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Enjoy the Wonder of the Eclipse but Protect Your Eyes

On August 21 2017 a solar eclipse will cross most of the USA.

First, don’t stare at the sun with those bargain “Eclipse Shades” you bought on a whim. You could go blind and not know it until the next morning.

Second, you don’t need to look at the sun to experience the visceral wonder of how much our sun effects us and our world.

But let’s dig into my first point, and understand why Eclipse Shades are a poor risk. Simply put, they are not dark enough.

What causes sun blindness? The same thing that causes skiers “snow blindness”, only more so. The intensity of the Ultraviolet light will damage your retina, just like it burns your skin. But unlike visible light that makes you squint, UV light is invisible, so your squint reflex fails to protect you until it is too late.

What about those “Eclipse Shades” with all the official looking specifications and labels?

Unfortunately, those labels protect the sellers from “Tort” suites, not your eyes. It is noteworthy that Amazon has issued a recall for the ones they sold.

But isn’t it possible to use really dark filters, like the astronomers use, and look directly at the eclipse?

Yes. In fact the lens plate of the darkest arc welding face shield might work. But those are so dark that the only thing you can see is a welding arc, or the sun. The rule of thumb for those masks is, if you can see you surroundings, it ain’t dark enough.

“But this is a once in a lifetime event, and we don’t want to miss it!”

There will be plenty of live video of the moon eclipsing the sun available on your smart phone, via the Internet. Net Neutrality has not been compromised… yet…

Still, the greatest wonder of an eclipse will be all around you. The wonder will be how it effects you and the world around you.

If it is a clear day, your mind will tell you that it is cloudy, or dusk. The temperature will drop. The wind may rise. Birds will go quite. Night animals may come out. Your rational and emotional mind may be caught up in the conflict with your senses, and it can be euphoric.

It is a great moment to recognize our world is, and always has been, powered by our sun.

Our climates, and thus our agricultures, depend on it. Always have and always will.

But even the man made fuel industries are dependent on it. The fossil fuel industry taps into solar energy that has been stored and locked away for millennia. It took geological time periods to build up the energy stores that modern life is dependent on. But it all originated with our sun.

In the wonderful experience of this eclipse, take a moment to get a visceral experience of the energy our sun baths this world in daily.

Take a moment to understand how much solar energy we are bathed in. And that we are now capable of directly capturing, storing, and using that energy to expand our better life.

Solar energy is this world’s greatest “Public Commons”. Take a moment as an American to “feel” what that means.

Protect your eyes, and those of your loved ones. Enjoy the wonder of this eclipse.

Be the Change You Want to See: Taking it to an Extreme

Rather than telling the likes of Koch they should change, replace them.
I see Space X one example of what it takes to embody and implement change.

In the case of Space X, they are working hard to go beyond, (and thus replace,) United Launch Alliance (ULA). ULA is a conglomerate of companies leftover from the heydays of our space program. They are not simply stuck in the past, but actively seeking to stay there.

In the case of automobiles , Tesla is working to replace all of the gasoline fueled cars. They may or may not get big enough to replace the big auto makers, but they have built the path to change.

Then there is Solar City. They are working to replacing centralized electric utilities with distributed solar collection and storage. Home owners and business become providers and users.

Finally there is the case of Renaissance Coop. A community in Greensboro NC was being neglected by corporate grocery chains. They were reliant on small low quality and over prices groceries. Thus they raised venture funds through crowd sourcing and are creating their own supermarket.

There is more work to be done… by all who dare.

“People wait’n on a change,,, ain’t got sense enough to com’n out’ta the rain.” — Parliament

Hidden Properties Become Obvious in Zero-G

What effect does orbital freefall have on a simple wet wash cloth?

Intuitively I know freefall (zero-g) bring out hidden properties in everyday material. But seeing the effect really highlights properties that we take for granted.

A simple wet wash cloth now behaves like more like dough filled with jello.

Watch the NASA video and ask yourself, “Can this be exploited to make something unique?” Think about it. Be creative.
Unique Properties of Water in Space

Citizen takes action to slow the conspiracy nuts.

Things are getting better.

Experience has taught us that in the wake catastrophic events, there will always be those who attempt to get a moment in the spotlight. The bombings of the 2013 Boston Marathon were no exception. So conspiracy theory websites are just expected, right?

Well the action of one enterprising citizen may have saved us all a lot of grief.

Exert from CNN: 5 viral stories about Boston attacks that aren’t true.
By Doug Gross, CNN
updated 3:01 PM EDT, Tue April 16, 2013

At least one Web user was ready for this. He registered a website — — on Monday. Clicking the link reveals a white page with black text reading:

“I bought this domain to keep some conspiracy theory kook from owning it. Please keep the victims of this event and their families in your thoughts. Thank you.”

    Thank you to Stephen Barrett for the posting this link on his wall.

Small Communities Benefit from Wind Power

So often we think of renewable energy as a metropolitan issue. If you live in a city, you understand urban areas are the largest consumers of power in all forms, and electricity specifically.

What we don’t see are examples of how sustainable power harvesting effects the small farming communities of eastern Washington.

Lower Snake River Wind Project

Continue reading Small Communities Benefit from Wind Power