Rally Software places first among 20 Bike to Work Day Business Challenge winners

Boulder-based Rally Software claimed first place in a Bike to Work Day Business Challenge, Way to Go, a division of the Denver Regional Council of Governments, has announced. Way to Go recognized 20 winners in the 2013 Bike to Work Day Business Challenge.

Bike to Work Day 2014 is Wednesday, June 25 throughout Metro Denver.

Along with Rally, the top three were Plexus Engineering Solutions and Navigant Boulder. In order, other winners were Davis Partnership Architects, Seagate Technology, City of Boulder Municipal Government, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado Department of Law, Colorado School of Mines, Healthgrades, Qualcomm, National Institute of Standards and Technology and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (tied for 12th place), University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus, Sports Authority Corporate, Primal Wear, Sundyne, Slaterpaull Architects, Tensentric, Suncor Energy USA and Zen Planner.

The business challengers were judged on a scale that compensated for the size of the company.

Rally is an international company with Colorado offices in Boulder and Denver. Its other North American offices are in Kirkland, Calif., Raleigh, N.C., and Toronto, Canada. It also has offices in London, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney.

Plexus, also a global company, has a branch office in Louisville, Colo. Navigant is an international Boulder-based company with an office in Denver.

Mosquitoes don’t attempt to bite through this eco-friendly forcefield

Most people enjoy spending time enjoying activities outdoors during fair weather. There are local festivals, farmers markets, family parties, gatherings with friends and sporting events that all take place outdoors. Add in gardening, poolside relaxing and refreshing evenings of patio lemonades and you (and your dogs!) are in a prime position to be targeted as a mosquito buffet.
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Just the fact that a person is breathing makes them attractive to mosquitoes. Warm weather that causes perspiration and elevated body heat in addition to activities that usually include drinking alcohol outside create the perfect storm for these flying invaders. Left with, at the very least an itchy red bump; and at worst a blood-borne disease like malaria, there is nothing pleasant about this experience. The fate for your dog s much worse: heart worms are transmitted through mosquito bites.

In the past, there have been solutions that include applications of product to the skin or burning candles to deter mosquitoes. Ones that use harsh chemicals are not only unhealthy for humans and pets but also dangerous for our environment. I personally do not like to apply anything to my skin when I am already sweaty and hot. And the smell of citronella oil in the air makes me nauseous.

When I found Thermacell, I was excited to try a repellent that did not smell like citronella, didn’t have an open flame and wasn’t in a form that I had to apply it to my skin. I am one of the people who are more attractive to mosquitoes due to certain factors. I work in my garden almost every day and if I do not do some type of parasite damage control, I am covered in mosquito bites. Thermacell sent me some of their products to try last season, however I had sprayed my yard with cedar oil (which repels fleas and mosquitoes). I wanted to give a realistic review with no other factors so I opted to wait until this season to complete my review. I’ve also taken the products with me to several other locations and I am happy to say they performed just as well everywhere else.

At a very reasonable $29.99, the Lantern is my favorite mosquito repellent tool. As a control, I spent about 12 hours per day on Sundays working on a very large, very detailed hardscaping project in my yard over the past four weeks. I used no mosquito protection and as a result, I earned myself about 8-10 mosquito bites. After breaking out the Lantern while watering my garden, weeding, pruning and continuing to do more yard work, I haven’t been bitten once. It’s effective in a 15’ x 15’ area so as long as I stay within that zone, I am safe! Moving around outside of that area definitely proves the effectiveness of the product: it’s like being inside of a force field when it’s on and has been given a little bit of time to build up in the air. It’s pretty, with settings for low or high as far as illumination is concerned, and looks cute wherever I set it down in the garden. It can be used as a lantern without turning on the mosquito repellent as well. My plan is to purchase several more and hang them on my fence posts or shepherd’s hooks so that my entire yard will be covered in protection. This way my dogs won’t wander out of the covered zone. Operating on a single butane cartridge, the lantern warms a little pad which is infused with allethrin. “Allethrin is a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in pyrethrum flowers, a member of the chrysanthemum family.” It barely smells like much of anything and is definitely effective.

