Where have the acorns gone?

The Washington Post has an interesting article talking about how there appear to be no acorns falling from the trees in all of Arlington County (Virgina) this year. While some say it's an alarming indication of the effects of global warming, others say it's nothing to worry about. I grew up in an area full of oaks and come to think of it, I haven't seen any acorns at my parents house this year. Weird. (And poor squirrels!)

Water found on Mars, NASA scientists confirm

It looks like all those Sci-Fi books that talk about life on Mars are becoming more realistic. If there is one thing that never ceases to inspire awe, it's life on Mars and the idea of standing on another planet exploring places where no other humans have stood (at least not in currently known history).

That feeling of awe is what I experienced when I saw this news headline this morning: Water found on Mars, Nasa scientist confirm.

Sure, there still isn't one hundred percent scientific proof that water has been found on Mars, but the scientists feel sure enough to confirm it. They saw a white substance, which was present a few inches underneath the surface, "melt" away over the course of a few days. That confirmed the substance wasn't salt or CO2 ice (CO2 ice would take hours, not days, to melt and salt wouldn't melt at all). Of course there's a chance that the substance isn't water either, but something unknown to scientists. I hope not.

Finding water on Mars would swing the door wide open to future human trips to the planet and would make setting up a base on the planet a whole lot easier. One of the biggest problems with human space travel is the need to transport our water supply, something that is both heavy and very costly. Having a base on Mars with access to water would not only allow astronauts to explore Mars, but also use it as a refill station for other exploration.

I just hope that near-future space exploration is not hindered by other events on this planet. We seriously need to fix our energy problems (by fixing our political problems) and stop turning our only home into a dumpster. Recycle!

Every Little Bit Counts

I watched a great documentary tonight called The 11th Hour, produced and narrated by, of all people, Leonardo Dicaprio. It was definitely weird to see and hear him talk about something serious, but I suppose thats always the case when actors take non-acting positions on the screen. If you're interested in watching the movie, there are plenty of ways to get it.

Despite it being very cold both at night and in the morning, I've had the heat off in my apartment for the past month. I didn't turn it on even once. I did this mainly because the previous two months' gas bills were over $250 and I simply couldn't afford paying that much for heat. When I received this month's bill, I was happy to see it under $150.

That's when I realized how living without heat wasn't all that bad. Sure, it was a little annoying, but it wasn't cold enough to make me sick -- I simply dressed warm. It never got below 45 degrees because the residual heat from the furnace in the basement (for the apartment above me) rose up and provided some heat to my first floor apartment. I saved a ton of money and helped the environment at the same time. All that by simply overcoming a minor inconvenience.

I keep all of my lights off in my apartment (there are seven rooms) except maybe one where I sit at my computer. I turn off all of my computer screens when they're not being used and I unplug things like my multi-function printer until I need to use it. I have three computers and two routers running 24/7 and I turn on an electric space heater every now and then when my feet are cold. For the past three months my electric bill has not topped $50.

There are tons of more ways that I can reduce unnecessary energy expense and I will continue to look for new ways to reduce waste. Every little bit counts.