Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hurricanes and Climate Change

Et tu, NOAA?

Junk Mail Part 2

I recently resolved to try and make the insanity of the junk mail stop.

Since using OptOutPrescreen we have seen a decrease in pre-approved credit card offers, but it is still too early to tell whether this method has really been effective.

A few days ago we received yet another set of yellow books from Dex which reminded me that I need to take care of this problem as well. So I called the number on the big plastic bag the THREE books came in: 1-877-2GETDEX. I asked to have our home removed from the delivery list. This didn't seem to be an unusual request. The customer service rep took down my information and assured me that the books would stop coming. Having worked for a mega-large telecommunications company myself I have seen a lot of "Yes ma'am, right away ma'am, it's all taken care of ma'am"s, all while the rep is actually browsing - so we'll see.

If you're tired of receiving giant yellow books that you never use, must find somewhere to store and eventually recycle you might try giving 1-877-2GETDEX a shot. Let me know if it works.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Counting is Fun!

Over at ScienceBlogs John Lynch talks about the Discovery Institute's latest - a "Dissent from Darwinism" list which includes 600 PhDs. Among them a guy who writes:

I am a PhD mathematician
who has recently (in the last couple of years) examined carefully the claim that the neo-Darwinian synthesis adequately accounts for the variety of life on earth. I have read countless texts on geology, biology (and cosmology) in a multitude of sub-disciplines and can honestly affirm that I am skeptical that the evidence points toward anything like mutation plus natural selection as being the cause of the variety of life that we see both today and in the fossil record.

I'm not writing to address the biology points - I just wanted to point out that it's funny that a guy who has a PhD in mathematics would use the word "countless." Isn't counting, like, his whole job?

Enviromentalists Put Big Yellow Tickets on SUVs

Treehugger's post More Tickets For Big Stupid Cars reminds me of a conversation I overheard a couple of years ago when this type of activism happened in the US:

SUV Lover: Those environmentalists! They're nothing but terrorists! How dare they touch other people's cars!

Treehugger: They aren't terrorists they're just activists. They're putting fliers on people's cars - big deal. It happens at the grocery store every day.

SUV Lover (deadly serious): That's right! They are using fliers! The paper they are wasting - They are causing more damage to the environment than those cars are!

Treehugger (dumbfounded): You seriously believe that a couple hundred pieces of paper cause more environmental damage than a couple hundred large scale SUVs?

SUV Lover: Of course! It's common sense! Not only are they terrorists, they're hypocrites!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My 15 Seconds of (Extremely Local) Fame

Tomorrow morning (and I do mean morning: 5am) one of my pictures is going to be a featured "Northwest Snapshot" on the local news channel. This is the shot (you may recognize it from one of those posted a few days ago...):

This is the mighty Columbia as seen from a height of about 1900'.

This is my second Northwest Snapshot. The first one I missed when they showed it on the air due to a combination of oversleeping and insufficient TiVo communications. It was this shot of Mt. Hood:

Anyway, if you're in the Portland area and you're up with nothing better to do between 5 and 5:30 am watch KOIN News 6 and join me in my 15 seconds of extremely local pseudo-fame!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Not Ready To Make Nice

The Dixie Chicks rock.

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Peace Rally

Wind Mountain

Next Saturday: Triple Falls in Oneonta Gorge with Mazamas.

Let me know if you'd like to join us!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Peace Rally Reminder

For those in the Portland area:

Oregon Rocks

Not only does Portland General Electric sell more energy from renewable sources to residential customers than any other utility in the US, our Governor Ted Kulongoski is calling for the state government to use only electricity from new renewable sources by 2010.

"New renewable sources" appears to not include hydropower. This is good because hydropower dams dramatically change the ecosystem of the waterway they are built on. It does appear to concentrate on wind and solar:

Wind and solar sources are attractive "because there's no fuel -- nature is the fuel -- you have very stable prices over the long term," said Rachel Shimshak, director of the Renewable Northwest Project, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Other renewable sources mentioned: geothermal and plant matter biomass.

(Hat Tip: Gristmill)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tangled Bank

Another edition, the 49th, of my favorite blog carnival, Tangled Bank, is up over at Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Grrlscientist has included such topics as Evolution, Science and Ethics, Neurobiology, Energy in the Future and quite a bit more.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

CouchSurfing Revisited

So I posted about The CouchSurfing Project a few days ago. I thought it was a neat idea, and a way to save a little money while traveling.

I take it back.

After spending some time on the site I now think it is an amazing idea! And I don't think it has anything to do with saving money. Not really.

I think it's about being open in a way that lets you really meet people - to really talk to them, to really get to know them, to really share your life with others.

I think I'm not very open with others, not at all. I have an extremely hard time trusting people. Participating in this project is going to be really good for me. I mean, strangers are going to come and temporarily live in our house. You've got to find trust for that. Plus we'll make new friends - and who doesn't want more friends?

