Friday, November 17, 2017

When Alternative Energy Goes Wrong

Wind Turbine Syndrome Illustrated 😱 😵
Photo - Kevin Key /Oct 2017)

"War of the Worlds"  😵
Back this past October, San Diego California photographer, Kevin Key, posted on his Flickr page a night image of the eerie looking Ocotillo Wind Farm. He actually is very taleted on taking fascinating night sky images down in the Imperial Valley desert scenery. But this partcular image reminded me of some Hollywood remake of an H.G. Wells classic, "War of the Worlds." The latest film Martian machines used in the newer movie version are far different than those of the original 1953 classic. These newer version Tripod Martian machines looked like many of the countless modern wind turbines machines manufactured by Siemens from a distance. Especially at night. Only these new improved version of  Martian machines are more more sophisticated and efficient than those at the controversial Ocotillo Wind Farm Turbines which don't often move and function as originally advertised. 

Image - Kevin Key
By coincidence, Kevin Key, does uses a Tripod. Hmmmmm 😉, just like those Martian machines. But the similarity to wind turbines is uncanny when it comes to their immense presence and scary noise. The environmental effects on human beings and wildlife by their mere presence is also uncanny with both the real and Sci-Fi machines. The ecogreen crowd will disagree of course. The majority of those folks claiming to champion and support wind turbines are generally not living within the vicinity of these wind farm locations (often over 100+ miles away) and their only real support has been clicking LIKE on some Facebook page. Go figure! 😒 This is not to bash the real need for alternative safer energy production, but thus far the responsible science has been grossly lacking here in favour of profiteering. Take a close look at Kevin Key's Ocotillo Wind Turbine night scenery and listen to this repetitive sound effects used by "War of the Worlds." Doesn't get anymore illustrative than that folks.

Okay Okay, so yeah I'm exaggerating a bit here. Surely real wind turbines are not even close to those spooky Sci-Fi sound-effects. Or are they ? The residents of Ocotillo were told in the beginning that those Pattern Energy Wind Turbines would be as quite as being in a Library. Well maybe you be the judge. Now think for a moment, could the reverberations at low frequencies really affect people's (or wildlife) inner ears ??? Check out this one single turbine video and imagine what an entire army of them must be like. Listen: Ocotillo Wind Turbine Syndrome ??? Wow, I think those Sci-Fi War of the Worlds version of sound effects are far easier to deal with. Aside from the human factor, can you imagine how this horrible noise must be effecting the sensitivites of wildlife like bats, birds and other animals ? Still, the Sci-Fi sound effect and the nightly red glow of the Ocotillo Wind Turbines speaks volumes. This isn't the first time I've made Ocotillo landmark comparisons to Sci-Fi world. Take another look below.
They Both Crashed & Burn to the Ground
Image - Kevin Key (Nov 2016)

Image - Stan Winston
And of course the Ocotillo Wind Turbine Facility has had it's share of problems with turbines crashing and burning. So on November 21, 2016 a 500-foot-tall wind turbine at the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility collapsed in the morning, spewing debris and three blades each weighing many tons across the desert floor. The cause of this failure is still being investigated. Perhaps a blade came loose and struck the tower - causing it to bend ? Maybe the transmission gears suddenly jammed and the force of the spinning blade suddenly stopping was too much for the tower to handle? Note that it was NOT exceptionally windy at the time of the collapse. Also, the tower did NOT bend at a seam. Interestingly they are also notorious for leaking massive amounts of gear oil and other lubricants. Funny, weren't these created to end petroleum ???But yet even here is yet another uncanny similarity with these turbine machines and the crashing and burning of those Martian Tripod machines. Go figure!

The people of Ocotillo were clearly upset from the very beginning with the move in of giant industrial business interests and with what has happened to their once picturesque desert scenery and lifestyle which now seems ruined forever. The industrial complex has been plagued from the start with all manner of breakdowns, fires, lubricant leakage, etc. These turbines are continually being worked on every day from sun-up to sun down. The original studies which were created pinpointed this particular geographical location as the prime spot for such an industrial business venture now appear to have been flawed from the start. These Turbines have been documented as being idle most of the time and to make matters worse, taxpayer grants and other subsides to the tune of  millions upon millions of dollars. Maybe when they admit defeat and failure and tear these things down, perhaps they'll create a token monument like the one above by sculpter Michael Condron's "The Working Martian,"  in 1998 which is made to look like the first alien capsule to hit Earth, half buried into the ground. This Martian Cylinder erected in Woking England to celebrate the centenry of H.G Wells' "The War of the Worlds" which the author, then a resident of Woking, set in and around the area he lived in. But it's a perfect fit to illustrate the story of an alternative energy scheme gone terribly wrong in Ocotillo, California.
The Other Imperial Valley Meltdowns - Solar Energy Farms
(Photo Credit: 8minutenergy)
"Imperial Valley agencies bet on renewable energy for jobs"
Image . Green Prophet
Or so read the headline in the California Economic Summit story. This is another alternative energy scheme gone wrong because it was not very well thought out because of the challenges it would face. Really it was doomed from the start because of the all too common, "You scratch my back I'll scratch yours 😎" political backroom dealing. I won't elaborate, but will post all the Desert Sun investigations on the subject at the end of this section and you can read it for yourself. I'll deal with a couple of major logistics problems regarding location, maintainance nightmares and why the existence of many massive farm settings actually works against reversing global warming. The reality is it can contribute further to it. Also, new research out of Germany finds big solar farms may be actually killing beneficial insects. First the dirty side of Solar.

