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Showing posts from April, 2012

Toilet Paper, Wooden Pallets, and Costco

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There's a special on CNBC this evening you may want to catch. It's called The Costco Craze: Inside the Warehouse Giant. Costco is a prime mover of a lot of wood products, especially of the paper type. One preview I saw of the show highlighted the amount of toilet paper it sells (over one billion rolls) and the process their product testers go through to differentiate the best toilet paper for sale in their stores. The rest goes to companies and universities to discourage their employees from taking restroom breaks.

Knowledge in The Age of Wood

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A thought provoking excerpt from Eric Sloane'sA Reverence for Wood...
"[These days], when an American turns on the water and the lights in his apartment, he has little awareness of where these things come from; the greatest pity, however, is that he says, 'Who cares where it comes from, as long as it keeps on coming?' 

The Other Inconvenient Truth

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While digging into another project I'm working on, I ran across this video that, while not directly targeted at forest resource utilization, really does a great job of putting our land use challenges in perspective. The speaker, Dr. Jonathan Foley of the University of Minnesota, addresses in a very graphic and compelling way the impact that world population growth, and the related increase in demand for agricultural products, is changing the very face of the planet.



Springtime Means Redbuds, Dogwoods, and Charcoal

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Walking to work last week, I got some great shots of spring breaking out all around. I used to think that East Texas was the only place that redbuds and dogwoods bloomed, but as I got older and my horizons expanded past Tyler, I discovered that a few other states have the same purple and white display each spring. Growing up, I always knew that the first faint hint of purple in the woods meant that the redbuds were signaling the end of winter, the beginning of spring, and hot weather about three weeks away. In Pennsylvania, basically the same, except that hot weather is still about three months away.

In forestry school I learned that the redbud I was so fond of was properly called the Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis...and I figured it was called Eastern because of East Texas, but I couldn't figure out what Canada had to do with it.


Blooming dogwoods go right along with the redbuds.  Dr. Mike Fountain burned Cornus florida into my brain, along with about a hundred other scienti…

Great Designs in Wood (23) - The Pallet House for Refugees

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Well, some of you architects might take exception to my classifying this as a great design in wood...but hey, if you're fleeing into another country, or just plain down on your luck, I think this idea is great for a temporary respite, at least. And if you think about it, the concept isn't really too far removed from how the United States were settled...




Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

Forest Bioenergy Sustainability...What is the right level?

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This was the title of the article that came across the news wire today:
"Analysis raises atmospheric, ecologic and economic doubts about forest bioenergy" That sounds pretty dire, and I'm sure will be used by anti-wooders to their advantage. The article, as is usually the case, was too brief to understand precisely, so I clicked over and read the full paper, published in the journal Global Change Biology: Bioenergy. The paper as published was an invited editorial entitled "Large-scale bioenergy from additional harvest of forest biomass is neither sustainable nor greenhouse gas neutral". 
"Owing to the peculiarities of forest net primary production humans would appropriate ca. 60% of the global increment of woody biomass if forest biomass were to produce 20% of current global primary energy supply. We argue that such an increase in biomass harvest would result in younger forests, lower biomass pools, depleted soil nutrient stocks and a loss of other ecosyste…

First They Come for Your Chickens, Then They Come for Your Firewood, Then They Come for You

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Well, let's start off on a pleasant note, before we get into the sad and bizarre.

"Urban chickens" are in the news recently, as homeowners across the country choose to raise chickens in their backyard. The video below was featured in an excellent article in Treehugger.com that explains how some folks are finding themselves fighting local ordinances in order to raise fryers and eggs.



This type of experience got out of hand, with tragic consequences, for Andrew Wordes of Roswell, Georgia. The story was reported in the local Georgia news media, but I never heard of it up here in Pennsylvania. Chances are you didn't hear of it, either. It's a tough one to report, and even harder to understand. The reporting on the blog site offgridsurvival.com is one of the few I could find that provides enough detail to understand how things ever came to be how they did...

The story begins back in 2009 when Andrew Wordes, otherwise known as the Roswell Chicken Man, began his fight to…

Great Designs in Wood (22) - The Hive of Worcester

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Here's an interesting addition to our "Great Designs" collection. It falls in that category of "non-traditional" wood designs that may perhaps be the key to the future of wood-based construction.


The building is called "The Hive" and is a new library for University of Worcester, which promotes itself as the UK's "third greenest campus". The really interesting story here is that the building was originally designed as a steel and concrete structure, but the design team worked to change the design to a wood-framed building by utilizing glulam beams and panels, which they claim saved 2000 tons of CO2 emissions over the original design...a feature that fits perfectly with the University's carbon-management objectives.

The result is an ultra-modern structure which exhibits the clean lines, both inside and out, of modern architecture, while capturing the intrinsic values of wood utilization.

"The Hive which will open in July is the UK’…

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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More great video that promotes the source and use of wood in society. Paul Lyskava of the Pennsylvania Forest Products Association sent this out last week...
"As part of its Opening Day broadcast earlier this week, ESPN presented the attached video, entitled “Reincarnation of a bat”. It is a beautifully shot and highly informative piece showing the entire development of a baseball bat from the harvest of a tree in a Pennsylvania to delivery into the hands of Major Leaguer.

It includes scenes from the selected harvest in a PA forest, to a trip to a sawmill in Warren County, PA for initial processing and drying, then delivery to Louisville Slugger for the final manufacturing and finishing process.

They say the a picture speaks a thousand words. This video is certainly an example of that truth."

Great Designs in Wood (21) - The Philadelphia Furniture Show and Pallet Furniture

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On the way back from Saratoga Springs a couple of weeks ago, I made a detour through Philly to attend the 2012 Philadelphia Invitation Furniture Show. It was an excellent show in an historic location, the Old Armory which is the historic home of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. The place reeked of history and was a great venue in which to appreciate the finest of wooden furniture and art.


Even upon entry the wood aficionado is greeted by something we don't see much of anymore, such as double wooden oak doors that were about fifteen feet high. Here's a picture of my six-foot one son standing by the doors. I had a tough time just getting past these to admire the rest of the show.

Ecosystems Science and Management

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Last week I mentioned the change going on in the wood industry. Well, change is happening in academia as well. For the past twenty years, in fact, forestry and wood science programs in the various North American universities have been changing focus to better reflect the concerns of society.

Here at Penn State, our School of Forest Resources was established in 1907 as the Department of Forestry at The Pennsylvania State College, four years after the start of the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy at Mont Alto. The Penn State program absorbed the State Forest Academy in 1929. A wood products undergraduate curriculum was added in 1941, and a wildlife and fisheries science curriculum was added in 1981. Today, the school proudly continues its three missions of resident education, research, and outreach in Forest Science, Wildlife and Fisheries Science, and Wood Products. And the Penn State School of Forest Resources is supported by the largest alumni group of any such school in the country…