Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas from Kaua'i

Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
The rooster is the harbinger of the sun, but here on Kaua'i they are reporting the sun rising back in California. They start crowing at about 3 am. This isn't a farming community we're in
(although right here was an attempt by a hapless German a century ago, who dreamed of making it rich in the copra industry. He just forgot to plan in the time it takes for the trees to grow big enough to produce coconuts!) but there are chickens all over the place. Evidently they were set loose by the mighty 'Iniki hurricane in 1992, and now wander freely all over the island - and certainly more than one rooster in the barnyard!. 'Iniki caused a lot of damage as well. There's a lot of literature about it, and I expect there are people who date things as before and after 'Iniki.

My daughter doesn't believe you can celebrate Christmas anywhere but in the North (Denmark or Maine.) She just moved back to Denmark after about 9 months in Brazil, and was amazed at the snow- and Santa decorations all over the place. We've seen a lot of beautiful floral decorations with poinsettias, lots of Santa hats, but little "snow." Christmas trees and beautiful wreathes are all over, although I expect they are the "permanent" variety. Otherwise there is a fantastic tree here on Kaua'i called "Cook's Pine" that would make a beautiful Christmas tree, although I haven't seen them decorated as such.

We had a Hawaiian flavored traditional Christmas dinner at Gaylord's - at the home of an old Sugar Grower - I started with an "Elvis Blue Hawaii" Mai Tai. The stuffing included mangos, which was very good! And the desert was evidently a Hawaiian tradition - a very custardy bread pudding with "English" (custard) sauce.

But we spent Christmas Day very actively. We went swimming at Lydgate State Park, where there is an area protected by a massive breakwater, since the surf is quite active and there are signs all over of the dangers of riptides, etc.
And after lunch we drove up the "King's Highway" from Wailu'a as far as we could go, and then hiked for about 1 1/2 hours on the red-muddy path on the Kuilau Ridge. (You should see our shoes!)

As for that sun (la in Hawai'ian) - it alternates between a nice warm sun and various forms of showers and storms, none of which last very long. We've been lucky that almost all rain has fallen while we were driving or back at the hotel at night. (We think this area is the source of the line in the Camelot song that it only rains at night!) But at sealevel the temperatures are from about 75 - 85. We got temperatures down to about 60 driving up the Waimea road to the top - where what rain we felt was actually being in a cloud!

If you click the rooster, you can go to my Flickr site to see what else we've seen this week, including a lot more birds. In case you're thinking of going to Kauai, you may enjoy the guidebook my cousin recommended: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow in Maine

Hanne and Lu
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I've been in Maine again this past week, helping Mom after Dad died, and celebrating his life with many family members, including my daughter and sister, who lead me on a long walk in the snow today.

The snow kept us from going to Denmark, ME for a memorial service, but we had such great conversations about memories with those of us who were in Falmouth, and the ones who actually made it to Denmark - and one family that had to turn back because of the snow, and we're planning to remember Dad again this summer at a family reunion.

Dad loved the outdooors, the snow, sailing on Moose Pond in Denmark, ME, hiking and everything else outdoors and about Maine. Now he is free to enjoy all of it, and we remembered Dad on our walk in the snow!

A poem from Henry Van Dyke

Dad met Henry Van Dyke as a teenager hitchhiking to school, and has been very touched by his works. We sang Van Dyke's translation of Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee at his memorial service, and he asked me to read his The Other Wise Man to him just weeks before he died. I found this little poem as a Sierra Club Daily Ray of Hope.
Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
-- Henry Van Dyke

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Living with a HOA

Our patio from the gate
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
We got a letter from our Home Owner's Association - or rather from Euclid Management, saying that if we didn't remove "debris" from our patio we would be fined because it lowered home values.

We went out and looked for debris, which according to the dictionary is broken construction waste, or other unusable waste lying around. We found a few leaves that had fallen since the last time I'd swept, which are very useful! Also a few empty flower pots in full view, broom and rake standing against the wall, and other similar items.

So today (the day the "debris lady" had announced her visit) I swept the leaves into the beds or placed them in the planters, moved the empty flower pots to further back, laid the broom and rake down behind a bush and trimmed a couple of bushes. I even swept the steps and bit of sidewalk outside our gate, so the gardeners wouldn't blow it back in!

But as we were enjoying our coffee in some December sun (waiting for the debris lady) the gardeners came by anyway - and swept the clean steps back into the courtyard - which made me furious after all my hard work. I went to talk with him and almost got asphyxiated from the fumes from the blower. What do we have to do to get them forbidden? Actually I had suggested that to the HOA, but they said it would be too expensive to have them rake and sweep. What really gets me is that they blow the leaves out from the beds where the bushes are, leaving the soil open to evaporation - here in our very dry climate. Then they come around with chemicals to fertilize the plants that would have done beautifully with the mulch they blow away! And of course they have to water more, because there is absolutely no humous in the soil or protective mulch cover!

BTW, the debris lady came by and said it looked good, so we're OK for a while longer. We've been so furious with this place - using chemicals and too much water and leaf blowers, etc. for our HOA fees - that I started looking for a green condo in our area. The closest I found is in Orange,, which looks promising - the company's first LEEDS building project. But when I asked whether we'd be allowed to dry our clothes on a line on the 3rd floor deck, I was told that was expressly forbidden by the HOA rules, and that would be impossible to change! I read somewhere that the reason people don't like clotheslines is that it makes it look like the people who live there can't afford a dryer, so that would lower property values! In my opinion, one of the things I've loved most about some of the places I've lived was the great clotheslines! (These were in Denmark, of course!) Clothes smell so fresh when they've been dried outside in the sun, and if the wind is blowing they almost iron themselves! A clothesline is a priviledge!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Creating Green Jobs

I read an exciting article today in this week's Time Magazine about a man named Van Jones with Green Vision. You can read the article at Bring Eco-Power to the People. Mr. Jones has started the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, which includes the section that really excites me: an organization training people to do Green Collar jobs, which you can read about in Green For All: Ella Baker Center Launches a Bold National Initiative as well as on the Green for All website.

What excites me is that some of the Green Collar jobs he's training people for are in solar panel installation. I picture a fantastic cooperation between Green for All and Citizenre, which (as you know if you've been reading my blog) is planning to rent solar panels to residential customers, so that everyone will be able to afford them without taking out a loan. Since there are already more than 25,6000 people signed up for these rental panels, there is a huge need for installers. I hope that Citizenre and Van Jones will quickly be able to find each other and figure this out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

John Muir's Sunrise

  Originally uploaded by j.burgen.
This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere;
the dew is never all dried at once;
a shower is forever falling;
vapor is ever rising.

Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset,
eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands,
each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

- My First Summer in the Sierra, John Muir

(This was today's Sierra Club Daily Ray of Hope, a daily picture and sentiment using pictures users send in to the Daily Ray of Hope Group on Flickr. You can subscribe to the daily messages here. )

Something I love about this blog is the visitors list. I get visitors from all over the world, who are seeing the sun at all different times, and seem to be attracted to reading about the sun! Welcome to all of you! I'd love it if you would write a comment once in a while, so we can get in a discussion about some of these things!

Here are some of the places you all come from:

Argentina: Buenas Aires & Entre Rios
Australia: Sydney, New South Wales, Perth, Western Australia Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Brisbane, Queensland
Belgium: Lint, Antwerpen
: Fortaleza, Mato Grosso do Sul
: Rockland, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Guelph, Orono, Mississauga, Toronto & Hamilton, Ottawa, Ontario, Saint John, New Brunswick, Annapolis, Nova Scotia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Calgary, Canmore, Alberta
Denmark: Holstebro, Ringkobing, Hurup, Aalestrup, Viborg , Farsø, Nordjylland , Copenhagen,
Dominican Republic: Santo Domingo,
Germany : Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz
India: Calcutta, West Bengal
Israel Jerusalem, Yerushalayim
Italy: Milan, Lombardia, Arzano, Campania
Malaysia: Petaling Jaya, Wilayah Persekutuan
Netherlands: Enschede, Overijssel, Den Haag, Zuid-Holland
Nigeria: Lagos  
Portugal: Carnaxide & Carcavelos, Lisboa , Vila Real
Romania: Cluj-Napoca, Cluj
Spain: Barcelona, Cataluna
: Malmö, Skåne Län, Fengersfors, Västra Gotaland
Taiwan: Taipei, T'ai-pei
United Kingdom: Thatcham, Berkshire, Guildford, Surrey, Cheltenham & Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Reigate, Surrey, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Stockport, Congleton, Cheshire, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Scotland

United States:
Sierra Vista, Phoenix & Flagstaff, Arizona,
Little Rock, Rogers, Arkansas,
Fresno, San Jose, Hayward, Fullerton, San Bernardino, Upland, Ojai, Berkeley, Lake Elsinore, Morro Bay, Piercy, Ontario, Petaluma, Montclair, Lancaster, El Cajon, Aliso Viejo, San Francisco, Rowland Heights, Reseda, Glendale, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego Willits, Hume, Temecula, West Covina, Squaw Valley & Modesto, California,
Denver, Fort Collins & Boulder, Colorado,
Hamden, Connecticut,
Dover, Delaware,
Fernandina Beach, Lake Placid, Hudson, Land O Lakes, Clearwater, Tampa & Sarasota, Florida,
Atlanta & Jonesboro, Georgia
Honolulu, Mililani & Kahului, Hawaii,
Boise, Idaho,
Tuscola & Chicago, Illinois,
Madison, Indiana
Atkins, Iowa,
Lexington, Nicholasville, Kentucky
Lake Charles, Louisiana,
Cape Elizabeth, Orono, Topsham, Morrill, Kennebunk, & Cumberland Center, Maine,
Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Ellicott City, Bethesda & Burtonsville, Maryland,
Avon, Boston, Cambridge, Acton, Rowley, Haverhill, Tewksbury, West Roxbury & Waltham, Massachusetts,
Mikado, Walled Lake, Flat Rock & Brighton, Michigan,
Chaska & Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Saint Louis &Cape Girardeau, Missouri,
Clinton, Montana,
Garfield, Westville, Annandale, North Bergen, East Brunswick & Cherry Hill, New Jersey,
Nashua, Manchester & Claremont, New Hampshire,
Hempstead, Orangeburg, Ithaca, Merrick, Buffalo & Brooklyn, New York,
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Wilmington, Concord, Ashville, Raleigh & Fuquay Varina, North Carolina,
Fargo, North Dakota,
Columbus, Cincinnati, Ohio,
Norman, Oklahoma,
Portland, Oregon ,
Pittsburgh, Bartonsville, West Chester, Mercer, Reading, Kennett Square & Altoona, Pennsylvania,
Aiken, South Carolina
Redig, South Dakota,
Memphis, Knoxville, Johnson City, Maryville & Franklin, Tennessee,
Bedford, Houston, Austin, El Paso, Plano & McKinney, Texas,
Ludlow, Richmond, Jericho & Waterbury, Vermont,
Keezletown, Alexandria, Merrifield, Norfolk, Leesburg, Sterling, Radford & Suffolk, Virginia,
Mount Vernon, Bothell, Spokane, Seattle, Richland & Redmond, Washington
Washington, District of Columbia
Weirton, West Virginia
Waukesha, Kenosha & Mukwonago, Wisconsin
(I keep adding to the list - I think this is fascinating!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thinking of Going Solar? Consider Renting

Here is a great new article about the most recent developments with Citizenre, including a new time frame. We still have to wait about a year, but it looks like financing is soon in place!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Buy Nothing Day

Today is Buy Nothing Day. This means no grocery shopping, no tempting online offers and certainly no visits to the mall. Luckily there is lots of food left from our Thanksgiving dinner to tide us over food-wise!

This was today's editorial cartoon in the LA Times, with this text:

Today, no purchase necessary

A graphic Op-Ed honoring the Black Friday informal protest, Buy Nothing Day.
November 23, 2007

The day after Thanksgiving traditionally is the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States, but British designer Jonathan Barnbrook believes we should think twice about all that conspicuous consumption. We asked him to create a graphic Op-Ed in support of the annual informal protest known as Buy Nothing Day.
Click the image to view Barnbrook's graphic Op-Ed in a full-sized, enlargeable PDF so you can see all the details!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Sun


Photo by Bonbayel taken on the coast of Maine.