World Bank Photo Collection

One of the biggest problems of massive solar farms in the desert is the maintaining of clean glass so that they are always kept at optimal performance. That's a tough job in the deserts because Dust is the biggest obstacle and it's #1 commodity after Heat. Research has found that Air Pollution & Dust cuts Solar Cell Energy output by over 25%. Of course cleaning with water works, but water is scarce and like gold in desert regions. In fact it's the biggest wasted resource. Although there are researchers looking to use Martian Technology proposed for zapping Dust from Solar Panels. Go figure, just can't get away from that Martian Technology. 😄 Another major issue believe it or not is that these massive Solar Farms contribute to huge rise in temperatures. Back in 2016 Nature published a study, The Photovoltaic Heat Island Effect: Larger solar power plants increase local temperatures

Seriously folks, if forest trees in snow create heat island effects, how much more so would a massive Industrial Solar Farm infrastructure complex create higher temperatures ??? Again, believe it or not folks, there are actually some scientists out there who believe that Cutting Down Trees Might Actually Help Save the Planet because trees cause snow to melt faster and that's a bad thing. I kid you not 😔. The point here is that these solar farms are supposed to reverse global warming, not increase it. Now another important negative is the fact that many solar farms depending on the type and technology used are killing all manner of birds that fly over head. We have glaring examples of numerous birds and insects being almost instantaneously nuked in the Mojave Desert regions like Ivanpah.

Source: Rolf Disch

Solar Housing, Freiburg, Germany
Moreover other research, like some done in Germany found that for many insects, Solar panels could be a threat to aquatic insects, which I find interesting because back in May 2017, I wrote a post about research from Germany again showing major decline in Bioabundance of all insect species in their Nations Forests and Parks. Now what's interesting is that Germany leads the globe in alternative energy, especially solar everywhere. Could this have been more of a cause insect decline than the usual suspect Agro-Chemicals ??? Then there's the scandalous news of Imperial Valley's alternative energy scheme, getting rid of actual agriculture and farming with Solar Farms. The Coachella Valley's online journal Desert Sun has been the watch dog here on Imperial Irrigation District's attempt at massive industrial Solar Farm schemes which benefit insiders with government approvals, funding & profiteering. Here's the latest article by Desert Sun (Public agency approves $5 million for solar farm amid allegations of financial conflicts) and you can google search more within their archive, but green energy has been plagued by scandalous behaviour from the beginning. There's really no reason for further comment other than something I've always found puzzling here. If Imperial Irrigation District was going to get into the Solar Energy biz, why not use existing irrigation canal infrastructure in building Solar structures over these canals as many poorer 3rd world nations have done ??? Like India ??? See this picture below ??? Try and think All American Canal or Coachella Canal, and Westside Main Canal, etc and why solar wasn't built over those water transporting infrastructures to take advantage of free water for cleaning which would immediately fall back into the canal ??? Why rip up new raw environmentally sensistive desert lands or destroy good farmland ??? Hello ??? 😮

Solar Power Project - Vadodara Branch Canal, Hyderabad.

Further info on Solar, see - World's Catch 22 with Alternative Energy Schemes
While I'm on the subject of  Global Warming & Imperial Valley
US Gypsum Plant Plaster City - Getty Images

