Monday, 11 September 2017

Forward to the Past

This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast through the link: www.ferngladefarm.com.au

The rooms in the hotel had a faded glory as if their best days were far behind them, but they were still clean and orderly. The building was constructed in the 19th century and it was holding its age well. And underneath all those years was a certain understated elegance and civility. That business could not be faulted upon as the service was smart and impeccable. And yet behind the reception desk where a person who wore a smart uniform and assisted foreign travellers with their small concerns, there was a sheet of paper which notified guests of the various times when load shedding was to be expected.

The time was late last century, when the editor and I were travelling in the city of Kathmandu in Nepal. The hotel was a very elegant and lovely old establishment which had clearly been catering to foreign tourists for at least a century. It was obvious to me that the establishment was very comfortable in its skin. And yet here was this mysterious memo stuck to the wall behind the reception notifying guests of impending and regular acts of load shedding. This load shedding business was all rather a mystery to the editor and I.

Fortunately for the editor and I, the staff at the hotel were used to dealing with foreign travellers, and as the The Eagles song “Hotel California” belts out, the staff were: “programmed to receive”. We politely asked the simple question: “Excuse me, but can you please explain to me what is load shedding?” Such a simple question was responded to with an even simpler answer: "Ah, this means that the electricity is cut at certain times and on certain days, sir."

All was now clear as mud. The editor and I were travelling in a third world country, albeit a very beautiful country with breathtaking scenery. We were intending to walk around in that country for a couple of weeks, and it appeared that the local authorities regularly cut the power off to parts of the city. The possibility was quite unfathomable to us! And the question remained: How could anyone even think that we were a load to be shed? But then we were a load to be shed because the memo said so, and the unthinkable became the thinkable! We were shed on schedule!

Fortunately the load shedding didn’t affect the excellent food to be found in Kathmandu, and I can state for the record that the Himalaya mountain range did not get any smaller.

Nepal had other surprises for me. Coming from Australia, which is a relatively flat continent, it never occurred to me that a person could walk uphill continuously for six hours. Far out! Strangely enough you could also purchase sugary soft drinks and chocolate bars in the most remote corners of that country (Yay for donkey freight!). Fortunately the load shedding didn't impact upon the availability of chocolate bars.

Of course the editor and I comforted ourselves that we lived in a first world country (in the worlds most liveable city no less) and inconveniences such as having the electricity supply regularly cut off should not be expected in a first world country.
I noted earlier this year, that the powers-that-be decommissioned a coal fired power plant (Hazelwood) which apparently generated 25% of the states electricity. Well done. In about five years time, the state to the north of here is planning to also shut down their third largest coal fired power station (Liddell). If I had to give the governing powers a score card for this strategy I’d score them 10 out of 10 for environmental impact but 1 out of 10 for power supply resilience.

The main problem for resilience is that electricity demand by the population continues to increase because each of these two states are adding by way of immigration approximately an additional 100,000 people each year to the capital cities (Melbourne and Sydney). And those people will probably want to use electricity.

The local electricity story does not end there. In 2016, the state to the west of here had the electricity linkage (South Australia interconnector) to us severed, due to a severe wind storm which toppled the electricity pylons. It was a most impressive wind storm (but no match for Irma). And strangely enough just before the end of 2015, the state to the south of us had the undersea cable (Basslink interconnector) severed for unknown reasons and those repairs took about six months. Needless to say, Bass Strait is one of the roughest stretches of water on the planet. Spare a thought for the poor folks living in that state to south because they rely on Hydro generators for their electricity and were in the midst of a drought and their dams got very low indeed.
Oops! The South Australian interconnector in 2016 was not looking so healthy. Source ABC
People must be taking notice of these changes because I have read articles suggesting that “load shedding” is now a distinct possibility in Australia, and that is despite living in a first world country.


I won’t even mention other articles suggesting that the simplest way to save money on your electricity bill is not to use electricity in the first place (actually yes I will).

Woman, 32, cuts $5,400 from her annual power bill - and reveals her tips for how YOU can do it too

I have not lived in a house connected to the electricity grid since 2010. The house here has a small off grid electricity system that utilises batteries which are charged entirely from the sun using solar photovoltaic panels. It has taken about seven years of tweaks, alterations and additions to our off grid system to make the most of that system. In addition, we have had to modify our behaviour to live optimally with this system.

An off grid solar power system makes no financial sense whatsoever, because I reckon for the small amount of electricity we do use (which is substantially less than most people), we pay about $0.85 per kWh. People connected to the mains electricity grid pay around about $0.31 per kWh and enjoy access to substantially more electricity supply (unless they are a load to shed). But from a resiliency perspective and an environmental perspective an off grid solar power system makes a whole lot of sense. And at least I’m yet to see any notices stuck on the kitchen wall proclaiming regular load shedding for this here household. Of course that does not mean that there will be no outages should anything go wrong!

The weather earlier this week was been feral cold. There have been more incidents of snow falling last week and I reckon over this past fortnight I've seen more snow falling here regularly than I can previously recall. Nature puts on such a good show when storms roll up the valley from the south:
Nature puts on a good show when storms roll up the valley from the south
What is it snowing again? I started to get a bit blasé about snow. Actually that is an outright lie! I loved the snow, and it was so exciting to see snow fall even when there was work that I should have been doing. What can I say, life is short and snow here is rare!
Seriously, how good does this snow fall look?
With the regular snow falls I got stuck into some work which kept me out of the freezing weather conditions. One such project was correcting a minor problem inside the chicken enclosure. When I constructed the chicken enclosure I attached a hook to the wall. From that hook I hung a crate which I intended to use for the purpose of removing soiled bedding straw from the chicken enclosure.
Inside the chicken enclosure there is a crate hanging from the wall which is used to remove soiled bedding straw
The chickens however, had other plans in store for that crate. The naughty chickens decided to roost at night on the crate. Sleeping chickens tend to deposit a lot of manure into their bedding straw. The crate was continually covered in soiled bedding straw and manure, and from my perspective it was remarkably unappealing to use for its intended purpose, and so it became an unofficial chicken roost. 

I decided to formalise the chickens arrangement.
A steel bracket with a plywood base was constructed out of scrap materials
A more formal roost was constructed out of scrap steel and plywood. The arrangement was then installed inside the chickens enclosure. The fluffy chicken collective approve of their new roost and the crate is now not covered in chicken manure and soiled bedding.
The fluffy chicken collective approve of their new roost
As the weekend arrived, the sun shone and the weather warmed and we were able to get outside to do some other work around the farm. 

When the house site was cut into the side of the mountain, we asked the excavator driver to push some of the many large rocks down the hill. One such collection of jumbled rocks presented an opportunity to create a round raised garden bed all the way down below the house. Now I have to mention that these rocks were huge, and a twenty tonne excavator can flick them around with ease. However, all the editor and I had to use was a six foot steel wrecking bar and some chocks to lever the rocks into place. Now a clever and long dead bloke by the name of Archimedes apparently said: "Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth". That dead dude knew what he was talking about! Unfortunately my reality is closer to that of Sisyphus.
Give me a place to stand, and I shall move some huge rocks
The new rock garden bed took 1 cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of a 50/50 mix of mushroom compost and composted woody mulch. And into that new rock garden bed I planted a bare rooted common walnut and some hardy geraniums. Intriguingly, I also discovered by sheer chance another similarly sized stone circle nearby, although this one I had no hand in building...

I reckon the time for planting has almost come to a close and so we planted out a huge variety of cuttings and new plants this past week. In addition to that planting, we also moved a number of plants that were badly sited:
A number of blueberries were planted inside the tomato enclosure
A few gooseberries and cuttings were planted inside the tomato enclosure
A hedge of Chilean guavas were planted inside the tomato enclosure
Plantflation has struck down under! Recently I decided to add several Japanese maples into a large garden bed. However, I discovered to my utter horror that these plants now retail for far more than I had ever intended to pay for them. So I limited myself to the purchase of only three additional Japanese maples and they were planted out a few days ago.
An overstory of Japanese maples was planted into a garden bed this week
Every year, the farm teems with life as more birds, insects and animals turn up for a feed. The sheer variety of bird life on the farm never ceases to amaze me. This week I spotted a pair of Eastern Rosella's which are about as colourful a parrot as you're ever likely to find:
A pair of Eastern Rosella's in flight
But Eastern Rosella's are not King Parrot's are they, and I've been told that it is good to be the King...
A pair of King Parrot's in flight
Despite the recent snow, spring must be here because the flowers are really starting to bloom:
The beautiful smelling Daphne is now in flower
Daisy's are producing lots of blooms
The editor spotted this early Grape Hyacinth
Sweet colts foot which is apparently a herb used in herbal tobacco is in flower
The Hellebore's always put on a good display
The summer heat hardy geraniums are beginning to produce more flowers
And I reckon one of the best flowers of all is this rare and very useful Yellowus Ferngladeii trailer
 me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/archimedes101761.html
Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/archimedes101761.html
Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/archimedes101761.html
The temperature outside now at about 8.30pm is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 641.6mm (25.3 inches) which is more than last week’s total of 620.6mm (24.4 inches).

59 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I hope the oak tree was not a hazard and your son was able to investigate the fallen branch. You know, branches get caught high up in adjacent trees here too and that is a risk of living in and around a forest. I've even seen falling trees get caught in neighbouring trees and you never know when they will topple. One thing you can be sure about, they will eventually fall. A huge chunk of tree fell last night and I'm glad that it did not land on anything.

It does make you wonder doesn't it as to how much schooling is just keeping kids out of mischief and allowing both parents to work in the economy. And I have absolutely no idea. Did you recall the reference?

Those are crazy numbers to pay for a bungalow - and I have to add that money isn't worth what it used to be worth! ;-)! I mean what else can you say when a mass delusion takes hold? Dunno.

Glad you enjoyed the use of the "k". The same can be used for "m" and "t" - but nobody wants to see a bill for a "t" do they? I certainly don't want to be faced with that.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is my point exactly! I mean what happens to the mutton? Surely no canny farmer would let mutton go to waste? Does those sheep eventually become blood and bone fertiliser? Dunno. I'll bet that tour to a sheep farm was an eye opener for the supermarket employees. Did the book mention how the tour was received by the people?

I'm reading the Nearings chapter on health and nutrition and they make some valid points which I've been pondering. They made reference to a cellar with a spring and I read about another such cellar recently. I'd never heard of such a concept before. The discussion about flour was quite alarming to read.

