Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell Borough

At the last meeting of the Princeton borough council, in the hallowed (now fallowed?) chambers of borough hall, volunteers received certificates of appreciation for service on boards and commissions. Mine was for years spent on the environmental commission, dating back to when Rosemary Blair and Wendy Benchley were on the commission.

During many of those years, even while being very involved in community work, I was only vaguely aware that the town was divided into township and borough. Now, with consolidation, Princeton will finally become the (one) town I thought I had moved to in 2003. Some invisible boundaries will remain--many borough and township ordinances will remain in place until they can be merged.
On a sentimental note, the last property tax check, sent earlier this fall. After today, the two halves of the Prince will have died. Long live the Prince.

How Stuff Gets Done

My younger daughter thought this would make a nice gift for her mom. The concept is similar to fair trade coffee: imported by 10,000 Villages at the Princeton Shopping Center from Indonesia, with apparently sustainably harvested shells of some sort that make a soft, pleasing sound when they collide. It was easy to hang in the bay window where it will catch light in the morning.

It proved to be two gifts in one, because the ease of hanging it up provided the necessary momentum
to finally hang up a stained glass window that had languished nine years on the bookshelf since our last move. Fifteen minutes was all it took to find eye screws, fishing line, and a good place to hang it.

Some small projects that get indefinitely postponed turn out to be more difficult than expected, lending some justification to the procrastination. But others prove disconcertingly easy--progress held up for years because of the tiniest of hurdles.

So much remains undone not for lack of time, energy or resources, but for lack of a catalyst.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Coffee Packaging

Is it really necessary to package products in materials our recycling program won't accept, such as this mylar? I called Pete's Coffee not long ago, and was told they had not found a substitute material sufficiently airtight.

But our local Small World coffee offers a different story. At the Small World cafes in town, and at the Whole Earth health food grocery, they sell their coffee in brown paper bags. But when forced to compete with other brands with shiny packaging at Whole Foods out on Route 1, Small World uses mylar like everyone else.

Is mylar, then, necessary for preserving the coffee's freshness, or primarily a way of competing visually on the shelf?

This is where regulation, by requiring that packaging be easily recyclable, could stimulate innovation while sparing the manufacturers from an escalated battle they don't really want to be fighting.

Solar Energy Without Panels

Afternoon sunlight brightens and warms a living room. Life, and civilization's prospects, would be so much better if the nation had long ago made passive solar the customary design for homes. Instead, abundant free heat glances uselessly off the siding. Such a waste, but we make the best of what we have, which is a nice bank of windows facing south and west, where solar energy can stream in during the afternoon, reducing the need for the furnace to kick in. Screens are stored in the basement so the windows will allow in as much warmth and light as possible.

As with most environmental problems, cheap fossil energy from the Underground is the culprit, having long made the harvesting of free energy streaming down upon us from the sun a low priority. By increasing our dependence on fuels from the Underground, artificially low prices make us actually spend more on fuel in the long term than if high fuel prices had motivated us to find alternatives.

Body heat, which I recently read is equal to 100 watts, is another source of solar energy, captured by plants, released as energy in the body, and then held close by wool, Thinsulate, fleece, down--whatever works. Without the distorting effect of cheap fossil energy, many homes would be doing very well with little more than these two forms of solar harvest.

To better distinguish between ancient solar energy and today's, here's a relevant quote from a Climate QandA section of my site:

"Since fossil fuels are made from ancient life that was buried 100s of millions of years ago, some will say that they are simply another form of solar energy. But the burial of those hydrocarbons over millions of years played an important role in creating the temperate climate in which we evolved and have thrived."

Hogmanay at Brearley House

Update, 1/1/13: Though the annual Hogmany event is said to run from 6 to 9, the bonfire portion happens in the first hour. When we arrived at 7pm, the bonfire had settled down to a large molten mass of coals surrounded by people. Some were still tossing wads of paper with bad memories from 2012 into the fire. This tradition should last far into the digital age. Sending an email with one's bad memories to just isn't the same, and it's not practical to key bad memories into a Word file and then toss the whole computer into the flames.

