Beach cleanup daily — without leaving your home

photo of trash in garden

Map showing CA waterway cleanup locationsEach third Saturday in September in California, the California Coastal Cleanup Day gathers thousands of people to help clean tons of trash from our beaches and waterways. The 2017 event occurred on September 16th.

If you missed September 16th, and can’t wait until next year, you can start today in without leaving your own property. Continue reading “Beach cleanup daily — without leaving your home”

The value of multi-modal trips

Dirt road along levee

In transit lingo, “multi-modal” trips are those that use different modes to get to a destination. A common version is bike to bus/subway/rail, either taking the bike on the vehicle or locking it before one gets on. Today I had a wonderful trip that was multi-modal by accident.

The “out” trip was planned as multi-modal: I live in Berkeley and had a mid-day meeting in Redwood City. These cities are on opposites sides of the San Francisco Bay, and I decided that I would take two trains (BART subway and CalTrain diesel passenger/commute train) and ride the short distances between destinations and stations. I left home and rode five blocks to my local BART station, where I brought my bike on board and held it while sitting. Not too uncomfortable, not too crowded. When I arrived in SF, I got off at the first station (swiping my “Clipper” “smart-card”), then rode about eight blocks to the CalTrain station. I swiped my Clipper card while waiting, then when the train boarded I got on one of the two bike trains–these trains are specially equipped with bike rack space on the bottom level (the trains have two levels of seating). There were plenty of bungee cords at each bike rack,  and I bungeed my bike to the rack and chose a seat upstairs where I could keep an eye on my bike.

Continue reading “The value of multi-modal trips”

Drive 55 MPH on Spare the Air days

Spare the Air sign

Spare the Air signWith the batch of Spare the Air days in the San Francisco Bay Area in the last few weeks, I came up with an idea that would probably save a lot more gas than trying to get people to carpool and take transit (not that I’m suggesting we stop this, but I’m not sure how many people really switch on STA days). My thought would be to change the speed limit to 55 on Spare the Air days.

I’m not sure how legal this would be (with all the permanent 65 MPH signs), but at least all those huge fancy digital boards that CalTrans has could read “Today is Spare the Air: Please drive 55”.

Spare the Air portable signDo you like the idea? Call the Bay Area Air Quality Management District: 415-749-4900

Fuel economy vs speed

“Progressive” thermostats to save energy

Sitting in my cold, air-conditioned classroom the last week, while it was 85-95ºF outside, a design for a new thermostat came to me. Currently, thermostats cool (or heat) a building to a desired temperature. My new design would create a floating target temperature, that moves up and down as the outside temperature changes. The goal would be to target a temperature that is half-way between the “comfort zone” (generally 65-72ºF) and the outside temperature.

For example, if the temperature outside is 92ºF and the comfort zone max is 72ºF, the air conditioning would be set to 82ºF.

An example of a cold day: If the temperature outside is 45ºF, and the comfort zone minimum is 65ºF, the heater would be set to 55ºF.

Progressive vs traditional thermostat
Progressive vs traditional thermostat

What’s the advantage?

Physics principles state that the greater the temperature difference between two bodies, the faster the heat is transferred between them. Thus, if the outside temperature is 92ºF, it takes less energy to cool a house from 92ºF to 82ºF than to cool it the next 10ºF, from 82ºF to 72ºF. And since hotter and colder days place higher demands out our electrical grid (especially hot days), these are the days where we need to save energy the most.

Other adjustments/design alternatives

  • This new design could allow for adjusting the percent difference for hot and cold days individually. For example, if a person can handle heat better than cold, s/he might change hot days to only 25% of the way from the outside temperature to the comfort zone (using the previous example, cooling the house to 87ºF), but on cold days s/he would set it to 75% (the example above heat to 60ºF).
  • The thermostat could easily be designed to have a maximum hot temperature allowed (e.g. never over 82ºF) and/or a minimum cold temperature (e.g. 50ºF). This would be useful in extremely hot or cold climates.

With wireless technology as simple and inexpensive as it is these days, it would be easy to place the outside temperature sensor in an appropriate location, not necessarily right outside the thermostat.

Questions/comments

Please leave your comments below. I’d love to hear what others feel about this idea.

Great “raw” video footage from typhoon in China

The video below is just “raw” footage from CBS News. There is no narration, just a collection of images. I really enjoy this format, you can focus on the images and not on what the newscaster is saying. Powerful.

