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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hubway - Bike Sharing Comes to Boston on July 28!

Hubway, Boston's new bike sharing public transportation program targeted to launch at 11am on July 28 at City Hall Plaza, lets members ride free for the first 30 minutes.  Sign up to be a member for a day, 3 days, or a year, swipe your card to get a bike, and go!

Hubway will provide 610 silver bicycles at 61 bike sharing stations scattered around the city.  This initiall rollout will put bikes in areas with the most tourists, workers, and residents, including Downtown Boston, Back Bay, Fenway, the South End, South Boston Waterfront, and other neighborhoods. 

Photo of bike share station in Paris similar to Hubway system for Boston
This bike-share station is in Paris - but in July, Hubway will bring similar bike sharing to Boston
Each 41-foot station will have a bicycle rack with slots for 15 bikes, and a solar-powered kiosk where you'll swipe your card - similar to Zipcar.  You can pick up a bike at one station and return it to another.
The number of bikes at each station will depend on the location's expected popularity, with South Station getting the most - 47 bikes.  Many stations are located about 200-400 yards from each other, as other cities with bike sharing programs find this distance ideal for encouraging usage.

The bike share system's rental rates encourage short-term cycle usage.  You can ride free for the first half hour and cheaply for another hour or so - but after that, rates climb steeply, topping out at $100/day.
If you want to explore the city by bike for several hours or a full day, check Boston bike tours and rentals to get cheaper rates. 

More about Hubway rates

Boston visitors and other infrequent users can choose 24-hour or 3-day "Casual" rates.  For residents who plan to use the bikes on an on-going basis, the "Registered" annual membership is a bargain at $85, especially since you also get a 25% discount on rental fees - a sweet deal.

Through the end of July, save even more when you sign up for an annual membership for only $60.
Hubway Rental and Cost Information
Membership types and rates: 
  • Casual 24-hour - $5 - sign up at kiosk
  • Casual 3-day - $12 - sign up at kiosk
  • Registered Annual - must sign up for service on-line - $85  (also gives you a 25% discount on rental fees)
Hubway rental fees (samples):
  • First 30 minutes or less:  Free for both Casual and Registered
  • 30 - 59 minutes:  $2  ($1.50 Registered members)
  • 60 - 89 minutes:   $6  ($4.50 Registered)
  • 90 - 119 minutes:  $14  ($10.50 Registered)
  • 2 - 2.5 hours:  $22  ($16.50 Registered))
  • 5 - 5.5 hours:  $70  ($52.50 Registered))
  • 7 - 24 hours:  $100 ($75 Registered))
Check availability at pick-up locations:  Use the smart-phone app   (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android); if the station where you want to return your bike is full, you get an extra 15 minutes of free usage to get to the next station.

Become a member and check locations:  Register at Hubway website
Helmets:  Check the Hubway website for a list of locations where you can buy inexpensive helmets. 
Even though Hubway targets short-term bicycle usage to fill gaps in the Boston MBTA public transportation system, tourists and other city visitors can use these bikes to travel from attraction to attraction faster than on foot or by T - for example, from Fenway Park to the Museum of Fine Arts. 

Boston's Hubway bike share program will operate for 3 seasons, and the bikes and kiosks will be removed and stored during winter months. 

Bike share systems have been wildly successful in other cities such as Washington DC, Montreal, and Paris - so now Boston gets its turn, with Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline to follow in Phase 2 starting in 2012.  Ultimately, look for as many as 5,000 bikes and 300 stations throughout the Boston area.

Hubway is part of Mayor Tom Menino's Boston Bikes Program, designed to move the city from being arguably the worst cycling city in the country to one of the best in the world.

First year goals for Hubway are 4,000 members and 100,000 rides - probably far too modest, considering that Washington DC achieved Year 1 results of 11,000 members and 300,000 rides.  Surely Boston can beat DC!

