Best Coworkout spot so far? A parking garage!

July 31, 2013 - Leave a Response

We have had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, twenty-three day run of hot, steamy, gross, humid weather in PA, which just ended in a few days of glorious clear, cool weather.

So we grabbed our folding chairs and headed across the street to the eighth floor of our town parking garage.

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Lesson learned? That spot is PERFECT for actually getting things done. I think it’s because the garage provides an environment that is visually un-interesting.

The weather was gorgeous, but the blank gray walls of the garage were not distracting. It was the outdoor equivalent of a cubicle. You could stand up, walk to the edge, and enjoy the view… or sit down and focus, while the kind breezes swirled and the clouds drifted overhead.

So, I’d say that Coworkout is back in business! I’ve made a site to display when the Sandex is perfect:
http://sandex.me/
(Green bars indicate perfect Sandex; if there’s no green bars, the weather conditions in the next 48 hours don’t get Ole Fanger’s blessing.)

Coworkout at Longwood Gardens Tomorrow, April 2 2010!

April 1, 2010 - Leave a Response

We’ll be working at the East Coast’s most stunningly, amazingly, beautifully awesome horticultural gardens tomorrow, starting at about 9:30AM. If you’d like to join us, come on down! More details on the Longwood Gardens page here.

Spring is Sprung / The Grass is Riz / I Wonder Where Coworkout iz?

March 9, 2010 - Leave a Response

Today’s peak high in West Chester is 54 degrees, with relative humidity of 32 percent. That’s a Sandex of EIGHTY-FOUR; pretty gosh-darn good!

We’ll be checking the Sandex forecast each day at about 1PM. If the Sandex is projected to be 100% (that is, if the temperature and relative humidity are both within climate-scientist Ole Fanger’s peak parameters for human performance), we’ll announce a location on Twitter for the next day.

The best way to find out about upcoming Coworkout sessions is to follow @coworkout on Twitter. The first session will, most likely, be at Longwood Gardens, just like last year — though we’ll wait for things to warm up a bit more than we did last year!

Coworkout at Lanchester Landfill

July 22, 2009 - 4 Responses

NB: this is a cross-post from my blog at tikaro.com; please let me know if you find that annoying.

Last Friday, we held Coworkout at the Lanchester Scenic Overlook, which is a beautiful, grassy hill eleven hundred feet above the Conestoga and Brandywine valleys. The breezes blow, the hawks soar past at eye level and the windmill above our heads spins, generating the electricity that we used to power our computers:

Coworkout at Lanchester Scenic Overlook

Photo: Chris Young

Ahh, what a beautiful spot! What a pastoral idyll! Did I mention that sheep gambol across the grass, cropping it neatly? That birds sing in the undergrowth? That on the other hill, giant machines frolic, pushing hills of waste into position, then crushing those hills mercilessly underneath inexorable spiked steel wheels?

The Hill Across the Way

Photo: Chris Young

No Smoking Near the Methane WellThe Scenic Overlook is a finished landfill. Below the grass is six feet of soil, which covers an impermeable clay cap. Below that is years of solid waste, decomposing deep underneath the ground as anaerobic bacteria works on it. Every few hundred feet, perforated pipes are driven deep into the hill, through the cap, and methane gas is collected and sent down the hill. There, some of the gas is used to fuel an enormous natural-gas generator and turned into electricity, which is then pushed into the grid.

Some of the gas is sold directly to factories, who use it for power. For instance, when we were there, we saw on a display screen exactly how many BTUs of methane gas were currently being piped to the generator at a plant that makes Taco Bell cheese.

We learned all this from Lanchester’s executive director Bob Watts, who took us in his big, black hybrid SUV all around the operation. During the VIP tour, we learned all sorts of amazing things, like:

    Natural Gas Generator
  • The twenty-foot tall fences surrounding the active landfill that look like electrified zombie-incursion barriers are actually to catch plastic shopping bags before they can blow away down to the farms below. The fences are made from commercial fishing nets strung on tall poles.
  • Regulations require that the active bit of the landfill (where the trash is actually dumped each day) must be covered every night. A big part of a landfill director’s job is finding stuff to cover the area. Soil is too precious and expensive. Chemical foam doesn’t last. Giant, bulldozer-deployed tarps are often used. However, if you happen to have ten thousand tons of kiln ash or even (get this!) a hill of shredded cars, that’s like catnip to landfill operators. They love finding that stuff to spread on their hills.
  • Everything is money to a landfill. Trucks pay tipping fees to drop off their trash — we saw a big compression truck dumping a load, for which they’d pay maybe six hundred dollars. Then the landfill is capped and used to generate electritity. Shipping pallets are shredded, dyed, and sold as hardwood mulch. Everything that comes in to the landfill is turned into (at least a little bit) of money
  • Many counties pay to operate their landfill, but Lanchester actually pays the county. Bob wanted me to be sure to mention that they just wrote a check for half a million dollars to Chester County!

DumpingDuring the tour of the active hill, a garbage truck backed up, lifted its tail, revved its hydraulics, and started pushing out its load. The driver rolled down the window, leaned out, and threw his Dunkin Donuts bag directly on the ground. “Hey!” we all looked at each other for a moment: “That dude is totally litter-… oh.”