I hope that your friends are safe too. The radio this afternoon had a Professor from ANU discussing the storm surge in Florida and how that works in a tropical cyclone. Not good. To me it looked like a tsunami and anytime the ocean gets sucked out of a bay, you know it is going to come back with even greater force.

The crazy cat lady is almost a cliche don't you reckon? But I have encountered them in the flesh too and they are a force to be reckoned with. Yeah, I've probably made customers uncomfortable too and to be honest I sure have annoyed a few in my time! Closing on the dot at 12.30 Saturday lunchtime used to send people into a blind rage occasionally and made a young retail hack glad for the toughened glass on the front doors.

Yup Lagaan was about the least Bollywood film that you'd possibly come across and it was a good story. My mind just has a mental block when it comes to musicals and Bollywood always chucks in a bit of song and dance - even if the situation does not warrant it.

I forgot to add in a few photos of the many camellia plants that were moved. What can I say, good help is hard to find these days. And another favourite quote: "Sometimes I disappoint even myself". How the heck does one argue with such effacing humour? Out of curiosity, do you see self effacing humour in the US or is it not part of the culture?

Really? Cool! The horseradish plants that I moved comprised two small plants and one epic chunk of hottness! :-)! They were previously planted in garden beds and were difficult to access so I gave them a permanent place. I sort of figure I can dig them up at leisure now. The chickens adore the green leaves which are very sun and heat hardy.

Ouch. You have my sympathies. You know way back in the day people used to chew on activated charcoal in order to keep their teeth clean.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

A world with far less electricity will be interesting, if I live to see it. While I might not want to live without it, having done it before, I could again. Intermittent cut offs wouldn't worry me if one knew when. A surprise in the middle of cake baking would be unfortunate!

I really like the way you have planted trees within rock circles, very attractive.

Son tried to pull out the oak branch using his truck this morning. No luck. The branch has detached from the tree but appears to have grown into another branch which is still attached. I find it fascinating that a branch which is tight against another one can join with it. I had a tree do this with a different kind of tree. I know that one tree was afield maple and don't remember what the other was, probably a poplar; they had become one tree.

Anyhow the oak branch is not in danger of falling, we'll look again once the leaves are off.

The name that I forgot was A.S. Neill and his school was Summerhill. One of Picasso's female models had been a pupil there. There is plenty written about it I think. My son holds it against me that he was ever sent to school; he left at 15 and considers his education to have been a complete waste of time. I have seen problems for people who have avoided school. Even if one doesn't care for society one needs to know how it functions and school certainly informs one.

The use of 'k', why was that letter chosen? Clearly I am missing something.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - When you first started talking about load shedding, I thought it maybe had to do with snow removal. Roofs are a concern in some parts of this country, when the snow gets deep. I think you might remember that quit a few buildings collapsed near where my friends live in Idaho, this last winter.

In this supposed first world country (shall we talk about health care?) rolling black outs and rolling brown outs are pretty standard. It’s usually when heat causes huge demands on the grid. Air conditioning, and all that. We don’t see it up here, as we’ve got the pretty steady supply of hydro power. But California ... There was even a few times where the black outs were unexpected. People stuck in elevators, etc.. Now they can predict demand a bit better and actually schedule shut downs. And, of course there is more public education as to shifting power usage from peak times, to times of less demand and more supply.

100,000 more people a year? Are the hinterlands emptying out? Australia isn’t the easiest country to get into.

Where’s the snow? :-). Here, that would be called a light dusting ... or, that scientific unit of measurement “just a smidge.” But, I can identify. I get giddy like a little kid if we have a small flurry. People in other parts of the country laugh at us when we get 3” of snow and cities close down. It’s just such a novelty, in your part of the world, and, in mine.

Well the book I read was about a small Cleveland supermarket chain ... small by American standards. Still family owned. Maybe 20-30 stores. They try and respond as best as possible to what their customers are asking for. Sustainable / organic products. Apparently, there’s more of a grass roots demand, than the media lets on. So, the people that buy for, or source for the chain check these places out for quality. Checking out the sheep ranch was quit a trek into the wilderness. What the buyers are looking for is basically healthy, happy animals.

Spring houses where pretty standard before widespread refrigeration. But, if you had a spring to keep food cold in your cellar, that was a bonus. Part of the story of the recipe for the cucumber and onion salad I make is that it was put up in tin buckets and “kept in the spring house” til lunchtime. Here, in the Pacific Northwest, kitchen’s often had a funny little cupboard with a screened small opening to the outside. I can remember one in a house we lived in that was probably built in the 1920s. For a lot of the year, it extended the shelf life of some items. I seem to remember the door to it was a bit heavier than the other cupboard doors. Better insulated. Also, it was on the north side of the house. Good planing or chance?

So, in 25 words or less, what did the Nearings have to say about flour? :-). A bit early in time to realize that poor varieties and new milling methods were maybe, not so good. But maybe they were ahead of the curve. I was getting low on all purpose, unbleached flour and was going to upgrade to Bob’s Red Mill. The two outlets I was aware of, here, have either radically cut back or discontinued carrying a full line. Too long a story to go into. I suppose our “health” food stores will carry it, but they will be a lot more expensive.

You probably know that walnuts need two trees to produce. Maybe, you just need two trees in close proximity to be happy. So that they can talk to each other :-).

I see the hurricane decreased in intensity before it hit Tampa and there was very little loss of life, so my friend is probably ok. Might have lost a lot of “stuff”. Also, she’s always had a lot of animals, including a parrot. I’ll hear the tale, sooner or later. Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

That photo you showed of the bent electricity pylon is actually the high voltage transmission line from Pt Augusta to Adelaide (not the SA-Vic interconnector).

Regarding resilience/reliability, I'm yet to be convinced that the Liddell closure need impact reliability. Now that the Aussie grid has a large (and rapidly increasing) capacity for renewables, the idea of "base load" power is outdated and expensive. What is needed is flexible generation that can be quickly "ramped-up" in time of need. It's also worth noting that the decision to close Liddell is economic - not political (it's too expensive to maintain/run, new coal power is too expensive, even without a price on carbon).

I don't think the population size is particularly relevant when discussing reliability -- what's important is the predictability of consumption and the dispatchability of supply. As generation and storage becomes more distributed, I think it will make the grid more stable.

Also, while the grid is undoubtedly inefficient, it is much more efficient than if everyone went off-grid with oversized generation/storage for the 10 bleakest days of the year. This is not an attack on your system, because you are remote -- but it would be highly inefficient to run a system like yours in the city. If nothing else, the cost would be at least 10 times that of the grid.

What I think we're heading towards is pervasive generation and storage, as well as signals that can be sent by the grid operator, to switch off heavy loads in times of need. I think this is the most efficient solution, however it will require that people repair their houses to have much better thermal performance, so that the loss of A/C for 30 mins on the hottest/coldest day of the year is not life-threatening.

Whew -- that's a big post -- really needs a chin-wag over a beer! :-)

Cheers, Angus

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

Are you sure that walnuts need two trees to produce? I had friends with a huge tree in the garden of the old cottage where they lived. Plenty of walnuts but no other tree anywhere that I could see. How close would another tree have to be?

Inge

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

The snow is looking lovely! There were plenty of load shedding events in Laos as well. The thing is, although they have plenty of generating capacity, it all seems to end up in China or Thailand! Funny that..

The new job is going well and tomorrow Mrs Damo will start seeking out a house to rent. Hopefully this time next week we will be in our own place!

More importantly, Lew, I watched the first episode of the 'star trek satire show "the Orville". I liked it, closer to TNG than a comedy. Light and entertaining!

Thanks for the heads up on grand designs. Was a great episode, yet again a couple almost lose everything trying to build an enormous and complicated house. I couldn't believe they never checked how utilities would be connected, and far out buying a 200,000 block of land sight unseen? Keeps me entertained I suppose :-)

Cheers,
Damo

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, I too wonder about electricity and the future. The interesting thing that many locals up here fail to realise is that it may perhaps be very high fire danger zones like this mountain range that are the load that is shed on high demand days. After the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires a successful class action was taken out against the distribution company. I mean it is not as if they haven't written to us (even us here who aren’t connected to the grid) and told us that this would be a genuine possibility. I call that class action situation: winning, then losing! ;-)!

Exactly, the beauty about being advised of load shedding well in advance is that a person can prepare and adapt. I would do no differently to yourself.

Thank you. It is a great use of rocks isn’t. And the other stone circle which is almost on contour is intriguing. My only regret is not being more forward thinking when I had the very large excavator here. Such a machine would create a huge mess nowadays...

That is fascinating and I have never seen that before with a tree. And yes, if a tree or branch is caught high up in another tree and doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon, then it probably isn't that much of a drama. That happens here a lot and you just have to keep your wits about you whilst in the forest - I have noticed that some people can maintain that level of alertness of their surroundings, whilst others appear to be oblivious. Do you see that or is that just a problem for down here?

What a fascinating ideology. Thanks for the link and I will have a read on that later this evening. Absolutely too, one cannot hide in the forest and pretend that the world is other than it is. On the other hand your son may have encountered difficulties at school and for that he has my compassion.

Kilo comes from the metric measure Kilogram, referring to 1,000 grams in the Kilogram. There was a very naughty rap song (you were warned!) by the artist Ghostface Killah which goes into that very subject from an extremely unusual perspective (not one for the family friendly audience here!)

Incidentally Dr Louis Glowinski who wrote an exceptionally good book on fruit growing down under agrees with your views on walnuts.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Snow removal! That is funny because the biggest dump of snow that I can recall was last year and it must have remained frozen for at least a couple of hours! Hehe! Absolutely roof construction is a serious problem though and occasionally roofs can be constructed so that they are not fit for the conditions. It happens. The house here was hit by a tornado (albeit a baby tornado) and I was very thankful for all of the extra work that went into tying the entire house together with steel. For some strange reason I copped a very high wind load rating on the roof and had to construct to crazy high standards. Dunno, it does work. I often wonder whether it may be better and cheaper to construct simpler houses that can be replaced at a far cheaper cost to society. I believe the Japanese may take some of those aspects in their construction standards. Do you know anything about that? I understand that there is an element of transience which is accepted in their culture and that may be a good thing.

You know, when I first encountered the concept of load shedding my experience with electricity to that time was that it was a non negotiable supply. I really had no idea and to see such things in action was a real wake up call. Yes the same sort of public education goes on down here about water usage - especially in drought years - and surprisingly it is quite effective.

