Update on utility bill after efficiency upgrades
1/22/2012 08:40:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

After receiving my last National Grid bill, I just have to brag, ahem, I mean share how much we are saving on our heat and electric. (The above average temps have helped too.)

"This past month we used 375 kWh and 76 therms, down from 105 therms and 562 kWh last year (also after the energy efficiency upgrades).

Dec 09: 122 therms
Dec 08: 153 therms

So we are at about 1/2 of our usage from 3 years ago. Not too shabby!

En-tech Associates handled all our upgrades: furnace, hot water heater, sealing, insulation (cellulose in walls and attic).

En-tech

Repost: Grooming The (Gen Y) Consumer Generation
4/19/2011 06:33:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Ed note: I saw that someone had recently accessed this post, thought that it was worth reposting. Also, after having been back to school for several years, I am happy to report that SUNY-ESF still bears the hallmarks of a quality college education - good professors, students with no money, strong brother (and sister-) hood, and a great sense of community. No deluxe dorms here, well maybe not yet... we'll have to see how the new dorms look from the inside.

----------------------------------
Posted originally in 9/07:

As I prepare to head back to school, I've been thinking about how interesting it will be to interact with the next generation of students. Many of them will have grown up with the ability to log on to the internet and gain instant information, the ability to contact friends and family at a moments notice, and an overall different perspective on life. Not that I am that much older that they will be, but 10+ years is difference enough to grow up with a completely different set of ideas, beliefs and interests.

I came across a blog post that gives me pause, however. I wonder how many of these students will have spent a lifetime being groomed to grow up and be consumers.

This past weekend I had the occasion to visit a dorm at George Washington University. I hadn't been in a dorm in years and was shocked at how nice it was. Each room in this particular dorm had its own kitchenette and bathroom. Some rooms have their own washer and dryer.Apparently, this is the norm. When I was in college we were crammed into tiny rooms with no amenities and sharing a bathroom with 6 other girls was the norm. We shared the laundry room with the entire dorm.

Apparently, today's college students have grown up with certain standards and aren't going to lower them just because they are in college and away from the comforts of home. In fact, they expect those comforts to follow them there. When deciding where to go to college, dorms and dining halls play as much a part as do the classes and football team.

(emphasis mine)

Not that I can deny being on the cusp of some consumerist ideas when I was in college (free gift for signing up for a credit card!, etc.), but the trials and tribulations of college are what made it part of growing up into an adult. You had to share a bathroom and kitchen with others on your floor, you had to keep it reasonably clean, and you had to wait in line to do your bi-monthly load of laundry (yes - we were gross in college).

double-room.jpg

Just to make your blood boil a little more: (via LA Times)

The trend toward the four-star dorm is a convergence of several factors: a generation of students who have grown up sharing neither the bedroom nor the bathroom with siblings, parents who are accustomed to high tuition costs and don't object to paying a few hundred more per month for better accommodations, and universities competing for enrollment and using posh new residence halls as marketing tools.

Callaway Villas, in College Station next to Texas A&M, is a gated ACC complex of three-story town houses plus a 16,000-square-foot clubhouse, a resort-style pool, basketball courts, a sand volleyball court and shuffleboard. Living units have faux-hardwood floors, ceiling fans and, for those light sleepers, white-noise generators.

And take a high blood pressure pill before this one: (Washington Post)

Some have given single rooms to students not used to sharing. Others have offered maid service and microwaves. Now they're giving them a larger space on which to lay their heads. At AU, the move toward double beds came after complaints by students that the twins were too small and too childish, said Rick Treter, director of residence life. When a dorm designed with suites of larger single bedrooms was built, the double beds were the ticket.

veruca salt.jpgYeah, yeah, I know that I am a little too young to sound like Grampa, "in my day we walked 4 miles uphill to school both ways..." But I can only imagine that these amenities add to the yearly increases in tuition, and a few months on to the students loan payback time frame. It also adds to the phenomenon of "I don't care how, I want it now!" The unrealistic view that we can have something for nothing.

Kunstler rails against this way of thinking:

The Las Vegas-i-zation of the American mind is a pernicious idea in itself, but it is compounded by another mental problem, which I call the Jiminy Cricket syndrome. Jiminy Cricket was Pinocchio's little sidekick in the Walt Disney Cartoon feature. The idea is that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. It's a nice sentiment for children, perhaps, but not really suited to adults who have to live in a reality-based community, especially in difficult times.

