Friday Linkage 5/27/2016

Memorial Day weekend is upon us.  This means that the project list for the house is real and actionable.  Uh oh!

On to the links…

Clean-Energy Jobs Surpass Oil Drilling for First Time in U.S.—This is how you build permanent political power:

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5% Growth in Renewable Jobs During 2015—The growth in these types of jobs is real and it is going to change the landscape for a long time to come:

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Wind Power To Supply 10% Of US Electricity By 2020—If you travel back in time to, oh say, the Bush years no one would have said that we would see this much wind power in the United States.

Oil Battles Wind on the Great Plains—What does Big Oil doe when something encroaches on its turf?  Turn on the tap of political money and push the elected officials to tilt the playing field toward oil.

Energy Storage Could Break Low Income Rooftop Solar Bottleneck—Interesting ideas.

SAE now has a Wireless Charging Standard: J2954—This comes from the department of boring but really kind of important.  Standards are what enable widespread adoption and, apparently, there is a line of thought that having to plug a vehicle in is a major impediment to EV adoption.

In Praise of the Dumb Fridge—I remember when LG put a television screen in the door of a refrigerator.  Why not?  I also remember the simple refrigerators of my youth that seemed to last forever.  Now complicated refrigerators break or malfunction at what seems like an alarming rate.

Planet Aid’s Yellow Clothing Donation Bins Are Part of a Global Cultlike Scam—We do not have the yellow bins in Cedar Rapids, but I have wondered about the green bins that seem to populate many parking lots.

McDonald’s Fish: Row Over Sustainability ‘Cover-Up’—You cannot trust major fast food chains to actually have sustainable supply chains.  The demands are too great for profit and expediency at the cost of all else.

Corporate Beer Overlords Will Soon Own 1 out of 3 Beers Made on Earth—I feel bad for Africans who will be forced to drink insipid macro swill instead of well crafted beer.

Watch the Rapid Evolution of the American Diet over 40 years—This animated gif is just amazing:

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Some Changes Afoot

You might have notices some changes lately, but judging by the attendance…sorry, a little Major League reference this baseball season never hurts.

Anyway, I have started making some “lifestyle” changes.  A while back I stopped brewing beer and cut back on my consumption of beer for a number of health reasons.  If you start thinking that you are going to get gout you will do just about anything to avoid that damnable condition.  I still sought out different beers and spent the time to shed some light on products on this blog.

Well, this summer that is all going to change.  I am going to dive head first and make beer the one product that I solely purchase from local purveyors.  Furthermore, I am only going to purchase beer for home consumption in reusable containers from local vendors.

In the past three or so years this has become possible because a number of local establishments have opened that brew excellent beer.  Within Linn County I can get beers from Lion Bridge Brewing Company, Another Road Brewing, Turner Alley Brewing Company, Iowa Brewing Company, Quarter Barrel, and chain brewery Granite City.

While there are great beers that come from all over the country I feel that my money is best spent by supporting local brewers.  Also, I am trying to commit to reducing my carbon footprint through a reduction in packaging.  Even though cans are a more environmentally friendly way to ship beer from brewery to consumer when compared with glass there is still an environmental cost to that packaging.  So, no crowlers for me even though I love the idea of a crowler.  It’s disposable and that makes it a no go this summer.

Will I still seek out new breweries and beers when I travel?  Hell yes.  I have a list of breweries in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Colorado that I want to try in the next few months during trips.

Stuff I Like: Pacha Soap Dirty Hippie

I have a friend.  She has a particular sensitivity to a particular odor.  For some reason, perhaps childhood trauma, she cannot stand to be in the presence of patchouli.  Maybe a Volvo 240D wagon almost ran her over in middle school or something.  I do not know.  If she smells anything that contains even a trace of patchouli she will scowl and cry, “Hippie stench!”

Unfortunately for my friend, my new “go to” bar soap is Pacha Soap’s Dirty Hippie:

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Some people can just use any old bar soap, but not me.  I am a soap snob.  A bar of Ivory just does not cut it.  I love wandering the soap bins at Lush and smelling soaps that almost want to be eaten the aromas are so powerful.  I love the smell of a particularly fragrant soap when it fills the shower after a workout.  It’s my thing.