Images by Tony Hoffarth
This photograph above is of the US Gypsum Plant in Plaster City just west of Ocotillo. For years after working in El Centro and driving back home from work to San Diego, I'd drive past this place at night on the Olde Hwy 80 or Evens Hewes Hwy in Imperial Valley. This night scene always reminded me of that almost deadly accurate Sci-Fi masterpiece known as, "Soylent Green."  This photo on the right hand side is the refinery in the City of El Segundo that was the actual  location used as the Soylent Green Factory. This old refinery is currently an NRG Power Plant. It's located is at 300 Vista del Mar, El Segundo. Most older generation movie goers will remember the 1973 Sci-Fi movie "Soylent Green" that takes place in a 2022 overpopulated New York City on a environmentally disastrous global warming planet Earth. While most of the filming took place on a studio backlot, Los Angeles stood in for New York for a couple of locations. I wrote about the uncanny similarity of the movie's infamous Soylent Corporation & our real world infamous Monsanto and how both are obsessed with pusuing power and wealth much the same way. The other uncanny similarity (which is incredibly spooky) was the timeline in which this Sci-Fi Corporate entity bought up all of it's competition and monopolized it's supremacy in the food industry. The other uncanny component was the climate change timeline which is almost identical to our own present time. In both case scenarios (Sci-Fi & Real world), we also have bizarre sci-fi world technological concepts which attempt to deal with population explosion and climate change. No really folks, this is serious. 😲 But there's more, there are some legacy building billionaires who have ideas of their own utopian visions.
Bill Gates firm buys Arizona land for $80 million to create 'smart city'
Image by TechViral

TechViral: Bill Gates Is Building His Own Futuristic Smart City

Well, apparently the Arizona-based Belmont Partners, one of Gates’ investment firms, purchased close to 25,000 acres of land in Tonopah, around 50 miles west of Phoenix, to create a “smart city” which you pass when traveling on Interstate 10. Their futuristic scheme is to "create a supposedly forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs." So goes the utopian vision. But why the desert of western Arizona ? Why not some other location that has plenty more available water ? Arizona has so little water and the Colorado River drainage system hasn't exactly obliged in the recharge department over the last several years. How in the world will 80,000 new homes be serviced ? Also there are plenty of already existing depressed communities which could be rehabilitated and turned into his vission of a secular techie paradise. Well no mind. Below is a news video describing the location and vision of this city Bill Gates envisions. It starts off by means of a fly over describing the desert landscape saying, "It looks like a whole lot of nothing," which is the typical opinion of Wind Turbine and Solar Farms developers. Frankly I love deserts and don't find them offensive. Swedes over here in Gothenburg think I'm crazy when I tell tem I mis deserts and heat. Mostly I miss the monsoon season. But deserts have always been considered nothing worthless wastelands and have been viewed that way for 100s of years. 

This post isn't slamming the need for alternative energy, but the bottomline here again is that there was this rush to save the planet and obtain as much profit as early as possible. And incredibly not many of the proponents are even remotely willing to question anything when it comes to alternative energy's glaring flaws. Their knowledge of the subject mainly is often solely based on a virtual world of social networking hype from various eco-groups. This fear has allowed for recklessness in developing and actually perfecting the technology. It would seem nobody really bothered to look at the side effects and consequences on our natural world which it was supposed to save. It's also created unfortunate opportunities for greed and outright fraud by unscrupulous individuals who've taken advantage of government land grants and billions in taxpayer subsidies. However well meaning those policies & taxpayer subsidies were from the beginning, the entire program has become one giant train wreck where many hopeful ecology people are encapable of recognizing that. This past October 31st, it was reported that Germany no longer has the money for subsidies to keep these non-sustainable machinert running. t also appears their shelf life isn't as long as advertised.
Kaput!: German Wind Farms Set for Dismantling as Subsidies Dry Up

Source: Patrick Pleul / dpa (icon image)
"Several thousand wind turbines in Germany are likely to be phased out in the next decade because their state subsidies expire. "If electricity prices do not rise over the next decade, only a few plants will hold their own in the market," according to Berlin-based Energy Brainpool."
Frightening Stats to consider for our Planet 
US Department of Energy

Image -

Palm Springs Wind Turbines
The graph above showing percentages of differing types of energy used around the globe also illustrates a caution here. While clearly oil and coal are dirty technologies as are the means by which mankind's industrial science has invented extracting natural gas from shale in a technique known as fracking, the present alternatives show an equally frightening potential for maring the Earth's landscape, while at the same time being less than efficient as advertised. Sorry folks, much of this stuff just doesn't work as well without the subsidies and that's not how most real world viable businesses really work. Take a look at this picture on the right which is illustrative of where many prime wind locations show massive cluttering of industrial infrastructure which is said to be ecogreen. Yet when you look at the graph above, how much of the scenery would have to be carpeted with solar farms and wind turbine industrial complexes to be considered a viable replacement to conventional energy production ??? Scary isn't it. Sadly there are no satisfactory comforting answers to the world's energy crisis and reversing climate change or global warming from a human standpoint. 😨

In the mean time take a look at some of Kevin Key's beautiful night phography below of desert night visions. 😎


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Feel fuller, longer with Mushrooms ???