100k people per year are from overseas as far as I am aware. This is one method of other countries offloading foreign exchange reserves that they may feel uncomfortable about holding. We treat such people as an export.

Totally agree with you about the just a smidgen of snow. But it is way cool! Literally too, you know. Hehe! Strangely enough there are an awful lot of similarities in the environment between your corner of the globe and this little chunk of the continent. You know people in Melbourne are in awe of the snow that we get here and it is quite the topic of conversation. Of course novelty plays a big part in that. 3" of snow and we would have absolutely no idea how to cope. I'm unsure I'd be able to get off the mountain in those conditions...

Good for them. What an excellent basis for a small business. You have to differentiate yourself otherwise there is no - what marketing folk speak would call it - unique selling proposition. A lot of the bigger businesses appear to be homogenised down here, and two companies apparently control 70% of the grocery market. I don't shop at either of those on principle. I'm genuinely impressed that employees would take the time to see whether the sheep are in good health. Strangely enough I'm less interested in organic production than quality production in good soils. People may get upset about that, but I'm more concerned with outcomes than labels and a giant monoculture organic farm can possibly be very harmful.

I reckon it was good planning and such an addition would have been invaluable. I've seen root cellars and stores in older houses. They even had the storage bins that kept produce in the dark. Nowadays most people don't have a clue and that is a bit of a worry. Thanks for the explanation as I never would have thought about such a construction. Talk of springs always brings my mind back to the long term problem of water. I may ask around about that soon, but I'm not ready yet.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

25 words or less... OK, well before we begin, I must say that I agree with a lot that the Nearings have to say, but far out, they have the fervour of the true believers and honestly every time I read the book I feel like I'm 12 years old and copping a well deserved lecture. I feel that they are lovely people, but alas they may supply rather earnest conversation and I would have real troubles trying to talk them into a pint of stout for just one example. I'm not a purist and just try do the best I can and strike a pleasant balance. The Nearings have gone to one extreme, but I respect them for doing the hard yards that I can't. Interestingly too, most of the fats they enjoy I can and am growing here, but I have a lot of trouble believing their stories of self sufficiency.
(25 words or less) Here goes (and those words don't count by the way!!!) Hehe!

One - Not milling whole grains on the day that flour is required

Two - Refining flour (softness and appeal) removes the germ, outer covering, oil, protein, and minerals

Three - Whitening flour is an apparently toxic activity

Four - The milling process involves heat and metal machines which further deprive the flour of nutritional elements

Five - Enriching the flour by putting back synthetic substitutes for the stuff removed by the process

The Nearings make a strong case that's for sure. Of course the above is the barest of details taken from the book.

Nope, apparently I have it on good authority that a single tree will yield less walnuts, but for home use that is probably fine - which was the point in the book. A lot of advice relating to fruit trees is based on commercial production and so I just sort of pick and choose what works. I'm not looking for massive yields of nuts from the tree, I just want the thing to survive.

Glad to hear that you believe that your friend will be OK. It certainly looked as if the storm lost energy didn't it? I'm genuinely surprised at the lack of coverage that we're getting in the media, and Houston just doesn't even get the merest of mentions here anymore...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus and Damo,

Thanks for the comments, but I've run out of time to reply to you both this evening and promise to reply tomorrow.

Damo - Thanks very much for the Orville tip off! Happy days!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Hmm. I really don’t know too much about Japanese construction standards. But they do “build light” (or did) due to earthquakes. I wonder how much of that spare, stripped down look is due to ... well, there’s not much tat to loose.

LOL. One person’s organic is not another person’s organic. :-). One thing I remember reading about the store in Cleveland is that the employees were versed in where the food was sourced from. Or, it was on the signage. One think I like about my little veg store is that they usually say on the signs where the produce and fruit comes from.

Walnuts. This next bit is for INGE, too. I thought that about walnuts as most of the nurseries (even the “good” ones) often say you need two walnuts to get a crop. Perhaps it should be two walnuts to get a good crop. :-). But, here’s what my “Western Fruit, Berries and Nuts” book says. After saying that walnut trees have both male and female flowers, and, that just to make things interesting, they flower at different times (but there MAY be some overlap) “If walnut trees consistently produce light crops, graft a pollinizer limb to the tree or plant another variety nearby to provide pollination. Suitable pollinizers are listed in the variety chart.”

Yup. News cycles move very fast, these days. I had read somewhere that Houston (our 4th largest city) has NO zoning laws. I decided to check into that. Well, yes and no. There was actually a pretty good article as to why this appears to be so. But, actually, a lot of what passes for zoning is just not called that. And, there are quit a few restrictions in either State or local laws. But the bottom line is, as here, too much wetland (one big sponge) is filled in or paved over.

Well, I went to the dentist, this morning. At our local clinic for poor folks. :-). That’s where I went last year, and they discovered I had problems beyond their ability to help. Hence, the oral surgeon. Really, pretty good news, all around. I saw Dr. Li, who I saw last year. I’d forgot he looks like he’s about 12. He’s really into saving the problem teeth. They have no cavities, so he thinks a good cleaning and a couple of fillings (they’re cratered) will help. And, the really good news is, the area that was worked on last year? It’s filled in with bone, again. Whew! I’d wondered about that.

Also, there was some government money available for a ... preventative care program that I signed up for. It will cover an extensive examination and a good cleaning. Why not?

My Farmer’s Almanac gardener’s calendar for next year finally showed up. Another concern off my mind.

Oh, the Nearings. Yup. All those things I had kind of known, and, through my reading over the last two years had become clear to me. About flour. I just didn’t know that people were tuned into that “way back then.” Now there’s also the concern about varieties of wheat. There’s a couple of books I’d like to read about that, but they’re kind of expensive. Will have to see if the library has them. If not ... interlibrary loan.

This interest of mine in flour is all part of the move to doing my own baked goods and really thinking long and hard about the flour I use. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Damo - Thanks for the review of "Orville". On my list to watch when the library gets it .... probably about this time, next year. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks for the correction. Oops! Was the damage to the interconnector similar looking?

There is a lot in what you say and I agree with you about Liddell. I'm not so sanguine about renewables replacing current methods of base load generation. I agree with you that what you mentioned is a technical possibility, the problem as I see it gets down to resource limits surrounding materials such as lithium and other rare Earth minerals required by renewable technologies. Take for example the proposed large scale battery storage facility in SA, I have questions about how long those batteries can be utilised before they require replacement (possibly between one and two decades less if they are heavily used) and there is a lot of other technology involved in that particular operation. As far as I can understand these matters, the less efficient the battery technology is, the longer they'll last. And then what happens? I have had to modify my own behaviours in order to live with this renewable stuff and I don't see many other people doing that in their lives - and that is no small matter to be brushed off and dismissed. The economic arrangements in place do not support changes in peoples lives that can make the most of renewables.

Have you installed a large scale battery at your place? It may be an instructive exercise? Dunno.

I don't believe that we are pursuing policies either economic, social or political that are leading us towards a distributed grid. Can you point me to some examples of how our grid is becoming more distributed? I'm frankly curious about that.

Exactly. You are 100% spot on about the consequences for everyone going off grid and the inefficiencies of that. But that is how nature supplies energy and resources and whether we agree with that or not, that is how it works. If you consider the matter from the point of view of trying to grow tomatoes in an Adelaide winter, well far out, that is an artificial system and requires far more energy than just chucking the same plants outside in the sun during summer. Every renewable energy (and food is a stored energy source) works like that. How would you explain to Mrs Angus that on a cloudy and still day, that there is no electrical energy to use?

Yeah, I'd much more enjoy discussing this over a beer! Hehe! Sorry, but I just don't see the willpower or gumption in the community to achieve any of those goals in your last paragraph. This does not mean that they are not worthwhile goals, I just see a lot of talk and not much if any action. And when I mention to people how much it costs to go off grid and enjoy perhaps one quarter of the electricity that people are currently used to, well let's put it this way - they're not keen...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Too funny. Well you know, Pol Pot apparently exchanged rice for guns, so that is an old story... Far out.

Good luck with the house search. When you make your mind up about something, you two sure do move quickly. I'm impressed to see such decisiveness in the face of uncertainty. A lot of people have trouble coming to any decision about all sorts of stuff these days and I'm curious about that matter. Well done and definitely worth an elephant stamp! :-)! I see a lot of people in a funk and I have no idea why they are comfortable with that situation.

Thanks for the tip off about Orville! Woo Hoo! TNG was pretty good and holds up well. It was nice to see the TNG crew relax a bit from their second year.

How good was it? Far out, how crushed did the guy look at the end of it all? Exactly, it was a rookie error to assume that services would be available, but then the guy was a rookie. Down in Victoria in the urban areas you have to get a plan of the services before you start digging, otherwise the bills for damaging the services are ... expensive. Fortunately the plans are quite good and I've never damaged such things when digging. Interestingly you can unearth old services which are no longer connected and are not on any plan at all and I've seen that. Angle grinders can sort those problems out pretty quickly! :-)!

I love that show, although it does raise my blood pressure... It's a complex relationship...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That makes sense. The volcanoes and tsunamis probably also impact upon that culture in all sorts of ways that we can never understand as outsiders. There is something to be said about the ability to move on after a disaster - of course this assumes that there is somewhere to move to that has resources and can absorb the population.

Haha! You betcha. The organic thing ain't all the same is it? I had a brain flash this morning after reading another lecture from the well meaning but rather earnest Nearings about their predilection for veganism. I applaud the vegans as they do it tough. On the other hand I don't much appreciate being assaulted by ideology. It occurred to me as I was reading about how they were lecturing their neighbours about food way back in the day - and everyone apparently agreed to disagree (which I approve of) that I had a minor epiphany about their farm. The couple were very insistent about not keeping animals on the farm for all sorts of reasons and then the little light bulb went on: they keep humans on the farm which perform the same functions as animals, and I have to ask the hard question: what are those things other than animals as they appear to be doing the same thing that other animals do: converting vegetation into manure and also providing work. It occurred to me that the authors could not see that, and the implications are quite fascinating. Anyway, just another morning here! ;-)!

What a great idea about the walnuts. I'd never considered that option about the grafting. Of course fruit trees are smart in their own way, and grafted trees often produce root stock which may perform those pollination services too. Nature is quite determined to continue! The fruit trees are just starting to produce some serious blooms with almonds, plumcots and apricots in bloom (or starting too). I hope they're OK as the weather forecast predicts snow down to 600m tonight. Ouch. A late freeze took out the apricot blossoms last season and the fruit was hard to find anywhere local.