The bed of coals was a feast for the eyes, so hot and pure that some of the flames were blue, as if the fuel was natural gas rather than wood.

Wikipedia describes many Scottish traditions associated with Hogmanay, all of which sound more appealing than watching the shallow glitz in broadcasts from Times Square. Didn't see any mention of bad memories being tossed into the fire.

A post at had more photos and details about the annual event.

Original post: Each year, Brearley House hosts a bonfire on New Year's Eve, a couple miles out of town. People encircle the giant fire, keeping their distance in the face of all that heat. From 6-9pm, the fire goes from all flames down to a complex glow of coals. A treat for the eye and the soul, and refreshments are free. The scottish tradition is to write down all your bad memories from the year and throw them into the fire. It's also a chance to check out the 1761 house.

Parking is in an open field next to the house. Take Princeton Pike out of town, then turn left onto Meadow Road. If you reach I-95, you've gone too far.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Giving to the Future

My daughter saw this shadow play on the Princeton Shopping Center sign. The present, like the lettering, is not alone, but has the shadow of past and future play upon it. In this giving season, I am learning to appreciate the gifts the past has bestowed upon us, and to give to the future I wish for. A simple way is to shop in the local stores one wishes to have around for a long time to come. The 3/50 Project promotes the concept of spending $50 every month in three of the locally  owned businesses you'd miss if they disappeared. The holiday season deepens the meaning and satisfaction of doing this.

Last night, feeling an early fatigue, I lay down and turned on the radio, upon which Dickens' A Christmas Carol happened to be getting a reading. Confronted with the sight of his own grave, by the Spirit of Christmas Future, Scrooge cries out, "I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Over this past year, when portents of the future have spoken so loudly to the way we live in the present, it can be satisfying to find more ways, usually involving no money at all, to give to the future we wish for.

At my house, in this present era awash in deceptively cheap energy, we keep our home lights soft and low, enough to do what we need to do, with some lamps that have some beauty to them.

I used to think I was being stingy when I turned off a light in a room no one was using. Light is associated with life and good cheer. But now I see that pause to flick a switch, that selective powering down, as an act of generosity, a gift to those who will follow us on this planet. "Here," my gesture says, "You can have this light, this energy. I don't need it." There's pleasure in being able to give something as beautiful as light and energy, and connecting in some imagined way with generations future.

Leaving the electric clothes dryer idle in the basement is an even greater gift to energy users future. When it's on, it consumes even more than a central air conditioner. We busy an idle
guest room instead, letting air and time do what they do so well, using mostly racks found free for the taking at the local curbside kmart. It requires a few more minutes and manipulations than simply tossing them all in the dryer, but that's the giving part--a peaceful, meditative activity--and the fabric is said to last longer, too.

"Assure me," Scrooge says, hands shaking,"that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!'' The giving season speaks to all days to come.

Quotes taken from the website.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Dinkier Dinky

There's a truly dinky dinky shuttling back and forth in the display window of the Princeton Printer and Copy Center on Nassau Street. Quite likely the dinkiest in all dinkydom, it shuttles peacefully back and forth, apparently free of controversy.
Meanwhile, the real Dinky, at the current station,
and posing for a split second where the future station will likely be, across the tracks from the parking structure. McCarter Theater is off in the distance. As anyone who has photographed the moon discovers, photos always make distances seem far greater than they appear to the eye, and the debate had a similar effect.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Frontload Washer Energy Math

I wanted to check how much energy our new front-loading clothes washer uses. Finally, a chance to use all of that grade school math.

The washing machine has been plugged into a Kill a Watt meter for 1676 hours. Divide that by 24 hours in a day, and you get about 70 days, or ten weeks.

In that time, the machine used a total of 1.89 kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to using 1890 watts for one hour. We use about ten kilowatt hours of electricity every day, so the washing machine constitutes an incredibly tiny amount of our overall use.

