Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Home Depot Settles with EPA

The Home Depot reached a settlement deal with the EPA recently regarding violations of the Clean Water Act, specifically stormwater run off construction practices at more than 30 construction sites in 28 states. In no particular order here is a list of the locations:
  1. Bullhead City, Arizona
  2. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  3. Palm Coast, Florida
  4. Suwannee, Georgia
  5. Mishawaka, Indiana
  6. Garden City, Kansas
  7. Somerset, Massachusetts
  8. Ellsworth, Maine
  9. Auburn Hills, Michigan
  10. Willmar, Minnesota
  11. Blue Springs, Missouri
  12. Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina
  13. Omaha, Nebraska
  14. Rochester, New Hampshire
  15. Tilton, New Hampshire
  16. Seabrook, New Hampshire
  17. Londonderry, New Hampshire
  18. Alamogordo, New Mexico
  19. Lawton, Oklahoma
  20. Beaverton, Oregon
  21. Provo, Utah
  22. Crawfordsville, Indiana
  23. Juneau, Alaska
  24. Porterville, California
  25. Evergreen, Colorado
  26. Aurora (Saddlerock), Colorado
  27. Aurora (Pioneer Hills), Colorado
  28. Plymouth, Michigan
  29. Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  30. College Station, Texas
  31. Lewisville, Texas
  32. Wylie, Texas
  33. Austin, Texas
  34. American Fork, Utah
They settled for $ 1.3 Million dollars. The press release is HERE(1) . The info sheet is HERE(2). The Consent Decree in pdf is HERE(3).

I'd imagine that with pockets as deep as Home Depot this wont affect their bottom line too much. But that these issues even came up is silly. Just some basic construction and engineering practices would have prevented this. I guess thats what you get when you hire the low bid.

Monday, February 25, 2008

EPA releases 2006 Maine Data

On February 21 the EPA released the results of the 2006 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data. This publicly available data comes from industry reports about releases to water, land and air. The industries reporting are larger than 10 workers and exceed chemical thresholds from the fields of power plants and manufacturers.
"During 2006, the latest year for which data are available, approximately 27.7 million pounds of chemicals were released in the six New England states, a reduction of about 2.5 million pounds."
Maine Specific Data

In Maine, the reporting data show that overall releases of pollutants to the environment have declined. Within the state, 98 facilities reported in 2006 approximately 10.6 million pounds (a reduction of 964,058 pounds). Approximately 47.6 percent of releases in Maine were emitted to the air and 32.5 percent of releases were discharged to water during 2006.

The top five chemicals released to the environment on- and off-site during 2006 in Maine were:

Nitrate Compounds 2005 releases = 3,035,733 lbs. 2006 releases = 2,812,904 lbs.
Methanol 2005 releases = 2,739,559 lbs. 2006 releases = 2,501,288 lbs.
Zinc Compounds 2005 releases = 1,087,639 lbs. 2006 releases = 1,114,087 lbs.
Manganese Compounds 2005 releases = 1,050,038 lbs. 2006 releases = 1,029,511 lbs.
Ammonia 2005 releases = 886,749 lbs. 2006 releases = 866,754 lbs.

The five facilities that reported the largest quantity of on- and off-site environmental releases in Maine under TRI for 2006 were:

McCain Foods USA, Easton -->2,278,292 lbs.
Verso Paper Holdings, LLC, Jay -->1,928,971 lbs.
Newpage Paper Corp., Rumford -->1,700,733 lbs.
SD Warren Co. Sappi Fine Paper, Skowhegan -->1,470,906 lbs
Domtar Maine Corp., Baileyville -->1,119,196 lbs.

More information: - TRI in Maine Fact Sheet (

The good news is that most chemical releases decreased. Have a green day.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cycling Season 2008 Begins...for me anyway

FINALLY after a pathetic four month hiatus I have resumed cycling. Today was a beautiful sunny and crisp Sunday. No wind. Temps. were about 35 deg. F (~2 deg. C). The roads were sandy but mostly dry. And most importantly all the chores around the house were done. Fortunately I have the 8-speed KONA in 'rugged mode' and took it down into town to pick up some groceries.

I picked up mostly produce for tonights dinner, chicken soup. When I got home it weighed in at about 14 pounds. Which fit pretty nicely in the panniers and rack trunk. That reminds me of the ol' joke:
'Whats a hennway? 'Bout 3 pounds.'
Anyway, I was friggin' slow. 11.98 mile round trip. 1 hour 2 minutes. At least 15 minutes slower than during my summer peak. Thats only less than a 12 mph average. I should be at least at 15. Regardless of my 'less than peak' performance it felt great to get back out riding again.