A poem by Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone--

Photo by Tate Web taken in Ireland.

and how it slides again
out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,

like a red flower
streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance--

and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love--
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world--

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

About Mary Oliver
This poem has been sent out to the staff at Citizenre. I thought you'd enjoy it, too!
Happy Thanksgiving for the Americans reading this today!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Renting Solar Panels in Brazil

Our wonderful idea of renting solar panels at about the price of the energy they replace is already being done. A guy named Fabio Rosa is renting panels to people in Brazil, who otherwise wouldn't have had a chance to get electricity, because they live too far from the grid. In this story by David Bornstein from 2003 Fabio Rosa: Making the Sun Shine for All you can read his very inspirational story. I was humbled to read that people were delighted to get a single panel (for about $10/mo) while our customers will need a large array to cover their own lifestyle needs.

While certain politicians here are dismissing solar as "too expensive" and instead promoting the oxymoron "clean coal" or nuclear power, maybe they should be aware that solar is incredibly cheap, and very much in use.

I have asked a couple of people to investigate the continuing story of Rabio Rosa, which I will add here when I get more.
In fact I Googled Fabio Rosa myself and came up with a number of links about him:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Solar for everyone - who has an unshaded roof

There's been quite a surge of new customers (as you can see, we're close to 25,500!)for Citizenre solar panels recently after we appeared on Ed Begley’s Living with Ed show (if you want to sign up, please use the link here in my blog instead of his, which will assign you to a random person.)

I've found a lot more possitive blogs and articles like these recently as well:The last blogger in her research (just Google "Citizenre") found a lot of negative griping. You have to move down to page 3 or 4 to get to the positive articles. If you check the date on the negative articles, you will find that most of them were last spring.

I’ve been with the company since January. In February, a disgruntled (but valued) Ecopreneur named Richard George (whose name appears often in skeptical articles) quit, apparentely because he wasn’t asked to be on the management team, or his expertise wasn't being paid for at least. He spread around a lot of untruthful rumors at the time, which were picked up by members of the solar industry, particularly a Vermont installer named Jeffrey Wolfe, who apparently feared our competition.

As far as I know we have been able to make peace with most of them since then. After all, we all have the common goal to get solar panels on as many roofs as possible – and there are enough for everyone! I always encourage people who can afford that extra mortgage to get their panels now. That will help the people on the waiting list get there faster. I've read from trusted sources that Citizenre may actually start installing before our factory is completed, since the interest and need is so great. I'll keep you posted.

A week ago I was helping my sister Lu at a green fair in Maine. Everyone we talked with was delighted with the concept and many signed up. (We hadn't anticipated the great interest, so we didn't have enough sign-up sheets, or there would have been even more!)

Solar is the way, and more and more people (besides the politicians) know it!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I didn't think I'd get to go to the beach on this trip to Maine, where I've been helping my almost 93-year old parents with Dad's Parkinson's. But one day, I discovered that my ability to be a caregiver had hit bottom and I needed to refill my resources.

I went for a wonderful, albeit cold, walk on the beach at Popham Fort, near Bath, Maine. If you click the picture, you can see what else I saw there before the sun went down.

I found a sea gull, some interesting ducks, patterns the waves had made on the sand, a couple of islands with a light house and a cottage, some fishermen, who said the fishing is about half of what it used to be, but a little better now that it's being managed, and an amazing lot of flowers.

The temperature was about 40, and I had neither hat, gloves, or warm socks, but it was exhilarating any way. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Maine Gold

Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
When I arrived here in Falmouth a couple of weeks ago, the foliage in the sunshine was glorious. At the front, there was a particularly beautiful stand of green, gold and red. The weather was just as glorious - in the 70's with blue skies. But I was too busy to pull out my camera.

When I finally did, the skies were gray with impending rain. Although I took a few pictures in the gloom, when I got back to my computer, the 7-year-old camera refused to behave. So I made a rash decision to buy the 7-year newer version of the same, which is of course wonderful. But in the meantime, the rains had come and took some of the leaves that had been so glorious 2 days earlier.

If "Nature's first leaf is gold" according to Robert Frost, it's last leaf is often gold as well, and just as ephemeral. Most of the leaves now a week or so later are getting brown. I think we may have had a first frost, which is very late this year. It is much chillier now than before.

When my daughter visited last week, we decided to avail ourselves of the new outdoor pool here - with indoor entry. So we went swimming in Maine on October 30!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Clif Bars

Clif Bars
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
Clif Bars has sent me a gift of a couple of boxes of bars as thanks for sending my report on revising the bar design. They arrived just on time to be able to give some to the 2 trick-or-treaters who showed up!

But this leaves me with a problem. I'd decided not to eat any more of their bars because the wrappers on not biodegradable. I think I have the solution to the problem:

I'm going to save all the wrappers and when I've eaten them all, I'll send them back to the company with thanks, and suggest that they recycle them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Garbage - by Chris Jordan

I learned about these pictures yesterday. They are a telling addition to my new concerns about candy wrappers!
Be sure to check out Chris Jordan's website to see his pictures of electronics waste, cigarette butts, cars...

We sure are doing a good job of covering up this beautiful country! It would be nice if we could figure out how to reuse and recycle things instead of just throwing them into landfills! If we lived sustainably, Chris Jordan could take pictures of mountains, rivers, trees and flowers - or happy children!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Putting the sun in a jar

grapefruit marmelade boiling
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
Sunshine comes in many forms, even grapefruit!

I had picked a lot of wonderful pink grapefruit from my PEO sister Barbara's tree--so many, they filled the refrigerator.

So when a chance came to provide something for a fundraiser, I figured I could try to make marmalade for the first time. (I've made gallons of cherry and berry jams and jellies before, but never marmalade, and I picked the grapefruit myself, just like all those blackberries, gooseberries, black and red currants and lovely red sour cherries in Denmark.)

Since we had some ginger, I added grated ginger to half of it for variety. All the small jars I've saved-- from artichokes, olives, mustard--are perfect for marmalade.

I fixed up a couple of pictures in Illustrator for labels, which I've also uploaded to the Flickr Marmalade set.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Which would you choose?

Old and New
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I finished my Adobe Illustrator course with a redesign of the Clif Bar package, which would be fun if they would use when they finally introduce their biodegradable wrapper (see a few messages below.)

I put together this collage of the original package and my new design. My thoughts for the new package were to emphasize the flavor (which is hard to determine on the old) and the nutrition, rather than "Energy Bar." Which would you pick?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Energy Efficiency

The sceptics are at it again. Now they understand that Climate Change exists, that it's caused to a considerable degree by the mess we've made of the planet, that it's not China and India's fault (in fact, China is supporting sustainables more than the US government is.) So now they're saying that it's too late to do anything about it! Of course if it hadn't been for their dragging their feet way back when we'd have been in much better shape now than we are.

