Saturday, February 23, 2008

The car I've been waiting for: 150 MPG

I've been keeping the old Honda Civic until the next level of affordable technology comes along. And here it is:

The German made Loremo.

I knew a car like this would be possible. Leave it to German engineering to make it a reality. It is scheduled for production next year.

It looks better and is even more efficient than the Smart Car, already common in Europe and now available in the US.

There are 2 Loremo models: the LS and the more powerful GT. They look exactly alike. Both have A/C, airbags, on board navigation system, radio, and mp3 player. The GT gets around 95 mpg with a top speed of 124 mph out of it's 50 hp, 3 cylinder turbo diesel. These cars are also designed to perform well in crash tests. The LS model has significantly less horse power (20 hp) from it's 2 cylinder turbo diesel but still manages a top speed of 100 mph and gets an astonishing 150 mpg. The LS model is at $15000 Euro ($22,228) and the GT at $20,000 Euro ($29, 600). [The dollar sure is taking a beating these days!].

The Loremo is expected to compete for the Automotive X-Prize. The competition requires significant energy and emissions goals most importantly, fuel economy with at least 100 mpg or its equivalent. (The guidelines are replacing the outdated MPG with this new standard, MPGe, which takes into account energy equivalents, no matter what the energy source).

US car makers are reportedly ignoring the X-Prize competition.

The old Honda I've had for 14 yrs has served me well with nearly 200,000 miles and rarely any mechanical issues. I bought it used for $4800 in 1994 and it runs perfectly, everything works. I've never bought a new car, and likely never will .... unless a Loremo dealer comes anywhere close. I would hope to see American research and development going toward similar vehicles (but it seems America has other expensive priorities at this time).

Anyone who has spent time in Europe knows how small their cars are in comparison. In Paris, I noted how many people commuted in the city on foot and by scooter. Even the finely dressed women would drive their BMW C-1 scooters that have a roof, windshield wipers and a rain curtain.

For simple commuting, it would be great to see this culture in America, it would help the economy, the environment, the cost of living and our dependence on foreign oil.

However, for specialized tasks, like towing and off roading, there is "no replacement for displacement".. as they say. Hopefully, American engineering can make more efficient heavy duty trucks, cause I need one. My Ford Expedition sure is an improvement over the old Bronco.

Actually, I already have a 90 MPG vehicle I often drive to work. Parking is no problem and it can go just about anywhere. It's one of a kind!

H/T: Glenn, Hobbs

Friday, February 22, 2008

A study in tornado damage at Wynnewood, TN

Since I live in a log home, I've often wondered how it would fare in a direct hit by a tornado.

Here is a good study of what might happen. Wynnewood is the same style log house as mine - squared cedar logs with dovetail joints from the same era. The caretakers were in the house during the storm and survived without injury.

This was a direct hit that occured during the Feb 5, '08 tornado outbreak. Notice the mature cedar tree that was ripped away. As you can see, the roof and half of the second story were taken, but all of the first story walls remained intact. (the lower pic shows more of the house. Use the breezeway and stairs as a reference for comparison. The second story from the breezeway and left is gone)

This great loss of a piece of TN history I hope will eventually be restored. Wynnewood is in Castalian Springs and is on the register of National Historic Landmarks. It was built in 1828 and is the largest log structure in Tennessee. It stretches 142 feet in length. It was a stage coach inn on the Nashville-Knoxville Road. It is owned by the state of Tennessee and operated as a museum.

I think the old log house did ok considering neighboring houses were flattened and 8 people were killed in Castalian Springs. It kept the inhabitants safe and wasn't flattened. I assume this old cabin is like mine with concrete chinking. Not as tight as the modern synthetic permachink, but probably more structurally stout. That is what may have saved some of those walls. Of course my log house is only 3500' sq ft - not nearly as large as Wynnewood.

This tornado was the single deadliest tornado to strike Middle Tennessee in over 75 years. The National Weather Service confirmed that the 22 deaths were caused by this tornado, which was rated as an EF3. The tornado path was 51 miles long and up to 0.75 mile wide. It passed about 40 miles north of where I live.

Story here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.

All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.

All that is now
All that is gone
All thats to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

-- Pink Floyd, Eclipse
from the epic album,
Dark Side of the Moon

This photo, although not exceptionally sharp, was the best I could do with a pocket camera, a Canon SD 900. It was really great to watch this eclipse from my room with a glass ceiling, sitting by a warm fire.

Monday, February 18, 2008

World class 400 meter runner with no legs barred from Olympics

A new runner burst on the scene a few years ago. Oscar Pistorius was born without legs but was fitted with prosthetic legs to run. And holy shit, can he run ... like 46.56 in the 400 meters. Not bad for a beginning runner... with no legs.