Typhoon Slams China

Sun Aug 09 11:26:08 PDT 2009

“CBS News RAW”: Millions evacuated the area after typhoon Morakot slammed into China’s east coast. It was the island’s worst flooding in 50 years and left dozens missing and feared dead.


Watch CBS Videos Online

Uprisings: The Whole Grain Bakers’ Book

Update: December 2010: I have created a web site, uprisingsbakersbook.org, where I’m adding recipes and other pages from the book. I’m working on permissions from the publisher and bakeries, so I’m starting with bakeries that are closed. Look for weekly updates.

In 1983, the Cooperative Whole Grain Educational Association published Uprisings; The Whole Grain Bakers’ Book. The Foreword of the book is at the bottom of this page.

As a former collective member of Uprisings Baking Collective in Berkeley (one of the contributors to the book), I didn’t want this book and organization to just fade away. There were 32 collective/cooperative bakeries who contributed to the book, many of which are still in business. Collected below are a list of links to the bakeries that are still operating. If I missed any, please fill in the form at the bottom so I can update the page.

The book is a valuable resource for bakers and wannabe bakers. One of its strengths is the index—including the traditional categories of major ingredients and types of foods, but also including a special section on Recipes by Special Dietary Characteristics such as No Eggs or Dairy; No Dairy (but contains Eggs); No Eggs (but contains Dairy); No Wheat; No Sweetener, or Fruit-sweetened; No Added Oils or Fats (may contain high-fat ingredients); No Baking; and No Salt, or Optional Salt.

While Uprisings is out of print, many used copies are available. If you can’t find it at your local bookstore, try abebooks.com using the search box here. abebooks.com is a network of independent bookstores around the country, your independent alternative to Amazon.com.

Click this link to search for Uprisings on AbeBooks:0938432125

There is another book out there with the exact same name, but a different author. If abebooks doesn’t return any books using the ISBN number provided here, try a search for the title Uprisings Bakers to get the other book. I’m not sure if this is the same book, re-published by a new group of authors. If anyone knows about this, please let me know.

Map of Bakeries


View Uprisings: The Whole Grain Bakers’ Book in a larger map

Bakeries in Uprisings

NamePhoneAddress
Alvarado Street Bakery(707) 585-3293500 Martin Avenue; Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Arcata Coop Bakery(707) 822-5947811 I St.; Arcata, CA
The Bakery CafeClosed ??Albuquerque, MN
Blue Heron Bakery(360) 866-BAKE4935 Mud Rd.; Olympia, WA
Blue Mango RestaurantClosedDavis, CA (history)
Dharma Crumbs BakeryClosedColville, WA
Good Bread BakeryClosed ??Jacksonville, OR
Honey Bear BakeryClosedKalispell, MT
Little Bread Company(206) 365-719211740 15th Ave NE; Seattle, WA
Manna BakeryClosed ??Amsterdam, Netherlands
Millstone BakeryClosed ??Washburn, WI
Nature’s Bakery(608) 257-36491019 Williamson St.; Madison, WI 53703
On The Rise BakeryClosed late 90’s ??Syracuse, NY
Open Harvest Bakery(402) 475-90691618 South St; Lincoln, NB
People’s BakeryClosedSan Francisco, CA Cool photo
People’s Baking Company(612) 721-72051534 East Lake St.; Minneapolis, MN 55407
Rebel BakersClosedSan Diego, CA
Rising Star BakeryOpen, no longer a collective; 1-250-360-00914-956 Devonshire Rd / Victoria, BC, Canada
Slice of Life BakeryClosed 1984Cambridge, MA
Small Planet Bakery(520) 884-9313411 N 7th Ave; Tucson, AZ 85705
Solstice BakeryClosed 1999 ?Eugene, OR
Somadhara Bakery(607) 273-8213215 N. Cayuga St.; Ithica, NY
Summercorn Bakery(501) 521-93381410 Cato Springs Rd.; Fayetteville, AR 72701
Sunflour BakeryClosed ??Bloomington, IN
Sunrise BakeryClosedTallahassee, FL
Sweet Life BakeryClosedSt. Cloud, MN
Uprisings Baking CollectiveClosedBerkeley, CA (Some old Uprising’s bakers are now baking at Nabolom Bakery.)
Wildflour Community Bakery CoopClosed sometime 2000 (see comment below)See also: www.ypsifoodcoop.org. Ann Arbor, MI A screenplay including Wildflour.
Wolfmoon Coop BakeryClosedEast Lansing, MI
Women’s Community BakeryOpen in 1997, currently ?Washington, DC
Yeast West BakeryClosed in 1995Buffalo, NY