But I am (usually) an optimist. I really think we can run this world on renewable sources just like we did 200 years ago, except with a whole lot of high tech to help us do it better.

And we don't even have to generate as much energy per capita that people have been estimating, because the best way to have enough energy is to use less of it.

We've already learned a lot about energy efficiency. I've read recently that LA still is providing about the same level of energy now as some number of years ago, even though the population increase has been phenomenal (unfortunately.) The way they did is was that appliances, light bulbs, etc. use less energy.

John and I have been working toward energy efficiency throughout the 7 years of our marriage. We started by buying a Honda Insight for me when I moved here. John had already traded in his Gran Cherokee for a smaller sedan, which he has now switched to a Prius. Even though I have that great car, I used a bus or train wherever possible to commute, and now only work from home. I can walk or bike to almost all my daily needs: supermarket, pharmacy, doctors, gym, downtown, Claremont Farmer's Market, etc. so my little Insight just sits in the garage.

We have of course switched almost all our lamps to fluorescents, too. And last year we started trading in all our energy guzzling appliances to Energy Star rated ones. Some of these were probably original with the condo (from 10-30 years old.) We started with a great new airconditioner / furnace, which immediately cut our electric bill by at least 25%. Then the dishwasher and microwave conked out, so we have new Energy Stars of them now, too. The 10-year old refrigerator went next.

This week we got a new front-loading washing machine, like the ones I knew in Denmark. We just did our first load and were amazed at how big a load can be. This will cut back on our washing considerably, because we will probably be able to do a third fewer loads. Then it centrifuges very fast, so the clothers are almost dry when they come out. This will cut back the need for the dryer, as well as dryer time, another savings. Thirdly, it uses very little water, so it doesn't have to use much energy to heat it up.

All of the appliances except the AC are Sears Kenmore, which appears to have the very best Energy Star ratings for the affordable products.

I think we'll save the gas-powered dryer and stove until we know for sure we're getting solar panels. Then we can get electric versions, and save even more.

We do need a new hot water heater. I've been looking into tankless hot water heaters, which originally were all gas, but now also exist as electric. But they're so new it's hard to find good information about them. Manufacturers tell how great the electric ones are (which I tend to believe, particularly if we're going solar.) The independent reviewers don't think electric tankless heaters are good enough, although I expect it's because they haven't been keeping up with the latest products. And there is no Energy Star rating for them either, so there is no guidance there either (or rebate, for that matter!)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Macy's goes solar today

. . . & Walmart & Whole Foods & BP & a lot of others!

Macy's goes solar
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
This is from an ad in the LA TImes on Wednesday. Some of the text reads
Join us as we dedicate our first solar-powered, energy-efficient store Friday, September 28.
Enjoy energy-conscious events taking place throughout the day. Plus, be one of the first to arrive and receive a free eco-tote.
This installation, the first of 28 Macy's stores in California in partnership with SunPower Corporation, will help reduce our energy consumption as well as our greenhouse gas emissions. It's all part of Macy's commitment to cleaner technology, a healthy environment and a more sustainable future.
Congratulations, Macy's!
I found an article online about this, which I thought was very good:

...and an AP article: More firms focus on climate change
A report finds more widespread disclosure of carbon emissions by the biggest companies.
The thing is, companies are discovering that keeping track of their energy use is good business that very clearly improves the bottom line.

I learned just that taking courses in Environental Management in Denmark 10 years ago, but the US government was so busy telling everyone that doing anything about global warming would hurt the US economy big time, that no one even tried to investigate if it was true. So European and Japanese companies are way ahead in areas where US companies were first movers back in the 70's!

Walmart and Whole Foods are also busily putting panels on their expansive roofs, adn there was an article in the LATimes this week with a picture of a very sculptural new BP station equipped with solar panels. And Ted Turner did a keynote speech at this week's with 12,500 participants (I wish I’d gone!) You can watch webcasts, including Turner’s keynote speech, from the conference website.

Just thinking about all that wonderful space for solar panels is really exciting! And I figure the panels on the roofs will shade them somewhat, so they won't need as much airconditioning in the summer. I discussed this with our local Vons (Safeway) manager. He had been reading about SunEdison, which is working with Whole Foods, and thought it was a great idea. I have also thought that parking lots would be a great place for panels, which would also help shade the cars in the summer!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Candy Wrappers

Candy Wrappers
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.

The candy in the picture all purport to be organic or sustainable or good for you or the earth or free trade.

Some are packaged in biodegradable paper or cardboard (the ones on the right,) some include a layer of metalic film with the paper, and some are packaged in decidedly non-biodegradable plastics.

If very fragile chocolate and even cookies can be packaged in paper, why can't Clif energy bars, Newman's Peppermint Cups or Barbara's Snackimals?

When I was a kid all candy was packaged either in paper wrappers (lke Mars bars and Baby Ruths,) cardboard boxes (Raisinettes, little chocolate mints and Malt Balls) or cellophane (like jelly beans,) if we didn't get them loose into a little paper bag.

As far as I remember, they all lasted very well like that, thank you, except for the occasional forgotten chocolate bar that got a bit white after a while. We weren't all that good about littering back then (although in Girl Scouts, we learned "Don't be a litterbug!") But the wrappers were biodegradable and disappeared with time.

I don't remember when the first plastic packages came - maybe in the late 60's or 70's? Now, if you aren't a litterbug, your packaging will last forever in a landfill.

If you are a litterbug, you'll be seeing that wrapper next time you climb the mountain, unless, of course, some animal tries to eat it - if it tempted you in the store, maybe it will tempt a deer or bear or wid sheep? Or maybe the rain will wash it away, down the stream and finally out to sea, where either it will end up in the belly of some marine animal, or in one of two the Texas-sized plastic dumps in the Pacific?

If you've been following my blog, you may know that I've been taking a class in Adobe Illustrator for which I made a lovely picture called Solar Sister. Our second project involves redesigning the packaging of some product, and I decided to redesign the Clif Bar the I've been eating to get me back home up hill on my bike after class.

