Tag Archives: coffee

Friday Linkage 3/3/2017


Damn, March already?  Where did the winter go?  Oh right, winter is going to be a shorter and shorter season as climate change robs us of snowy days and Donald Trump fiddles while the world burns.

On to the links…

Social Media Are Driving Americans Insane—The greatest thing I have ever done is disengage from Facebook.  I maintain an account because there are some businesses that require a log-in to view their content due to age restrictions, etc. but I do not maintain any sort of up-to-date presence.  Consider disengaging as well for the sake of your soul.

This Video Will Make You Believe in Climate Change—It’s not like someone reading this blog does not already believe in the impacts of climate change.  Take a moment, watch the video, and forward the link on to someone who might be on the fence.  Just avoid that Trump supporter in your office who reacts to everything with a spittle laced tirade.

The Pruitt Emails: E.P.A. Chief Was Arm in Arm With Industry—Scott Pruitt is a tool of the oil and gas lobby.  Plain and simple.  Any decision he makes as the head of the EPA is tainted by his close ties with oil and gas companies.

Exxon just Decided to Keep a Big Chunk of its Tar Sands in the Ground—Did you hear that?  It was the faintest sound that oil companies know that difficult to obtain sources of oil are not going to be economically viable in an economy where renewables and efficiency are the name of the game.

Why Oil Prices will Never Return to $100 a Barrel, in One Chart—I am not going to say never like the title of the article, but the underlying supply and demand curves do not favor high priced oil:

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The Blue Collar Job of the Future Is Solar Panel Installer—Coal mining is dead.  Automation, natural gas, and coal executives killed the coal miner’s job.  Installing solar panels and working on wind turbines are the blue collar replacement you have been seeking.

Palo Alto’s Repair Café Aims to Combat Throwaway Culture—The world needs more of this kind of cooperation.  How many of us have something that is in need of a small repair that we are incapable of doing?  How many of those slightly broken items could have a long life ahead of them?

How a Pacific Island Changed From Diesel to 100% Solar Power—Islands are our renewable energy laboratories because the electricity grids tend to be isolated and expensive to operate.  Lessons learned from these projects can be applied to larger grids on the mainland.

Pumped Hydro Storage Could Secure 100% Renewable Electricity For Australia—Think about pumped hydro storage as a huge, fairly efficient battery that can be deployed to regulate the intermittency of renewables.

Vacant Lots Provide More Ecosystem Services than Backyard Trees—In the book The New Wild the author makes the same point that vacant, disturbed land is a valuable ecosystem in an era when all landscapes have been shaped by human hands through climate change.

This Anarchist and ‘Anti-Fascist’ Activist is Using Facts to go After the Far-Right Fringe—You are free to say whatever you want in this country and the government cannot impinge your freedom for doing so, but that does not mean private citizens need to put up with your shit.  Daryle Lamont Jenkins is an American hero for making sure that these reprehensible scumbags cannot hide in their little alt-right spider holes.

Infographic Explains Why Coffee and Tea are so Good for Us—Ahhh, infographics.  Like salve for my soul:

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Friday Linkage 8/21/2015

It got unseasonably cool here in eastern Iowa this week. Like, mid-50s at night and no more than mid-70s during the day. I am sure that we will pay for this comfortable weather with a slap of hot and humid in the coming weeks, but it was a nice preview of the cool fall weather to come.

On to the links…

How The EPA Plans To Cut Methane Emissions From Oil And Gas Wells—This falls into the “boring, but important” category of news. The EPA is proposing new regulations on methane emissions, which is important because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and a lot of methane is released at gas drilling sites.

Four Powerhouse Bills to Help California get to 50 Percent Renewable Energy—In a lot of economic and policy circles the saying goes “As goes California…” because the size of California determines a lot of what happens in the rest of the country. If California could really get to 50% renewable energy it would be a major change.

World Needs 53GW Of Solar PV Installed Per Year To Address Climate Change—If that is the number, how do we get to 53 GW per year? I know that this is more of a thought exercise than anything else, but in order to beat the worst of climate change we are going to need addressable goals.

Coal Mining Sector Running Out of Time, says Citigroup—I am not going to start playing the funeral dirge just yet, but when major financiers and banks are pulling out of coal and being public about the shift the winds of change are blowing.