Yeah, no zoning does sound a bit strange doesn't it? Of course there are plenty of ways to achieve the same outcome and call it something else. Such laws are usually a form of protection - although people chafe at the bit about them. Hey, don't laugh I'm watching an occasional swamp being constructed upon. I hope they know what they're doing because back in 2010 it looked like it had about an inch of water lying on the surface for quite a while. Oh well, NMP (not my problem).

Great news. Good stuff. The cavities probably made the roots sensitive. And how good is the news about the bone repairing itself. Nice one. :-)! Prevention and annual checkups beats fixing teeth every single time. And sore jaws does not make one inclined to jawbone! Of course accidents and infections can happen too.

Ah. Good to hear that you read such periodicals. Do you get a lot out of them? Into the Ruins spring edition turned up here this morning and I'm looking forward to reading the stories. They're usually quite good!

Yes, grains are an interesting matter aren't they? If I could be so bold as to suggest the book: Home grown Whole Grains (Grow, Harvest and Cook) by Sara Pitzer? I found it to be an excellent read.

Your interest in grains will be well rewarded in the kitchen. The trick is I don't believe that anything other than whole grains will keep well and the problem really has arisen out of a separation of the growing process, the milling process and the distribution system. I have no doubts that milled whole grain flour will be much better for you than the flour we get today. I suspect the irregular commenter Steve (Yahoo2) was alluding mysteriously to that matter a couple of months back without actually spelling it out for a slow learner like myself! Hehe! You have to be across so much stuff. And sometimes my brain is full as. Oh well.

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

I think what happened in the State-wide blackout was that the high-voltage lines from the (now-closed) Pt Augusta coal powerplant to Adelaide went down, that caused grid instability which caused the wind turbines to shut down to protect themselves, which overloaded the SA-Vic interconnector which shut down to protect itself, which blacked out the state.

I definitely agree that Australians need to greatly curtail their power consumption! Any discussion about climate/resources needs to start there. (That's why my family and I use about 5 kWh/day total)

I just think that by sharing storage, we will need less of it, because the different use patterns will tend to average out and remove some of the spikes in demand. In cities, that means using the grid. I think that current patterns of small-scale solar PV and wind turbine installation are decentralising the grid right now. This is why I think that we don't really need base-load power any more. In a grid that is largely supplied by renewables (that's the case in SA, right now) we need power that can quickly be brought online -- such as the much-vaunted Tesla battery, and the gas turbines that AGL is proposing to build in SA (I think they can be brought online from a cold start in 5 minutes). This is known as "dispatchable".

So I'm not sure if your comments about running out of power on a cloudy day are right or not (time will tell), but I do agree that, if we're to live within our biophysical limits (humans haven't done that since the early 1970s) we might need to accept that we can't have everything we want.

I haven't put in a battery at my place yet (one thing at a time! ;-) but do hope to. My goal isn't be to take my house off-grid though.

Cheers, Angus

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

We are very spoiled having essentially uninterrupted power. If it was a scheduled outage it would be pretty easy to adjust to and/or plan for.

Chickens will roost where chickens will roost. I let my chickens out of their outdoor run for a couple hours each evening. There is one that will roost on top of a barrel in the barn every day during that time leaving her droppings. Just put my meat chickens out into the chicken tractor yesterday. Could be the last batch for awhile. I will not miss pulling that thing around the yard.

The windows were done yesterday. It took two people 5 hours to complete the job. Some of the hard to reach high ones were quite dirty. I have cleaned out the crawl space and organized the few items that remain. Mostly Christmas decorations, still more stuff of youngest daughter and some boxes of family mementos that I inherited from my mother when she passed. When we added on a nice cemented crawl space was put in under the new part of the house. It's dry and has lights. A lovely place to shove stuff in and forget about it which was indeed the case.

Weather continues to be very dry but nice temperatures.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Lew

Glad to hear the good report from the dentist. I had a root canal done about 10 months ago but never had a crown as there is still a bit of swelling and pain from the infection. My dentist still thinks there's a good chance it'll clear up but I'm worried I'll lose the tooth after paying for a root canal.

Our dentist has mostly retired. He sold his business to his much younger partner of many years but still takes patients on Tuesdays. He is one of the most boring people I know but is an excellent dentist and has done all the dental work for my brothers as well - often discounting for them (and sometimes for me too). Even though he's semi retired he is keeping very busy trying to get his clinic open again for low income patients. He's very involved in the community and all in all a very good guy.

Hey, I've been meaning to ask you (and anyone else for that matter) if you've ever watched the cooking show "Two Fat Ladies". I'm not one for watching cooking shows but that one was really a stitch. I believe it originally aired during the "no fat" phase but the ladies used tons of butter and cream.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I agree that some people are aware of possible dangers in their surroundings and others are completely oblivious. Alertness is just as important in cities as it is in the woods.

Thanks for explaining 'k', I had considered kilo... but couldn't see why it would have a financial connection. Unfortunate that thousand and trillion both begin with t.

We had a storm last night. Fierce gusts of wind were hitting my shack. I slept atrociously, wake, sleep, wake, sleep... Nothing to do with the wind. I am convinced that my sleep is affected when the barometric pressure drops. Twigs and leaves down everywhere but nothing large down here.

Son' new young dog was barking madly at me as I walked out. He was following me but fled whenever I turned round. Son says that this dog reminds him of an old poacher's trick. When a gamekeeper caught a poacher, he would tell the poacher to call his dog. The poacher would do this and the dog would turn tail and run. 'Not my dog sir'.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, I like the Old Farmer’s Almanac gardener’s calendars. Nice monthly illustrations of plants and all kinds of tips and information about what’s going on in the garden from month to month. They’re also a good size for storage, so I can keep track of stuff from year to year.

My “Into the Ruins” showed up week before last. I haven’t been able to get to it, yet.But that reminds me, I just finished the book “Station Eleven” (St. John Mandel, Emily, 2014). It’s a novel of fast collapse. A pandemic flu. It’s about a traveling troop that does symphony music, alternating with Shakespeare. Mostly around the Great Lakes region. A lot of the action is set 20 years after collapse, but it slides back and forward in time. People connect, separate and re-connect again. It was pretty well written, I thought. I heard about it through those lectures I watched on “Great Utopian and Dystopian Literature.”

I’ve written down the title of the book on grains and will see if my library carries it. Yup. Whole grain flour is a bit hard t store. It really needs to be refrigerated. About 5 pounds at a time is all I can handle space wise. One of the problems here is that a lot of flour on offer at the grocery stores isn’t very well marked as to ... what kind of wheat is in the flour. Other than broad classifications like “unbleached flour” or “whole wheat flour.”

When reading about say, Italian cooking (“Mastering Pasta”), the Italians seem to have a better grip on different types of wheat grown in different regions. The French with their baking seem to have more of an awareness of the same thing. But sometimes I’m a bit adrift as they take the availability of those flours for granted. Here, you really got to dig for them and can’t find them much beyond specialty outlets.

I think since I started pretty much making my own baked stuff, my general health has been better. Even using the more commercial flours. Might be my imagination. But I did notice that I’ve shown a slow weight loss, without even trying. Of course, the whole thing might be my imagination, and more due to the exertion of the move and the generally hot summer :-).

Well, I’m off to get the craters filled in my teeth. Back up the dump trucks with the fill material! :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks for the correction and explanation. That makes sense. What a cascade of failures. Wow!

As an interesting side story, back when I tested a wind turbine here, the system had to allow for a dump load (which is a massive resistor and converts unused wind turbine energy into heat) which takes the excess energy from a wind turbine which cannot be stored in the batteries or used in the household and keeps a load on the wind turbine. A very necessary precaution that one, but I can tell you that the arrangement here eventually failed. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe the very large wind turbines connected to the grid don’t have a dump load and so they have to be turned out of the wind if the grid is disconnected otherwise, they'll spin too fast and self destruct. Can you imagine the heat put out by one of those grid tied monsters? :-)! Wind turbines always have to be connected to a load in order to stop them from spinning too fast and there is no way around that one. The most resilient arrangement would be a very small wind turbine connected to an unregulated battery as there are few components to fail in that system. I believe that is how they used to do that arrangement in the days of yore.

Absolutely and I applaud your efforts. There seems little point talking about environmental concerns if you can't get your own house in order. Some people may feel that is a harsh point of view and they may well be right.

Exactly. You have stated your case and to be honest I'd very chuffed if your vision of the future was implemented. I have stated my case why I believe that this won't in fact happen. I don't know about you, but we just have different perspectives on the matter and as you quite correctly point out, time will resolve the uncertainties and show us which way we end up going. And it may be in a direction that neither you nor I actually considered!

I do hope that you install a battery and inverter – even a small one – as it will be a very instructive experience. One bit of advice I can provide about inverters is that you get exactly what you pay for and I'd recommend considering local manufacturers such as Selectronics and Latronics, but there are some other very good units from overseas too. But there is a lot of rubbish out there too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Lucky you as those are good conditions! The local conditions with the electricity are not quite as stable as what you enjoy, from what people tell me anyway. The letter I received from the distributor said that there was a high likelihood that the power would be cut off on high bushfire risk days - and fair enough too. I have to laugh as from time to time I get unsolicited phone calls asking me whether I want to get on a cheaper electricity plan. The poor sales folk have no idea what to say when I mention the whole not connected to the grid thing. Oh well.

Yeah, there is no rhyme or reason why chickens roost where they do. And do your lot change from day to day? There is a lot of intrigue going on in that chicken enclosure. And yes they really do leave their droppings everywhere when they sleep. Sometimes, some poor chicken falls asleep below another chicken who is perched way up high above them. I try and alter the perches so that doesn't happen. Unfortunately it is often the lower order chickens who suffer that indignity. Interestingly too, the chickens are very adept at cleaning themselves in such a situation.

Dirty windows. Yup. What can you do? 5 hours! Over winter I tend to get moulds on parts of the window frames because the winter is so cold and humid (99% for months on end), although I have noticed this year with the new heater that the mould build up is far less than previous years. I reckon I need your window cleaners... Glad that job only took 5 hours as it may have been worse. Sometimes I wonder about houses that have really high lights and/or windows as I wonder how the owners can possibly clean or repair them. Spiders leave cobwebs too high up way out of reach.

Well, I see garages down here being used to store stuff rather than the intended purpose of storing vehicles. It happens.

