Archive | April, 2007

Overhead Wind Turbines

30 Apr

A great new idea from an Arizona State Uni student, here.

Highway turbines


Clearly potentially a great use of overhead,unused space. Just imagine how wide reaching schemes like this could be. Currently just a project but it’s been getting plenty of recognition over the internet. Here’s the text:


Ok, so here is my project this semester. I will post the description that I wrote to explain the project:

Parasitic Catalyst
Parasite- an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.
Catalyst- something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.

The highway system that dissects Phoenix is expansive. While connecting 515 square miles of the Sonoran desert to support our sprawling culture, the valley freeways divide communities. My catalyst proposes to retroactively collect royalties on the land taken from social interaction. The design is a retrofitting replacement of the horizontal steel tube that currently holds freeway signage. The replacement will house two horizontal axis wind turbines (Quiet Revolution designs) that will be powered by the turbulence created from the passing cars.
Average vehicle speeds on the valley highways are approximately 70 mph. Using average annual wind speeds of 10 mph as a baseline, each single wind turbine will produce 9,600KwH of energy, annually (enough to fully power my 700 s.f. apartment). This power production estimate will increase exponentially with an increase in wind turbulence speed. I believe that the wind stream created over the freeways by our primary mode of transportation will create an average annual wind speed well beyond the baseline of 10 mph.

There are two ways in which the power could be used: supply the power directly to the grid to supplement current energy supply, or use the power locally to aid in producing a community hub for social interaction.

The site I have chosen to initially deploy my catalyst is located near the intersection of State Route 51 and Osborn Road. The initial draw to this site was the observation of multiple intersections. These intersections include the Grand Canal, Piestewa Parkway(State route 51), and Osborn road. This place is a transportation hub for all modes of travel; pedestrians, bicyclists, water flow, and vehicular traffic move fluidly through the site. Given the heavy preference for the car, most of the land is allocated to that user group. Whatever is left over becomes undesired space left over for decomposed granite, Palo Verde trees and the nomadic homeless. Kids also use the space to fuel their desire to be outdoors. Trails of bicycle tire marks create striated textures in the decomposed granite mounds supporting the freeway overpass. Public bicycle trails/ recreation corridors following the two pieces of infrastructure also converge on the site.

Analyzing the site from an aerial view, the applied grid upon which this city is built is apparent. The fascinating point about this site is the flowing shape that the two forms of infrastructure (canal and freeway) produce, ignoring the rules of the applied grid.

As an important asset to the community, the canal system deserves more respect. It is the bloodline of the community. As such, we need to light and shade the canal. I believe that the power generated by the moving vehicles will benefit the community the best by providing these canal amenities.

Here is the image I am working on to convey a canal system that becomes a community hub for both night and daytime. It features a sail shade structure that lights up at night. If you have ever been to Phoenix in the summer, you know that it burns! Shade from the day and light for the night could be the initial catalyst to make this place used.

The mounds that are built up to support the freeway are perfect audience seating for performance viewing.

Another important aspect to the project includes the notion of social justice. By mixing programs, (i.e.-homeless shelter, skate park, recreation path, communities would interact. (I know, it sounds cliche) Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks for sticking in there and reading.


A/ Thee Silver Mt. Zion…

28 Apr

Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band: live

Some plans and ideas seem to end up having everything stacked against them, and somehow it all manages to turn out alright. School was ok, but nothing extraordinary, the bus ride home was hell. I got splattered in ink and was carrying four bags and small art portfolio case. I got home and the internet was down so I couldn’t check if anyone wanted my spare ticket for tonight’s ASMZ gig in my hometown!! It was always meant to be special. ASMZ, a slither of Gospeed!, of tiny bit Montreal in the town where i live. But home seemed to have different ideas. After waiting 40mins for a bus i started walking/running. Asked someone about 5 request stops along if they’d been waiting long: 48 mins… So i got to the station and hopped on another bus into town. Ran a bit more to the venue and got there with just enough time to get something to eat and get a good place.

I wasn’t 100% up for the gig, even though i was pumped the day before. The spare ticket had been bugging me. I didn’t want to go alone, but in the end did. I couldn’t refund it, couldn’t find anyone (everyone seemed to want to go but just “couldn’t”). Today I also found out just before I went out that my mum was at the hospital, nothing seemingly serious, but hospital nonetheless. So my mind was slightly preoccupied. But ASMZ was the perfect…remedy? I don’t know. Maybe a way of looking at things. For the the first time ever during the music, the instrumental sections in particular, I kept seeing flashing images/ flashbacks in my mind’s eye.

