Friday, March 28, 2008

Schwarzenegger in the Sun

Picture from the Daily Bulletin. Picture text: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with members of Edison International, ProLogis and the California Public Utilities Commission, announces the beginning of the nation s largest rooftop solar-power project, at the ProLogis warehouse in Fontana on Thursday. (Gabriel Luis Acosta/Staff Photographer)

Our governor is all over the papers today. The local paper went way out to cover our most important dignitary's visit to the new solar installation in Fontana.
For more news, pictures and videos, see Governor attends event unveiling of solar power project from the Daily Bulletin,
FONTANA - Gov. Schwarzenegger's vision for a solar-powered California just got brighter.
The governor on Thursday joined Southern California Edison officials and local politicians to announce the proposed installation of photovoltaic-generating technology on 65 million square feet of commercial building rooftops in Southern California. That's a lot of solar panels. Enough to fill 1,100 football fields.
"It will harness California's abundant sunshine and deliver electricity straight to our power grid," Schwarzenegger said. "I love when big ideas like this turn into great victories for the state of California."
The LA Times just added a picture to the article they had yesterday.

Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur talking about Solar Power

A scene from the movie, You Can't Take it With You
Added to UTube 05 September 2006 by hankmt.
"...Jimmy and Jean talk about The Politics of Fear, Solar Power, the secret to happiness, and falling in love. All in the space of five minutes with no cuts or edits. They just don't make 'em like this anymore."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Solar farms in our urban desert

Interstate 15
Originally uploaded by digitonin.
Hurrah! Southern California Edison is going to be installing solar panels on large roofs near me, according to today's LA Times and the New York Times.

So finally somebody paid attention to what I've been saying!
The Ontario airport mentioned in the NYT article is my local airport. (This area was developed about 130 years ago by a couple of brothers from Ontario who happened to know about mathematics - our Main Street is called Euclid - and water - so that even in Southern California we use a very high percentage of ground water.)

But the main reason for building Ontario was the train lines from LA and Long Beach harbor to the East, so that all our citrus could be shipped back East as our Christmas oranges (I grew up in New Jersey.)

Nowadays the area is crisscrossed with what we call Freeways, like Interstate 10, known by Americans all across the South, and 15, which goes from San Diego to Las Vegas and beyond.

So we have become a shipping hub. Trucks bring containers full of stuff from the harbors (which most likely came from China) to warehouses here, from which they are sent by either air, train or truck to further destinations East or North.
And those warehouses are enormous - many acres of lovely flat roofs, perfect for whole experimental solar farms that need many acres. Looking down from a plane while landing at the airport, all you see are those enormous roofs. Looking north, however, you see our lovely mountains of the Angeles National Forest, and looking south and west you may see the Pacific, all the way to Catalina!

I'm reading Environmental Defense head, Fredd Krupp's new book Earth: The Sequel, where the first 2 chapters are devoted to solar. He talks about a lot of grand schemes to build solar farms in the Mojave desert (one of which is mentioned in the LATimes article linked above,) but of the difficutlies with transmission lines (partly that electricity dissipates during transmission, and partly that they have to go through protected natural areas.)

All that will be solved by using all those roofs to build solar farms on. And the users are right here in one of the most highly built-up areas in the country.

And I won't even claim my part in thinking this up. I'm just delighted that the next time I take a plane (if there are any left to take!) that I'll be looking down at solar installations instead of bare flat roofs!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Remembering waxed paper

waxed paper
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I just received an email from a reader, Ben, who had read my article Candy Wrappers. Ben wrote:
I've been making raw chocolate for a while, and am thinking of selling & marketing it soon. Have you heard of raw chocolate before? If not I can send you some info...
If I do start selling a product, I don't want to contribute to the enviromentally dangerous waste that gets sent to the landfills (or dropped on the floor).
The most important factors for me are complete degradability, and from a sustainable resource. It is not so important for me if the packaging is recycled or recyclable, although this is a consideration.
If you can help, I'm sure I could send you samples of my product when finished!
I started thinking about how a lot of the good chocolate (not Hershey's) is package in paper with a foil liner. I suppose foil decomposes with time - at least faster than plastic.

But then I thought that maybe he could package in (recycled) paper with an unbleached waxed paper liner. I bought some unbleached waxed paper sandwich bags at a local store (see picture,) which sure brought back memories. (Note that the packaging says "natural" not "recycled". I suppose there might be issues with traces of toxic inks in recycled paper?)

Mom always put our lunch sandwiches in (bleached) waxed paper sandwich bags when we were kids (the 50's). When we were taking hamburgers to the beach to grill, we made row after row of them in waxed paper. Picnic eggs were also rolled individually in waxed paper, with the ends twisted like salt water taffy (which was also sold in waxed paper!)

A Google search produced a number of sources for recycled waxed paper. One of them was this blog The Great Plastic Challenge, Week #3, where Cynematic, who evidently lives somewhat close to me in the LA area, was trying to find replacements for ziplock bags - which are admittedly a fantastically usable product!

