Drumbeat: January 26, 2010

Clueless about oil prices

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Two very different views on where oil prices are going by the year's end are emerging - one says $60 or lower, the other $100 or higher, and there's little consensus as to which is right.

The bulls say stronger global economic growth and low interest rates will lead to higher demand, pushing prices up from their current level of around $75 a barrel.

Carbon Currency: A New Beginning for Technocracy?

Critics who think that the U.S. dollar will be replaced by some new global currency are perhaps thinking too small.

On the world horizon looms a new global currency that could replace all paper currencies and the economic system upon which they are based.

The new currency, simply called Carbon Currency, is designed to support a revolutionary new economic system based on energy (production, and consumption), instead of price. Our current price-based economic system and its related currencies that have supported capitalism, socialism, fascism and communism, is being herded to the slaughterhouse in order to make way for a new carbon-based world.

Energy Wars: Russia's Neighbors Get Even

It is becoming a New Year's tradition in Europe to wake up on January 1 with a big Russian headache. At the beginning of 2006 and 2009, Russia cut off energy supplies to Ukraine after a disagreement over natural gas prices, which subsequently caused fuel shortages in the European Union in the dead of winter. This January, all eyes are trained on Belarus, which has been having its own quarrel with Moscow over oil prices, threatening European energy supplies once again. But three weeks into the current standoff, there's been a twist: Kazakhstan, another ex-Soviet republic, stepped in last week to offer Belarus its own oil. Now the Kremlin's most reliable tool for controlling its neighbors — energy blackmail — is at risk of blowing up in its face.

Russia, Belarus draw closer in oil talks - source

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and Belarus could sign a deal on Wednesday to end a dispute over oil pricing and tariffs that has practically cut off crude supplies to Belarussian refineries, a source close to the talks told Reuters on Tuesday.

Three crystal-ball gazers see market gains ahead

Marion's presentation had more charts than a mariner looking for buried treasure. But he took time out to draw an analogy between the recent prediction by former CIBC World Markets economist Jeff Rubin of oil eventually reaching $400 a barrel, and “the great scare of 1898,” when people gathered in New York noting that 160,000 horses produced 3.5 million pounds of manure a day, predicting that “by 1930 horse droppings will rise to Manhattan's third-storey windows.” The arrival of cars belching carbon dioxide was deemed a blissful relief.

Statoil Says ‘Challenging’ Market to Affect Gas Finds

(Bloomberg) -- Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest oil and natural-gas producer, said a “challenging” gas market may affect its development of new discoveries as an increase in shale-gas output weighs on prices.

“We see a challenge from a short- and medium-term perspective because of the market situation and considerable uncertainty due to the new situation with shale gas,” Vice President Sverre Serc-Hanssen said today at a conference in Bergen, Norway. “The medium-term picture may influence us with regard to the profitability of phasing in new gas discoveries.”

Chavez’s Vice President Quits, Leaves Hole in Cabinet

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan Vice President and Defense Minister Ramon Carrizalez resigned from the government today, leaving President Hugo Chavez holes to fill in his cabinet amid a slumping economy and electricity crisis.

Gulf oil producers to record low inflation in 2010

Gulf oil producers are expected to record another year of relatively low inflation in 2010 as housing pressures continue to ease and global prices are projected to remain far lower than in 2008, according to regional and international data.

Although the dollar could weaken through the year, the stifled increase in imports in the absence of large GDP growth is expected to offset the high import bill and keep inflation in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at low levels.

Energy projects well on schedule

RIYADH: The Council of Ministers Monday expressed its satisfaction about the ongoing oil and refinery expansion projects and said they would contribute to meeting the increasing global demand for energy.

“All these energy projects are progressing well as scheduled,” said Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja, quoting a Cabinet statement.

Smart water to sprinkle the desert

Following the recipe of success from Norwegian oil fields, seawater will be injected into the Saudi Arabian desert sands.

Water injection has succeeded in improving the recovery rate from the Ekofisk field from the originally expected 17 percent to nearly 50 percent today.

Report: Power shortage by 2015

“This is advice to a community making a 50-year decision,” Holland resident Don Triezenberg said during a question-and-answer period. “You’re going to be making those decisions today.”

The last of America’s coal investment can be expected around 2024, said Mark Griffith, Black & Veatch managing director of enterprise management solutions.

Oil prices are expected to almost triple in the next 20 years, he said.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Top CEOs to Tackle Urgent Issues in Business and the Environment at Wall Street Journal's ECO:nomics Conference

NEW YORK (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) ----At The Wall Street Journal's third annual ECO:nomics conference, leaders such as U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Robert Iger, president and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company; Peter Voser, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell and other top industry and policy experts will tackle the most urgent issues in business and the environment. The conference will be held March 3-5, 2010 in Santa Barbara, Calif. at Bacara Resort & Spa.

Richard Heinberg: Peak Coal and Blackout (book review)

Richard Heinberg begins by noting that coal production in any given region follows the same curve as oil production. It too starts with an increase, reaches a maximum and then declines over time as the deposits run out. This evolution is markedly less visible, however, because numerous forms of coal exist, of extremely variable energy values. The best, that which is mined and therefore exhausted first, is anthracite. Next is bituminous coal of variable quality, then lignite and finally peat, which almost no one exploits to provide energy any longer. The poorer the quality of the coal, the less energy it produces per kilogram, to the point that there is no interest in transporting lignite over long distances because the energy needed to do this quickly exceeds that which would be produced by the lignite. And yet the official figures do not take these distinctions into account, or present them in an overly simplified fashion, something which creates a false impression of abundance.

Care Farming

The Japanese visionary and environmentalist Masanobu Fukuoka once stated that “the ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”. This sentiment is at the heart of ‘care farms’ which aim to combine care and meaningful work in the supportive natural environment of farms, woodlands and market gardens for some of society’s most vulnerable people. Care farming provides a healthy daily structure for the participant ‘farm helpers’, building confidence and supporting people to develop their social and practical skills.

Energy Grants Seek Reliable Source for Diagnostic Aid

WASHINGTON — Amid a global shortage of a radioactive isotope used to diagnose cancer, heart disease and kidney problems, the Energy Department on Monday moved to develop two radically different sources for the material.

Supplies have been short since last May, when the reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, that used to be the biggest supplier of the isotope was shut down because of a leak. It is under repair, but even if it can be restarted, it is more than a half-century old and its future is uncertain. A Dutch reactor that can also be used is almost as old and has been shut for extended periods, some planned, some not.

Former Soldier’s Death Furthers Chile’s Nuclear Energy Debate

The death last Friday of a former Chilean soldier who was suing the state for health damages after he was overexposed to radiation once again highlights concerns over the future use of nuclear energy in Chile.

Manuel Mella Tapia, 41, guarded the La Reina nuclear research facility near Santiago between 1987 and 1989 as part of his compulsory military service. Tapia was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 and had been waiting for a bone marrow transplant at Santiago’s Clinica Alemana.

Do Energy-Efficient Appliances Add Up?

Energy efficient appliances are in the spotlight these days, thanks to a $300 million rebate program from the Department of Energy. But do they really make financial sense?

An urban car for a two car household?; 'Range anxiety'

Before Henry Ford's assembly line started rolling, more than a third of American automobiles were powered by electricity. The Model T made driving affordable for average families, and because it was fuelled by gasoline, it was cheaper and had a longer range than the electric cars of the 1900s. Ever since, electric cars have existed on the margins of the automobile world. Now BMW believes change is in the air, and the German auto giant is doing its part to make battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) a viable option in 21st century cities.

Golf and the great Lao land grab

VIENTIANE - It is easy to be seduced by the peaceful rural scenes, punctuated by rice fields, vegetable patches and reed-filled wetlands. But behind the natural tapestry, tension and anger are brimming over in the local communities near the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge outside of the Lao capital.

The communal complaint: their long self-sustaining community will on government orders soon be converted into an 18-hole golf course, luxury hotel and top-end residential developments, and the compensation on offer to relocate is well below going market land prices.

Campaign to save tropical forests failed by food giants

Western food manufacturers are buying so little sustainable palm oil that the system set up to limit damage to tropical forests caused by the world's cheapest vegetable oil is in danger of collapse. Palm-oil producers say the industry may quit the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) because so few firms are financially backing the scheme.

World's glaciers continue to melt at historic rates

Glaciers across the globe are continuing to melt so fast that many will disappear by the middle of this century, the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) said today.

The announcement of the latest annual results from monitoring in nine mountain ranges on four continents comes as doubts have been cast on how much climate scientists have exaggerated the problem of glacier melt, which is seen as a leading indicator of how much the planet is heating up.

How Cows (Grass-Fed Only) Could Save the Planet

So how can Coleman and Damrosch believe that adding livestock to their farm will help the planet? Cattleman Ridge Shinn has the answer. On a wintry Saturday at his farm in Hardwick, Mass., he is out in his pastures encouraging a herd of plump Devon cows to move to a grassy new paddock. Over the course of a year, his 100 cattle will rotate across 175 acres four or five times. "Conventional cattle raising is like mining," he says. "It's unsustainable, because you're just taking without putting anything back. But when you rotate cattle on grass, you change the equation. You put back more than you take."

The New Republic: Gate's Argument For Innovation

So now Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire, has weighed in, capping a week in which Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Energy Secretary Steven Chu did, too. Their timely warning: Congress — and the nation — are stiffing energy innovation research and need to get serious as the year's budget struggles near.

Gates' remarks are the most noteworthy — and pointed. Writing on his personal blog under the title "Why We Need Innovation, Not Insulation," Gates says energy innovation has been on his mind lately, and he has posted an angular, politically incorrect complaint about the extent to which the country is missing the point on the appropriate goals and means for carbon reduction.

What Could You Live Without?

Kevin Salwen, a writer and entrepreneur in Atlanta, was driving his 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, back from a sleepover in 2006. While waiting at a traffic light, they saw a black Mercedes coupe on one side and a homeless man begging for food on the other.

“Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal,” Hannah protested. The light changed and they drove on, but Hannah was too young to be reasonable. She pestered her parents about inequity, insisting that she wanted to do something.

“What do you want to do?” her mom responded. “Sell our house?”

Warning! Never suggest a grand gesture to an idealistic teenager. Hannah seized upon the idea of selling the luxurious family home and donating half the proceeds to charity, while using the other half to buy a more modest replacement home.

My free and easy life

When Katharine Hibbert lost her job and her flat she didn't just downsize – she decided to dispense with money altogether, living on the stuff the rest of us throw away.

My year of living without money

Is it possible to live without spending any cash whatsoever? After becoming disillusioned with consumer society, one man decided to give it a try.

Green future has a price

IT DOES not matter whether you are a global warming sceptic, it is still difficult to deny that unsustainable economic pressure on natural resources and the environment is the most substantial market failure in the history of the market economy. Therefore, regulation is inevitable.

Surprisingly, most economists, most politicians and even the public don't seem to be particularly concerned with the type of regulation.

Retailers try new survival strategies for 2010

Stores, including L.L. Bean, are being redesigned to be more environmentally friendly. The number of "green" products is being increased at Wal-Mart, Target and other stores. And you may find yourself paying for the privilege of using a plastic bag — or being rewarded for reusing — at more stores.

Much of the environmental emphasis is behind the scenes and focused on saving energy to save money. When it comes to energy, "Any savings immediately hit the bottom line," says Peter Graf, who heads sustainability for the business software company SAP.

Stock Market Breakdown!

Instead of allowing the economy to breathe out and make way for new energy paradigms when the world had passed Peak Oil (which is what would have automatically happened had the US and Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocols in 1998) they sought to tamper with the economy in order to prolong the life expectancy of the cash rich legacy industries which had vested interests to protect and which were providing funding to ensure a maintenance of the status quo. Here’s a broad brush picture of what happened next.

Global supply of rare earth elements could be wiped out by 2012

The automobile industry uses tens of thousands of tons of rare earth elements each year, and advanced military technology depends on these elements, too. Lots of "green" technologies depend on them, including wind turbines, low-energy light bulbs and hybrid car batteries. In fact, much of western civilization depends on rare earth elements such as terbium, lanthanum and neodymium.

So what's the problem with these rare elements? 97 percent of the world's supply comes from mines in China, and China is prepared to simply stop exporting these strategic elements to the rest of the world by 2012.

Palm Oil Drops to Lowest in Two Months on China Demand Outlook

(Bloomberg) -- Palm oil dropped to the lowest in two months on concern demand from China, the biggest consumer of edible oils, may slow and as crude oil and soybeans declined.

April-delivery futures fell 2.5 percent to 2,407 ringgit ($703) a metric ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange, the lowest close since Nov. 19.

Iraqi Oil: Why Are the Majors Willing to Take the Plunge?

The economics of these Iraqi technical service contracts, in which the developers get a dollar or two for every incremental daily barrel produced, are not very compelling. Why, then, are so many majors and supermajors willing to take the plunge?

My colleague David Lee Smith put it this way last summer: "It's called getting your foot in the door of a country with an estimated 115 billion barrels of oil." The promise of getting better terms on future deals has got to be the prime motivator here.

K+S Fights Salt Sewer Designed to Save German Fish

(Bloomberg) -- K+S AG, the world’s biggest salt producer, may be banned from dumping minerals into a German river and forced to build a sewer line to the North Sea costing $700 million, about twice its annual operating profit.

China’s Worst Sea Ice in 40 Years Continues to Thaw

(Bloomberg) -- The ice pack that had stranded ships and disrupted oil production in northern China continued to thaw in Bohai Sea as ports 150 miles south began to recover from the region’s worst freezing in 40 years.

Forty-eight percent of Liaodong, the northernmost bay of Bohai Sea, was frozen today compared with 52 percent yesterday, the State Oceanic Administration said on its Web site.

Indonesia Plans To Grow One Billion Trees Annually: Susilo

WEST JAVA (Bernama) -- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday said that his country has planned to plant one billion trees per year, in order to fight forest destruction, as well as an effort to save the planet from climate change.

Every farm will have a turbine in five years

IT IS predicted that every farm in the UK will have a wind turbine within five years, as the sector ramps up to meet the Government's targets on cutting carbon emissions.

