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Showing posts from April, 2011

Student Guitar Project

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Starting a new archive topic, wooden instruments. You music lovers will love some of the trivia we'll delve into with this topic.

In this first post, I have the honor to share with you the product of a dual student special project here at Penn State. Shaun Herbst and Brandon Treece are two students graduating this semester with degrees in Wood Products. They describe their guitars below...

Smarter Energy Policy Made Easy (3)

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In the first and second posts on this topic, we investigated the drivers of electricity and heat energy and discovered that energy density and it's relationship to market density could and should determine how to allocate our limited public resources to encourage the development of renewable and alternative energy sources. In the area of transportation, the same drivers apply, but the complexity of the issue is much higher, and therefore, more difficult to properly manipulate with public policy.

Wood Gone

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Shocked?! Where did the neat wood background go? And that great piece of quartersawn cherry that used to be in the blog header?

Holy Wood

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One of my earliest memories...about 1960, standing in the second row of the Littleton Baptist Church in Littleton, Colorado..I'm about four or five years old. We're all singing

"On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame..."

My dad's deep singing voice stands out in my memory for this song, because he didn't normally sing out. But he did for this one.

Smarter Energy Policy Made Easy (2)

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In the last post, we began to explore the concept of improving energy policy by relating it to energy density and market potential. We've already discussed this idea with respect to power; let's talk about heating solutions today.

Smarter Energy Policy Made Easy

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The last post pointed out that perhaps our current method of developing energy policy could be improved a little. It's not clear what methodology is being employed at present, unless it is "energy policy by lobbying power", or "energy policy by ideology", both of which blow back and forth with the election winds. Not good for long-term management of limited resources.

Wouldn't it make a little more sense to apply energy policy by scientific and market potential?

Following in Europe's Footsteps

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My unabashed support for wood energy solutions is due in no small way to the successes I've observed in several European countries, most notably Finland, Germany and Austria. In technological development and sociological approaches to the use of alternative energy, we're lagging events in Europe by a few years.

Great Designs in Wood (9)

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Kevin Cheung of the Western Wood Products Association wrote to remind me that the Great 21st-century Wood Renaissance is just not a European phenomenon. Architects here in North America are also coming to recognize the value and durability of wood.

GoWood Burning Poll Results for the Winter of 2010-11

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In our poll on the left-hand panel, of the 35 people who indicated that they burn wood for heat, 20 said they burned more this winter than last. 14 said they burned about the same amount, and one person burned less. Thank you, Marco in Miami, for weighing in!

You Know You're Green When...

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...you retrofit your VW bug with recycled parts? This video made me smile just because the people were so earnestly goofy.

Great Designs in Wood (8) - The Modern Wood Building

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You may think that the day of the high-rise wooden buildings is a distant memory, something that went up in smoke with the Great Chicago fire of 1871. And you'd be in the company of most of the world's commercial architects.


But thanks to some visionary architects in Finland and England, the era of the modern wooden high-rise may be just beginning. The Finns started this modern era with the design and construction of the FMO Tapiola Building, built in 2005 by the architectural firm Helin & Co. for a large insurance company. The beautiful 5-story, 13, 300 square meter building is a modular building that makes great use of prefabricated wooden panels and a lot of LVL (laminated veneer lumber).  This is a great example of the smartest, most sensitive use of engineered wood products in combination that I've yet seen. Here's a great slide show of the building with all kinds of interesting technical facts.

Survival of the Fittest

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A few years ago I wrote an article that I called "Survival of the Fittest". You can read the article here.

All the advice in the article holds true today, perhaps more so than ever. Success in today's business climate depends on what we think and do, not some random vagaries of the market.  Don't blame things outside your control. Do what you can control to the best of your abilities, surround yourself with the best people, and unleash the creativity of your employees. Then stand back and watch good things happen.


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They Sawed Up a Storm

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There have many many stories told of women stepping into traditional male roles during the Second World War. But this is one I've never heard. Sarah Smith of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension has written a book called "They Sawed Up a Storm" about women who considered it their duty to keep the local mill running.

Here's an excellent review of the book.


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Obama Energy Speech Ignites Biomass Firestorm on Capitol Hill

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President Obama's energy speech Wednesday caused some excitement among the proponents of wood and biomass energy. Thrown in the mix of his energy plan for our country was the following comment:

"Another substitute for oil that holds tremendous promise is renewable biofuels – not just ethanol, but biofuels made from things like switchgrass, wood chips, and biomass."
But I thought it sounded vaguely familiar.