Earlier this week the weather reached 66'F which was really nice and the fruit trees are beginning to bloom - you can smell the pollen in the air. But today, the weather has turned and rain is predicted for tonight. Sydney (which is the capital city of the state to the north of here) had a record high temperature yesterday of about 90'F.

I believe Lewis may have some thoughts on that show, although my memory may be incorrect. He quite enjoyed it.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I have wondered for a while whether people living in urban areas have to learn to block out a lot of distractions and so in the process they become less alert to what is going on around them? What do you reckon about that? I once had a bloke visit the farm and I was amazed at how many different things (plants and infrastructure) that the dude stood on and he appeared completely oblivious to them. It certainly wasn't a malicious act, he just didn't look. Dunno.

Oh yeah, speaking of being oblivious, I never noticed that the use of the "t" could be confused with "thousands". Out of curiosity, is suffix the correct description for that sort of tacked on abbreviation?

Glad to hear that nothing fell on or near the house during the wind storm. I'll share an interesting side story, and you can make of it what you will. I'm constantly being exposed to changes in air pressure due to going up and down in elevation quite rapidly. Melbourne is more or less at sea level... Anyway, very occasionally if I am dehydrated I can feel a pressure build up in my ears as I go up or down in elevation and drinking water seems to fix it. That is one of the reasons I drink plenty of water!

That is a neat trick with a dog. Thanks for sharing it. The enclosures certainly would have created a situation where such plausible deniability was a necessity.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh! I was confused, I believed that the Old Farmers Almanac was a periodical. Thanks for the correction and yes, that would be a nice thing. I'm very old school with scheduling and use notes, a calendar and a diary. It just all sort of works and of course there is always the risk of physical destruction of those things, but you know: software changes, hardware fails, operating systems disappear, so I'm not much of a fan of the electronic devices.

You might be interested, but down here, we also get a "sow and plant what when calendar" which is an invaluable tool. Given the tomato disasters last year - as we planted them out too early several times - I'm starting to put some consideration into how we go about doing those activities. It is complex and I wonder how the old timers used to manage that task? Dunno. Do you know anything about that history? We already use a monthly activity calendar here as a reminder of what to do, but you know the weather is so variable from year to year that there is a considerable amount of guess work involved in that too.

Speaking of weather records: Sydney's record early-season heat. And they are having a hard time of it up there in the state to the north of here as the cold weather has abruptly returned: Flights from Sydney Airport cancelled due to high winds, passengers may wait for days.

It's a long way to get down here... Hehe! I haven't read Into the Ruins either yet as I'm still ploughing (excuse the pun) through the Nearing's book. I reckon I agree with about two thirds of their outlook and disagree with about a third of it. That isn't too bad really. I was reading about their attempts at community and I was just hoping that they weren't lecturing their neighbours. Oh well, it made for entertaining reading and I could just imagine the reactions of the poor neighbours listening to their intellectual betters (or perhaps so they considered themselves). Far out. I tend to read books that I enjoy at a much faster rate.

Thanks very much for the book review, I'm always looking for good works of fiction to read, and stories don't need a rigid and linear timeline for me, but others may feel differently about that. Sometimes surprises can wait in a fluid sense of time in a story.

The grain book is quite good as it gets right back to basics and was written for the home gardener or small holder. A lot of agricultural texts can be very unapproachable.

Mate, we have the same problem down here with such produce and who knows what you could be looking at - or even where it came from. It may be from several different species and travelled half way around the globe. There are more questions unanswered than answered. You have to shop around until you find a reliable supplier. For example, the organic rolled oats I get by the 20kg / 44 pound bags are purchased from a specific supplier in Melbourne who obtains it from who knows where.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

I reckon things are exactly as you say, different cultures demand point of origin for their food sources, but then those cultures may have a stronger food culture and appreciation for that in the first place? Dunno.

cont...

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Yes, I don't know if we'll pull it off either. Probably the simplest way would be with an economic signal -- instead of simple tariffs, you just pay whatever the spot price is at that 5 minute interval (at the moment the spot price is capped at about $10/kWh, but to do this properly that would have to be lifted). I imagine people would happily turn off devices when they were paying $30/kWh! It would drive all kinds of building management systems to automate this and avoid bankrupting power bills.

Also, I just saw this, which seems very pertinent:
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2017/09/how-to-run-modern-society-on-solar-and-wind-powe.html

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Interruptions abound this evening! :-)!

The upshot is I reckon the search for those grains (or flour) is probably not a bad idea, and you know I reckon you are correct about baking your own bread products at home contributing to your health. A lot of fresh bread may be baked that day or only a day before, but far out the dough may have been made upto six months before and who knows where that was done. Anyway, I've noticed that the bread I bake here stays fresh for the day and that is about it. The following day the centre of the load becomes progressively stale as it is exposed to the air. I have no idea how other bread products remain soft for longer than that, but it must involve some stabilisers or preservatives. Its a bit dodgy really.

How did the teeth dump truck situation go? I hope you are feeling OK?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

I had missed your later walnut tree comment. Was alerted to the miss by gathering that your teeth weren't too bad and wondering why I hadn't heard that, so I back tracked. Male and female flowers tending to occur at different times makes sense. After all that occurs with cucumbers and squashes, not such a problem as one would usually have more than one plant.

@ Margaret

I always watched the two fat ladies, in the main because I enjoyed them so much not for the cookery. It was so long ago that I have really forgotten. I believe that both are now deceased.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I was enthralled with your hotel story and your reflections on electricity supplies.

The chickens certainly love their new perch. In fact, the chickens above them look quite jealous. The Silkies look like poodles.

And soon to have lots of new little parrots . . . The in-flight photos are amazing.

Hello, Yellow Trailer (to use the common term)!

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris again

I reckon that you are probably correct about use of 'suffix' but am sure that Lew will know for certain.

Am not a bit surprised at the fellow who trampled on things when visiting you. I am amazed at the people who visit me and look neither to right nor left. They often have no interest in the outdoors at all or the indoors come to that. I am always fascinated by other people's gardens and homes. I often have to curtail my nosiness when it comes to other people's homes. Some want to show you everything and others would think it most discourteous if you wanted to look around.

I visited the 'Antiques roadshow' (later to be shown on television) this morning as it was held at Osborne House. I took a pair of watercolours hoping that they could tell me something about the artist. No such luck, though they thought highly of them. As the artist was painting in the early 30s and was German, he probably died in the war. At least they were able to tell me which part of his signature was his surname; I had not been sure. They were not sure what the surname was though; there is nothing more difficult than German capital letters in the old handwritten script.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I’ve heard of some utilities where you pay less for electricity, when you use it in off peak hours. Not where I live. So, if you shift something energy intense, like drying clothes to later in the evening, you pay less for usage. I suppose it all revolves around “smart” meters. More of the internet of things. Right after I moved in here, I got a call that my power would be disrupted for about 5 minutes while they swapped in a new meter. If I were on a computer, I might want to shut it down.

Well, having just moved into town, I’m sure learning to block out some distractions :-). My apartment is high up (third floor) but I’m on the parking lot side. There’s the trains. But I’m beginning to filter some noise out. Back in the Good Old Days, people who didn’t pay attention to their surroundings were sorted out of the gene pool, pretty quickly :-).

Sow and plant calendars and charts are great for an ... indication, a possible time frame for planting. It’s more a heads up, I think. Then you’ve got to watch “the signs” and keep your fingers crossed :-). Here, if we have a wet spring, there’s always a lot of grousing about seed rotting and having to replant. Sometimes, garlic is put in too early in the fall, starts to grow too early and is nipped by frost. Our days are getting shorter and the past couple of days, it’s felt a bit fall-ish. Daytime temps are in the low 70s. We may get a bit of rain over the weekend. But, we shouldn’t see a frost for another month and a half, or so.

The trip to the dentist went ok, but the filling is a little “high” and I can’t close my teeth, entirely. If it doesn’t resolve by Monday, I’ll probably go back and have them file or sand it down a bit.

Talk about cascading failures ... I’m taking a nap just after 5, yesterday, and the fire alarms went off. Someone’s visiting sister had managed to burn something. The alarm drives every thought out of your head and clears your sinus, too :-). The firemen showed up, but none of the three “supervisors” was on site to be able to access the key to shut off the alarms. So, it was almost an hour before someone was rounded up to do that. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - Oh, yes. "The Two Fat Ladies." I've got all their books, the series on DVD and the t-shirt :-). Well, not the t-shirt, but I was tempted by the coffee mug from the PBS store :-). Clarissa Wright (the blonder of the two) also wrote a history of English cooking and food, which I have. I don't think I have it, but I also read her biography. As she is also in recovery, like me, we "bonded" through the written word. Well, at least on my side :-). All that wine she appeared to be swilling on the program ...fruit juice. :-).

Sigh. Teeth get to be so much of a problem as we get older. I also had a dentist that retired. That was a black day. My two trips to the clinic, with a 67% discount came to about $240. So, that was two x-rays and two fillings. And those fillings ain't gold :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Is that spot price per kWh or is it for some sort of multiple of kWh? $10 per kWh would destroy the economy as nobody would be able to afford electricity which I believe retails for around about $0.31 per kWh nowadays – but I have not seen a bill for years that I took any notice of. Of course such a strategy would resolve the dilemma in a highly uncomfortable way.

Thanks for the link to lowtech magazine and it is interesting that they too had to consider the larger problems that I consider here with the little micro-grid. Seriously, the usage current can rise from almost nothing to 150 Amps within seconds and that is no small problem to deal with. The load side can rise beyond 200 Amps! You know the DC cables which are used to transmit the electricity from the panels cost more than the panels themselves, so I had to wonder about the economics of a super grid with DC interconnectors over a vast area as they discussed in the article. You may laugh at my misfortune, but the last time I bought cables, the supplier made an error and supplied 10m less cable than I'd paid for. It was an error and I have been dealing with them for years, but now I go elsewhere as that was an unforgiveable sin.

You are right too, the economic incentives for people to utilise resources better are not there or perhaps people just don't understand – or don’t want to understand. I saw another article in the paper with some family crying poor, but the sheer quantity of electricity they were using was so far beyond my understanding that I struggled feeling any sympathy for them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Glad you enjoyed the story! It was nice being so naive... The Himalayas are a truly beautiful part of the world and we took the lesser travelled road into western Nepal and the group walked for days without seeing many other people. However, when we hit the main walking trails, far out! The funny thing about our travels is that we mostly travelled to Third World countries in Asia and the thing that stood out in those journeys is just how good our infrastructure is relative to such countries, but also how much we take it for granted and let it decay. Dunno. I'm not comfortable with letting hard won gains disappear, but other people appear to feel differently and don't want to pay for their upkeep.