Farming Futures, an industry-led body which advises on practical action to combat climate change, made the claim as it launched a free guide to wind energy aimed at farmers and land managers.

Fears Barack Obama will omit climate change from State of Union speech

Global warming – a signature issue for Barack Obama – is at risk of getting the short shrift in this year's State of the Union speech on Wednesday, further shrinking the already slim prospects of getting a climate change law through Congress, environmentalists say.

Obama is being lobbied hard to send a strong signal that climate change remains at the top of his agenda and issue a forceful call to Congress to move forward on legislation this year.

The Ozone Hole Is Mending. Now for the ‘But.’

That the hole in Earth’s ozone layer is slowly mending is considered a big victory for environmental policy makers. But in a new report, scientists say there is a downside: its repair may contribute to global warming.

Economic growth 'cannot continue'

Continuing global economic growth "is not possible" if nations are to tackle climate change, a report by an environmental think-tank has warned.

...Andrew Simms added: "There is no global, environmental central bank to bail us out if we become ecologically bankrupt."

None of the existing models or policies could "square the circle" of economic growth with climate safety, Nef added.

See also: What If the Global Economy Was a Giant Hamster? or Infinite Growth on a Finite Planet

Icy crystals heat up

Vast deposits of methane, trapped in icelike crystals under Alaska's frozen tundra and beneath ocean floors worldwide, could play an important role in the nation's energy future.

But after more than two decades of study, major oil companies and governments are still trying to crack the code to large-scale extraction of these energy rich substances called gas hydrates.

Wickrema Singhe, a Houston-based engineer and project consultant to some of the world's biggest oil companies, has wrestled with the same problem. And recently, he's developed a technology he believes could provide at least part of the answer.

Dubai Helps Iran Evade Sanctions as Smugglers Ignore U.S. Laws

(Bloomberg) -- On a sweltering mid-October evening, horns blare as pickup trucks at Dubai Creek wharf jockey to deliver cargo bound for Iran. Televisions, cartons of toothpaste, car parts, refrigerators and DVD players stretch for about a mile on the dock along the murky waterway that snakes to the Persian Gulf.

“We’ll take anything as long as you pay us,” says Ali, a 24-year-old Iranian deck hand in an oil-stained T-shirt, as he pulls down a blue tarpaulin covering air conditioners, tires and tea bags headed for the port of Bandar Abbas, 100 miles (160 kilometers) across the Gulf. “We’ve taken American stuff -- printers, computers, everything.”

Report: Hackers spied on US oil companies

Washington - Three major US oil companies came under cyber attacks that may have come from hackers in China, the Christian Science Monitor newspaper reported Monday.

Sensitive bid data on oil discoveries by Marathon Oil, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips were the target of the attack, the newspaper said citing documents and sources familiar with the investigation.

Total joins US shale play rush

French giant Total has become the latest big-name player to enter the US' unconventional onshore play, shelling out $2.25 billion for a 25% slice of gas player Chesapeake Energy's Barnett Shale assets.

Idemitsu to Cut Fuel Processing by 2% in February on Weak Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Idemitsu Kosan Co., a Japanese refiner, will cut fuel processing by 2 percent in February from a year earlier because of weak domestic demand.

Crude Oil - Possible Scenarios Analysis

Crude Oil, like many other commodities, had a volatile 2008 and 2009. Crude was trading at a record high in mid 2008 and at multi year lows in the first quarter of 2009. Since then, as the global economy stabilized from a free fall, crude oil prices have also risen steadily. This article looks into different possible scenarios that might pan out in the global economy and its possible impact on crude oil prices.

Based on past price movements, one can come to a conclusion that crude oil prices are largely a function of the following:

• The Global Demand and Supply Scenario

• The movement of the Dollar

•Geopolitical factors

Revisiting the 4 Horsemen of the Oil Boom

Peak Oil: As stated above, it is a real phenomenon. Oil fields peak in production, and then the pressure starts to wane and production drops. Mexico's Cantarrel oil field was once one of the top 5 producing fields in the world. It's production peaked in 2003 at 2.1 million bpd (barrels per day). Due to the loss of reservoir pressure, production in January 2009 had alread fallen to 770,000 bpd.

What oil shortage? World is swimming in it

Within the next few years, Iraq is positioned to rival Saudi Arabia by bringing its oil production to 11 million barrels a day, once again proving that "peak-oil" hysteria is just another hoax, Jerome Corsi's Red Alert reports.

Scientists for the U.S. Geological Survey have also suggested Venezuela's oil reserves may double the reserves in Saudi Arabia.

"Both announcements cast further doubt on the peak-oil theory, the idea that world consumption is exhausting the earth's available supply of oil," Corsi wrote.

KazMunaiGas EP 2009 Oil Output Falls 3.8% on Weather, Power Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- KazMunaiGas Exploration Production, an oil unit of Kazakhstan’s state energy company, said crude output declined 3.8 percent last year to 11.5 million tons (231,000 barrels per day).

“Despite severe weather conditions and disrupted power supplies, the decrease in 2009 production was kept close to planned levels,” Chief Executive Officer Kenzhebek Ibrashev said in an e-mailed statement today.

Baker Hughes profit plunges on weak energy demand

HOUSTON (AP) -- Baker Hughes Inc. said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit plunged 81 percent as last year's tumble in energy prices discouraged companies from drilling for more oil.

Cnooc May Join Tullow in Developing Uganda’s Oil

(Bloomberg) -- China National Offshore Oil Corp. is interested in teaming up with Tullow Oil Plc to help develop Uganda’s energy resources, the president’s office said.

Company officials from China National and Tullow held talks with President Yoweri Museveni yesterday, his office said in an e-mailed statement.

Gasoil’s Premium to Oil Widens as Colder Weather Boosts Demand

(Bloomberg) -- European gasoil’s premium to Brent crude widened as colder weather drove up demand in Germany, the region’s biggest market for the heating fuel.

Interior to look at drilling in Atlantic Ocean

WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he is nearly ready to begin an environmental analysis that could lead to drilling in areas up to 200 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

Salazar told reporters he will soon launch a 45-day comment period on a planned study of how drilling would affect the ocean floor. He said federal officials know little about the Atlantic Coast because of a long-standing moratorium on oil and gas exploration across much of the nation's Outer Continental Shelf. Congress lifted the moratorium in 2008.

Greenpeace calls for a ban on Arctic oil drilling

Immediate moratorium on all activity by oil and gas industries would help safeguard the local community and ecosystem as well as reduce potential carbon emissions

Apache Plans Forties Oilfield Output Increase, Maintenance

(Bloomberg) -- Apache Corp. plans to increase production from the North Sea Forties field by 3 to 5 percent this year and will shut down platforms in August and October to carry out maintenance work, a company official said.

The field, one of about 70 that supply the benchmark Forties blend of crude, produced an average of 63,200 barrels a day in 2009, compared with 61,700 barrels a day the previous year, said James House, managing director of Apache North Sea Ltd., in a telephone interview from Aberdeen, Scotland.

PG&E SmartMeters likely to boost shut-offs

More Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers who fall behind on their bills will have their power shut off once the utility installs SmartMeters throughout its territory, the company predicted in a recent government filing.

The advanced, digital meters allow San Francisco's PG&E to turn service off or on without sending a crew to a customer's home. As a result, PG&E expects to shut off 85 percent of the customers eligible for disconnection in 2011, according to the company. In 2008, just 37 percent of customers eligible for disconnection actually lost service.

Wind-energy industry lost factory jobs despite stimulus

Federal stimulus funds rescued the U.S. wind-power industry from what could have been a disastrous 2009, but it still lost highly sought-after manufacturing jobs, according to a trade association report out Tuesday.

Democrats study Plan B for energy, climate change

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration's already dim hopes of passing sweeping energy and climate change legislation darkened further with last week's Republican victory in the special election to fill a Senate seat from Massachusetts.

Now Democratic leaders eager to cap the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming are mulling a possible Plan B: tacking “clean energy” measures onto a job-creation package and following that up with an “energy-only” bill that doesn't contain a specific plan for combating climate change.

Uranium Supply Imbalance to Drive M&As as Asia Builds Reactors

(Bloomberg) -- International mergers and acquisitions to gain access to uranium mines are set to rise as countries seek to strengthen fuel security to power new nuclear reactors, Nomura International said in a report.

“The key feature of worldwide uranium resource distribution is that a couple of countries own most of the world’s uranium resources,” Nomura International (HK) Ltd. analyst Ivan Lee said in a report yesterday. “Some countries with a large amount of nuclear power capacity are not endowed with rich uranium resources.”

Indonesia cuts capacity of planned geothermal plants

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia has cut the planned capacity of geothermal power plants it will start building this year by 18 percent to 3,900 megawatts (MW), an official at the mines and energy ministry said on Tuesday.

U.S. Geothermal Energy Capacity Expected to Triple in 5 Years

(Bloomberg) -- Electricity-generation capacity from geothermal energy in the U.S. is expected to triple within five years, buoyed by government stimulus spending, the Geothermal Energy Association said.

More than 6,400 megawatts of geothermal capacity is under development to add to 3,153 megawatts that’s already built, the Washington-based association said in an e-mailed statement.

Company says its ethanol engine is more fuel-efficient

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Ricardo Inc. says it has done what many thought impossible: design an ethanol-burning engine with better fuel economy than a traditional gas engine.

Sweden: Volvo to start methane-diesel tests in February

Volvo Trucks has confirmed that it will launch field tests of methane-diesel engines in February. Several Swedish customers will test the eco-friendly technology in commercial operation, using 7-litre models of the Volvo FL and Volvo FE. The engines in the trucks have been converted for gas operation, with special tanks added for pressurised methane gas (CNG/CBG). A separate fuel system has also been added with gas injectors in the inlet manifold.

Plug-In Electric Cars Can Lower Global Warming Emissions, Oil Consumption and Unhealthy Air Pollution

"We're on the cusp of an historic shift in the way we use energy for transportation," said Jim Burke, CEO, TXU Energy. "Increasing the use of electric vehicles is vitally important for Texas, for our community, and for our customers - so it's vitally important to us as well. We are working to help lead this shift, including developing time-of-use rates that will help our customers benefit from cheaper night time charging."

"The current electric system has the capacity to fuel up to 73 percent of American vehicles without building another power plant by charging vehicles at night or using solar panels by day," said McCall Johnson, Clean Energy Advocate, Environment Texas. "However, the nation will need to clean up its electric grid to reap the full environmental potential benefits of plug-in cars."

Solar Spending in Germany May Suffer With Power Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- Q-Cells SE, Solarworld AG and competing solar-energy companies face a dimmer outlook for investment and jobs as the German government considers cutting subsidized power prices.

Lower rates may reduce profit for panel makers and strip Germany of its title as the largest market for photovoltaic panels, said Karl Kuhlmann, chief executive officer of S.A.G. Solarstrom AG, a builder and operator of solar power plants.

Cape Wind's fate unclear, even in Obama's hands

(AP) -- After eight years of review, the future of a controversial wind farm off Cape Cod now rests in what would seem to be friendly hands - an Obama administration that's pledged to make the U.S. "the world's leading exporter of clean energy."

But it's tough to tell if Cape Wind's prospects just got better or worse.

Smart Windows: Energy Efficiency with a View

(PhysOrg.com) -- Buildings consume 40 percent of our nation's energy. NREL is testing and researching electrochromic windows that could knock that back significantly.

Imagine wrapping a giant pair of Wayfarers or Aviators around your house on a sunny day. Wouldn't that be cool?

Handmade is the new black

Like many parents, when Joe and Amy Sharp of Columbus, Ohio, had their first son years ago, they soon found themselves "disgusted" by constant recalls of his cheap plastic toys. Unlike most parents, though, Joe, a carpenter, did something about it. He began making simple wooden rattles and blocks, discovering, says Amy, that "kids like using their imaginations if parents will let them." Friends clamored for the toys, too. And so, when the Sharps faced two mortgages after an investment property failed to sell, they wanted to turn this hobby into cash.

Sequestration plant study goes public

GREEN RIVER -- Federal officials on Monday released their draft environmental study for a pioneering carbon sequestration project proposed for western Wyoming that could boost the state's burgeoning underground CO2 storage industry.

Sweet future: Fluctuating blood glucose levels may affect decision making

Would you choose to receive a small amount of money today or a larger sum next month? We know that it is worth it to wait longer for a larger reward, but sometimes the temptation for the smaller, immediate reward becomes too great and we simply cannot resist it. Selecting the immediate reward is known as "future discounting" and often suggests a lack of self-control.

10 big questions on climate change answered

WeatherWatch weather analyst Philip Duncan's blogs on climate change have attracted a lot of reader interest. He took readers' 10 most commonly asked questions and put them to Dr James Renwick, Principal Scientist, Climate Variability & Change at Niwa.

Methane Causes Vicious Cycle In Global Warming

Carbon dioxide is the gas we most associate with global warming, but methane gas also plays an important role. For reasons that are not well understood, methane gas stopped increasing in the atmosphere in the 1990s. But now it appears to be once again on the rise. Scientists are trying to understand why — and what to do about it.

More on the 50% (+) Wage Cut Trend

Ford to Begin Hiring at New Lower Wages

Ford Motor Co. will announce Tuesday it is adding a second shift at its Chicago assembly plant, creating 1,200 jobs and enabling the company for the first time to hire some new union workers at significantly reduced wages.

The contracts that Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC signed in 2007 allow the auto makers to fill jobs vacated by older workers who leave or retire with new hires earning a little more than $14 an hour on average—about half what current workers received when they started. Newer workers also get reduced benefits.

westexas -

American big business has either forgotten or willfully ignored the simple fact that employees are also consumers and that consumers are also employees.

With the average price of a new car in the US being well over $20,000, it appears to me that the pool of Americans who can actually afford (as opposed to being able to finance or lease) a new car is continually shrinking. If it weren't for (what used to be) easily available financing, such as through the likes of GMAC, the majority of Americans would not be able to acquire new cars. Though leasing is now the predominant means of acquiring a new car, it is nothing more than another form of financing, only in this case it is the dealership who is doing the borrowing so he can then lease the car at a profit.

It would seem that the US auto industry will have to face the fact that it can either i) maintain the same size and 'content' of the typical American car but sell far fewer of them, or ii) sell the same number of cars but cars that are smaller, more spartan, and cheaper. I strongly suspect they would prefer the former, as it is inherently more profitable to sell a smaller number of expensive cars than a larger number of cheaper cars.

Either way, it looks like the amount of money flowing from the American consumer to the auto industry is probably going to shrink. Accordingly, the auto industry is probably in for some further serious downsizing.

If American big business continues to further beggar its employees, they will be left with fewer and fewer people able to afford the products they would like to sell. We are liable to wind up like some bleak Eastern European country during the height of the Soviet era, where big chauffeur-driven ZIL limos transport party aparatchiks down virtually empty streets, scattering shabbily dressed pedestrians in their wake.

And of course what makes this come full circle is that it was Henry Ford himself who advocated paying decent wages relative to other industries of the day so that his employees would be able to buy… shockingly, a Ford automobile…

At least that’s the popular story… maybe it’s all an urban legend.

As someone on TOD pointed out a while back - big business has all but left the american "consumer" for dead - they know there's not much blood left in that turnip - having everybody work and buy at Dollar Stores is just fine with them. The locusts have migrated to other fields ripe for the picking at opposite ends of the earth.

Sorry about the mixed metaphors.

Catskill -

It is by no means an urban legend.

In 1914 Henry Ford suddenly announced that the he was going to pay a minimum wage of $5 a day, which was about twice as much as steel workers and coal miners were making at the time. The rest of the business community thought he had gone insane. However, Henry Ford wasn't doing this because he was a nice guy. Not only did this wage enable his employees to buy Ford Model Ts, but the $5-wage was so attractive that Ford got to pick and choose only the best and most reliable workers. There was also a lengthy probationary period so that he could get rid of those workers who didn't measure up.

Unfortunately, amicable labor relations at Ford were not to last. As time went on, Henry Ford became more and more autocratic and more and more rigid in his ways. By the mid 1930s some of the most notorious and violent labor disputes involved the Ford Motor Co. (One of my late uncles had his head cracked by a strike-breaking company goon swinging an axe handle.)

A major reason was that the courts ordered Ford to charge more for their autos, following Dodge vs. Ford.

Dodge v. Ford Motor Company, 204 Mich. 459, 170 N.W. 668. (Mich. 1919)

I suspect that today's SCOTUS would do a similar deed if one were to try to limit the application of that decision.

Sad... things keep staying the same when they are bad...

zaph -

Can't you see... that's the "free market" at work... ;)

Apparently SCOTUS is the real "invisible hand"...

joule, I think you pretty well nailed it. Given the need for Detroit's management and the UAW to maintain a sufficiently high profit margin to be able to pay uncompetitive wages (by world standards), Detroit has no future in building small, spartan automobiles. I think they've known that all along.

As sympathetic as I am to the squeeze that is being put on the American middle class, I have to say that it is/was as predictable as the sunrise. Americans have for so long (you might say "too long") used far more of the planet's resources than any other nation. Globalization was never going to benefit the American middle class unless you believe that there are a lot more resources available for exploitation than there truly are (at cheap prices, no less). In a global economy, the bulk of the American middle class had nowhere to go but down. The Powers That Be knew that -- they just weren't going to advertise it.

Further, there was I'm sure, less concern about the "buggering of the American worker" in the boardrooms of Detroit or Wall Street because those calling the shots clearly were willing to sacrifice the American middle class in pursuit of ever greater profit. GM, no doubt, still hopes to make big $$$ in China but my guess is that their fat corporate fanny will be no more competitive there than it is here.

One can stand in the middle of the highway and complain that it is unfair that one is about to be run down by a speeding 18 wheeler, or one can get the hell out of the way. Pursuant to my circa 2006 ELP advice, I have been advising people to get the hell out of the way.

The average Ford assembly line worker could buy a 1914 Model T for four month's wages, according to Wikipedia.

According to the National Average Wage Index, in 2008 the annual average wage was $41,334. That means that an "affordable" mass-market car today should be priced at around $13,778, which is about 1/3 below the $20K or so that they seem to be going for.

Interestingly, I checked eBay Motors, and one can buy quite a few Model Ts today for under $13,778. There are times I wonder if I shouldn't buy one. . .

If American big business continues to further beggar its employees, they will be left with fewer and fewer people able to afford the products they would like to sell. We are liable to wind up like some bleak Eastern European country during the height of the Soviet era, where big chauffeur-driven ZIL limos transport party aparatchiks down virtually empty streets, scattering shabbily dressed pedestrians in their wake.

This should quicken the death suburbia. No cars means no access to jobs for suburbanites, which would lead to a further collapse of suburban McMansions prices, which in turn will lead to further economic collapse hurting the automotive industry, etc. Howard Kunstler would view this as a golden circle.

Ah my friends, it is soooo simple!

One's employees are a truly major part of one's costs but a miniscule portion of one's customers.

So long as one beats the rest of his competitors, both direct and indirect, to the punch, things will be just fine, just fine, just fine......you just sell to your competitor's customers, and any ofyour own who may remain after you gut the quality control.

There aren't any ghosts in that ole graveyard and there is no such thing as depletion or overshoot or financial collapse-the market will take care of things for us.

Somebody ought to write a song about a race to the bottom.

This is where something that may be logical at micro level is suicidal at macro level.

14 bucks an hour?! Considering how fast they expect people to move and in sync with other workers on the assembly line, that is chicken feed. It's an insult to the dignity of a human being.

The U.S. should just stop importing and exporting, and phase it in over a 3-5 year period. Once we were forced to make everything for ourselves again, this country would prosper and everyone who wanted a job would be working. Sure, getting off imported oil would difficult, but if we used all that shale gas they keep bragging about to fuel trucks, then maybe we could pull it off. And the best part would be higher wages. We would no longer be competing against a peasant in China or India.

That is a lot more than anybody makes around here to work harder on assembly lines without any union at all.

OFM, Could you send me Email, I wanted to discuss something from another thread with you.

ceojr1963 over at yahoo the company.


$14 is considered a decent wage here, for unskilled/semi-skilled and trades, especially for entry level. With benefits, it's a starting wage for a teacher, too. None of the local service jobs -- cashier, waitress, clerk, stocker, etc., or warehouse jobs make that here.

Two people working at such a job would make the national average household income. I don't think you'd do much better than that anywhere around here without a college degree, and some don't even then.

Of course many people do MUCH better than $14 as professionals, but that's not the point. It's certainly not "undignified" to work for twice minimum wage.

I doubt we'll ever see higher wages -- they've headed down since the 1970s, and still have a long ways to go before they match India and China. It's simple supply and demand -- too many people equals not much value of labor.

I have never earned that for a whole year. I once had a job that paid 15 an hour, but it was part time and only lasted a while.

The most I have ever cleared in a year was about 23,000 and that was a year with a heavy amount of time and a half overtime paid. The year was 2001. When I worked all of Nov and Dec working no less than 60 hours each week. The cartography services company had contracts with the US Gov't (those 3 letter kinds) It was all hush hush, and rush rush. We were asked to work 10 hours a day for 7 days a week, for Nov, Dec, and Jan 2002. Not many could hack it. I know people including management that worked 100 hours a week. I topped out at one 80hr two week pay period of 84 and 79 hours for the grand total of 163 hours of work. Or 204.5 hours of pay. I was making just over 7 dollars an hour.

Along with the company profit sharing check, that was a nice Christmas.

But I have made full time, above min wage, never more than 23,000 a year.

Now I am around $8,600 on a semi-fixed medical disability payment. It'd be more if I had had better wage years. I don't think I'll get any more even when I turn 65 or whenever they will have set the Retirement age up to by then, if then ever gets here in any form of BAU.

What with all the talk in the news of living on less, giving up on the Spend Spend lifestyles I keep seeing in the blogs and news feeds. There is a wave of frugal living being pushed, both because you have too and because it is more "Green".

Good thing I learned long ago how to be frugal. In 2 years I plan on being able to survive on about 75% of what I do now, if not 50% of what I do now. Debt free.


I made 14 an hour as an apprentice carpenter, and later made 28 an hour as a journeyman, before getting my general contractors license. It was skilled labor, but certainly wasn't hard work doing finish carpentry - trim, crown, stairs, etc. Seemed like a nice way to make a living without the stress of a desk job which I had before. But of course those were SF bay area wages where housing is expensive. So I suppose there are trade offs. I just can't see skilled people placing engines in vehicles at 14 an hour. Just doesn't seem right, and I wonder if it will affect the quality of the workmanship.

My dad earned at his peak 11.95 an hour as a trained maintaince man for a local family owned retail company.



Tell the stories of the place. He worked there for 26 years in that position From 1980 until the Dunlap folks finally sold everything and went poofy.

The story of death in the retail business.

He was a trained, electrian (without license) Plumber, carpenter, self taught himself how to fix computers, phone systems, Had a High pressure boilers operators license, and did everything for all the Little Rock and North Little Rock stores, as well as several out of town stores. I think he had gone to all of the stores and warehouses they Had, including the ones that Dunlap opened up in Mississippi and Tennesse in the later years.

But he never made more than 11.95 an hour, with for a long time a truck allowance of 200 a month.

When the MMCohn Family was still in charge, he handled the accounts of many suppliers and they had many open credit accounts. Dunlap was an eater of retail and had poor business practices, they ended up loosing all the credit accounts. In later years, my dad did receiving as well as store maintaince when needed.

But this is Arkansas. He still works for Dan and Tad Phillips, they still own the building at MCcain Mall in NLR, and rent it out to small outfits for sales when they can. He retired after 22 years in the military.

His frugal nature, helped pay for a house and his bills are managable.

Living Wages are what the area can handle, or in most cases what your life style can handle. Though I know for a fact that times get tough and bills pile up.

You have to be happy at your job if you don't make enough to survive you should consider moving. It is a hard toss up, we don't live in a land where we are forced to take slave wages. We aren't forced to live poorly. There are those that can't work, but they are not what I am talking about here.

If you are able bodied and you live a poor down troden life, maybe the problem is you.


Assembling automobiles is not skilled work.There are a few very highly skilled people in the vicinity -troubleshooters of one sort or another-but they don't assemble things.They fix problems as in making on the fly repairs to keep the plant running, reprogramming computerized machnery, etc.

$14/hour is cheap labour. I get more than that to work in Retail (granted, this is in Australia, with a half-decent wage system).

On yesterday's drumbeat there was some discussion of air source heat pumps.

Here's a link to a video of a Sanyo CO2 Eco air source heat pump installed in Scotland.


This video was taken in early January 2010.

This is an Ecocute heat pump and offers much improved performance over all other air source heat pumps currently available in the UK.

The video starts with the outdoor unit running taking heat from the air. This is a 9 kW unit (4.5 kW units are also available) and provides full central heating and hot water to a house in Scotland. The outdoor unit contains two large fans that draw air across a large heat exchanger (the evaporator) and transfers the heat energy, via a compressor within the unit, to a condenser where the heat is then transferred to circulating water from the internal tank unit.

The sound of magpies calling, a radio playing with background conversation and a ringtone from a Nokia phone can be compared to the noise produced by the fans and compressor while running in the depths of winter.

As the video progresses, the left hand side of the outdoor unit becomes more and more white with frost.

A thermometer with a probe at the end of a wire is used to measure (not very scientifically!) the air temperature blown out of the unit. This temperature is minus 4 degrees centigrade.

The inside tank unit is then shown. This contains a 223 litre heat store (water tank), control electronics and pumps. The heat store is at 61 degrees centigrade and the outside temperature, measured by an external probe attached to the wall beside the outdoor unit, is 1 degree centigrade.

The outdoor unit then goes into a defrost cycle to clear the frost build up on the outside unit. The white frost is seen clearing in close up from the left hand side of the air inlet to the heat exchanger. Melt water is seen dripping out from the bottom of the unit.

The outdoor air temperature is then measured, initially while the defrost cycle is still running, and is measured at 0.1 degrees centigrade.

The unit provides full central heating to the house via the existing central heating radiators and copious amounts of hot water.

Air to water heat pumps are useful for those without a need for air conditioning. Which is a small area in the USA unfortunately.


Hi RI,

These things are remarkably quiet, as this video demonstrates. No annoying buzz'n and twang'n as is often the case with North American brands.


"Tom Clougherty, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think-thank, said Nef's report exhibited "a complete lack of understanding of economics and, indeed, human development".

"It is precisely this economic growth which will lift the poor out of poverty and improve the environmental standards that really matter to people - like clean air and water - in the process, as it has done throughout human history," he told BBC News."

Yes, just ask the folks in Haiti. It looks like economic growth has worked out just well for them. With such a startling example of economic growth and environmental renewal, I would say the whole world is on track to replicate their resounding success...

Pete Deer
Charlottesville, VA

"It is precisely this economic growth which will lift the poor out of poverty and improve the environmental standards that really matter to people - like clean air and water - in the process, as it has done throughout human history," he told BBC News."

Ah. The "Hair of the Dog that Bit You" approach.

It reminds me of an article I showed my students as we were learning about Bartlett's exponential growth video.

... all sorts of economic, social and environmental ills [are attributed to] overpopulation and rapid population growth. In fact, terrible things like deforestation, slums, lack of access to food and water, are symptoms of poverty not population. Reduced fertility rates will not alleviate either these symptoms or the causes of poverty: Regulation, corruption and oppression.

In fact, there is no causal relationship between population density and poverty. People are only too happy to accept that India is overpopulated, but they would never suggest such a thing of the Netherlands or Israel, both with higher population density.

Similarly, environmental conditions have been improving in many parts of the world - thanks to development and economic growth, not reduced population growth.

Article by insane person.

One retreats to one's room, laughs--then throws up.

In South Carolina, this guy wants to run for Governor:

Sanford's lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer, likens government assistance to feeding stray animals

As things get worse I expect to see more of this kind of thing:

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals," he said during a Town Hall meeting on Thursday.

"You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."


It occurs to me that, technically, he's correct, although I don't think his goal is population control. Turns out that his family was on public assistance. Talk about irony!

Just because something is true doesn't mean it is tasteful or tactful to blurt it out.

His error lay in applying this iron-clad law only to people on "government assistance," and not to the whole, nasty human race.

P. S. The page at the link has been "removed."

Strange. I guess they moved on.

welfare recipients should be required to submit to drug tests and attend parent-teacher conferences if they have kids in school

That I hope applies to everyone that gets government subsidies - from wall st bankers to farmers to PV installers to home owners who use mortgage interest to reduce taxes.

.....Senators, Members of Congress, school kids, medicare and social security recipients, etc., etc. Hell, let's just drug test everyone. There should be lots of job opportunities there. A new division of DHS.

That I hope applies to everyone that gets government subsidies - from wall st bankers to farmers to PV installers to home owners who use mortgage interest to reduce taxes.

I wouldn't worry too much about the PV installers because the ones that do drugs usually end up falling off a roof and are quickly self selected out of the market ;-)

That puts a new spin on high flying..

Whoosh, flap flap, zipppie, splat.


Your link was bad. The story is here.

Please don't post the entire text of articles.

Sorry Leanan (did make sure the credit was there).

I suppose the story was taken down because it hit the "RACE" button. There were numerous references to the story posted on various net sites. Running a Google search on the phrase: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals," produced 2570 hits...

E. Swanson

Later in his speech, Bauer said, “I can show you a bar graph where free and reduced lunch has the worst test scores in the state of South Carolina,” adding, “You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch, and I’ll show you the worst test scores, folks. It’s there, period.”

Bauer implies cause and effect here. Too bad things aren't that simple.

I wonder if he's ever considered that he might have cause and effect reversed.

The only thing that swine like him consider is how to organize a narrative to suite their personal ambitions. the themes are pretty constant: attack the poor, play upon fear, associate freethinkers with the devil, and so it drones on.

These people are enablers of the proto-fascist movement led by the likes of Limbaugh.

Constitutional checks and balances are meaningless if people are incapable of critical thinking, including notably evidence based reasoning.

It's a proven fact: Eating breakfast makes people stupid.

Leanan, the independent variable is parental IQ. Free lunches do not cause poor test results. Rather, smart parents tend to have smart children and live in areas where free lunches don't exist. Both free lunches and poor test results are ultimately functions of parental intelligence.

It's as complicated as that.

Recommended reading:


I don't think it's quite that simple.

In fact, I think Gottfredson is a bit of nutter.

Of course, on any test for what's called "intelligence" that's properly scored, half the test takers will be below "normal", that is, below average. If those who are below normal live in one area and those above normal live in another, it's reasonable to expect that income levels might be similarly distributed. If so, then one might expect to find that the need to feed kids would also tend to be higher in some schools and lower in others.

Some fraction of intelligence is thought to be hereditary and some the result of environment and education. The color of one's skin should not be considered as an indicator of intelligence, IMHO. Anyone who has spent time in WalMart might agree...

E. Swanson

Ha! I love "People of Walmart". It makes me feel kinda........normal?

IQ tests have low validity.

Control for parental income and education levels - and then let us see the corrolation.

WNC -- From the limited perspective of just my own family I can attest to this sad side of humnan nature. Had my family members spent as much effort on educating themselves and improving their circumstances as they did working the system they would be much better off today. Perhaps their foolish and guarenteed failing approach to life doesn't represent the majority of folks on gov't assitance. But they are poster children for the ability of such assistance to kill ambition.

If America didn't have such a moronic welfare system, we wouldn't have created a culture of dependency. That's the problem with our method of political compromise: we're funding just enough to feed and house the poor, but not enough to equip them or their children with the skills required to get out of poverty. It's our own damn fault: do it right or don't do it and suffer the consequences of our actions (increased crime, increase incarceration rates, higher mortality, etc.).

And the he goes and tops it off by really stepping in the dog doo with this little gem of a comment!


Noting that he has raised money for a group that protects animals, Bauer also said he is "not against animals."

Considering that "people", are after all, animals, I'm quite reassured.

One must not forget that at one time, South Carolina considered one class of people to be property, i.e., little more than animals. I'm sure that there are still quite a few current residents of the Old Cotton States who consider the descendants of that class to still fall into that category...

E. Swanson

According to the map, SC is right next door, but sometimes I think they must be from a whole different planet.

I am certain that Pelosi and Barney Frank are pod people left by mistake when the mother ship left. There are many others of the northern persuasion who can be grouped the same.

SC is no exception to much of what passes as ignorance in DC.


General Sherman is my hero for reason. Burn baby, burn.

Then you would have been proud to have been some of the trash that rode with him and raped, burned and pillaged the south.

You are part of the reason I detest some yankees, with an attitude like yours the reasons are abundantly clear.

Carpet baggers are still raiding the south. Clintons being among them. LBJ also. All yankees who transit down to the south and destroy the culture. I saw a belly full of them while living in Raleigh, NC.
If they don't like the south then why do they keep on coming? To continue their pillaging? To bring their sad stupid culture there?

Airdale-I feel like washing my hands and puking in the toilet.
I am taking a vacation from TOD. I may not return. Posts like this seem to not be taken notice of by the moderators. Why is that?

Of course it's unfair to condemn a whole region based on what one idiot politician says. (If we were to burn up every state where a politician made a hateful, ignorant, racist,elitist remark, there would be none left standing.) In addition, I'm sure you know that most Americans have very little grasp of their own history, and that most Northerners are almost wholly ignorant of what happened in the South after the Civil War. (It appears to me that while the Reconstruction had some positive aspects for African-American civil rights, it was incredibly corrupt and mismanaged, leading to decades of structural poverty for the entire region.)

People often say/write things thoughtlessly without even beginning to understand how hurtful they are. (On my good days, I put it down to immaturity.) The sexism on this board sometimes stuns me and makes me not want to contribute. But there are many voices I do learn from as well and enjoy listening to. Yours is one of them.

"...Civil War..."

I just have to put this for all my old southern buddies...do you mean the "War of Northern Aggression?" That isn't a joke to a lot of them.

Well I'm glad you're still sticking around, too, Tao.

You've made some great positive posts with real experience and hopefulness. Don't doubt that there are a lot of silent readers who do appreciate it.. (I'm not one of the silent ones, clearly..)

I don't blame anybody for giving up on the place, what with the cruelty and despair that this set of subjects brings out in some posts. Frankly, I've been glad to see a few members removed when their contributions became clearly antisocial. There's only so much you can stand sometimes.


(Airdale, sorry to hear that painful comment above, and the kind of anger it revives between our regions. God help us. And try to stick it out. You are appreciated around here.)


Thanks for your kind words. I don't know if I have hope so much as conviction that a lot of pain and suffering could be avoided if we (as a race) would just do the sensible, practical things that we're going to end up having to do in the long run anyway. (Whether we will have the good sense to do these things any time soon is another matter.)

In trying to nudge the communities I'm involved with towards change, it is a process of two steps forward, one step back, and I'm often surprised by the unexpected form the step backwards takes. It certainly can be discouraging. But despair? If you have children, you simply can't despair about the fate of the human race, you have to keep slogging away, even against all odds. There is no other choice. (But I have a feeling you know this!)

Who started the US Civil War?
It was Secesh folks like Airdale.

You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail. --WT Sherman (1860)

If they want eternal war, well and good; we accept the issue, and will dispossess them and put our friends in their place. I know thousands and millions of good people who at simple notice would come to North Alabama and accept the elegant houses and plantations there. If the people of Huntsville think different, let them persist in war three years longer, and then they will not be consulted. Three years ago by a little reflection and patience they could have had a hundred years of peace and prosperity, but they preferred war; very well. Last year they could have saved their slaves, but now it is too late.

All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence.' WT Sherman(1864)

Sherman at least saw the conflict with unblinkimg clarity.

150 years later it's the same sick story with the Old South(Dixie).

Airdale proves that the USA is still divided by prejudice and xenophobia.

Who started the US Civil War?
It was Secesh folks like Airdale.

WTF?! That comment is totally out of line!

You don't know much about this country (being a recent immigrant).
You don't know the hell these Deliverance-Taliban types have put this country thru.
Every week they post their dogwhistles and lunatic innuendo but calling them out gets me troll rated.

Airdale said,

There are many others of the northern persuasion who can be grouped the same.

You seem to have a tin ear when it comes to Southern 'hospitality'.

Southern hospitality

While you coolly fan the flames like a proper Yank, pretending that calling the other side 'Terrorists' somehow absolves your High-Level bombing campaigns.

Doctor, heal thyself.

The truth terrorizes you, jokuhl?

“People cannot stand too much reality”--C G Jung

I'm not terrorized.

You're stabbing people with a velvet-covered knife, and believe self-righteously that you're delivering wisdom.

What ever lessons you take from our history, you only use to justify the next jab.


Returning hate for hate is not a path that does anyone any good. Airdale's posts were angry, not hateful. Your posts here are otherwise. To accuse Airdale of being associated in any way with lynching is unacceptable.

Racism abounds in our society. If you grew up white in America, the question is not whether you are racist, but what you are doing to unlearn your racism. I cannot point my finger at the South when I see it all around me in progressive San Francisco and recognize elements of it in myself. Our entire country is still reeling from the slavery our forefathers couldn't bring themselves to eradicate when they founded our union, even if we don't realize it. The Civil War and what happened afterward is a profound American tragedy, the pain of which is still with us. To our communal shame, the descendants of slaves are still disproportionately the poorest and lowest-caste among us.

Hatred, however, will solve none of this. It will only make it worse. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes. I can entirely see why Southerners are still bitter about Sherman.

But you sir, can be a little more civil.


Helpful as ever..

Airdale proves it? What do you think you're doing?


before you go, send me email, I like your posts, and want to seek some of your knowledgable information.

ceojr1963 at yahoo dot com.

If not then, I wish you well.


I have placed your email address in my email client. I will send you an email soon as I return from taking my wife to her cardiologist this morning and visiting my 91 yr old grandmother in the nursing home.

I am going to attempt to take a leave of absence from TOD for a time. How long I don't know becuase there are many here whose views I value.
Yours is one of them as well.

To the others who replied in the postive. Thanks.

I am a southerner as well as part Native American. Both of those groups suffered much. Some events they brought on themselves.
Sherman's March to the Sea and The Trail of Tears where the very ground wept at their deaths and passage. bearing their children as they went and leaving their thousands dead behind them, at the behest of the USA and President Jackson.

The longest war ever fought was the Indian wars which lasted about 200 years. The bloodiest was the Civil War. The victors showed no mercy in both cases as I read history. Raping civilians should not be a part of it. Burning innocent folks out of their homes either. The followers and outriders of Sherman were scum of the worst sort.

Airdale-signing back off for now.

Airdale, Sorry I got to this discussion late.Hope to see you back soon, and good luck with your wife.

True Story:Once there was a cute little artist to be from NYC who came down here to visitand stayed because she liked the people and the weather.

Ten years later she honored this ole redneck by taking my name, and we visited her folks often in Yonkers.

CLASSIC LIBERALS, TRUE BLUE, ALL THE WAY. Very nice people, nevertheless, in all ways except one-they had a bad case of New York style provincialism-every where else except maybe London , Paris , and maybe Rome or Vienna was the provinces to them-they simply could not concieve of the idea that any culture, govt, business, or politics could be in any way superior to thier own-although they DID make a strong conscious effort to conceal this attitude.

So eventually the subject of her parents retirement came up , and -yawl hang onta yer coffee cups-they decided to retire to Jesse Helms country.Momma was a librarian, and she had researched the problem to the last detail.

I sat there with my mouth hanging open,unable to think of anything to say, at the family dinner table in Yonkers as they sang the praises of North Carolina-you name it, they bragged on it, from taxes to crime to nice sales clerks to affordable living..

This is a true story.


It just so happens that I myself was a longhaired card carrying member of the ACLU in those days myself, a regular young democrat.

As the saying goes, if you are not a liberal when you are young, you have no heart;and if you are not a conservative when you are old, you have no brain.

Incidentally, a conservative is not the same thing as a republican.

I have commented several times in the past that oil consumption is more heavily subsidized in the American market than ethanol.

One of it's many subsidies is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and I have pointed out on occasion that there is no Strategic Ethanol Reserve which would stabilize prices for ethanol as it defacto does for oil.

Now comes Brazil to do the very thing:


And here is the DTN take on it with comments:


Brazil is being forced into it because of problems with the sugar cane harvest and sugar prices. It is running low on ethanol and considering importing ethanol from the U.S. as California and several other states ban it for trumped up carbon emissions.

The irony of the situation for those who have not been following these developments is that California's ARB charges American ethanol for carbon emissions from land converted to growing soybeans in Brazil which replace soybeans replaced by corn for ethanol in the U.S..

There is no data or scientific evidence for the thesis but that matters little to the CARB.

...there is no Strategic Ethanol Reserve which would stabilize prices for ethanol as it defacto does for oil.

$ 147/bbl to $ 35/bbl in 6 months is "stable" ? please step back from the ethanol trough.

I like the ethanol trough just as much as oil producers like the oil trough, thank you. Please note that oil is back up to $70. Taking a short time span as evidence of SPR ineffectiveness in stabilizing prices makes no sense.

While Iowa produced 3.2 billion gallons of ethanol last year it consumed only 100 million gallons partly because it has no state ethanol mandate. That may change as California and other states ban ethanol resulting in ethanol surpluses. The EPA's delay in approving E15 is also holding back ethanol somewhat.


I know this is not what you meant, or what is meant by the whole debate, but.

Ethanol product is made poisonous to human consumtion before it is shipped off to be blended with gasoline. Why not just sell the stuff un-altered as corn squeezings and we can all drink to our doom. Or we can use it in our car.

Reminds me of a friend in my last job as a Cartographer, his grandfather had barrels and barrels of Moonshine under his house, He used most of it in his pickup truck, but after he stopped farming so much he still had a few barrels of the stuff. I got about a quart of it from my friend.

Tasted like a nice winey smooth drink, but you would dare not drink a lot of it at once.

In the future there will be more home stills in the back yards of people's houses again, tax man be damned.

Gone on about the debate.

Considering the amount of oil that goes into ethonol - ethonol obviously gets to use the subsidy that goes to oil as well.

There are signs of life in the RV industry as this BBC post points out:


Locally when I drove past Winnebago's plant yesterday the delivery lot was nearly full. And they were not all small ones either.

There were even quite a few cars in the employee parking lot last Saturday. They usually don't work on Saturday.

It might just be seasonal build up to the spring market, but with oil prices falling who knows?

I suspect the current drop in oil to be the normal low that comes about this time of year. Of course I thought the last low in December might have been it too. Nothing is for sure in commodity markets and charts can not be trusted.

There may be a variety of reasons for buying these things, besides touring the country:

-As the article states, for some people, this is their one and only home. Especially the way the housing market has been going lately, and might go in the future, these might not depreciate in value any more than a house does.

-If your employment situation is such that your prospects of staying employed at one location for very long are doubtful, and you might need to move from job site to job site, then just living out of one of these things rather than going through the process of buying and selling houses, or even just renting, may make a good deal of sense. I've heard of people unable to accept a new job opportunity because they couldn't sell their present house. People who live in one of these things can be at the new job within a week.

-These might also serve a lot better than a "bug out bag" when it is necessary to get out of Dodge. This presumes you maintain a full fuel tank plus maybe carry a spare tank (and your vehicle is relatively smallish and not the worst of the gas hogs), and that you park it somewhere on the outskirts and in such a way as to assure oneself multiple escape routes. A big problem with a lot of disasters is that people are reluctant to leave their houses; if you can just turn on the ignition and drive off, you are going to get out of there a lot quicker.

-You also leave yourself the option of "voting with your feet" (or in this case, wheels). If you are parked in a jurisdiction that raises taxes too high, for example, or if the local government is too corrup or ineffectual, one can always just pack up and leave for someplace better.

-It is true that you just can't insulate these things as well as you can a house. However, you do have the option of migrating with the seasons: winter in the south, summer in the north (or in the mountains).

This isn't an endorsement, and this type of lifestyle isn't for me. However, I do suggest that we not leap to conclusions and assume that every single one of these things are just bought as gas-guzzling playthings for the well-to-do. There may be at least a few of them that are bought for other reasons, and for some individuals those reasons might actually make some sense.

I lived pretty much full time in my motorhome for 7 years. I used it to live in during temp jobs that required travel rather than finding temporary residence. Pocketed a lot of per diem that way. I set my unit up for "boondocking" with extra water, battery storage and solar. Tiny but cozy and comfortable. Once, on the way to Seatle for a job, Donner Pass was closed for days. All of the lodging on the Reno side was full but the casinos were rocking. Most casinos have free parking for RVs, so I just stayed at the last casino on the Reno side and played. When the announcement came that the passes were open, all of the drunks from the casino piled out and headed west. I slept it off for a few hours, cozy in my RV.
Later I lived in the RV while I built our house. Saved bunches.

For those reasons, I think an RV could be an appealing choice even in the face of peak oil. Especially since it seems to be manifesting as an economic crisis rather than fuel shortages. I have to say, I'm tempted.

Shame on you, my dear. You've bought in on the scam... you're drinking the proverbial koolade!

No, there will be shortages. Perhaps it will not be evident to wealthier persons, at least initially. Even now, though, less fortunate folks throughout the lands are finding driving to be unaffordable. Over time the numbers will increase. Right now, b/c oil prices are remaining level in the $70s, the perception is that things are okay. Think, however, about what has happened to wages. A drop in wages equates to a rise in price for everything. Hidden inflation, as it were.

So... unless you have some miracle source of money that will not diminish in flow, there is a significant likelihood that an RV will prove disasterous. Especially since they are never well insulated!

I guess if you move north during the summers and south during the winters, and have free space available it could work. I wouldn't do it myself, though.

Think, however, about what has happened to wages. A drop in wages equates to a rise in price for everything. Hidden inflation, as it were.

I understand that. But that will be the case no matter where I live. I will still need transportation, heating or cooling, and some place to live. I think an RV could be a good compromise between renting and owning. You could make some upgrades, unlike the average rental. It would be more affordable than buying a house, plus you wouldn't be tied down. If you want to leave to be with family, or follow a job, or flee a bad neighborhood or catastrophic climate change...you can.

Obviously, living the stereotypical life of the RVer, spending all your time driving around, is not sustainable. But I'm talking about a replacement for a house, moving only when necessary.

What would you suggest instead?

Leanan -- I agree that it could be a viable option for some folks. Even with cheap gasoline I don't think many folks would use their RV to commute to work. But there's another factor that might loom large in the future: property taxes. I don't know if the rules have changed but this was the setup not too long ago: you live in a state with a high income tax (probably up north). So you sell your home, buy an RV, dump the rest of the money in a CD and then relocate to Texas. We don't have a state income tax. But we're the 3rd heaviest tax state thanks to very high property taxes. But at the time an RV wasn't taxed as such. Just pay your yearly registration fee...something like $100. Then you rent a nice sunny beach front slot on the Gulf Coast for a few hundred a month (utilities included) and you just might live (maybe barely) comfortably on your Social Security check. And if a hurricane blows in you just drive to Dallas and wait it out. Given the revenue short falls the states are seeing now we might expect to see those income and property tax rates climb even higher not too far down the road.

Rockman, I new quite a few fulltimers who maintained their "permanent residence" in TX and FL to avoid taxes. There is an industry in TX where you pay a small fee to one of the RV parks to reserve your "year round" site as a residence. They only require that you actually stay there a few weeks out of the year. The rest of the time they "sublet" your space to others, keeping your costs down. They will also forward your mail, etc. A neighbor of mine at a park in Stanwood, WA was a member of a park near Corpus. He only stayed there in Dec. and Jan. He went as far as AK the rest of the year. I think he said that it was only $800/year for the service. Like me, he pulled his small car (dingy) behind his rig. After his wife died, he cashed in his chips and hit the road.

After his wife died, he cashed in his chips and hit the road.

cashing in your chips is slang for what happened to his wife:


I wasn't thinking of using an RV to commute, but to reduce my commute. You could probably find a home or business owner who was willing to let you park in his back yard for small fee. Heck, in case of an emergency, like those fuel shortages in the southeast, your employer would probably be happy to let you park in their back lot, just to have someone get to work on time.

And yes, taxes are also a concern. Local governments are trying to raise money any way they can, and I expect many will try increases in property taxes. You see retired folks on fixed incomes who have been forced to sell their homes or get minimum wage jobs, because they thought they were set, with their homes paid off, but then the taxes increased to the point that they couldn't afford to pay them. With an RV, you could move somewhere more affordable, if the law changes unexpectedly.

This pathway won't work for me, but if my life situation were totally different and nomadics were a serious option, I am thinking that the way to go would be a combo of a smallish Airstream, plus adequate pickup truck to tow + carry solar panels + provide local mobility when needed in bad weather or for hauling resupplies, plus bicycle. Park the Airstream on a E-W axis, with door facing N, get the PVs out of the truck bed and array leaning against the S side of the trailer, and there's your off-grid electricity supply. Maybe one of the panels could even be solar thermal for hot H2O. Use the bike as much as possible to get around locally, using the truck just when you need to resupply propane tanks, food, etc. That could be a pretty good setup.

Heck, in case of an emergency, like those fuel shortages in the southeast, your employer would probably be happy to let you park in their back lot, just to have someone get to work on time.

I did exactly that when I was an IT tech. On weekends when we were doing big annual backups or system change-outs I would park the RV in the lower lot where I worked. Later, when there was a prediction of snow and ice, my boss asked if I would stay there in the RV in case he and the other guys couldn't get in. The developers were on three shifts and their directors really liked having an IT guy handy. Too bad I was salary, the OT would have been nice.

RVs definitly aren't for commuting unless you get one of the small Class B conversions, too small for living in and usually no toilet or shower. Nice to travel in though.

Note: Most Walmarts have a policy that allows RVs to park overnight, nice if you need a place to pull up on a long trip. Truckstops don't mind either as long as you don't get in the way of the trucks. Some TSAs have special parking for RVs. Good for business.

Most "fulltimers" only move a couple of times a year so fuel isn't a big issue. Also, the smaller space more than offsets the costs of heating and cooling. I upgraded my insulation and most of my electrical was 12vdc, provided by solar (even when hooked up to the grid). Propane for hot water, cooking (except microwave and toaster), and heat was very inexpensive. My biggest cost was in summer if I needed AC, still small. With built-in solar, inverter, batteries, generator, water tanks and holding tanks, truly self contained survival shelter with all of the creature comforts. Not for everyone, but don't knock it 'til you try it. It takes some adjustment after living in a big house, but this is scaled-down living many can adjust to. I miss it alot sometimes. You can go from very small to a large super-coach (not for me). Many "snowbirds" travel in groups seasonally, following good weather. Some never move. There are clubs and tours, etc. Insurance is fantastic and affordable. Do your homework if you decide to try this. There are pitfalls.

I would imagine that one of the advantages would be that it forces you to keep the accumulation of "stuff" to an absolute minimum. Like Parkinson's law, "stuff" accumulates to fill available space, so less space = less stuff.

There has been a lot of talk here in the past about "tiny houses". Maybe we should just think of an RV as a "tiny house" that's mobile.

George Carlin covered this brilliantly (short excerpt):

Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That's all, a little place for my stuff. That's all I want, that's all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table, everybody's got a little place for their stuff.

A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you're taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody's got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. ... That's what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get...more stuff!

Transcript here: http://www.writers-free-reference.com/funny/story085.htm

There has been a lot of talk here in the past about "tiny houses". Maybe we should just think of an RV as a "tiny house" that's mobile.

How about this then? http://www.n55.dk/MANUALS/WALKINGHOUSE/walkinghouse.html

WALKING HOUSE is a modular dwelling system that enables persons to live a peaceful nomadic life, moving slowly through the landscape or cityscape with minimal impact on the environment. It collects energy from its surroundings using solar cells and small windmills. There is a system for collecting rain water and a system for solar heated hot water. A small greenhouse unit can be added to the basic living module, to provide a substantial part of the food needed by the Inhabitants. A composting toilet system allows sewage produced by the inhabitants to be disposed of. A small wood burning stove could be added to provide CO2 neutral heating. WALKING HOUSE forms various sizes of communities or WALKING VILLAGES when more units are added together. WALKING HOUSE is not dependant on existing infrastructure like roads, but moves on all sorts of terrain.

Check out the computer game Aura II: The Sacred Rings. It has a get-up like this, except its larger and more ornately finished. In the game, you have to get it running and there is a cool cut-scene of it "walking" through the countryside after you do this.


The structure in the upper-left screenshot is the walking house.

Antoinetta III

Interesting idea. But there probably aren't many places where you'd be allowed to use them. They wouldn't be allowed on the streets, and I can't imagine there would many property owners that would let you walk that thing over their real estate.

Before I saw the picture I was thinking from the text it was tent. You know you can use backpack systems that provide all that they say they do in that little house. How do they say they transport that in a trully nomadic lifestyle, without using a car or truck to move it.

Pack on the back houses (tents) make for a longer distance nomadic house system than anything the Tiny homes can do without FF inputs in moving them, unless you go horse and wagon kind like the Gypsies, Hoop Wagons of the western moves.

Gets me thinking I could design something along those lines.


THe Koreans have this down to an art form in Starcraft. ;)

Ghung -- there's quit a symbiotic relationship between those "snowbirds" that migrate to S Texas in the winter and the locals. The first time I drove thru Zapata it was amazing. Hundreds of those silver trailers shining in the sun along an inlet of the Rio Grande. I forget the exact numbers but the towns population would swell 20 to 30 times during the winter. The contrast was great given the very arid nature of the area. As well was seeing the happy mix of old white folks and young hispanics. The town would have died for not the annual migration.

I've taken a different approach: bought a relatively inexpensive townhome in an old refinery town just outside of Houston. The real kicker is that the largest refinery in the U.S. (ExxonMobil) is in the town's taxing district. Thus my property taxes are rather low.


My brother and his wife just moved into a Trailer Home this winter, on a 7 acre parcel they hope to build on. You surely can Add to the insulation that it comes with, either inside or out, (above and below).. and the advantages of being in such a compact living space means the energy initially required to light and heat it is VASTLY less than with a regular house. I would suspect that even the waste heat from cooking does a lot more to contribute to the comfort level of an RV or mobile home than in standard houses.

These homes ARE also built for particular climates, and Todd's is rated for much colder weather than other models sold farther south.

And portability also does have some Serious advantages.. as long as you've got some road or river to move it over.


I have friends who do exactly that -- work in Florida during the winter (about Oct-May actually) and then loop up north to visit family and friends during the summer. The northernmost destination is a family farm, and the southernmost is a hunting preserve.

Most of the in-between driving is just for fun, and it varies a bit according to diesel prices and work/investment income over the past year.

When a hurricane threatened (only once so far) they loaded up and headed north for a week or two, and easily beat the rush (versus those who have to secure their domicile and then leave it behind).

When they swing by on the way south we often get some fresh corn, and we treat them to dinner somewhere.

Not a bad plan for those who can live "light". With kids and real jobs it might be harder. For seasonal workers or those with universal skills (like nursing) it works pretty well. Someday I assume there will be a business "portaging" such homes long-distance by train....

Currently for cars.



but they could be adapted to anything within the loading gauge.


One of the big RV clubs (Good Sam Club maybe) used to do tours of Mexico with 20-30 motorhomes that would be loaded on flatcars and ride the rails throughout Mexico. They lived in their RVs on the train and in some areas would be off-loaded to tour the countryside. The flatcars were modified to accomodate the RVs. I don't know if they still do this.

You should look at what this guy built.
Very small and movable, but not good for entertaining inside.


This is in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

I see the advantage of a small livable trailer in that you can pull it with any vehicle, rather then the upkeep and licence fees for a bigger motor powered machine just to move it once in a while.


I have a friend who really wants to get one of those, for the reasons you mention. For some reason, they are used mainly in California; you don't find them in the northeast very often.

For me, I think it's a little small to live in full-time. I don't need a McMansion, but I would like to able to stand up. :-)

During the Great Depression, the economy worked out so badly for a lot of people that they had to become nomads, relocating on wheels and living out of their vehicles. It not only could, but probably will happen again. A lot of people are going to have to relocate, because where they are at just isn't viable. I don't know where they can go, but go they will have to.

I think that someone mentioned yesterday about Kunstler being unrealistic in his suggestion that a lot of suburbanites will have to relocate to inner cities and small towns, because there is no place for them to live. Well, there are a lot of RVs out there, and anyone who can get one has just gotten themselves instant portable housing. We might actually be glad that there are so many of these things still around.

My own bugout bag includes a trailer that once was a tent camper, it was originally built in 1958 "Wheel something, the name has been lost over time" In 2006 my dad and I converted it to a hauling trailer, It still has many of it's orignal outside parts.

My dad has rigged a PVC pipe system covered wagon style top and it's big enough to haul enough of the stuff we'd take with us to survive almost anywhere. We have taken it when it was still a camper out into the middle of nowhere and lived out of it for weeks, all we needed was a stable water source.

I know several people that are amoung the semi-homeless, kind of living without money people who live out of small campers, going where they can stay for free and live off the land. Ala what those in the above articles were doing in cities.


A legitamate green argument can be made for the RV lifestyle. And if the neighborhood goes to crap, it's easy to move on. There used to be a second home deduction for RVs. I don't know if it still exists. These days, with mail forwarding services, cell phones, sat TV, online banking and wifi, it's easy to stay connected with folks.

I once stayed for a month near Mt. Baker waiting on a job to start. Found a spot with a million dollar view overlooking the river and mountains, no rent. Just a three mile hike down to the tavern in town when I needed company. Off season, there was nobody around. The Ranger came by after a couple of weeks and said that I had to move per regulations. I asked him were I could go and he said to just back it up a couple of hundred feet and that would satisfy him. The chalet nearby rented for $2500/week. Same view. Same Braves game on TV.

There may be at least a few of them that are bought for other reasons, and for some individuals those reasons might actually make some sense.


These guys are friends of mine they belong to our Kayak Club, www.kayuba.org and I occasionally dive with them when they are in Florida for the long winter.

There are people living full time in campers in my area in rv parks.I'm not sure exactly what the state and local govts think of this, but there are no mailboxes in evidence.I expect the deal is you just keep paying cash evey week and maintain an address at some friends house for taxes and so forth.The living is very cramped but rent including water sewer trash is only a quarter to half of of apartment rent close to any significant number of possible jobs..

Country people are putting campers in small barns. A couple I know of were purpose built for this use.Since thet are shaded and out of the wind the cooling is easy and the heat is easier.Water, sewer, and electricity are piggybacked to the farm house system.Quietly.You can still build a small shed type barn around here if you are farming without much involvement with the county.

These campers have hard up relatives living in them.In really cold weather they stay in the farmhouse as semiwelcome guests, but no longer than necessary.It can get old sharing your home with too many relatives.The guests will stay in the campers probably between nine to ten months out of the year-even when they are sleeping eating and batheing in the house thier personal stuff is mostly in the camper.

I have it on very good authority that one of these was set up in a little less than three weeks total by two healthy farmer guys with the necessary skills for less than three thousand dollars including the camper which is twenty feet long and fully equipped with toilet , stove sink shower, bed and dining area.You can get a fairly decent camper almost for free if you look around.

The barn can be used later as a storage or equipment shed.The main barn function is to camoflauge the fact that the camper is in continious use, secondarily to keep the sun, rain and wind off of the camper.

The cheapest livable (barely) rentals around here are about four hundred bucks plus electricity and heat so it is possible for this stop gap to hit breakeven in less than twelve months.Nobody around here is expecting the economy to improve much if at all in the next year or two.

For "serious" RVers and survivalists, the Unimog is the only way to go. An amazing vehicle. Do a search. I saw my first one about 10 years ago set up as a camper. Unbelievable...if you can afford one.

Had a chance to drive one on some evil terrain on a wildfire a few years back. Amazing what side slope and pitch it could climb for being so high. They set it running engaged in it's lowest gear ,compound in both boxes, in the shop one day and went off and had lunch and returned before it got to the other side.


Okay if I can't find myself an Old Checker to rebuild (we had the Checker Marathon Station Wagon, until 1989 brand new in 1973). I'll find a Unimog that I can rebuild for a portable house.


This is an off-topic request for any ideas: my 4th grader wants to do a science fair project involving solar energy. Any fun ideas or websites out there?

If you actually want to show how PV systems work, you may be able to borrow some basic equipment from a local solar contractor. PV direct lighting is always a hit. A small 12 volt panel connected to a 12v LED (available now at most auto parts stores) allows kids to shade the panel and make the lights go out. A display of current devices: radios, calculators, fence chargers, outdoor lighting, etc. might be fun. Another idea would be to relate the sun's energy to photo-synthesis. Take a comon house plant and cover half of it for a week or two to show how important sunlight is to life. If you could get one, a solar powered water pump with a panel attached would be neat. Show how PV is used to pump water.
Two containers full of water, one white and one black, with thermometers in them, would be a demontration of how color affects solar absorption. Perhaps too advanced for 4th grade, but a whole range of colors could be used, demonstrating different wavelengths of sunlight. Hopefully the science fair will be outdoors on a sunny day!

My 4th grade brother was making home made batteries, so solar teaching should go over fine.

Then again my brother knew what he wanted to be from early on, and is that now at 39.

Science with kids as early as possible will be better for them in the long run. Just like a lot of other skills and teaching moments, start early and do often, your kids will thank you later.


Ghung - Do you live off grid ?
I could not ask you in an email as you
do not have an email address in your profile.
My address is in my profile info.

Hi Paranoid'
4th graders are great. We organized science fairs for our local school for 10 years or more while ours were in school. Some of the projects on this site are demonstrations and some are experiments. I like the 'what would happen if' moments that you get once a in a while as opposed to the 'I want to build a volcano' type ideas but it's all good. Two basic collectors with 1 different property would be a possible approach. A basic light meter, thermometer, voltmeter ect could be handy and educational for measurements. Artificial indoor light source?


You might consider pitching the idea of creating a couple 'Micro Solar' projects, applying PV to some of the ubiquitous electronics that pervade daily life and constantly have to be resupplied with AAA batteries or plugged into a wall every few days/hours/weeks..

Here is a pic of my HP 200LX palm computer (from 1995, and still running), which I put a disused flashlight PV panel onto. It just gets left on a windowsill every few days, instead of on the desk.. and if it's low when I'm using it at night, I just put it near a lamp to rejuvenate a bit.
(This has NO charge control circuitry besides a diode to prevent the battery discharging in the dark.. it basically never fully charges the cells and I'm careful to never fully discharge them either.. not that the computer will let me forget when it's low. It just needs a convenient bright spot to live, and it's never an issue.)

Like with the easily forgotten 'Solar Calculators' that still reliably give us our 8 digit solutions every time we ask, there will be some great advantages to having simple devices like cell-phones, walkie-talkies, voltmeters, remote controls, wireless thermometers, pagers, shavers, electric screwdriver, radio, fan, Ipod- who knows what?? .. that then effectively NEVER need a battery or a charge again. (Yes,the rechargable cells will be replaced down the road, but that's 'Maintenance', not 'Running Costs', a much different animal.

Best of luck!
Bob Fiske

While back I was thinking of a Solar fish pond idea, where the pumps worked with solar cells. I moved and have not thought about it till today reading about it here.

Solar nightlights made a big push a few years ago, at least in Huntsville Al. In the fish breeding (tropical and food) world Solar powered Pumps and Filter systems were getting big play for a while in the late 90's and 200's I never had the ready cash to get into it though.

I think that even when there is a total crash we will still have all this leftover stuff that can run on solar, and have solar tech dying off over a long run down (if we can't replace the parts needed to fix things back up).


I've taken to finding all the 'Solar Path Lights' that people have allowed to die and get shuffled off into corners of the garage, kicked under hedges, etc.

Those little panels are extremely useful, in some other job.. but on a shady pathway, boy, that use of PV as a throwaway plastic tidbit irks me to no end. I'll give them a better life!

Waste not Want not. The adage is something that I was grown up by. I have to slap my hands at some of the stuff I see on the side of the road, I am trying to get ahold of some tall stakes for gardening, but beyond that, all the dressers and couchs, and gadgets and useful things I see I have to leave to the next guy.

I never did like the little path lights, I like it dark when I am outside at night, I have very good night vision anyway.

But I loved the pumps, they would make a nice 5 tier pond really nice.

If I come across any of those night lights, I'll mail them to you.


Thanks, Charles! I'll use them.

I hesitate to send this one because it is a ratepayer subsidized, feel good PR junket: http://www.mwdh2o.com/mwdh2o/pages/education/solar_cup/solar_cup_01.html

Personally I would prefer my money spent on conserving water (MWD can afford to spend $100,000+ on this while cutting their conservation budget).

Or you might do something more theoretical along the lines of: "What Einstein actually received the Nobel Prize for: the Photoelectric Effect".

I went to a Solar fair about two years ago down in the Keys and they had a track with solar powered race cars for the kids. I don't have much other information though. I'm sure one could explain how solar works with a car such as that and then have the kids race them.

Another variation on that could be to make a model train with boxcars or passenger cars covered with PV, and maybe on the Rooftops of terminals and such near the Tracks.

I've run a little HO train on Solar at Earth Day once or twice. I just need more blinkie lights and animatronics to make people take notice. Just Raw-Transportation gets a quick 'Eyes Glaze Over' unless you can offer some more primitive Razzle-Dazzle for the Reptilian part of the brain..

Another variation on that could be to make a model train with boxcars or passenger cars covered with PV, and maybe on the Rooftops of terminals and such near the Tracks.

I've run a little HO train on Solar at Earth Day once or twice.

In one of the smaller outbuildings at The Workshops is a work-in-progress model train layout. Due to the lack of mains power in the building (former 1:1 Scale workshop that was gutted sometime in the past), the layout is run on a simple 12V PBa car battery. It'll hapilly run the layout all day during exhibitions (a HO loco will pull maybe half an Amp. If the layout uses DCC, you'd need to increase the voltage to 16V - maybe use three 6V batteries - but for DC, it's easy peasy).

One of the easiest projects is a solar oven. They can be very simple, a well insulated box with one side covered with glazing. Paint the inside a dark flat color and use two layers of glass. Mild concentration can be achieved by adding reflecting surfaces to deflect more sunlight into the box. Mount in a fashion which can be easily pointed toward the sun as the Earth rotates. If the design is done right, it's easy to bake cookies, etc in such an oven.

One must be warned that the temperatures achievable with a good solar oven can exceed 300F on a warm day, temperatures which are high enough to destroy styrofoam insulation. Even the isocyanurate insulation can out gas noxious fumes. Opening such an oven can produce a blast of chemicals, as I learned the hard way...

E. Swanson

Not knowing you or your fourth graders skill set,
How about an electromagnetic Gaussian Gun. I could see that being a fun project if not a little difficult.

Any fun ideas or websites out there?

Perhaps with a 1to5watt 12v solar panel, have a little 'disaster kit' of a cell phone, cell phone cigarette lighter plug adaptor, solar panel to cigarette ligher adapter (radio-shackish item) and a 'LED flashlight' that plugs into the adapter, small radio that can run off the panel, with some earthquake supplies?

Just a thought, especially since the Haiti thing....

Thanks to all! My son was also very excited to see the Internet come to life with specific suggestions for him!

Will they do it (The BLS) I haven't seen anything about this here yet so.

Ilargi: State of the Union on Wednesday. Sun Jan 24th

"Undoubtedly, Obama will spend a lot of time talking about jobs on Wednesday. And it’ll all sound great. But one week after that speech, the BLS is set to add 824,000 lost jobs to the total tally, which will lift the U3 number eerily close to 11%. So what can Washington do? The only thing in sight seems to be a flood of additional spending, and the new populist climate may not like that very much."

When I heard the other day about the 11,200 jobs that Sam's club was going to let go, I told my dad, Ut Oh. When Wally-World is cutting costs in their labor then they are not having the profit margins they would really like to have, and the economy is still sour, and jobs are still sour, and the days are still bleak.

A lot of the 11,200 Show folks these new products people that I see are older folks. And if some of them were making 14 bucks an hour, and now if they get hired by the replacement company-staffer they will only earn min-wage, They will buy less.

Round robin we go, new hires getting paid less than those that have been laid off or bought-out. Then less able to buy pricey goods, and down the tank we go out the wage drain.

Over and Over again I see the ad lines in the Yahoo news feed of Great paying jobs to get into, when will we hit the wall in those fields, like we did in Computer Techs, and programmers?


Regarding the Bohai Sea sea ice stories... Time to display my ignorance again. The very north end of the Bohai Sea is located at 40° N. latitude. That seems rather far south to have ocean bays freezing over. Is there something peculiar about the geography of this location (shallow water, lack of circulation, etc)? Is there anywhere else in the world that experiences significant sea ice (ie, sufficient to threaten closing in a port entirely) at this latitude?

Warning!..TECHNOFIX! BAU IS possible!

Just poking some of you in the eye.. but I saw this just now, and thought it was apt to include here..

Using Lexan ZigZag sheet polycarbonate (PC) roofing material, Hydro Huisman, a leading hydroculture company in Huissen, is constructing the first greenhouse that will produce more energy than it uses. Lexan ZigZag sheet double-wall roofing panels provide higher light transmission than single glass, and insulation similar to multiwall glass or PC sheet. These energy-efficient properties will enable approximately one-third of the heat generated in the greenhouse to be sold as surplus.



I would have to say that by this point few people don't believe that "technically" we can engineer a power down scenario where we manage the future constraints with a degree of aplomb.

It's ALL about getting from here to there.

Please provide links with your kumbaya responses.

Thanks in advance.

Gates' policy prescription: "A distributed system of R&D with economic rewards for innovators and strong government encouragement is the key ..." link

I get real nervous when people tote the "innovator" word.

To my mind, an "innovator" is someone who comes up with a credit default swap system or some new mind numbing psycho-linguistic twister word.

There was a time when America had "inventors" and they came up with physical "inventions" that worked as advertised.

Catchy phrases like "distributed system of R&D with economic rewards" (above) are just random noises coming out of the spin and off balance room.

There is no excuse for Gates to not know that the energy crisis is not your ordinary Gordon Moore circuit miniaturization problem.
picture to right: Thomas Edison in his lab

Edison is very two-dimensional in that picture.. I want to see the other side of that frame!

I was disappointed to hear Gate snipping off 'Insulation' as unnecessary.. part of the Techno-dreamers, Junior Achievers cult that doesn't accept the suggestion that we WASTE so much energy that some restraint, sacrifice and control of our usage would be empowering in so many ways.

Of course, when one starts to think about the fact that so many computers - and especially so many servers - use SO much power, all to run programs written in huge, bloated code, created by his own company, then you start to understand why energy efficiency doesn't rate very high on his priority scale.

Sure enough.. but the take-away I really focus on is that any of us might be really good and even a genius in one area, and yet will be blind to other important points.

Gates can be annoying, but is also doing some very good things, and is a bright guy. I try to remember my mantra of-

'Don't just whimper about what's wrong with this picture?, make sure you see what's RIGHT, so you can help to emphasize the positive while eliminating the negative..'

May sound pollyanna-ish, but in fact is some very helpful survival advice..

Bill Rees has 20/20 vision and I would suggest Gates watch this video: http://www.postcarbon.org/video/51791-planning-down-what-if-we

That's all true but I have to admit to being shocked by Windows 7. It's not only much faster than the Vista tragedy it's also much better than XP on my system. Looks like an instruction has gone out to improve performance. Windows 7 even seems to have decent pager/working set management and no longer just seems to expect you to throw more physical RAM at it every time you open a new window. Plus there's a decent system monitor utility so you can easily see what's going on. I even notice my cpu runs cooler under typical interactive use than it does with Windows XP (AMD Cool N Quiet drivers installed under XP so the difference is not due to that).

Then there's Office 2010 Beta which starts up much quicker than any recent version.

There's a 90 day evaluation copy of Windows 7 Enterprise available from Microsoft (anyone can download it). I stuck it on a spare partition (16GB recommended) to have a look at and now I'm worried I'm going to have to buy the damned thing at the end of the trial - XP now seems even more "clunky".

However I've yet to fully stress the system and Windows 7 might have some unpleasant surprises I haven't hit yet.

I am quite pleased with Windows 7. I delayed upgrading my computer for a couple of years, because I didn't want to deal with Vista. I figured Windows 7 would be better; every other Microsoft OS is decent. But it's even better than expected (though I turned off some of the bells and whistles - not because of resource issues, but just because I personally found them annoying).

I have found it's a bit unstable. Every once in awhile, it blue screens on me. Might be a compatibility issue with Firefox.

I've got Firefox 3.6 installed (as well as Chrome and IE) and so far neither it nor the OS has crashed on me but it's early days yet and I haven't installed my favourite add-ons yet.

Firefox runs as just normal user-mode code so it shouldn't really be able to crash the system - in theory anyway :-)

Might be worth checking all your drivers are up to date if you haven't already done so. More complete and later versions of both the Video (NVIDIA) and Audio (Realtek) drivers were available in my case than the versions installed by Windows 7 Setup.

re FireFox 3.6, I'm already having trouble on my XP system with 3.6 not loading up the Bookmarks toolbar. Anybody else?

That problem has not shown up my Vista computer, but then again Vista has its own set of quirky problems

I have occasionally had that problem. Re-starting Firefox fixes it.

Ever though of getting a Mac? You have a terminal and command line. Any shell you want.
All the Kool kids are doing it!

I use a lot of software that's available only in Windows. And, I really can't figure out Macs. I would sooner use Linux than a Mac.

Guess I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac user...

I have also been pleasantly surprised by Windows 7, and have found it to be utterly stable. Honestly, I haven't had a single issue (well, a few aesthetic issues maybe) with it since the RC came out last Summer. And I use Firefox exclusively.

.. so is there a way to find out if W7 has a subroutine telling it to 'Slow Down, you move too fast..' as soon as W8 is on the shelves?

My suspicious side has been very wary of how accurately 'Planned Obsolescence' could be placed in New and Improved Operating Systems..

It's not only much faster than the Vista tragedy it's also much better than XP on my system. Looks like an instruction has gone out to improve performance.

You can thank netbooks for that.

...then you start to understand why energy efficiency doesn't rate very high on his priority scale.

I don't think you are upto date on this. Cooling (& other energy costs) now costs more than hardware - efficiency is very high on everyone's list.

Win 2008 R2 actually advertises reduced power requirements. The whole virtualization stuff is all about reduced power and h/w costs. Infact large datacenters now come up near power plants where the power is cheap.


I think he does know that.

Someone wondered the other day if Bill Gates is peak oil aware. I believe he's been spotted reading peak oil books. And he supposedly gathered in a private meeting with other billionaires, to push for global population control (which of course freaked out a lot of people).

Of course, he's a businessman and a technogeek, so he's doing things like investing in alternate energy and hoping for a technocopian solution...but I think he understands the bottom line.

I thought the story was interesting, because many of us tell ourselves we can't do anything about peak oil. We don't have the resources. Bill Gates can't say that. He's the richest man in the world. If anyone can do anything about peak oil, he can. And I think he is trying to do something.

He is probably doing a lot with knowledge of peak oil. He keeps his limo full, his retreat very well stocked and hidden, his jet ready at a moments notice. /S-off

Oh yeah?!

Well you've got THREE kc-130's, and I've only got TWO. ..Elitist.

(kidding, truly kidding..)

In a science fiction story Idea I had about 2 months ago, just this sort of event happened. A very wealthy person shows up on the scene of Planet going through times like we are living here on Earth. In the story, the Planet Aragon has just started into space going to it's moons and such like (earthling are), but they don't think anyone else lives in their area of the galaxy. They have some stories of aliens showing up to take them but it is all mtyh and legend.

The person who shows up is an alien trying to help them fix their many issue, over population, energy worries, war worries, hunger, Basically a mirror of what is happening in our world today.

I've asked a few friends to help with story elements as far as what would happen if and what would the economy look like when this or that happens.

Seeing that finally those people with the most money are trying to be altruistic enough to help the rest of mankind get through the tough times is good to see. It might not be a case of the rich just want to get richer and leave the rest of us to die-off or become their slaves.

I am sure there are going to be folks in the Alex Jones and Rush crowds labeling this as BAU rich against Poor.

But I see it as a positive sign. We can all do better to help balance things out, even if we don't have billions of dollars to do so.

If we all learn to work together, we can make a positive impact on things.


I was born in Aragón, the Old Spanish Kingdom I mean, not the planet. Our traditional means of displacement always was the donkey and there are still plenty of vultures and wolves and even a GM/Opel plant.
Aliens have always fared badly in Aragón, Napoleón for example wasn't welcome although he brought with him modernity, republic, freedom from the Inquisition and the Church and the Nobility.
Of course, we rejected all that rubbish and fought to the death for our Talibans of the time, with Wellington and the English, for tirany.
Parallels to the present invasion of Afghanistan, where we want to raise them to the advantages of democracy are obvious -and I say we because Spain is in Afghanistan fighting on the side of Goodness, suffers casualties.

I always liked the name, it has a nice sound to it for me. Thanks for the mental pictures.


The rich alien, is a space traveler, from earth's future if I choose to write it that way, Or he can be a crazed wall street banker from the planet New York City.

Our traditional means of displacement always was the donkey and there are still plenty of vultures and wolves and even a GM/Opel plant.

Wolves and vultures I wouldn't mind but a GM plant?! Now that's terrible ;-)

"But Gates said the all this bleakness can be avoided if enough money is spent developing technological and social innovations that add efficiency to agriculture, medicine, education, and other key fields." --from InfoWeek link

My experience is that InfoTech gurus tend to be myopic when it comes to those "other fields". Their mantra is, if you can code it, it will happen.

But no amount of wishful coding will make an energy rich, creamy nogut kernel appear at a reachable center of our planet. It is what it is; that including being round, water covered, hard to drill into, and finite.

It has been my impression that bazillionaires who made their fortunes in software have a somewhat limited grasp of the real, physical world, and are somewhat over-optimistic about the degree to which we can technologically "innovate" our way out of any and all problems.

But no amount of wishful coding will make an energy rich, creamy nogut kernel appear at a reachable center of our planet.

Linux, FreeBSD, GNU/Hurd, CUDA, or Mach kernel?
...I find all of them creamy, and quite reachable.

Surely there's a typo there: you've put GNU/Hurd in a list with the predicate "reachable". You might as well add the GNU Teak desktop.

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

What could be GNU in the world of peaking oil that a little open source code can't fix? ;-)

Ah yes, techie rapture!
To bad is it is background dependent.


"Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!"

Oh, wait, that was Balmer.

Perhaps Gates likes innovators, just so long as they're not threatening his Monopoly (BSD, Linux, Unix, Apple).


I see the Rare Earth story cropping up yet again. It's probably going to be one of the biggest 'we told you so' stories of the next 3 or 4 years. When China is using it all up and wanting Western manufactures to 'build in China' using REEs at knock down prices, meanwhile the spot global market for these elements goes crazy...

Of course mines will come back on line eventually in the West but the sweet spot is going to be nice while it lasts.


Australia has its Mt. Weld mine in production for rare earth mineral recovery; at last report they were losing money. If the price of rare earth minerals rises enough, some other deposits not on your top 10 google hits screen will become mineable.

No shortage of government spending though:


The way prices will rise for these metals will quite probably justify rounding miners up right now and putting them on retainer for when RRE mines reopen outside of China.

2 possible sources of REs
1) uranium mining byproduct
Millions of tonnes of fine tailings are at Olympic Dam containing a lot of cerium and lanthanum http://outernode.pir.sa.gov.au/minerals/geology/minerals_mines_and_quarr...
2) zircon mining byproduct
Heavy mineral sands can be separated into components like titanium minerals (rutile, ilmenite), zircon and monazite which has both REs and thorium.

The west just needs a major new facility to change the economics of extraction and refining.

I see Time magazine is still fighting the cold war. Truly Orwellian drivel about stopping ridiculous subsidies to Ukraine and Belorus being "control" and "blackmail". Control would be keeping prices low and having the dependent party do anything to keep them low. If you stop keeping the prices low then there is no longer any control. Perhaps the western media should get a grip on reality and stop trying to live the Karl Rove fantasy. If the west is so incensed about market prices being applied to oil and natural gas by Russia then it should put its money where its mouth is and offer Ukraine and Belorus those subsidies instead.

Lula speaks out on Brazil ethanol shortage:


One comment sees benefits in making alliances with American ethanol producers so that shortfalls in one country can be made up by the other. Brazilian attitudes may be changing.

With some states banning ethanol for carbon emissions, American attitudes may have to change also to find a market for surplus ethanol.

So much for the theory that Brazilian ethanol is better and cheaper. If there isn't enough of it why should American producers worry about import tariffs on the stuff?

With falling oil demand/supply limiting blending quantities, a ceiling on blend rates and hostility from some customers, Brazil looks promising.

It seems to me that whether or not we have reached peak oil depends largely on production from Iraq. Searching "oil production Iraq" and "unrealistic" the first article I came by was enough to convince me Iraq will never hit 12 mpd. The Nov.9, 09 article by Daniel Canty discusses the Total CEO (a very competent company and credible) saying 12 million is "crazy". Their potential is to reach 7-8 million someday and that would be a "tremendous success". He mentions the Iraq govt plans to get to the 12 in 10-15 years anyway (not in a few as I believe I saw in one article posted on the oildrum). Also, he says that several of the projects face "astonishing logistical and infrstructural challenge.

And at their recent (post-2003) rate of increase in oil consumption, Iraq has to increase their production at about 2.2%/year, just to maintain their current level of net oil exports.

Not to mention that a few well-placed IEDs on a few pipelines can result in a lot of production ending up doing nothing but paving the desert.

The other day I mentioned that we had started the retrofit of a large commercial warehouse that is illuminated by two hundred and forty-eight 400-watt and twenty-one 250-watt HIDs. I checked the audit file and the number of 400-watt HIDs is four hundred and sixty-four. Also, I said we would be replacing them one-for-one with new 3-lamp T5 HO fixtures and that's not the case -- the number of replacements is three hundred and seventy-six (we will eliminate eighty-eight by re-aligning fixtures so that they're centered over the isles and not the racking). My apologies for the error.

The old 400-watt HIDs are driven by CWA ballasts and consume a total of 460-watts. The 3-lamp T5HO fixtures are fitted with 49-watt Philips lamps and draw a total of 159-watts, a two-third reduction in load. Lux readings are slightly lower, post retrofit, but vertical lumens are up considerably; i.e., more light washes over the sides of the racking/inventory rather than pooled at the base of the floor. Overall, it's a much more pleasant work environment and we will have reduced this client's lighting related consumption by some 610,000 kWh/year.

As noted in my previous post, the financial payback is 1.25 years. The payback would have been shorter except that two-hundred and sixteen of the HID fixtures were fitted with high-low ballasts and were said to operate at their low power setting 70 per cent of the time. Our new fixtures are fitted with occupancy sensors that turn the fixture on when activity is detected in an isle and back off five minutes after it is vacated (these sensors are attached to the side of the fixture as shown below).

The big complaint with the old dimming system is that the guys would zoom in and out of an isle with their fork lifts before the HID lamps had sufficient time to reach full brightness (they take several minutes to warm up). With the new controls, the lamps kick on instantly and turn off completely when no longer required -- much better performance and enhanced energy savings.

We can eliminate a lot of needless waste and get better results as well if we put our minds to it.


You're my hero.

So Paul,
This is my work environment, and the lighting is so moody, that everyone is constantly SHOOTING at each other! What can I use for some more uplifting light? We're somewhere in Mare Crisium, and can't find the darkside to save our lives. We hope the audience doesn't notice...



Nice, Bob. Commercial and industrial lighting is dead simple (hello lamp, hello ballast), but film and stage requires something far beyond the capabilities of we mere mortals. I spend hours watching B&W films from the 30's and 40's trying to discern any clues but it remains a complete mystery to me.


Thanks, Paul.
I guess I'm just jealous, getting to see the fruits of your work so often. The net worth of my work can be pretty ambiguous, but there are high callings in it..

"Elsa never really believed in the grail. She thought she'd found a prize.
Indiana Jones: And what did you find, Dad?"

Professor Henry Jones: "Me? Illumination."