My favorite part of the day was when Chris Young brought and hooked up his Commodore 64 — not an emulator, an actual, by-God Commodore 64 that’s been in his mom’s closet for years and years — to the windmill power supply and fired it up, loading Summer Games from the 1541 floppy-disk drive. IT WORKED!

Chris Young on the C64

Back in the eighties, before becoming a producer, Chris played Bryce Lynch, the teenage-nerd inventor of Max Headroom, which as far as I’m concerned is one of the most important seminal cyberpunk roles out there. So having Bryce Lynch up there, hacking on his antique computer and CRT, USING METHANE POWER, OUTDOORS, in something that’s arguably close to an APOCALYPTIC WASTELAND? That’s about as close as it’s possible to get to cyberpunk in real life. Sheesh! I’m amazed we didn’t all come home with spiky mohawks, laser goggles, and motorcycle-tire epaulets.

C64 Summer Games
Photo: Chris Young

I’m grateful to Bob Watts for the tour. Lanchester is an interesting and amazing place, and if you want to learn about the waste chain, which is pretty damn short (your trash bag -> a truck -> the top of a hill in Honeybrook), and you want to see all sorts of amazing ways that Lanchester is trying to extract value from their waste, then by all means give them a call!

Coworkout Friday, 7/17: Lanchester Scenic Overlook

July 14, 2009 - Leave a Response

This Friday, we’ll be holding Coworkout at the Lanchester Scenic Overlook, which is a high, breezy hill with a fine view of the Conestoga and Brandywine valleys. Watch hawks soar below you! Sit in the shade of a pavilion, as you hear the methane quietly hissing through the collection pipes and headed to the electric generator!

That’s right; until 2000, this beautiful spot was Hill A of the Chester County Solid Waste Authority’s Lanchester Landfill. They are at the forefront of green technology and electric reclamation. The electricity we’ll use will come from the windmill over our heads!

You can get more information on the location page here!

Coworkout at Shofuso!

May 20, 2009 - Leave a Response

It’s UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL at Shofuso today.

Shofuso

We’re kind of used to working without a roof by now, but we aren’t really accustomed to working without chairs yet. Though Jason and Randy seem pretty happy in this photo:

Shofuso veranda

We also worked without power, but that’s because I am incredible fool, and didn’t ask, because I was scared of what the answer would be. You can read more about my shame on my blog.

We’ll definitely have coworkout again here, but I think we’ll look into getting some Crazy Creek chairs, which seem like modern functional analogues of zaisu.

Coworkout Wednesday: Shofuso Japanese House in Fairmount Park

May 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

Coworkout on Wednesday, at the beautiful seventeenth-century Japanese house in Fairmount Park!

Shofuso (“Pine Breeze Villa”) is a Japanese house built in shoin-zukuri style. I’ve ranted and raved on my blog about how awesome it is.

Shofuso from across the pond

I’m not 100% sure that Shofuso will be a great spot for coworkout — can we find a good spot to sit? What about power? At the absolute minimum, we’ll sit down with our laptops on the veranda, work until pins and needles set in, and then we’ll move to Ohio House. But if it works out, it’ll be great.

Shofuso is careful to note on their website that groups under ten are welcome anytime, but groups larger than that should have a reservation, so please message @coworkout or comment this post if you think you’re gonna come!

You can visit http://www.coworkout.com/shofuso for information and directions.

“He Said, She Said”, then HE SAID WHAT?: Outdoor Adventure Journalism

May 11, 2009 - Leave a Response
Mary Bigham writing a first-date review for CC:

The hardest-working blogger in West Chester, Mary Bigham of West Chester Dish came out to the West Chester KOA on Friday to write up the "He Said, She Said" feature for this week’s CC: section of the Daily Local News. In the feature, two folks go on a blind date, then afterwards talk to Mary and review the restaurant and each other. It’s great reading, and you always expect a train wreck.

Mary talked to the woman first, and OH MAN you cannot imagine a more distracting conversation. I mean, in the best possible way — there was drama! High comedy! Low comedy! Misplaced perceptions! Completely incorrect judgments! It all unfolded like something out of a Forties movie where people wear fedoras and talk quickly out of the side of their mouths.

The new issue oc CC: comes out on Wednesday and you can read all about it then.

What’s That Fiery Ball in the Sky?

May 8, 2009 - One Response

This morning, there was actual SUN in the sky! SUN!?!? Jason Stigora was saying yesterday that he was afraid the atmosphere was broken, but it looks like there’s some life in it yet before we get all Matrix-y. Or Highlander II-y.

So I raced out to the West Chester KOA this morning, and am all set up, enjoying the sun. Fortunately, a little bit of a breeze is starting, which is blowing away the biting gnats.

Coworkout: May 8, 2009

Come on out to the West Chester KOA Campground, and earn a Coworkout Nerd Merit Badge, which cannot be purchased or otherwise obtained!

Coworkout Nerd Merit Badges

Spring is spring, Da grass is riz, Coworkout WiFi awesome iz

April 24, 2009 - Leave a Response

The sun is shining, the weather is balmy, and the Brandywine is blanketed with four bars of 6MBps FiOS wi-fi at Coworkout today! Kate came out to read a book (you can see the rental canoes in the background:

@coworkout: beautiful!

Here’s Randy, having a conference call in our conference-call area by the river:

@r38y at @coworkout, talking to @CoTweet

We’ll be here until 4:30, if you want to stop by! You can reach us on Twitter by sending a message to @coworkout.

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