Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


I think all we will be needing down here is an electric (or solar-powered) golf cart. And perhaps a boat.

Most electric cars look essentially the same as gas-powered cars have for decades, with a battery swapped in place of an internal combustion engine. But a Swedish electric car startup argues that in the context of modern city life, the entire idea of a car needs more of a reinvention.
Uniti, which launched a prototype of its tiny electric car today, started by rethinking size: If most people living in cities commute to work alone, over short distances, it doesn’t make sense to make an oversized, overpowered vehicle.
“The shift to electric cars is a positive one,” Lewis Horne, Uniti CEO and founder, tells Fast Company. “But it’s clear that we still make them in the same way that traditional combustion engine vehicles are made. With large heavy bodies, in which the battery is not really moving the passengers around, but is moving itself and the vehicle’s heavy frame with it.”
Though the new car comes in models with four and five seats, it also offers a model with only two seats, which will retail at prices starting around $17,000. (Smart Car also makes a small electric model, though it’s slightly more expensive) The frame, made from carbon fiber, is much lighter than a traditional metal frame. The battery is small, at 22 kilowatt-hours versus 100 kWh in some Tesla models, but can last around 186 miles, much farther than a typical round-trip commute. An additional battery, which can be plugged into a regular outlet at home or a cafe, can be added to the car on rarer occasions when it’s needed.

Shrinking the battery helps reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing an electric car. Using carbon fiber makes the car easier to manufacture, and streamlining that process also improves sustainability. While carbon fiber itself isn’t particularly sustainable, it can be recycled, and the company says bio-based carbon fiber may be an option in the future. Inside the car, the company already uses bio-based composite materials. Uniti estimates that the car will emit 75% less carbon across its lifecycle compared to other electric cars.
Swedish customers (and soon, those in other countries) will also be able to charge Uniti cars for free at home, for five years, through a partnership that uses solar electricity, so the cars will have an even smaller carbon footprint. E.On, a European energy company, will buy solar energy to offset home charging, and the average cost of charging will be rebated from electric bills.
more at Original.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Google Translate

One of the better apps I have found for translating multiple languages into English, and vice versa, is Google Translate. I think I've learned more Spanish just from using this app than any other method. You can also have the program speak your translations so you can really hear how it is supposed to sound. 

You can get Google Translate on your computer or your smartphone. Probably a bunch of other ways too, but having it in your pocket is hard to beat. 104 languages and counting!

Safe travels!  Google Translate.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mission Blue

Living on a barrier island off the south coast of Texas, I am getting a newfound respect for the mighty ocean at our door.

Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots
Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevate Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Google Earth. 
Mission Blue also embarks on regular oceanic expeditions that shed light on these vital ecosystems and build support for their protection. Currently, the Mission Blue alliance includes more than 200 respected ocean conservation groups and like-minded organizations, from large multinational companies to individual scientific teams doing important research. Additionally, Mission Blue supports the work of conservation NGOs around the world that share the mission of building public support for ocean protection. 
With the concerted effort and passion of people and organizations around the world, Hope Spots can become a reality and form a global network of marine protected areas large enough to restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

smart bags

Heads up, travelers. Airlines don't want to check your smart bags. I guess it's a good thing I don't have one. Yet. Uber! Call my bag!

Most U.S. airlines set to limit use of 'smart bags'

"Smart bags, also known as smart luggage, have become more popular over the last few months, and they are expected to be a popular gift this holiday season," said American Airlines(AAL). "However, smart bags contain lithium battery power banks, which pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft."
The bags generally have USB ports where customers can recharge their phones and other devices. They might also have GPS to track the bag's location in case it gets lost, electronic locks and a weight scale to prevent overpacking. Some even a motor to propel the bags so that they can double as a scooter or just follow their owner around the airport.

Airlines are worried that the batteries could cause a fire in the cargo hold that would goundetected. Most of the bans will allow fliers to check the bags if the battery can be removed and carried by the passenger in the cabin. But many of the bags already on the market have batteries that can't be removed.
American was the first U.S. carrier to announce a new policy Friday to require passengers checking smart luggage to remove the lithium ion batteries. If the bag will be traveling in the cabin, the battery can remain installed as long as it is powered off.
Now Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Alaska Airlines (ALK) have announced similar policies set to take effect on Jan. 15. Both airlines will requiring that even carry on bags must have the batteries that removed.
In addition, spokespeople for United Continental (UAL) and Southwest Airlines (LUV) said both airlines also plan to announce new smart bag policies soon. Between them, those five airlines handle more than 80% of U.S. air traffic.
One of the smart bag manufacturers, Bluesmart, says that it has sold 65,000 of them,and that it most recent version has sold out. The problem is, its lithium batteries can not be removed.
"We are saddened by these latest changes to some airline regulations and feel it is a step back not only for travel technology, but that it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel," said a statement from Bluesmart. It said it is arranging meetings with the airlines to demonstrate their bags' safety and hopes to have them exempt from the restrictions.
Bluesmart also says its bags comply with the current federal regulations from the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission. The TSA said the bags are not on its list of prohibited items. But Delta points out that regulators have not specifically approved any company's smart bags.
The FAA is already concerned with lithium batteries in the cargo hold. While it allows things like laptops to be checked, it suggests they be placed in carry-on bags instead. It also requires that any spare lithium batteries travel only in carry-on baggage with passengers.
"The airlines' action is consistent with our guidance to not carry lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. The concern about the bag was first cited by the International Air Transport Association, a trade group that issues guidance but does not regulate policy.