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Month: February, 2008

More Evidence that Ethanol is a Bad Solution

by Scott Smith

OFFICIALS in Tampa, Florida, got a surprise recently when a local firm building the state’s first ethanol-production factory put in a request for 400,000 gallons (1.5m litres) a day of city water. The request by US Envirofuels would make the facility one of the city’s top ten water consumers overnight, and the company plans to double its size.

Double it’s size? That’s 800,000 gallons of water a day. Apparently the typical ethanol production facility uses somewhere around 50 million gallons of water a year.

The article goes on to mention that the corn being grown for ethanol is already taxing the water supply since you have to irrigate those crops in a lot of the areas they are now being grown. So, water to irrigate the corn being used for ethanol and water to process said corn into that ethanol. Brilliant.


Patrick Winston’s lecture ‘How to Speak’

by Scott Smith

Madel and I were driving into Kalamazoo today for an appointment. I drove the truck which means no iPod or CD player. So we talked about school.

I struggle to figure out how this high school does classes. There’s such a thing as a skinny class and a regular class. Madel’s band class is 45 minutes (skinny class). Her math class is 90 minutes (regular). That’s right, Gull Lake thinks it’s a good idea to have classes over 50 minutes long. By the way, she only has one skinny class.

She asked about foreign languages and which majors required them in college. She seemed overly concerned with language requirements. Eventually we ended up discussing what I think is a good approach to college: A lot of writing and reading, classes requiring communication skills (speech, theater, TV, radio and cinema), some science, and math.

As you can tell, I’m heavy on the communication part. Whether it be a job interview, blog post or a presentation, one’s ability to get a point across can make the difference in getting that job or spreading one’s ideas.

Harvard has posted a lecture by MIT prof Patrick Winston given in 1997 on how to speak. One of his opening remarks — he believes communication skills can make the difference between a successful career and a frustrated career.

This lecture topic may sound dull. It’s not. Professor Winston delivers on presentation and content. I only wish now that I had watched his lecture at noon and not so late tonight. My mind is too alive to sleep.

Lecture link via Hacker News.

The Library of Congress Goes Flickr

by Scott Smith

Our friend, Barb, shot us a link to The Library of Congress’ Flickr stream.

Munching on Media

by Scott Smith

I finished reading Amy Knox Brown’s Three Versions of the Truth. One of my favorite short story collections. Amy’s collection gave me compelling perspectives of characters I loved and cared about. She also delivered on place in a big way. I’ve been to Lincoln, Nebraska but now I feel I’ve been to Lincoln. Another plus was her use of short-short stories. I’ve never been a fan of the genre. Amy has made me one — or at least a fan of her short-shorts. She just nails these stories and works with in its constraints. Go get her book and enjoy.

Robinson and I watched Blood Diamond. Yeah, that was bad. A mess. Avoid. Go rent/buy Helvetica as soon as possible. Do you think a movie about a font is compelling? No… Well, it is.

I listened to Steve Martin’s autobiography. After you read Amy’s book and watch Helvetica, download this book from iTunes. Steve Martin is smart and funny, and his life is worthy of a book. Sure, you could buy the hardcover only I think having Steve Martin read his book adds to the experience.

Today, after Madel’s band dork competition, we headed to B&N for books. New Russell Banks is out, The Reserve, and I finally own Presentation Zen. Zen is gorgeous. Garr Reynolds, its author, has got a lot of love for its publication and I can see why.

Btw, I kid Madel and Coleman for being band dorks. After today’s competition, Madel is heading to state. The judge of Madel’s solo heaped praise upon her. If she does well at state, I will raise her to geek status.

Euthanized Animals

by Scott Smith

BoingBoing points to this blog, whatikilledtoday, written by a vet tech that writes about the animals she has euthanized.

A sample–

A ferret with lymphoma, an adrenal tumor, and an insulinoma. She had no hair left and was covered in lymphatic lumps. She didn’t look like a mammal anymore. Nevertheless, her spirits were high and I fed her a hefty dose of Nutrical tasty goo before anesthetizing her.

I have long envied that euthanasia is an option for animals but not me (ignoring the option of sucide, of course). If I looked like that ferret, they would keep feeding fluids, waiting for ‘mother nature’ to end it. Horrible.