Tag Archive for 'SuperForester Patricia'

Mathew’s Journal: Ireland

Today I have internet! YAY!!  I arrived safe and excited!  What a wonderful trip this has been, and how excited that I can share it all with you!

Yesterday was a loooonnngggg day.  We took a red eye over, and that was killer.  But we caught some sleep on a bus then boat ride to our now home at Aran Islands on the far west of Ireland territory.  It is beautiful.  I made some videos for you, and I am going to keep them coming.  This will be a video posting to the max (something I am going to try to do more of).  You too can live my experience…well at the very least see it!




And I forgot to mention in the video that the island we are staying on is so far away from the mainland we cannot see Ireland any more!  It is off in to the horizon, which reminds me of a great picture I took for you!

That is the horizon.  The clouds and sky bend around with the dropping water and earth to form our globe.  It is stunning.  Just think of the world and sky that makes this globe we live on.  Have you ever really thought about that?  That this is a globe?  Have you then looked at the horizon as far as you can see, without interference (uni-tasking), thinking about how it really just bends.  Go that way and we can travel the world in a loop, but we aren’t staying flat.  There is a lesson in there I think.  Nothing is what we perceive.  There is so much to this wonderful world that we simply don’t take the time or effort to discover.  What if we slowed down and discovered something, anything?  What if we decided to take something in our world and play with it?  What wonderful ideas, and art, and happiness could we derive from doing this?  I write this after recently reading & watching SuperForester Patricia’s post on education, so my mind is on a role of limitless possibilities, and even more limitless questions!  Enjoy today, for we only live today, only in the present.  Of course (and I do feel it needs to be said) let your mind reflect on yesterday and then dream of what tomorrow could be.

Well back to my wonderful Ireland trip!  Today we visited Dún Aonghasa, as I say in the video, which one of the oldest historical forts in the world!  And it is something else.  So here is the next segment in my video posting!




In an effort to keep this post more focused and uni-tasked here is a link about Dún Aonghasa if you want to learn more about this wonderful and historic place.  This is such an exciting time, I cannot wait to share more of it with you!  And before I go I would like to say it was timely that in SuperForester Patricia’s post it was wonderful that Sir Ken Robinson read a William Yeats poem! I will find and share some more Yeats poems, and I thought of instead you searching for them I will provide them for you!  So, here is Yeats’s poetry featured on SuperForest!

SuperForester Jordan’s “Found Poetry: Sailing…”

SuperForester Mathew’s William Yeats – ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree'”

Enjoy, enjoy!  Until the next time wonderland SuperForest!

I love you all,


The Royal Society: 350 Years of Fearless Doubt

Sir Isaac Newton

This year the UK’s Royal Society, one of the world’s oldest scientific academies, celebrates its 350th anniversary.  As they summarise:

On November 30th 1660 a dozen men gathered to hear the young Christopher Wren give a lecture on astronomy. In the discussion that followed they decided to form a society for the study of the new and still controversial Experimental Philosophy. Two years later Charles II made it his Royal Society and in the 350 years since it was founded, its Fellows have given us gravity, evolution, the electron, the double helix, the internet and a large part of the modern world. In 2010 we celebrate 350 years of scientific brilliance and fearless doubt.

I quote partially for those last two words, which I find quite inspiring: “fearless doubt” – the ability to move us forward by continuing to question in the face of censure, ridicule or worse. Time was (and still is in many places) that expressing doubt toward the majority view could get you into real trouble (ask Galileo or Spinoza among many others).

Benjamin Franklin

But its not just that which gets me – it sometimes feels like having doubt is in itself something to fear and that certainty is a good per se.  It feels strong to be certain. We get these entrenched viewpoints and it can be scary to let them go or even question them to yourself let alone others. I find myself susceptible to a fear of doubt itself

But doubt, as a genuine examination and questioning of your position or beliefs, actions or motivations, doesn’t weaken them and doesn’t weaken you. Doubt can, I think, be a continually refining process toward truth (either empirical or internal) – in that sense, it’s just another word for having an open mind, no?  To quote Carl Sagan:

In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

(I can’t help it! SuperForester Aaron’s incredible post got me all Sagan-excited again. Also, watch Cosmos! For it is good! And the graphics are surprisingly awesome for 30 years ago!)

In honour of the 350th anniversary the Royal Mail has launched a special series of stamps, commemorating 10 of the greatest Royal Society Fellows and their contributions to modern science:

Dorothy Hodgkin

Scientists featured include Sir Isaac Newton (he of gravity and the laws of motion among much more), Benjamin Franklin (US founding father, polymath and inventor of the great glass harmonica), Dorothy Hodgkin (X-ray crystallographer whose work led to the discovery of the structure of DNA) and Joseph Lister (pioneer of antiseptic surgery).  You can see a gallery with explanations on NewScientist.com here and a narrated slideshow on BBC news here.