I thought I would be just redesigning it so there would be a picture of the Oatmeal, Raisins and Walnuts on the package, since it's hard to tell which flavor you're picking up. But we were supposed to do a little research before attempting the design, during which it occured to me that all the energy bars, including the organic ones like Clif, are packaged in plastic, which I think is called Mylar. So then I started thinking about the package material as well. When I contacted the company, I received this reply from Jeff in Consumer Service:

Our packaging is made of a two layer structure which sandwiches a metalized coating and the printed design between the layers. This structure enables us to provide a product which retains its freshness and moisture on the shelf. However this structure is not recyclable. At this time, there are no materials that are recyclable and meet our standards for retaining product freshness.

We are pushing our packaging vendors to come up with a structure that is recyclable and provides adequate barrier properties. If such a material becomes available in the future, our R&D department will strongly consider its use.

As I wrote back,

How long a shelf-life do you need to work with? It seems to me that freshness should require a shorter shelf-life. Obviously carrying bars in the bottom of my knapsack or back pockets doesn’t help them keep looking good, but I’d assume that some sort of sustainable material – several layers if you need – would be preferable to candy papers trashing a mountainside or ending up in the gullet of a fish.

When the trade-off is the sustainability of the land that I am hiking in, I’d prefer a shorter shelf-life! You don’t always have to listen to the plastics people.

What do you think? I'm thinking of going over entirely to chocolate bars for my energy food, preferably ones that don't have a metal foil liner to the paper packaging. But I guess I'll have to eat all the products I bought for this little packaging study!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


We have been enjoying watching episode after episode of Northern Exposure through Netflicks. Although we realize that most of it was filmed in Washington, the thought of those wide=open spaces, which you seem to have to reach only by plane, is intriguing (and daunting as well!) We watched Grizzly Man recently, too, so I guess that we've been enjoying Alaska vicariously through the media. I hope to get there some day!

But Alaska has so much that is "just" wide open spaces that I guess some Alaskans don't realize the treasure they have and that it must be preserved. We hear of the affects of global warming and other environmental disasters regularly: islands sinking into the sea, taking villages with them, or permafrost melting, so houses list and roads give way. There's always a new issue about the Artic National Wildlife Reservation, with its caribous and other wildlife threatened by oil production.
(Note This last link is a defense of oil production, just to get the other side of the story. I do not agree with its conclusions!)

And then there's this new "sport" of using airplanes to track down and kill beautiful wolves in Alaska. After you've watched the video below you might want to visit this site of the Defenders of Wildlife.

The Truth About Aerial Hunting of Wolves in Alaska

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Peace in Portland (ME)

Peace in Portland (ME)
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
My sister, Lu, sent me this picture, with this description:

"I was there in the peace symbol... this summer some time. I just received these photos of the event. We didn't quite break the record in the Guiness Book of Records.. but it was a wonderful time.In some photos they had us all lie down on the grass..
They were sent to me by the fellow who piloted the helicopter for the photographer!"

If I find out who the photographer was I will credit him.

I picked this picture of all of them, because of the great view of Portland. The Peace symbol is right in the middle of the picture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why globalization won't make everything the same

Home made Sausage Pizza
Originally uploaded by pelleb.
My son, who has lived in Maine, New Hampshire, Miami, San Francisco, Denmark, England, Wales, Jamaica and various other Caribean islands, Panama and even a month in Argentina, got thinking about whether globalization is as bad as some people think.

Are there McDonald's and Starbucks now on every street corner? Does everyone eat American food, drink American coke, watch American movies and dance to American music?

He wrote a great blog entry called Why globalization won't make everything the same, illustrated with pictures he's taken various places he's lived or traveled. (He has a whole Flickr section called Food and Drink, including a set called Food and Booze Porn!) As you can see from the picture, he's pretty good at creating his own global fusion food as well.

Of course there's one bit of globalization that does worry me: our global environment. Pollution from China is affecting California weather, Midwestern Coal is causing acid rain in New England, Tchernobyl spread its radiation in Sweden, and warming is affecting low-lying areas around the world.

That makes the environment a global interest, not just a local or regional one. I hope that we can reverse the bad parts of globalized pollution by working together globally to clean up our air, conserve our water and make the world a healthier place for everyone.

We can start working globally in our own homes, by thinking about the products we buy and the packaging they come in; by taking our own bags to the supermarket; bu using less water and in time re-landscaping with native plants; and by installing solar panels on every east, south- or west-facing unshaded roof around - and encouraging builders to make sure there's a roof like that on every new home built!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Willits, California Escapes from Suburbia

I just watched this very encouraging trailer for the film Escape from Suburbia.

The trailer (and, I understand, a good bit of the movie) is mostly about the little town of Willits, CA, whose residents got together after watching the prequel to this, End of Suburbia, to see how they could join forces to form a viable and sustainable local economy. This is their Willits Economic Localization (WILL) site for inspiration.

Obviously getting 13,000 people of all persuasions to work together was one mean feat. I am very impressed, and hope to learn how they managed to do that! In the trailer they said that they can't discuss the war or religion and any number of other topics without getting into an argument. But if the talk is about Willits, then they can pull together!

More (sustainable) power to them!

Brighter than sunshine

Moths on flowering green onions
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I just took this picture in the garden, and thought I'd just use it as decoration.

I thought you might like to read a very good newspaper article from the Maryland Gazette called Brighter than sunshine. It is an excellent story about our solar panel venture, including interviews with skeptics, local installers and Erika Morgan, our VP of Communications.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Eco-Urbanite: Another Option for Solar Power

The Eco-Urbanite: Another Option for Solar PowerI just found this blog and thought it might be fun to keep up with her ideas, and particularly if she decides to become one of our customers.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Solar Fundamentals

Solar Fundamentals
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I'm done!
I made this picture for my class in Adobe Illustrator. We were supposed to create a project based on a super hero of ourselves. So of course I am Solar Sister!
The picture was supposed to be used in some realistic function, so most of my classmates used it as a comic book cover. But since I'd just edited a training book on Solar Fundamentals, I figured it could be a cover for that, if anyone wants to use it that way!

This used a number of different techniques. The picture of me was done entirely with the devilish but versatile pen tool, most of the background was made with the Live Trace tool directly from pictures. The sky picture was based on one I took in Maine. You'll be able to find it in my Flickr pictures!
And then I used a scatter brush to scatter solar panels!
The windturbine (which was in the original picture of the power plant from the Ruhrgebiet in Germany) I did partly with the pen and partly by generating the tower by revolving a "path."
The last thing I did was remove many bits of cloud on the front cover to show a clear blue sky!
I hope you enjoy my picture.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Too much junk mail?