The initially quiet, reserved, unwelcoming crowd took a while to get clapping and cheering and the first three songs were beautiful but received with clapping and then silence, in contrast to the footstamping, cheering, whooping and applauding for the encore. Mainly compromising new songs, only a few people were aware of the structure of the songs. Opener 13 Blues for 13 Moons was the lowlight of the night, but still a string driven thought-warping epic which was followed by the very impressive older number Mountains Made of Steam. Those 10 or so minutes were just beautifully solemn and an elegiac like aural panorama of the rising, falling, frothing sea. Emotionally I felt myself strangely affected for a song I’d never heard before by a band who I’m not really aware of all the recorded material. The next song, Engine Broke, was my highlight. A beautifully slow building, almost schizophrenic journey, with a drum line which sounded more poppy than any other ASMZ song to date. It was followed by a good performance of Take These Hands And Throw Them In The River, again characteristic of the relationship between swooping and jarring strings, bass lines and half melodies, vocal harmonies and harshly sung lines, which represent the model of ASMZ we’ve come to expect.

Engine Broke

Erfin had a few words before the newly written A Million Died To This Sound, a filmic dramatic number. Frontman Erfin referred to the often ridiculous nature of the internet, hype and “hometown heroes”. Someone in the crowd shouted The View but the band just knew the name as some American TV show with menopausal women rather than the “shit scottish band”, which brought some genuine humour to the evening, but I wonder if Efrin’s hometown heroes could just be…well, you know…AF. And guess how I first heard of ASMZ.

Encore Blind, Blind, Blind had the audience captivated and hypnotised. Erfin’s impassioned vocals were really effectively used here and it was a great way to finish- haunting, cinematic and mesmerising. Everything had turned out far more than alright.

Energy monitors

19 Apr

via Engadget

The environmentalists in the UK have certainly been earning their paychecks of late, as it’s been the Brits who have looked at outlawing standby buttons, offered up a way to kill power en masse, and now, officials are readying the launch of free household energy monitors to bring wasteful habits to light. As a part of the upcoming Energy White Paper, England is hoping that the real-time monitors “will help cut greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of energy wasted by appliances being left on standby.” The devices are supposed to give dwellers a quick look at just how much energy is going to waste by leaving the bathroom light on, and a handheld extension allows you to view the killowatt-burning action from all over your domicile. Of course, it should be noted that while citizens can request one for free starting sometime in 2008, “the cost of the scheme will either be recouped through taxes or their energy bills.”

Sounds to me like a good idea, although maybe it will most likely be the currently eco aware who request these monitors, not those who need to conserve and lower their energy consumption the most.

Dry Ice

19 Apr

There was an interesting story today about global warming reducing hurricane activity due to increased wind shear, but i didn’t read it all so I’ll have to go search for it. But knowing my luck it will be on one of those subscription only site google always sends me too.

But i thought this was pretty cool. It’s about artificial snow creation in Tibet, to help protect the snow levels necessary for a good deal of China’s water supply (and seeing as most of the water that reaches the Three Gorges Dam is of Tibetan glacial origin, well it makes sense not to render all that effort completely useless.).

I just wonder whether this is going to have unseen consequence. Possible cloud seeding by the RAF in the 50s might have led to the devastating Lynmouth Flood, below. South Korea has again and again tested out silver iodine in cloud seeding to mixed results. Anyway here’s the story from AP.

China has succeeded in creating an artificial snowfall for the first time in Tibet to combat drought worries, state media reported Wednesday.

The success proves it is “possible to change the weather through human efforts on the world’s highest plateau,” Yu Zhongshui, an engineer with the Tibet meteorological office, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

A spokesman for the Tibet Meteorological Bureau said the artificial snow was created by seeding the clouds with silver iodide, which has a cooling effect.
The Qinghai-Tibet plateau feeds the massive Yangtze river which flows through to the sea near Shanghai and Chinese officials have said they are concerned that the impact of global warming will melt glaciers and cause droughts.

Xinhua said the precipitation was measured at 2.2 mm (0.09 inch) and the accumulated snow on the ground reached 1 cm (0.04 inch) after the artificial snowfall. “To launch artificial precipitation can help alleviate drought on the grassland in northern Tibet,” Yu said.

Alvar Aalto

18 Apr

…through the eyes of Shigeru Ban.