The idea - that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true - obviously comes from the immersive environment of advertising and the movies, which is to say, an immersive environment of make-believe, of pretend. Trouble is, the world-wide energy crisis is not make-believe, and we can't pretend our way through it, and those of us who are adults cannot afford to think like children, no matter how comforting it is.

Combine when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true with the belief that it is possible to get something for nothing, and the psychology of previous investment and you get a powerful recipe for mass delusional thinking. As our society comes under increasing stress, we're liable to see increased delusional thinking, as worried people retreat further into make-believe and pretend.

College is supposed to be difficult. It's supposed to be uncomfortable. It is supposed to be a community event. Yes, it's supposed to be fun too. But most of all, it has to get you ready for the real world. The real world where you might not be able to afford an apartment with a washer and dryer in it, maybe not even in the building! The real world where you might have to live on mac and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches to get your start. The real world where it's easier to collaborate with family friends and neighbors to tackle a problem, rather than on your own. Where it's better to solve disputes rather than retreating to your solitary room.

But I guess that is the "real world" that I entered out of school. The "real world" of today is more about ringing up a new flat screen TV on your charge card at 24 1/2 percent, living in an apartment that you can't afford, on a salary that barely pays your student loans, even though you've stretched them out for 20 years.

Sigh. [/rant]

Local conference this weekend - Biophysical Economics
4/13/2011 12:08:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Come visit the ESF campus to listen and participate in discussions about energy, the economy, and the environment.

Schedule here. What is biophysical economics? Start here.
Farmshed Local Food App
4/07/2011 04:17:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

Here's the link. Go try it out and see what you think! Local food information for all of CNY.




Baloghblog approved!

Life
3/18/2011 09:39:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
A note to anyone who still might read this. I'm still alive. You know - Just life happening.

Enjoyed a beautiful day with the family yesterday outside in the sun. Went to see some doggies at the dog park with Anna. Thinking about getting a boxer.

Had my first major speaking gig this week. I talked peak oil to a bunch of (mostly stunned) Air and Waste Management people at their annual conference. Working on a Ph.D. at SUNY-ESF... (deck chairs on the Titanic? Maybe - but I love the research, and as long as I can afford to do it...) Doing research for a non-profit based out of Switzerland. Still trying to fully recover from my ankle surgery. Trying the pool, and raking old stuck-on leaves as therapy. Gave up Facebook for lent for the second year in a row. I really only miss the ability to share my random thoughts. Otherwise, the only time I realize it's gone is when I take my cell phone out and stare at it absent-mindedly for no reason before I put it back in my pocket.

A little late to this party, but this is the music that keeps me moving lately...

foreign born: vacationing people

Merry Aliso Beach from Abner Albino on Vimeo.



The New Pornographers:

and...

My left foot (ankle)
10/05/2010 12:27:00 AM | Author: baloghblog

Arthroscopy for OCD. No, the other kind. Laid up for a few weeks. Man I am bored with the couch. Too spaced-out from the meds to do much real thinking. Just spaced out enough to consider starting up my blog again.

We'll just have to see about that.

Messy!
3/05/2010 03:58:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

Anna loves her sweet corn… but, sweet potato?  More on the walls than in her belly!

Somebody's obsessed with snow
12/09/2009 09:29:00 AM | Author: baloghblog

It finally arrived last night!
Anna 11 Months
10/22/2009 10:00:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Let's get Old Old Fashioned
10/22/2009 09:55:00 AM | Author: baloghblog

Frightened Rabbit - Old Old Fashioned (Live @ (Le) Poisson Rouge) from Ray ConcepcioƱ on Vimeo.



I'll turn off the TV
It's killing us who never speak
There's a radio in the corner
It's dying to make a scene
So give me soft, soft static
With a human voice underneath
And we can both get old fashioned
Put the brakes on these fast, fast wheels
Oh let's get old fashioned
Back to how things used to be
If I get old, old fashioned
Would you get old, old fashioned with me?

Put the wall clock in the top drawer
Turn off the lights so we can see
We will waltz across the carpet
1-2-3-2-2-3
So give me the soft, soft static
Of the open fire and the shuffle of our feet
We can both get old fashioned
Do it like they did in '43
Oh let's get old fashioned
Back to how things used to be
If I get old, old fashioned
Would you get old, old fashioned with me?

