I spent part of last weekend in New York City visiting a friend in the hospital. My friend and I grew up in the same Midwestern city. She moved to New York for school and decided, somewhat inexplicably, that big city living beats things like fresh air, grass and easy street parking. The hospital was only several blocks away from where she went to grad school, and I joked that in all these years she had not gotten very far. And, as I walked the surrounding area, I was reminded that even in New York, there are communities – each neighborhood has its own flavor, its own distinctive atmosphere, and given the population density, nearly all the resources one could conceivably need for regular daily living.
But, this post is not about ruminations about city living or what I saw outside the hospital – it’s about what I saw inside the hospital, and the amazing things that, curiously, did not amaze me.
Hospitals are filled with lights and sounds – everything from a basic IV drip to advanced medical technology beeps and illuminates, so there is every expectation that a patient’s room can look a little like Mardi Gras with all the blinking lights. The flickers that caught my eye most, however, were the small blue LEDs in the ceiling: the ones set into Cisco WiFi routers. Read more
Not strictly a set of FSBC photos, but tangentially related, nonetheless.
Making the grocery list in my house usually takes place while standing in front of the refrigerator and the pantry, and it often includes tossing out food past the expiration date. I see this as not unlike taking cash out of my wallet and tossing it in the garbage can. It’s about 5:00 p.m. on Sunday and I’m making the grocery list and trying to come up with ideas for a New Edge article for this week. Thus, the topic at hand was born.
To start, here are some interesting statistics on wasted food: according to this study, food loss at the retail and consumers levels, in 2008, amounted to about $165 billion. The amount of food that consumers waste, in dollar terms, comes out to about 10% of their annual food expenditures and almost 1% of their total disposable income.
This app, however, is one possible answer to someone like me, who wastes food and wants to do better. It’s called 222 million tons, in references to the amount of food wasted by industrialized nations each year. It helps users to optimize planning their meals and their shopping lists based on household size. Love Food Hate Waste is a similar app, and they have partnered with Samsung to better educate consumers on how to store and organize food in ways that minimize waste.
Also, there’s an app, Wise Up on Waste, that helps restaurants reduce waste. It helps them track waste by type – spoilage, preparation, or customer plate waste. The data is then compiled and compared industry-wide to help restaurants identify best practices to reduce waste.
And finally, because all that wasted food mostly goes into the garbage, a company called Harvest Power turns it and other organic material into energy. It uses anaerobic digestion (a common method of turning waste into renewable energy) and composting to transform wasted food into energy to power homes and businesses.
I’m somewhat fascinated with Tesla Motors. When it comes to electric-powered cars I often utter the time-honored complaint, “we can land a man on the moon but we can’t make a battery-powered car?” It seems to me that this should be possible by now. They also look cool, and while Tesla is an American company, I feel a bit odd wanting one of these cars; I was born in Detroit, after all.
Tesla has been selling electric vehicles that run on lithium-ion batteries since 2003. The current Model S starts at about $70,000. That’s a lot of money for a car with a limited range that has to be plugged in to be charged every 300 miles or so.
Recently, Tesla announced that they are working on the Model 3, which they hope to sell for about $35,000, starting in 2017. Still not cheap, but not a ton more than the Subaru Outback I bought last year. If they can get the price down to $35,000 by 2017, maybe a $25,000 model (my kind of price range) is not too far behind.
One big hurdle right now, in terms of bringing down the cost of a Tesla, is the production costs on the lithium-ion batteries. They can drive down the cost of the batteries by producing a large volume, and Tesla is working right now on finding a location for and building a “Gigafactory” that will increase the production of batteries for cars, solar panels and other devices.