Posted at 12:23 AM on December 18, 2007
by Bob Collins
The blog Open Culture has 10 ways to make your iPod a better learning tool, with links to bits of of software you can load.
Since the dawn of the environmental era -- the '70s -- we have heard that the age of solar energy for our homes is coming, that eventually the price of installation is going to come down. Forty years seems like a good time to assess the possibilities of solar.
National Public Radio's Morning Edition yesterday reported that business is so good for a company that installs solar panels in San Francisco's Bay Area that the firms cannot find enough entry-level workers.
Things are looking up for solar, right? Apparently not.
As the conference on climate change in Bali ended, the focus was more on meeting benchmarks on reducing carbon emissions. Solar was suggested as a solution for some areas of the planet. But Minnesota is not the Sahara.
Venture capitalists reportedly will send lots of money in the direction of green companies in 2008, but they don't see solar, apparently, as cutting edge.
It's not hard to understand why. Even after 40 years, it's unaffordable for most Minnesotans.
In a hunt for solar power calculators, I found one from Kyocera(Use IE. It won't work in Firefox.), plugged in the zip code for St. Paul. and found that for the cheapest unit (recommended by the state of Minnesota's solar energy primer), would cost $7,750 after $5,000 in tax rebates and credits. I would save $135 a year, mostly because -- as you can see in the January projection -- there's not a lot of sun in these parts.
Surely there's something wrong with these numbers. So I tried another calculator. Findsolar.com suggests that Washington County is "good" for solar power, based on a rating of 4.613 kWh/sq-m/day. Whatever that means. All I know is it told me the net cost of going solar is $57,040 and it will cost 25 years to break even (factoring in an increase in property values).
There is a glimmer of hope. Today in San Jose, Nanosolar is announcing it's shipping panels made from a new manufacturing process for solar panels that "prints" the photovoltaic material on aluminum, cutting the cost by up to 80 percent.
It comes not a moment too soon.5 Comments)
Posted at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2007
by Bob Collins
A study from the University of Minnesota out today says rural Minnesota drivers are more complacent than their urban counterparts.
"The most interesting thing about the research is that people were willing to tell us the truth about their behaviors - that rural drivers aren't wearing their seatbelt and think that drunk driving isn't that dangerous, so education may help prevent crashes for these risk factors," researcher Mick Rakauskas said in a U of M release.
Last month, the U released a study showing more fatalities on rural roads in state's that do not have seat belt laws.
Posted at 4:13 PM on December 18, 2007
by Bob Collins
We baby boomers, in our later years, have become enchanted with the Greatest Generation, which is ironic since it was the generation we yelled at when it told us to cut our hair, support the war in Vietnam or get a job. They were our parents, of course, and as with most kids, once we got older, we got more perspective and, if it wasn't too late, we could honor them accordingly.
For two Minnesotans -- and their families -- that day came today at the Capitol when Walter Halloran of Rochester and Merrill Burgstahler of Minnetonka received the Legion of Honor medal from the French consul. Up until fairly recently, the award went only to World War I vets.
Usually, families apply (pdf) for the 100 or so medals which are given out each year in the U.S.
Walter Halloran's (picture above) story was told in the Pioneer Press today. "Don't I get a kiss," he said after the medal was pinned on his uniform. He got a hug.
Merrill Burgstahler (below) got to tell his own story. He said the award was the second he's received from the French people. "My first one was from a boy pouring cider for the troops," he said. "He also gave us a pair of wooden shoes." (Listen to his speech)
These awards, of course, symbolize more than just the soldiers who receive them. Thousands of others also sacrificed in the liberation of France.
These moments also give us a little insight into modern-day France, too. France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, awarded his first medal in June...
... to Barbra Streisand for performing in a concert.