Hubway bike station locations for 2011

Likely locations for Hubway's 61 stations are creating lots of buzz, as public and private discussions to finalize plans continue.  Latest target locations include:
  • Downtown - 8 locations
  • Beacon Hill - 2 locations
  • North End - 2 locations
  • West End / Government Center - 4 locations
  • South Boston Waterfront / Seaport - 3 locations
  • Back Bay - 9 locations
  • Bay Village / Park Square - 1 location
  • Fenway - 8 locations
  • Longwood Medical Area - 5 locations
  • South End - 6 locations
  • Allston - 8 locations
  • Brighton - 1 location
  • Roxbury - 2, with more coming soon
  • Cambridge - coming soon
  • Somerville - coming soon
For more details, check Hubway's Station Map.

London 2012 Olympics, one year to go: live

There are 366 days to go until the London Olympics 2012, and this is going to be one of the busiest. We’ll keep you up to date with all that’s going on 

click here for the full blog:

Cute Kids Dance to Outkast

<a href='' target='_new' title='Cute Kids Dance to Outkast'>Video: Cute Kids Dance to Outkast</a>
Check out these two kids dance to Outkast's hit song, 'Hey Ya'. Even at such a young age, these little guys really know how to pull off those moves!

Tedesco Country Club opens new $11M clubhouse

Tedesco Country Club President Jim McCathern, center, hands over the keys of the new clubhouse to Cliff Boggis as Tom Iarrobino looks on Wednesday at the golf course. (Photo / Paula Muller)

MARBLEHEAD - Members of Tedesco Country Club endured nearly a season-and-a-half with clubhouse amenities relocated to trailers in the parking lot. Neighbors endured a season-and-a-half of construction. But the groups joined Wednesday night to admire the country club’s new $11 million clubhouse.

“We made a lot of noise, a lot of dust, for a while” said Club Administration Manager Ginny Burke at a neighbor’s Open House on Wednesday evening. “We wanted to give a thank you for bearing with us.”

Tedesco Country Club has straddled the Marblehead and Swampscott border — with its clubhouse in the former and part of its 18-hole golf course in the latter — since its incorporation in 1903, according to Clubhouse Manager Gregg Lindsay. The private club currently has 504 primary members, in addition to their spouses and children, said Burke. It is very exclusive: New members must be nominated by five current members and a membership with full golfing privileges — the most expensive of several levels of membership — currently costs $30,000 for an entry fee and annual dues of $5,500, Burke said.

Members and club officials have discussed a new clubhouse for a long time, several club officials said Wednesday night, and the new building reflects how members’ needs have changed since the previous clubhouse was constructed in the 1930s.

A function room with an outdoor patio is capable of hosting more than 200 people for weddings and events, said Burke. Expanded kitchen facilities enable the club to host functions and still serve members in the dining room at the same time, Lindsay said. There is a new fitness center. A soon-to-open room with “indoor hitting bays” that Chairman of the Grounds and member Tom Landry described as like a virtual-reality driving range, will offer feedback on members’ swings when the room is ready this fall. Landry and several other members noted that every member now has their own full-size locker. Meanwhile, the old formal dining room and Grill Room have been combined into a single, large dining area that can be dressed up or down as the situation requires, said Landry.

Not that the old clubhouse wasn’t loved.

“When you have a private membership, (a new building) takes a long time,” joked Burke.

“Everybody had a lot of good memories — it was a good old building,” said Tedesco Country Club President Jim McCathern. “It was a passionate debate but (the new building construction) did pass and the membership has united behind it and got excited about having the new clubhouse.”

And the most important aspect of the country club — the golf course — remains mostly the same. The new clubhouse and a new putting green required slight changes to the First and Third tee, but the course otherwise remains the same, said Grounds Manager Pete Hasak.

And both neighbors and members at the open house said they were impressed with the new building — even despite construction that relegated the Grill Room to a trailer and brought heavy machinery to the site and required blasting a bit of ledge.

“It was actually really fun to watch it come together,” said neighbor Joy Purdin.

“I think everybody feels like it was worth the wait,” said McCathern.

Freestyle Kayaking (video)

More Other Videos — “Approaching the lip, there’s this feeling of being completely out of control, completely in the hands of the river. You lose all that fear and all that anticipation, because there’s no turning back.”

