As the global population increases and water supplies become less predictable due to global warming, finding sources of clean drinking water becomes even more critical. Just ask residents of Cape Town, which expects to run out of water around April 12nd! The obvious solution is to desalinate ocean water, but that’s a very energy-intensive process. Well, researchers in Australia found a way to use a graphene film to act as a filter; its structure allows water molecules to pass through but blocks larger contaminant particles. Most membrane filters get clogged up quickly, but this one keeps working even as it gets coated in contaminants. It’s nowhere near a commercial product yet, but is a promising solution to a growing global concern.
The days of gas-powered cars are numbered. Sure, electric cars are cool and promising and are gaining in popularity worldwide, but an announcement by Volvo really helps make clear the powertrain of the future. As reported by MotorAuthority, Volvo is no longer working on any next generation gasoline powered engines. This doesn’t mean they’ll stop SELLING them any time soon…the current generation can last quite some time, I’m sure. But they’re looking ahead, and they apparently don’t see the profit in developing new gas engines, not with the rise of electrics. A big step, really, and one I expect other car companies will emulate. Or…maybe it’s just a publicity stunt? Volvo is owned by Chinese company Geely…so are they making this announcement for the eco-friendly news benefit, while actually planning to switch to Geely engines in the future if electrics haven’t reached the point needed by then?
Also in electric vehicle news…delivery company DHL did the math on Tesla’s new semi truck, and figured they’d break even on it in less than two years, compared to a conventional diesel truck. For large companies that are willing to invest in capital equipment like this, switching their short/mid range fleets to electric is really a no-brainer! It’s only a matter of time, too, before trucks like the Tesla are suitable for long-haul trucking.
The news is bleak for North Atlantic right whales, a critically endangered species with only around 400 left. After a year which saw 18 known deaths (most of which are due to getting tangled up in fishing gear), there have been no new calves sighted this year, worsening an already downward trend in births. That kind of math doesn’t bode well for the future of this species.
Climate change is not something that will impact the old farts in Congress, which perhaps explain their inaction on the issue. It will, however, greatly affect today’s children. I’ve been watching an effort to use the American judicial system to force change on this issue, and while its original trial date of February 5th was delayed due to Trump tactics, that case is proceeding. It’s worth reading more about at ourchildrenstrust.org. From the website:
Their complaint asserts that, through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.
So I’m curious…has anyone heard of studies looking at the effect of spending all day, every day, in a noisy environment? Not at a harmful level, but, say, music playing in the background all the time? I’m really liking my new HomePod and realized that it’s basically playing music for me all day long, all the time. I’m not growing bored with the stations like I did with Pandora (through the Amazon Echo), so I just leave it on. I DO still get out to enjoy the silence on my long runs…just kinda a new thing for me, to always have music playing in the house…
No camping trip is complete without a good cup of coffee in the morning! This is even more important when backpacking, as your surroundings are so idyllic that enjoying good coffee just caps off an already magical experience. With that in mind, this review is focusing on my quest to find a really good backpacking mug for coffee and tea.
There are a few basic criteria any cup must meet. First, it must be at least partially insulated…it gets cold in the mountains of Colorado! Second, it must have a lid for sipping. Lastly, it must have a handle that I can use to clip it to my pack if I feel like it (translation – if I’ve packed too much and don’t have space for the mug inside my pack 😉 ). Shown above are my two current favorites.
Let’s start with the orange one, The GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug (starting at around $10 at Amazon, depending on color). The soft outer shell doesn’t provide a ton insulation, but does prove sufficient. it holds a cavernous 17oz, and has a sturdy lid – while the lid is just a friction fit, it’s snug doesn’t come loose. Another nice feature is that the plastic inner cup is removable and you’ll notice it has markings on it for up to two cups. This is especially useful if you’ve packed dehydrated meals and need to measure out hot water for those! All in all, a robust, quality mug that I used a ton last summer.
New to the game is the Stanley Adventure Vacuum mug, a story double-walled stainless steel option. At around $15 at Amazon, it’s more expensive than the GSI, but I have little doubt it’ll last longer. It’s really tiny, with a measly 8oz capacity, but what drew me to this, apart from the double walled stainless construction, was its clever lid system. There are two lids…one a sippy lid, the other a solid lid with a handle that a carabiner can easily clip to. You can use either lid, or – this is the clever part – both lids at the same time. So when packing, you screw the sippy lid on first, then the solid lid, and you’re good to go, with no concern about anything coming loose and falling off along the trail.
So, which is better? Well I love the ruggedness and double-wall insulation of the Stanley and for car camping, it’s an obvious choice, even with its minuscule capacity. But for backpacking, there’s one more important test:
The GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug weighs in at a featherweight 3.7oz. It really is light, especially for its size. Plus, it has a second function, to measure liquids to re-hydrate meals. Bonus!
Ah, but then we get to the Stanley Adventure Vacuum mug, and its rugged construction really shows on the scales. This mug holds half the amount of the GSI, but weighs more than twice as much! 8.5oz, that’s just over half a pound!
Sorry Stanley. You’re an awesome mug and I love ya, but you won’t be joining me on any backpacking trips! We’ll hang out car camping sometime though, I promise. 😉
What’s impressive in this video is not just that a robot is able to open a door and pass through, but how effortlessly it makes it seem. Boston Dynamics is making rapid progress and is a fun company to watch…
My HomePod arrived! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this product ever since buying an Amazon Echo in July of 2016 (more on that later). Apple is very late to the game with these smart speakers, so, how did they do?
Check out this short but fascinating video of sperm whales interacting with free divers. What I found interesting was the description of how this interaction is different than when the encounter scuba divers, also the insight into their brain structure and size. I love whales!