Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lunt Solar Systems Has Revolutionized the Way We Look (Directly) at the Sun

Remember when you were a kid and adults said not to look directly at the sun because you could burn your eye balls? Some of us said ‘okay’ and went on our way, but people like Andrew Lunt, Owner of Lunt Solar Systems, never quite gave up the hankering for staring directly at the sun. He spent twenty years developing, testing, assembling and perfecting Lunt Solar System’s line of telescopes and filters made specifically for doing just that.

Okay, I know what you’re all thinking…“How cool is that?”

I felt the exact same way!

Based out of Tucson, Arizona, Lunt Solar telescopes and filters are carried in shops in nine states across the United States including California, Idaho, Oklahoma, New York and Georgia among others, and there are worldwide dealers in twenty seven other countries across the globe. Each ‘scope is created upon order, tested for performance and safety and then shipped out to the client individually. This means lead time is longer but the quality of the piece is greatly enhanced as it was not a model pulled from stock.

Andy is married to my sister’s best friend so I got some first hand info on some of the amazing achievements he has had in the past year alone. In 2009 his LS60 Pressure Tuned Telescope was awarded the prestigious honor of being named one of Popular Science’s Hot Products for the year. Right on! Plus he was filmed as part of a documentary on solar eclipses and what one can use to watch them safely.

I am no scientist and much of the technical, scientific aspects of his ‘scopes go way above my limited knowledge of wavelengths, nanometers, spectrums and other related terms defined by light but I do know that by spending a little extra time over at the Lunt Solar Blog or viewing the details of either the Visual Package or the Imaging Package I would gain a world of knowledge essential to any budding solar viewing enthusiast!

We over here at GLR love to dive into researching the truly Green, geeky, cool, funky and unique and Lunt Solar fits just about all of those categories with ease. Much time will be spent doing research! Congrats Andy, here’s to many more years of innovative developments in the realm of seeing the sky and its biggest star from a different angle!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Faux Like A Pro ECOglaze Catching Up with Mark London

After my first article on this truly innovative product, Mark was gracious enough to send me out a sample to test it out for myself. Not only that but he was willing to take a few minutes to answer some of my questions regarding this glaze and the company as a whole. Thanks Mark!

A Professional Finisher’s Take

My initial reaction to this professional quality glaze was “awesome!!!”. I first used it to create a sample board of (my very favorite finish) tumbled tile. (Please note this is also a big part of why I’ve been so sparse of late but I promise to get back to posting full swing again!)

The glaze mixed into paint really smoothly and I had no issues tinting with universal pigments. It is a heavier base than a commercially sold version (Behr, Benjamin Moore, etc) and for us professionals that can be marvelous depending on the finish; it really resists sagging and running but it is important to note the open time (time it remains wet & workable) is reduced slightly. I can not wait for the full sizes to be available; this is a product that will be used for the vast majority of my finishes from now on!

The Skinny On FLAP Products Like ECOglaze

I asked a couple questions of the man in the know and here is what Mark had to say.

What got FLAP interested in moving in this Green direction?

Even though our "long open-time" glaze is still considered eco-friendly, we felt it was the only product in our line that needed a "green cousin" ... this is why we produced ECOglaze. All of our decorative plasters, pigments, waxes and varnishes have LOW VOC ratings. Our Venetian plasters are less than 50g. per liter.

When is the glaze going to be available to purchase in larger quantities?

We're shooting for an April, 2010 launch.

Will it come in both quart and gallon sizes?

Because this product is marketed to contractors and professionals, it will be sold in gallons. This will enable us to provide discount pricing. A 4-gallon case is only $49.95 per gallon. Most other glazes in this class sell for $55-$65/gallon.

Is this an item you intend to work into your classes?

Yes. We will use this glaze to teach marbleizing, wood graining and other conducive surfaces.

Based on the success of this product would you consider Greening up other products in your line?

Our line has been eco-friendly since 2001 when we produced the original formulas. We intend on keeping true to our Eco Mission.

How It Is Leaf Rated

How cool is that? I can personally attest to the stability and function of many of their other eco products; as a professional finisher I have to say there is nothing quite like using a product that not only does what it says its going to do but doesn’t make me feel yucky while using it. One of my all time favorites is their varnish top coats, specifically the dead flat. I haven’t stumbled across another that comes close to its equal in durability, low odor and performance.

