What do you hope viewers take away after seeing it?
I hope people enjoy the movie as an entertaining and emotive story about a highly unusual group of characters who set out to do something extraordinarily difficult, and by and large succeeded against the odds and in spite of all the cynics. It also has an educational value. I learned a lot myself and Ive heard from engineering students at MIT and other universities that it was an inspiration to them. There are more university teams doing the race each year. If the film helps inspire a new generation of engineers it will be doing something very usefulthis technology has many applications and the world has plenty of problems for future engineers to solve.
What if I told you that we have a new source of fuel? begins New York Times technology reporter David Pogue in a recent CBS Morning News cover story. Its cheap, it burns cleaner than coal, its found right here in America, and theres enough of it for the next hundred years. This fuel is natural gas and its source is gigantic deposits of shale rock from miles underground.
And more good news? Pogue reports that with our 36,000 fracking wells in America, the price of natural gas dropped by 33 percent since 2006, and supplies are plentiful enough that we are about to export it. It also can make millionaires out of struggling farmers.
In Promised Land, Matt Damon is Steve Butler, who represents a $9 billion a year natural gas company and buys rights from farmers and rural townsfolk to use their land to set up fracking wells. Problem is, the process of fracking is imperfect, and even potentially dangerous.
Sure, it's a clean and efficient resource, says the towns trusted science teacher Frank Yates, played by Hal Holbrook. But the way they go about getting it is some dirty business.
Heres how the "dirty business" works. The gas is locked inside the shale rock, so we drill about a mile down below the water line, then make a right turn horizontally before injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals at extremely high pressures to open the rock and free the gas and oil. As Pogue points out, weve been fracturing rocks for oil for more than 60 years. But in the last decade, weve totally transformed the process by adding that horizontal business . . . all the chemicals . . . and the colossal pressure of the water.
[In his ongoing but sporadic series Don't Throw That Away!, the Green Cheapskate shows you how to repurpose just about anything, saving money and the environment in the process. Send him your repurposing ideas and challenges, but whatever you do, Don't Throw That Away!]
"Jeff, can't we at least celebrate the holiday before you eat the decorations?" I've heard that more than once from my long-suffering wife during our 26-year marriage.
You see, cheapskates like to celebrate Halloween and other holidays just like everyone else. But we grimace at wasteful rituals like throwing away a perfectly good pumpkin after using it for only a few days as a decoration. Americans buy more than one billion pounds of pumpkins at Halloween, and the vast majority of those end up in the trash. But at the Green Cheapskate's house, we eat our jack-o-lantern, every last bit of it.
While some particularly meaty varieties of pumpkins are specifically grown to be eaten (including Sweet Jack-be-Littles, Cheese Pumpkins, Sugar Pumpkins and some delicious heirloom varieties), any commonly available pumpkin is perfectly edible. Best of all, at Halloween (and immediately after Halloween) you can usually buy pumpkins for less than half a buck a pound. At that price, why not pick up a couple extra just to eat?
Pumpkins are a true American vegetable, a favorite of the Aztec, Inca and Mayan people before becoming a staple of early European explorers and settlers in the New World. Pumpkins belong to the same family (Cucurbitacae) as gourds, melons and cucumbers. And, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, pumpkins are packed with beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that fights cancer.
If you're buying a pumpkin specifically for eating, the smaller ones are usually the best. If you're going to use it as a jack-o'-lantern as well, you can eat or freeze some of the pumpkin when you carve it, and then pickle the remaining rind when Halloween is over, provided that it's still in good shape. So, here's how to eat your jack-o-lantern:
Toasted pumpkin seeds are a healthy snack filled with zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper and protein. They're also great in salads, muffins, bread, and in other recipes as a nut substitute.
Remove the seeds, rinse them in water to get rid of the stringy inner membrane, and dry them out a little on a towel. Flavor with coarse salt for a traditional taste, or let your imagination and spice rack run wild. Some options for flavoring designer seeds include: pumpkin pie spice; Cajun seasonings; ginger powder; garlic salt; curry powder; Tabasco; cinnamon; vinegar and salt. Once seasoned, bake the seeds on a lightly oiled cookie sheet (single layer thick) in a 250-degree oven for about an hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Or, my preferred method is to cook them in a spray-oiled skillet over medium heat on the stove top, stirring and shaking (the skillet, not your booty) constantly. On the stove top, they'll be toasted nicely brown in only about five minutes. Store in air-tight containers.