Saturday, May 17, 2008

Solarial solar blimp concept could aid in disaster relief

Solarial solar blimp concept could aid in disaster relief, terrify villagers

Getting power to disaster-affected areas is always a tough task, but Andrew Leinonen's undergrad industrial design thesis (and recent first place entry in the 2008 ACIDO Rocket Show) might be able to solve the problem in an efficient and clever way. Dubbed Solarial, the idea is to use small unmanned airships made out of materials embedded with CIGS solar cells to autonomously deliver clean power to disaster sites by deploying anchored "power boxes" that have 12 total 120V outlets and 2 240V sockets. Obviously this is just a concept, but it's a clever one -- let's hope someone with the cash to make it happen finds out about it.

Krusty Gets His Own Roller Coasters

Woo-hoo! Simpsons' Krusty Gets His Own Roller Coasters

By Hugh Hart


"Twice the cost, same cheap fun!" So says The Simpsons brain trust as it mock-hypes The Simpsons Ride, a new amusement park attraction inspired by Krusty, the series' animated huckster clown.

Expanding the Krusty "brand" beyond appearances on the show as the fake-smiling incarnation of corporate greed and predatory fast-food practices, the Krustyland roller coaster ride officially debuts Thursday at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida and Monday at Universal Studios Hollywood.

To reach the The Simpsons Ride, visitors walk through the mouth of an 8-foot-tall, 36-foot-wide Krusty head. Once the coaster starts rolling, gargantuan pictures of Springfield's citizenry are displayed by image-warping software that projects visuals through an overlay of four 10,000-lumen projectors. "This marks the first time ever that an IMAX film-projection system has been replaced with digital technology for the purpose of making Homer Simpson's rear end appear 60 feet tall," park officials said in the press release.


To complete the Springfield experience at the ride, visitors can blow more money at the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store owned and operated by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, which is stocked with Krusty-O's cereal, giant pink donuts and the Flaming Moe energy drink.

The motivating force behind Krustyland -- which also includes virtual attractions Krusty's Wet & Smokey Stunt Show, Happy Little Elves in Panda Land and Captain Dinosaur's Pirate Rip Off -- is rooted in Krusty's straightforward business philosophy. According to the press release: "Krustyland is the whimsical, magical, family-friendly theme park that Krusty has dreamed of creating ever since he saw how much money other theme parks rake in."

Set up you own Pirate Radio Station

Set Up a Pirate Radio Station

From Wired How-To Wiki

Photo by  believekevin on Flickr
Photo by believekevin on Flickr

Ah, Christian Slater. In 1990 you hijacked your local airwaves (and our hearts) in "Pump Up The Volume." Now thanks to the free flow of information on the web, anyone can start their own pirate radio station. Here's all you need to become your city's favorite underground shock jock:

A Word on Legality Issues

Depending on where you are in the world, there are a few different things that make pirate broadcasts illegal. The cardinal sin stateside (as far as the FCC is concerned) is broadcasting on unlicensed radio spectrum. Although the FCC is often a buzzkill, in many ways its rules regarding pirate broadcasts make sense. If a high powered transmitter lands in the hands of a reckless amateur, all sorts of havoc can be wreaked on local radio communication. This can not only cause problems in the public safety sector (fire, police, emergency services), but it's also likely to disrupt the transmissions of legit broadcasters who actually paid for their chunk of licensed spectrum.

Also, there's the issue of royalties. Setting up your own "All Aqualung, All the Time" station might sound great, but if your transmission is located it's likely that the record industry will want a piece of the action. Depending on how flagrant the offense, pirate broadcasters can be hit with a combination of back royalties and fines -- and that's on top of financial beating the FCC dishes out. Naturally, we wouldn't condone illegal conduct of this type, but we imagine that this information might be useful for hobbyists.

Yes. Hobbyists.



Step 1: Develop a Broadcast Format

Having a general concept for the content you're going to broadcast is not only important for sanity's sake. Knowing whether you'll be broadcasting voice or music can have a bearing on how you develop your studio. Want to run a music-heavy show? You're probably going to want to broadcast in stereo and on the FM band. Punditry and talk radio more your speed? You'll be able to get by on AM transmissions, but you're going to want to pay special attention to properly equalizing your equipment for voice.