Carbon Conscious Consumer
I just received a campaign email about stopping junk mail, which we always just throw in the recycle bin without looking at it.

I must admit that the colorful addressed clothing catalogues sometimes catch my eye, but usually I am annoyed that one more company has given away MY name to some stupid list that just generates more PAPER!

Sometimes I've even called to get off a mailing list, but it doesn't really work. Unfortunately every time you get tempted by one of the catalogues you end up on a few more mailing lists, because they know they've found another gullible person!

Recycling is fine, but it would be better if the catalogues didn't even get printed! Think of all the trees that are used for them, because most of them don't even use recycled paper or vegetable inks. And besides that, think of all the fuel used to transport the trees, pulp and finished catalogues to wherever they're going. And those trees would have helped removed the CO2 that burning petroleum produces!

At any rate, this website has all the forms you need to get off of many of the mailing lists. So you can at least get rid of some of them! And they're running a contest with monthly prizes. (I didn't look to see what the prizes are, but you can.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It would really help if we just ran out of oil!

I was writing with a former colleague I hadn't heard from recently. We've always enjoyed a certain give and take, because our backgrounds and politics are pretty far from each other. The title for this entry was his comment to the following. It was how I answered his reaction to finding out that I've started working with solar energy: "I'm for more nuke plants until the horsepower of the solar is improved."
(I took the picture at sunset from the Falmouth Forside ME Ocean Grill in mid August.)

This is what I had answered:
Solar is ready to go. We just have to build plants to produce all the panels we need. We have more than 20,000 people on our waiting list. Since we’re a start-up we can’t begin installations for about a year, but there is a tremendous demand as long as the price is right! There is enough sun on this earth to easily cover our needs, the “fuel” is free and since there are no moving parts it is almost maintenance free. Think of all the roofs where they could be placed – on factories, business parks, supermarkets, not to mention all the houses built after a certain date.

Nuclear on the other hand takes at least 10 years from the drawing board to production. Plants are extremely expensive, as is the fuel. There is a considerable unsolved problem about what to do with the waste – and the biggest issue of all is that uranium, like oil and even coal, is peaking, which means total production per year will be falling soon, even to feed existing reactors, while the need is increasing.

Which means that the most important energy “source” is actually energy conservation – higher fuel standards, better insulation, Energy Star appliances including light-bulbs, and changing our behavior to remember to turn out lights and computers we’re not using, or using this computer CO2 saver.)
Trouble is, I replied, there’s lots of oil and coal – it’s just not very accessible from oil sands and removing mountain tops (and ruining landscapes and lives!) So people keep saying all we need is the technology to keep up going. (And that technology is solar!)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Baby, it's HOT out there!

I've experienced hotter weather since I moved here, but that doesn't make this less hot! I've discovered that no one else wants to go out to our condo pool in this heat, so I can have it for myself. The water is probably pretty hot, but a lot cooler than 107°, so it's refreshing!

When I arrived in California from cool Denmark 7 years ago, I remember going to a football game at Pomona College in our neighboring town against Oberlin College (my alma mater) when the temperature was said to be 108°! Pomona beat the Yeomen by about 56-0, partly because the Obie team was pretty new, but certainly also because they weren't used to heat like that!

The summer of 2002 I was working in North Palm Springs, right on the edge of the desert, for Vestas-American Wind Systems. I loved driving out to the desert early in the morning, and much less the drive home with the sun in my eyes and a lot more traffic. I remember it got up to 120°! Going outside it felt like being hit by some object! I had to cover my Honda Insight hybrid with a special sun-reflecting cover to keep the battery at ambient temperature. I understand that it wouldn't have worked over 160°!

And there was also the summer of 2001 when the temperature got up to a very humid 100° in Maine!

Before that, my hottest summers were when I was studying in Chapel Hill, NC, between 1965-72. My son was born in August 1970 in 90° humid weather and wore nothing but a diaper and an undershirt his first 2 weeks, before we took him off to cooler Denmark for a couple of weeks, where he got his first cold, poor dear!

I remember, however, getting used to the heat in Chapel Hill, (for the most part.) One of the delights of Chapel Hill summers were the torrential rains every afternoon at 4 pm, which (I think) cooled things off. (My husband, who moved himself out here from Georgia because of bugs and humidity, among other reasons, says the rain just turned into steam.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Save the Appalachians

Don't let the Bush Administration remove any more Appalachian mountaintops!

I got one of those action emails today from Friends of the Earth with this awful message:

Late last Friday the Bush administration issued a proposed new rule for coal mining that not only sanctions the most ecologically unsound form of coal mining, but may also be adopted with disregard to public comments solicited under law.

According to The New York Times, the rule "will be subject to a 60-day comment period and could be revised, although officials indicated that it was not likely to be changed substantially."

Mountaintop-removal mining literally blasts the top off mountains. It is devastating to mountain communities, uprooting families, filling streams with poison, and turning pristine mountain territory into rubble. With this rule, mountaintop-removal mining will proliferate, when it should be banned by law. That means we must fight the rule on the merits, but before we do that we must ensure that the process for adopting the proposed rule is not a sham.

Someone else pointed me in the direction of an organization called Appalachian Voices, in Boone, NC, which is fighting mountaintop removal. The picture at the top is the banner on their website.

Mom and Dad lived in Mountain City, TN, across the state line from Boone while I was in graduate school in Chapel Hill, NC, so I drove through it numerous times. They moved there while I was still in college in Ohio, so I drove (with a voice major, Frank Coffee from Boone) through the Appalachians of Kentucky and West Virginia when we came home for vacations. They were of course ravaged then by coal mines, and the miners had dreadful lives. But now their mountains are disappearing one by one and the streams are getting clogged with the debris. I remember the mountains as lovely in the spring, full of wild mountain laurel and rhododendron. This is our national heritage, a treasure we don't want to loose because of short-sighted vicious government decisions. We don't need coal. We need more renewables, like solar and wind (and not more TVA dams, either!)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Is solar energy a viable solution to reducing oil dependence?

I originally wrote the following article to answer the debate question used in the title. You can see the rest of the debate at The picture was taken last week at our reunion in Maine.

The sun shines all over the world, not just in the United States!