Peachy Canyon Winery: Old Jesse James Hideout Turns Sustainable Winery


Green Wine Guide Peachy Canyon Photos 
Photo via Peachy Canyon

Peachy Canyon Winery is a sustainable, family-owned winery located on the westside of Paso Robles' popular Highway 46. The winery is named after a horse thief who took refuge in a cave near the vineyard; Jesse James made use of the same hideout.

Peachy--the oddly named horse thief--was eventually caught and hung in town. Jesse James' uncle, Drury James, co-founded the town of El Paso de Robles and was part owner of the famous La Panza Ranch where James and his brother, Frank, took shelter after holding up a bank in Russellville, Kentucky, on March 20, 1868. Jesse was ailing a gunshot wound from the robbery.

Green Wine Guide Peachy Canyon Photos 
Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

The winery has four estate vineyards, totaling 100 acres, and also sources grapes from other growers within the Paso Robles AVA. The Old School House Vineyard, located within the county's Templeton Gap, was purchased in 1998. The property's landmark attraction--yes, a school house--was built circa 1886 and now serves as the winery's only public tasting room. Their other vineyards include Snow Vineyard, Mustang Springs Ranch and Mustard Creek.

A Family Affair

The Beckett family relocated to Paso back in 1982 when they sold everything they had to buy a walnut farm in the area. It was there that Doug Beckett met hobby winemaker Pat Wheeler who had a garage-based winery. Soon Doug had his eyes set on an even larger commercial venture, a winery. Pat, who was hoping to leave the Golden State (crazy talk!), was less interested. So Doug, along with his wife Nancy, moved all of the winemaking equipment from Pat's garage to the farm near Peachy Canyon Road.

Thanks to a load of Zinfandel grapes from Benito Dusi's vineyard, Peachy Canyon Winery officially launched their label in 1988 with just a few hundred cases. Since then the Beckett's have gotten a wee bit more ambitious, production this year is set for 84,000 cases!

Green Wine Guide Peachy Canyon Photos 
Photo of Josh Beckett via Peachy Canyon
While Doug and Nancy still head the winery, their sons Josh and Jake also play a big part in the family business. Josh has worked at the winery for about nine years and has been the winemaker since 2003. Jake is the winery's General Sales Manager.

You Gotta be Nuts!

Josh explains that before the original vineyard was in fact a vineyard, it was an organic walnut grove, "There was no certification back then but it was definitely organic because [with] dry farmland that's all you do -- prune and cultivate, and that's it. Like out there, there's no spraying, no nothing going on out there. You just turn the soil, shake the trees and pick the nuts up off the ground, and you prune in the winter, and that's it. That's all you do with walnuts."

Walnuts were sold to both Diamond Foods of California and a tiny little candy company known as See's Candies. In fact, the original vineyard near Peachy Canyon Road still grows both crops. It's about one-quarter walnuts and the rest is grapes.

Green Wine Guide Peachy Canyon Photos 
Photo via Peachy Canyon

The walnuts didn't stick around but the sustainable farming practices did.

Doing It the Old Fashioned Way

All four vineyards compost the waste accumulated during harvest; grape skins, stems, seeds, everything is recycled and put back into the vineyard. By doing so, Peachy Canyon is able to avoid using fertilizers.

Cover crops are grown throughout the vineyards every year. Barley is the crop of choice as it prevents runoff during the rainy season. Other plants include vetch, legumes and other beans. In the Spring, the barley and other plants are mowed and disked back into the soil.

"We like to see the grass and we like to see the different weeds because we know there's life in there [the vineyard] and there's healthy stuff going on. There's worms, there's all this stuff out there. Without that greenery and without that life, it [the vineyard] wouldn't be there," says Josh.

Pests are kept to a minimum using beneficial insects such as ladybugs, praying mantis and lacewings. Organic style oil is used to thwart leaf hoppers, the vineyards' most common pest. Netting is used to keep out the birds.

Peachy Canyon has been SIP certified since 2007 like some of its neighbors such as Halter Ranch and Robert Hall.

