Moving along at a furious pace…

The weekend is here!  Let’s get it started with a classic from Darude:

In other news…my Oculus Rift has shipped!  Look for a review here next week.  My fear is it may not live up to the hype, and my own expectations…I’ve wanted something like this for a long time now…

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

The Environmental Working Group has published their updated 2016 version of the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  This guide looked at pesticide residue data from the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to rank 50 common fruits and vegetables by the amount of pesticides on them.  The results were  a bit surprising, and yet another reason why it’s better to buy organic when possible!

Here’s the full list, from worst to best:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers
  13. Snap peas (imported)
  14. Blueberries (domestic)
  15. Potatoes
  16. Hot peppers
  17. Lettuce
  18. Kale/collard greens
  19. Blueberries (imported)
  20. Green beans
  21. Plums
  22. Pears
  23. Raspberries
  24. Carrots
  25. Winter squash
  26. Tangerines
  27. Summer squash
  28. Snap peas (domestic)
  29. Green onions
  30. Bananas
  31. Oranges
  32. Watermelon
  33. Broccoli
  34. Sweet potatoes
  35. Mushrooms
  36. Cauliflower
  37. Cantaloupe
  38. Grapefruit
  39. Honeydew melon
  40. Eggplant
  41. Kiwi
  42. Papayas
  43. Mangos
  44. Asparagus
  45. Onions
  46. Sweet peas (frozen)
  47. Cabbage
  48. Pineapples
  49. Sweet corn
  50. Avocados

Until there’s proper, scientific human testing of the effects of long term exposure to pesticides as well as the combination of pesticides used on different produce…I recommend sticking with organic!

You can read more at Treehugger.

Advances in nuclear fusion

Scientists in Germany reached a major milestone when, after around 19 years in development and 1.2 billion Eutos spent, the Wendelstein 7-X created hydrogen plasma. It’s one big step closer to a fusion power plant, but it got me thinking.  Why are we doing this?  Maybe 19 years ago it mad sense, but these days, solar energy production has dropped in price to the point where it’s nearly cost competitive with fossil fuels already.  Fusion is still many years awat before a large scale design can even be considered, let alone built.  Solar is a clean energy solution that is ready to implement now.  Instead of sinking billions of dollars into fusion (the reactor in Germany is just one of many being built), we should invest that money in building large scale solar energy power plants instead.

Ah, but if we did that, what would happen?  With the economies of scale, prices of solar panels would drop even further.  More people would opt to install their own,  and maybe add a Tesla Powerwall to the system and go off grid.  Fewer customers will be available to pay for maintenance of the power grid.  It’s a disruptive technology,whereas fusion power maintains the power (literally and figuratively) in the control of large corporations.  Solar gives that control to the people.  So of course those with the money to invest opt for fusion.  But I’m not seeing how it benefits people…just corporations.

 

Review: VivoBarefoot Trail Freak Winterproof

IMG_5450I live in Colorado…when winter comes, I can either hop on a treadmill, or head out into the snow for a run!  Perhaps someday I’ll do a review of my treadmill someday…but the mere thought of that beast sends shivers down my spine…so let’s focus on the joys of trail running in winter in Colorado instead.  If you’re going to have fun doing that…you need the right equipment.  There’s nothing better than running at night when it’s lightly snowing!  Assuming of course you’re staying warm and cozy, and slipping and sliding all over the place.  Again, it all comes down to having the right equipment…and after spending my winter training for an April marathon, I’ve found some equipment that works great for me.  Starting from the bottom up, let’s talk about shoes, and my absolute favorite (for winter), the Trail Freak Winterproof from VivoBarefoot.