Oscar is 22, and known as "the Blade Runner." He ran his first major race in 2004. Maybe he has been too successful. After monitoring his track performances using high-definition cameras and analyzing the information, scientists determined that Pistorius enjoyed considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs. On the strength of these findings, on 1/14/08 the IAAF ruled him ineligible for competitions conducted under its rules, including the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The IAAF amended its competition rules to ban the use of "any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device". It claimed that the amendment was not specifically aimed at Pistorius. (right)

Watch this video of his 400 meter race in Rome. He is in the outside lane and crosses the finish in second place. Watch his acceleration in last 100 meters. It is quite remarkable. I don't know what to think. He goes from last place to second place in the last 70 meters in a tremendous burst of speed.

I seem to remember the NFL record for longest field goal (63 yds) was held soley for 28 years by Tom Dempsey who was born without toes and used an unusual prosthetic shoe on his kicking foot. (The record was tied in 1998 by Jason Elam). As a reaction, the NFL imposed a new rule: "any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe."

Oscar Pistorius claims new evidence in his case and is fighting the ban. His claim is based on a fellow sprinters performance. SA sprinter, Joseph van der Linde, is more than a second slower over 100m with an artificial leg than he had been before he lost a leg in an accident.

Pistorius has launched an appeal and is setting his sights for the 2012 London Olympics. I say let him compete. He's fast, but there are many faster guys. It's not like he's threatening Michael Johnson's world record of 43.18. But what if he does someday? If he runs any faster, it's not going to help his case!

With news like this, I'm proud I've not eaten beef in 18 yrs

America's largest beef recall in history.
"A California meat company on Sunday issued the largest beef recall in history, 143 million pounds, some of which was used in school lunch programs, Department of Agriculture officials announced."

Reasons not to eat beef:
  1. Beef products, which are loaded with artery-clogging cholesterol and saturated fat. Some fats are good, but NOT beef fat. Fat from any land animal is the wrong kind of fat. By contrast, fat from fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, recognized as good for vascular health and is recommended by the American Heart Assoc.
  2. Virtually all commercial beef has bovine growth hormone in it. Reports have found extremely high levels of estradiol, “a potent cancer-causing and gene-damaging estrogen,” in US meat products (i.e. milk, burgers). For this reason, American milk and beef are banned in Europe.
  3. Genetically engineered meat will become more prevalent now that the FDA has lifted the ban on cloned meat. Long term consequences of consuming genetically engineered meat is uncertain and may pose health risks.
  4. Factory farms are huge polluters. They produce a staggering amount of feces that pollutes both the water and the air. Numerous studies and governmental reports have shown higher rates of health problems among people who live near factory farms. Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States.
  5. Mad cow disease is already in the United States, and the U.S. government is not following World Health Organization recommendations for ensuring that it doesn’t spread. Because it takes 10 years for the disease to show up in humans, there’s no way of knowing how many Americans have already been infected.
  6. Beef production is inefficient. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh. Growing all the crops to feed farmed animals requires massive amounts of water and land—in fact, nearly half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the United States are used to raise animals for food.
  7. The environmental impacts include: rainforest destruction in Central and South America caused by the felling of forests in order to rear cattle for the hamburger trade or to grow soya for animal feed, and desertification from overgrazing in parts of Africa. Also, 10% of greenhouse gases come from livestock.

Personally, I don't drink cow's milk or eat cheese, but on the rare occasion I use butter, it's organic and hormone free. That's the way to go. I'm sure eating yogurt or ice cream once a month isn't going to kill me, but there are excellent substitutes. Organic soy milk, ice cream and yogurt are awesome!

Painful speed work begins again

My neighborhhood is perfect for doing speed work. No traffic, and my block is exactly 1/2 mile.

So, after a week off, I've been doing resistance work, quads, abs, hams, etc... and distance. Today, since I don't work, I got back to speed work, running half mile repeats. My times were slower than usual. I gained a pound or 2 during the week off.

I promise not to be a "runner nerd blogger" and post my daily workouts, but here was my first in a while:

  • dynamic stretching, half mile warmup

  • half mile in 2:44 (90% effort)
  • 3 min rest
  • half mile in 3:06 (5 k race speed+)
  • 3 min rest

  • half mile in 3:07 (5 k race speed+)
  • 3 min rest

  • half mile in 3:10 (5 k race speed+)
  • 6 min rest

  • quarter mile in 1:04 (90% effort)

I'll probably do some stretching and plyometrics later. I really like Tom Green's regime. I'm focused on racing in the 55m and 400m dash at the Mason Dixon Games in Louisville on 3/7 and possibly running the Tom King 5K on Sat 3/15, even though I play the opening concert in the Tennessee Guitar Festival that same night. The Tom King 5k looks like a fast course. If so, I hope to get into the teens.

I don't want to get too greedy and try 100% sprinting for at least 12-14 days. I hope to do some timed sprints with blocks and spikes after 3/1 for reference. I just need to find someone to operate the stop watch.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

TN snow on the homestead

Rain changed to snow last night and gave the homestead a little dusting. Snow showers continue today 2/13/08 in Murfreesboro. Nice to see once in a while.

True to southern tradition, all area schools were closed due to this half inch snow.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nashville Symphony recording wins three Grammys

Hey friends in LA, NY, Boston.... you think you got a market on culture? Well, the Nashville Symphony just beat out the Boston Symphony, the LA Phil, and Atlanta Symphony to win the Grammys for Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. (The NY Phil wasn't even nominated, heh).

