Some energy thoughts…

Thought you would like a couple interesting tidbits from the world of Green Tech (from the research for our textbook). In doing my research I found that the US electrical grid is (not surprisingly) hanging by a thread. The estimated lifespan of substations on our grid is 40 years. The AVERAGE age of substations on our grid is 45 years. A government study was commissioned during the Bush years to study the state of the grid determined that the only reason we did not suffer from major and frequent large scale power outages is that we had been LUCKY. Of course, nothing has been done to correct the problem. The main problem is that nobody actually has responsibility for maintaining the grid (welcome to deregulation). As a result – nobody actually maintains it.

It would be similar to a national transportation system where the owner of the land controls and maintains their section of the road that happens to pass over their patch of ground. Not a very coordinated approach.

On the brighter side – the recent cancellation of the coal-powered plant in Meigs county may signal a significant shift in our energy future. I know the environmental activists would like to claim credit (and their efforts are certainly Continue reading Some energy thoughts…

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Our Christmas in England

This holiday season got me thinking back to a few years ago when we lived in Europe.  Thought you might enjoy some of those holiday experiences…

22 December 2003

In England, holiday decorations have been in some shops since August – so I felt right at home. When Thanksgiving came around, it felt strange, because without a proper Thanksgiving Day it doesn’t feel like the Christmas season ever gets kicked off properly.

But the Brits definitely like Christmas. Each small town starts the season early in December by holding a big party on The High Street. “The High Street” is what they call the main shopping place in town. The businesses decorate their shops mostly by hanging live pine trees on the front of the buildings and stringing six or seven lights on them.

Most of the decorations that hang over the streets are giant gold or red metallic “things”. I don’t know what these “things” are but they are definitely shinny hanging strings of square objects. Similar smaller versions can be bought in the shops.
Continue reading Our Christmas in England

The Christmas Catalog – in French, no less

This holiday season got me thinking back to a few years ago when we lived in France.  Thought you might enjoy some of those holiday experiences…

9 December 2002

The Christmas catalog from Cora et moi (Cora and Me), the big mall over near Creil arrived in the post box this morning. This is the first Christmas shopping information I have received. (You can see the catalog at www.cora.fr <http://www.cora.fr/>.)

The first thing I noticed in the catalogue is that even though it is a year since the introduction of the Euro as the currency for Europe, everything is listed both in Euros and Francs (the old French currency).

You can buy books about horses ($30) and African drums for as low as $22.90. There’s a CD-Rom ($74.99) that gives you a tour of Louvre Museum.
Continue reading The Christmas Catalog – in French, no less

St. Nicolas arrives in a small village in France

This holiday season got me thinking back to a few years ago when we lived in France.  Thought you might enjoy some of those holiday experiences…

23 December 2002

You are not going to believe this but I saw St. Nicholas on Saturday. No, I am not talking about that fat fellow in the
red suit that Coca Cola made famous in the 1930’s to promote their products. I am talking about THE St. Nicholas.

Earlier in the week we read in the paper that if we went to St. Pierre, the ancient stone church in the center of Senlis
at 3:30 there would be a parade. We bundled up in our warmest clothes because winter arrived this week and the
temperature was hovering around freezing. Up the hill we chugged to see the parade.

At first there weren’t many children or parents, but the moment we saw a man with an orangish pointy hat step out of
the door lots of people suddenly appeared. The man everybody was excited to see looked strangely like a younger version of the pope, only with a long white beard.

He had on an orange tunic over white clothing. The trim of the tunic was elaborately embroidered in yellow and red. His tall papal looking hat was the same color. His walking stick added to his holy look. He kissed many of the children on their foreheads. Then he turned to walk down the street. Continue reading St. Nicolas arrives in a small village in France

The Holidays Descend – How our Goats help us Cope

News at Blue Rock Station:
The holiday season is in high gear – even the weather map has a young thin woman holding an expensively wrapped gift in the background. It’s all meant to show the joy of giving. But as I am constantly subjected to these types of images whenever I leave Blue Rock Station, I have to ask myself – just how much joy is in the giving?

That image of the young woman is a part of a greater image that used to make me depressed during the holiday season. The year I met Jay I seemed to wake up in so many ways, but I also came to the conclusion that if I wanted a good time, or a great memory to hold onto I could create it myself…now that’s a novel idea isn’t it?

Breaking away from the messages of our society isn’t so easy, but for our family and lots of our friends, this is a season of making things for each other, doing for each other, and getting together for some terrific lovingly prepared food, Continue reading The Holidays Descend – How our Goats help us Cope