Pacha Soap’s Dirty Hippie bar soap has the right amount of funky earth aroma—yes, to some people it would be considered hippie stench—and some exfoliation without feeling like 60 grit sandpaper running over your skin.

Maybe it is time that we embraced the term dirty hippie.  Is there anything wrong with playing or working in the dirt?  In this age of local, organic farming and kids suffering from nature deficit disorder the world could probably use a few more dirty hippies running around.

Pacha Soap runs a business model similar to Tom’s Shoes where buying a bar of soap is matched by the donation of a bar of soap to a community in need.  Soap may not seem like a big deal, but simple hygiene can make a huge difference in terms of public health.  The program is entitled “Raise the Bar” and beyond giving soap away it is creating jobs in African countries by involving local communities in the production of soap.  That whole give a man a fish, feed him for a day but teach a man to fish…you get the idea.  Like the slogan on the shirt says, “Dirty Hippie, Clean Purpose.”

About the only downside to Pacha Soap that comes to mind is that they use palm oil in the soap.  Sure, it’s Rainforest Alliance certified and organic but palm oil is a major driver of deforestation across the globe.  Over time I am hoping that the company goes palm oil free like some other soap brands have done recently.

NOTE: Pacha Soap paid me nothing nor did the company provide me with any soap.  I bought this product retail at New Pioneer Coop in Cedar Rapids.

Friday Linkage 5/20/2016

It finally feels like summer arrived in eastern Iowa, even if it is only spring.  The weather gods finally gave us sun and mild temperatures.  It just means the grass grows at a clip that is somewhat short of sci-fi horror plant, but I digress.

On to the links…

Portugal Runs for Four Days Straight on Renewable Energy Alone—Portugal is not a huge country, but is in the developed world and running for 107 hours on renewable energy is pretty amazing.

Protests Against Drilling on Public Lands are Escalating—Keep it in the ground.  The simplest step that the federal government could take to help combat climate change is to stop fossil fuel extraction from public lands.

Why Hillary Clinton’s Coal Gaffe Shouldn’t be a Big Deal—We need to get past the convenient narrative of coal miners.  While coal related employment in Kentucky is estimated at approximately 70,000 people less than 20,000 of those are actual miners.  These are communities that have been pandered to every election cycle and forgotten in the intervening period.  Enough.

Coal workers get screwed, their bosses get bonuses—There must be no better job in America than to be a CEO or executive level manager.  You can run your country and industry into the ground, yet still you will get a raise.  Never mind the thousands of people you will screw out of jobs and pensions or the damage to the land, you got paid.

One Building Is Saving $1 Million A Year On Energy. What Would Happen If The Whole World Was More Efficient?—The most cost-effective energy strategy is to use less energy.

Young Forests Can Store ‘Enormous’ Amounts of Carbon—Second growth or young forests can be part of the climate solution.  We need to work on remediation or restoring degraded forest lands.  Like right now.

Forget Cars: Cows And Fertilizer Could Be A Big Pollution Problem—Agriculture is a he contributor to climate change, but those practices can be changed for the better.  As someone from Iowa, I know firsthand how big of an impact farms can have on the surrounding quality of life.

Colorado Legalizes Rain Barrels—Bizarre nineteenth century laws regarding water rights have kept laws banning rain barrels on the books for far too long.  Free the rain barrels.

The Real Value of Urban Farming. (Hint: It’s not Always the Food.)—We need to stop focusing all of our arguments about food production on the end product.  It’s a food system, so there are benefits all along the chain of events.  It’s something that people miss about organic and it’s something that people miss about local food.

Here’s What 9,000 Years of Breeding has Done to Corn, Peaches, and Other Crops—This is not your ancient daddy’s maize:

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I’m an Obesity Doctor. I’ve Seen Long-Term Weight Loss Work. Here’s How.—Guess what?  The answer is not the Biggest Loser.

America’s Hoarding a Huge Stash of Uneaten Cheese—Now that I live with someone who is lactose intolerant an d changing the entire household’s diet for the better I am somewhat aghast at the level of cheese consumption in this country.  Does everything need to be slathered with cheese?  Now, cheese makers are hoarding enough cheese to make mutually assured destruction a gooey reality.