Because they are so committed to keeping their impact as low as possible as well as the fact that the ECOglaze does exactly what it says it will do, I am granting it a Four Leaf Rating!

Faux Like A Pro is so committed to the planet as well as providing beautiful finishing materials and tools for the professional finisher at a price we can afford. You are way ahead of the curve! ♥love♥

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bloom Box Already In Place at Major Corporations

Google, eBay, Staples, Walmart. These are just a few of the companies who are taking advantage of the latest in fuel cell technology as provided by Bloom Energy.

The Bloom Box is a tightly packaged box that can draw energy from just about any source to provide electricity at about half the usage need as other types and will utilize solar, wind, methane, hydro, natural gas or fossil fuels to draw its power. Not only does it save the source but it will save the client boat loads of money.

I only had a chance to catch this last night on 60 Minutes so I haven’t done a bunch of research into its history, viability or future plans but I encourage everyone to check out the clip from last night’s show and see for yourself how this latest inexpensive, zero emission, fuel cell innovation could potentially revolutionize energy technologies for the Greener. If K.R. Sridhar has his way there will even be one gracing the organic vegetable garden at the White House.

Go directly to the Bloom Energy video where they encourage us to be responsible, part of the overall solution.

Or check out the full 60 Minutes segment from last night’s show (also below).

What do you think? Can this type of technology change our way of thinking about how and where our energy comes from?

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Monday, February 15, 2010

And the Winners Are…

Good morning friends! Thanks to everyone who entered the Best Green Gifts for 2010 giveaway, the numbers were tallied and overall 17 people entered; thanks for such a positive response on my first giveaway. I couldn’t have been more excited to host this, except maybe now when it comes time to share the winners with everyone!

I used, plugged in the parameters 1-17 and hit that button eight times for the eight total prizes. I noted the winners down on the post-it note you see in the picture and here are the names:

1. Almost Precious
2. Ikkinlala
3. Kathy
4. Julie
5. Karen Meyers
6. Bridgete
7. T @ Poppy Place
8. Karen


So since everyone has left contact info (email, blog, FB, Etsy) I’ll be getting in touch with you in the next few minutes. The email will be coming from randomlunacy11 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Congratulations to all the winners :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Best Green Gifts for 2010 -- A Guide and Giveaways!!

Good morning Friends, the GLR Best Green Gifts for 2010 guide is finally here and we’re even giving some of them away to a few lucky readers like you. These gift ideas are appropriate for anyone on any occasion and include some physical gifts, as well as other awesomeness, so sit back and dive into the Best Green Gifts for 2010, presented in no particular order.

*** GIVEAWAY RULES are located at the end of the post so please read through***


Hugg A Planet -- It’s the globe for the new generation, but not only can a kid (or adult!) hug the planet Earth, there is also a moon, Mars, stars and even a flatter map of the U.S. to choose from. The shell is 100% cotton and provides a guide to over 600 places (on Earth) on a squeezable pillow. What better way to show a love for the planet than giving it a big hug every night?

Nahui Ollin Handbags -- Ever think about what happens to all of those gum or soda bottle wrappers after their first use? Well Nahui Ollin sure did and uses them to create stunning cases and handbags with a truly unique, woven look. Talk about doubling your fun!

World Vision Gift Catalog -- With over 100 options inside, this is the Green gift that keeps on giving! But don’t think it’s all about things manufactured, some of the very cool gifts include: an alpaca, a deep water well for a school, a bicycle so a girl can attend school, ten fruit trees, plus a slew of others. These gifts are not only eco-friendly they are socially conscious and well worth the investment.

Make it Right -- In August of 2005 Hurricane Katrina changed the lives of thousands of people along the Gulf Coast, primarily in the heart of New Orleans, Louisiana. Two years later activist Brad Pitt toured the hardest hit area, the Lower 9th Ward. He started this campaign with the Pink Project (sculptural tarps that indicated locations of the homes slated to be rebuilt) and 50 of the 150 LEED Platinum certified homes were to be completed by the end of December 2009. There are amazing items available to purchase (such as the first book published documenting the project: Architecture In Times of Need or tote bags created from the original pink tarps) or a donation can be made to further the cause and assist in completion of the project by December 2010.