Already, Japan and Germany draw a (relatively) high percentage of their energy from solar panels. This has been accomplished through excellent government incentives. Those countries have no oil resources of their own and want to limit the use of the coal that they have to avoid the pollutants that burning coal produce. Germany in particular has had a long history of bad air because of burning coal, so it is conscientiously finding alternatives, including enormous wind farms.

Developing countries are leapfrogging over dirty energy methods directly into the 21st century by installing solar panels.

In Africa, an organization called Solar Electric Light Fund (SOLAR - is helping villagers in Ghana, Nigeria, Mali Rwanda and Uganda replace kerosene lamps and diesel generators (or burning cow dung.) Using solar energy, often with back-up batteries, they have electricity for light to read by, computers and TVs. Beyond this simple electrification, using solar power to power water pumps so they don't have to carry water over great distances, solar-powered drip irrigation systems increase the yield of their crops, while medical clinics, where medications can be kept cook in solar-powered refrigerators, improve their health.

China and India want all of the conveniences we have, and need to find energy sources to do so. Since China has enormous coal resources, that is the first place they look for energy. But China also has tremendous pollution problems, particularly in the industrial cities in the east. Although they are building many new coal-fired plants every year, they are also investing heavily in solar and wind. Working with organizations like Environmental Defense, they are creating a very viable solar power industry, because they are aware that they need to make renewables the power of the future. Nevertheless, China is rapidly passing the US as a producer of CO2. We need to help China with its goals for wise development.

What many don't know is that Chinese pollution is carried on the trade winds to the US West Coast, adding to the smog. Helping China go solar has other added advantages for us.

We can also learn from China to create a viable business environment for renewables. Presently far more than half of US government subsidies for energy research go to finding methods to make coal "clean" and dispose of nuclear wastes, the next largest is for fuel cells (which at present appear to be produced using natural gas, also a carbon-based fuel, which is rapidly reaching its peak.) Only a tiny remainder is earmarked for solar and wind. The United States needs to change its priorities to keep up with China.

Fortunately, American business people are doing it on their own anyway, since they realize that solar is the future. A company named Solar Edison ( has figured out a way for businesses like Walmart to finance large installations. Another company, Citizenre, ( is developing a way for residential customers to rent the panels at or lower than what they are paying for electricity now - locked in over 25 years. Imagine what progress could be made with good government incentives and research subsidies! Replacing subsidies for dirty energy with subsidies for clean could easily bring America up to the same level as Germany and Japan. The United States should return to a position as a leader, not a dirty old coach potato!

See the rest of the original debate

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Great News about the Future of Solar!

The start-up solar panel company, which I represent as an Ecopreneur, has just anounced its financial team at
This is the first of a number of press releases we are expecting in the next month or so, about the team, location of the factory, and expected timeline for solar panel availability. (Right now, we're assuming the first panels will be available in about a year.)

We Ecopreneurs are busy signing up customers for the waiting list (so far about 20,000!)and other Ecopreneurs to help people get solar. If you are interested, please click the links and banner on the right!

I have been contributing my writing skills to the company by preparing three extensive training materials for Ecopreneurs, so they are as well prepared as possible to help their customers and Team!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Originally uploaded by pelleb.
My son took this incredible picture in the hills east of Sacramento. I can't think of anything much more to say about it - it speaks for itself! He wrote,"Does it get any more Californa than this?"

Coming from southern California, we rarely see the sky this blue - except up on Mt Baldy at 8,000 feet.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Winning the Lottery

No, I haven't won the lottery, but Patricia Woods has with her just-published book, Lottery
which even provides a lot of sunshine through all the Washington rain! (I had to get that sun in here somewhere, and Perry really is a "little Mr. Sunshine" as well.)

While I was reading this delightful book, I kept remembering a book I'd read in German about 25 years ago (and still in print!) The Discovery of Slowness by Sten Nadolny, which is about a very slow and strange child, John Franklin, who became a ship's captain and discoverer, and got lost in the ice of the Northwest Passage. You might enjoy reading it after you finish Lottery.

Both draw on the advantages and strengths of slowness, and make you think about how much we "quick" people (and I'm "quick" like John Robison describes in his autobiography Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's) lose out by not being an "auditor" like Perry!

Another theme in the book is friendship, which I became even more aware of after seeing the new French movie My Best Friend. Perry is amazed when someone calls him "weak", because his slowness - and his friendships, make him very strong, strong enough to withstand his vulture family members completely on his own--by giving them what he understood that they wanted--and he no longer needed.

The third theme is "respect." People who are "different" have to fight to gain respect. Perry gains people's attention (and false friendship) when he wins the lottery, but the respect came in the way he lived by using his "auditor" skills to become a good business partner and friend. John Franklin was not fortunate to have friends like Perry, but he also managed to gain great respect with the strengths of slowness.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Two old men looking back at life

I have just completed an interesting reading experience. Two books I was reading appeared to complement each other in so many ways that I read a couple of chapters of one and then a couple in the other.

On the surface they appear to be very different.

Out Stealing Horses: A Novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson, takes place mostly near Oslo and other locations on the border to Sweden.

Garlic Is Life: A Memoir With Recipes by a former English professor turned farmer, Chester Aaron, is non-fiction autobiographical account about farming 30 or more different kinds of garlic 100 miles north of Berkely, California.

But there are so many similarities it is uncanny.

Both are written in the first person in beautiful, engaging prose. (Horses is so well translated that you don't notice that it was written in another language, except for the occasional Norwegian place names.)

Both utilize many flashbacks to childhood, Petterson's Trond mostly to 1948 in alternate chapters, Chester to the 30's in Pennsylvania.

Both have moved to the country to start over after losing their wives: Chester after a devastating divorce, Trond after a horrendous car accident.

Both recall strong relations to difficult fathers, who continue to influence the way they try to create new lives as 70-something "old men." (Their mothers are lurking in the background.) Both fathers are still lurking to show how to do practical things on their farms.

For both books the natural settings (fields, woods and ocean for Chester, forest, meadows and river for Trond) and the weather (wind, rain, and yes, also the sun) provide more than just the setting.

Trond's dog Lyra and Chester's cat Sadie are their constant companions, while sheep, horses, gophers and other creatures also play important roles.

Crops play important roles (garlic, of course, and fruit trees for Chester, trees for Trond.)

Neighbors and other humans provide insight and sometimes help, but occasionally are more of an irritant to their daily lives alone on their farms - although Garlic ends with a wedding!

But only Garlic provides you with numerous recipes for strange garlics, including 2 desserts!