So give me soft, soft static
We won't need no electricity
If we both get old fashioned
We won't have to rely on our memories
Oh let's get old fashioned
Back to how things used to be
If I get old, old fashioned
Would you get old, old fashioned with me?
Anna @ 9 months
8/30/2009 08:36:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

"Local" lunch
6/27/2009 02:06:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

Fresh peas, garlic scapes, local eggs - make a great fried rice!
Momma's Day
5/10/2009 11:07:00 AM | Author: baloghblog

Happy mother's day! From dada and the little lamb that made this day
a day to celebrate.
Help a student out? Please take my survey...
4/13/2009 12:45:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

wind1.gif


I am conducting a survey for my Social Science Survey Methods class on participation in green energy programs offered through your utility. This survey is completely anonymous, and takes only a minute or two to complete.

Whether or not you participate in this type of program, I'd appreciate your help:

surveymonkeyClick Here to take survey
New Layout
4/10/2009 08:20:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Playing around with a new template for baloghblog. Tell me what you think, or if you are having problems viewing anything.

And, since I haven't put up a pic of Anna recently:





Still waiting for that Gerber Baby or Carters contract...
A win-win for oil companies
4/10/2009 07:15:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
1) Stop investing in exploration and development now to save money when the price of oil is low.
2) Create increased shortages in oil production 3-5 years out.
3) Reap record profits as oil prices skyrocket.

Hmmm... this peak oil thing doesn't sound too bad for oil companies. (At least initially.)
It ain't all about peak oil...
3/29/2009 07:47:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2009/0413/096-sachs-semgroup-goldman-goose-oil.html

When oil prices spiked last summer to $147 a barrel, the biggest corporate casualty was oil pipeline giant Semgroup Holdings, a $14 billion (sales) private firm in Tulsa, Okla. It had racked up $2.4 billion in trading losses betting that oil prices would go down, including $290 million in accounts personally managed by then chief executive Thomas Kivisto. Its short positions amounted to the equivalent of 20% of the nation's crude oil inventories. With the credit crunch eliminating any hope of meeting a $500 million margin call, Semgroup filed for bankruptcy on July 22.

But now some of the people involved in cleaning up the financial mess are suggesting that Semgroup's collapse was more than just bad judgment and worse timing. There is evidence of a malevolent hand at work: oil price manipulation by traders orchestrating a short squeeze to push up the price of West Texas Intermediate crude to the point that it would generate fatal losses in Semgroup's accounts.

[snip]

Meanwhile the futures markets had gotten wacky. On June 5, with no news catalysts, oil futures spiked $5 a barrel, the biggest one-day jump since the outbreak of the first Gulf war. The next day, on no news, the price jumped another $10 to $138. Traders say that in the days leading up to the $147 peak on July 12 there was the smell of blood in the water. "We just kept bidding the market higher," one trader says.

The level of "alleged" corruption by these "too big to fail" banks and Goldman Sachs (which seems to be a government sponsored enterprise) is staggering.  Even peak-oilers have to admit the price rise was not solely due to supply/demand issues. 

Story found and discussed here:  http://cryptogon.com/?p=7726
My first trip outside!
2/08/2009 01:41:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

I'm not so sure about this whole thing...



Yea! I love the fresh air, and what is this giant lamp? I love lamp.



Me and my Dad
Where solutions to our energy dilemma will come from...
2/05/2009 11:41:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
My new office:


It's temporary, but it is nice to have a place to get my work done. Now if I could just get my hands on a nice big grant...

Dr. Balogh does have a nice ring to it...

Sent from my iPhone
Anna/school update
2/05/2009 11:33:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
She's getting bigger each day. She's starting to make a lot of cooing
sounds.

Today was the first day that she "found" her right hand. It
immediately went in her mouth. She loves her stuffed animal friends,
and her kicking-bopping gym (don't ask!)

She is such a blessing. We couldn't be happier.

School is going well. I've started work on my thesis. About ten months to go.

I'm looking forward to spring and getting outdoors. I can't wait for Anna to lounge in the green grass and check out the trees, the sky, and the great big world out there beyond our four walls.

FYI, we went with the g-diapers with the flushable inserts. So far, so good.

Pic of Anna
12/28/2008 03:25:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

For those who are interested:
Anna Fiducioso Balogh
11/23/2008 08:04:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

11/19/08 @ 4:06 p.m.  6 lb. 10 oz.

Mom and baby are doing well.  We couldn't be happier!


Great Timing for the Carousel Mall Expansion
9/10/2008 08:28:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Image by Hackintosh (under a CC 2.0)

As the hulking monstrosity that is the Carousel Mall expansion grows from a pile of steel beams to a structure with more discernible features, this article comes out in the NY Times:

A Squeeze on Retailers Leaves Holes at Malls
In larger shopping malls, operators have not yet had to resort to giving away their space to attract tenants, but most landlords are facing mounting challenges these days. Vacancies are up, retail sales have been disappointing, and long established chains like Mervyn’s, Linens ‘n Things, Boscov’s and the Sharper Image have filed for bankruptcy protection, raising the specter of more dark spaces with fewer potential tenants to replace them.