And the London Underground is  featuring a selection of poems focusing on scientific thought in tube trains and stations – I’m always quite a fan of TfL’s efforts to include poetry in the tunnels, as contemplating something a little more interesting than an ad for a beach holiday or new mobile phone can make a soothing alternative to gazing at the armpit or into the ear of your fellow subterranean travellers.it-looks-so-simplein-the-microscope
So, onwards in fearless doubt,



A Sonic BOOOM For Your Eyes!

Evening SuperForest,

Science is coooool. To wit:

(from 1:45 onward)

This vid, of the Solar Dynamics Observatory launch of the Atlas V on 11 February 2010, captures the shock wave (or sonic boom) made when the rocket hit the speed of sound, made visible by the ice crystals it was passing through:

A sun dog is a prismatic bright spot in the sky caused by sun shining through ice crystals. The Atlas V rocket exceeded the speed of sound in this layer of ice crystals, making the shock wave visible from the ground. The announcer can be heard in the video saying, “The vehicle is now supersonic.”

Atlas V is on a 5 year mission to study the sun and is due to “beam back IMAX-quality images of solar explosions and peer beneath the stellar surface to see the sun’s magnetic dynamo in action” with the first light images due mid-March. Can’t wait!



Some More Ideas on Not Wasting Food!

Greetings from the sunny UAE, SuperForest!


Following SuperForester April’s fabulous post on avoiding neglecting your fresh produce by keeping a tally of what you’ve got on the front of your fridge (such a beautifully simple idea Miss A!) I was doing a little online digging for some more bright ideas, and came across this tasty article by Lisa Schmeiser from sfgate.com which collates some simple and handy tips for getting the most from your fridge. A couple of my favourites:

TIP #1: Play Tetris with your freezer. This is where years of video gaming pay off, because you can use every inch of your freezer to store leftovers you’re sick of. Keep around some freezer-safe bags in different sizes (the quart and gallon ones are MVPs), some freezer paper and a Sharpie so you can properly store and label your foods.

Mark Bittman recommends the following guidelines for what can be frozen without coming out the worse for wear: fresh noodles; flour; grains and nuts; whole coffee beans; soup stock; stock-making material (chicken parts, vegetable peels); bread dough and bread crumbs; biscuit and cookie dough; tomatoes and tomato sauce; fruits; vegetables; egg whites; wine; citrus juice.

And label, label, label. There’s no point in saving anything if you don’t know what it is. For you crafty types, check out these downloadable freezer labels that let you circle the date the food went into the clink.

TIP #4: Emulate the grocery store: Oldest items in the front, newest in the back. This is simple rearranging — but it keeps you from having three half-finished boxes of water crackers going at a time, or using up one jar of marinara right as the other one expires.

TIP #9: Shop like you live, not like you think you should live. Yes, we should all buy in bulk because it’s cheaper on a per-ounce basis … but what’s the point if you can’t eat your way through 32 ounces of yogurt and it goes funky? Yes, we should eat the high-fiber, low-sugar cereal, but if that’s what’s going stale while the instant oatmeal gets hoovered up … just admit you’re not going to be eating Morning Twig Mix for a while.

Ms Schmeiser also mentions something I’ve not even considered before: how our ubiquitous iphone apps (well, not for me, since I’m still essentially analogue;) can assist in making our choices greener!  Whilst you want to use food that’s still good, even if it’s lost the first blush of youth, we have to be safe. And I don’t know about you, but I’m just not so brave as my Dad with the old “have a sniff, have a taste” strategy when it comes to dairy or protein.  So you could tape a food shelf life chart to your fridge (What’s Cooking America has a user friendly one here) or download one of the new iphone apps (like this one from Still Tasty) so you’ve got the info at your fingertips!


Have you ever used apps like this? Do they help? Any other tips you’d share?



Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein’s Balance

Described by the LA Times as turning “a black comedy into a meditation on human interdependence”, this is the great short film “Balance” created by German twin brothers Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein:

Winning the 1989 Acadamy Award for Best Animated Short, the film shows five overcoated individuals living on a small platform floating in space. Whenever one of them moves, the others must do so as well to ensure that the platform does not tip over. The group works cooperatively to maintain a “balance” until one individual pulls a box onto the platform. Since all are curious as to what the box is, the individuals try to inspect the box and their actions disrupt the balance of the platform, and those on it.

I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice to say, it doesn’t turn out well for any of them.

