coming into your bed with bad dreams. I am not man enough to do this job, so I will do what I can and support her.