TIP: Does the notion of a live mic and listeners make you antsy? You might want to consider recording your broadcast ahead of time to avoid some of the headaches of live broadcasts. This may prove a boon if you're new to mixing and audio production. It not only gives a mulligan for misspoken words and awkward transitions, but you can also perfect little mixing tricks like smoothly fading between songs.

Step 2: Assemble Your Studio

With a general format in tow, you should be ready to start collecting equipment. The technically inclined can go the distance with a DIY kit, but rookies are probably better off hitting up amateur publications and websites to find the right gear. Although there's lots of room for customization, the outcome is basically the same -- you're looking to chain together components that filter, convert, and broadcast your audio signal. Your gear will breakdown into three categories:

2a. Audio Sources

Photo by  celesteh on Flickr
Photo by celesteh on Flickr

Choices can run the gamut here. Everything from 8-tracks, tape decks, turn tables, mics, CD Players, and MP3 players fit the bill. Practically anything people used to play music in the last 30 years should work, as long you're able to plug it into a mixer. In terms of size, programming playlists, and capacity, the MP3 player is an ideal quick and dirty starting point.

2b. Mixing Equipment & Filters

Love the sound of your own voice? Rest assured, it probably doesn't sound as great over the airwaves. The best way to clean up your audio signal is by employing a combination of mixers, filters, limiters, and compressors. It's a little daunting with the number of accessories on the market, but the goal should be twofold. On one hand you want to clean up your overall sound, but you also need to do so while keeping broadcast harmonics in check. Without both of these issues attended to, you're liable to sound like crap, interrupt neighboring frequencies, and attract unwanted attention.

2c. Transmission equipment

Photo by  Unhindered by Talent on Flickr
Photo by Unhindered by Talent on Flickr

Transmitting equipment is like the pulse of your rig. In fact, the transmitter itself is what 'modulates' audio over your chosen frequency, effectively making it fit for broadcasting via an antenna. Ideally, you're looking for a transmitter equipped with a Variable Frequency Oscillator (VFO). The advantage of this feature is being able to move your broadcast to any frequency supported by the transmitter. It might sound extraneous now, but having the ability to change broadcast frequencies can come in handy if you're prone to moving your studio, or running from the FCC.

You're also going to want to be on the lookout for gear like radio frequency amplifiers, coaxial cable (RG-8 or RG-58U), and antennas -- at least if you want your broadcast to be heard beyond your neighborhood. The amateur radio market is flooded with options, so finding equipment that suits your desired range shouldn't be too difficult. Be careful though -- if the FCC goes looking for the source of your transmission, the first house they're going to check is the one with the 40 ft. antenna in the backyard. Buy smart, and if possible, operate discreetly.

TIP: Getting all of this equipment to work perfectly on the first try is close to impossible. Your best bet is to do extensive research on the equipment combinations you've chosen, and chain the components together one at a time. Joining an online broadcaster community like the one at Free Radio Network isn't a bad idea, especially if you think you'll need a sounding board.

Step 3: Find an Open Frequency

Photo by  celesteh on Flickr
Photo by celesteh on Flickr

Finding dead air is extremely important. After all, the moment you start interrupting legal transmissions is the moment other broadcasters start asking questions. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as turning on your ghetto blaster and finding static. The best way to dig up some open frequencies is to hit the web. Radio-locator is one of our favorite search tools, but if you're prone to getting your hands dirty, you can fire up your rig and do some recon of the local frequencies. Keep in mind that even though there's tons of traffic flying through the air at any given moment, only a specific range is designated for 'regular' radio broadcasts. For AM this spans 540kHz to 1700kHz, and for FM, 88.1 MHz to 107.9 MHz. If you pick a frequency outside this range, you're likely to interfere with television, or even air traffic control broadcasts. After you find a few open frequencies within the specified range, be sure to listen in regularly for activity. Pirated shows are known for hopping around, so make sure your prospects don't butt in on another pirate's, er...hobbyist's turf.

Step 4: Test Out Your Broadcast

Once you've found a couple of candidates, it's time to take your broadcast for a test run. While running a test broadcast make sure that all input levels are within a reasonable range, and that you're achieving the desired tone. It's not uncommon for there to be some residual hum, but you should be able to track its source by checking your components one by one and using deductive reasoning. Once your test is running smoothly from the helm, you might want to check out your frequency range (and possible interference) by grabbing a radio and doing some traveling around town. If you can hear elements of your broadcast coming through on neighboring stations, then you've got a problem. Otherwise, you should be all set.