So far, so… kind of un-SuperForesty, right? Ah, but that’s only if we look at it as a message of isolation, separation and failure rather than as a signpost to the opposite of those things! Having been introduced to it by SuperForester Sandor some months ago, it’s stuck with me. I really feel for our overcoated friends. When I think about it – all those poor guys needed to do would’ve been to all come into the centre, with the box of pretty music (but dubious intentions) and a campfire hootenany could’ve been had by all. Yep, working together for the common good, that’s what I like.




Happy Feet

Hello SuperForest!

I’m sure you’re all familiar with TOMS shoes: With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.  sftee-008

AND they’re also cute, insanely comfortable and, if you wear them to work with slacks and a blazer with rolled up sleeves, give your professional attire a nice air of Miami Vice :)

Having purchased a lovely navy pair to supplement my trusty birkenstocks as summer shoes (okay, in advance of a trip I’m making next week to sunnier climes – it is February in London after all) the happiness quotient of my feets has increased exponentially. Fact!sftee-006_edited



Popcorn Clouds

By flickr user April Cakes – so very pretty:



Patricia’s Journal (11/02/10) – Papercut YES Edition

Good Evening SuperForest!

Having mentioned the wonderful Rob Ryan earlier this week, I figured I’d give paper-cutting a go – see how it works, have some fun and if nothing else gain an appreciation for the peeps who originally turned me onto it. I’ve made some papercut Christmas decorations before, in the Danish tradition, but thought I’d try out some non festive snipping …

I think I made you a Valentine, SuperForest:


and it casts a nifty shadow too


so it’s no Rob Ryan, and I have even more awe for the level of detail Mr Ryan puts into his work (and the insane amount of time it must take!), but it was weirdly satisfying to do (something to do with pushing out the scrap paper bits).  And if you fancy doing some yourself here’s a short how-to (based partly on my own errors:)

You’ll need:


sharp craft knife (careful careful! SAFETY FIRST), pencil for drawing and, and this is important, definitely a craft mat or similar to stop you cutting up the tabletop! oh yeah, and paper.

Then draw a frame the size you want, and draw your picture of choice inside it:

dscn1654an important thing to remember here is that the design has to touch the sides of the frame in at least a couple of places – otherwise when you cut it it’ll just fall out.

Then cut carefully around the parts of the design you want to stay as paper. Key here is to remember not to cut through where the lines of your picture cross:

dscn1655And then, the reveal!


I think they can make nice cards, christmas decorations or just for hanging in the window against the light.

And if any of you fine SuperForesters would like the ‘yes’ valentine, please let me know – You like it! its yours! and I mail it, with Love :)


Rob Ryan’s Papercut Pick Me Ups


I love Rob Ryan‘s delicate papercuts and prints – for his understated way with words as much as for the intricate, often handcut designs.



Lovely, no?  And I’m excited to learn that Mr Ryan is taking part in “Pick Me Up” – a contemporary graphic art fair to be held at Somerset House in London from 23 April – 3 May 2010. For just a fiver you can head over and see (or buy) a host of exciting graphic art, and there’ll be events and activities including an open studio from legendary paper artist Rob Ryan, a pop-up print workshop from Print Club London, a programme of film screenings curated by SuperForest favourite It’s Nice That and lots more…  I think it sounds a heap of fun fun! Can’t wait!



Videotape – Disneyland in 7D by Brandon Moza

Although I’ll admit to being a little disappointed when I realised that “7D” referred to the camera, rather than Disneyland in 7 dimensions (more than twice as many “D” as Avatar!;) I just liked this vid: a day in Disneyland, to Radiohead’s “Videotape”, by Brandon Moza:



Weekly ReNEWSables – Incentives to Adopt Solar Energy, Investment in Wave and Tide Tech

Good Day SuperForest!

I hope you are all having awesome weekends! At some point I’ll probably resist the compulsion to attempt to pun on the inclusion of the word “news” in “renewables” but until then I can offer you only a sheepish apology.  I like to follow developments in the renewable energy sector and wanted to offer a small selection of bitesize treats for you – a balanced meal of things we can do in the first person in our own homes with our own resources and a side order of larger scale industry-wide investments:


California to Subsidize Your Solar Water Heaters:

California regulators have approved a $350 million program to subsidize the installation of solar water heaters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The program will allocate $250 million for the replacement of hot water heaters fueled by natural gas and $100.8 million for those powered by electricity with solar water heaters (a nifty storage tank and solar array using the sunny sun to warm the water) and “customers of California’s three big investor-owned utilities will receive rebates of up to $1,500, or about 30 percent of the cost of replacing a residential natural-gas hot water heater with a solar system”.

