we must also embrace clean coal

“…coal produces more than 40 percent of the world’s electricity, a foundation of modern life. And that percentage is going up.”

http://www.wired.com/2014/03/clean-coal

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Filed under energy, energy-efficiency, erik-green, future, green

My 2 cents on mini-split Air Source Heat Pumps

My 2 cents on mini-split Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) for heating is:

1) if you calculate the source energy usage, it’s pretty much equiv to using nat gas directly because of the efficiency of power plants being ~33%. So 33% * whatever COP you get from thre ASHP (let’s say 3 as a seasonal winter avg) then you are back to ~1.00. Same as using a 95% efficient gas furnance or boiler in terms of primary energy/source energy.

2) Money wise, you’d also have to do the math with electricity vs gas prices. Because even if the energy use is equivalent, perhaps the price of electricity vs gas/oil is mismatched.

3) And of course, if you source the electricity for the ASHP from wind/etc then that’s better too.

4) But one could also skip the ASHP and just buy New England Wind Fund credits to offset heating energy too.

5) Comfort wise: it’s point-source heat, so if your house doesn’t already have heating zones, then putting one where you spend a lot of time would allow you to drop the temp in the rest of the house.

6) But they are slow to heat up a space, so you can’t really use set-backs you can like with furnaces/boilers that blast! Maybe they wouldn’t work that great for point source heat since it’s not like a hot woodstove.

7) The compressor makes noise outside and you need somewhere to put the thing and shovel snow away from it occasionally

8) Another thing to break

9) Holistically: In addition to Wind Fund offsets, one could also insulate the house more, eat less meat, drive a prius or more efficient car, or move closer to work so you can walk, bike, or drive less. Or fly less.

10) ASHP will also give you AC. So that might be nice.

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Children’s Risky Play From an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences

… Sandseter began observing and interviewing children on playgrounds in Norway. In 2011, she published her results in a paper called “Children’s Risky Play From an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences.” Children, she concluded, have a sensory need to taste danger and excitement; this doesn’t mean that what they do has to actually be dangerous, only that they feel they are taking a great risk. That scares them, but then they overcome the fear. In the paper, Sandseter identifies six kinds of risky play:
(1) Exploring heights, or getting the “bird’s perspective,” as she calls it—“high enough to evoke the sensation of fear.”
(2) Handling dangerous tools—using sharp scissors or knives, or heavy hammers that at first seem unmanageable but that kids learn to master.
(3) Being near dangerous elements—playing near vast bodies of water, or near a fire, so kids are aware that there is danger nearby.
(4) Rough-and-tumble play—wrestling, play-fighting—so kids learn to negotiate aggression and cooperation.
(5) Speed—cycling or skiing at a pace that feels too fast.
(6) Exploring on one’s own.

This last one Sandseter describes as “the most important for the children.” She told me, “When they are left alone and can take full responsibility for their actions, and the consequences of their decisions, it’s a thrilling experience.”

LINK: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/

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Filed under kids -- freedom and responsibility, outdoors, play, playgrounds

Sudbury Valley School vs playgrounds and recess

I think the problem I have with playgrounds, especially #6 below (with the huge blue blocks) is that even the good ones (and these are rare!) are contrived and are not going to hold interest for long — like a museum. I guess I would have to see if any had much staying power vs the more real / organic / wild / natural versions of (#1) adventure playground and (#2) the campus of Sudbury Valley School (SVS) but I would guess not.

And not only because the blue blocks are less useful than real tools or artifacts the kids create from actual found objects (as at SVS), but also importantly, because (especially at Sudbury Valley School) the kids are in charge of their own time COMPLETELY. It isn’t just a 1/2 hour recess… it is their whole day that they are free to do as they wish — playing (or working… call it as you wish) outdoors or indoors.

And also importantly, at Sudbury Valley School (and other Sudbury Schools) it is within a context of a self-governed community — real direct democracy as embodied in the SVS Lawbook and executed by the Judicial Committee, the School Meeting, and the various elected clerkships and committees. Real consent of the governed is powerful.

Whereas, at a “playground” at some arbitrary short point, the whistle will blow, or the parents will say “times up” after an hour or 2.