Haha! I don't think so. The chickens above them are jealously ensuring that lesser chickens don't attempt to sleep on their highest perch. Those "cool kids" chickens are ruthless as, and I have watched them unceremoniously push other lesser chickens off the high perch.

Needless to say that Silky chickens are unable to sleep on the high perch, but you know what? The Silky chickens make up for their lack of cool by having very pleasant personalities and just being enjoyable to have around. And you may be surprised to know, but Silkies are some of the hardiest chickens and enjoy surprisingly good health. The oldest Silky chicken is now about eight years old and she has been nicknamed: "Silky mum" as she takes newcomers under her wing and none of the other chickens hassle her.

Hehe! Those digital cameras are pretty good aren't they? One of my lenses has a bit of mould just inside the lens and I'm going to have to take it in to a shop for a clean... The winters here are crazy humid - and getting more humid. The rain this afternoon was torrential.

The bright yellow trailer sends you cordial greetings and best wishes for fall weather!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Ah yes, thank you for considering the grammatical matter and I may have to pose the question to Lewis directly. He has of course had other matters on his mind and a trip to the dentist can strike fear into the most fearless of souls.

I too am very nosy when it comes to other peoples gardens and houses. :-)! Two weekends ago the town to the north of here held a daffodil festival and some hardy souls opened their gardens. I visited one such garden and had an enjoyable discussion with the gardener but unfortunately the heavens opened and the rain was torrential. That rain pretty much killed the discussion and we all scuttled off to shelter.

You know the entire public liability insurance problem is a nightmare for opening the garden here. How it works is that if I don't charge entry for the garden, then anyone who arrives is covered by the public liability policy on my household insurance. But then, any tyre kicker can turn up and I don't wish to deal with the sheer volume of people. Unfortunately, if I charge entry to visit the garden, the insurance company then says that I am running a business and I need a separate public liability insurance policy. And then that policy costs more than what I receive in fees for opening the garden and so I possibly end up out of pocket whilst other people get to enjoy the garden. Far out, the situation makes me grumpy as, but it is not worth risking an injury claim against me.

How nice is that with the painting? My German is non-existent. The editors dad spoke fluent German being of Austrian extraction, but that can also bring other cultural traits with it, and as such the editor learned little German... Oh well.

The rain here is yet again torrential…

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

First business of the day! :-)! If one was to write the number 100k as a representation for the number 100,000 would the "k" be properly described as a suffix? I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter as to be honest I am unsure of the correct word to describe that usage. You know, I'm starting to wonder if my language education was somewhat lacking? You may be interested but I have been wondering lately whether we pick up and learn language as a "usage" mental pathway rather than as something taught in schools? Dunno, but if language isn't exercised regularly and stretched then people may become unable to express themselves adequately - and that may lead to a certain sort of frustration and anger in the community? Dunno.

Far out, the rain has been torrential here this afternoon. And I discovered that the drain leading from the road into the fern gully was bypassed and so not much water was flowing into the gully. Oh no! Some of the rainforest trees which I planted in there look a bit crispy and that was how I discovered the disaster. Oh well, the water is flowing in there now and as per your suggestions, I had a good talk to the trees and then gave them a feed of seaweed solution. The ferns barely noticed the lack of water. Once the trees are well established they'll hardly notice such problems but some of them are in their first year in the ground.

I have been busily feeding the walnut tree too every couple of days or so with a seaweed solution and it may yet break dormancy, although it is still early days. Fingers crossed! I went and had a look at comparable walnut trees today and they look about the same, although I did come home with a few more blueberry shrubs…

Well the smart meters are an entire story to themselves aren't they? Way back in the day people used to be paid to go around and read meters. Automation sucks. As far as I can tell, I believe that the grid now has some sort of communications network running across it. How long that remains unhacked is a good question which we may never learn the answer too. Certainly smarter brains than you and I will be considering the matter.

Out of curiosity, do you get the morning sun or the afternoon sun on that third floor? You may be surprised to know that I positioned the bedroom in the design of this house so that I was not exposed to the early morning sun. Alas for me as I am not an early morning person and I frankly wonder how other people are. It is one of lifes little mysteries for me. Of course they may have obligations (as I have had in the past) which require them to get up early?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

No doubts there is much in what you say about the ease with which people nowadays seem to be able to blot out their surroundings! Of course there are downsides to doing that. Hey, I read an article about a reasonably well known music artist in the Indie music scene (Beck) who was quoted as saying how disturbing it was that he could be in a room with other people who were all staring intently at little screens. When did little screens become the big bad wide world? That was what I was wondering too.

I ended up moving a couple of more plants today - and two of them were huge (eventually) rainforest trees which had spontaneously grown in one of the garden beds on a steep slope. Alas for those trees, they had to be carefully moved to a spot where they could grow without risk of eventually falling onto the house.

Exactly about the calendars. They are only ever indicative and even on a small plot of land there are micro-climates all over the place. And the weather is getting more erratic. The daily impact blog dude wrote an interesting article about the increasing quantity of sugars in plants, and such a diet will upset our balances by making us more acidic and as such we may become more prone to fungi attacks as our bodies become more habitable for those. I’d call that a feedback loop.

Oh yeah, frost damage is a real problem and far out, I watch this place like a hawk, but even so I have little idea what the next month will bring. I was hoping that the heavy rain this afternoon didn't wash some of the blossoms off the fruit trees. I'm hoping for a good apricot harvest this year for all sorts of complex reasons.

I hope that the dentist can lower the height of that composite material in your mouth. Yup, that can be quite uncomfortable in a very annoying sort of a way, and you have my sympathies. The visit to the dentist here would have cost around about that outlay too, although they would have had you in and out again pretty quickly.

One hour of alarms. Oh the headache... Ouch.

Cheers

Chris

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Between general busyness and a week-long trip to ride on a steam train in northern New Mexico, I've been out of the comment loop here for awhile. I'm glad to be back at home and to have some time to read and comment.

My mom and the rest of the residents in her apartment complex kept their electricity throughout Hurricane Irma, which did them the favor of turning east before it got to them and the rest of the west coast of Florida north of Fort Myers. The buildings are so strong that Mom didn't hear the wind or rain (granted, she has some hearing loss so I don't know if others with her heard it or not). Friends of mine on the east coast of Florida and in the Atlanta area were not so lucky; Irma shed their loads very effectively. I suppose you could consider infrastructure damage such as Irma caused a form of load shedding. I wonder how much of the infrastructure will be rebuilt, especially in hard to get to places like the Florida Keys. Key West, the westernmost island and town, had no electricity, water, or sewage service as of yesterday.

Mike and I experienced a rolling blackout during a prolonged heat wave in 1995 but not in 2012's even worse heat wave. I don't know why that was.

I saw Kris de Decker's article and thought of you; it was just what you were saying about how you needed to up-size your system for the worst conditions and then had to find ways to sop up the excess electricity produced during summer. What Kris didn't mention is that over-sizing a commercial renewable energy system also front-loads the greenhouse gas emissions since all those components are made in fossil-fuel-powered factories. Those CO2 emissions stay around for 100 years or so, making things worse for people between now and then than they would have been without the renewable energy plants. JMG and you and others have been right all along: using less energy, much less, is the only sane strategy long term, and it'll be forced on us anyway so we might as well get on with consciously shedding our individual loads so we have whatever control we can take over the process.

Claire

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Is the k in 10k a suffix? Got me. Should contemplating it keep me up at night? :-)

Yup. When I lived at the old place, the meter reader would come every two months. If I was home, Beau would let me know they were there and I’d step out and chat for a few moments. The powers that be don’t talk about it, but I guess there’s been a few attempts to hack our power grid. As most of the utility companies are profit making ventures, not a lot of money is put into protecting or upgrading the grid. More of that neglect of infrastructure you were talking about.

Well, my apartment faces just about due south. So I get sun pretty much all day long. But, the roof eaves keep some of it off (since I’m right up under the roof). And there’s these sticky-outy-things (that’s a very technical architecture term) the entire height of the building. Not exactly a turret. There’s stair wells on either end and the entrance. Those project from the ... front of the building, maybe 6 feet or so and provide some shade.

Oh, I think morning people, the one’s that are up at some ungodly hour and are all chipper, etc., ... well, it’s all about power and control. And ego. They may have nothing else going in their lives but they’re going to make everyone else feel lazy or less than, just because they have the ability to rise early. Big deal. It’s just irritating. My father always acted as though if everyone wasn’t up and doing at 5 or 6 in the morning, Western Civilization was going to unravel. Not one of his enduring qualities.

Thanks for mentioning moving plants. I’ve got to get those two walnut volunteers out of the blueberries. I suppose they could be dug up and moved, but that would destroy a chunk of blueberries. Besides, there’d be endless discussions on where and how to move them. And, at least one appears to have some kind of disease.

Now that I’ve finally got to a place where I can take a breath, I’ve established a morning walking routine and am trying to figure out what some of the trees are around the place. Oaks, with their acorns. Several types of conifers. Wonder if any of them have edible seeds? Pine nuts for classic pestos are soooo expensive. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Osborne House! Antiques Roadshow! How exciting!

I have a small bronze I picked up, last year. Yup. That old German gothic script. I did manage to make out who the artist was, from the signature on the back. But there was a bit on the front that I figured was the title of the sculpture. When I moved in here, there's a German woman on my floor. I ambushed her with sculpture and magnifying glass. It's quit small. She didn't have much problem translating it. "Bookworm" or "Book Lover." Which is kind of what I suspected. Lew

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

I can't read the title of the water colours (they are numbered I and II) and neither could the experts. The surname first letter is either a K or an R; probably a K. One of the experts said that I needed an ancient German with good eye sight. The painter is probably Franz Kobere and is unknown though very good.

It would have been a wonderful day except that it was utterly freezing, so I left without looking around. The wind was lashing us. I look forward to seeing it on television in the new year.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

A steam train ride in Northern New Mexico sounds pretty impressive to me and I would have loved it. You dodged the most important question: Was the steam train travel an enjoyable experience with great scenery? I assume it was this journey: Cumbres and Toltec. It looks pretty good to me!

Nice to read that your mother was safe during Irma. Yes, and you are most correct, it is a natural form of load shedding. The mountain range here has to face that problem if the weather turns ugly (high winds combined with high temperatures and low humidity over summer). It really is hard to know what sort of rebuilding response will occur in such a situation. It all depends on who wants to pay for it I guess. I saw that play out down here after the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 and by and large the towns were rebuilt.