Another interesting New study which discovers how mushrooms can be as satiating as meat when protein levels are matched

But which mushrooms ??? Wood ear, crimini, oyster, Italian brown, enoki, white button, stuffing, shiitake, chanterelle, and portobello mushrooms were compared to see which was best at inhibiting aromatase enzyme activity. You'll be surprised.

Another kool study on a natural food item which can aid in weight loss. Remember my last post on the weight loss benefits of Olive Oil. So many interesting articles on how Mushrooms can fuel batteries, inspire tiny homes, be grown in diapers and even create building "sausages," which just might help construct the homes of  the future. But now we read that they can also help with weight loss. Paul Stamets even says they can save the universe. Well, maybe just the earth and reverse climate change. He gets overly excited about mushrooms. The Soil people say grassfed beef can reverse climate change. The reality is that to save the earth, all people in general all around the globe need to make numerous lifestyle changes and create different behavioral patterns, but how likely is that ?

In this new study published by the Mushroom Council in Eurekalert, an organization that obviously has a vested interest in promoting the benefits of edible fungi – 32 women and men were split into two groups. One group ate 226 grams of sliced white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) twice a day while the other consumed 28 grams of meat twice a day. Those amounts contained equal amounts of protein, which proved significant in the study, with results showing that the people who included the mushrooms in their diets reported feeling significantly fuller and less hungry than the meat eaters. They also tended to eat less calories during the day if they started with the mushrooms in their breakfasts.
"Previous studies on mushrooms suggest that they can be more satiating than meat, but this effect had not been studied with protein-matched amounts until now," said gut health and satiety researcher and study author Joanne Slavin, PhD, RD, professor at the University of Minnesota. "As with previous published research, this study indicates there may be both a nutritional and satiating benefit to either substituting mushrooms for meat in some meals or replacing some of the meat with mushrooms."
Without adding anything further, you can read the rest of the account in the link below:
EurekAlert: "Feel fuller, longer with mushrooms"
Hmmmm 😏, Brown vrs White Button Mushrooms 😋

Interesting study and comparison of which mushrooms have some of the best nutritional properties. Here is the Youtube link (HERE).
Here is the link to the actual PubMed published study (HERE).
But on the subject of whicch one is best ? I like both 😁
Some Great Reference Links
Kitchn: "What's the Difference Between Cremini and Portobello Mushrooms?"
Oh and one more thing, stay tuned for a post on those Christmasy Magic Mushrooms and the origins of many traditions
The Amanita muscaria mushroom
Image by John Short 2012

Stay Tuned in December 2017 !

Friday, October 13, 2017

Human disconnect to reality of our times is like an infection and it's spreading

American Museum of Natural History

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Lee, Katia, Maria, Nate, etc & that's just the Atlantic stuff. A plethora of devastating Earthquakes, Wldfires, Terror attacks and an impossible Mega-Tsunami refugee crisis in multiple regions around the world which are well beyond fixing. And what are most of the world's mainstream & social Media and their koolaid drunk followers focussed on ? Still trying to score political Brownie Points against their imaginary opponents. Anyone else find it uncanny how lulled to sleep everyone is becoming ? Rather than say much more which would be pointless anyway as far as holding your attention, I find pictures and illustrations much more effective. Last week I was in Copenhagen, Denmark, for a school. Five days of intensive study and discussion, also being without television or internet, I was clueless as to what was happening on the outside world. So I'll just focus on a few particular bits of News I missed about a further hurricane mess which happened while I was gone and a few things since. This is the Category 5 Hurricane Maria which steamrolled over what Hurricane Irma bulldozed the previous week. Not to mention many of the other countless devasting happenings which are taking place somewhere in the world every time you flick on the News.


This Category 5 Hurricane Maria hit practically straight on with the island of Dominica with Martinique close on the south and Guadeloupe on the north. Prior to all of this happening, Hurricane Irma and Jose hit many of these tiny islands. The island of Barbuda is now totally unlivable with everyone having been ordered to evacuate. In the Hurricane pathway map above, you can track where it went and at what strength. You can see above map of solid red where Hurricane Maria's eye wall is poised to make direct landfall on Dominica.
Carribean Island of Dominica
Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images
Roseau, the capital of Dominica, suffered devastating damage from Hurricane Maria. Anyway, here is a link to the devastation in Dominica (HERE). After bulldozing and steamrolling all over Dominica, US Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico were it's next direct targets.
St Thomas Island & St John Islands
Hilary Swift for The New York Times

The Caneel Bay resort on St. John was heavily damaged as
was most of the surrounding wild forests & other vegetation.