German-Made Bearings Blow Away China’s in This Simple Test—People wonder why I insist on buying high-quality bearings from a manufacturer I trust for my bicycle.  Well, check out this test and you will understand why.

Friday Linkage 5/13/2016

We live in a world where this man is running to be President of the United States:

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On to the links…

This is the scariest visualization I have ever seen with regard to climate change:

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Carbon Dioxide Emissions from US Energy Sector Fall 12% Since 2005—The bulk of this is due to natural gas replacing coal, but the trend is at least something to latch onto as a positive thing.  If we can just keep retiring coal plants.

Dynegy’s Retirement of Coal Units Marks 100 GW of US Coal Shuttered Since 2010—This is why coal is dying.  As fewer plants burn coal there is less demand for coal to be mined which increases the cost of capital for coal mines to operate because banks see this as an increasingly risky industry.  As capital costs increase operational flexibility decrease and so on and so forth.

Oil Companies Abandon Arctic Drilling Rights—With these oil rights being abandoned we need to demand that these drilling rights stay unclaimed forever.

Disrupting Solar—Solar is about demand destruction and the fossil fuel industry knows it.  Already, renewables and regulation have started strangulating coal to the point where the largest coal companies in the world are declaring bankruptcy.  Solar is coming for the rest.

Why Used Electric Car Batteries Could Be Crucial To A Clean Energy Future—What happens when EV batteries find a second life as stationary power storage units?  The storage of distributed power just got a whole lot cheaper.

Well to Wheels, Most EVs are 61% Cleaner than Gas in Minnesota—Imagine if the EV were powered by electricity from MidAmerican Energy in Iowa where soon over 80% of the electricity will be generated by wind?

The 4th Largest Economy In The World Just Generated 90 Percent Of The Power It Needs From Renewables—Granted, it was a Sunday and the weather was right.  However, for a period of time Germany was powered almost exclusively by renewables.

This Is What Would Happen If the Rest of the World Ate the Way America Does—The rest of the world cannot eat the way we do because everyone would be fat, have diabetes, and the world would run out of resources.  What if Americans ate the way the rest of the world does?  That is a better question to ask.

Big Meat: At War with Consumers—Big Meat is producing a product that is not good for us in terms of health and it is not good for us in terms of how it is produced.  If you do nothing else, boycotting meat produced by so-called Big Meat would be the single biggest contribution you could make to the health and well-being of this planet.

Genetic Analysis of 250 Burgers Reveals Some Unsavory Surprises—The presence of odd meat is one thing, but black bean burgers that do not actually contain any black beans is really weird.

Japan Now has More Electric Car Charge Points than Petrol Stations—A big deal is made about many of these charge points belonging to private owners, but don’t a lot of us also have the ability to have a charge point in our homes where our cars sit for hours a day unused?

It’s a 2-Acre Farm, Packed into a Shipping Container that Doubles as a Farm Building—Why isn’t USAID buying these up by the cargo ship load and distributing them to countries in need of rural development?

This is an Incredible Visualization of the World’s Shipping Routes—Want to know how globalized the world has become with regard to trade?  Check out this map of shipping routes:

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The Phononic Solid State Heating and Cooling Revolution is Almost Here—Our homes are generally heated and cooled in a way that would be familiar to Romans.  Don’t believe me?  There is a great little exhibit showing the remains of a Roman settlement in Paris that explains how they routed warm air through channels beneath buildings for heat.  Why haven’t we figured a way past this method?

Missing the Point…by a Country Mile

A vast amount of ink has been spilled by the bicycle press recently in regard to the proliferation of single ring road bicycles aimed at the endurance or adventure category of riders.  Traditional road cyclists scoff at the notion of 10 or 11 sprocket cassettes with 36 to 42 tooth large cogs and relatively wide spaced steps between cogs.

In response to the rise of single ring drivetrains, road-centric cyclists and commentators spend hours extolling the virtues of traditional multi-ring cranksets and close ratio cogsets.  Trust me, if you mention this topic to a cyclist bedecked in Rapha gear you will get to hear him—it’s always a dude by the way—berate you for even thinking about having steps in your rear cog be greater than whatever percentage was deigned by Merckx or Anquetil decades ago.  Although I have to believe that any of those legends would have scoffed at such technical debate, preferring to just ride hard.