Step 5: Keep the Authorities Guessing

For a lot of radio pirates, gaining exposure through loyal listeners is the big draw for setting up a station. But keep in mind that the more exposed you are, the more likely you are to garner unwanted attention. Long and symmetrically scheduled broadcasts on the same frequencies can be a recipe for trouble, so make sure to mix things up. Never give out any personal information, location data, or landmarks over the air. If you were savvy enough to build a mobile rig, even better. After all, it's harder to catch a moving target.

Rocket Man

WEEK IN PHOTOS: Giant Bug, Rocket Man, Baby Croc, More

Will 1 Cent Per Calorie Minimum Food Prices Reverse Obesity Crisis?

With obesity on the rise, could there be a seemingly easy solution? The One Cent Solution to obesity: Require a minimum price of 1 cent per calorie of food at restaurants and fast food outlets. Would you order Outback Steakhouse cheese fries if they cost $29.00? Jack in the Box’s Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger at $10.70? Hmm, would cheap fast food become renowned fancy foodie fare?

Plane Lands on Plane

Ever bumped into someone coming from the opposite direction, because you are trying to give way to each other? Similar thing happened here. Both pilots were under the impression that the other would give way, but before that could happen the planes collided with each other on the runway. Fortunately no one was injured in the accident.
(Photo Credit:

The whole hog (or cow, or duck): Deluxe nose-to-tail dining

Joshua M. Bernstein, Published: Thursday, May 15, 2008

At Portland’s Le Pigeon, diners can opt for “foot and tail” croquettes or duck-duck-pigeon—roast squab with duck confit salad and duck-liver vinaigrette.

Courtesy Le PigeonAt Portland’s Le Pigeon, diners can opt for “foot and tail” croquettes or duck-duck-pigeon—roast squab with duck confit salad and duck-liver vinaigrette.

Colin Alevras, chef at New York City's Tasting Room, recently unveiled a luxury burger that blew diners' minds. While the $23 price tag is chump change compared to the $75 foie gras-stuffed, black-truffle-topped burger at NYC's DB Bistro Moderne, what sets Alevras' meaty masterpiece apart is not decadent toppings but the meat itself.

The Old MacDonald burger, as Alevras dubs it, blends a grass-fed cow's heart, liver, bone marrow, tongue, flatiron, brisket, shank and clod. It's topped with raw cow's-milk cheese and "mushroom ketchup," and it's served on a beer-bread bun. Fries are, incidentally, extra.

"I haven't seen anybody reconsider the burger from the cow up. We don't hide behind its casualness. We are remaking the world's most overlooked food," the chef recently told's food blog, Grub Street.

International Day Against Homophobia

Homophobia Threatens Lives and Families
International Day Against Homophobia Highlights Dangers of Bias

By: Human Rights Watch

New York, May 16, 2008 - The president of Poland, the leader of Uganda, and the UK Home Office are making prejudicial policies and public statements that deny people's dignity and endanger their lives, Human Rights Watch said today in its annual "Hall of Shame" to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.

On May 17, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups in dozens of countries will commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, an initiative launched in 2005 that commemorates the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its roster of disorders.

"Homophobia allows political leaders to smear loving relationships, smash the doors of houses, and slam the doors of a safe haven that should welcome refugees," said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "Where prejudice trumps privacy and intolerance stifles intimacy, no one's rights are safe and no one's place is secure."

Inductees to the 'Hall of Shame'

Human Rights Watch named three leaders to the "Hall of Shame" for their actions in the past year in endangering LGBT people's dignity, families, and safety:

President Lech Kaczynski of Poland: for denying people respect for their family. Kaczynski and his allies - including his brother, the former prime minister - have campaigned for years to deny basic rights to Poland's LGBT people. In March 2008, in a nationally televised speech, Kaczynski railed against ratifying the European Union Reform Treaty, which would adopt the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. He claimed that provisions in the charter prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation would force legal recognition of same-sex relationships. He used film clips of the Canadian marriage ceremony of the US couple Brendan Fay and Thomas Moulton to warn of the "dangers" of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Fay and Moulton spoke out against how the president exploited their relationship. Eventually, they visited Poland to send a message that their marriage was a promise and affirmation, not a threat to others. Kaczynski is only one among many public figures worldwide who attack LGBT people's families for political ends. In Guatemala in 2007, Congress debated a bill to eliminate single-parent or other non-nuclear families from the definition of "family," and bar same-sex couples from any form of legal recognition. A proposed measure in Romania would define heterosexual marriage as the basis of the family, depriving many Romanian families of basic civil rights. In the name of protecting a particular model of the family, such measures deny innumerable families desperately needed protections.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda: for denying people privacy and security. In August 2007, after a coalition of LGBT organizations in Uganda launched a campaign called "Let Us Live in Peace," the government showed it had no intention of doing so. Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo publicly called homosexuality "unnatural"; while dismissing claims that police harassed LGBT people, he warned, "We know them, we have details of who they are." The deputy attorney general called for the arrest of gays and lesbians, "because homosexuality is an offense under the laws of Uganda."

LGBT Ugandans have faced official harassment for years. In 2005, authorities raided the home of human rights defender Juliet Victor Mukasa and forced her into hiding. Government officials have censored media discussions of homosexuality and threatened to respond to any advocacy for LGBT rights with prison terms.

A colonial-era sodomy law in Uganda punishes homosexual conduct with life imprisonment. Worldwide, over 85 countries criminalize consensual homosexual conduct. Such laws give governments like Uganda's a pretext to invade people's private lives and deny them an essential right: to live in peace.

Home Office, United Kingdom: for denying people protection. People fleeing countries where they face abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity often face asylum systems that fail to recognize the reality of their persecution, despite clear legal obligations not to deport individuals to countries where they are at risk of torture and abuse. The recent ordeal of the Iranian asylum-seeker Mehdi Kazemi, who in 2007 faced deportation from the United Kingdom to Iran - despite laws imposing torture and the death penalty for homosexual conduct in Iran - points to how the UK Home Office is failing to implement its human rights responsibilities. In 2008, Lord West of Spithead, Home Office minister in the UK House of Lords, said: "We are not aware of any individual who has been executed in Iran in recent years solely on the grounds of homosexuality, and we do not consider that there is systematic persecution of gay men in Iran."

"An asylum system where only the dead are found deserving is an asylum system that does not work," said Long. "Human rights law demands that those who face persecution be given protection, but persecution does not require corpses to prove it."

Human rights law forbids deporting people - including LGBT people - to places where they risk torture and serious abuse.

Recent Progress in LGBT Rights

Human Rights Watch has also pointed to three areas where advances in human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have given reason for hope.

In Colombia, the nation's Constitutional Court has handed down landmark decisions protecting LGBT people's rights in the sphere of relationship and family. It extended health care benefits and pension benefits to same-sex partners on a basis equal to those enjoyed in heterosexual relationships, and condemned the lack of legal protection for same-sex relationships. The decisions cited human dignity, personal autonomy, and equality as the core principles behind these decisions. The court has shown leadership to the country's Congress, which has debated at least six legislative initiatives to protect LGBT people's families in the last decade, without enacting any of them into law.

In Ireland, the High Court finally ended a transgender woman's 10-year legal struggle for state recognition, by ruling that the government had to grant her identity papers corresponding to the gender she lived in. The decision marked the first time that the High Court had ever found an Irish law incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The "Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Law in Relation to Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity," which spell out international legal standards for protecting against violence and discrimination, state that: "Each person's self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom."

In Nepal, after years of civil war accompanied by violence targeting lesbians, gays, and transgender people, the Supreme Court on December 17, 2007, mandated legal and constitutional protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The landmark decision requires that LGBT people's human rights be addressed in the process of reconciliation and reform, and may make Nepal a regional leader in addressing discrimination.

"In each of these cases, dedicated judges have upheld rights and the rule of law in the face of prejudice," said Long. "Their commitment to principle should be an example to political leaders."

What came first - the egg or the gecko inside?

By Nick Squires In Sydney

Australian scientists are trying to crack the mystery of how a tiny lizard found its way inside a chicken’s egg.

The bizarre discovery was made by a doctor in Darwin as he made dinner earlier this week.

Peter Beaumont broke open an egg and was shocked to find a dead gecko inside. “I was cracking the eggs into a pan when I noticed one of them was all cloudy. I looked at the shell and saw a tiny gecko,” he said.