The story would be much different if we used hot water instead of cold, and used the electric clothes dryer instead of air drying. Electricity is very efficient at running motors, like the motor that runs the washing machine, but is very inefficient at heating water for washing or heating air for drying.

Our electric dryer pulls almost 4000 watts, so in a half hour, it would use as much electricity as the washing machine does in two months!
If one kilowatt hour costs eleven cents, the cost for running the washing machine for more than two months is 20 cents, total. That seems incredibly low, but there it is.

A search of the New York Times archives pulled up some interesting articles reporting on the effectiveness of cold water washing. The most recent article is here.

Another one was from 1974, soon after President Gerald Ford, in an address to Congress, encouraged people to use cold water for washing. Imagine a Republican president, or in fact any president, encouraging people to conserve energy these days. Four years ago, when candidate Obama suggested that keeping car tires inflated would save as much oil as offshore drilling would yield, he was made the butt of jokes.

Kill a Watt meters of several varieties can be purchased on the web for about $25, and local hardware stores likely carry them or something similar. An older but still very useful version can be checked out of the Princeton Public Library, thanks to a contribution years back by the Princeton Environmental Commission.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Verizon FIOS and Energy Use

Something in the house began beeping recently, but only every ten minutes or so, making it very difficult to tell where it was coming from. I finally traced it to this box in the basement.
The box was telling me that the backup battery was probably dying and needed to be replaced. Why does my house have a battery in the basement?

If you switched to Verizon FIOS internet service at some point, you may have been surprised to find that your land line phone goes dead not long after your house loses power in storms. It has to do with the fiber optic line they strung from the street into your house. The old copper phone line carried its own electricity, separate from the electrical grid, to power your land line phone even during power outages. The fiber optic line doesn't. Instead, they put one of these boxes in the basement. It runs off your electrical power from the grid, but has a backup battery to keep the land line phone functioning for a few hours during power outages. If the power is out for days, you're out of luck.

I called Verizon, and they told me that I would have to pay for the backup battery if I'd had FIOS for more than a year, but that the system will still work without it. Fortunately, it turned out to simply be unplugged. How that happened is one of the basement's mysteries.

While I had the guy on the phone, I asked whether it's okay to unplug the Verizon set top box (for changing channels) when it's not in use. The installer had told me not to unplug it, because it's constantly being updated with new channel programming information. But the guy today recommended turning it off overnight. The electronics will last longer, and he said he was saving $30 a month by turning off computers and various entertainment electronics.

Using a kill-a-watt meter, I found that the set top box uses a constant 20 watts, while the router uses about 15. Add the box in the basement, which I think uses about 20 watts, and that's 55 watts the Verizon system is constantly using. Putting the set top box on a power strip and turning it off overnight, and the router too unless there's a nightowl using the internet, makes sense, particularly if it helps prolong the life of the electronics.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Razors--Why Is Reusing the Handle More Expensive?

Trying to cut back on trash? It seemed logical to reuse the handle on a razor, but the cost incentive leans the other direction. Eight new razor heads cost $24, which comes out to $3 each.
The alternative is to buy three full razors, including handles, for $2.66 each.
At another store, the math works out about the same,
after accounting for the discount promotion for the more wasteful product.

My guess at why there's a disincentive to reduce waste is that the package of 8 heads is more valuable and therefore more often stolen, requiring that staff put each one in a magnetized box to discourage theft. One's paying not only for the extra handling but also for the percentage that are stolen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Garbage Gang Afoot?

This is really going too far. Our beloved trash can, which for years had stood proudly in the driveway in as pristine a condition as any trash can could long remain, has been defaced. Or should I say that it has been given a face, though a bit lacking in symmetry.
What neighborhood elements would target this modest, unassuming, yet as aforementioned proud, container that had served so well for so long? Now its shield from the elements lays scattered in bits on the pavement, spit out like watermelon seeds.