Who knows, but the electricity grid is far more connected these days and supply may be brought in from elsewhere at huge losses. What Angus failed to mention about the South Australian saga was that electricity was supplied from Western Australia (the state to the west of that one). And that is one huge distance away and the losses over that vast distance must have been phenomenal.

The thing I keep coming back to in my mind is the economics: Who wants to pay for such an outcome? Unfortunately, here we were committed to working out a way to live with this stuff - and it is good - but the sun only provides so much energy and so we had to over scale the generation to account for the worst days. Imagine if someone suggested that the larger society pay for that adjustment? And then the fossil fuel generators want to make some cash and their generators sit idling (or mothballed) for most of the year. I am really struggling to see that story play out.

Exactly using less is the first step (as Angus quite rightly pointed out and is doing so himself). Any discussion that doesn't begin with that point is akin to hot air.

To be honest, cutting back is not that hard of an imposition. That is the really sad part of the situation.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

@Chris & Lew

I am a very early riser - usually up between 4 and 4:30 AM. I like an hour (or two) of enjoying coffee and reading. Now it's usually favorite sites online i.e. this fine blog. Back when the Chicago Tribune was substantial we had it delivered daily and morning was the time to read it. Probably the habit of getting up early developed when I had children and work. We all left at 7:30 so if I wanted to get my coffee/reading time in I had to get up early. Then there were the morning chores to do. I have found I accomplish more earlier in the day as well.

I have read recently that students, particularly high school students would do better with a later start time for school. I wonder if that's more because they just tend to stay up later.

I also go to bed around 9 and usually fall asleep in my chair well before that. I guess it's different for everyone. Fortunately Doug is also a morning person too. For quite a few years he had to take the 6:15 train to work in downtown Chicago.

As I write this it's 6 AM and just about time to take the dogs out for their morning walk and do the chores.

As we downsize here though and cut back on our animals I am looking forward to sleeping in a bit - maybe 5:30.

Margaret

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

The spot price for electricity on the National Electricity Market regularly (a few times per year) hits $10/kWh already (though only for short periods -- say 20 minutes), and it doesn't destroy the market. As consumers, we don't see that, but if we did it would be a great incentive to reduce consumption! ;-)

I don't think that the Western Australian grid is connected to the South Australian grid , though I'm not sure -- do you have a link for that?

I think it is technically possible to convert the grid to 100% renewables with only minor lifestyle changes (most Australians/Americans to reduce their consumption by 80-90% -- yes, that's a minor lifestyle change). I think to do it requires only a price on carbon, with equivalent tax cuts elsewhere, and a market that passes costs on to consumers in a fair way. Unfortunately, at the moment, the market hugely distorts the costs and so the wrong price signals are being sent to people.

The thing is, as I heard it put very well recently, Climate change is not the _problem_, it is the _symptom_. The problem is overconsumption, and we won't fix that just by going renewable. Even if we "solve" climate change without solving overconsumption, we'll just create new problematic symptoms (eg. ecological collapse, soil loss, etc).

Again, I'll recommend the excellent free ebook, Sustainable Energy, Without The Hot air:
https://www.withouthotair.com/
Goes into all this in detail from both the supply and demand side of the equation. My favourite bit of the book is where he says something like "As you take a car and make it more and more efficient, it starts to look more and more like a bicycle" :-)

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Nicely answered about the grammatical correctness of the use of a suffix! I'm in awe at your ability to dodge. :-)! There is a lovely song by a US band: Vampire Weekend (don't let the name put you off) and they sung about grammatical correctness: Oxford Comma. Just be warned, they slip the occasional naughty word in, but the melody is lovely. The video is quite nice too. Of course, given that it is music, opinions may vary.

Meter reading is a dead trade nowadays. Died of automation – as did a lot of trades. Of course, here I have to manually keep a record of the solar power system twice a day and so I guess, the trade continues here, albeit in an unpaid form. Go Beau! Sometimes you need an alarm dog. Very occasionally well meaning folks from the nice electricity companies turn up at the house to convince me to change my electricity plan, but after careful consideration I don't believe I will! Hehe! Yeah, I enjoy a chat with them too, and see if they want a glass of water. Far out, door to door sales is a hard way to earn a living. And Beau was positively restrained - at least that is how I imagine him being. The fluffy collective know no such restraints... Oh well, it is nice to have advanced warnings I guess and that is what they get paid for. I spent about an hour tonight making their breakfast mash and dinner biscuits for that lot tonight.

Exactly, we'd never know would we and who would ever announce it? The grid acts like a huge network, so it is hard to expect that brains smarter than yours or mine wouldn't be interested in the workings of that. And then there are always the discomfited and possibly now redundant ex-employees waiting to settle old scores... Yup, it is a form of malign neglect isn't it?

Thanks for the excellent description of your building and I appreciate the technical terms too as they make sense to me. Yup anything external to a building can provide shade - even solar panels on a roof provide a form of shade. East facing windows can be quite the hassle for early mornings! For your interest the house here faces north west and I reckon that isn't too bad of a compromise. How did those due south facing walls at your new place cope with the continuous hot days during summer?

Oh yeah, that whole early morning thing is irritating isn't it? I can barely function early. The postal service has trained me to turn off my phone at night (it is a long story). I often feel sorry for the poor folks who have to do breakfast shifts on morning radio (usually 6am to 9am down here). Imagine trying to be project a happy disposition if you'd been up since 4am! Far out, those folks have my sympathies and it sure would do my head in. Yes, I have heard those moral judgements that your dad threw about the place. Where is the compassion and understanding I ask you? Pah! Exactly it is most certainly not an endearing quality.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Ha! The diseased tree is toast, but the other one could be guerrilla gardened... Who knows where it may end up? Anyway, I reckon asking around as to who wants the seedling walnut may sort the whole mess out. I checked another bunch of local walnuts this morning as they don’t seem to have broken dormancy yet either. I reckon we're done moving plants for the year as the heat may stress out any transplants from here on end (excluding vegetables which I have to water). Hey, we set some of the tomato seeds out today and to my absolute surprise we are getting more organised every single year. We used egg cartons this year for seedlings as we reckon there will be less transplant shock when they go outside.

Stone pines which produce the pine nuts for pesto are awesome trees (which grow well around here and can be purchased at the garden club). I hope you find some in your neck of the woods. Pine nuts are expensive here too and so we always substitute roasted unsalted peanuts for pine nuts and the outcome is pretty good. Fortunately basil grows well here but only over summer. In winter we substitute green mustard and/or rocket for basil and to be honest, the pesto tastes about what you'd expect it to taste like. The greens may be purely for fill and colour in that dish? Such food experiments may appeal to you? Dunno? I regularly feed that pesto to guests with freshly baked bread and I don't recall a time that the entire lot wasn't scoffed down (actions speak louder than words they tell me). :-)!

I'm planning to write tomorrow night and it always amazes me where inspiration strikes. This time I spotted a mouse in a difficult situation a few days ago and of course there is always the larger metaphor to the story... Also I came across a quote from a Canadian book from 1860 which was so amazingly true that reading the Nearings book was worth every minute. I'll try and work that quote into the story somehow... I liked it so much, I might just tack it on randomly!!! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thank you and I am very glad that you are enjoying the blog. It is a lot of fun isn't it?

Good for you about being an early riser, and coffee and reading is a delightful way to start the day. Yes, that makes sense about routines driving the early mornings.

I read those suggestions too about starting later and wondered about them. There is some truth to what you say about the students staying up later. When I was at school I had a great deal of trouble getting to bed early - ever. Of course it didn't help that the school expected about three hours of homework per night. Fortunately those were less distracted days. In the mornings I used to get up before sunrise and do a paper round. I feel that the outcome from all of that was money for arcade games and reasonable education and perhaps a serious lack of sleep! Hehe! I'm not complaining though as things could be worse.

You may laugh but most times I'm only having dinner at 9pm! :-)! Oh well... I've never been able to eat early and it can be a bit problematic with some friends who have expectations of early dinners. Imagine inviting me for dinner at 6pm. Far out, sometimes I’m still working at that time! Anyway, what ends up happening is that I eat early, they eat late, nobody is happy about it, but everyone tends to have a good time, so in the end it all becomes a moot point.

I was going to go for a walk - it is 10pm here after all, but the outside temperature is 2'C (36'F) and that is not appealing conditions, so here I am on the interweb instead!

Hehe! Stop it!!! :-)! You may laugh at this. The only time I get up that early is when I head out to buy some animals (usually chickens - chicken people seem to be early risers for some reason)!

Cheers and thanks for the laughs.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks for the correction. I need to work on reading comprehension, or learn to keep my mouth shut! :-)! Western Australia sends transmission towers to storm-affected SA. My error!

Anyway, most of the states grid went down in that situation so it doesn't change the story too much. I am amazed at how quickly those towers can be raised.

I reckon we have to disagree about that point about lifestyle changes. You know years ago, I had friends who had a leaking tap in their bathroom. It wasn't just leaking a bit, it was actually leaking quite a lot. These people were not stupid, they just didn't get it. The water company kept sending ever bigger bills which the people didn't pay (for some unknown and unrelated reason) and eventually their water supply got throttled. But nobody fixed the leaking tap until a year or two later. Eventually the debt I believe was settled by negotiation and the house was demolished. Now I'm not bagging these folks off as they are good people, but in any system you are only ever as good as the weakest link.

I really struggle seeing how we can have our cake and eat it too. There are limits to resources and I seriously doubt that we have enough material resources to convert the entire grid to renewables and that is before you even get to the serious question about who wants to pay for this.

I sincerely respect your opinion and would love to see the world that you describe.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, that was disheartening. I was working on a response in a document when the smoggy brown curtain of death dropped down over my computer screen. Happens about every four days or so. Tells me in four languages that I need to shut off and restart my computer ... for no apparent reason. And, everything is froze until I do.

I thought, maybe, the document might still be "here." Apparently not. At least, it's not in my "Documents, today" file.

I'll attempt a post later. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

I woke up this morning and decided to put a firm line under our conversation. The reason for that is because there are many blogs on the internet that speculate about possible futures that don't consider resources or the will power within the community required to implement such possibilities.

The blog here deals with how the world looks given the policies that are currently being pursued and through no other lens. Of course there are infinite future possibilities, but far too many people confuse technical feasibility with reality. And all that generates is a lot of hot air - and there seems to be plenty enough of that on the planet already.