Thermacell also sent me their Mosquito Repellent Appliance to try. It covers the same area as the Lantern but has the capability of being attached to the person using it via a belt clip and costs a few dollars less than the lantern. This allows for hands-free protection without having to carry the Lantern around as you move. I found it to be helpful when hiking and walking, but I really love the look of the Lantern in the yard so I use it much more often. Because I am often bending and squatting when gardening, the appliance is a bit bulky for me. It still works the same as the Lantern, with the same amazing effectiveness but is just a little too big for a person of my small size. I took both to picnics and barbecues and wasn’t bitten by a single mosquito. My friends were amazed! The two products together are also available as a discounted package. They are also sold at your local Home Depot, Lowes, sporting goods stores, and Walmart.

Refills are available on their website and also on Amazon. I am so happy with this product, and I know you will be too! I could see this product as a vital item to pack when camping or fishing as well. I can say for sure that I will not be gardening without it! They are on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – follow and subscribe for coupons and specials.

Tesla’s patent release opens vistas to brave new worlds

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, electrified the transportation world last week. His emailed announcement marked a clear intent to freely share the 203 patents in his company’s meteoric rise in the electric automobile industry. His motivation is simple: Spur collaboration, not competition.

Patent wars stifle progress.

By sharing his investments with others, his stated objective is a mutually beneficial relationship, not the contentious and competitive environment ruled by legal professionals. Open sources invite durable relationships that develop wider acceptance and increased availability.

The threads of a blanket of charging stations across America could use some companions too. Tesla is cultivating gardeners as it cultivates gardens – making friends all along the way. But is it good for business?

Since the announcement four days ago, the actual value of Elon Musk’s tiny 23% stake in his company has increased in value ~half a billion dollars according to analysts. Just a sign of things to come.

From ecological disaster to sustainable environment, carbon crisis in perspective

With 100 million new cars a year and less than 1% electrics, the true competitors of electric cars are the 2 billion fuel-guzzling cars now cruising the planet on fossils. Blend in a few oil wars, rising seas and carbon levels unseen in many moons; we have a planet-sized market ripe for a make-over in attitude.

As Tesla moves into international markets, the availability of charging stations limits sales. Especially in the wide open country of China, acceptance of transportation by electric vehicle depends on viability of charging-station networks.

With collaboration, Tesla has seized the high ground in environmental stewardship, economic opportunity and socially responsible policy. Last week, Tesla met with BMW to discover shared interests in world-wide acceptance of electric vehicles.

From contentious attorneys in patent suits to creative inventors dancing on open-source platforms

When MIT joined Harvard in sharing their curricular content online for free, they keystoned the movement toward Open Educational Resources (OERs). This move by Tesla adds a fresh perspective on the urgency to address our wasteful habits.

Moving away from the patent paradigm with its wars and lawyers, delays and hold-ups, infringements and headaches, Tesla has chosen the path of open-sources. By developing human potential and instilling a sense of personal investment, open sourcing puts a priority on people and planets ahead of profits. Tesla is leading by example – sharing what they have done so that others can stand on the shoulders and see through the eyes and heads of giants.

Avoid allergens in the home

People who suffer from asthma, emphysema and other breathing problems, or who have allergies to dust mites, molds, pollen and mildew can increase their comfort indoors and alleviate symptoms by taking particular steps. These are some suggestions to try but, as always, see a personal physician or allergy specialist for medical assistance when needed.