90 Years of U.S. Fuel Economy Data Shows the Power of Incentives, Dangers of Stagnation—This is a pretty compelling chart:

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Why did we have such a lull in the 90s and early-2000s? Oh right, SUVs and a right wing that encouraged nothing but “drill, baby drill.” Thanks.

How Much Of California’s Drought Was Caused By Climate Change? Scientists Now Have The Answer.—California is bound to go through periodic droughts, but it looks like the current drought cycle is being exacerbated by climate change.

How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa—This is just a fascinating read. The author placed GPS chips into fake elephant tusks to track where illicit ivory made its way across the globe.

The Pork Industry is Full of this Drug You’ve Never Heard Of—Ractopamine, besides sounding like the name of a plague in a spy movie, is bad stuff. Most of the rest of the world has not deemed meat raised with this drug safe for human consumption, but in the good ol’ USA it’s what’s for dinner.

How the Midwest’s Corn Farms Are Cooking the Planet—Industrial corn production is turning out to be one of the more environmentally damaging agricultural pursuits of the modern age. Maybe it is time we start looking at a different paradigm.

The American Lawn Is Now The Largest Single ‘Crop’ In The U.S.—If corn is bad, lawns are downright insane. At least there is something that comes out of a corn field. A lawn is just a green carpet that requires more maintenance than wall-to-wall white shag carpeting.

What Happens When Your Cash Crop Goes Bust: The Fall and Rise of Zimbabwe’s Coffee Economy—A really good write up about what happened to Zimbabwe’s gourmet coffee economy following the seizing of farms by the Mugabe dictatorship.

An Artist Proves There’s Enough Sugar In Your Soda to Create a Lollipop—Would you drink a lollipop? Probably not, but you are doing the equivalent every time you drink a Coke.

Friday Linkage 7/3/2015

Damn, it’s July. Where did June go? That’s right, I spent the month trying to put as many miles on my bikes as possible and spending the rest of my time enjoying a few moments of clam between rain storms.

On to the links…

Americans Are Drinking Less Coffee Thanks to K-Cups—So, we are drinking less coffee but paying more for the privilege of brewing it a single cup at a time. How is this a good trade off?

The Surprising Environmental Reason Weed Should Be Legal—Marijuana should be legal nationwide because the war on drugs is a sham perpetuated by the prison industrial complex. It also appears that there is an environmental benefit to legalization.

Solar Power Per Capita & Wind Power Per Capita Leaders—Lichtenstein is the leader in per capita solar? Really?

Largest Solar Plant On Planet Earth — Solar Star — Comes Online—With all the hype about distributed solar—of which I am a big proponent—sometimes the scale of these utility projects gets lost. Solar Star in California has a rated capacity of 579 megawatts of funky yellow sun fueled electrical power.

How Renewables are Thriving in the US Thanks to State Policies—Government policy can advance the cause of renewables despite what right wingers might say:

CESA-Wind-and-Solar-infographic-FINAL_1-465x1024

Total Plans 500-800 MW Solar Power Capacity In Bolivia—Bolivia has not ever come up in the links before that I can remember. The French energy titan Total is putting some serious money into renewables in that country.

3 Out Of 4 New Solar Homes In NSW To Include Battery Storage—The more I read and the more I think about the topic the more that I come to the conclusion that Australia seems like the perfect laboratory for the distribution of massive amounts of residential solar.

The West Is Literally On Fire, And The Impacts Could Be Widespread—As the climate changes as a result of global warming we are going to have to deal with the massive impacts of wildfires in drought stricken regions.

Californians Getting Drought Message: Water Usage Plunges—The state still has not addressed some of the agricultural usage insanity—like growing alfalfa to feed to cows or to export—but the residents of the state seem to be getting the idea that el Nino will not rescue them from drought this time.

Mark Bittman Wants You to Know the Drought Isn’t Your Fault—The drought is not our fault, but our food choices may be making things worse. Given the water situation in California there is no logical reason why cows should be residents of that state. None.

Corn Syrup’s DC Attack on Sugar Could Hit Minnesota Beet Industry—Talk about some lobby-on-lobby crime. These two subsidized industries need to get of the government welfare.

Hawaii Just Became The First State To Ban Plastic Bags At Grocery Checkouts—A big thank you to the aloha state for banning the distribution of single use plastic bags. These things are the scourge of the earth.

