Wednesday, June 30, 2010

God bless the USA land of the free!

8 Ways to Green 4th of July

This Fourth of July, make sure you and your fellow party goers remember to keep Mother Nature in mind while you celebrate. Photo: Flickr/cyanocorax
The Fourth of July is right around the corner! Summer’s hottest holiday will no doubt call for backyard barbecuing, fireworks and maybe even a dip in the pool.

Here’s how to throw a little green into your mix of red, white and blue.

1. Ditch the disposable party ware
They’re popular and easy. Disposable plates, cups and utensils are convenient for parties with a lot of guests. The down side, they’re not so convenient for the environment.

To avoid this, do your best to use normal tableware that can just be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route, clean them up (they’re often washable) and use them at your next big gathering.

We also love the “bring your own plate” theme. The hodgepodge of different dishes can serve as talking points at your party. An added bonus: Turn it into a dish swap. Bring your own dish and leave with a different plate for your collection.

The same idea works for glassware. Instead of charging a “keg fee,” a party-goer’s ticket is his or her own glass.

2. Get outside!
The best way to reduce your party’s footprint is to calculate its energy usage. The No. 1 way to avoid added costs to your electric bill is to utilize the outdoors – perfect lighting, temperature and truly inherent green setting.

Host your barbecue at midday when the light is bright and fills your crowd with energy. Or fight soaring temperatures and take advantage of the cooler evening weather. It’s a great way to enjoy nature and reduce the energy costs of using indoor facilities.

3. Use propane for grilling
Before diving into this one, we want to point out that we are not trying to step on any grillmaster’s toes. The debate between charcoal and propane is a tough one: Which one produces more flavor? Which is cheaper, faster? And most importantly, which is more eco-friendly?

We consulted a recent study by Environment Impact Assessment Review to answer this one. Drum roll, please…

According to the study, “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.”

The two grilling methods were defined by their overall footprint, with charcoal using 998 kg of CO2, almost three times more than propane, which weighed in at 349 kg.

ScienceDaily reports that as fuel, LPG is “dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production.” When purchasing a propane tank, make sure there is a trade-in option. Most retailers will let you bring in an empty tank in exchange for a decent discount on your next tank.

4. Save (and reuse) your decorations
If you’ve hosted Independence Day celebrations before, you know the décor is often the same: streamers, party favors and table toppers all in bold red, white and blue.

Sadly, most people often use these decorations once and then throw them out. But they can be reused year after year! So, this year, after the party’s over, take the time to store and save your decorations. You or someone you know can use them again next year, which helps to save on a bit of unneeded trash.

5. Opt for greener fireworks
Fireworks are hardly an environmentally friendly activity, but they’re an unwavering Fourth of July tradition. If you’re setting off your own fireworks this year, be sure to use fireworks rich in nitrogen. They often cost a bit more but put out less smoke into the environment.

Another option is to gather your group and go see your local fireworks display. It’s a great way to see a much bigger fireworks show and negates you from harming the environment with your own personal display.

6. Gather in groups
This may seem like a no-brainer for such a popular holiday, but the larger a group you gather (preferably outdoors), the less energy you use at individual parties that may take place indoors. Plus, the more people to help prepare and purchase food, the less of a cost it is to each individual. Just make sure your fellow party goers know these green tips!

7. Use large water containers
Plastic water bottles are convenient, but like other disposable goods, they can add up fast. In lieu of individual plastic bottles, store water for your family or guests in large containers so they can re-fill their reusable water bottles or reusable cups. If you must use plastic water bottles, be sure to encourage your guests to recycle them.

8. Don’t forget to recycle
One of the easiest ways to go green is to recycle your waste. So be sure to put a clearly marked bin out at your party.

If you did opt for disposable dinnerware, remember that those plastic plates, cups and utensils can be recycled. Paper plates will have to be thrown out or composted due to food residue.

If you’re unsure about recycling specific materials in your area, we’ve got you covered. Use Earth911 to find local recycling centers for your common party waste, such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass bottles.

Amanda Wills is the East Coast Editor of

Newspaper home data ’stinks’ to consultant

John Burns, the real estate consultant from Irvine, has harsh words about some of the housing data published in, among other places, newspapers and their websites. Basically, Burns says in a recent note to his clients that widely discussed data “stinks” …

If you read the newspapers, you would think prices are appreciating, whether it is the Case Shiller price index or median resale prices – the two price measures that used to be the most reliable measures. Just look at recent price trends for Southern California. According to CS, prices are up 6% in LA (includes Orange Co.) and 11% in San Diego since March of 2009. According to the median price, prices are up 12% in LA, 17% in Orange County, 12% in Riverside and 18% in San Diego since April of 2009. Neither is correct if you are talking about most homes in those markets. While we love the CS methodology, both CS and the median price are wildly impacted when the mix of what is transacting shifts dramatically from the norm.

