Aerogel window insulation

There was an article written a few years ago about a study which found that noise pollution is a significant problem in San Francisco.  I feel totally pissed off reading this article, and other info on noise pollution in the city.  Here is another article, which says “Noise from traffic is putting nearly 1 in 6 San Francisco residents at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and other stress-related illnesses, city public health officials have found. ”

What totally pisses me off about this is, its like – ok – everyone apparently knows that noise pollutions is really bad – but its like, wtf is anyone going to do about it?  I mean, fuck!  Its not like people can’t take actual steps to limit noise.  Noise sources can be eliminated.  Windows can be replaced.  Where are programs in the city to eliminate or discourage noise pollution?  What about providing incentives to landlords to install soundproof windows?

Its like, here’s this study, but everyone sits on their ass and accepts that people should experience degradation of their health and quality of life and do nothing.  Bullshit.

FWIW in thinking about this issue I’ve been inclining towards buying large foam panels that I can have cut to fit exactly inside my window slots.  However, that would obviously block all light, which itself is detrimental.  But I remember reading about a type of material a while ago called aerogels which are supposedly the lightest solid materials that exist.

It turns out that there are companies which make aerogel window panels but they are expensive.  I may ultimately opt for just blocking out some of my windows.  It turns out that having fancy bay windows is actually a pain in the ass in a city like this.  As the average IQ of the general population seems to be plummeting, and people are become more crude and inconsiderate, the noise levels seem to be increasing considerably, mostly from car horns and vehicles with deliberately modified (read: holes drilled in mufflers) exhaust systems to make them louder.

Manganese found to neutralize Shiga toxin

An article today discusses a paper that reports that manganese significantly neutralizes the toxicity of Shiga toxin in cells.  This occurs because a certain protein which is responsible for the Shiga toxin’s avoiding normal breakdown within cells is highly sensitive to manganese.

This is a significant discovery as hundreds of millions of people are affected by Shiga toxin each year through E coli and other infections.  Often people with severe toxicity experience kidney failure and are forced to go on dialysis.  If simply taking manganese can protect from Shiga toxicity that is a huge advance.

Another study on red wine

Today I read an article about another study purporting there to be health benefits to drinking red wine.  I feel that such studies as this are highly deceptive.  They get disseminated in the media with headlines about health benefits of red wine.  But the real question should be: Is there any benefit to having red wine versus just having grapes or grape juice?

I think there should be a law that any studies done on the potential health benefits of wines must always include whole grapes and grape juice as well.  What a waste of research, of time and money to go through all the trouble of these studies and not bother to include grapes and grape juice as well.  Why not  include for example muscadine or concord grapes both of which have ultra-high levels of the beneficial phenolics and other compounds?  I’d love to see a study how concord grapes compare against red wines for health benefits.  My intuition tells me the grapes would blow the wine away.

Of course one major problem is that the grapes sold commercially are among the least nutritious varieties.  And this problem is not a medical one.  Why do we live under a system where the food production/distribution system is controlled by these agri-giants which have incentive to sell garbage fruit and vegetables among all the other garbage they sell?

An animation speaks a thousand words

There was some article in the news about more BS circulating about 2012 relating to galactic alignment or something like that.  I actually don’t want to even bother reading the full story explaining that its BS – I already know.  But it did actually make me wonder about the plane of our galaxy vs. the plane that our Earth orbits the Sun in which is called the ecliptic plane.

What made me think of this?  What made me think of this was this: when the Big Bang occurred, basically all this stuff exploded.  At first there was just gas, then it condensed into vast clouds.  Some of these clouds went on further to condense to form stars and other celestial bodies.  First this massive exploding apart and then a congealing together.  Out of that our galaxy – one of trillions in the Cosmos – eventually came into existence.

Our galaxy is a spiral galaxy and is disk-shaped.  It has a big clump of matter near the middle – like a big ball – and then there’s this vast disk-shaped portion that extends out.  Everyone knows this shape (except perhaps many kids in today’s deficient society).

So, inside this galaxy I already know that we’re located out in a spiral arm.  But then I thought about how all the different stars in the galaxy have their own solar systems each with its own plane.  Do those planes tend to align with the galactic one or are they more-or-less random?  Reason would tell me that they would be more-or-less random.  There seems to be no particularly good reason why their alignments would all be influenced by the galactic plane.  If you could see an ultra-fast time lapse of our galaxy where the stars were all flying around, yes they’d all be pulled along by the spinning galactic disk, but each particular star would be spinning in its own way.  What would influence the direction of spin and the ecliptic planes around all those stars would probably have much more to do with factors like how the gas which formed them initially collapsed, and perhaps other local gravitational influences.  The influence of the galaxy would probably be quite small.

Curious then about the orientation of our planet’s ecliptic plane with the galactic plane I eventually came across this great animation.  An animation speaks a thousand words.  In this animation I really like how, towards the end of the animation when the Earth’s celestial north pole comes into view, one can clearly see the North Star in the Little Dipper.  It turns out that the galactic plane is offset from the ecliptic by about 60 degrees.

Here’s a thread on a forum where someone explains what one would see on a summer’s night looking to the sky facing south.  I’m copying this post below only because sites like this often disappear and then information gets lost.

The central region of the galaxy is in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius and not far from Scorpius.  It is near them that the plane of the galaxy intersects the ecliptic (plane of Earth’s orbit) at an angle of about 60°.  If the planes were nearly parallel, then we would see the Milky Way running through all of the constellations of the zodiac.

Picture a summer evening while the region between Sagittarius and Scorpius is crossing your southern meridian.  The ecliptic would appear parallel to the horizon.   You would observe the Milky Way sweeping upward at an angle of about 60° to the ecliptic.

You mention the Earth’s hemispheres, but they are separated by the Earth’s equatorial plane, not the ecliptic or galactic planes.  The equatorial plane currently intersects the ecliptic plane at more than 23°.  In the current era, the center of the galaxy is visible from the Earth’s South Pole and not the North Pole.  That will eventually reverse due to precession.  But in either case, observers on most of the Earth’s surface experience periods of the day during which the galactic center is above the horizon.

For astronomical graphics, including monthly wallpaper calendar, visit:

Curt Renz – “Centaur”

Report abusive e-mail (Yahoo)

Many people are not aware that, when they receive abusive or offensive e-mails, they can report it to the company which hosts the e-mail account.  Finding out where to make the report can be tricky.  Today I needed to report an abusive mail from a Yahoo mail account.  If you type “report abuse yahoo mail” into a search engine you are likely to arrive at a page which list links to other pages.  I went through this process which was frustrating and seemed to go nowhere before finally finding this page which has a link to contact Yahoo Customer Care.  That link takes you to a form where you can fill out information about the offending e-mail.

To make the report you also have to copy the full headers of the offending mail.  This itself can be tricky and is not that obvious with most mail clients.  For Mozilla Thunderbird I had to select View -> Message Source from the menu.  The hosting company needs the full header information to be able to determine exactly who sent the message, when it was sent, and other details to affirm its veracity.

As far as I know, if the mail is extremely offensive or abusive the hosting company will shut down the account.  Most hosting companies take offensive and abusive e-mails very seriously and do not screw around.  So if you report such a mail it is likely that the account will be cancelled, an appropriate action and a strong signal to the sender that such action is inappropriate and intolerable.

Helicopter noise notes

Large 5-alarm fire at Golden Gate & Eddy

3 news choppers and one airplane/drone

SFO Aircraft Noise Abatement Office (online complaint form)

Stations’ contacts:

As per callback from one station, KGO, KNTV, KPIX, KCBS and possibly KRON will be sharing a helicopter (good idea).  Said that their helicopter stays above 1,800 feet but question remains as to whether that is sufficiently high.  Said their copter is red and white – saw that one passing near me about an hour ago – it seemed low and was definitely loud.

Why the need to keep flying over and over and over after they’ve already got sufficient footage?

Possibly write legislators about coming up with reasonable policies to balance people’s right to peace vs. news organizations’ desire to film.

Representatives’ contact:

Follow-up on fire: fire was so bad they are letting the building burn down to the ground.  Sad for all the residents who live there, especially at this time of year.


Other reference:
Massive Fire Engulfs San Francisco Apartment Buildings
American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
Rep. Howard Berman proposes helicopter noise bill for L.A.
Helicopter noise infuriates L.A. residents
Feinstein, Boxer: Reduce Helicopter Noise Above Los Angeles

Change of Season Tea Variation

Try this variation of the Change of Season Tea I wrote about the other day.  To make this tea I used a 32 oz. glass jar (which originally was a pickle jar):

– Grated fresh ginger.  Grate the equivalent of about 2 tablespoons.  Put in jar and pour hot water over it, filling jar about 7/8 full

– Dried sweet mandarin/tangelo/orange peel.  These are the sweet-tasting peels I save and dry out.  If you can’t get these you can buy orange peel at some herb stores but be aware that they may be much more bitter.  And of course you can always use fresh peels as well.  Of the sweet mandarin peels – use several good-sized pieces, enough to impart a wonderful citrus flavor to the infusion.

– Peppermint.  This is a powerful ingredient and I use only about 1 rounded teaspoon or maybe one level tablespoon.

– Dried rose flowers.  Rose combines so well with this tea and imparts a divine flavor into it.  Use about one level tablespoon.

– Dried apple.  Use maybe one teaspoon or perhaps slightly more.

– Rooibos.  It has a way of complementing the tea yet adding a new dimension to it.  Use about one rounded teaspoon.