The lizard could not have entered the egg after it was cracked open because it was embedded between the interior of the shell and the egg’s membrane, he said.

Dr Beaumont believes the lizard climbed into the chicken’s bottom, perhaps to feed on an embryo, before dying and becoming cocooned in the developing egg.

“Eggs are made inside chooks up this tube from their bottom,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“Now obviously this tube is in contact with the whole outside world. It has to be that the gecko climbed up inside the chook and died up there while the egg was being formed.

“If you open up a dead chook, you sometimes see the partly-formed eggs. The gecko could have been looking for a feed and got trapped.”

Dr Beaumont, 60, the president of the Australian Medical Association in the Northern Territory, said his unusual find could be a world first.

He has handed the remains of the egg to health authorities who will try to work out exactly how the gecko got inside the egg.

The Australian Egg Corporation said it had never heard of such a case before.

“Certainly the gecko wouldn’t have been ingested by the bird. It would be physically impossible for it to make its way from the digestive tract into the area where the egg’s formed,” said the corporation’s research and development manager, David Witcombe.

“So it’s a case of the gecko actually making its way through the cloaca of the bird and onto the developing egg.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Code Talkers: The Secret Heroes of World War II

When the 29 young Navajo men first stepped into the Marine recruiter's office one morning in 1942, none of them were sure what their futures would hold.

"All I thought when I went in the Marine Corps was going to give me a belt of ammunition, and a rifle, a steel helmet, and a uniform," recalled Chester Nez, in a 2004 interview with the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).

Nez wasn't altogether wrong: He and his tribesmen would go on to fight in battles across the Pacific and European fronts, much like millions of other soldiers. But these courageous young men were destined for something different.

Though they've received little acknowledgment for their work, the hundreds of Navajos and other Native American tribesmen in the U.S. Military's Code Talkers program helped pave the way for an Allied victory in World War II, using the tools of their own native languages and culture to keep America safe.

The innovative military program was developed in 1942, when Philip Johnson, a white World War I veteran who had been raised on a Native American reservation, made a suggestion to the Marine Corps to help ensure the secrecy of communications during World War II: By translating all messages into Native American languages, they could reduce the risk of interference from Japanese officials, who were otherwise likely to crack their codes and use the secret information to defeat the Allied troops. After viewing a demonstration, the Marine Corps was impressed, and immediately recruited 29 initial Navajo Code Talkers, who were charged with the important task of developing a military code in their native language.

Though some words in the military code were direct translations from English to Navajo and other tribal languages, other codes were more complex, using the tribal name of a type of animal to represent each letter of the alphabet. In some cases, too, the Native Americans would invent new words for military vocabulary that had no translation in their own languages: "Well, when they first got us in there for Code Talkers, we had to work that out among our own selves so, we didn't have a word for tank," Charles Chibbity, a Comanche Code Talker, told the NMIA. "And the one said it's like a [Comanche words] he said, it's just like a turtle, you know. It has a hard shell and it moves and so we called it a wakaree´e, a turtle."

To the Marine Corps' surprise, the Code Talkers created and memorized the complex new military code almost immediately.

The memorization process was simple, one of the initial Code Talkers, Carl Gorman, told the NMIA: "For us, everything is memory, it's part of our heritage. We have no written language. Our songs, our prayers, our stories, they're all handed down from grandfather to father to children—and we listen, we hear, we learn to remember everything. It's part of our training."

Code Talkers did more than simple language translation, though – these men fought in fronts all over the Pacific Islands and Europe, risking life and limb, watching friends and comrades die in battle. They held the fate of their country in their hands every day – the coded messages often included privileged information that could change the outcome of a battle in mere minutes. During the first 2 days of the battle of Iwo Jima alone, the Code Talkers sent and decoded 800 messages, relaying important military information to military officers. Thanks to the Code Talkers' fast and skillful work, the Axis forces never managed to intercept a single message from the Allied troops.

"The Japanese pulled all of their hair out trying to decipher the code," Nez told CNN. But it's one of the hardest languages to learn, that's why it was never decoded or deciphered."

Despite their essential role in the war, the heroic Code Talkers weren't acknowledged in the public sphere for over a quarter of a century. They were not even permitted to tell their own families about the work they had done to protect their country.