Hilary Swift for The New York Times

The Solar panels that provided a small percentage of power
 for St. Thomas were destroyed by Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico's Aftermath from Two Major Hurricanes
Ricardo Arduengo / AFP / Getty
After the passage of Hurricane Maria, a man rides his bicycle through a storm-damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Alvin Baez / Reuters
Cars and people stop on a highway near a mobile phone antenna tower to check for mobile phone signal in Dorado

Joe Raedle / Getty
Telesforo Menendez surveys the damage in his neighborhood in Hayales de Coamo, Puerto Rico
Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty
Storm-damaged homes and vegetation on a mountainside in Naranjito, southwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Carlos Giusti / AP
Trees are reflected in the water in the Buena Vista community, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan
Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters
People gather on the roof of a damaged house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa
Ricardo Arduengo / AFP / Getty
A house sits precariously in an area affected by landslides in Corozal, southwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters
Fallen power lines and storm damage in Humacao, Puerto Rico.
No More Agriculture in Puerto Rico 
Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty
A cow lies dead after the storm in Ingenio, Toa Baja.
Carlos Giusti / AP
Dead horses lie on the side of the road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.
(Victor J. Blue/The New York Times)
Jose A. Rivera, right, and his brother Jose Ramon Rivera look over their destroyed plantain crops in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, on Sunday. For as far as they could see, every one of the 14,000 trees was down. “There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico,” Jose A. Rivera said. “And there won’t be any for a year or longer.”
(Victor J. Blue/The New York Times)
Felix Ortiz Delgado examines the ruined nursery where he works as a foreman in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, on Sunday.
Earthquakes, Wildfires & Terror Attacks Oh My! 
Photograph: Omar Torres/AFP/Getty Images
The 7.1 magnitude earthquake is deadliest to hit country in more than 30 years and has brought down buildings in the capital, Mexico City. Emergency crews and volunteers are digging through rubble with their bare hands in search of trapped survivors after a powerful earthquake stuck central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, toppling dozens of buildings and killing at least 225 people
Soldiers stood guard after a hotel collapsed in the town of Matias Romero, Oaxaca state. The 8.1 magnitude quake off the southern coast late Thursday was stronger than a devastating 1985 temblor that flattened swathes of Mexico City and killed thousands.
Erie News Now
The gunman in the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on October 2, 2017, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. At least 58 people were killed and more than 500+ people were injured Sunday (Oct 2nd 2017) night when Stephen Paddock rained gunfire on concertgoers in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Horrific Wildfires are plaguing California right now as they presently do elsewhere throughout the globe. In the above photo a postman delivers mail in fire-devastated Santa Rosa, California. The video was captured by Douglas Thron, an aerial cinematographer. Thus far as of my writing, 40+ people have died, 100s missing and 5,700+ homes and businesses destroyed and it's not even remotely over. Below here is an engine crew from the Berkeley Fire Department who shot this video as they arrived at the Tubbs Fire which had already burned into Santa Rosa destroying hundreds of homes. They were part of a five-engine strike team that had been told to stage at a K-Mart parking lot but when they arrived the entire store was engulfed in flames.

There's really not a whole lot more to say here. The pictures & google articles speak for themselves. But it's amazing how disconnected and out of touch most of the people are who are commenting on these events. Hard core Ideologues on various political sides rather than show genuine concern for fellow man are more interested in this stupid immature fingerpointing and scoring imaginary brownie points against their preceived worldview enemies. I'd encourage people everywhere reading to separate themselves from either side of this politically motivated controversy and consider what you can personally do for folks in need while at the same time watching carefully where you may be donating your money to what ever non-profits these days. There's really nothing more to say. I have 1000s of family and friends who are now organized and helping our folks who have been among the unfortunately ones to lose everything in all these events. The other  amazing thing here is that nobody even seems to be questioning why more and more of such devastating things are on the increase and at the same time viewing these as simply the new normal. No, this is NOT normal, it's the new abnormal folks. And you really need to start taking note. LIGHTLY brushing aside warnings can and will result in disaster. And what about Puerto Rico and the small island nations ? I doubt they will ever recover and it seems this incessannt politicking on all sides will keep the status quo around to the very end.
"And they took no note until . . . "
 Matt 24:39
"The nations on earth will be afraid . . . , and they won’t know what to do.  People will be so frightened that they will faint because of what is happening to the world." 
Luke 21:25-26
Reference Links to Photos & Articles

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Benefits of Olives and Olive Oil