We immediately secured the services of an ace detective, who wasted no time in tracking down past acts of vandalism that bore an uncanny resemblance to this most recent act. The circular hole shifted leftward in a broad swath of gnawings, the scattered debris--clearly we were looking not at an isolated attack but instead the work of a repeat offender, for whom the type of material was immaterial.
A survey of neighborhood trash cans on collection day revealed that the problem went well beyond our driveway.
I began wondering not why we had been targeted, but how our trash can had eluded this perpetrator for so long. Could it be because we compost vegetable scraps, and thereby reduce the aromatic incentives for breakins?
As with any research, questions proliferated faster than we could answer them. Is this the work of one individual, a gang marking its territory, or might there be a broad mammalian alliance extending across Princeton and beyond, dedicated to saving landfill space by shining light on all the useful stuff we throw away?
Can any can withstand the demands of this brand of animal? One remained untouched, perhaps because its diminutive stature conveys to all its owner's strong waste-reduction ethic, and teeth are as yet no match for metal.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Generator Generation

It's the two racketeers, in a photo taken a few weeks ago at the local hardware store. These are the items that are increasingly being used to keep houses warm and food cold through power outages like the one following Hurricane Sandy. They also added a considerable din to the post-storm atmosphere, and keep their owners running to the local gas station to (hopefully) get more gas to feed the little beasties. Last year, a neighbor almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning when he made the mistake of running one indoors to keep the sump pump going.

That many people see no option but to buy one speaks to the failed policies of the past thirty years, marked by a grievous underfunding of renewable energy production and storage which would otherwise by now have made our homes much more self-sufficient and resilient when the grid breaks down.

Though a generator such as these has a significant upside, it's counterweighted by a significant downside. As stated in an opinion piece in the NY Times, co-written by David Crane of the Princeton-based NRG energy company , "these dirty, noisy and expensive devices have no value outside of a power failure. And they’re not much help during a failure if gasoline is impossible to procure."

For several thousand dollars more, one can get a natural gas generator installed next to the house, which is quieter and will automatically kick on if the power goes out. Their power can be shared among neighbors, but they simply shift dependence on the electrical grid to dependence on the natural gas grid.

Both of these options, though rational for some households, represent a collectively irrational approach to solving the energy problem. When the uber-problem is dependence on climate-changing fossil fuels, generators just provide one more way to incrementally destabilize the climate. They represent an emergency room approach. Even for those who can afford them, they provide power, but no empowerment to change the world for the better.

Crane's oped calls for every home to have solar panels that could be used to provide power when the grid is down. (Most solar arrays automatically shut down during power outages, but there's apparently a switch that can be installed to feed power directly to the house in these situations.) Solar panels, unlike generators, would produce power not only during grid failures but year-round. What's missing from the equation, though, is batteries that can sustain power through the night and cloudy days.

My ideal is an approach in which one brings one's home energy needs down while developing enough home energy generation (some solar panels, plus battery storage in the house and/or electric car) to shift away from dependence on the grid. Thus far, in this friend-assisted search, the closest I've come to finding anything in the real world similar to this concept is a WholesaleSolar website, which looks worth exploring.

Solar panel prices have dropped dramatically in recent years, but battery improvements are coming much more slowly. That's why any shift away from our grid dependency--our seemingly perpetual state of arrested energy development--requires bringing energy consumption down to better match the generative and storing powers of solar panels and batteries.

Civilization's holy grail is getting energy right. We are offered endless, deceptively cheap ways to consume it, but no easy way to generate our own. How extraordinary, how earth-changing, to ween ourselves of star-crossed fuels from the underground, and segue as soon as possible from a generation of generator owners to the Generation Generation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Climate Forum with James Florio

Update: If you missed this showing of Cape Spin, you'll be able to see it at the Princeton Library's Environmental Film Festival during three weekends in January and February, 2013.
      I wasn't able to see the movie at this event, but arrived in time for the panel discussion. In discussing the lack of progress on switching to renewable energy, James Florio emphasized that the real impediment has been getting the financing in place.
       This is where government and a unified, long term commitment to shifting away from climate-changing fuels can really help, but that hasn't been happening in recent years in NJ, where even the funds previously set aside for renewable energy have been raided for other purposes.