"When we got out, discharged, they told us this thing you that you guys did is going to be a secret. When you get home you don't talk about what you did; don't tell your people, your parents, family, don't tell them what your job was," said Chester Nez. "This is going to be a secret; don't talk about it. Just tell them you were in the service, defend your country and stuff like that. But, the code, never, never, don't mention; don't talk about it."

Finally, in 1968, the military declassified the Code Talkers programs, and those who served have finally been honored for their service in wartime: In 2001, the surviving veterans of the Navajo Code Talkers program were presented with Congressional Medals of Honor. On the back of the medals was an inscription in the Navajo language: "With the Navajo language they defeated the enemy."

Though few of the Code Talkers are still alive today, those who've spoken about their experiences serving in World War II have few regrets.

"I found out I was fighting for all the Indian people. All the people in the United States, all that we had, as we call the United States," said Navajo Code Talker, Sam Tso, in a 2004 interview with NMAI. "I found out this is what we were fighting for."

Ping Pong Door

Ping Pong Door

Following on from the previous ping pong post…

No space in your house for a games or ping pong table? Then the Ping Pong Door could be for you, turning an existing doorway into an occasional use play space.

Designed by Tobias Fraenzel (originally for a DesignBoom contest) who tells me:

“The PingPong Door is ready to put in a standard sized door-frame. Just take out the old one and put this one in. The PingPong Table can be flipped open in a second allowing you to play between rooms. Even though the size is smaller, the game is ultra-fun. The door has had an incredible debut at the Tendence Lifestyle in Frankfurt and will be in production this year. It is not available yet”.

(via YankoDesign)

The Cafe Racer Truck Runs on 100% Recycled Coffee Grounds

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Cafe Racer, Wood gas truck, wood gas generator

Photo Credits: deborah sherman photography

The Cafe Racer Truck Runs on 100% Recycled Coffee Grounds

A commenter on Ben’s wood-powered truck post pointed us to a similar car hack. The truck above is also powered by a wood gas generator, except this one runs on coffee grounds. The Cafe Racer is a 1975 GMC pickup that essentially burns up used coffee to create a combustible gas. The gas is filtered on its way to the engine and, Viola, a caffeine-powered truck.

It’s interesting to note that this and the last vehicle mentioned are promoting a specific fuel (wood and coffee grounds), since the onboard wood gas generators can gasify almost any type of combustible material.

Gasification is a non-selective method using heat and a controlled amount of oxygen to convert biomass into a flammable vapor. In addition to Coffee Grounds, the Cafe Racer could use wood chips, old tires, and municipal trash, almost anything—which, by the way, is the same technology Coskata is using to make cellulosic ethanol out of garbage.

As Wikipedia puts it, gasification “was an important and familiar 19th century technology” that was commonly used until petroleum took over around the close of WWII. Although popular at that time, wood gas conversions are a bit of a throw back, but you never know what could gain popularity as gas prices continue to rise. Additionally, wood gas generators aren’t restricted to vehicles, and have found use in heating, cooking, and electricity production.

So how can a wood gas generator power a truck?

The reason a wood gas generator can power cars and trucks is that the internal combustion engine is actually powered by vapor, not liquid. In a gasoline-powered engine, gasoline is vaporized before entering the combustion chamber. Diesel is a little different; it’s sprayed into the combustion chamber as fine droplets which burn as they vaporize. Either way, if you can put a clean combustible vapor into the engine, you’ve got power*.

(*Just to mention where this information is coming from, I thought I’d point out this interesting factoid: back in 1989, FEMA sponsored a series of “emergency technology assessments” that included a book on gasification conversions. The title of the book is “Construction of a Simplified Wood Gas Generator for Fueling Internal Combustion Engines in a Petroleum emergency.”)

Gasifying a solid material partially burns it, which preserves some of the energy that would normally be wasted in the gas (otherwise there wouldn’t be anything left for the engine to burn). The gas contains a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N), and a small amount of methane (CH4).

The big question for wood gas use is (as usual), how do these systems compare to other petroleum alternatives in terms of environmental impact? The group behind Cafe Racer claims that it’s a carbon-negative demonstration vehicle, but they don’t substantiate that on their website. I wasn’t able to find much on the issue, except the risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning in poorly designed systems, but my gut instinct tells me this isn’t the cleanest way to get around. If you know of a resource on the emissions of wood gas generators, please send it my way.