What does he think?

We believe 2003 prices are a reasonable estimate for most home values today. Obviously, this is a very back-of-the-envelope analysis and our work with clients is more targeted toward the decisions they are trying to make. Any further price correction from here will likely either be due to rising mortgage rates, or an overcorrection (possible driven by Shadow Inventory), or because consumers took on so much other debt over the last 10 years that a 31% debt-to-income ratio is too high going forward (note that Borrowers who have received “permanent mods” have 30%+ of their income going to additional debt service on top of their primary mortgage!).

Hey, we can take a shot or two. Or three. What do you think?

Burns says newspaper hosuing data Stinks, and is rarely accurate...

Posted via email from Newport Beach Blog

Monday, June 28, 2010

Designer creates shimmering dress from recycled VHS tapes

Eco Factor: Eco-friendly dress made from recycled VHS tapes.

Designer Scianca has created a shimmering dress as part of a project called Modern Freaks. Since not many people still use VHS tapes for video viewing, recycling the ones that are catching dust in your closet is not that bad an idea. The dress designed by Scianca is one way you can recycle the magnetic memory to gain some attraction.

Via: Gizmodo549890

Étta guarding the car

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Étta and her baby....

Alex Honnold Sets New Half Dome and El Cap Speed Records

Alex Honnold Sets New Half Dome and El Cap Speed Records

Both The Adventure Life and The Goat are reporting today that rock climber Alex Honnold has set new speed records on Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite, going up both the regular Northwest Face Route as well as the Nose on the two faces respectively.

Honnold began his assault on the record books by scaling the Northwest Face route on Half Dome in just 2 hours and 9 minutes, which shaves 41 minutes off the old record. He then proceeded to go directly to the Nose on El Cap,  which he scaled in just under six hours, giving him a new record for the combined climb of both routes. Essentially, he did them in just 8 hours total. Amazing!

Honnold's climbing buddy Ueli Steck was on hand to observe the proceedings. Apparently the two are still planning on making a speed attempt on the Nose as well, although we haven't had a lot of updates on their progress in the past month. That record currently stands at 2 hours 37 minutes and was set last October by Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayma.


Buzz said...

Casual observers cannot comprehend how fast this is. It takes a very experienced climber to even understand what Alex did; this was a quantum leap, like someone setting the speed record on Everest wearing shorts and a t-shirt. He free soloed all but 3 pitches on El Cap, and basically free soloed the NW Face of Half Dome.

Adventure Junkie said...

Yep! And I can't wait to see what he and Ueli do on the Nose. Ueli is an amazing climber as well, and owns some big records in the Alps.

Globetrooper Todd said...

I saw a doco on Honnold back in Sydney and was just amazed (as most people are) at his attitude to free soloing. Seems like a pretty funny guy too.

Nic said...

"...set new speed records on El Capitan in Yosemite, going up both the regular Northwest Face Route as well as the Nose"

Aren't you a bit confused there? Or am I missing something?

Dont you mean Half Done and El Cap? They are not different routes, but separate peaks (massifs) at all together other ends of the valley (???).

Makes the feat even more impressive. Hard to comprehend.

Posted via email from Newport Beach Blog

Report: Minorities worst hit by foreclosures

Homeowners in minority groups have been hit significantly worse than white borrowers in the foreclosure crisis, the Center for Responsible Lending reports.

The non-profit research group says:

  • About 17% of Latino homeowners and 11% of African-American homeowners have already lost their home to foreclosure or are at imminent risk, compared to 7% of white homeowners.
  • Whites made up the majority of the 2.5 million foreclosures completed between 2007 and 2009 – about 56% – but minority communities had higher foreclosure rates.
  • While about 4.5% of white borrowers lost their homes to foreclosure during the 2 years analyzed, black and Latino borrowers had 7.9 and 7.7% foreclosure rates, respectively.
  • Blacks and Latinos were more than 70% more likely than whites to lose their homes to foreclosure between 2007 and 2009.
  •  ”African American and Latino borrowers have borne and will continue to disproportionately bear the burden of foreclosures,” the report says.

See the full report HERE.


Posted via email from Newport Beach Blog

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles