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Monday, March 28, 2011

Ninja Hydrant Painter Strikes Again ...

Every year someone performs his self-appointed task of painting the local fire hydrants. This one is across the street from our house.

I cannot recall if he paints the tops different bright colors every year, but this year he has. Some are turquoise, forest green, and as you see, yellow.

Later he will return to paint the lower part of the hydrant. I have never caught him at his work.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

GO EcoGayle!

Passive Houses Use 90% Less Energy —Really?

Yes, really.  You think the oil, coal, natural gas and HVAC companies want you to know about this. NOT.  The Passive House movement is in its infancy in the US but it’s already ayoung adult in Europe.  It’s called “passive” because heating or cooling these homes relies completely on natural resources.  In other words there are no active systems involved in the 90% reduction in energy use!  How is this possible I’m sure you want to know.  Why didn’t I know about this might be another question.
A passive house uses orientation, super insulation, advanced window technology, air tightness, and shading to achieve standards that are set by the Passiv Haus Institute. These standards eliminate the need for a conventional HVAC system or for solar panels and geothermal systems.  Although some homes have an option for solar systems.  An energy recovery ventilation system provides a constant, balanced fresh air supply, a uniquely terrific indoor air quality, AND reduces energy use and carbon emissions, according to thePassive House Institute US (PHIUS)
Do passive houses cost more to build?  Yep.  David Peabody, a Washington metro area architect and passionate promoter of sustainable architecture and passive houses is building a passive house in Bethesda, Maryland.  He found that the increased cost for the home he’s building is about 8%.  For a 90% reduction in monthly energy bills I’d say it’s worth it.  A certified passive house uses less than 1.4 kWh per square foot in heating and cooling energy and uses less than 11kWh per square foot for all energy!  By the way,  existing homes can be retrofitted to meet many passive home standards.
The passive house movement was started when conversations between two German professors at the Institute of Housing and the Environment led to the first passive houses being built in Germany in 1990. To date it is estimated that 15 to 20 thousand passive buildings have been built worldwide, mostly in Germany and Scandinavian countries.  The US numbers are far, far fewer.  Remember, the movement here is still a nursing baby, but one that is being nurtured by it’s German parent.
This map represents the Passive projects currently underway in the United States today.  The squares have been certified, the circles pre-certified and the triangles are in the planning stages.  Green represents single family homes, red  education, blue multi-family and gold are retrofits.
Buildings use more than 40 percent of all the energy consumed in the United States.  If builders were to embrace the passive building concept, both the cost of building and the use of nonrenewable energy sources would decline.

Farewell, Liz ... the REAL Drama Queen is Gone

Thursday, March 17, 2011


See more Excelsior! here.

We Are All In It Together ...

Nuclear Power Around the World

We have invested heavily in this form of power, and as the map shows, there are nuclear power plants in many places around the world. There are a lot of plants on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

As far as I know, nuclear power has never been profitable, though the statistics are manipulated to make it appear so. It has never been safe, because there is no real way to dispose of the waste, and as we know, natural events can disrupt power to the plants and cause real, worldwide disasters, not to mention events caused by human error.

There are always downsides to power. Coal dirties the air, though stack scrubbers (when used) are much better than they were in the past. Wind generators are poorly designed in many cases, and can cause bird deaths. Solar is expensive and inefficient so far, and geothermal power is an unknown. Wave technology is in its infancy.

As always, we have taken what seemed like the "easy" course, implementing a power source we cannot really control because it promised easy and unlimited power. But it IS limited. The kind of fuel it requires is not abundant in the sense that wind, waves, sunlight and the heat of our planet's core are.

What are we to learn from these errors? The cost in human suffering is steep; so was the cost of coal, between the miners' diseases and disasters, and the lung problems of those breathing the atmospheric particulates. Uranium mining and usage has also hurt a lot of people in its history. We are still learning. We want power to run our heat, cooling, lights and electronics. How do we want to proceed from here?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fifty Japanese Nuclear Heroes ... NY Times Article

Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers

Mercury Visible in Twilight Sky this Week

Photograph by Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK

from NASA: 
The show begins on March 14th. At the end of the day, go outside and look west into the sunset. A bright star catches your eye—that's Jupiter. Just below it lies Mercury, a little dimmer than the giant planet, but easy to find with Jupiter's guidance.
For more information go to this page.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thanks, Headburro Antfarm!!!!

Google Theme of the Day

Headburro Antfarm commented that I could change from classic to a theme. I thought, given my need for change, that Theme of the Day would suit me well, so here is the first day of it!

It IS a Hard Week ... er Month ... er Year?

My Google Home Page

Home Page

Recently I was chided by a friend for not reading the newspaper. If you read what is on my home page you will see I get BBC news, plus the Christian Science Monitor daily news. I am actually allergic to newspapers, and paper and ink and airplanes and trucks cannot deliver the news as fast as this home page does. True, I did not know about a leaking pipe in our power plant when we had the rolling blackouts, but on my other email page I have local headlines, and if I had been paying attention it may have appeared there.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Personal Predator

acer Predator
What a beast it is! This is a gaming computer, complete with a bay for extra drives, LOTS of USB ports, a gaming keyboard with extra keys for macros, and a gaming mouse with a wheel that can be set for super speed, or click mode for more control. It has 1 1/2 terrabyte drive resident. I made the HP into a normal non-RAID computer, using the 1T drive that was still alive, and gave it to my son Patrick. I hope he will use it in good health!

Osprey PHONED and asked how it was doing, and what my framerate is in Second Life. Well, although I do not recall having had more than 35 fps, and usually much lower rates than that, today I had between 55-70 fps! That means less jerkiness in filming, and all sorts of things become better in a virtual world. YAY acer you are ACE!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Scanned Black Drawings #3, #4 and #5

Touching the Shadow
Shadow Dancing
I guess there will be six of these ...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011