Basics of the Six-Meter Commute

Basics of the Six-Meter Commute

Uncategorized
16 March, 2020 Now that the coronavirus is all over the news, I'm hearing a lot about companies and employees setting up their telecommuting strategies. A lot of it sounds as though they are trying to reinvent the wheel. Here's some unsolicited advice from a work-at-home veteran. In 2013, I started doing freelance writing and editing, joining a small army of kindred souls who work remotely as a matter of routine. None of what I'm telling you here is new—it's all basic stuff that you need to know if you're new at working from home. First off, attitude matters. Work is work, and wherever you're working from, you still need to keep up the quality and deliver things on time. If you have a separate room that you can use…
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Adapt and Survive

Adapt and Survive

Uncategorized
By Nancy McGuire The hardiest plants and animals are those that adapt to changes in their environment, and the same applies to companies. Companies that survive in the long term are the ones that are the best prepared to weather gradual change and catastrophic upheavals. In the wake of mounting evidence of the adverse effect s of fossil fuel extraction and combustion, governments around the world are adopting stricter standards for fossil fuel extraction and emissions. Consumers increasingly embrace electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind energy. What are the largest petroleum-producing companies doing to adapt? A recent review article by Matthias J. Pickl in Energy Strategy Reviews looks at eight major oil companies and how they are planning for a less carbon-intensive future. Perhaps not surprisingly, three of the four…
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How I Do Work-Life Integration

How I Do Work-Life Integration

collaborations, processes, public perceptions, Uncategorized
People used to talk about work-life balance as if they were two separate things. Now they talk about work-life integration, but what they mean is finding ways to infiltrate every hour of every day with this work that is not really your life. I choose to do things differently. Seems to me that if left to our own devices, people would just spend all day doing what gives us pleasure. Some of that would involve doing things that help other people or make them happy and some would be just for us. Centuries ago, people discovered that different people like doing different things. If you take on a task that I don't enjoy, and I take on a task that you don't enjoy, that leaves both of us more time…
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I Just Want to See the Raw Data!

I Just Want to See the Raw Data!

communications, public perceptions, Uncategorized
Originally posted (by me) on LinkedIn, December 9, 2014. "I just want to see the raw data! No interpretation, no massaging the numbers, just the raw data straight out of the instrument!" I sympathized with my non-scientist friend. She felt frustrated after reading a series of news items that began with a promising discovery, followed by a series of caveats, followed by more news stories reporting that no one knew for sure what was going on, and several more years of research would be required to clarify the findings from the initial report. She didn't know whom to believe. Scientists presented what looked like clear and convincing evidence, only to be shouted down by political activists and religious leaders claiming, "That's just your opinion!" and citing past scientific studies proven…
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River deltas show electrical potential

River deltas show electrical potential

energy, environment
How in the world do you generate electricity from the slow-moving water in a river delta? Think about all the ways we have of generating electricity. You can turn a turbine using steam. You can place the turbine in a waterfall and have the falling water turn the blades, or build tall towers with windmill blades that spin in the wind. You can put a battery into your mobile phone, in between two strips of metal. These generators look very different, but they all have something in common: they are all situated in places where some kind of energy flows from one place to another, and they all tap into that flow to do some kind of work. Unless you put up some kind of barrier, if you put a…
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Tiny Crystal Provides a Big Clue

Tiny Crystal Provides a Big Clue

environment, explorations, geology, issues in the news, Materials Science
Is there an immense ocean, far beneath the surface of the Earth, that replenishes the oceans above? Recent news items describe a deep reservoir containing as much as three-quarters of the Earth's water supply. Most of these news stories are careful to note that this isn't some great sloshing underground pool, and you won't find any fish living there. Rather, the water is "bound up" in mineral deposits and released when these minerals are put under immense pressure. Some news stories compare the minerals to sponges, which is not something you usually associate with rocks. (Here are a couple of examples of the news items: Daily Digest News, The Guardian.) What's really going on here? Last March, a research paper in the journal Nature reported the discovery of a tiny…
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Touring a Green Building

Touring a Green Building

emerging technologies, energy, environment, Uncategorized
This afternoon, I joined the Earth Ethics Committee of the Washington Ethical Society and friends for a tour of the Camille Kendall Academic Center of the Universities at Shady Grove (Rockville, MD). When this building received a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, it was the largest building ever to receive this designation. The building is one of three main academic buildings on this suburban campus, which serves as a branch location for nine Maryland universities. Students at USG specialize in one of several career-oriented programs geared toward meeting the needs of regional businesses. One of the first things you notice as you enter is the terrazzo glass flooring, made from blue and green recycled glass and concrete. Just off the lobby is a cafe. The catering…
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A Yummy Smell (and a Clue)

A Yummy Smell (and a Clue)

Uncategorized
Cooking fresh ginger transforms one of its ingredients, gingerol, into a compound called zingerone, which is one of the key contributors to ginger's distinctive aroma. Zingerone is chemically similar to vanillin (which gives vanilla its odor) and eugenol (clove oil).
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Note to Wombats: Don’t Eat the Heliotrope

Note to Wombats: Don’t Eat the Heliotrope

environment, Uncategorized
The wombats didn't start getting sick until after Australian ranchers moved their livestock off the plot of land that the livestock and wombats had shared, after the foul-tasting weeds took over, pushing aside the tasty native grasses. The older wombats knew that something had changed, but the younger generation ate whatever was available, and they paid for it with liver damage, hair loss, and sun-blistered skin. Lucy Woolford and Wayne Boardman of the University of Adelaide and Mary Fletcher of the University of Queensland reported recently on their study of ten southern hairy-nosed wombats that lived on a plot of land in the Murraylands near Blanchetown, South Australia, about 130 km (80 miles) northeast of Adelaide. Park rangers had shot five of them to end their suffering, two of them…
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These iron curtains are very, very sheer.

These iron curtains are very, very sheer.

Materials Science, processes, Uncategorized
Recently, a group of researchers in Dresden, Germany found a way to make one-atom-thick sheets of iron. It wasn't what they had set out to do, but they were alert enough to see this as the intriguing discovery it was rather than an annoying byproduct to be cleaned up. Thin metal films are used as coatings or wrappings (aluminum foil, for example), components in optical and laboratory instruments, and as chemical sensors and catalysts. For a lot of high-tech applications, including high-density recording media and electronic devices, the thinner the film, the better. The ultimate thin film would be a sheet one atom thick — a monolayer. Carbon monolayers, known as graphene, have been around for a few years, and researchers have been busy exploring the unusual properties of these…
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