This is all a part of trying to get and keep cycling into as much of my everyday routine as possible. Grocery gettin' is a good start. Commuting into work will start up again (prev. posts 1,2,3) so thats good.

*If any reader(s) is/are curious about how to incorporate cycling as exercise into your daily routine feel free to ask and I will write up a post based on questions. I would love to see more people out there pedaling from place to place like the Dutch.

But yeah today was like "w00000t w0000t"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Satellite Takedown -SUCCESS!

Well the Navy is telling us today that they scored a direct hit on the spy satellite. The video below is from LiveLeak.

"Nothing the size of a football remains." -General Cartwright, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In an AP article I read this morning I thought the most interesting part was this:
"While Pentagon officials stressed that the satellite strike was a one- time incident, it certainly will spin off massive amounts of data and research that can be studied by the military as it works to improve its missile defense technologies."
Obviously, China is tracking all the developments and are asking the U.S. to provide data on the shoot out. (Article) Good luck getting that information China.

So I guess the hydrazine fuel is no longer an issue. Not that I believe is ever was the primary concern. Why? Well, here is a link to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for hydrazine. Here is the MSDS for gasoline. Not really a whole lot of difference in the health effects.

At this point I guess the only thing left to say is..
congratulations navy dudes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Today is February 19, 2008 and I am crawling the webs, listening to the piano classical station on AccuRadio which is pretty good. I haven't used it as much as Slacker but on-line free music is all good.

And for your reading enjoyment I bring you- some random Slingshot Thoughts as I listen to Schumann Fantasie Op.17:

First: If I hear the phrase "Moving forward.." again I am going to scream and grunt. I'm in an office monkey for many days of the month and this phrase is WAY overused. When it is used, I think that it makes the person sound like they have less of a vocabulary. It becomes a weakened phrase. Suggestion, think of something else to say.

Secondly: Get Prepared to get additional fucking from oil companies. Early today a refinery in Big Spring, where ever the fuck that is..probably Texas, exploded. Fortunately only one man was injured and brought to a hospital. (source link) Anyway, so there goes some of the refinery capacity for a while. Gotta fix these things, dont'cha know? So, since the US runs so lean on capacity and since, Katrina everyone knows the refinery capacity in the US sucks,

Then to pile that shit higher and deeper (an ol'PhD joke) Fucking OPEC bastards will be reducing their production. So that pushed a barrel of oil today to $100.10. (Source link)
What do you think will happed at the pumps tomorrow? Yep. Expect to see gas up .25-30 cents by March.
Maybe I should get some heating oil tomorrow? hmm?

Third: I re-did my little SlingShot Thought Logo last night using the super powerful program Paint Shop Pro 4. Whadd'ya think?

Fourth: I would love to have a National NO CAR DAY. A day when no one is allowed to drive. Conduct it as part of a program to conserver fuel and discover alternative modes of transportation. Basically, I want to ride my bike to work by taking I295. I realize this is highly unlikely.

four's enough. and as they may say in L33T or on a car license plate... CUL8R

Friday, February 15, 2008

Satellite Takedown

...or how to really freak everyone out.

Yesterday our illustrious President gave approval for the US Military to use a missile to shoot down a old spy satellite. Is it just me that can hear GWB snickering...'heh heh...yeah lets shoot it down that'll be fun.'

According to news reports I have found on the web (1) "The missiles will target the secret satellite identified as USA 193. Since an immediate failure after its launch in 2006, the satellite's orbit has decayed and it now poses a threat to Earth."

Army guy James E Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said of the mission:

"We have modified three SM-3 missiles aboard Aegis ships to strike the satellite,"
Immediately I started SlingShot Thought-ing a few different ideas:

If they miss the satellite...please, please, please tell me they have a remote detonator on that missile. I mean why the fuck would we want to send an armed missile flying off into unknown space?
2) Shooting it down is probably more of an effort to destroy any super secret spy technology, than just to let it fall to Earth and possibly have some of the guts survive.
3) and Most importantly - it sends a message to the WORLD...
"Oh by the way, we can shoot down satellites. We can shoot down YOUR satellites. Can you do that?" (update 11:26AM - Link to show that was on track)

There are news stories all over the webs about this (1, 2, 3 -to list a few). Pretty much in each report the only concerns that are brought up are the hydrazine fuel and possible debris (a.k.a space junk) that will remain in orbit. Now of course this could also mean:

4) Debris could damage or destroy any one or many of the thousands of satellites that currently orbit earth. Sweet.