Clean Energy Leaders and Climate Advocates Join for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Call on Governor Christie to Move Offshore Wind Forward 
Princeton, NJ – On Wednesday, December 12th, New Jersey residents, scientists and clean energy leaders will join the Sierra Club for a climate forum with former Governor James Florio to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief.  New Jersey residents will call on Governor Christie to help avoid more extreme storms like Sandy by reducing dangerous carbon pollution from fossil fuels and instead advancing offshore wind in the state.
Superstorm Sandy is a tragic example of the more extreme weather events and hazards of sea level rise caused by climate change.  Switching to renewable energy reduces the carbon pollution that causes climate disruption and puts our weather on steroids.  New Jersey is in a unique position to lead the nation on climate action by developing its offshore wind resources.  Governor Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act into law nearly two years ago, but since then offshore wind has been at a standstill in New Jersey making our families even more vulnerable to rising seas and extreme weather.
What: Cape Spin Film Screening and Climate Change Forum

Who:  New Jersey residents, academics and clean energy leaders
·         Governor James Florio
·         Research Meteorologist, Tom Knutson
·         Offshore MW CEO, Peter Giller
·         Former Sierra Club President, Robin Mann
·         Cape Spin Filmmaker, Robbie Gemmel
When: Wednesday, December 12th
            Film Screening – 6:30pm
            Climate Forum – 8pm

Where: Princeton University, McCosh Hall Room 46 (directions)

Dog Sense

What does a dog see when a truck goes by? In the documentary My Life as a Turkey, naturalist Joe Hutto describes turkeys as 20 million year old birds that don't have a blueprint for cars or trucks. My dog's instincts must have similar roots in a pre-wheeling era. Despite a highly refined intelligence unmistakable to all who meet him, our dog Leo is clueless about cars and trucks. There are innumerable times when, if not for a leash, he would have launched obliviously into the fray. Surely, if a herd of bison were thundering by, he would instinctively understand the risks and hold back.

Other times, especially when he has extra energy from having been cooped up in the house, his part-terrierness will interpret the low growl of a passing vehicle as a challenge that must be responded to.

This can all be considered irrational behavior, a hole in his capacity to perceive danger. But sometimes I wonder if we see the dangers of cars and trucks any more clearly. We too, as a culture, remain stubbornly blind to the profound danger these wheeled machines pose, as they pump more and more climate changing gases skyward. As the racket and the consequences continue their steady crescendo, the impulse to bark makes more and more sense.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Hiker Regains Strut

In a nation awash in deferred maintenance and decaying infrastructure, one citizen resists the rising tide of consumerism, neglect and disposal, and dares to repair. It is a struggle fraught with setbacks and unforeseen challenges, but surrender is not an option. To understand what we're up against, consider what is entailed in even a minor repair of a minor, rather wooden character who dates back to a family trip to Europe in 1964.

This character lives ostensibly to blow smoke, an occupation not unlike some in the political realm, but this is a highly aromatic smoke generated by incense burning deep within. In other words, this pipe-smoking Pinocchio has soul. When not standing on our bookshelf, he appears to live a highly sustainable life, foraging in the Alps for firewood, which he carries down a steep mountain path to his chalet. The pleasures of the pipe may compensate in some way for a lack of electricity.