Wash bed linens in water at least 130 degrees to kill dust mites.
Use special laundry additives that kill dust mites in water less than 130 degrees.
Wash pillows in hot water every 2 weeks or cover them with zippered allergen-impermeable covers. Use polyester-filled pillows, not foam rubber, and replace them every year.
Cover mattresses in allergen-impermeable covers.
Have wood, tile, linoleum or laminate floors instead of carpet, especially in sleeping areas.
Have wood, leather, plastic or vinyl furniture instead of upholstered furniture throughout the home.
Use shades on windows instead of drapes, curtains and blinds.
Avoid fabrics, throw pillows, throw rugs.
Keep home free from stuffed animals, wall hangings, posters that collect dust.
Maintain a humidity level below 50 percent in the home or dust mites will thrive. Only use a humidifier when the humidity level drops below 25 percent. Purchase a humidity gauge.
Have special filters installed on HVAC systems and replace filters regularly. Look for the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) between 6 and 12. Filters can be added to vents but may affect system efficiency. Room air filters like the HoMedics Brethe Air Cleaner, reported to have five times the strength of a HEPA filter, help keep indoor air dust allergen levels low, especially important in bedrooms.
Do not have open shelves or closets with curtains. Keep books inside covered bookcases, preferably not in the bedroom. Keep clothing inside closed drawers and closets.
Treat required non washable linens such as comforters every two weeks with products that neutralize allergens.
Keep pets outside if you must have them.
Keep windows closed so pollen and other air pollutants remain outside.
Dry clothes in a clothes dryer. Do not hang them outside.
When coming inside from outdoors, shower, wash hair and change clothes, putting previous clothing in enclosed laundry bin.
Use a non-bleach mold inhibitor to clean areas where mold is likely to form in dark, warm humid areas such as bathroom walls and showers, tile grouting, refrigerators, air conditioners, humidifiers, vaporizers, window frames, basements, garbage containers, shoe storage containers, concrete areas, under sinks, around toilets, washing machines, and garages. Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting inside the home.
Avoid locating sleeping areas underground as in basements.
Get leaking plumbing repaired and replace any wet building material.

A new treatment for house dust mite asthma was discussed on the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website in May 2014.

Cannabix – marijuana breath-alyzer: just the ticket for stoned drivers

Highway safety has a new best friend. With the rising numbers of pot-impaired drivers, retired Canadian Royal Mounted Policeman Kal Malhi developed a breath-analyzing device to accurately measure toxicity and reliably confirm a pot-user’s recent (2-hour) consumption. Pot cops can now read our breath.

Joining forces with Dr. Raj Attariwala, a Canadian radiologist and nuclear medicine physician, and Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a toxicology research scientists and professor at the University of Florida, Malhi and cohorts have patents pending.

With recreational marijuana gaining quasi-legal status in some states, the Canadian inventor may have found a technological fix for the growing weak link in our safety net.

People are not afraid to drug and drive because they don’t feel law enforcement will do anything about it – Kal Malhi

Legal weed has a way of telling us something is askew with our world when one man’s pleasure includes accidently loading up, squealing out and plowing into our neighbors. After years of seeing the costs of abuse splattered on the highways and imploding neighborhoods, Kal worked with Sweden’s Karolinski Institute to develop reliable instrumentation.

In a press release on Monday, West Point Resources Inc announced the finalization of agreement with the developers to license and distribute Cannabix Marijuana Breathalyzer in North America. The Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) has also given conditional approvals.

Invincibility and the automobile: minds of young drivers

THC levels in today’s pot are roughly 10 times what hippies burned at Woodstock. The pot is different. But a 16 year old kid today is a 10 year old kid in a 16 year old body when he tokes up, plans to impress his frenemies and demonstrate his screeching ferocity, with his pedal to the metal.

Will the Cannabix make any difference? Perhaps, but it won’t happen anytime soon. Marketing and legal infusion may take a year or more.

The tech of the Montgomery Plaza Chick-fil-a

Though it has more than a week since the upload of the last article about LEED certification, the author recognizes that half of the beauty of Internet publishing is the ease of access to old information which can complement the new. Hence, the show must go on, and this time around, he is talking about all the technological advances in construction, maintenance, and energy supply used at the Chick-fil-a he has taken an interest in. For the readers who may not be familiar with what he is talking about, go here for his initial article on the location, or here for his review on it.

So, without further ado, here is the list of all the awesome things the Montgomery Plaza FSU utilizes to make its carbon footprint even smaller than it already is.

Marijuana growers devastating the environment

Although states have legalized marijuana, the growing of pot has caused environmental problems. Since marijuana is illegal according to the federal government, laws regulating the growing of an illegal substance cannot be created and enforced.

