Friday, April 18, 2008

The Rise and Fall of Mashed Potato Village

As a father of one --and trust me, my one counts for six of yours-- I can appreciate good product design when it comes to kid's toys/games/books/clothes, because it's easy to tell which designers actually have kids and which designers have "temporary" nieces and nephews. Well, the Spoon Sisters not only carry products with the child in mind, they also design with parents, imagination, and brain encompassed in both the form and function of their products.

I was originally apprehensive about the following item, but they're really starting to grow on me. At first, the Constructive Eating Utensils seemed pretty unnecessary. When I was a child, the bulldozer and backhoe and front loader already existed in my brain factory, so why would anyone ever need to spend $20 on something that simply recreated what already existed in the imagination? Same goes for the Airplane Spoon. Then I relaxed, pulled my panties out of a ball and realized that they're toys. Kids love toys. And the fact that there aren't any batteries in this toy and it doesn't make any sounds (non-kid manufactured sounds, at least), makes it A-OK in my book.

Your kids will be happy to hear it’s now okay to play with their food! Here is a set of eating utensils disguised as construction tools. Created by a husband and wife team with three kids, these utensils are scaled for little hands to hold. The set is composed of a "Fork Lift" Fork, “Bulldozer” Pusher and our personal favorite, the "Front Loader" Spoon. We all know little boys love trucks, but we’re sure as soon as "sis" sees these, she’s going to want a set too. Handles are textured to make for easy gripping. The PVC-free, phthalate-free plastic is rugged, lightweight and dishwasher safe. Fork and Spoon measure 5 3/4”L x 1" W; Pusher is 4 ¼”L x 1”W.
Price: $19.95

While you're there, why not pick up another design favorite for your environmentally friendly clothes line (it's almost Summer!), Swallow Clothes Pins? They need to make a really long pin in the shape of a squirrel for those heavy sheets. And possibly some tightrope walkers. And maybe some guys riding a zipline. I could go on and on...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just chill...

I haven't seen much on the blogfront in terms of HVAC and refrigeration since the Freeaire craze of last year (now installed in Killington, VT, where they estimate they're now saving more than 86,389 kilowatt hours of electricity, while eliminating an estimated 58 tons of global-warming CO2 emissions annually!!!), so I thought I might see what's on the horizon...

My search brought me to Ice Energy's Ice Bear, an amazingly simple concept with an equally simple installation procedure (off-the-shelf easy).

Similar to Freeaire, the Ice Bear utilizes cool air conditions to reduce power consumption. Whereas the Freeaire system requires frigid conditions to operate at maximum efficiency, the Ice Bear condenses and freezes water at night when energy consumption is less costly. It then holds the frozen water in an insulated storage tank until daytime when the weather warms.

As the warmer daytime temperatures engage the air conditioning, the refrigerant is forced through the coils in the stored ice and chilled before being pushed in to the building's HVAC ducts, thus providing a cool stream of efficiently refrigerated air.

The Ice Bear® 50 system has a capacity of 50 Ton hours of cooling, including 45 latent + sensible and an additional 5 sensible only. The unit provides 7.5 Tons of cooling capacity for 6 hours of continuous cooling.

Typical configurations:

-7.5 Ton for 6 hours
-5 Ton for 8 hours or more
-Offloading of 10 Ton rooftop unit, where 10 Ton unit is oversized due to high rooftop temperatures
-Offloading one stage of a 10, 15, or 20 Ton, 2-stage rooftop unit

There is also a residential unit capable of eliminating up to 95% of on-peak air conditioning demand. And as an added bonus:

Assists LEED certification

-Adds 3 or more points to the Energy and Atmosphere credits

-Contributes to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) credits

-Brings Thermal Energy Storage (TES) enabling performance to refrigerant based air-conditioning projects

Now, since the Ice Bear claims to use an equal or lesser amount of energy --in addition to delivering a consistent capacity on 95+ degree days with no degradation in performance and no increase in power consumption-- I'm interested to see if this concept could be hacked to eliminate the majority of the power usage all together.

Consider a location like Kuwait that has an average January low of 45 degrees Fahrenheit and an average August high of 112 (the low for that month is a crisp 83 degrees)! With the exception of brown-outs caused by dust storms throughout June and July, I think it's safe to say that the area is drenched in sun.

So why not saturate the rooftop in solar, submerge the unit's storage containers underground to twice-insulate their exteriors from the harsh conditions,* and store the daytime energy in batteries for nightfall, using the saved energy to refreeze the cores at night?

*You're only depth-limited by accessibility...sink the parking 5-10 floors below the building and you could run the unit subterraneaously, making it even more efficient, but still accessible for repairs. Check some of the commercial case studies and decide for yourself. I think there are benefits that exceed the burden of peak consumption. I just don't have the book learnin' to prove it.

My Big Fat Green Wedding...

Tired of the looking for a vegetarian meal in a marinated meat market?

Exhausted in your search for a patchouli-scented siren?

Need some spark in your hookah?

Dreaming of a dreadlocked darling to hacky your sackey?

Want to put the us in your Prius?

I could go on and on...seriously, I could.

But I digress...

While I'm long-since out of the dating pool (thank Ganesh!) with a lovely wife and a healthy-boweled17 month-old son, this little website was still able to catch my eye. To each their own, so why not the tree-hugging set, right?

Ethical Singles: The Matchmaking Service for People who Care about Humans, Animals and the Environment.

-Green business practitioners!

-Vegan vixens!

-Organic farmers!
-Human rights supporters!


-Wildlife protectors!

-Earth-friendly consumers!

I wonder if you can be both pacifist and Eco-warrior, trudging into battle with a bulletless, flower-filled rifle stock? I have a feeling the soldier might look a little something like this...
It’s free to join, and as an added bonus there aren't any uppity couples gushing over one another in TV spots.

Hippie love is a wonderful thing. That reminds me, can you believe it's almost time for Comfest?