The people I know who have gone “over to the dark side” with single ring rigs setup for endurance road or gravel grinding or fireroad flying or whatever you want to call it come from many walks of life with regard to cycling.  Some, like me, came from the mountain bike world and now find a plethora of opportunities to ride on gravel in our new homes where trail networks are somewhat sparse.  We are refugees from a cycling niche where bicycles are of ever increasing complexity and expense.  Where once mountain bikes were cobbled together from various disciplines these machines now resemble human powered motocross bikes.  Red Bull Rampage may be an attraction for some, but for many of us we felt “extremed out” of the mountain bike scene years ago.

Others have come from the road world where group rides have become microcosms of high schools with cliques and socially acceptable behavioral patterns only known to a select few tastemakers who are able to pass judgment on all others.  These riders no longer want to worry about having perfectly matched kit that also happens to be color coordinated with the bar tape and saddle on their bikes.  These are riders who no longer want to talk about the latest Strava achievement.

The single ring phenomenon, to me at least, is about simplifying the ride.  It’s about crafting a bike that is perfectly suited to my needs.  It’s about creating something that is unique and that someone walking into a bike shop with a high credit limit cannot duplicate.

It’s about not worrying about pace and accepting that you might only be going fifteen miles an hour, but you don’t care because the smile on your face is ear to ear.  It’s about the silence of your drivetrain and not worrying about trimming your front derailleur to cut out any chain rub.  It’s about the satisfying crunch of limestone gravel beneath fat adventure rubber.

It’s about getting back to what bicycles were when you were a kid and two wheels seemed to open up the whole world in a way that was incomparable before.

Toppling Goliath Brewing Company PseudoSue

There was a time—okay, last year—when some people were proclaiming that Decorah, Iowa’s own Toppling Goliath made the best pale ale in America.

Take a breath and think about that for a moment.  Well, how do things stack up now that we are in the twilight months of the Obama presidency and staring being ruled by an orange, short fingered vulgar New Yorker:

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Before I get to the beer I want to get a few things out of the way.  The beer from Toppling Goliath that you are drinking may or may not come from Decorah, Iowa.  If it is a packaged product it is likely that it came from Lakeland, Florida.  Why Florida?  Toppling Goliath has an agreement in place with BrewHub to brew and package its beer.  BrewHub’s business model is built around contract brewing for craft brewers.  Does this make a difference?  Maybe.

Also, Toppling Goliath has gone through some churn with regard to its employees and beer drinkers in Iowa have been left wondering if the magic has left the building.  I will say that there is definitely not the same buzz around the brewery that there was just a few short years ago.

What about the liquid?  PsuedoSue is still really good.  You get that punch of citrusy hops that lingers in the back of your throat for just the right amount of time.  You don’t get assaulted with alcohol and the body of the beer had just enough backbone to stand up to the bitterness.  At 50 IBU against 5.8% ABV you are looking at a beer that is very well balanced in terms of the numbers and that shows in the beer’s drinkability.

However, it’s kind of unremarkable in a world filled with so many pale ales.  I would argue with the author of the article linked above and say that PseudoSue is not the best pale ale in America.  I would argue that it is probably not the best pale ale in Iowa as my money is on Big Grove Brewery’s Arms Race.  Heck, it might not even be the best pale ale in Winneshiek County since Pulpit Rock Brewing opened its doors.

That is not to say it is not still a really good beer.  Too often we have gotten caught up in this race to make everything about being the best or jumping at the opportunity to drink beers just because they have won medals at the Great American Beer Fest.  Instead, we need to step back and appreciate a beer in a vacuum sometimes because a lot of breweries are making a lot of good liquid.  More than enough for all of us to have a drink without resorting to drinking a can of Budweiser labeled “America” as if AB InBev had some trademark on essential Americana.

In the past, I had given PseduoSue a rating of four mugs but time has not been too kind to my impression.  I am knocking off a mug because something is not the same as it was before.  If you get a chance buy a package of cans and enjoy a pint of PseudoSue:

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See what others are saying about Toppling Goliath Brewing Company PseudoSue @ Beeradvocate.