The main environmental issues with growing marijuana are:

native vegetation and wildlife is killed
fish populations are killed when water is dammed, drained or diverted for the plants
one marijuana plant can consume up to 15 gallons of water daily
toxic pesticides are spread and leach into water supplies
chemical run-off flowing into storm drains and sewers cannot be controlled with permits from the Environmental Protection Agency since marijuana is illegal under federal law
rat poison capable of killing humans in small doses is being put out to protect marijuana seedlings and is killing wildlife including threatened owl species who eat the poisoned rodents
pesticides that can kill humans in small doses or just when breathed, like aluminum phosphide that turns into phosphine gas when it hits the air, are being used
greenhouse gas emissions from diesel generators used to light bunkers pollute the air
muddy, deforested slopes erode during rainy seasons and choke salmon streams
medical marijuana growers are not subject to federal laws as are conventional farmers regarding fertilizer and water use
rangers who used to be able to care for the forests and parks are now spending 100 percent of their time working on the environmental impacts of marijuana
illegal growers leave behind many garbage bags worth of trash like clothes, sleeping bags, tents, beer cans, backpack sprayers and plastic waste that pollute streams and wildlife dies trying to eat. Helicopters have to be used to carry the trash out of the remote areas at taxpayers’ expense.

An exception to a couple of these issues are the states of Colorado and Washington which have laws dictating how, where and by whom marijuana may be grown. In Colorado, where the state has a seed to sale tracking system, pot vendors’ packages must list all farm chemicals used to produce their products. Most of the crop there is grown indoors, reducing pesticide use but being highly energy intensive.

United States law enforcement officials and attorneys are saying that Mexican drug cartels plant marijuana across the border on the United States side because it is easier than smuggling it across. In remote areas of national parks and forest, secret gardens are planted using streams for irrigation and toxic pesticides which have been banned in the States.

Scott Bauer, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, says cannabis farm irrigation has used up all the water that normally keeps salmon streams going through the dry season with at least 24 salmon and steelhead streams dried up in summer 2013. He considers it the number one threat to salmon in his area and says the spending of millions to restore streams, contain sediment and fix fish path barriers is a waste without water for the fish.

The U.S. Justice Department has proposed treating prosecution of these growers similar to methamphetamine producers since toxic chemicals are involved. They suggest heavily increased prison sentences in contradiction to the Obama administration’s move to cut bulging prison populations with shorter times for federal drug defendants.

The main source of the problem in the U.S. is in northern California’s Emerald Triangle of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties known for massive U.S. marijuana cultivation. California has allowed growth of marijuana for health reasons since 1996. Just in the years from 2009 to 20012, cultivating marijuana on private land doubled.

Where the U.S. Forest Service rangers used to find occasional areas of a few hundred plants, they are now regularly seeing as many as 40,000 plants. And as especially during prohibition when it was dangerous to walk in the woods where moonshiners had their stills, it is now dangerous to be in the woods near marijuana patches where guns are protecting the crops. Watch the heartbreaking Forest Service video for pictures of the environmental damage they are seeing.

Pollinator Week, Tree Hug Tuesday, and other Maryland green events

Pollinator Week will take place from June 16 to June 22. It is an international event celebrating pollinator animals like bees, bats, butterflies, and birds — and calling attention to the environmental problems many of these animals face. For more information, visit http://www.pollinator.org/pollinator_week_2014.htm or www.fws.gov/pollinators.

The Herrington Manor State Park in Oakland is offering a hike into Cranesville Swamp on June 16. It would take place 10 – 11:30 a.m. Hikers would learn about the different species that live in the swamp, what a frost pocket is, and how a swamp regulates water during floods. The hike itself is free, but there are park entry fees: $3.00 for Marylanders and $5.00 for out-of-state visitors. To learn more, contact Chris Hull at [email protected] or (301) 334-9180.

Baltimore Green Space and Blue Water Baltimore seek volunteers for Tree Hug Tuesday on June 17. The hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Every Tuesday, participants mulch, stake, and prune newly planted trees in Baltimore city and Baltimore County. BWB provides all the equipment and work gloves. Volunteers should bring water and wear sturdy shoes and clothes that can get dirty. To learn more, contact Debra Lenik at [email protected] or (856) 275-7478.

