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Singing London Sewermen: Don't put fat down the drain

I picked this up from BoingBoing, then got the below info from Wateraid in the UK. It's the same for homeowners in the country with a septic tank: don't put fat down the drain. (Also, don't use garbage disposals -- they put undigested, therefore harder for microorganisms to digest, material into the sewer or septic system.)

Singing Sewermen release Good King Wenceslas 'remix'
Credit: Thames Water/21 December 2010

A bunch of hardy London sewermen have posted on YouTube a reworded version of the carol Good King Wenceslas - in a bid to stop people washing drain-blocking turkey fat down their sinks this Christmas.
  Christmas is always the worst time of year for sewer abuse, which is when people put anything other than human waste or loo roll down drains. And turkey fat is the biggest no-no of all.
  In December around 25 per cent more fat goes down drains, forming hideous ‘fatberg’ blockages when it cools down and sets hard in sewers. An estimated 500 tonnes of lard - the equivalent mass of one million Christmas puddings - is expected to end up in Thames Water sewers this month.
  The problem is so bad that Thames Water’s sewermen, or ‘flushers’, who work in the sewers clearing fatbergs, have sung a seasonal plea to their 14m customers to: “Bin it - don’t block it.”

My new bike

My old mountain bike was a K2 that had been used by a pro racer. It was a great bike 12 years ago. I had a hunch that bike technology had made big strides in the last decade or so, and went in to see Bryce at Tam Bikes in Mill Valley. By that time I'd given up the idea of a road bike (I live on the edge of wilderness, so why spend any more time than necessary on pavement?)
But I was still fascinated by carbon fiber frames. Bryce, owner of the store and also one of Mt. Tam's top riders, told me he'd gone from carbon fiber back to aluminum and had me try out his bike. Wow! What a change. Apparently motorcycle tech has infiltrated bike tech, so there are disc brakes and air shocks. I ended up getting a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR, with front Revolution Rock Shox and rear Specialized Fox shocks -- all adjustable for degree of shock absorption desired. It's got 30 gears. It's about $2400 retail, kind of mid-range between lesser bikes and the $5000-$8000 range available to Marin County bike nuts. Big investment for me but way worth it.
It rides like a dream. I get excited just thinking about getting on it. Looks like I'll be riding a lot more from now on. Way easier on the knees than running. Yesterday afternoon I rode about 5 miles north along the coast. The ocean was silver and glassy, day before the storm. On my way back, the biggest bobcat I've ever seen bounded across the road and disappeared in the coyote bushes.

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.



When I see a red sky at either dawn (as above, last Tuesday) or dusk, I always think of this saying, which I originally heard from Lionel, the fisherman. So I looked it up on Google and found the below on the Library of Congress website:

Question: Is the old adage “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning” true, or is it just an old wives’ tale?
Answer: Within limits, there is truth in this saying.…
Shakespeare…said something similar in his play, Venus and Adonis. “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field, Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.”
In the Bible, (Matthew XVI: 2-3,) Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”
Weather lore has been around since people needed to predict the weather and plan their activities. Sailors and farmers relied on it to navigate ships and plant crops.
But can weather lore truly predict the weather or seasons?

African Huts Far From the Grid Glow With Renewable Power

NYTimes article December 24, 2010 By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL Photo: Ed Ou
"As small-scale renewable energy becomes cheaper, more reliable and more efficient, it is providing the first drops of modern power to people who live far from slow-growing electricity grids and fuel pipelines in developing countries. Although dwarfed by the big renewable energy projects that many industrialized countries are embracing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, these tiny systems are playing an epic, transformative role.…"
"With the advent of cheap solar panels and high-efficiency LED lights, which can light a room with just 4 watts of power instead of 60, these small solar systems now deliver useful electricity at a price that even the poor can afford, he noted. “You’re seeing herders in Inner Mongolia with solar cells on top of their yurts,” Mr. Younger said.…"
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/25/science/earth/25fossil.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

Concrete pour in the hood 2 hours ago



I heard the rumrumrum of a concrete truck around 10 this morning while standing at the MacPro. I have to admit to being a fan of concrete pours. Since my first building experience at age 12 helping my dad build a concrete block house, to working on two house-building projects in the '60s, each with lots of concrete work -- I've been fascinated by the process. Things have to be ready. The crew has to be competent and experienced. Once concrete is poured, it's -- THERE. No compromises. All this is exciting. You gotta be on!
So around the corner I went to my neighbor Steve's. Steve, a local mason, is in the process of moving a 40' by 16' house from a couple of miles away onto his property. A few weeks ago, it came down the road (after some tree trimming) in a rainstorm and was deposited on Steve's lot.
This is a win-winner. The house didn't have to be demolished (which it would have been), plus Steve gets a 640 sq. ft. stud-framed shell that he can fix up.
Today was pour day. Steve had an all-star crew of local builders helping out. A photo op!
Pumping concrete is so easy with a pump, compared to hauling chutes all around and pulling it along with shovels in the trenches, or worse yet, having to use wheelbarrows. The concrete was coming out of a 4" rubber hose and the guys were having a good time, fueled by coffee and sugar donuts. Sun out after days of rain. A good day.

Beachcomber's house

On Highway One north of Pt. Arena last week…

Lovely manzanita tree in Sonoma County

Traditional uses of the plant include collecting the berries, drying them, and grinding them up into a coarse meal. Fresh berries and branch tips were also soaked in water to make a refreshing cider. When the bark curls off, it can be used as a tea for nausea and upset stomach. The younger leaves are sometimes plucked and chewed by hikers to deter thirst. Native Americans used Manzanita leaves as toothbrushes. (Wikipedia)

Winter Solstice, Vivaldi, and red sky in morning…

This morning I left home at 7, headed along the coast on a trip to Berkeley. Louie had given me a bunch of tapes, and the first one I grabbed was a Vivaldi concert -- one I'm pretty familiar with.
I adore Vivaldi. What he does resonates with my soul. As I was driving up a winding stretch of the coastal highway, a soaring section gave me a jolt. I felt an electrical charge come up the back of my neck. In another movement, which starts with an organ, then joined by a violin, I got tears in my eyes -- not spilling, but there.
It's the Winter Solstice, bless our planet and the life forms upon it. The sky was orange this morning. When I got out to Hwy 101, our Indian Princess Tamalpa in repose, Mt. Tamalpais, was shrouded in mist.

Nice newly-built barn in Sonoma County

Here they used an old tried-and-true design, with recycled corrugated steel roofing, and it's a great effect. (Another place this kind of rusty roofing has been used effectively is The House of Blues, on Sunset Blvd, in L.A.). This barn fits in nicely. Farmer architecture. (If a real architect designed this building, hats off to him for something so straight-forward and non-egomaniacal.)

Nice stone masonry

At the Heitz Wine Cellars in the Napa Valley. The adjacent winery building has the same fine stone work.

Good architecture in Napa Valley

The Napa Valley has got a few nice buildings, but there's an overlaying layer of nouveau riche tastelessness in all the buildings (wineries and homes) that you can see. This building however, is always a pleasure to come upon. Why can't there be more architecture like this?

Sun Ray Kelley in the rain

Shot last Tuesday morning (in Lake County, Calif.). It was raining off and on, and SunRay and I were setting off to see his new 12-sided "man cave." He had on this great homnemade felted wool hat.