Filter for Good Campaign -- Brita together with Nalgene are aiming to completely eliminate the use of one time use plastic bottles through this campaign. Delicious, filtered tap water consumed from a BPA free, reusable bottle? I can’t think of a better way to stay hydrated! Not to mention they also support the Surfrider Foundation, way cool.

The Greening Book -- I can’t stress enough: Green gifts for kids. Learning now will ingrain positive habits for the future! A spiral bound journal style book with a rigid cover allows the user to add their name as co-author to the front, as well as their thoughts, ideas and actions toward caring for the planet, not to mention there is a giving thanks page and a way to involve every member of the household plus so much more.

Dapple -- Any parent with a new baby is concerned with keeping their items as clean as possible and Dapple promotes the use of naturally derived ingredients in their cleaners that break down food and odor for truly clean, mouth ready toys and bottles.

BooksOnBoard -- All the rage, and a strong proponent of saving trees, is the eBook. The cool thing about BooksOnBoard as opposed to a handheld device is that the book is downloadable right to the computer and it works for PC, Mac, iPhone and other smartphone style devices (it will also work with Kindle according to the website). No trees are harmed and no additional equipment has to be manufactured to give the gift of words.

Save the Redwoods League -- Many of us will spend $50 on gifts for our loved ones but few of us could say that money purchased a tree named in their honor, until now. With a $50 donation a seedling will be planted and a commemorative certificate showing the reforestation efforts in California State Parks is granted to the recipient. But truthfully this gift is really like giving to every living thing that needs oxygen to survive!

Animoto -- A greeting card for the technophile in all of our lives. Photos and videos are uploaded by the creator to provide a most unique greeting card to the recipient. An annual membership will cost about $30 but to create a simple, super cute Valentine’s Day greeting video for a friend or loved one is totally free.

Soda Stream -- Turn water into a carbonated beverage with just the push of a button then add condensed flavoring options to create healthier versions of your favorite sodas right at home. Place cold water in a special carbonating bottle (in BPA free plastic or glass) then inject with CO2 from the attached canister. The canister is sent back to Soda Stream to be inspected, cleaned and reused so there is virtually no waste, which helps save up to 310 aluminum cans per canister and the machine uses no electricity to operate.

Nature Bag -- Created by home based workers from JungleVine in Laos, this simple bag is perfect for a day at the Farmer’s Market, to tote toys or anything else that needs carrying. A sturdy strap, that is long enough to cross over the body for ease of transporting items, and inherent stretch from the vine make this a durable, yet flexible and breathable, woven fabric.

Zipcar Annual Membership -- The other day I discussed the new trend toward Hybrid vehicles, suggesting alternate forms of transport, and Zipcar is way at the top of the list of cool, Green options. For just $75 you will give someone without wheels the flexibility of mobility whenever they like (membership & annual fee included, hourly/daily rates not included). Use it for an hour or a week, order online or over the phone. The ‘use only when needed’ approach takes countless tons of emission out of the air. With gas, insurance and 180 miles included this is sure to get you moving.

DuckSkinz -- There are few things to me as enjoyable as spending time outside in the sunshine. I love to walk the beach, swim, play sports, hike, anything in the bright fresh air. The problem lies in my very fair skin and how easily it can burn without proper sunscreen protection. The makers of DuckSkinz are revolutionizing outdoor activities by providing a lotionless SPF protection of 100 by simply wearing their moisture resistant, lightweight, flexible shirts/jackets. Not enough to be touted as environmental you say? All their shirts are made from a blend of proprietary recycled material and bamboo. Surf’s up!

Sylvania Light Products -- Leading the charge in cool and creative lighting concepts, Sylvania provides consumers with 3 snazzy, fun lighting solutions: DOT it Solar (solar powered outdoor LEDs), PalPODzzz (portable night light) and LED Color Changing Coasters. The outdoor lights are perfect for lining a patio or walkway, PalPODzzz come in an adorable ladybug shape and the LED coasters will be sure to make a funky splash at any gathering, all without using electricity or incandescent bulbs.