The Album -Tower: Made in America also won Joan Tower a third Grammy for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. story

It was also gratifying to see the great jazz pianist Herbie Hancock win Album of the Year amid all the rap crap and country you usually see winning such awards. Refreshing indeed!

Also, friend and former MTSU staffer, Bruce Nemerov from Murfreesboro won a Grammy for Best Album Notes category for the album: John Work III: Recording Black Culture.

Also of note, Barack Obama won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album:
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream - it is his second Grammy.

Grammys... no big deal. My neighbor down the street has a cut on a Grammy winning album and my office neighbor at MTSU has 10 of 'em.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On official State business - playing guitar concerts

It sure is great to have a state car and credit card when having to drive 700+ miles to play concerts. Another perk of being under the 'state umbrella'.

My guitar and lute concerts at MTSU, Austin Peay State, and Mississippi State went well. It was great to teach Dr. Michael Patilla's students in a masterclass last Friday at Mississippi State. I'm looking forward to my last concert of this stint on Tuesday night 2/12 at Martin Methodist College, deep in the heart of TN ... Pulaski.

I'm also looking forward to getting my slight leg strains healed so I can start training again and maybe run in at least 1 track meet before the indoor season is over. It feels so weird to go more than a few days without running. It was devastating to have to withdraw from 2 track meets with injuries. I was so looking forward to sprinting last Sat but had to scratch because of a right hip strain. I went to the meet anyway and watched the 55 meter dash. It would have been great fun if I was healthy, I would have stuck out like a sore thumb. I would have been the only sprinter in the entire event of 4 heats that wasn't "a brotha" ... if ya get what I mean. My last opportunity may be to run in the Mason-Dixon games in Louisville, on 3/7. I just can't wait to get 100% and get in the weight room. I'm convinced my salvation will be high rep resistance work, especially with my quads, and a lot of stretching. But first, I must force myself to rest a minimum of one week. That could be the hardest task of all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hook echo - Tornado Vortex Signature (TVS)

Conditions are changing rapidly, info below is no longer current!
Stay tuned to NOAA weather radio for warnings.

Hook echo of confirmed tornado near Jackson, TN.
6:50 PM, 2/5/08
(click to enlarge)

Memphis Radar
Storm Relative Velocity 1

Viewed on my GrLevel3 Weather Software program.

The tornado vortex signature is showing up beautifully on this image.

UPDATE 7:08 PM - 2/05/08:

Oh baby!

FINAL UPDATE: This was the storm that devastated Jackson, TN and Union University

Monday, February 4, 2008

UPDATED: SPC - good chance of severe weather in Mid TN: 2/5/08

The Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a major severe weather outbreak today and/or tonight.

The convective outlook from the Storm Prediction Center has issued this map showing a moderate/high risk for severe weather in TN on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008. It appears the greatest threat for Mid TN will be after dark.

Rarely does the SPC issue a "High Risk" categorization as they have done today. AR and West TN are particularly at risk.

From the SPC, this ominous commentary:



I sent this to my brother, also a lover of extreme weather. He responded, "Must be nice."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Blasting out of the blocks

Update: 2/9/08 -
Unfortunately, after last night's workout, it's my right hip this time that will keep me from racing today. Since there are other opportunities to run this season, I'd better not race today since it is slightly painful to walk. Damn, I thought I was ready. Anyway, played a few concerts on the road and they went well: Austin Peay and Mississippi State.

Today was a milestone. Yeah, I played a decent concert last night, but what has really got me enthused is that today, I tried out my new sprint shoes on the MTSU track. Wow. What an awesome feeling. These Adidas Demolisher 2's felt great. I did a dozen or so full speed starts. I am 100%, no pain, no muscle strain whatsoever! Today was the first day I've been 100% healthy and able to sprint full blast. The quad resistance work I had been doing has paid off. I'm really pleased with these new shoes (see below). I wear a size 7.5 training shoe (Saucony Pro Grids), size 7 racing flat (Adidas Adizero PR), but with these Demolisher 2's, I wear in a size 6.5. They are worn without socks and fit like a second skin. Very snug.

As a sprinter, I feel I may have a muscle imbalance as my hams are much stronger than my quads. I think doing speed work for distance running - running fast quarters and halves doesn't develop the quad strength and power required for sprinting. Running steep hills, resistance work and plyometrics are essential for sprinting - the 'drag racing' of competitive running. It'll be interesting to see if sprint and distance training will compliment each other. I'm inclined to think so.

I just love sprinting, it is so much less painful than those 5K races I've been running. I'm also extremely light, the past few days I've weighed under 140 lbs for the first time in possibly 30 yrs, and I feel great. Fast. A 47 yr old sprinter, how weird is that? No wait, a classical concert soloist who is also a 47 yr old sprinter ... now that's truly weird.

Looking forward to getting a few concerts out of the way and seeing what I can do in the 55 meter dash next weekend in the MT Valentine Invitational. It'll be a new beginning for me, a starting and reference point as a new masters sprinter.