Other Collective/Cooperative Bakeries

NamePhoneAddress
Black Bear Bakery314-771-22362639 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, MO

Foreword from Uprisings

Welcome to Uprisings, the whole grain bakers’ book. Uprisings has been collectively compiled by experienced bakers from many small independent bakeries. If draws its inspiration from a number of uprisings—of grain, of bread, and of people. The most basic of these is the grain growing from the earth, nourished by the rain and sun. Wheat, rye, corn, barley, buckwheat, millet, rice—these are the fundamental ingredients of whole grain baked goods. Bakers, with a little help from yeast and other leaveners, create another uprising, as dough rises to produce fresh-baked loaves, filling our senses. The third uprising is the cooperative ethic of the bakeries we work in. There are no bosses, no employees. Instead we all do the work together, sharing the responsibilities and the rewards. Our businesses put priority on serving the needs of the community, not on making profits for a select few.
We think it’s a great loss that so many of us are unfamiliar with these uprisings. Few people enjoy the delights of eating fresh whole grain bread, let alone those of making it themselves. It’s also a loss that so few people have the satisfaction of helping to run their own workplaces, doing interesting work that meets real needs. Cooperative whole grain bakeries are part of a rising tide of people taking more responsibility for what goes on in our lives. We want more and more of us to regain power over our food, our work, our health and well-being—in short, our personal, social, and economic existence. To achieve this, we heartily encourage these and other kinds of uprisings in all areas or our lives.

Published 1983


The physics (and biology) of snake movement

Science Friday had a great piece on snakes slithering today. The main researcher in the video is Dr. David Hu from the Applied Mathematics Laboratory, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, New York, NY.

Turns out it’s much more compicated than one would think. The scientists used smooth surfaces and even Jello to test their hypotheses. Here’s the article about the video.

The math in a hybrid car

For an end of the semester project in my physics classes, I posed the following question to my students:

If you put 100,000 miles on a car, which is a better deal, a hybrid or a traditional car?

Students were asked to look up a car they would be interested in buying, but the car has to come in both hybrid and traditional engine models. They were asked to look at the price of the car and the cost of gas over the 100,000 mile “life” of the car (OK, some are going to sell it at 50K, and others hold onto it until it dies, but 10,000 seemed like a good average). We just finished a unit on energy, and I thought this would be a good way to get them thinking about energy and money.

If you want to know their results, you’ll have to keep reading, but I’ve since had time to think about making this question more open-ended, inquiry (thanks to Dy/Dan for keeping my on my inquiry toes). So now I’m thinking of the questions that could be raised in a class discussion:

  • Write an equation for the cost of each car as a function of the miles driven.
  • Using these two equations, solve for the intersection of the lines. What does this intersection represent?
  • Car mileage is rated in both highway and city. Expand your equation to include a variable for the percent of driving that is city.
  • How many extra fill-ups will it take to drive the traditional engine car? If your time is worth money, how much will this cost you if you make $50,000/year?
  • How much gas is saved by driving the hybrid? What percent is this?

The list can go much further than this. Leave it up to your students to develop more.

Oh, the answer.

Students did calculations from the Honda Civic to the Cadillac Escalade (yes, it comes in a hybrid). None of the hybrids broke even with the traditional engine in cost for 100,000 miles. Students were asked to write a short paragraph saying if they thought buying the hybrid was “worth it.” They gave great responses, including those who even looked at the gas they would save just from switching from the car they are now driving to a more fuel efficient car (one student said it wasn’t worth it to buy the hybrid, but certainly was worth it–financially and environmentally–to buy a new car to upgrade her mileage.

Free shoppping?

It’s that time again. Time to wander the aisles of the college town “free stores.”

These stores don’t pay rent, and the aisles move daily (if not hourly). The merchandise are the items the students don’t feel like taking with them. Walk around student neighborhoods as finals and graduation come to an end, and you’ll find all sorts of treasures. A couple months ago I got a “new” CD/tape/radio player that a neighbor had nicely set out on the curb (replaced with an iPod and speakers?). Then, a couple bike wheels. Today, a nice hand-vacuum.

So, help keep these items from the scrapbin of history; give them another life in your house.