(Which I stubbornly try to reveal through Profane Illustrations!! Did you know that "Profane" simply means 'In front of, or Outside the Temple' ? The Temple of Doomers, in this case. ~Bob)

maybe someone can plot a graph to show when the price of oil will make a trip to titan profitable. titan is a moon of saturn. it is covered in hydrocarbons. IT HAS LAKES OF METHANE!!! well, didnt everyone see ava-tar? but there aint no blue people on titan. so it's ok.
the curmudgeon of armegeddon sez happy motoring is dead. and making less money is the new world made by hand. arent we all on the reduced lifestyle paradigm? or is that only for the lesser classes? will bernancke or geithner reduce their lifestyles? OVER YOUR DEAD BODY!!!
really, over your dead $14 per hour body.
"it's all good"

Re: lakes of methane on Titan.

Assuming we can conquor the EROEI issues, I keep thinking that might be some other problem with importing large amounts of hydrocarbons into our atmosphere and combusting them.

Let's see, CH4 + 2 O2 = CO2 + 2 H2O

Well, I don't see much problem there, we just give up some oxygen, which we don't really use for much, and get CO2 (no problem there) and lots of clean, pure water in return. Looks good. ;-)

The really interesting thing would be if we send some robots with Zippo lighters there, and see what happens if you combust large amounts of hydrocarbons in their atmosphere. Unfortunately for us, they don't have any O2, so no fireworks display.

I was talking to a friend over the phone today, asking him questions about his homelessness, and how he was dealing with things. His phone is on the same carrier as mine, and we can talk all we want, he buys minutes when he has spare cash to get some, so he can talk to other people. If his phone runs out of minutes, I'd just get his voicemail.

Anyway, I mentioned all the news articles about living with less and the one up top about how in the UK you could Squat without going to jail for trespassing.

He has gone without a shower for over 6 months, He says if you brush your hair several times a day, it stays varily clean. He does use underarm smell good products that you can get at homeless shelters. He said that he fasts once a week, even when he has food.

He moves around a lot, he told me his winter camp is out in the woods by a small stream Near the I-430 bridge over the Arkansas River. It's a far piece from downtown Little Rock, about 7 miles along the river trail, more if he had to go over land via the streets.

He is not in the system besides his S.S. number, never served in the military, and though he figures if he got sick one day, I might never hear from him again. He does smoke, but has had to cut back because the prices of tobacco have gone up. When I last had lunch with him ( I bought ) he was down to 3 smokes a day. Smoke half, then the rest later, so 6 times a day to get the nicotine push.

He does harvest wild plants, and has several places that he keeps things in areas around the city. I have been to his summer camp, Some old sections of concrete dumped ages ago along the river between the I-30 bridge and further east on the river.

I agree with him that if we could be allowed to squat in buildings not used for anything else, there would be very few homeless sleeping in the parks. If given running water they would not need anything else. Little Rock is one of the worse cities for being homeless in, until recently there were few ways to get food. Or so says Jesse Goodrum a local Homeless advocate, a friend of mine.

Maybe in the future they won't worry so much about the homeless because the bankers will be out here with us.

How many of us would be willing to give up a bath for 6 months?


You know my brother ?

Whats important from your story is to note he keeps his mobile phone :)

I've argued that its one of the business's that can survive as long as technology is doable.

He has two batteries for it, You can change them if you carry the charger with you and ask nicely some places, for few minutes of charge, or at several of the public places like Libraries and the River Market district venues. He does spend a lot of time in the Libraries and doing odd things for people. Money does change hands, but it is not more than a few thousand a year, if that.

He told me he's been living like this for over 20 years. He is about 50 now, you can see the signs of hardship on his face, but he is always cheerful and has many friends, who ask him for advice, even amoung the business class of people.

Though some people don't know how he really lives, You'd not be able to tell in this town at times that some people are homeless, by the way they dress, and carry themselves, unless you asked around, or asked them. Most of them are honest.

Though as it was pointed out to me from talking to Jeese yesterday, there is a lot of Newbies out there these days, kind of lost shell shocked people.

It is not an easy life if you find yourself out there, unless you have been hardened by it, or prepared.

What still upsets some of us, is those people that abuse the system even in the homeless community, they get a check, live in a motel for a few days, drink and smoke it up and back out on the streets in a week. Those are the ones, we just tolerate, we can't help them, we love them, but we don't let them abuse our care either.

The ones that like living on the outside edges have a different way of doing so. And the ones that wish they could get off the streets will get off the streets because when they find the help they take it and move on.

It is one of the biggest issues, that we can't stop helping them, because we don't know which group they are in unless we talk to them and get past trust issues. When you do that you find the ones that will be able to be helped, and the ones that need to get past their own issues first, and the ones that live that way because they want too.

But you can't lump them all together in one pile, they are all a mixed bag, and some don't trust anyone that has more than they do, because City Folk are evil.


I remember reading something about homelessness quite a few years ago, and the author mentioned the X-factor, which sounds like these people:

The ones that like living on the outside edges have a different way of doing so.

You weren't going to get them off the street, they had something going on where they couldn't hack "normal" living.

Thanks for your perspective.

To be honest my biggest problem is with the con-artist. I think a little of that is something thats impossible to avoid on the streets but many people across all walks of life are smooth talking con artists.

Somehow it hurts more when they are down and out and you try and help them.

For some reason not sure why in normal life if your astute you ditch these people fast however when your going to try and help someone your in the situation of having to potentially let a con artist enter your life.

And they are good really good. I got burned a few times when I was younger and now can detect them fairly well but also because of that I just don't help people anymore. The trouble of detecting a con man makes it more hassle than its worth. I like to think I'm older and wiser but the truth is I probably just gave up and don't do much to help anymore.
I've got all kinds of little tricks where I'll let people who are con artist have a chance to pull a little game basically I set them up and see if they take the bait if they do then I know what type of person they are. But that takes time and cunning and the better ones see the ruse so your never sure.
So why try ?

Whats really weird is when I lived in Vietnam I did not feel this way at all way to many "normal" people where dirt poor on average poverty was the norm not the exception so you did not get this sort of concentration of people with problems amongst the poor. Everyone was basically poor regardless of the natural personality. Your chances of meeting the con man were basically the same as meeting anyone else.
Everyone was poor and people with a bit of money where lucky. I think as Americans in general get poorer and more and more "good" people are poor because their is no money not because they have problems it actually gets easier to help as you don't have to be on your guard. Now days your dealing with either a good person who had a bit of hard luck and is temporarily poor, a free spirit or someone with a major problem. Generally the concentration of those with problems at the bottom is high in the US and esp the con men.
When poor is the new normal I tend to think I'll begin to open up a bit more and feel more comfortable like I did in Vietnam.

Most days when I am out and about in places where you can find homeless people, or in places where you might not see them unless they want you too, I carry spare change, and a few single dollars. At times someone will come up to me, knowing me for who I am and ask for a handout. I know they want to collect enough for a drink later, or something else to tide them over.

The lines are usually, "hey can you spare some change for something to eat" Or I need some bus fare.

Once When I was asked for bus fare, I figured the guy was really wanting bus fare, I reached for my wallet, and a card. He said" What? I can't take credit cards!" But it was a month long Bus pass. Unused. Now he could have sold it for cash to get booze, but from his reaction, he used it to get around town. I didn't see him ever again, so I figure that was what he did.

There was a singer/ guitar player, who was always hitting me up for bits of funds late in 2008 and early 2009. But he was living on the edges, and he played gigs in my favorite hangout at the time, so I knew he worked for his supper.

One night when I knew my funds were way limited, I hit the ATM and lo and behold I had money, so I took it all out. gave him and his wife half, and gave out some nice tips to several other people just for the fun of it. If I have funds, I love to see the faces of people when you give them nice tips, the over 25% kind.

When I was smoking more often than I am now ( on occasion I have 3 smokes a month average, unless I am out with friends and I might smoke 8 in a night, but go without for a month), I'd always offer a quarter for a cigarette, most times I got one for free, but I know they cost, so I'd offer to pay for one. Several times, I've offered a dollar for one, only once was it taken. All that guys keep saying was he hated people asking for smokes.

The Homeless that smoke, get a greedy look to the eyes when you get one out, and I would offer one to them. In groups, I'll hand out a few around. I smoke in the fashion called HotBoxing. Takes about 45 seconds to tip to tip burn a 100. I limit my intake to less than 8 a day, so the head rush is still there. Honestly I dislike the taste of them, but like the head rush. I don't smoke at home, and only do it while I am out, if at all for weeks on end.

But other people who have the habit, don't do it that way. If I wanted to I could be spending money for them more than I do. I have pretty much stopped doing it around the homeless though.

Oh well so sue me, I'll die sooner because I smoke, I'll die sooner because I eat cheese, I'll die sooner because I live in the USA, or play in rush hour traffic etc.


I smoke, and I get hit up a LOT by homeless people. My secret handshake: if they offer me a quarter, I always give them a smoke for free. If they just ask for a free smoke, I say "sorry, no". If they ask for a free smoke, I say no, and THEN they offer a quarter, I still say no. It's all about the attitude.

BTW, most of these are able-bodied men in their 20's who dress like rastafarian dirt bags. I guess that's the cool look with their homeless buddies. Some of the "real" homeless I know dress very well and are always clean. I offer them smokes before they ask.

There are newer dirty homeless, but most around here are well dressed, some have income, and there are so many people that give away new clothes it is a gold mine.

I used to only carry a set amount of smokes, so that if I was down to my last 2 I'd stop handing them out, I have been told I was to kind hearted.

I usually offer when I know people think I am homeless when I asked for a smoke. I have also preformed for smokes. The HotBoxing gets the most gasps and offers for more smokes.

One day I was chatting with some fellow in the poop hall and we had to go out to smoke, someone mentioned that I smoked fast, and one of them bet he was faster.

I smiled, and told him to start first. I lit up and closed my eyes and started in, in a second there were loud sounds of awe from them, and when my fingers got hot, I opened my eyes. Laughs. I need to put on a stage show one of these days.


What we need is to empower local communities to sieze unused structures by eminent domain and rent them out. All the benefits of letting people squat, without actually letting people squat.

The locals don't want to do that. NIMBY is very big around here.

There was a building owned by the federal gov't that the city was going to buy and convert to a homeless shelter/day center. The area around it, and all the home owners banded together to stop those plans, saying that it could be somewhere else instead. They said they'd help make it possible, just not in their area.

Turns out the place had asbestos in there, and the cost was more than the city had budgeted for it.

But there are those people that just want to buy a place, and put it up as a day center and help everyone get off the streets, or at least get them services. But money and NIMBY is the biggest fight.

Like I said, Little Rock is a poor city for caring for the homeless, They seem to fight tooth and nail to get rid of them.

I've had my own run ins with police because they thought I was homeless, I've even had homeless people ask if I needed help. Laughs. I guess I have that look.

go to my profile and the link to my blog, has a picture of me on it. Add a backpack and walking stick and bang, a homeless person appears.



One of my proudest moments in New Orleans was when at least one resident in every house or apartment within a 2 block radius signed a petition to accept an auxiliary homeless shelter for women and children near us. It was a "split decision" in a couple of households I understand.

With this petition in hand, and only one speaker against, the City Council approved this new shelter.

Best Hopes for More Compassion,


Jeese Goodrum whom I mentioned in another post has been a homeless advocate for years, her church has a big thing every other saturday where they send buses (large vans) downtown to pick up as many homeless that want to go, and you don't have to be homeless, but if you go, let them know that, cause they will have clothes and food and information ready to hand out.

They don't ask you to come to their church, they just help you.

While a few pentacostal congregations were thinking about helping the homeless, they wanted them to come and be a part of the congregation too, even though if you went, there was a subtle standoffishness to the whole affair. You have to find your own way there, though they will feed you.

My church which is Missouri Synod Lutheran, helps with gathering things for the resource center here in North Little Rock, but the city fathers only helped fund the place for one year, hoping enough donations would extend it. My congregation is 90% over age 50, over half are over 65. Regular members are under 80 people though.

I think that Katrina taught some lessions to people. When you become homeless yourself you get a new insight on the plight of others. Or was this change in attitude before Katrina?

I have heard you mention the story before, but I can't remember when, I was around here, before Katrina hit.


This was pre-Katrina.

Yes, post-Katrina the attitudes changed and MUCH more help was available. More if I have time.

Best Hopes for Not Isolating the Homeless,


Heh. I live in a city in Mass. that is split between a rich and a poor paht. My church is in the former, and we run a food bank. In the last two years, our clientelle has expanded to the point that a church neighbor complained about people taking the bus to our church and then hanging around waiting for the bus to take them back.

We were too reserved to advise him to go back to, you guessed it, Arkansas. This is New England. We do things differently here.

'Reserved' is right enough..

'Bob Hope was doing a comedy show in New Hampshire one night, long ago. It was a disaster, the full audience was dead quiet all the way through. As he came out of the backstage door, a tired Mr. Hope was met by a middle-aged couple, wanting an autograph..
"Oh, Mr. Hope, sir, that was the FUNNIEST show we ever saw! It was all I could do to keep from laughing right out loud!" '

Technically I was conceived in North Little Rock, Born in Biloxi miss, and raised more or less 50% of my youth in Arkansas. Both my mom's family and my Dad's family were not natives, they moved here later. My parent's met through my Dad's sister and her husband, who knew my mom and her sisters.

We have been here a long time. But both my parents were not raised to see the difference in people, everyone was a Child of God, and all equal in their sin. As I like to say, We are all born naked and in need of help.


How many of us would be willing to give up a bath for 6 months?

Hopefully not many, if there's a source of water nearby. Lice are the biggest disease transmitters there are.

The United Kingdom's National Health Service, and many American health agencies[1][2][3], report that lice "prefer" clean hair, because it's easier to attach eggs and to cling to the strands.


Would appear to say that dirty hair might be a fight against lice.

But in the days ahead, we might be willing to go without baths, because the water is needed to drink, not bath in.

What about ages past, where a weekly bath was what most people got?

We always steam clean ourselves, High pressure steam cleaners then step out and dry in hot dry room. All the water being recycled to feed the system again.


What about ages past, where a weekly bath was what most people got?

A lot more of them died from communicable diseases. And they itched a lot.