Green Wine Guide Peachy Canyon Photos 
Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch

Josh explains that while they do sometimes water and spray, "we don't get on a regimented spray program or a regimented irrigation program. We go out there and spend time [in the vineyards], and we'll see what the plants actually need and don't need, and don't just water just to water. [We] don't just do things because. A lot of the big, huge farms, they have to. They don't have a choice."

Deadly Zins

While Peachy Canyon grows a plethora of varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Malbec, and Petite Verdot but they are really known for their Zins.

Their 2008 Old School House Zinfandel is brooding with dark cherries, cocoa and just enough citrus to keep it fresh and light. This School House Zin is bound to land you in detention. Josh really hits it home with his 2009 Cirque Du Vin, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec that borders on blasphemy. The wine gracefully dances between herbal notes and ripe fruit. Both of these wines can be purchased online for $36 and $17 respectively.

There are two things I never turn down and one of them is a Cab Franc. So I am hesitant to mention Peachy Canyon's 2008 Cabernet Franc. The wine is a tsunami of cherries and currents anchored by a touch of oak and some herbal undercurrents. It retails for $25 and is also available online along with their other wines.
While Paso Robles is no longer the Wild Wild West, you could very well end up in a duel over Peachy Canyon's wine.

Visit TreeHugger's Green Wine Guide for more green wineries, recipes and virtual tours.

London 2012: Olympic medals timeline


Medals have been presented to event winners and runners-up since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. For each host city, different medals are minted and the designs and sizes have changed through time. Explore them by clicking on the medals below.


London 2012

2012 olympic medal. Image courtesy of IOC
Thickness: 7mmDiameter: 85mmWeight: 400gQuantity: --Designer: David Watkins
The biggest Summer Olympics medals to date. Artist David Watkins says the key symbols on front and back juxtapose the goddess Nike, for the spirit and tradition of the Games, and the River Thames, for the city of London. On the back of the medals is the 2012 branding, representing the modern city as a jewel-like, geological growth. The logo is shown against a 'pick-up-sticks' grid which radiates the energy of athletes and a sense of pulling together. The River Thames runs through the middle as a celebratory ribbon. The bowl-like background recalls ancient amphitheatres, with a square balancing the circle to give a sense of place. The sport and discipline is engraved on the rim of each medal, all of which will be produced by the Royal Mint at Llantrisant, South Wales.

Racing to the Bottom: Exploring the Deepest Point on Earth

Teams led by Richard Branson, James Cameron, and some unknown guy from Florida are all hoping to make it to the Mariana Trench
At the southern end of the Mariana Trench, a deep scar that cuts into the bottom of the ocean floor, there is a point known as Challenger Deep. Here, just outside of the Marianas or Ladrones, a series of 15 islands made up of volcanic mountains that peak just above the water line, a small slot-shaped valley plunges nearly seven miles down. At 35,797 feet, Challenger Deep is the deepest known point in the oceans. It is so deep that, if you were able to place Mount Everest inside of the valley, there would still be 6,811 feet of water separating it from the surface.
At just 7,000 feet down, about where the tallest mountain in the world would peak, the pressure becomes so great that whales rely on unique evolutionary traits when hunting for giant squid. Whales have lungs that can collapse safely under pressure and ribs bound by soft cartilage that allows the cage to shift and settle in extreme environments rather than snap. Without similar anatomical gifts, we don't know much about what happens below that level. Imagine what creatures might live at depths five times greater than where whales and giant squid battle in the pitch-black ocean.
We've been there once before, to the bottom of Challenger Deep. But we didn't see or learn much. On January 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard suited up, plopped down inside of Trieste, and sank to the ocean floor. The Swiss-designed, Italian-built, U.S. Navy-owned Trieste is an inelegant machine. The observation gondola, a sphere welded to the bottom of the ship's main flotation system, has walls that measure five inches thick and a tiny, cone-shaped Plexiglas window.
Story continues after the gallery.