I'm not so worried about the hydrazine fuel but I think the Pentagon is playing up this safety and environment piece of the danger puzzle to take the attention off of the bigger issues.
It's all a game of war.
Tread with caution

As I find more fun quotes:
"It should be understood by all, at home and abroad, that this is an exceptional circumstance and should not be perceived as the standard U.S. policy for dealing with errant satellites," said House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton.
Uhh O.K. Mr. Chaiman, I understand this isn't how we are going to deal with errant satellites but what about Chinas spy satellites? Didn't the just test an anti-satellite missile? Yes. Is this whole situation just a thinly veiled message of one-upsmanship similar to the nuclear build up of the 1980's? It is starting to seem that way.

Aww hell. GO FOR IT!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Phantom

Every year since 1976 the people of Portland have witnessed the work of the Valentines Day Phantom. This year was no different:
Today I again saw that most of the windows and doors of shops and businesses have been tagged by the 'bandit', as some call him. Walking around town and see all the bright red hearts really does give you a good feeling inside. And I love that the identity it still unknown. Though I have heard suggestions that it is everyone from the former Police Chief Mike Chitwood to local weather guy Kevin Mannix, the identity is still unknown.
I also like to over hear tourists commenting "Did you notice all these hearts?" Not fulling understanding the history of it...
It's a tradition that I look forward to each year.

Reporter Jeff Inglis with the Portland Phoenix published a very good article today. (FULL ARTICLE). Below I have copy and posted the history of it for your reading pleasure:

Heart history
1976 The first Valentine’s Phantom strikes in Portland, and garners reports in the Evening Express and Maine Sunday Telegram newspapers.

1977 Printing the flyers cost $22 at Colonial Offset Printing on Forest Avenue; a Portland Press Herald effort to discover the Bandit’s identity fails.

1978 Hearts went up a day late, and bore a note: “It’s not only ONE day!”

1979 The weather was 8 degrees and windy, according to notes made by one of the six bandits.

1984 Massive heart banners, roughly 20 feet by 35 feet, hang from the Cumberland County Civic Center and the Portland Museum of Art.

1986 A heart banner is hung on Fort Gorges in the middle of Casco Bay.

1991 Down East magazine imagines that “the phantoms roam the city in a pack, dressed in red or white capes emblazoned with huge hearts.”

2001 A heart flag flies from the roof of Portland’s Central Fire Station; a fire lieutenant denies any knowledge.

2005 A heart banner hangs from the roof of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute on Commercial Street.

OCTOBER 2005 Portland City Council candidate Carol Schiller claims to be one of the phantoms.

NOVEMBER 2005 An anonymous phantom responds with information that his effort predated hers, and that she has never worked with them.
2006 CNN mentions Portland’s Valentine’s Phantom in a national report.

DECEMBER 2007 A would-be Portsmouth Valentine’s Bandit posts a message on Craigslist, hoping to get some pointers from Portland. No dice, apparently: “If anything does happen in Portsmouth, it won’t be any of my doing.” Sure. Like we’re supposed to believe that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

S'more Snow

I am lucky enough that on days that the weather is REALLY fierce I can 'work from home'. I put that phrase in quotes because I don't believe that everyone I work with actually 'works' when they stay at home during these weather events, but that is off topic.

Currently my work load is pretty light compared to normal so this was actually a good day for me to stay planted at the ranch, watch the woodpeckers and focus on clearing the driveway before the rain comes in and makes the snow good and heavy. I suspect that after tonight we are going to be left with an awesome blocky ice mess to deal with.
As of today the yard has 32" of base snowpack, plus the 7" or 8" that just fell. This has been a long winter with lots of snow. I am REALLY looking forward to Spring this year.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Paragliding Katahdin

Today Portland Press Herald ran an AP story about paraglider Christopher Kroot.
The the short version is that he paraglided off Mt. Katahdin on June 16, 2007 from an area know as the Tablelands. When he landed 40-minutes later the state police issued a 200$ ticket. He refused to pay because rules of the park did not specifically ban paragliding. Apparently any model craft, hot air balloon or hang gliding device of any kind are listed in the rule.
So when he got his day in court. He came out ahead.
Here is the you tube video:

The other funny part is that this guy is a GIS nerd at the Maine DEP. *Go state employees....throw caution to the wind, literally, and leap off Baxter Peak.*
[Kroot] has been told that Baxter State Park officials plan to revise the rules to ban paragliding, in addition to hang gliding
Of course it will be. But shouldn't there be some risks left for individuals to make? I say allow it. Register the fliers establish some guidelines and those who crash are responsible for the search and rescue costs. Simple.

Why has seemingly all personal responsibilities been taken away from us citizens?