Saturday, July 14, 2012

Deer, Moons, and the interesting points behind their formations and usage

Hello All,

The class today was one like no other I have every had. It was nice to be out of the classroom and experiencing a different type of learning. Not only was I able to intake a large amount of interesting and useful information, but I was also able to observe and experience the harbor for myself. It had been a long time since I had been in a boat around the harbor, and it looked much different then I remember it. It was interesting hearing an expert's point of view on the different locations in the harbor, and the usage of each island within it. 

Embarking on our journey during low tide was a special treat, with a nice outside temperature in the high 80s, and some humidity, we were able to relax and enjoy the views. We were able to see a number of rock formations that would have normally been covered by the tide, and would only be visible to boaters by their careful preplanned routes (As seen in the chart displayed in the blackboard course documents, where I was able to locate what I think was one of the rock formations we were able to see today). As a class we were able to see that the tide was on its way down because of the color spectrum on the walls, and the still wet seaweed on the walls. Tides have a 6 hour cycle, and if the tide was on its way back up, then the seaweed would have been dry above. It is interesting that because of all the man made wharfs and piers in Boston creating a vertical tide that ranges from 9-11 feet and how different that is from the wide spread horizontal tides that are seen on a normal swimming beach. 

One of the most interesting parts of the harbor that I learned much more about was Deer Island. I did not realize the massive size and capacity of the treatment plant. I did a little extended research on Deer Island from the Boston Harborwalk website, and learned that it services 43 communities throughout the MetroBoston area. This is a large number of people, and a large amount of waste. The design of this plant is so efficient and complex, that it is used as a model for other cities around the country to help clean up waterways and provide a benefit out of normal human waste. The large barrels that works as digesters that are 10 story towers of waste are an engineering masterpiece, allowing for the treatment of water and solid waste to create a benefit to the economy and to the population. I did not realize that the treatment plant shipped the solid waste to Quincy in order to create pellet fertilizer to be used for planting (As Professor Berman put it, our homestyle orange juice is fertilized with our own shit).

"As one of the largest electricity users in the Northeast, Deer Island has embarked upon an ambitious goal of generating 30% renewable energy by 2020" ( This is a monumental goal that further impresses me by the power and productivity of this project. The wind turbines that we were able to observe when passing the island were used to return energy to the plant. It also uses alternative lighting and its own methane gas for alternative heating. The self sufficiency of the whole project makes it one of the many marvels of the world, and definitely created a lasting impression on me after our trip today. Professor Berman's toilet game also helped reinforce the process of moving the "goldfish" from the basin of your toilet to the treatment plant. 
In the picture to the left we can see that different pieces of Deer Island from the digesters on the right, to the turbine fans (hardly visable) on the left side. This was a picture I took for my own observation on our trip to the harbor today.

I have learned a lot about the uses of the harbor in current day, as well as in the past, many of the points I did not know before. I am looking forward to our further adventures into the Harbor, and for what other interesting information will come my way. I appreciate Professor Berman's high level of interest and expertise in the subject. 

Until tomorrow, enjoy your evening everyone.

Trevor O'Leary

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