Now just in case I have not been blunt enough, I am going to call you out: You are asking for someone else, somewhere else, to develop, pay for, and install renewable energy technologies that you yourself can use. But you have not done so in your own household for very crass and purely economic reasons. It is not a good look.

I understand that you have a grid tied solar power system and your household is commendable because it uses so little energy and I respect that. It is your insistence that somehow such a system can be scaled which I find to be untested at best and a dangerous belief at worst. I cannot be clear enough that wind turbines require a constant electrical load (resistance) of a battery or they will self destruct if an attempt is made to use them without that constant load. It is no small technical matter to ignore.

I urge you to take some time and consider why the scenario that you painted (out of many possible futures) has such an emotional appeal to you?

Until you can discuss that matter (and I am happy to take that discussion off line) then the subject is closed.

Cheers

Chris

Hazel Marchant said...

Hi Chris

On the subject of future systems, and who pays for them, I'd like to put in a plug for John Michael Greer's "Retrotopia". It provides a fictional look at one possible scenario, where you literally get what you pay for. A really good read - not dramatic, but quite thought-provoking. I guess it will take such stories to make people think, as so much of our infrastructure is invisible to the average person. Never having been without electricity, running water, sewerage systems, etc. , most of us just take it for granted that they will always be there. Keep challenging us to rethink!

Cheers

Hazel

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Best wishes for a speedy recovery for your poor computer. Computers are excellent tools when they work, but they are very naughty indeed when they don't work! :-)!

Are you still using a Mac? I forget the details. Your computer reminds me of water pumps in that they can be finicky and prone to failure when least expected. I still haven't received the pressure tanks in the mail for the water pumps and I'm seriously hoping that they make a difference to the longevity of those things. I may be mucking around with water pumps next week.

Anyway, I'm planning to write tonight and your situation has upsides (Chris is a good student, but is easily distracted!!!).

Good luck and I hope that things are OK at your end.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Hazel,

It is a thorny question isn't it? Tier 1 was quite an appealing concept to me and I would be very happy with such an arrangement. I have a copy of that Retrotopia book here and likewise recommend it as a good read. The social and economic arrangements in the book made an awful lot of sense to me and to be honest I had to laugh at every mention of the plastic clothes as I see people wearing a lot of synthetic materials these days and that makes no sense whatsoever in a cold environment like this little corner of the planet. I stick to wool and cotton as a general rule but I have a very soft spot for a couple of alpaca wool scarves which can be quite useful when the wind is blowing, the snow is falling and the thermometer is near freezing. :-)!

Exactly, one of the interesting challenges with living here is that I have had to provide and maintain every scrap of infrastructure on the farm (other than the dirt road). And you are so correct, in urban areas infrastructure is that good, that it is literally invisible to most people until it doesn't work. Thank you for taking the time to understand.

On a related side note, in London's sewerage system an epic fat berg was recently discovered: Fatberg 'as heavy as 11 double-decker buses' found in London sewer. It is pretty scary really, but the entire problem arises because we simply do not take the time to understand what we have.

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

(publish or not, as you see fit)

I think you are misunderstanding what I am saying. I definitely understand that something can be technically possible but still fail to happen and I hold grave concerns that may happen. The reason I focus on the technical feasibility is there are powerful entrenched interests constantly bad-mouthing renewables, and I think it's important to underline that they can be made to work. This is not nonchalance, but an earnest entreaty to give them a go.

I think you are most unfair in your comment. I am certainly not going to enter into a "greener/holier than thou" argument, but if you truly believe, after reading my blog, that I have not "install[ed] renewable energy technologies ... for very crass and purely economic reasons" then something has gone very wrong in the communication between us. I'd like to remind you that my household is:
- essentially self-sufficient for water
- drives less then 4000 km/year (rest is cycle or public transport)
- puts lots of effort in the garden
- produces more power than we use about 320 days/year (from a 2 kW PV system)
- solar hot water, essentially unboosted (is that not renewable energy storage?)

Yes, we don't have a big battery, but the reason is not only (or even mostly) cost. I think the danger of "green-consumerism" is real and try to avoid that trap. As I said in a previous comment in this thread, I think the real danger to the world is over-consumption -- all else is but a symptom of that. Are we still guilty of it? of course!

But I could equally "call you out" for not having an electric vehicle. Or for living remote so that you need a massively oversized solar/battery system. What if 24 million Aussies try and do that? (I'm not "calling you out", by the way -- this is just an example). The reality is that we all have blood on our hands, and some of us are trying to find the right path.

These conversations are very complex, and I think it's ok to disagree about what's happening and what it means, or the best way to respond. The important thing is that we approach these conversations with integrity and compassion -- and avoid green-orthodoxy stifling thought.

Best wishes,
-Angus

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Just wanted to say I wasn't trying to act "holier than thou" when I described my mornings but rather that some people naturally are morning people. I don't know if that just develops over time from necessity.

Now I do get kind of miffed at my oldest daughter when she and the twins come for a couple day visit. The girls get up as early as five and my daughter staggers out about 9 mumbling about coffee. However the last visit a couple of weeks ago the twins, who are now 12 have to be told to get up - a big change that kind of goes along with what I was saying about high schools starting later. At any rate I was very pleased with this change because they used to really interfere with my coffee and reading time.

From your description I think the schedule of your day is backwards of mine. I'm assuming the editor is also on the same schedule. It's kind of a joke but it's often assumed that senior citizens (which I am now) go out to eat early but from my observation it's often true. One of the better restaurants in town tends to have an older crowd and it's pretty well cleared out by 7:30 at the latest. Speaking of being a senior citizen Doug and I received our lifetime senior passes to all the National Parks. The cost was only $10 but was going up at the end of August to $80 so they were inundated with applications. We had sent ours in months ago and were getting worried it had been lost.

We still have a meter reader that comes monthly though there's all this talk of smart meters being installed. It'll be awhile for our area. There was a time a couple years ago that they must have cut back on the readers as we had to read our own and send in a form. Of course Salve and Leo have to make a big ruckus when he arrives. He should be armed with dog biscuits like the UPS and Fed Ex drivers.

A friend of mine teaching a permaculture design course at one of the community colleges and yesterday I was the guest instructor teaching about raising chickens and goats and how they might fit into a permaculture system. There were all ages but more young people. It was heartening to see how serious they were and aware of all our present problems.

Still no rain here so send some of yours our way.

Margaret

Hazel Marchant said...

Hi Chris

Thanks for the link. Eeuw! That fat berg is one of the most gross things I've ever heard of, and all because people won't take the time to dispose of rubbish properly. And at a cost of £1 million a month to clear them up. If the folks who flushed all that stuff had to pay those costs, I reckon they'd soon clean up their act!

I agree about the tier system, but I have to admit I'd probably pay to live a little higher. And you are spot on about synthetic clothing - it's revolting. Give me cotton and wool any day. And linen is incredibly comfortable, and durable too.

Cheers

Hazel

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Once more into the breach ... Now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, and, it’s not some ungodly hour when my brain doesn’t work, I’ve always thought the way we communicate money amounts was a bit odd. On our checks, here, we write the amount, say, $28.41 and then have a line where we have to spell it out. “Twenty-eight dollars and 41/100.” Depending on the amount, it can get even more baroque than that. So there’s like a shorthand for the ... presenter and then the receiver has to translate it into an understandable mental construct.

Speaking of checks, I got another statement from my old telecom company. I thought I was through with Century Link (aka, A.T.&T). I got a closing statement, that I paid and heck, even a $27 refund, for what I know not. Well, I open this statement, yesterday, and low and behold they state that I owe them another $.13. That’s 13 cents. 13 pennies. Due “Upon Receipt.” No indication as to what it’s actually for. The only thing that tickles me is that I know it will cost them far more to process this payment, then the actual payment itself. Now, we all know that I could ignore this, but that eventually it would wend it’s way to collection, with all kinds of fees and interest attached.

Not so long ago, these apartments didn’t have air conditioning. Can’t imagine. Given the summer we’ve just had, I think I’d die in here without it. At least, it’s not on a thermostat. You have to turn it manually on and off. More control over the power I use. One of the ladies who lives down at the other end of my hall told me that in the winter, she hasn’t had to use the heat at all. Given the southern exposure, etc..

It hasn’t been to hot, but it was quit smokey again, yesterday. Several major roads are closed, around the State, due to fires. But, the autumn rains are arriving, today. We’re supposed to get 1/2 to 1” of rain today, and then showers the rest of the week. Yup. Fall is here. I worked quit a while in my garden spot, yesterday. Cleaned out the mostly non producing cucumber and pumpkin and worked a lot of organic material into the soil. I saw quit a few worms. I did a bit of pruning and think I killed one of my three pumpkins. Accidentally cut the vine. Oh, well. It was the smallest, and i don’t think it would have made it to harvest, anyway. Harvested my first two Tomatillas, yesterday.

Hmmm. Where did I get the next bit from? I think it was the reference to the electric meter reader and how that job is disappearing. So are a lot of others. In my more paranoid moments, I think The Powers That Be, on purpose, work to break down those little day to day connections that are important to general society lubrication. Those fleeting, semi-consistent human interactions. And, maybe it was a good thing that I lost yesterdays post because then I ran across an article on just that topic on Slate.com. The title of the article was “A Slow Friendship in the Express Checkout.” A quote from the article ... “Objective isolation-a lack of day-to-day human contact-has a strong effect on human mortality.” Something that the Blue Zones books also discovered. One of the factors contributing to long life is some kind of (any kind of) connection to social networks. Clubs, fraternal organizations, sewing circles ... anything. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Back on track. Yup, I'm still limping along with my old Mac. Given it's "cooties", I I don't do anything financial on it.

Well, I'm off to the Club for my early Sunday morning cuppa to gas with my friends Julia and Ken. I'm taking the two Tomatillas for show and tell ... since Julia gave me the starts. Then there's a pot luck, here at The Home, at one. I made a big bowl of Tabouli. Might be a bit exotic for this bunch, but a couple of eggs whipped into any leftovers and fried up as a patty is quit good. :-). Getting a daily dose of that social interaction. Probably enough to last me a week ...

Oh! And I watched the new "Mummy" movie, last night. Worth a bowl of popcorn, I guess. It appears Universal Studios is going to re-launch all their old classic monsters. Starting with The Mummy. I guess Dracula, Frankinstein, The Invisible Man, The Wolfman, will come later. The new Simon Pegg movie is "in transit" to me. Lew