Historic Naval Ships
  • Trieste
  • Trieste
  • Before the Dive
  • Main Features
  • Pressure Sphere
  • Walsh & Piccard
  • Jacques Piccard
  • Cross-Section of Mariana
  • Mariana Trench
After spending nearly five hours sinking to the bottom of the ocean, Piccard and Don Walsh, a Navy Lieutenant that accompanied him, were only able to peer through the Plexiglas while shivering in the 45-degree capsule and munching on chocolate bars for sustenance. Surrounded by a cloud of sediment that Trieste had kicked up when it smacked into the ocean floor, Piccard and Walsh couldn't see a whole lot from their window, which had cracked on the way down. What they did see, though -- a variety of sole and flounder, two types of flatfish -- proves that at least some vertebrate life can handle the extreme pressure in one of the Earth's most extreme places. Twenty minutes later, Trieste dumped tons of magnetic iron pellets and spent three hours rising back to the surface.
Now, more than 50 years later, humans are nearly ready to return to Challenger Deep. This time, though, they're planning to stay a while, collecting samples, videotaping whatever might be down there, sending out small remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) and then bringing home $10 million. Earlier this year, the X Prize Foundation made that prize money available to the first privately funded submersible to make two visits to Challenger Deep. This money, though, is little more than proof that humans are fascinated with the extreme: climbing Mount Everest, walking on the Moon, searching the floor of the ocean. Ten million dollars will only cover a fraction of the race to the bottom. And it is indeed a race; one with at least three competitors, each close to claiming the prize.


Billionaire Richard Branson is known for the hundreds of companies that fall under the Virgin Group umbrella, including Virgin Megastores, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Records and Virgin Galactic, his space tourism company that aims to bring passengers into sub-orbital space for $200,000 a head. As part of his team perfects SpaceShipTwo, the plane that will fly more than 60 miles above the Earth as those inside gleefully float about the cabin for six minutes of weightlessness, another crew is busy preparing a kind of ship meant to take humans in the opposite direction.

Branson's team, led by legendary submersible designer Graham Hawkes and chief pilot Chris Welsh, has been planning to take the Virgin Oceanic out for water tests as early as this summer, but, due to setbacks, no date has been confirmed. In early rounds of laboratory testing, the borosilicate viewing bubble through which the Oceanic's crew would peer out at the ocean floor cracked under just 2,200 pounds per square inch of pressure, about one-eighth of the 16,000 psi expected at Challenger Deep.
Story continues after the gallery.


Virgin Oceanic
Virgin Oceanic
  • Virgin Oceanic
  • Virgin Oceanic
  • Cheyenne Catamaran
  • Cheyenne Catamaran
  • Richard Branson
  • James Cameron
  • Triton 36,000
  • Triton 36,000
  • Triton 36,000
  • Triton 36,000
  • Triton 36,000
  • Triton 36,000
  • Triton 36,000
  • Triton 36,000
The 8,000-pound, 18-foot-long submersible that Hawkes has designed "represents a transformational technological advance in submarine economics and performance," according to Virgin Oceanic's official website. "The submarine provides the currently unequalled capability to take humans to any depth in the oceans and to truly explore." Taking some of the most elegant creatures of the sea as inspiration -- whales, dolphins and rays -- the Virgin Oceanic uses two sets of wings to fly through the water.

The Virgin Oceanic will be carried out to sea and launched by an enormous 125-foot racing catamaran that was once owned by adventurer, aviator and sailor Steve Fossett. Welsh, the pilot for the submersible who made his money in real estate and then decided to take to the seas, purchased the catamaran after Fossett disappeared in a single-engine airplane over the Nevada desert in 2007. He traveled to Fossett's estate to close the deal on the Cheyenne and was sold on the Challenger, the original name for what would become the Virgin Oceanic, as well.


The Avatar and Terminator director is an explorer first and a filmmaker second. The box office-breaking Titanic wasn't on Cameron's radar as a Hollywood project because he knew it could earn huge dividends, rather, he has long been obsessed with the famous sinking of the ship. He has made several trips to the wreckage, shooting footage using 3-D cameras he designed himself to capture the 100-year-old ship as it has never been seen before. He plans on using some similar technology at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Admittedly, Cameron doesn't care if he's the first (well, the first of this group) to reach the bottom ... he just wants to be the best. Cameron's team is working on building what appears to be the most high-tech (and least reliant on a tourism-based model to fund future exploration) submersible. The as-yet-unnamed project will include a giant lighting array, several 3-D high-definition cameras, an arm that can grab samples from the ocean floor and a small ROV similar to that used to swim in and around the Titanic wreckage, according to an email that Cameron sent to Outside's Anna McCarthy.