Friday Linkage 6/12/2015

Miles consume my thoughts. I have set some ambitious personal targets for miles ridden on my bike this season and I have already started viewing each ride as a percentage of that goal. It’s kind of sick and awesome at the same time.

On to the links…

No More Beer, Chocolate or Coffee: How Climate Change Could Ruin Your Weekend—Ruin my weekend? This will ruin my everyday ritual. People need to understand the broad implications of climate change.

Renewables Reach Highest Share Of U.S. Energy Consumption Since 1930s—From 2001 through 2014 renewable energy—driven by wind, solar, and biofuels—grew by 5% per year compounded annually. Every step is a step forward to a fossil fuel free future.

As Arguing Against Climate Change Action Gets Harder, the Naysayers get Louder—Here is when you know something is in its death throes. When the most ardent supporters of a contrarian opinion are forced to get louder in order for their views to be heard then the tide has turned decisively against their beliefs. No one will lament the death of the climate changer deniers.

10 years post Katrina – Where have you gone, Mr. Go?—Hurricane Katrina was a natural and national disaster. The impacts were made worse by poor leadership and inept bureaucracy. In the aftermath some good has come out of the storm. The destruction of the Mississippi River delta is now viewed as a catastrophe that made the storm’s impact worse. Efforts are underway to correct some of the misdeeds of our past.

The U.S.’s Biggest Coal Company Can’t Pay To Clean Up Its Own Mines—Who do you think will get stuck with the bill? The American taxpayer. Free market my ass.

Coal: Black Moods—Do you want to know why coal is dead? As the article states the market cap for the four largest American coal companies was $22B in 2010. Today it stands at $1.2B. Chew on that decline for a moment. SolarCity alone has a market cap of over $5B.

Why Haven’t Cities Covered Their Buildings in Solar?—I wonder this every time I see large municipal buildings in sunny locales. I also have this same thought when flying over acres of distribution centers around airports that have roofs just primed for massive solar projects. Between parking lots, warehouses, and city buildings there is more than enough square footage to keep installers working steady for years.

Fueled by Growth in the Residential Segment, U.S. Installs 1.3 GW of PV in Q1 2015—Take a look at this graph for a moment:

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Now, remember that these are discrete quarter numbers, not cumulative, so each quarter adds to the prior quarters to create total installed capacity. Once installed these panels are generating clean power for the next twenty five years or so.

State-By-State Plan To Bring US To 100% Renewables By 2050—100% renewable energy seems unattainable because someone in one state does not understand how solutions from another state are not relevant, but that another technology fills the gap. It also does not help that states are hamstrung by rules written by power companies and powerful lobbying interests to keep old generating schemes in place. There is, however, a path forward.

Minnesota 1st To Require EV-Specific Electricity Rates Statewide—EV adoption will only occur faster if programs like this can be rolled out to more customers across the U.S. As second and third generation EVs become available in the market it will be the ancillary impacts of owning an EV—charging, maintenance, etc.—that will go a long way to determining success or failure.

The Future of Construction Techniques—How we build things, both in terms of the methods and materials used, have a major impact on the embedded energy of a building and the total energy costs over the lifetime of the building. The future of building is coming:

Infographic-future-of-construction-2

The Amazing Truth about Costco’s Organic Food—Costco is the nation’s largest retailer of organic food. Not Whole Foods. Not WalMart. People may complain that it is dirty capitalism sullying the organic name, but we are talking about billions of dollars of sales going to a sector that was niche not much more than a decade ago.

Friday Linkage 5/1/2015

It’s hard to believe it’s May already. April disappeared in too much work and too little home life. I am committing to turning that around this month with a half dozen projects I want to tackle. First up is the transformation of a forlorn flower bed into a seasonal vegetable garden. Oh yeah!

On to the links…

New Study Shows Climate Change Is Already Hurting Coffee Growth—Here is something to take the buzz out of your morning coffee. Shade grown methods may help, but I have a feeling we are going to have to get used to the bitterness of robusta beans sooner rather than later.