– Stevia leaf.  Just a pinch of this powerful herb is all it takes.  Too much and it actually imparts a bitterness.  With just a little bit the floral and fruity accents should really come out.

This tea is a variation of a tea I first obtained from a health food store in Germany called früchte tee (means simply fruit tea, can’t really give the pronunciation English equivalent because of the German “ch” which is a raspy sort of sound formed in the back of the throat, its sort of like “froohhhta te”).

I have to say, this is one of the most amazing, wonderful teas I’ve made in a while.  Sipping it now and – wow!  It has the therapeutic warming effect of the ginger but there’s the whole fruity and slightly flowery dimension that just makes it sublime.  Many früchte teas use hibiscus which is also called roselle, which has a dominating flavor and imparts a deep red color to infusions.  By leaving out the roselle I open the infusion up to the more delicate fruit and flowerly accents, and do not interfere with the ginger dominant note.  By using the sweet mandarin peel I impart a delicate, floral-type citrus element, which actually complements the rose very nicely.  The dominant ginger note is a great base and all the other herbs are more mild, except perhaps the peppermint, which is why I only use a fairly small amount of it.  However I feel its important to keep peppermint in it for therapeutic reasons.

One other floral I had considered for this tea was chrysanthemum flower which I did not use however.

One interesting variation of this, based on the first Change of Season Tea I mentioned the other day, is to play with high-grade cinnamon and see how that offsets the other herbs.  High-grade cinnamon is to low-grade cinnamon as sweet mandarin peel is to bitter common orange peel.  Perhaps in the future I will step down the citrus element, up the apple element and use cinnamon and see how that goes.

I’m also thinking about ideas of incorporating some more powerful detox herbs like possibly burdock root, dandelion root, beet root, or others.  But these other herbs present interesting challenges and I feel I will have to use them in a totally different type of infusion which I will explore in the future.

When people come into my studio, I think they often feel like they are in some sort of laboratory.  The see all the jars of herbs and stuff everywhere.  I like living in a laboratory.  I could never live with a clean fanatic, as for me having stuff out and accessible is important to my creative thought processes.  I love being in my kitchen surrounded with everything, being immersed in the ten thousand things 🙂

This is one of those infusions which I relish so much I actually don’t want to finish it.

Herbs for Soothing/Change of Season Tea

Sometimes a cup of the right tea, made with the right herbs, can be extremely therapeutic.  I have a sensitive stomach and a lot of things can upset it.  These include virtually all dried fruits in anything more than the tiniest amounts, nuts and seeds in anything but the tiniest amounts, and things like granola which tend to sit in my stomach and feel like a rock inside.

The most absolutely healing herb I have found to remedy digestive issues is grated fresh ginger steeped in hot water.  In other words fresh ginger tea.  When there’s an acute need for it I will make it fairly strong.  But oftentimes I don’t need a strong dose, and so can tone down the amount of fresh ginger.

Some other herbs that go good with, which complement ginger, are:

Peppermint, which also has soothing properties like ginger.  Peppermint is used in Chinese herbal remedies like the cold formula Yin Chiao.

Lemon verbena.  One of my absolute most favorite herbs.  I will sometimes use this with Camellia sinensis a.k.a. traditional teas.  It goes very well with peppermint and ginger.

Lemon peel.  I will also sometimes use mandarin or other citrus peels.  In fact if I’m eating a citrus fruit I always try to eat the peel.  If they taste really good I will let them dry and use them in teas later.

Cinnamon.  The cinnamon I get in bulk is listed as “5%” and is very rich.  It is much sweeter than cheaper cinnamons and lacks their bitterness.  The taste is very fine.  A small sprinkling is all it takes.  Cinnamon is good for diabetics and for when you OD on sweet food.

Rose petal.  Dried rose petal is a very gentle herb and I have read is good for one’s complexion.  It imparts a delicate, luxuriant quality to teas.

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I just found this amazing coupon site

Today the department store didn’t have the half-size of boots I really wanted to get.  I went online and ended up at  They had the boot!  In the size I want!

During the checkout process there was a box to enter a coupon code.  I thought “Why not at least try?” so I did a quick Google search and found a site,, which had a page listing coupon codes for

I saved $50 on my order!  Wow!

I notice that a lot of what seem like sites offering coupon codes are actually spam.  I got lucky to find  In fact there were multiple codes for listed on the page, and all of them seemed to work, although only accepts one coupon code for an order so the $50 one was the best deal.

What a nice end to my day though with the boots and now I can look forward to getting them soon and having the hottest boots of all to wear!

Since I’m onto the whole coupon thing, I should mention another really cool site which doesn’t feature coupons but rather lists ongoing advertised specials and discounts:  If you need to get for example an external hard drive or a cell phone or something you can go to this site and see which specials are currently running at all the major stores.  Extremely useful.

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