Thursday, May 29, 2008

Finally, a biofuel that doesn't use food crops: Sapphire Energy uses algae to make "green crude" which can be refined to gasoline or diesel, and unlike other biofuels the green crude can be shipped in existing pipelines. Read about it here or here. Competition with agricultural land is one of the problems with standard biofuels. That, and even cellulosic ethanol requires growing large stands of switchgrass, which is a highly invasive non-native plant in most areas. I don't know how much dinojuice could be replaced with this process, but it is a start, and should have the potential to be upscaled more than other biofuels.

Since $5/gallon gas isn't that far off, maybe people will start driving less. I think it is going to fundamentally change how we live. Much of the development in the US has been in exburb sprawl. At $5/gal. people will have to live closer to work, and consider other forms of transportation. It screws people who live in rural areas, and those that have to drive, but for the vast majority of people who have made the choice to commute 40-100 miles per day because housing was cheap in the exburbs, it changes that choice, and urban center areas are going to be a lot more desirable, even if there isn't the same amount of space. Europe has been living this way for years. Now is not the time to own in a bedroom community. I think it will fundamntally change San Marcos. Currently we've got just shy of 30K students. The school plans for a full 30K within 5 years. Right now, at least 30% of the undergraduates commute from Austin or San Antonio. That's not going to be economically feasible anymore. Rentals are going to be a hot commodity. Maybe it will get more people in this town out of their SUV's and onto bikes. I think it's already happening... I see more bikes here than I did 3 years ago.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I know this is old, but fuck it's funny. Shakira and "Danzig" mashup....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Digging out....

Whew. I am one (re)signature away from the M.S. The graduate college approved my thesis earlier today, but because they didn't like the fact that I put "Dr." in front of my committee member's names on the signature pages I have to get it resigned. I've got all of the signatures except one committee member. He'll be back on Tuesday. Maybe now I can get back to things like working on the house and riding my bike. I'm already starting work on my PhD project, and I have a NSF fellowship going in. This means I don't have to teach labs (which I do actually enjoy, but is time consuming) I do have about 15hrs per week commitment for the fellowship, but it's for more money and less hours than teaching at the university. Actually, I will be teaching, but it will be working with high school teachers and students, and I won't be grading or dealing with discipline. The teacher I'm paired with is already almost done with her MS in Biochemistry, so it will be mostly working with her to work on better ways to get students excited about science.

Anyways what this means is that I actually have a weekend off. I'll be spending the summer doing fieldwork, reading, and developing my PhD project with my advisor, at least on an educational level. The rest of the time I hope to spend riding my bike and climbing. Hopefully, I can also make it to my cousin's wedding and my 20yr high school reunion. Maybe even a vacation, although I do have to deal with a seminar class associated with the NSF grant over the summer. Maybe I'll even make a non-political post or two.