The important point here isn’t so much that you can run a truck on wood gas produced from waste materials (even though that’s pretty cool), but that this technology could play a major role in producing petroleum alternatives in the near future (more on that later).

If you enjoyed reading about this, check out these links, and see more pictures of the Cafe Racer below:

Posts Related To Wood Gas Generators and Other Car Hacks:

Cafe Racer, Wood gas truck, wood gas generator

Cafe Racer, Wood gas truck, wood gas generator

Photo Credit: deborah sherman photography:, (studiodeb on Flickr). Used by permission (thanks!).

Boy Sleeps For First Time In 3 Years

Boy Sleeps For First Time In 3 Years

A 3-year-old Florida boy who has not slept for three years because of a rare brain condition finally fell asleep after experimental surgery, doctors said.

IMAGES: Boy Sleepless For 3 Years
Rhett Lamb of St. Petersburg was diagnosed with a condition called chiari malformation that puts pressure on his brain stem.Rhett has never taken a nap or gone to sleep at night, forcing his parents to keep watch day and night."It is hell," father David Lamb said. "It has taken a toll on me and my wife and our relationship.""(My husband) has the day shift and I kind of have the afternoon shift," mother Shannon Lamb said. "We share the night shift because no one can sleep in the house when he is up anyway."During an experimental surgery, doctors removed pieces of bone from Rhett's skull and spine to take the pressure off his brain stem.The surgery appears to have worked."Last night, we didn't wake up," Lamb said. "It was amazing."Doctors said it may take months to see long-term results from the surgery.The $60,000 surgery was not covered by the family's insurance. The hospital is helping the family get financial assistance.

Do you eat Meat?

If you eat meat I dare you watch this video
Many of us like me eat meat blind to the fact about how they are treated before they make it to our dinner table. If you have been thinking about cutting meat of your menu, then this video will help you decide quicker.

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"The Shundahai Network: A Decade of Resistance",
Gregor's Environmental & Social Justice Issues
SN BOOK & Nuclear Issues blogs at &
Gregornot Vision Day by Day.
Gregornot's Vipassana Voyage
To conclude with the ever inspiring words of the Buddha:
"If the roots remain untouched and firm in the ground, a felled tree still puts forth new shoots.
If the underlying habit of craving and aversion is not uprooted, suffering arises anew over and over again."
~Dhammapada XXIV verse 338

How to Design Your Own Cardboard Furniture

How to Design Your Own Cardboard Furniture

by Scriptoneon May 12, 2008in home & craft
HOW TO SAVE A TONNE MONEY and help keep Planet Earth Green. If you need a quick way to create new spaces that weren't there before - here's the secret of making your own cardboard furniture. Recycle your CARDBOARD and create FURNITURE for your home that you've designed!

I really enjoy creating cardboard furniture ever since I purchased the step by step DVD from Vinestreet Works, featuring Eric Guiomar.

Had to watch it 5 times before I could get started and understand the concepts here. If you're a visual learner, you might like to purchase the DVD or check out the book.

Eric has written a book in French with very clear pictures (I'll be getting my copy soon)called: How To Create Furniture Out of Cardboard. If you scroll down you can see 2 pdf Tutorials to Create A Ming Chair in French


DIAL-UP VERSION & Learn to Draw Cartoons in 1 Minute (How to Sketch Your Designs - CLICK on Draw Now!)

So CRAFTY RECYLCERS out there, grab all the FREE, CLEAN thrown away cardboard you can TODAY!

And btw all you need is a roll of sticky tape, sharp scissors and sharp craft knife. (Can be sharpened simply using a brick which is great - if you don't have a sharpening stone). To finish off a bottle of acrylic floor varnish / gift wrap / butchers paper.
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Check out books and catalogues for inspiration. The first cupboard I planned to make was a Chinese style black and gold one. In this instructable the same methods are used for every type of object you plan to make. I will show step by step techniques of how I made a craft cupboard to store my knicks knacks.

So now you've figured out you basic construction. You will be surprised at the strength of your cardboard structure.

This cupboard below holds up to 80kg of folders. I'm guessing.
After 1 month its still standing!

Look for clean cardboard thrown away in recycling bins. Large complete pieces are ideal - the size of a refridgerator or plasma tv.