UK Government Announces “Feed in Tariffs” for Your Investment in Home Renewable Energy:

The UK government has announced its plan to provide financial incentives (“Feed in Tariffs”) for small scale adoption of solar power!  The Guardian breaks it down here but, in short, “the government has finally agreed to reward households and businesses installing electricity-generating measures with enough of a return to make it a serious financial, as well as an environmental, investment. If you’ve got the money (which is a big “if”) and, crucially, a sunny, south-facing roof, you can earn a 7%-10% tax-free return, an income that will rise in line with inflation. At the same time, you get to do more than your fair share in reducing the UK’s carbon­ emissions.” The government has also said that it will be giving feed-in tariffs to households installing solar water heaters (like in California!), from April 2011.

Inevitably there’s argument as to whether the plans are too timid, but if want to suggest it to your parents, your landlord, or if you’re a homeowner yourself then now is a great time.


(pretty pics from the Carbon Trust)

UK Carbon Trust Announces £22m Funding to Develop Marine Energy Technologies:

The UK Carbon Trust (a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy by providing specialist support to help business and the public sector cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies) announced this week plans for its Marine Proving Fund to provide £22 million (US$35m) funding (money from the Department of Energy and Climate Change) for what it considers to be the six most promising marine (ie wave and tidal) energy technologies under development in the UK.  They’ve selected 6 companies to receive the grants to help move from prototypes to commercial projects. This is exciting as research by the Carbon Trust shows that 25% of the world’s wave and tidal technologies are being developed in the UK, but that financial constraints have frequently inhibited progress because they’re not yet considered commercially viable – but if we only ever invested in the technologies that are already successful businesses we’d never move forward.

nom nom nom


Gjon Mili & Picasso – Drawing With Light


Light graffiti isn’t new to SuperForest but I didn’t know that way back in 1949, LIFE photographer Gjon Mili, known for his work capturing movement and using multiple exposures, visited Picasso. Mili showed Picasso some of his photographs of light patterns formed by a skater’s leaps, obtained by fixing tiny lights on the points of the skates and, inspired, the two created these photographs of Picasso ‘drawing’ with a small flashlight in a dark room…


I love the movement and the idea that these were ‘Picasso originals’ that existed in space only for a moment but were captured on film by Mili.  You can see a heap more in the LIFE gallery here.



Renewables Newsables

Goooood Evening SuperForest

For your reading pleasure, here’s a roundup of some of the freshest treats in renewable energy news this week! 


 US Installs Record Wind Power Capacity in 2009!

Last year the USA broke all previous records by installing nearly 10,000 Megawatt (MW) of new wind powered generating capacity in 2009  according to the latest American Wind Energy Association report – this is enough to serve over 2.4 million homes and place wind power on a plane with natural gas as the leading source of new electricity generation for the country!  You can see a map of US wind energy projects here

Muaitheabhal Wind Farm Is Approved by Scottish Government

The first large scale wind farm planned for the Western Isles has been given the go ahead by Scottish Energy Minister Jim Mather.  The 33 turbine, 118 MW wind farm at Muaitheabhal on Lewis, will provide green electricity for 55,000 homes, is committed to using locally sourced material, labour, transport and plant hire wherever possible and the Minister has imposed conditions to protect the natural environment and cultural heritage. Mr Mather said:

“Since the first proposals for a wind farm on Lewis were put forward, I have maintained that the Western Isles must be able to play its part in harnessing and benefitting from our vast green energy potential. Today, we are making that reality.”

New Mexico, New Solar Power Deal

PNM, New Mexico’s largest electric utility company, has signed a contract with First Solar to build 22 MW AC of utility scale photovoltaic solar power plants in New Mexico. If the plan is approved by state regulators, the new solar capacity could, according to PNM, produce enough power to supply 7,000 average sized New Mexico homes.  First Solar expects construction at all five sites to be completed by late 2011.


Ontario Signs Up for World’s Largest Wind, Solar Clusters

Meanwhile, in Canada, the Government of Ontario signed a green energy investment agreement with a consortium of Samsung C&T and the Korea Electric Power Corporation, investing $7 billion in manufacturing and developments which will triple Ontario’s renewable wind and solar energy generation over the next 20 years.

Aaaaand, Bulgarian Wind Farm Secures Financing 

And in Bulgaria, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced its support for the €60m financing of a wind farm project 25km inland from the Black Sea. The project will have a capacity of 60MW and is anticipated to come online in the second quarter of 2010.  Currently, less than 10% of Bulgaria’s electricity comes from renewable sources, but the country has a target of 20 per cent electricity sourced from renewables by 2020.

Exciting stuff! because when the guys with the suits and the contracts and the wallets commit (and they’re not so much the quickest on the uptake) that’s when the ground is broken and the skies are opened and these things can actually happen.