Could Olive Oil be the key to weight loss? Scientists discover even the SMELL of it can make us feel full & not hungry
Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Okay, I have no clue as to the power of merely smelling olive oil making you feel full and not hungry. But when my wife and I were on the Greek island of Zakynthos, we went with a bus tour up into the mountains and stopped at the village called Agios Leon. There was a little Olive oil pressing factory there called Olive Oil Press Margaris Lamprinos & Co. Before we stopped, our lady tour guide who was from Finland and had lived there in Zakynthos for over 20 years, told us the story of the Mediterranean diet which includes generous use of Olive Oil. She said the Greeks don't cook with it so much as they pour it over food after it's been prepared. She said it is why many there are not overweight. She said it does something to improve your metabolism and make you feel  full and less hungry. Interesting note here on our tour guide lady. She was speaking Greek to the driver, but when spoke English, she sounded exactly like a friend of mine back in Anza. She even looked a bit like her. I actually thought so in the beginning of our trip, but didn't tell my wife until the lady revealed her country of origin. For those reading who know me up in Anza, I'm talking about Sirkka Rosada. How uncanny is that ? 😲 Whatever! 😎

Bus Tour to village of Agios Leon & Olive Press Co

The village where this olive oil press factory is location is mostly a mountainous terrain which offers excellent growing conditions for high quality olives and fine tasting olive oil. So we had the opportunity to tour the olive oil press company and get direct first hand look at the entire olive oil production process from the past to the present. We tasted their excellent virgin olive oil served with freshly baked homemade bread and local olives. And there were different flavours of olive oil. Some with a hint of garlic, orange or lemon. Others with different herbs. They offered two different types of whole olives and olive paste. Yesterday at 10:00 in the morning I ate some left over sweet potatoes, squash, onions and mushrooms with one hamburger patty my wife made the night before. But then I decided to pour some of the olive oil we bought over the reheated up food. But interestingly enough in the evening at about 6:00 in the evening, my wife wanted to know what I wanted for dinner and I said I really wasn't hungry and in fact I felt full. I had a small bowl of potato chips as a snack and and I didn't even like those. But then it hit me what I had done with the olive oil that morning, what it's effect was, what the tour guide said and what I found this morning in the Eureka Science Research Feed. 

There is a study by Virginia Tech researchers regarding the health benefits of olive oil. Two major things were found to improve. Diabetes and weight loss. The beauty of my own experience here is not that I read something first and decided to try it. But rather pouring the olive oil over food and not feeling hungry the rest of the day. Then remembering our road trip in Zakynthos and what was told to us, plus this article this morning. So here it is:
Virginia Tech News: "Virginia Tech biochemists dip into the health benefits of olives and olive oil"
I decided to google some other info and there is a lot in studies and articles out there. The usual problem with Scientists is that they are  generally by nature skeptical of natural methods of anything. If they can't synthesize and process something for corporate profit, then it must be no good. Anyway, here's another from Mail Online:
Mail Online: "Could olive oil be the key to weight loss? Scientists discover even the SMELL of it can make us feel full"
Anyway Enjoy! 😏

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Highways & Tunnels & Bridges Oh My!

"Landslide on California highway part of $1 billion in damage"
This is Part II of my post about the Central California Coast Highway and natural mishaps that have befallen the Big Sur area with wildfire and flooding. Part I is below.
Santa Lucia Coast Range & Big Sur California: An Environmental Wreck ???
Photo: John Madonna, Associated Press

In an ironic twist, I've had this post in draft form since December 15th 2016, yet I've spent so much time pondering how to find a way to conclude it and then suddenly this catastrophic event above took place in the very area I wanted to highlight an an example of infrastructure rethinking. This section of Pacific Coast Highway is notorious for is instability. There's really no bedrock, the soil is made up of loose soil and fractured rock on an extremely steep mountain slope. In so many ways the unstable geology here is reminsicent of the broken fractured geology of the Carrizo Gorge area of eastern San Diego County where a series of 17+ tunnels have always been in danger of total collapse as this tunnel #16 above right which was recently seen collapsed this year as seen in a January 31, 2017 YouTube video, weeds and large boulders obstruct the track. The American way of road building in the early days had many twists and turns. The roads didn't offend the landscape, but rather flowed along with it. In later years roads were straightened to increase speed and ease travel and this often meant blasting their way through mountains and other obstacles. Unfortunately many places are unstable and have a long history of bandaid fixes and patches, only to fall down again during the next storm or earthquake event. It was back in December 2016 that I saw what could be the answer to the bad stretch of roadway from the way sensitive care was taken by this article below. 
"Scientists hope a new approach to planning road infrastructure will increase crop yield in the Greater Mekong region while limiting environmental destruction, and open dialogues between developers and the conservation community"
University of Cambridge
image by Jianchu Xu & Biaoyun Huai