They’re very similar to the standard Trail Freaks, but with waterproof construction and a removable insole.  These different materials result in a shoe that’s much smaller than Vivo’s normal sizes – I own several VivoBarefoot shoes (both on and off road shoes), all size 44, and these size 44 Winteproofs were really snug in the toe section (compared to the wide, loose feel in the toes in the others).  After 180 miles in them they’ve loosened up a bit, but they’re still nowhere near as roomy as my Neo Trails.  The liner can be removed (which results in a more normal VivoBarefoot fit, still slightly snug though by comparison), but with just a 3mm sole, I want to keep that in there to insulate my feet from the snow I’m running on.  So, I cope, but consider ordering a size up from normal if you get these.  I wasn’t sure how I’d like the drawstring style laces, and while I found they do loosen up a bit, the shoes themselves never felt loose.

Traction in the snow and ice is phenomenal; they use the same tread and sole design as the proven Neo Trails and Trail Freaks.  Traction won’t be a problem.  Running through puddles and slush is a breeze…water does get in around my ankle, but the rest of the shoe does a good job of keeping the foot dry (the tongue is not a loose piece, its sides are joined to the rest of the shoe like a waterproof hiking boot would be, this undoubtedly helps).  Warmth is likewise never an issue, no matter what socks I wore, my feet were always plenty warm in temperatures as cold as 10F.  The 180 miles on these were not easy miles, either…when conditions were good enough (only patches of snow), I’d use my Neo Trails…I turned to the Winterproofs when it was either snowing or there was significant snow on the ground.  Sometimes that meant running on packed snow, sometimes I was breaking a trail through 6-8″.  Whatever I asked of these shoes, they delivered!

Naturally, all this does come at a price…$160 is the latest advertised price on VivoBarefoot’s website.  However, Vivo is always coming out with new colors for their shoes, sending the old colors to places like LeftLaneSports, so if you shop around, you can find a good deal on them (at the time of this writing, $97 at LeftLaneSports for example).IMG_5454

Review: VivoBarefoot Neo Trail shoes

Vivobarefoot Neo Trail shoesThis review is a bit overdue…you see, I’ve put 491 miles on these shoes!  I’ve grown fond of them and yet, it’s time to retire them and move on.  So, as a goodbye, this review.

I’m guessing if you’re reading this post, you were directed here by a search engine.  Hence I’m going to assume that you already know why you’d want to consider a trail shoe with a thin 3mm sole and no cushioning!  If not, check out VivoBarefoot’s website.  Yes, the sole is thin, though the large tread blocks add a bit of cushioning compared to 3mm road shoes I also own.  The small tread blocks and thin sole result in a highly flexible shoe that easily adapts to the contours of the trail…a feature I really love.  Protection from sharp rocks is adequate…you feel them, but it doesn’t hurt (my trail runs often include decomposed granite).  The level of grip is phenomenal in any terrain…even snow and ice are easily handled by these shoes.  While water resistant, they’re not waterproof and running through slush and puddles does result in wet feet (imagine that).  That same water resistance means they’re not going to breathe as well as some shoes, but with most of my running in <80F temperatures, I never had any issues with that (but I suspect these might not be the best shoes for hot running!).

I used these shoes primarily to train for a marathon through the winter months in Colorado.  While much of the 491 miles was on dirt and trails, a significant portion was on paved sidewalks and bike paths near the end of my training on the long runs.  I also ran the marathon (paved roads the whole way) in these shoes!  They handled the pavement just fine, and the tall tread blocks seemed to be providing some extra cushioning when compared to my ‘road’ shoes.  Many people online have complained about the tread blocks on these shoes not being durable…but as my 491 miles have shown, if you’re a moderately-paced runner like myself (~10min/mile), they hold up just fine.  A corner of a block or two have broken off, and they’ve worn down in some places to only a couple millimeters left.  That’s the reason they’re being retired..they’re still great shoes, but the depth of tread blocks is no longer as aggressive as I’d like and it’s summertime…time to hit the trails where I’ll need all the grip I can get!

Unfortunately, VivoBarefoot is no longer manufacturing this wonderful shoe (the Trail Freak has replaced it).  You can still find some unpopular sizes online if you search.  Stay tuned for more reviews of running gear, including the Neo Trails siblings – the Winterproof Trail Freaks, and the regular Trail Freaks!Vivobarefoot Neo Trail shoes