Garden Bon Bons -- What does soil eat? Why bon bons of course! I’m not talking about the human variety ice cream filled versions, no, these are a little different. Made from seeds, compost and clay, these lovely little selections are made up into truffle shapes and placed in a fancy pants box that could almost fool the savviest of chocolate eaters! They could not be simpler: plant in the garden or indoor pot, water give a little sunlight and enjoy as they grow. Comes in Italian Herb or Herbal Tea varieties and at about $15 for eight bon bons, this is a gift anyone can enjoy.

Annemarie Börland Natural Beauty -- Created from natural extracts that will readily biodegrade where possible, the company provides skin care products (for men & women), hair and body care and a full line of cosmetics, not to mention an entire sun block line as well. When it washes down the drain and into waterways we can feel confident knowing these products will not harm the planet.

VeeV -- Few things are as popular as giving the gift of liquor, so when shopping for something that will be sure to impress, consider a bottle of VeeV Açaí Berry Spirit. The liqueur is created from distilled Idaho grain and infused with the exotic Brazilian Açaí berry (also prickly pear cactus & acerola cherries) and at a price of just $35 per bottle it is far less than many other high end liqueurs. The company is dedicated to socially responsible harvesting, donating proceeds from their sales to that very cause, not to mention Açaí is touted as one of the world’s top superfoods. Oh yeah, VeeV is also the world’s first spirits company to be certified 100% carbon neutral.


The companies below will be conducting a random giveaway of their mentioned item so to qualify, please leave a comment answering the following question.

***Who in your life will benefit the most from receiving a Green gift in 2010 and why?***

Only one entry per person.

Be sure to include a way to get in touch with you if you win, all winners must acknowledge their win within three days or another winner will be chosen.

The contest will run through this Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 5:00 PM EST. At that time I will use a random generator to pick the winners but please note the items sent will be done so at random via Social Lite. These companies will be shipping direct to all of you so I will need to acquire mailing addresses for that purpose.

Good luck!!!

Giveaways include:
Soda Stream
Filter for Good
Nahui Ollin handbags
Garden Bon Bons
Sylvania Light products (3 products)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Centralia, Pennsylvania -- Making Headlines Maybe for the Last Time

Good morning Greenies! Many of you know that Matt and I visited the dying & burning town of Centralia, Pennsylvania last summer as part of a weekend road trip to see Jason and Dave Matthews Band play Hershey Park Stadium. The town of Centralia completely mystified both of us as we had heard about it years before and we knew that time was running out to have the chance to see it for ourselves. So when the opportunity, to not only catch two of our favorite acts together on one stage but also visit this town that was only about an hour away from Hershey, presented itself last summer we couldn’t pass it up.

Now I’m really glad we didn’t.

This morning on Yahoo one of the top stories is the fact that the last five residents of the town (yes you read that correctly, only five left) are finally being forced out and their houses are being demolished. When Matt and I visited last summer there were still eleven people living in town.

Six homes evacuated and demolished in six months? There has got to be something pretty major going on there huh?

There is.

In the 1960’s an abandoned mine was used as a garbage burning station. In a strange twist of fate the flames ignited some veins of coal and the fire began to slowly burn out the coal running underground this town. Since then the main road was shut down and diverted due to massive heaves and veins opening on the surface of the pavement, enormous sink holes have been created all around town, residents became sick from carbon monoxide poisoning, and now every resident has been told it is indeed time to go.

There is a certain eerie double edged sword in this and I decided to film a very rough, first timer’s documentary short on the town and the subject of its problem last year. Please feel free to check it out and I recommend reading up on the story, not to mention getting there quick if you intend to check it out as I have suspicions it will not be allowed for very much longer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We Are the World New Cause Same Powerful Impact

It has been twenty five years since Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson, sat down to pen one of the most powerful messages in music We Are the World and now it is being revived for a wonderful cause.

The song was originally written to inspire people to bring an end to hunger in famine torn Ethiopia, but now, with such a long road ahead to bring some semblance of normalcy back to earthquake ravaged Haiti, Lionel and Quincy Jones sat down and decided it was high time to dust off the lyrics and re-record the song with a group of eighty one new artists and one backing track from Michael (current roster, could change with additions over the next week or so).