Also, outside of school hours… playgrounds are typically hit or miss.  Unless in a safe, dense area…. it is going to mean kids need to get their via parents/cars.  Vs at SVS, there is a rich environment of “everyone is here” available.  Cohousing neighborhoods offer that possibility as well, as long as people aren’t doing too much in the way of scheduled, adult run outside activities, pulling them away from the neighborhood.

LINKS

1) Adventure Playgrounds
http://adventureplaygrounds.hampshire.edu/index.html
(as noted here: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/)

2) Sudbury Valley School
http://sudval.org/
(as noted here with links to fort building and other outdoor play: http://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/outdoors-at-school/)

3) Power tools for kids
http://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/power-tools-for-kids/

4) Wilderness programs for kids
e.g. http://earthworkprograms.com/

5) Fat Albert — cartoon at the junkyard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WT-fxBNKs8

6) Imagination Playgrouds (sterile version of Adventure Playgrounds)
https://playgroundology.wordpress.com/category/imagination-playgrounds/
company that makes big blue blocks: http://www.imaginationplayground.com/

7) How Little League sports used to be (no parents… just kids)
Excerpt from Peter Gray
http://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/little-league-in-sun-prairie-wisconsin/

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Filed under outdoors, play, playgrounds, recess, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

3 2 stories of naivete

IN INDIA, THE INVENTOR OF A MACHINE TO MAKE SANITARY PADS:
“Luckily I’m not educated,” he tells students. “If you act like an illiterate man, your learning will never stop… Being uneducated, you have no fear of the future.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26260978

AT GOOGLE, THE CREATOR OF GMAIL:
“Very often, if you do something new, the actual feedback people will say is, ‘This is what we tried before and it doesn’t and won’t work,’” he says. “If you’re naive, you may not even realize that it’s been tried and didn’t work,” he says. “We tend to overlearn from the past. Just because something didn’t work in the past, doesn’t mean that it can’t work in the future–especially in technology where things are constantly changing. Maybe the technology changed, the world has changed, or you’re just simply taking a different approach. All these people [at Google] were telling me that it was a bad idea and it would fail,” he says. “But I didn’t really care, I thought they were all wrong and tried it anyway–and it worked.”

http://www.fastcolabs.com/3027233/why-gmail-creator-paul-buchheit-gave-javascript-a-second-chance?partner=rss

CASEY NEISTAT:
Ignorance Is the Mother of Invention
“The truth is I never tried to come up with a new style; I was just never taught the way you’re supposed to do it. When you’re never taught the way you’re supposed to do things, you find your own path. Story is all I care about, I’m not a good enough writer, so I needed the images to hide behind. Embracing my ignorance is what yielded my style.”

http://www.refinery29.com/2013/08/49802/casey-neistat

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Filed under contrarian, creativity

How to get a job at Google

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html

0. coding ability (for tech positions)
1. general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly.
2. leadership ability
3. humility
4. ownership
5. expertise

Excerpt:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — LAST June, in an interview with Adam Bryant of The Times, Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google — i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies — noted that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time” — now as high as 14 percent on some teams. At a time when many people are asking, “How’s my kid gonna get a job?” I thought it would be useful to visit Google and hear how Bock would answer.

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Filed under future, google, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

“What if surgeons never got to work on humans, they were instead just endlessly in training, cutting up cadavers? What if the same went for all adults — we only got to practice at simulated versions of our jobs? Lawyers only got to argue mock cases, for years and years. Plumbers only got to fix fake leaks in classrooms. Teachers only got to teach to videocameras, endlessly rehearsing for some far off future. Book writers like me never saw our work put out to the public — our novels sat in drawers. Scientists never got to do original experiments; they only got to recreate scientific experiments of yesteryear. And so on. Rather quickly, all meaning would vanish from our work. Even if we enjoyed the activity of our job, intrinsically, it would rapidly lose depth and relevance. It’d lose purpose. We’d become bored, lethargic, and disengaged. In other words, we’d turn into teenagers.”
— NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children – See more at: http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog#sthash.ptYWEwqb.dpuf

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School