Monthly Archives: August 2006

Dioxane plume FAQ (Gelman / Pall Life Sciences) and map

The City of Ann Arbor has an FAQ on the Gelman dioxane plume heading towards the Huron River:

1) Where is the groundwater contamination?

The contaminated groundwater exists in several aquifers beneath the west side of Ann Arbor and Scio Township. For a map of the groundwater contamination, see

2) What is the extent of the groundwater contamination?

Several aquifers have been contaminated. The unit E aquifer represents the largest local water body known to be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane. The contamination of this aquifer is known to extend east and north from the PLS Wagner Road facility, beneath the city of Ann Arbor. As of Jan 2004, the leading edge of the plume is thought to extend just to the east of the municipal drinking water well [closed] on Montgomery Street. The approximate dimensions of the ‘plume’, or contaminated area, are: 8500 feet long, 2000 feet wide.

The map, and a bunch of supporting information about the history of this pollution, is provided by Scio Residents for Safe Water.

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IBM series on using Drupal for web site development

IBM’s developerWorks has a good series of articles on using Drupal to build a collaborative web site. It’s edited in the rare style of being thoroughly geeky but not dependent on knowing the vocabulary and jargon of the Drupal team.

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MTV moon landing TV commercial animation

From Candy Kugel’s The Creation of an Icon: MTV in the Jan 1998 Animation World Magazine

Since the national campaign had become such a success and people started to refer to that as the “MTV look,” they contracted us to create the moon landing in that same technique. Unfortunately, the NASA footage left a lot to be desired. It was shot on 16mm, very high contrast and in reality, pretty colorless. The takes took forever, unlike the snappy timing we could do with gags. Therefore, we were forced to piece it together from a couple of different moon walks.

Neil Lawrence and I cut a blow-up dupe of the footage together, timed to the MTV theme music. This time through there was also footage of Houston and tons of computer screens into which we could mat the logo. The palette had to change with the function of the live-action, plus the sky was too black, we needed to break it up with sparkling stars. The rest of the high-contrast, out-of-focus footage had to be delineated in a way that the action could be read and could be fun. Magenta was added to aqua as the color of the astronauts’ uniforms. Orange seemed an apt color for the surface of the moon and we enhanced the rockets’ red flare.

Download a Quicktime movie of the first animated MTV id! 2 MB. © MTV: Music Television.

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Kevlar jeans

Cabela’s has a sale going on Kevlar work jeans; (one size only, 30×32); $9.95 for the pair. These are carpenter pants, designed to be resistant to abrasion.

Motorcycle riders wear Kevlar jeans as protection against road rash. Draggin Jeans even has kids sizes (8, 10, 12, $90). Diamond Gusset has Kevlar reinforced men’s jeans up to waist 60 ($145).

The Vegan Motorcyclist has a whole extensive listing of non-leather motorcycle gear, and more discussion on their Yahoo group.

Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar for Dupont. Dupont has a patent on “Lightweight denim fabric containing high strength fibers and clothing formed therefrom”, patent 6666235. It sounds like the ideal fabric to make sure that kids clothing doesn’t get destroyed before it gets outgrown.

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Pot-in-pot system for evaporative cooling of foods

Via the Uplift Network:

Prof Abba created a pot-in-pot system to keep perishable items cool in desert climates, though obviously important for people without electricity as well, through the use of two pots, one inside the other, and the space in between filled with wet sand. He won the Rolex Award, and has distributed more than 91,000 of these to people in Nigeria. Here is an excellent example of selfless entrepreneurism.

A California State Science Fair study in the San Diego area by Garrett Rueda showed up to a 23 degree F cooling effect by this system. There’s a story about it in the 2001 January “Popular Science”.

Technorati Tags: AJAX interface is broken on Firefox / MacOS

As noted on’s bugs page:

The new AJAX interface does not seem to work at all using Firefox with MacOS X. No venues popup at all, so I can’t add a venue! It does appear to work with Safari though. (Firefox Mac OS 10.4.7)

Time to break out Safari…hope this can be fixed fast.

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2006 prices for pumpkins

Pumpkins are not too far from being in the markets, and it’s time to start tracking where to get them around the Ann Arbor area.

Farmer’s market vendors have pumpkins as of 9/27/06. Prices vary, but I’ve seen mini 3/$1, small $2, large $3, superjumbo negotiable.

If you’re thinking ahead for next year’s planting, Burpee Seeds has a page of pumpkin seeds including “Lumina” white, “Jack Be Little” mini, “Orange Smoothie Hybrid” smooth skin, and “Big Max” 100 pound varieties.

If you’re looking for free pumpkin carving patterns, note that companies that produce high quality commercial patterns consider their methods trade secrets, and companies that produce marketable characters consider those their property too.

Walt’s Pumpkin Carving Secrets details in good pumpkin-geek form the ins and outs of getting an expertly carved and preserved pumpkin. If you’re into power tools (think Sawzall) instead, try Extreme Pumpkins.