Since signing up I've corresponded with people in Italy and Ecuador, and we've had a request by a couple from Germany to Couch Surf with us next month! We've said yes of course, so I guess that means our own CouchSurfing experiment is underway.
  • Read what other CouchSurfers think about the project here.
  • Listen to the groovy CouchSurfing song here.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Some Good Reading

I came across two excellent posts this morning. I thought I would pass them along:

How to Talk to a Global Warming Sceptic
by Coby at A Few Things Ill Considered
(Hat Tip: RealClimate)

Activism 2.0
at City Hippy
(Be sure to check out the comments as well.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Change of Plans

The recent wacky weather successfully persuaded us to postpone our Wind Mountain trip. All hope of getting out was not lost, though. We ended up spending a nice morning having the world's best coffee at Stumptown and then walking along the Willamette.

Next weekend (updated):
Wind Mountain on Saturday.
End the War, Begin the Peace rally on Sunday.

Let me know if you'd like to join us!

Random birdie. Isn't he cute?


I was so, so sad when I upgraded to Firefox and found that my Livelines had been disabled. What the hell? I thought. This has got to be, like, the most popular extension ever in the history of Firefox. Why isn't it updated?

This morning, after going through the incredibly tedious process of manually adding a feed to Bloglines, I thought I would turn to Google and see if I might find out a little something there. And I did. It turns out that for whatever reason the extension update finder thingy wasn't finding the update, but such an update does exist! Oh the joy...

Just in case I am not the very last person to figure this out, I'll let you know where you can get your very own update. It's here.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Couch Surfing

So you go on vacation - the type of vacation where the main objective is to see a new place and do new things, not to be pampered at a resort - and the biggest expense after actually getting there is the hotel where you spend a very small amount of time. Doesn't it seem like there should be a better way?

I've thought this more than a couple of times, which is why I was excited to find The CouchSurfing Project. The idea is you contact someone with a spare couch or room or backyard space who lives in your vacation destination and you stay with them for a little while. Then you get home and you host someone else. It's a whole commie, love-makes-the-world-go-round kind of idea.

There's a whole range of CouchSurfing opportunities you can arrange through the site - from "Meet me for coffee or a drink in the town where you live" to "Let's switch apartments for awhile."

We (Jason, Puck and I) have signed up, and will most likely host before we are hosted somewhere else. We have a pretty good arrangement for this, since we have a spare room with a futon and a full guest bathroom. There's nothing like meeting new people in the comfort of your own home!

Let me know if you too decide to become a couch surfer so I can add you to our friends list!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Good Riddance

In her role as Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton has tried to make it easier for industry to drill in the wild, from New Mexico to ANWR.

Now she's resigning, and while I want to be happy my weltschmerz tells me we're just going to end up with someone even worse.

More about Gale Norton and her career can be found at SourceWatch and Wikipedia.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Manhattan in January

It's easy to get overwhelmed by climate change issues. I think the next time I start to feel down about the state of our planet I'll listen to Jill Sobule singing her Gore-inspired song "Manhattan in January." Thanks to TEDBlog you can too!

Hat Tip: WorldChanging

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Please - Make It Stop

90% of what arrives in our mailbox here at the Charismatic Megafauna household each day is junk. It's ridiculous. What is also ridiculous is how many times per year we get phone books - 2 or 3 per delivery. I can't even remember the last time I used a phone book.

I am going to try and end the waste-filled insanity.

My first stop: OptOutPrescreen thanks to Urban Eco's tip. This service removes you from the lists that Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion provide to credit card and insurance companies. By far the largest percentage of junk mail that we get is credit card offers.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Email Void

I'm waiting on so many email replies I'm starting to feel like I live in some kind of email void.

Ah, wait. As I was writing that sentence one arrived. Maybe I've broken the lack-of-email curse by acknowledging yet. Yes, yes, that must be it.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Grad School 2.0

Dear Student Loans,

You're just going to have to wait!


Shannon - Grad Student! Woo!

Sandy River Gorge

Next Saturday: Wind Mountain

Friday, March 03, 2006


I'm always looking for new podcasts. Do you have any favorites that I should be listening to?

Here's what I'm subscribed to currently:
If you are interested in the subject matter then I highly recommend each of them, especially Scientific America. It's very well done and entertaining. The Berkeley Courses are just that - podcasts of actual lectures. So you do get the administrative stuff, and sometimes it's hard to hear students' questions. I think it's great that these podcasts are available, free of charge, to the general public. Yay, Berkeley. Yay.

Marketing the Problem

Seth Godin makes some excellent points in his recent post The Problem with "Global Warming"

I agree that activists and scientists have not done a good job educating the public about climate change. If the average person did have real knowledge about this problem you wouldn't hear people saying things like: Gosh, it's such a nice day! Thank goodness for global warming!

So what do we do? I like Seth's suggestion of calling the problem "Atmosphere Cancer" to avoid the "But I like nice days! Doesn't everyone?" reaction to the "Global Warming" label.

Making people more aware of immediate consequences such as increasing episodes of beetle infestation in forest areas due to increased winter temperatures could help as well.


On November 6, 2004 the AP reported:

"President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job, let alone the nearly 5 million jobs Kyoto would have cost," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. [Emphasis is mine]

Today, CNN quotes Bush:

Praising India's expanding economy, President Bush warned today that fears about job outsourcing to other nations should not prompt the United States to limit global trade. "It's true that some Americans have lost jobs when their companies move their operations overseas," Bush said in a speech in New Delhi. "Some people believe the answer to this problem is to wall off our economy from the world through protectionist policies. I strongly disagree." [Emphasis mine]