You will need to work out the measurements for thicknesses for each layer ON PAPER.

6-10cm is ideal space between each LAYER.

Thicker ply of cardboard is definitely going to make aa stronger cupboard or chair or table.

In one structure I used 2-ply cardboard other times 3-ply.
1 ply is all that's necessary for the shelf layers (more on this later)

When cutting the shapes of the cardboard use a simple craft knife. Slice 3-4 times over the line you've drawn without using pressure. You'll be surprised how effortless it is compared to working with WOOD.

Accuracy in MILLIMETRES is essential, or your structure may collapse. (Seriously.)
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Now you will cut out the silhouette shapes.
Cut 3.
The middle one and the front one you will cut out the spaces for the shelves.
The 3rd silhouette will not be cut out inside as this is to be the BACK of the shelf.

In the pictures here, some like to cut 4 silhouette shapes for extra support.
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1. The strut will be as long as you want the WIDTH of your structure to be
2. The strut is the inside skeleton that supports the whole
3. The width of each strut will be the same width as the THICKNESS of each layer.

A. Cut and measure your strut pieces. You will only need ONE silhouette to cut struts. This is the MIDDLE SILHOUETTE. You can create more than 3 silhouettes for extra strength for a long chest of drawers for example.

Label each SILHOUETTE : top and bottom, front and back.

B. Cut the struts approximately HALFWAY both on the silhouette and the strut

C. They are insert DOWNWARDS FOR EVERY SHELF SECTION except the bottom, where they are placed UPWARDS
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1. Place the uncut inside silhouette on the bottom level
2. Place the middle silhouette that has struts attached
3. Finally place the top level which will be the FRONT OF STRUCTURE
4. Put weights to add slight pressure so you can tape the pieces more tightly. I used coloured sand in zip lock bags.

A. Using very STICKY DUCT TAPE attach the stuts at the top, bottom, middle. This takes a while to do, but its relaxing exercise.

Warning, you must be very accurate in measuring and assembling at this stage or structure may collapse because edges do not meet exactly.

With my first Chinese cupboard, I had problems because of a slight measurement off here and there. Use a FILE or RASP to even edges sticking out.
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1. Measure your depth of each shelf space. Cut out accurately using 1 PLY cardboard for the roof and bottom shape to insert into TOP SIDES AND BOTTOM of inner space. 1-2 ply thick is enough for inside. The strength lies in the 3-PLY silhouette frame and internal skeleton.

2. Sticky tape all joins carefully with duct tape for good quality strength. Aim for a FLAT and SMOOTH edge. This helps when decorating with paper to sit nicely.
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1. With the Chinese cupboard I covered everything with duct tape then spray painted it black
2. The second cupboard was covered with double-sided tape and gift wrapping paper
3. Eric Guiomar uses papier mache techniques, but you might be impatient as I was to use it immediately and cannot wait for the toilet paper and starch paste to dry.

Varnish = Acrylic Floor varnish around $4 per bottle

Rice Starch Glue Paste recipe
Rice flour
2 T Salt dissolved in boiling water

1. Cook until translucent. Keeps in fridge 3 days.

Eric Guiomar suggested the following tip for me today:
You can try to stick the paper on the cardboard. Then, when the collage is dry, to paint with the acrylic painting above. Then varnish the piece of furniture.

The best is to use nepalese paper. You can get it in arts shops, shops of craft, framing and home-made creations. This paper is really good. You can find it in a lots of differents colours. You don't have to use painting on it. Just varnish after the collage.
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The door imitates the internal structure of a single piece of 1-ply cardboard.
1. Cut 3ply struts into strips that are slightly reaching the edge of your cupboard door.
2. Stick with duct tape along the full length
3. YOu can use hot glue but I found it elevates the height of the door too much.
4. Cover the door and edges to create a sturdy box door.
5. Decorate the surface of door then glue a piece of balsa wood / masonite the size of a hinge. Drill holes for screws. The wood provides solid support for the hinge. I experimented with fabric hinges rather than metal ones.
6. Attach a hinge to cupboard and door. Attach a magnet or velcro.
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You'll be so inspired by these Design Ideas below!

Here are some other Cartonnistes - Cardboard Furniture Designers from France you might be able to pick up more tips from if you can write in French and ask for advice.

Go to and click under the title MEET THE CARTONNISTES!

Also check out
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