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The Alternative Fuel Wars June 5, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Rarely do I feel the need to voice my political views here.  Mostly it’s because I want to avoid conflict; the only topic that is more divisive than politics, after all, is religion (another topic I avoid, yet will mention here!).  However, I hope that this post will be less of a rant and more of an open forum for discussion.

About what, you ask?  About alternative fuel sources.

Five years ago, if you would have told me that gasoline would be obsolete in half a century, I would have laughed at you.  I also refused to believe that things I was doing as an individual were impacting the environment for the worse.  Things today, however, are quite different.  Within 50 years, the world’s fossil fuel supply will be gone, according to many experts.  Though I am often distrustful of statistics, the fact is that the United States is the leading consumer of fossil fuels in the world, and the majority of that use is in motor vehicles.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that America needs to start making a change, and that it needs to begin with the largest chunk of the pie.

Everyone seems to be developing alternative fuel sources.  Biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, solar, wind…all viable sources of power.  However, until we decide on ONE alternative fuel for our motor vehicle fleet, all efforts will be in vain.  Here’s an example for you: back when HDTV was first coming in style, there were a few different kinds of DVDs that claimed to capitalize on this new format.  Regular DVDs upgraded their quality, but ultimately, there were two–HD DVDs and Blu-Ray format discs.  Both of these formats tried to coexist peacefully.  It wasn’t long until problems started to emerge.  In order to use one format or the other, you had to buy special players, which required special cables.  Some movies were only available on one format, so you had to have both to watch the movies you wanted at the quality you wanted.  Eventually, HD DVDs folded to the power of Blu-Ray, and everyone lived happily ever after.

This is the problem with offering A MILLION different fuel sources.  There’s no way that there can be the widespread availability necessary to run America’s fleet without settling on ONE source.  Not only that, but the fuel source that wins out will be the one that can be converted to fit existing gas-burning vehicles.  Can you imagine every car on the road being obsolete in 5 years?  Crazy.  Whichever fuel source we pick will have to be adjusted to fit classic/current gas burners.  I’m not sure how this can work, only that I think it has to.

In terms of fuel sources, I think electric cars are the way to go.  If you want to see a compelling speech calling for the use of electric cars, watch this 20 minute video on TED.  Trust me, you’ll love it.  I know that this causes issues in terms of how we produce electricity itself–but what better way to move away from coal power plants to wind/solar/water/nuclear power plants?  It seems like choosing this kind of car will ultimately force a change in the power grid as well.  Both Chevrolet and Tesla have developed electric cars, and with battery distribution points and a standard battery system, problems should be (at least moderately) solved.

So, what do you think?

Yummy and Delicious Kettle Corn June 4, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Uncategorized.
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I feel the need to share this with all of you.  I finally got it (sort of) right on my second try, and it’s really delicious.  First, start of with this basic recipe.

1.  First, put the oil in a large pot WITH A LID.  Trust me, without a lid, you’ll be burned all over.

2.  Put three kernels of corn in the oil.  When they begin to pop, the oil is hot enough.  I put my stove on Medium High heat to accomplish this.  WARNING: Make sure your oil isn’t old.  Old vegetable oil has a bitter/icky flavor, which will ruin your kettle corn.

3.  When the oil is heated, add the sugar.  Whisk for about 3 minutes, or until the sugar looks like it’s starting to dissolve.  There WILL be chunks–don’t panic.  Just try to break up as many as you can.  I had to tilt my pot to be able to whisk really well.

4.  Add the popcorn and whisk another 2 minutes.

5.  Now for the labor intensive part: the shaking.  The trick to keeping your popcorn from burning is to alternate 3 seconds on the heat with 3 seconds off the heat.  When you remove the pot, shake it to keep the popcorn from sticking to the bottom of the pot and forming a gooey mess.

6.  Once the popcorn starts popping quickly, you’ll want to start cracking the lid of the pot while it’s on the heat to prevent clumping.

7.  When the popping slows to only a few kernels a second (just like microwave popcorn), remove from heat and dump into a bowl.  Salt to taste.  WARNING: It’s very easy to over-salt this.  The first time I made this, I added 1 1/2 tsp. and it was WAY too salty.

What I would do next time:

1.  I want to try corn oil rather than vegetable oil.  This might improve the flavor a little.

2.  I’m going to try and add 1/2 tsp. of salt at the height of popping to try and distribute it more evenly.

I’m Loathin’: The Grossest Post Ever June 3, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Loathin'.
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So, I figure since I’ve already revealed myself to be a terrible, AWFUL person on this blog (read: hating the homeless), there’s no need to hold back.  I have a confession to make: I cannot handle skin conditions.  For those of you who know me, you know I’m no prima donna.  Getting muddy and dirty is no problem for me; I’ve worked on a ranch before, so I can deal with various kinds of poop without flinching.  I’m rough and tumble, and with the exception of vampires, I don’t scare easily.  However, one look at someone who has a skin condition and I’m done.  I mean, mild acne is okay, but excema?  Rashes?  Psoriasis?  Absolutely EFFING not.  Had John had a skin thing, I wouldn’t have married him.  That’s how much they gross me out.

I can’t tell you where this dislike came from.  There was no huge event in my life that turned me off from people with skin issues.  However, should I ever have a rash, my life might as well be over.  A few years ago I had a pin rash from an allergy to latex I was unaware of, and for THREE WEEKS I cried myself to sleep every night. I was pretty sure I was going to die and/or I would be hideous forever. I cried sporadically even after the rash was completely gone, for goodness sake.