The group is impressive, with everyone from Barbara Streisand to Haitian native Wyclef Jean showing up to lend support. One of our favorite musicians over here at GLR, 2010 Grammy award winner (yea!) Jason Mraz, lent his voice to the choir which includes other artists like Jennifer Hudson, Will.I.Am (Black Eyed Peas), Josh Groban, Lil Wayne, Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr., Snoop Dogg, L.L. Cool J, Celine Dion, Miley Cyrus, Pink, Rob Thomas, Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), and the Jonas Brothers. Not to mention a handful of actors such as Nicole Ritchie, Vince Vaughn, Rashida Jones and Jeff Bridges.

MTV has a wonderful listing of all the musicians and others who are taking part in this amazing experience, read about it here.

Will.I.Am is doing even more than lending a voice to this effort, he has also written a new hip-hop, rap which will be included in a break, is taking a lead role in the belting out of lyrics and is also helping to produce the track.

And the track is going to be a little different as well by incorporating a more hip-hop style vibe that Lionel was looking for to make the whole experience have a more modern twist.

The video for the song is going to be introduced to the world during the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics on February 12 on NBC and the song, with video, will be available to purchase. The proceeds of which are going to benefit the We Are The World Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, Wyclef Jean, Paul Haggis, Randy Phillips and Ambassador Louis Moreno.

For those of us who embraced the original version of this song and the message behind it this sequel will go straight to our heart strings. For those of us who were too young or not yet born when the original was recorded in 1985, this is a fantastic opportunity to take part in something great. By simply purchasing this recording we are once again able to help our fellow man; the very message that Lionel and Michael wanted to spread from the start. ♥love♥

Original lyrics to We Are the World

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And its time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We are all a part of Gods great big family
And the truth, you know,
Love is all we need

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It’s true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart so they'll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stones to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand


When you're down and out, there seems no hope at all
But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall
Let us realize that a change can only come
When we stand together as one

Chorus to fade

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Faux Like A Pro Goes Greener with ECOglaze

Many of you know that I run my own business, Chucka Stone Designs, as a professional Wall Artist installing specialty faux treatments using products such as paints, glazes and plasters. Wall finishing gained a bad rep after the ragging and sponging techniques of the 80’s and 90’s went out of fashion, but there are worlds of options for cool finishes aside from those old school ones that I couldn’t even begin to list them all here! I love my job and enjoy beautifying someone’s living or working environment but as a Greenie I have frequently asked myself, how do I justify working with paint?

For a long time I was conflicted about my abilities because some of the best materials presented potential environmental hazards such as harmful off gassing. So to ensure I was still being as environmentally responsible as possible I off set by reusing materials and searching out the most eco friendly selections on the market. So you can imagine my elation when just last week I read about one of my favorite suppliers, Faux Like A Pro, having introduced a brand new glaze to the market called ECOglaze.

The product is a water based, low-VOC glaze that is non-toxic and presents no odor. When they say low-VOC, the glaze presents at 200g per liter. As compared to their original low-VOC, water based glazing option, at only 150g per liter but which presents an odor and can be toxic, the new ECOglaze is a clear winner.

I have sent a request out to the company to get a little bit of additional information as to the difference between the two options, and if I receive a sample of ECOglaze to give it a go I will definitely be posting a follow up review here. But for now I just wanted to give a shout to one of my favorite faux products providers and say how excited I am to be back out there again, especially seeing innovative materials such as this so I can present even healthier options to my clients!

Thanks for keeping a solid eye on the planet Faux Like A Pro! ♥love♥

Monday, February 1, 2010

Who Really Understands Climate Change?

I was catching up on blog posts this morning and came across this post by my friend Bree from a few days ago. She had put up the following quote and it really struck me as something excellent to share on a Monday morning. It’s a lesson on the environment as well as a reminder not to judge “who is what” just by simple appearance alone.

"I went to southern Arizona some months ago, and I was in a room full of ranchers. These were guys wearing cowboy hats and they've got their cowdog and they've got their cowhide jackets, right? I watched them listen to a talk on climate change, and the guy up there was saying to them, "Hey, do you know that last year was the first year in southern Arizona that there was no frost on the ground?" and every cattleman in there nodded his head! I thought to myself, These guys get climate change, better than any politician out here, because if there is no frost on the ground, they're going to have a hell of a fire season, and it's going to have a major impact on how they're able to graze their cattle that year."

~M.A. Sanjayan, lead scientist, The Nature Conservancy~
Interview from "Planet Earth" produced by BBC

What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you if they simply judged on your appearance?