A new highway snakes through the mountains of the upper Mekong in the picture above & right which was needed to improve transportation infrastructure which would benefit the economy. But rather than tackling the steep unstable slopes along those hills and creating an ecological nightmare, they opted for something that would be intitially more expensive to build, but in the long run safer and easier to maintain while providing a better conservation purpose at less cost over time. The very first images that popped into my head when I read this study were the many dangerous landslide points along California's beautiful Pacific Coast Hwy 1. Had such dangerous locations been bypassed with more superior engineering at original construction, the loss of life, property and permanent damage to the environment would never have played out the way it has over the past several decades. Of course way back when it was first built, they most likely had very little money aside from technology. This mostly was a tourist scenic route as opposed to major economic transportation corridor which is east of here with Hwy 101. Not only would being a scenic route want to avoid tunnels, the geology would make it almost impossible just like San Diego's impossible railroad to Imperial Valley. Clearly there are many places along the coast highway where steep slopes should be abandoned and ocean infrastructure considered. And there is usually no consensus on how or if this should be done. Here are some of the ideological roadblock hatreds from two opposing sides as the article pointed out:
"Conservationists can to appear to oppose nearly all new infrastructure, while developers and their financial backers are often fairly mute on the environmental impact of their proposals. This can lead to a breakdown in communication." (University of Cambridge)
Maybe both environmentalists and developers should learn how to use the data to avoid building those so-called highways to hell. But I wouldn't bet on it. As it stands now, even some of the fix-it patches they have already done will always be subject to removal by Nature in one fell swoop no matter how sophisticated and technologically advanced they believe their skills are. 

Devil''s Slide area on Hwy 1 south of San Francisco
in rock fractured by faults in San Andreas zone.

image - California Department of Transportation
This construction zone at right is Pitkins Curve on State Highway 1, the California Department of Transportation is completing a bridge that juts out from the side of the cliffs, leaving the old highway to capture falling rocks which I believe is finished now. My wife and I passed through here heading south on Cabrillo Hwy 1 towards San Luis Obispo, California. Some would argue that it would ruin the scenery by putting part of the highway viaduct bridge off the shoreline into the water, but can we really say that these massive scars since the original construction are more scenic ? Below here is the finished product we drove through on our way south. 

Image - Joyce Cory (2014)

The Pitkins Curved Bridge and Rain Rocks Rock Shed Projects Video footage

I love this combination of half tunnel half bridge landslide shelter which respects that the area is slide prone and impossible to tame. This type of design allows for periodic sliding which is common feature of this geography. But it also hopefully allows no danger to befall automobile travelers along Hwy 1. This type of structure is uncommon to most of Southern California, but well known and very common in many of the northern parts of the world.
British Columbia's Hwy 1 Lanark Snow Shed is 316m long
Image - TranBC Canada
Above and Below are beautiful examples of what are termed either Snow Sheds or Avalanche Sheds.
Below is British Columbia's Great Bear Snow Shed on the Coquihalla Highway and it's interior drive
Image - CWMM  Consulting Engineers Ltd

Ultimately these types of partial tunnel shelter designs on mountain sides allow natural slides to occur rather than preventing them is what that Pitkins Curve Bridge is all about. Unfortunately such construction is rare in Southern California where weather and climate have traditionally been pleasant most of the time and allowed the State to save money by taking a shortcut approach which has allowed development to increase at a faster pace and that's ashame for both Humans and Nature.

Image - LE CHIC EN ROSE - Model Railway
I know, it's a model train, but scenes like this are common everywhere in the real world of Switzerland. The Swiss cannot afford to ruin and destroy or make mistakes on landscapes they do not have. One stupid engineering blunder could ruin a steep mountain valley and almost render it unusable forever by bringing an entire unstable mountainside down into a valley.
Image - Northwest Air News

Above here is the Golden Pass Scenic Train near Zwissimen station Switzerland. I remember traveling through many tunnels and avalanche shelters on the train back in 1976 when I first visited Europe. This photo above reminds me of that movie scene from the 1965 WWII flick, "Von Ryan's Express," where Frank Sinatra single handedly holds off all those German soldiers in that Alps avalanche tunnel while his fellow prison camp escapee comrades make it over the border from Italy into Switzerland. All through the Alps these incredible infrastructures were everywhere and many of them seemed to have been built a century ago. Even the numerous public walkways or pathways and trails are all lined with stone along terraced hillsides to prevent erosion and degredation which were meant to last for centuries. Much of this careful done by hand has lots of natural character while providing a more maintenance free infrastructure system. Nothings perfect, but this kind of thinking is as close as you get. It's a work of Art.
image -

Public Pathways in Switzerland's Lavaux Wine Region
What about Tunnels and Wildlife Corridors ???
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Image - SoCal
Early traditional road building like that of the iconic American highway Route 66 often flowed with the landscape's natural geography. It rarely offended the land by blasting through formidable mountain barriers for a more straighter convenient tourist travel. The early roads hugged river canyons, had many "S" curves, some like this one on the right called 'Deadmans Curve' which is old Hwy 99 through California's Grapevine Canyon which was eventually replaced & road straightened when Interstate 5 was constructed. I can understand thier reasoning, but why not make a short tunnel through that low hillside which would allow deer, mountain lion and other large animals easy access to the riparian canyon corridor below without danger of crossing the freeway ? Large cuts in roadways are also constantly subject to slides in California either by heavy rain storms or earthquakes. 