This fear of having skin things myself has heightened my awareness of skin things on other people.  If someone has a suspicious looking spot, I make sure to point it out and urge them to get checked.  If there’s someone shopping at a store and they have some issue, I will go out of my way to stay away from them.  I’m sure all of these people are extremely nice, and I know they have no control over what is eating their skin or whatever, but looking at these “conditions” turns my stomach.  I start to feel nauseous, I get cold sweats, and I just have to leave.

Anyway, this back story is only relevant so that I can tell you about what a TERRIBLE day I had yesterday in regard to this almost-phobia.  It all began with Subway.  I stopped in to grab a sandwich on the cheap, and I happened to notice that the lady working the Subway counter had something weird going on with her face.  It looked like she had some subdermal cysts or something; I was trying not to stare while I decided whether I could stand for her to make my sandwich or not.  They weren’t oozing or anything, so I figured I was okay (the plastic gloves didn’t hurt my confidence either).  I made it through the line okay and even ate my sandwich!  The whole thing sort of made my skin crawl, but I was doing okay.

It was Target that killed me.  My sister had bought me some flip flops for my birthday, but they were the wrong size.  I was still feeling a little funny after the Subway thing, but I was regaining my composure.  Anyway, I got in the exchange line and stood for a while, paying no attention to the people behind the counter.

“Next,” said the female cashier.  I walked over, looked up at her, and I’m sure I paled out.  On her face–ON HER FACE, RIGHT ON HER CHIN–was the biggest wart I have ever in my life seen.  It looked just like a stump sticking out of her face.  It had TEXTURE for Chrissake.

I swear to God, no exaggeration.

I swear to God, no exaggeration.

I struggled to get through the exchange.  When she touched my drivers license, I thought I was going to die.  I had to force myself to take it back from her and put it in my wallet sans wretching.  I finished my exchange was quickly as was physically possible, and ran to switch out my flip flops.  At this point, I had already reached panic stage.  Did I already have wart germs on my hands?  How will I get these wart germs off?  Is it too ridiculous to kill myself for getting a wart?

I changed the shoes as fast as I could, and went in search of Purell.  I had to resist buying the biggest bottle they had and taking a bath in it; I settled for some convenient wipes.  I rushed through the checkout, and tore into the Purell before I had even left the store.  Within minutes, I had disinfected myself all the way up to my elbows, and covered my purse, wallet, drivers license, and debit card.  Only then could I convince myself that I was okay and continue on with my day.

I know, I know.  How dumb, right?  How superficial of me.  Trust me, I’ve tried to change it, I really have.  I just can’t.  There’s too much icky involved for me.  That’s not to say that I won’t love each and every one of you should you develop leprosy.  It just means that I’ll have to keep a trash can near my chair in case I vomit.

Life List: 41-50 June 2, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life List.
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41.  Get my allergies under control
This year has been the worst allergy year I’ve ever had.  I’ve been miserable, and that has led to a load of other health concerns.  I want to start taking allergy shots or SOMETHING to help me manage these.  When my allergies act up, I feel like half a person.

42.  Take John to Yellowstone
John has been dying to go here ever since I met him.  I can’t wait to see his face light up when we hike out to the geysers.

43.  Lead a small group Bible Study…from my own notes
This is something that scares me, so sI feel the need to confront it.  I’m really unconfident in my abilities to converse about my religion.  I always feel like I sound stupid, and I want so much to be credible.  I think leading an in-depth study would help me gain my confidence here.

44.  Talk to my grandparents more
There are long stretches of time where I don’t speak with my grandparents, not because I don’t want to, but because I forget.  I know that their time is growing short, so I want to make sure they know how loved they are.

45.  Dance on the bar at Coyote Ugly
I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.  I think it sounds like an awesome amount of fun.

47.  Make more of an effort to take care of myself
Most of what I do everyday is for other people, and oftentimes my own health falls down the wayside.  That’s why I’m sick so often; I’m putting everything–work, relationships, etc.–before my own personal health.  This summer I’ve started Zumba, and I feel better than I’ve felt in years.  I don’t want to lose that in the coming semesters/years.

48.  Do more to take care of my mother
Now that my sister lives in El Paso, my mom is by herself in Booneville.  The worst I’ve worried about in the past has been her falling down and hurting herself and/or catching her house on fire, but a few weeks ago her house was broken into.  I’ve been really worried about her ever since.  This is sort of a vague life-list thing, but it’s important.

49.  Fly a kite on the lawn of the National Mall
This is a brand-new goal, and one I know I can accomplish since I leave for DC on Saturday.  There will be pictures of this!  🙂  (Last time I went to DC, I licked the Washington Monument.  I have to have another goal now).

Haha, so phallic.  So inappropriate.

Haha, so phallic. So inappropriate.

50.  Take Lindsey geocaching
This. Will. Be. Awesome.  Now that it’s on both of our lists, it must come true.

I’m Lovin’: A Field Guide to Weeds June 1, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Lovin'.
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Click to enlarge

Vintage yumminess

I stumbled upon this journal at one of my favorite online retailers, The Curiosity Shoppe. I love the vintage look of the cover.  It reminds me of library books in my high school library that were bound in orange covers with generic black type serving as its sole identifying feature.  Just like those books were full of adventure and surprises, so is the Field Guide.

Stunning graphic design

Stunning graphic design

The pages of this book are ridiculously stunning.  I’m so tempted to buy this and let it sit on my shelf until I have a garden; I think this would make the most fabulous gardening journal ever.  I love how designer Kim Beck takes the maxim “don’t judge a book by its cover” literally.