The Company That Sells One In Five Chickens In The U.S. Will Stop Using Antibiotics—If you care about antibiotic resistant bacteria then you should care about this announcement. Public pressure and good sense, not government policy, is changing behavior. It probably helps that traditional fast food chains, which buy a lot of value added processed chicken, are hurting because of concerns just like this and need to bow to market pressure as well.

The Senate’s Top Climate Denier Redefines Chutzpah—James Inhofe has to be the biggest piece of scum in the Senate right now, which is a bold statement for a body that counts among its members Ted Cruz. However, Inhofe—a noted climate denier—has decided to use the threat of climate change to promote his agenda of nuclear power. Nothing like hypocrisy to make the world go round.

U.S. Maps Pinpoint Earthquakes Linked to Quest for Oil and Gas—Climate change may be hard for people to grasp—what do you mean it might get colder when the planet warms?—but manmade earthquakes should be easy to understand. We are literally changing the geological stability of the ground beneath our feet.

North America’s Oil And Gas Industry Has Taken Over 7 Million Acres Of Land Since 2000—Haven’t we given enough to oil and gas companies? Considering that these companies are some of the most profitable in the history of capitalism and these same companies tend to be subsidized through a variety of mechanisms maybe it is time to say stop.

Experiment in Irvine takes Crops’ Water Use to New Lows—As California comes to terms with what may be a new, very dry normal the ability of farmers to use less and less water to grow valuable crops will be essential.

California’s Irrigation Varies by Crop—Why is California even bothering growing corn and alfalfa with scarce water:

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How Does Solar “Take Cars off the Road”?—The symbolism of “cars off the road” is easy to understand but it obscured the fact of how much energy our buildings use. Plus, only bicycles take vehicles “off the road.”

First U.S. Offshore Wind Project Breaks Ground— The project is small, but it represents a lot of potential. Imagine putting clean power generation just off the coast from millions of people in the densely populated northeastern United States?

Global Solar Demand To Grow 30% To 57 GW—I do not know where the tipping point is for when solar will be so rapidly deployed that it will fundamentally alter our relationship with utilities and the power grid, but it has to be coming soon.

Xcel Energy wants Size Limits on its Minnesota Community Solar Gardens—Xcel Energy under estimated the demand and the ability of enterprising companies to figure a way around its rules. Now it wants to put the genie back in the bottle. Given how beholden Minnesota lawmakers are to this particular power company I am inclined to believe that it will happen.

China Could Get 85 Percent Of Its Electricity From Renewables By 2050—If there is one country that needs to set an aggressive renewables target it is China. The insatiable demand for electric power has been fed by coal which has fouled the air to such a degree as to be criminal.

Dubai Confirms 800 MW Expansion For Iconic Solar Power Project—It’s a great time to be a solar advocate when only projects in the hundreds of megawatt range get your blood pumping. Too bad this is to support unsustainable development in Dubai.

Countries that Lead the Switch to Clean Energy will Reap the Financial Rewards—Those countries that make the commitment early will be poised to lead a new phase of economic growth and prosperity, while the countries that slavishly hold on to the outdated model will be forced to adapt late and at a higher cost.

The Top Imported Good in Each State, in One Map—Fixr puts together some interesting maps. This one shows the top import into each state in terms of value:

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What Did Recycling Look Like In 280 BC?—This is a little tongue in cheek, but it makes you think about just how much our modern world has changed:

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Hungry Pelicans Credited with Gobbling Thousands of Goldfish Infesting Boulder Lake—Generally, the removal of invasive species requires some serious human intervention. This time Mother Nature provided a very clean solution. Hungry pelicans hovered up thousands of rapidly multiplying goldfish in a veritable invasive species buffet.

An Alternative-Medicine Believer’s Journey Back to Science—Any time you disagree with someone on scientific or technical grounds and the response is death threats you know you have struck a nerve and probably found the truth. Various alternative medicine communities—be it the anti-vaccine crowd or the anti-gluten fanatics or whatever graces the couch of Dr. Oz this week—have a problem with people seeking actual scientific truth because it will probably impact their pocketbook.

What is this Stuff: New Mexico Pinon Coffee

Trader Joe’s is a wonderful store to find oddities. Especially so if you only visit about every six months or so. It’s like a completely different store. Something you loved is gone and replaced by a bizarre product you might just have to try. That’s my Trader Joe’s experience anyway.

I ran across this and was intrigued:

Pinon Coffee

Pinon coffee? What is this stuff?