Some 6,500 chain stores are expected to close this year, the largest number since 2001, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group. When stores close, neighboring stores may be entitled to exit or to have their rent lowered.
Congel has kept tight-lipped about who or what would be going into the expansion space. Which store will anchor it? How many other clothing or specialty retailers are out there? Will a majority of the space sit with plywood covers painted in murals of DestinyUSA dreams? Will Congel figure out a way to attract good restaurants, and keep them profitable?

More from the article:
The vacancy rate for regional malls is 6.3 percent, the highest since 2002. Though mall rents rose by 0.2 percent from the first quarter to the second, all retail rents are down when inflation is taken into account, Mr. Chandan said. New centers that opened in the first half of this year were just 62.8 percent occupied, on average, compared with 72.1 percent for those that opened last year, he said.

(emphasis mine)
I won't spend too long pointing out the obvious - that workers real wages are stagnant while food and energy costs are soaring. Consumer confidence in the economy is poor and keeping people at home. Even the dollar, which is strengthening, is bad news for Carousel. Canadians' reduced purchasing power and high fuel costs may keep them north of the border.

All bode poorly for the new space.

Bob Neidt of the Storefront column and blog at the Post-Standard writes on the same topic. Answering a letter from a reader, he supposes that some of the retailers in cramped spaces may want larger digs in the new expansion (Apple Store, Best Buy, etc.) But he worries about those "holes" too.
We've been so frustrated with the lack of detail about anything new possibly coming to the expansion -- I haven't been calling it "Destiny," either -- we've been dwelling on the potential vast emptiness of the expansion. Maybe focusing a little too much on that...
Will Carousel turn in to a microcosm of the Central NY area? Little to no growth but additional sprawl? Will tenants flee the central (older mall) to the new eastern burbs, like city residents fleeing to Fayetteville/Manlius? Will we see Driscoll and Congel offering redevelopment funds for the vacated core of Carousel?

Surely this is tongue in cheek. But one does have to wonder what the future of Carousel Mall holds.

As long as they get a Ruth's Chris in there, I'll shut up about it. (heh heh)
LeRoi Moore is Dead
8/19/2008 10:08:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
A sad day.  I haven't been to a Dave Matthews Band show in a while, but I have to say some of LeRoi's sick jams were near ecstasy to me.

Here's a fine example from Woodstock 99.  See from about 5 min on.  (We danced our asses off to this one...)



Damn.  I feel slightly nauseous.  The world lost one of its finer musicians today.
Photo of the Day - 8/18/08
8/18/2008 09:32:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

[when you're old]
Photo of the Day - 8/17/08
8/17/2008 09:50:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

[not a redwood - just a tall old growth tulip?]

pic taken at Round Lake in Green Lakes State Park
Photo of the Day - 8/16/08
8/17/2008 09:49:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

[moment of zen]
Photo of the Day - 8/15/08
8/17/2008 09:46:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

[tropical blue-green in good ol' Syracuse]
The Gold Bandwagon
8/15/2008 07:56:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
This is not investment advice, only rambling thoughts from a economic ignoramus.



I wanted to buy in to the gold rush.  I kept reading it on all of the doomer websites, and from other conspiracy theorists.  I just never made the call to my broker or joined an online gold purchasing site.  I pictured having physical gold on hand (for emergencies).

The goldbugs got screwed over the past few weeks.  The market is buying dollars again, after the Euro zone has started to contract.  Some kind of intervention may or may not be taking place. Regardless, this chart gave me pause.


Looks very bubblicious to me!  I am no economist (believe me, other than listening to CNBC on Sirius, and reading Mish, I have absolutely no training in economics), this is not investment advice.  I do know what a "double top" in a market is, and I think that that is a picture perfect version of it.

Like the X-Files, I still want to believe.  Perhaps there is a magic number on that chart that will start to look attractive to me and to other investors.  I'll let you know if I hop on the gold bandwagon.  I just feel bad for the few doomers out there that might have been suckered into dumping a fair bit of their life savings in gold, only to watch 21% of it evaporate since March.
Photo of the Day - 8/14/08
8/14/2008 11:18:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

(new life)

I'll be away from the computer for a few days...  Going camping.