Here, in the first segment of our ongoing "Don't try this at home" home repair series, are detailed instructions on how to approach this deceptively simple-looking fix.
  1. Note that Entropy has wrested a support strut loose from the pipe-smoking, wood collector's backpack. 
  2. Place man and loose piece somewhere where they won't be disturbed or lost.
  3. Wait a month or two (further procrastination optional), for the right time and mood to present themselves.
  4. Wait several more months.
  5. Finally, when that special moment arrives, seek glue in basement.
  6. On the way to get glue, note that clothes need washing.
  7. Start load of clothes.
  8. Return upstairs having completely forgotten about repair.
  9. Begin sweeping floor.
  10. Happen to see figure while sweeping.
  11. Return to basement for glue.
  12. Find glue and attempt to use. Notice blockage in spout.
  13. Note with gratitude that not all glue in container has hardened.
  14. Find toothpick and poke inside spout. No result.
  15. Find stronger prying implement--a small screwdriver, perhaps.
  16. Unscrew glue top and remove plug of hardened glue. Screw top back on.
  17. Still no flow of glue.
  18. Unscrew top again and remove other plug of hardened glue higher up in spout. Screw back on.
  19. At long last, apply glue. 
  20. Put wooden piece in place on figure's backpack. Allow to dry.

That's a mere 20 steps required to place a dinky piece of wood back on the pipe-smoking, wood-carrying hiker in the Alps. As bonuses, some clothes got washed and the bottle of glue should be all set for its next use a year or two hence.

Time to light up the pipe and celebrate.
Ah, the sweet smell of success.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Yardwaste Baggage

If neighbors on opposing sides of the street each put out yardwaste bags for pickup, it would take just a little chalk and paint to turn them into chess characters, draw a chessboard grid on the street, and have at it.

Why not? It makes about as much sense as trying to stuff leaves in a bag and then try to make them stand up straight along the curb.
Another neighbor has figured it out, though. Line them up horizontally and push the bottom of one against the top of the other, thereby preventing premature opening, tipping and spillage.

There are also plastic sleeves you can buy to hold the bag upright while you stuff the leaves in. The bags look small, but a friend raved about how many leaves he could stuff in there.

Though this service was previously only available in the township, borough residents can now participate. According to a borough staff member, borough residents can pick up 20 free bags over at the township (more info here). The bags are picked up every two weeks, and are particularly useful if one wants to preserve the parking place in front of one's house. Info for township residents is here.

My impression was that leaves can also be stuffed in trash cans adapted to the purpose and left out for pickup, but the borough staffer thought not.

Of course, I've never understood why homeowners would want to part with something as useful and rich in nutrients as leaves, especially when they can just be mulch-mowed right back into the lawn. For more info on alternatives to putting leaves on the curb, the Princeton Environmental Commission's leaf management brochure is still on the web.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Food Waste Recycling at the Public Library?

A few years back, we had a small victory when the Princeton Public Library changed the top on its recycling bin in the cafe to make a dramatic contrast with the trash container. This change, along with a consistent pairing of the two containers, has led to excellent separation of trash from recyclables.

This success, however, has made more clear another issue, which is that the trash can is overflowing with paper products that could be combined with kitchen scraps and composted, further reducing the amount of the library's cafe trash going to the landfill.

A third container is needed, along with an arrangement to have the library added to the route with other downtown entities (I think Teresa's restaurant is an example) that already have compostibles picked up by a commercial hauler.
Though these receptacles don't win any awards for looks--I saw them at a Johns Hopkins University cafe during a visit--they show that such a setup is appropriate for a cafe.

The concept here is to take advantage of a public setting to show that composting should be the norm. It could also be used to promote Princeton's curbside compostibles program.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Radio Washed My Dishes

I would like to thank Marty Moss-Coane of WHYY's Radio Times for this clean sink. She didn't actually come to our house and clean all the dishes last night, but her program, rebroadcast in the evening, was so interesting that I hung in there and cleaned every last dish.

Her guest, Collin O'Mara, Delaware's Secretary of Environment and Energy, spoke about the problems of climate and coastal flooding with such a fine mix of pragmatism and idealism, using words cleansed of polluting partisan rancor, that I began to believe again in the future where, as the web description reads, "economic growth and environmental sustainability are inextricably linked."