Unlike Branson's Virgin Oceanic, Cameron's Challenger Deep project has passed pressure tests; at a Penn State University lab, the team turned the dials to 16,000 psi and waited. Nothing. But at what cost? Nobody knows how much time or money Cameron has put into this submersible, about which he has been pretty tight-lipped since kicking off the design stage with a couple of sketches in 2003. Now, more two dozen people are working around the clock to prepare the sub for sea trials next April.


Bruce Jones is the odd man out in this triumvirate. And that's because you have no idea who Bruce Jones is -- and you're not alone. Building a vessel that can safely sink to the bottom of the ocean is no easy feat; it's one that requires big backers with deep pockets, something that Jones doesn't have. While the 55-year-old entrepreneur has drawn up plans and marketing materials -- they call this project the "race to inner space!" -- he has not yet secured the funds to construct a prototype. He's currently shopping around the idea. "We're talking to a number of first clients because, quite frankly, we don't have the money to build one of these on spec," Jones told Outside.

Jones' Florida-based company is hoping to build a number of Triton 36,000s -- named for its maximum depth, obviously -- and sell them for about $15 million each to individuals who can shuttle people down to the bottom of the ocean for even more than Branson plans to charge for a space ride: $250,000 each.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Chewbacca and Han Solo Then and Now (PICS)

Space Station to Be Sunk After 2020

The large complex would pose a space debris risk if left in orbit after its life cycle.

space station
The International Space Station is seen with the docked space shuttle Endeavour in this photo taken on May 23. Click to enlarge this image.

Russia and its partners plan to plunge the International Space Station (ISS) into the ocean at the end of its life cycle after 2020 so as not to leave space junk, the space agency said on Wednesday.

"After it completes its existence, we will be forced to sink the ISS. It cannot be left in orbit, it's too complex, too heavy an object, it can leave behind lots of rubbish," said deputy head of Roskosmos space agency Vitaly Davydov.

"Right now we've agreed with our partners that the station will be used until approximately 2020," he said in comments released on Wednesday.

WIDE ANGLE: The Shuttle's Final Countdown

Space junk is becoming an increasingly serious headache.
A piece of space debris narrowly missed the space station last month in a rare incident that forced the six-member crew to scramble to their rescue craft.

The ISS, which orbits 220 miles above Earth, is a sophisticated platform for scientific experiments bringing together space agencies from Russia, the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada.

SEE ALSO: Casting a Net for Space Debris
Launched in 1998, the ISS was initially expected to remain in space for 15 years until an agreement was reached to keep it operating through 2020.

By going into a watery grave, the ISS will repeat the fate of its predecessor space station Mir which Russia sank in the Pacific Ocean in 2001 after 15 years of service.

Moscow this month proclaimed the beginning of "the era of the Soyuz" after the U.S. shuttle's last flight left the Russian system as the sole means for delivering astronauts to the ISS.

Russia is currently developing a new space ship to replace the Soyuz capsule which is single-use, except for the section in which spacemen return to Earth, said Davydov.

SEE ALSO: The Shuttle Is Dead; Long Live The Politics

Tests of the ship will begin after 2015 and it will have "elements of multi-use whose level will be much higher than they are today," he said, adding that Russia will compete with the United States in building the new-generation ship.

"We'll race each other."

Davydov said it remains unclear what will come after the ISS and whether mankind will see the need for a replacement orbiting close to Earth.

"Lots of our tasks are still linked to circumterrestrial space," he said, while adding that a new space station could be used as a base for building complexes that will explore deeper into space.

"I cannot rule out that it will be used to put together, create the complexes that in the future will fly to the Moon and Mars," he said, stressing that "a serious exploration" could not be done without manned flights.