Archive for June 2012 | Monthly archive page

Have you heard?  Bamboo can be used to make inexpensive, electricity-free speakers for your iPhone.  The iBamboo, currently being funded by Kickstarter, is fashioned from a foot of bamboo, taking advantage of the grass’ natural resonance to amplify and project the sound from your mobile device.  The top of the tube is cut to made a fitted dock that snugly holds the phone in place.  Sound waves travel outward in both directions, creating a stereo effect with an “airy” effect perfect for jazz and classical music.

As a material, bamboo is a surprisingly good choice for this tiny stereo system.  Just as strong as most plastics and metal, the tube is made from sustainable plant material, laser-cut for fast and easy production, lightweight, and biodegradable.  As beautiful as it is practical, no two iBamboos are alike.  Perfect for the zen and natural aesthetic tastes, the hand-finished speaker set costs about $25-30 and are currently compatible with the iPhone 4.

Or save a few bucks and make one yourself! A handsaw, a drill and some sand paper is about all you need. Check with us if you need a piece of bamboo. We always have an assortment of bamboo poles in a variety of diameters.





Walking along the beaches of the Central Coast, it is common to marvel at the breathtaking scenery, be delighted by the crash of the waves and smell of the salt air, and also be utterly confused as to what the heck you are looking at washed up on the sand.  Even as an avid naturalist and beachcomber, there have been a number of times when I have been puzzled as to what I have seen lying helpless and stranded just above the water line.  More often than not these mystery creatures are organisms that are unfamiliar, but there have also been instances where trash and other man made debris littered the shore.  How do you know what you are staring at, and whether it is normal or a result of climate change, natural disaster, or human disturbance?

Jellywatch-  With shifts in climate and human influences changing to composition of our oceans, there have been substantial changes in jellyfish populations.  Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Jellywatch Android App can help you identify, track, and report what your ocean-side observations.  The application congregates data on squid, jellyfish, red tide, and animal sightings along with photographs.  All information is added to Google maps and displays graphic information on the heath of the sea.

Marine Debris Tracker- When you see trash on the beach, it may be difficult to know from whence it came.  Ocean currents sweep debris far away from their points of origin and deposit them sometimes thousands of miles from their homes on land.  University of Georgia researchers and UGA computer systems have joined forces to keep tabs on our massive amounts of floating refuse.  Using the built-in GPS technology of smartphones, the Marine Debris Tracker app for Android and iPhones allows users to log information and add it to an ever growing database run by the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative and the NOAA Marine Debris Division.

Project Noah- Launched out of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, Project Noah aims to educate and reconnect people with nature through technology using mobile applications.  Android and iPhone users can become citizen scientists by snapping photos of wildlife, identifying what they encounter, and providing critical information to scientists across the globe.  Gorgeous, detailed maps display the participant community’s sightings, provide field stats and background info on the animal, join local missions and conservation efforts, and talk with other nature enthusiasts.

Let your smartphone be a power for good!  Download these free, educational apps today!


Finding a job with health care or affordable coverage can be very difficult these days.  Regardless of your opinion as to whether care should be subsidized or mandatory, nearly everyone can agree that when a fellow human is suffering, they should be able to receive treatment.  As social animals, we humans look out for one another as a means of survival for the benefit of society as a whole.  Practically speaking, curing an illness helps to curb the spread of infectious disease, keeps taxes and premiums down by managing problems before they get out of hand, and keeps people at work and fueling the economy instead of sick out of commission.  Morally, society ensures the well being of all of its members, alleviates pain, and exercises the virtues of kindness and compassion.

San Luis Obispo is fortunate to have the Noor Foundation, a non-profit clinic that provides free health care to the uninsured.  Supported entirely by donations and run by volunteer nurses, pharmacists and physicians, the Foundation offers quality medical assistance, education outreach, and advocacy services.  Established in 2009 by Dr. Ahmad Nooristani, the organization was formed to tackle the problems of the community’s underserved populations by making non-emergent, acute care free and accessible.  They also offer discount proscription coverage, public material for social workers and caregivers, and opportunities for students to learn about addressing health care disparities through the cooperation and of professionals and members of the community.

The Noor Foundation is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 1-5pm.  The clinic is located at 1428 Phillips Ln in San Luis Obispo. To make a donation, visit their website.  Appointments are available online and by telephone at (805) 439-1797.