There will be a Pollinator Workshop at Dawson’s Market in Rockville on June 18. It will run 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Alison Gillespie will educate people on the importance of honeybees and other pollinators. There will be a honey tasting and an observation hive. Registration is required. To learn more, call (240) 428-1386.

New bipartisan water law promotes use of public-private financing

President Obama recently signed a bipartisan bill to develop the nation’s water infrastructure – the harbors, bays, levees and coastal facilities that are essential to business and people’s day-to-day lives. Contained within the broad reach of the full law are provisions that rely on joint federal-private partnerships to promote water infrastructure.
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“As more of the world’s cargo is transported on…massive ships, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got bridges high enough and ports that are big enough to hold them and accommodate them so that our businesses can keep selling goods made in America to the rest of the world,” President Obama said in his prepared remarks on June 10, 2014, the day he signed the bill.

“[M]any of America’s businesses ship their goods across the country by river and by canal, so we’ve got to make sure that those waterways are in tip-top shape,” the President said.

In addition to its lack of earmarks, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, supported by 48 members of Congress, is notable, in part, because it promotes use of partnerships between the government and private sector as a way to finance water improvement infrastructure.

Sometimes called joint public-private partnerships or P3s, these arrangements rely on the private sector to reduce federal risk, supposedly a net gain for both the government entity involved and its private partners who gain the right to profit from what historically have been government projects.

The new law approves a five-year pilot program to use a form of these public-private partnerships to finance flood control, waste water and water treatment facilities, among other projects, according to materials provided by the National Association of Water Companies. The Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency will administer the pilot program.

The water resources law highlights the fact that “public-private partnerships are more broadly accepted,” Petra Smeltzer, Director of Government Relations of the National Association of Water Companies, said.

For years, federal and state governments have financed certain road construction using joint public-private partnerships. “This alternative to taxes and bonds offered governments the ability to shift debt and maintenance costs off their books,” according to the American Bar Association’s Government Private Sector Innovation Committee website. “It also allowed governments to offset large upfront capital costs through lease or toll payments.”

“Increasingly, governments and government agencies are using public-private partnerships to reduce environmental harm, support renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and fund technology,” the bar association committee website said.

President’s climate change comments (ought to) resonate in Sacramento

It has been noted that “even before the early ancestors of modern humans began walking on 2 legs, climate change was a constant and ongoing process.

During an earlier warm era, trees and plants now common in areas of the United States were found near the North Pole.

Only 18,000 years ago most of the North American Continent was covered in ice.

From historical records a recent cooling period known as the little ice age occurred from the 15th to the 19th century.

This cooling caused a decline in human existence because of massive crop failures and hypothermia related disease.

The subsequent warming trend that began in the 19th century has been good for humans; however, for the first time in history our activities may be affecting the environment in ways that are contributing to global climate change.”

On June 14, 2014, President Obama gave the commencement speech at the University of California, Irvine.

When challenging political opposition to government policy to respond to ongoing global climate change, the President spoke as follows:

“Now, part of what’s unique about climate change, though, is the nature of some of the opposition to action.

It’s pretty rare that you’ll encounter somebody who says the problem you’re trying to solve simply doesn’t exist….

And today’s Congress, though, is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence about climate change. They will tell you it is a hoax or a fad.”

These comments ought to resonate in Sacramento as we deal with an ongoing drought.

In May 2014, a group of academic scientists published a research paper on the probable causes of the 2013-2014 California drought. Some of its results are summarized.

Severity – California 2013 – 2014 drought was historic in minimal levels of rain
Cause – upper-level drought-producing weather ridge
Influence – intensity of drought-producing weather ridge traceable to human-induced global warming
Future – persistent and cyclic California droughts will be more severe going forward

The current drought in California will impact much of Sacramento’s economy, including increasing the price of food.

Emerging scientific evidence that this drought, and its impacts on Sacramento, is influenced by human-induced global warming compels deniers to present competent and peer-reviewed scientific evidence to the contrary.