GO SEE THIS. It’s fantastic and at the Barbican. Video, displays, sketches, photograhpy, letters etc…it’s brilliantly informative and attention grabbing. Only downside was the odd layout, and it seemed like part of the downstairs exhibit had just been thrown together.

But i loved it and spent 1 and a half hours easily, without any previous architectural exhibition experience.

About the layout. I started in the wrong bit, because i’m an idiot, but it’s chronological in a clockwise circle so it really isn’t that hard to work out. However, Ban’s done a great job. The notes are accessible enough for someone like me to understand, but wholesome enough to keep all the students scribbling away. I found it amazing as to just how involved Aalto was in the design process, across the areas of architecture, engineering, lighting, furniture design and even landscaping. There wasn’t too much analysis of the effect of his personal life on his work, which I really liked. It was clear his work was driven by a functionalist/modernist approach to serve the communities he was building for and the exhibition reflects this at times humanist, but always selfless, honest and sincere attitude to Architecture.

Definitely worthwhile.

22 February 2007 – 13 May 2007
Barbican Art Gallery

Armchair Apocrypha

15 Apr

I’d never heard of Andrew Bird until I started reading news of the Armchair leak back at the beginning of the year and now it’s definitely a strong contender for my album of the year. Having sat with it for a good few months now it seems even more detailed, complex and structured. It opens with the brilliantly layered Fiery Crash – a warm swooping cello dives in and out of the rolling, cyclical carousel of whistles, guitar, maracas and electric organ. There’s the distant reverb of the drums which rolls into Imitosis’ bizarre latin mood, Bird is, afterall, a Texan. At times his lyrics are scientifica, but never overly so or tiresome, instead spilled out through his wholesome, if not slightly undistinguishable, voice.

What follows is a stunning opening to the next track. Heretics will have you struggling to accept this is only the third track, and it’s temporary sinister phrases hold their place beautifully in the wider summery feel created by the vocal performance and the strings, which duet with one another wonderfully.

Other highlights include the rough edged, rocking platform which forms the basis of Plasticities, and the 70s tv soundtrack background of Simple X is a blur of digital symphony – theremin, sampling and synth. Interlude The Supine is a M.H.Raman-esque string piece, with burgeoning and the collapsing strings, which spill over, sombre and sobering, into Cataracts, a heartfelt departure to a much more restrained and introspective ballad.

Scythian Empire is a crazy, otherworldly narrative beginning with a depressing weather forecast and building into a something both confusing and exciting. Spare-Ohs is more of the same, and equally engaging, eventually succeeded by sublime instrumental closer Yawny At The Apocalypse.

However, there is one true stand-out track on this album. Nesteled in the middle is the majestic, slow building, Armchairs. Totally breathtaking, beautiful and inspired. It shivers as it progresses, fragile at first, then transforming into a powerful oscillating piano driven plea. It’s from the heart of a truly brilliant songwriter. Personal, painful and heartbreaking.

“You didn’t write you didn’t call
It didn’t cross your mind at all.
And through the waves
The waves of a.m. squall,
You couldn’t feel a thing at all.”

Days like these

12 Apr

I don’t have that much to say these days, at least on ecological terms. School is…euggh… right now. But it’s spring holidays. Easter’s just gone and I realised i wasted the first half of the holidays studying when I should be having fun. Went to see Midlake play last night though, which was good, but in the light of two consecutive nights of beautiful arcade fire mayhem at brixton…well, slight disappointment. Then again i didn’t lose a shoe mid gig, i wasn’t hoarse the next day and i didn’t destroy my calves by pogoing for 90 mins non stop.


It was a good set, really beautiful, and once I took it for what it was, it was definately worth it.

But nonetheless I still feel completely without purpose right now. The world seems to drift towards me and the part as if i’m some plain, black rock in the middle of a muddy, unextraordinary river. And it sucks. Higher education decisions, schoolwork, “other” commitments; they just seem to sap the fun out of me.

But, the funny thing is most of the time i’m cheerful. And why? Well, i’m starting to fall in love with nature, which is just making me more impassioned about the environment al. I used to be a animal freak. One of those kids you get who’s seven years old and knows the latin name for an Aoxtl…ha, i was sad(der).

Anyway, I lay in a field yesterday just staring at the sky. And no, i wasn’t high, but it was just so beautiful. I always stare at the sky, but never at the same spot for ten minutes. And it’s made me want to just appreciate it all more. Nature’s an incredible thing, yet I hide away on the internet, or damage it by solely living in the industrialised society in which i carry out my daily life.

So, stare at the sky. Lie in a field.