I hope you enjoy them, too!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Scientific Integrity

The Union of Concerned Scientists ran a cartoon contest recently. This is the winner - by Jesse Springer of Eugene, Oregon.

There have been a number of people who for some reason or other have been trying to discredit science, whether for strange religious reasons about evolution, and energy companies and their buddies in our present government about climate change and othr environmental issues. This is, of course, where scientif integrity really concerns me. I think the winning picture is the one I voted for. It sure tells it all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Michael Moore is Right

The scene
A friend of mine, Karen, was out riding her motorcycle in January out to Anza Borrego in the desert to enjoy the warmth of the sun, together with her husband Stu and some of their friends.

Unfortunately, the trip ended in a disaster, which you can read about on her blog Michael Moore is Right. It turned out that their health insurance MEGA was a fraud, and they were billed as "cash patients!" If you know of others with health insurance problems like this, please send them to her blog and ask them to write comments. That would be very comforting.

There is a real health insurance problem in this country for people who don't have an employer, not because they're not working, but because they are SELF-employed!

Karen is doing a great job documenting their problems. She's a great writer. (I met her taking technical writing courses, but she decided she'd prefer the active life working with her house-painter husband.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Live Earth in Upland, CA

Live Earth in Upland, CA
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
There were other ways to experience the Live Earth concerts 7/7/07.
MoveOn organized house parties, and we were delighted that there was one in Upland.

Mind you, we spent most of the time enjoying meeting new like-minded people from our town (where we thought were were pretty alone in these interests) and watching MoveOn's Town Hall videos of Democratic Candidates' views on the environment.

I also wanted to point out a five-part series by Bill Chameides from Environmental Defense called How We Know Humans Cause Global Warming, and another report, from Greenpeace, called Energy [R]evolution (a 92 page PDF.)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sun and Wind

I found this picture in an article from Nature about the Spanish province of Navarre, which is trying to become 100% sustainable energy. They have pretty much exhausted locations for windfarms (wee the background of the picture) so now they are putting up solar farms in between the wind turbines.

Way to go!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Sometimes, too much sunshine might be a bad thing, particularly if part of it doesn't bounce back off to space again.

I was just refered to this link with an interesting video about the risks of action of inaction with climate change, and remembered this other report by a group of ex-generals about National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, who also talk about how to evaluate the risks.

Interesting. What do you think?

Poinsettia, June 16

Poinsettia, June 16
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
This poinsettia keeps growing into the summer. Little green leaves are beginning to appear, but this flower is about a foot across! I guess I hope the movement against climate change will keep growing the same way! (Without the seasonal changes, however!)

I wanted to comment about the blog below about books.
What does it say about our time when a book, Silent Spring, could call to action in the 60's, but it takes a movie, An Inconvenient Truth to do it now.

But that doesn't surprise Al Gore. In his latest book, The Assault On Reason, he tells in the Introduction that one of the main assaults on reason is that most people get most of their "news" from television now, not the written word.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reading about the sun ... and the rain and a lot of other things

Environmental Defense has just put out its new 2007 Summer Reading List, which includes a lot of oldies back to Silent Spring. They want to know which has been the most influential book on the environment. Use the list as inspiration, and vote in their list.
Certainly The Silent Spring was an enormous jolt in its time. I think now, Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth provided the biggest earthquake recently in environmental awareness.

I was so inspired by last year's reading list that I took it over last summer and added a few more to it. I thank their staffers for their inspiration!

I have a little Squidoo blog heifer/bonsol, which has links to a lot of these books (way at the bottom.) If you happen to buy one through those links, a little contribution is made to Heifer International.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Helping people save money with solar

Bonnie with our 27 FRAs
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I've spent a couple of days recently at Home Shows telling people about how they can save on their electric bill (and incidentally also save the world - which is not their greatest interest) using the sun to provide the power for their homes.

The Los Angeles Home and Garden Show was in the Convention Center, next to the Staples Center, where we've seen both the Lakers basketball team and the Dixy Chicks. Unfortunately, it is several blocks from downtown LA, so I had to walk forever to find a "decent" lunch at a Subway, since all the food they had at the Show was hotdogs and hamburgers and coffee from thermos jugs!

At the same time, there were the beginnings of the big Wind Power convention, which started the next day. I would have loved going to that, since I worked for a while for the Danish Vestas Wind Systems, and own stock in the company as well. They are the largest (or have been) wind mill company in the world.

On Sunday I was at the Pomona Home and Backyard Show, which was held in 2 buildings at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds (aka the Fairplex.) The same weekend there were RV, boat and other shows, so there were a lot of people, music and food available.

We would ask people if they would like to save money on their electric renting our solar panels. An amazing number of people actually said they liked paying their bill the way it is. A number of people figured out right away that we were doing solar - no-brainer, actually, when they see our great banners - and said they'd already been talking with someone about it, but it was too expensive. So then we emphasized the work "renting" one more time, and they stopped in their tracks (except for the ones who think renting can't possibly be as good as owning.)

We told them how our CEO decided it was about time there were solar panels on all those wonderful, but empty, south-facing roofs, and tried to figure out how to do it so everyone could afford it. Sort of like cell-phones, or cable - installation is free and you pay monthly for the priviledge of having the panels on your roof.

About 30 people each place thought that as a great idea, and signed up on the spot. Others gave us contact information, and many walked away with flyers and business cards. Unfortunately the latter get stuffed into bags with information about saunas, hot tubs and new windows. But maybe someday they'll pull them out and look at the website!

Our Regional Sales Directors, Jason Rodriguez and Steve Gates, have been in the solar installation business for several years, but they signed up with Citizenre because they were frustrated that home owners couldn't afford their products. Jason arranged the LA Show for us, and Steve the Pomona show, paying for the booth, and providing the great banners, tables, etc. Two or three of us then signed on for each day, where they were there to help us and train the new ones. At the end of the day we pooled our signed Forward Rental Agreements.

Afterwards we enter the new customers' data in our website, and print off pages to send to the corporate office and to the customers. I also had several names to call to follow up, which is also usually a good experience!

It really is a sunny experience helping people get solar!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Cherry Blossoms

I spent the middle weeks of May in Maine, enjoying a northern spring time. It was delightful to see how much the sun makes a difference where you can't always count on it!

Mom and Dad look forward to the days the weather is good, so they can go out on their porch for lunch.