Regardless of what was on the radio, the practice of engaging the mind while what I call "the second self" does physical work is itself a small victory for a more sustainable way of life. As long as machines feed off energy that does lasting environmental damage, then the idea is to engage the second self to serve as many of those machine functions as possible until cleaner energy comes on line. We are well adapted for this, given that we can perform physical labor while our minds are preoccupied with other things. In fact, if I had delegated the task to our older, noisy dishwasher, I might not have turned on the radio, and would have missed the program altogether.

Though some approaches to handwashing dishes use a lot of energy by wasting lots of hot water, I use cold water, and in bursts rather than a steady stream. The cold water feels good during the summer, and I must have adapted because even in winter I don't mind it. That sort of adaptability, too, like all the cultivated habits that comprise the "second self" (as in, "it's second nature to me now"), are all tools readily available for easing our transition into a more sustainable lifestyle.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Jadwin Blowout

As the Princeton women's team jumped to a very lopsided lead, some in the audience didn't know what to do. Fans who take pleasure in hurling insults at the opposition found no sport in it when the other team proved so hapless. I was hurling mild insults at myself for having botched my pre-game research, which was aimed at avoiding blowouts. The Princeton University women's team is so good there aren't many teams that will pose a challenge.

My daughter having found her friends and headed for the highest seats, there to ignore the game in favor of junk food and cell phone diversions, I explored what else Jadwin Gym has to offer.

The Princeton marching band showed up, featuring a shrink-wrapped sousaphone and drum major with motorcycle helmet who translated the pep music into writhing, reptilian dance steps.
The band accommodates examples of divergent musical evolution, such as this pink flamingo percussionist.
Wandering into the front lobby, one can puzzle over the dysfunctional recycling arrangement. This is one of the rec department's many trash cans confusingly ornamented with a recycling insignia--evidence of a recycling program that long ago gave up the ghost.
The one remaining recycling bin (blue top, left) stands tucked in a corner where no one will notice it. Seeing the same problem last year, I offered a peppy guide to a winning recycling season and alerted the sustainability department at the university, all to no avail. This is not the first recycling program to break down for lack of vigilance.
More pleasing than the trash can arrangement is the statuary. I plan to take a photo of myself in this pose one of these days, with a catcher's mitt on the left hand and a soccer ball in the other.
This soulful tiger should have a slot where people could contribute to saving real tigers' habitat. Just an idea.
The sculptor of a "Princeton student", Daniel Chester French, also sculpted Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial.
Returning to the game, the Princeton women almost made it to 100, with several of their second string players showing a knack for sinking 3 pointers.

Entry is $5 for adults, $3 for kids. The schedule is here. If your internet research chops, like mine, can't meet the challenge of figuring out which opponents are contenders, Jadwin offers a diverting atmosphere even if the scores are lopsided, and you can be confident that there will be at least one good team on the court.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Princeton Boys Soccer Team is State Co-Champion

Nice teeth, but will it keep the squirrels from eating all of our tomatoes and squash next year? The Princeton High School's mascot got a brief tryout for the role of backyard scarecrow prior to tonight's Group 3 state soccer championship at College of New Jersey.
Though Princeton High School's boys team was ranked 11th, it dominated play against top-ranked Ramapo, holding their powerful offence to just three shots on goal while pressing Ramapo's first-rate goalie to the limit. Both the boys and girls teams at Princeton High are known for their accurate passing and ball control, and when the capacity to finish is added to that, the results are exciting.

Princeton finally beat Ramapo's goalie with a brilliantly executed cross and header, and nearly took the lead with a wickedly sinking shot from out front by Scott Bechler. A flagrant push in front of the Ramapo's goal by a defender with two minutes left in the second overtime went unnoticed by the ref, and time ran out with the teams still tied 1-1. Rules preclude a shootout in the state finals. Hats off to coach Wayne Sutcliffe and the extraordinary play of his Group 3 co-champions.

And by the way, could I borrow that mascot this coming summer for my backyard garden?

Coverage of the game here and here.