As a dedicated coffee junky I had to pick up a container and bring it home to try. The most well-known coffee adjunct in the United States has to be roasted chicory, which is popular in the southeast and most notably in Louisiana. If you have sat down for beignets and coffee at Café du Monde in New Orleans than you have had chicory coffee. It is said that chicory gives coffee a chocolate undertone and softens the bitterness.

Pinon coffee is similar to chicory coffee in that it uses a non-coffee adjunct. In this case it is the edible nut of the Pinus edulis tree that grows in the high desert of the American southwest. The nut of the tree is roasted and incorporated into a ground Arabica coffee.

The result? Pretty damn good. In terms of aroma you would think that you were about to drink a coffee flavored with chocolate or something nutty like hazelnut. None of that follows through in the taste, which is very coffee like.

It’s not something that I would seek out on a regular basis or pay a premium for, but if I find myself in a Trader Joe’s sometime soon I might pick a can. Or two because you never know when Trader Joe’s is going to just yank the rug out from underneath you.

Thoughts on the Arrival of New Pioneer Coop

After much hand wringing, on the part of Iowa City residents, and pleading, from Cedar Rapids residents, New Pioneer Coop decided to open a store in Cedar Rapids.

For those of you who do not live in this area there is a tension between the two communities that resembles the “town versus gown” tension in college towns. Iowa City, where the University of Iowa is located, would be the “gown” and Cedar Rapids, where more people live and work, would be the “town.” It’s an imperfect analogy, but it starts to get at how each city generally views the other.

However, not serving a community just thirty minutes up the road seems silly and the membership of New Pi finally saw the light. The new store, in the old Fin & Feather location at 3338 Center Point Road NE, opened in early December 2014. I wanted to wait and give my impressions a moment to ferment.

The location is great. It’s conveniently off of I-380 and near the north side of town where a large chunk of commercial activity, not to mention the city’s two largest employers, resides. The best part is that it’s just a few turns of the crank away from the Cedar River Trail that connects to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and the Hoover Nature Trail. I have spoken at length about the gem that this trail system represents and the more businesses that locate near the trail system the better.

The bread is amazing. Now coming from a centralized bakehouse to meet the demand of three stores and commercial contracts, the bread has maintained its well-known quality. I highly recommend the jalapeno cheddar bread. Trust me, I stalk the 2 PM Saturday delivery like a paparazzo. It barely lasts into the next day. A dry-hopped IPA and a slice of this bread are the perfect evening snack.

The prepared foods are also great. The kitchen staff is headed up by Matt Steigerwald who was the owner/chef of the highly regarded Lincoln Cade in Mount Vernon. He is assisted by former co-worker at the Lincoln Café and former owner of Braise Company Shawn Price. It will be very interesting to see what these two cook up, literally and figuratively, as the store gets its feet underneath itself in the near term. I also tend to have an addiction to the Cashew on a Hot Tin Roof sandwich. I have a problem.

Given that it is winter in eastern Iowa I am going to wait to pass judgment on the produce section. The store seems to be laid out in such a way to add produce as seasonal items become available. The local Honeycrisp apples were delicious.

Two areas that were underwhelming to me were the beer and coffee selection. I am a beer snob, but I had hoped to see something different on the shelves. It really felt like a chopped down version of the craft beer case at any local HyVee. The bulk coffee selection underwhelmed as well. The selection was limited—no bulk decaf option—and there seemed to be a real lack of variety.

Work is not yet completed outside. This is the product of living in Iowa where the winter stalls out construction for months and the legacy of having to remove a pest control office that used to sit in what is now the parking lot. When completed the parking lot is going to feature a bioswale.

The bioswale will slow runoff and allow runoff from the parking lot to filter through vegetation and compost before hitting any streams. This is a key improvement because a critical urban waterway runs along the Cedar River Trail just to the west of the store. Given the city’s history with flooding and the importance of urban waterways, a freakin’ runs right through downtown, I hope that bioswales become more common across the area.

There is a whole lot of positive happening with New Pi’s Cedar Rapids location. I consider the initial store layout and product offerings to be a test case that will evolve over time as local tastes and preferences come into play. Evolution is good.

NOTE: I am a member of New Pi, so my opinion is not totally unbiased.