Postcard image -
Above is an old postcard photo of an early Hwy 99 switchback roadway up the canyon. I get the reasoning for straightening out a endlessly twisting roadway infrastructure for convenience and safety. But long term maintenance and forethought should also have been considered and incorporated into many design plans for Interstate 5 and they weren't.
Image - Matt Beckstead 2011
This photo above is a wildlife ecoduct on the highway from Calgary, Alberta to Invermere, British Columbia. Over here in Sweden, while I'm not exactly keen on many things about living here, I do respect and applaud their numerous attempts at tunnels and wildlife overpasses like these two examples above and below. When we travel to Oslo Norway or Stockholm Sweden, these infrastructures are all along the route. They allow Moose and large Elk to travel from one side of the motorway to the other. It prevents automobile collisions with these large animals which also saves human life. Are they really all that complicated to design and build ? I come from Southern California which in the decades since WW II has had excessively almost unrestricted growth and doing things cheaply has been their road most taken. However in the long run many areas are ongoing maintenance nightmares.

Image - PDI
Smithsonianmag: "Worlds Coolest Animal Bridges"
Main Reasons for Highway Wildlife Over & Under Passes
Image - Inside Philanthropy

Google Earth
In Southern California there has been a movement to build more and more of these wildlife overpasses to prevent the larger animals from becoming roadkill. Yes we see roadkilled squirrels & rabbits all the time, but it's the larger animals like Deer, Bears, Cougars, Wolves and Coyotes which are not nearly as abundant as the smaller animals. Plus there is the human life safety factor. Hitting a large animal on a highway (usually at late night) is a dangerous experience. One area of controversy for roadkill is the passes between the Santa Monica Mountains, especially where Cougars of Mountains Lions attempt to traverse such passes to get from one part of their traditional territoral range to another. For me coming from San Diego County, I never understood why a tunnel was never proposed and implemented when the newer Mission Gorge Road bypass was built back in the 1960s for a wildlife gap connection between Cowles Mountain's Pyles Peak  and Kwaay Paay Peak next to the San Diego River's Mission Gorge within the Mission Trails Regional Park. 

Image from Trail to Peak's website

If you look towards the left hand side of the photograph above, you can see where Mission Gorge Road leaves west Santee headed towards San Diego's Mission Valley. It pushes upwards from  Santee through the gap between Pyles Peak and Kwaay Paay Peak. This would be the ideal location for building a tunnel to allow a wildlife corridor above and allowing a major connection between both sections of Mission Trails. The other major spot which would have provided good beneficial wildlife corridor would have been a short tunnel through the gap between North Fortuna Mountain and Miramar Military Reservation along Freeway 52 which is on the right hand side of the photo above.
From Trails to Peak's website

Again here is the entire map of Mission Trails Regional Park and you can easily see both Pyles Peak and Kwaay Paay Peak with Mission Gorge road running through the center of both. Perfect spot for wildlife corridor.

Photo credit: Dr. Yun Wang
I kid you not, if Southern California had the mega-fauna (Asian Elephant) problems common to the Simao-Xiao Mengyang expressway in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province, China, heads would roll if something sensable wasn't done immediately. So getting back to our California Route 1 Cabrillo Highway along the central coast, I really think that building a viaduct type of bridge over water construction would be the way to go and still be beautful and scenic. Allowing those unstable steep slopes to settle and heal with native vegetation would be much more eye pleasing than allowing the area to continue to degrade because of a belief that Nature has to be tamed and conformed or bent to our will. Somewhere Jennifer Doudna just fell off a chair. Below is another example of successful over water viaduct down in Australia.
Photo: david_wimble via Instagram

Sea Cliff Bridge in Australia
Seriously folks, picture California's Central Coast where most of the major catastrophic landslides have historically taken place and imagine a picturesque viaduct bridge like the one above to bypass the danger and allowing the land to heal with it's native coastal sage scrub.
Responsible Infrastructure References
Road planning 'trade off' could boost food production while helping protect tropical forests 
Interstate 15 and the Scenic Virgin River Gorge Bridge Project
Arthur's Pass Viaduct Highway New Zealand

Seriously folks, these people insist on doing things the hard
way- Or it just may well be it's a Union thingy

Google - Wildlife Overpass Construction Designs
Googled wildlife overpass construction
Coyotes, Wolves Cougars........Forever