I wish Ben luck. I've gone over to only buying candy wrapped in paper, which sort of limits my selection. I'm looking forward to buying Ben's bars (and hope that my suggestions are enough to be eligible for a free sample!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A little friend

We have a new house pet. This little alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata webbii - San Diego Alligator Lizard) is about 10" long to the tip of its tail - which I didn't get in the pictures. We first discovered it when I removed the 2-part composter. It had found a nice comfy dark home between the base and the drum. John found the link about it at that time.

But today, when he was about to open the front door, he discovered our little friend inside - the screen door does not close very tightly at the bottom. It had probably thought it had found a nice dark replacement home. Luckily we convinced it to go out again - through the sun, and back to where the composter had been. Our little friend is evidently much happier in dark places, and doesn't really care much for sustainable rays!

If you click the picture, it will take you to my Flickr pictures, where there is another picture of our little friend, scared to death of the sunlight, just before s/he scurried off to its nice shady corner under the nectarine tree.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Wheeze, Hack, Drip, Snort

nectarine flowers
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I am about finishing off my third week of "Upper Respiratory Infection" and getting pretty tired of it. I've had a slight fever, stuffy head, cough, sore throat, tickle in my lungs that became a wheeze, sore eyes, clogged ears, you name it.

It all started 3 weeks ago (Monday) at chorale practice, where our director reminded us to be very careful about our health, since our concert was only 4 weeks off, and a third of the altos were missing that night. When I got home I felt something and immediately took an AirBorne tablet in a glass of water.

Off to snowy Maine

I continued with the Airborne, Zinc and throat lozenges the next day when I flew to Portland, ME, to help Mom move to a nice Assisted Living apartment in Brunswick, ME. I kept up the Airborne one more day, but the raising of dust, going through old papers, and exhaustion of travel had gotten to me, so by Thursday, I couldn't ignore it any more - I was coughing (and Mom was, too) and very tired.

Gulping Coricidin I discovered in Mom's medicine chest, I packed a box and rested, and then packed something else. When the movers came on Friday, Mom and I pretty much hung out in the 2 recliners until the movers took them, and since only one was getting moved to Mom's, she got it in the new apartment, and I sat on the floor until a bed became available. All in all, I felt I hadn't been nearly as much help there as I'd planned going all that distance. Sunday I left, so I wouldn't miss chorale practice, but by Monday, it was really bad, so I missed practice anyway.

Medical opinion

When I called the doctor's office on Thursday, I was told to try to get a same day appointment by calling at 8:30 am sharp. Because a massage at my chiropractor's the following Monday had brought out a definite wheeze, I finally did that on Tuesday (I made it to practice anyway on that Monday.) I almost didn't get an appointment, but they called and offered me one anyway.

The nurse practitioner was worried about the wheeze too, so she had me use some fancy nose drops I'd discovered left over from last year's earaches after a trip to Maine, an inhalor, 5-days of antibiotics (just in case, of course) and an x-ray: "Bronchitis, rule out Pneumonia."

Anti-biotics work against bacteria...

There was no lab work to determine if there was a need for the antibiotic. We read time and again that you shouldn't just ask your doctor for antiobiotcs, because we're developing drug-resistant strains. Colds and the Flu are viral infections that don't have anything to do with bacteria. When I was in high school I got a penicillin shot every week one winter because of sore throats (they finally removed my tonsils.) By the time I was 40, when I was given one more dose of penicillin for a cold, I reacted strongly - like a pin cushion. Too much penicillin, so now I'm working on overdoing other drugs instead.

I was thinking that it would probably be really simple to create a test for bacteria that could be used in the doctor's office - sort of like a pregnancy test. You cough up some substance into a container, wait 10 minutes, and voila, Doc knows whether or not to prescribe anti-biotics. They probably already have made the product, but they're not about to make it available. They make too much money selling all the antibiotics, particularly now that farmers are slowing down their use of antibiotics as growth enhancers, they have to sell more to us humans.

All my alternative cures

Besides the Airborne and Zinc, I of course tried everything else I could think of, particularly after I got home again. Delicious hot elderberry tea, thick honey on toast, tea, gingerale, salty SinusRinse nasal spray, hot packs on my back and front, Vics, wonderfully steamy "shower therapy" and last night, enormous gobs of garlic at a Mediterranean restaurant, where the waiter said he had the cold, too

Or is it an allergy?

When I chose the picture of our blooming nectarine tree for this entry, it was because it was a pretty picture. But then I started wondering if maybe it - the pollen that the bees are swarming around - is aggravating my cold? I've been enjoying lunch outside, baking in the sun, enjoying the fragrance of the flowers. and then I've come in and had a nap. Maybe I should look into Corricidin again?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Preparing your home for solar - with Chris Prelitz

Chris Prelitz has made a couple of good videos for Citizenre to help you prepare your home for solar panels. You can view one at prepare_for_solar.html.
Chris is a LEEDS certified architect, who is passionate about making our lives sustainable.