New Windows = No Draft!!
10/31/2005 07:51:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Unbelievable, as I sit and type in my bare feet on hardwood floors, there is now no draft in my office. My buddy and the colonel came over yesterday to start installing new energy star replacement windows. They are so worth it. Here are some pictures:

old windows, single pane casement style. (circa 1950)

old window frame being removed by the colonel.

new window frame installed

finished product from outside. New (and recycled) trim needs to be repainted. (sheesh it gets dark early when EDT ends!)

new windows from inside this a.m. Unfortunately inside trim was damaged in demolition. (nothing is easy in this house!) A small price to pay for warm feets.

"Only" 4 more windows to go. Can't wait until the bedroom windows are done. We will be able to save a bundle this winter on heating costs if they are as efficient in keeping the draft out as this one is.

p.s., doing this window ourselves saved over 500 dollars. This even with a trip to the lumber store for some unforseen purchases. We were quoted $800 per window - installed from the local window company. Priceless to have someone in your community who knows how to install them, maybe you have one in your neighborhood or circle of friends too. Many thanks to him!
Bad ass halloween costume
10/30/2005 10:07:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
My friend made his own Halloween costume which is amazing, and I helped him out last night by taking him to a local contest where he won first place. I had to "help" him, by making sure the drunks at the bar didn't come over and start hugging and pushing him over (he was on stilts), which actually happened more frequently than I thought. Here is a couple of pics:

It's a Wampa, if you know Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and if you don't, it's a snow monster that is 9 feet tall.

Very popular man at the bar...

Congrats Brett, can't wait to see what you make for next year!
Living Off the Grid Lecture 10/26/05
10/27/2005 10:55:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Discussion: Living off the grid
Date: 10/26/05
Time: 7:00 to 8:35 p.m.
Place: Canastota, NY
Canastota Public Library

Speaker: Mary Musacchio

I attended a lecture/discussion regarding living off the grid with Mary Musacchio, and approximately 60 people in the small back meeting room of the Canastota library. It was literally standing room only, as latecomers had to pull in chairs from the main portion of the library, and a few interested people lined the back wall. Many of the crowd in attendance was of "retirement age", I approximated 50-60% of the crowd. About 1/3 were from outside the Canastota area, and about 1/3 of those attending learned about the discussion from the Post-Standard.

Trish DeMauro, the Assistant Library Director, introduced Mary as the first in a series of lectures that are related to the country's energy dependence. Given the fact that the next lecture upcoming is going to be on emergency first aid, and emergency preparation, I'd venture to guess that she was versed in Peak Oil. She wanted to have a speaker on energy efficiency, and one who was a local example for others in the community. Mary, a former community college professor, fit the bill and agreed to share her experiences with the group.

Mary and her husband Frank have been living with out public power for the past 20 years, save a stint "in town" for 2 years that they quickly tired of, and once again went off public power and back to solar.

Mary told us the story of her "adventure" that began with a one-room hand-build cabin that had no power, plumbing or running water. They shared that cabin for many years, heating it with a wood cook stove and boiling water in the morning for laundry and washing up. She used a kerosene lantern to grade her school papers in the evening. A true outhouse waited for them outside.
An anecdote relayed the story (that resembled a recent episode of Arrested Development) where the cabin was being moved by flat bed truck to its new location in December. Her husband being "particular" wanted to keep hot coffee available and a hot meal, so the wood cook stove remained lit for the beginning of their journey.
The wood cook stove provided ample heat, and allowed homemade breads and pies to be baked. (picture is only an example of a similar stove)

After initially spending years expanding the log cabin in its new location, they decided that an earth-berm home was their next step in furthering their energy efficiency and began its production.

Not having a hill to dig into, they opted to construct a log cabin and then built dirt up around 3 walls, leaving only a south facing wall of windows open to the world and the source of their natural light. A sharply sloped roof angled to meet the slope of the natural dirt wall can be seen in this sketch:

PV panels were located on the south facing roof line above the windows. 2 sets of 4 panels provided power to the home at 48 volts, and a smaller set of 3 panels provided recharging of the batteries for the GE Electrak lawn mower/tree dragger/snow plow/rototiller. Snow was removed from the panels gently with a long handled broom in the winter, and the entire home was heated by a tiny propane space heater. Apparently the earth berm home was so energy efficient that they would have literally baked under the heat of the wood cook stove.

Here is my sketch drawn from Mary's slide of the front of the first earth-berm home:

The front of the house allowed a passive heating of the home in the winter, and natural light year-round. The earth berm walls moderated the temperature, cooling in the summer and insulating against heat loss in the winter. Solar power now ran the well pump, lights (CFL) through out the home, and ran a super energy efficient refrigerator/freezer. Deep cycle industrial batteries held the days worth of energy of sun for use in the evening, and reportedly would last for 2-3 days worth of cloudy skies. A back up generator was purchased for emergency use.

(diagram that may be very incorrect, but helped me sort it out in my head as she spoke)

Mary sang the praises of super insulating not only the ceiling and walls, but the floor of the home as well, allowing her to go around "in her socks in the middle of winter". Engineering the home to be only one room deep prevented the feeling of being in a cave, and her uncle who was in attendance vouched for her, saying that her home had more natural light than his standard built home. A composting toilet provided waste removal. Her and her husband raised the level of the bathroom to keep the plumbing exposed and allow for repairs, instead of burying the pipes in the concrete floors.

Mary and Frank eventually moved from their first earth-berm home to an upgraded and slightly smaller version, which again they built mostly with their own hands. This home was built with cinder blocks, dry stacked and parged. The same solar panels were transferred to the new home. The composting toilet was swapped for an ultra-low-flush toilet made by SeaLand using only 8 oz.(!) of water per flush. An on demand hot water heater using propane heat was installed for maximum efficiency. The earth berm walls were extended over the roof, making the home even more heat efficient. Frank apparently has complained that he has to mow(!) the roof, so they plan to plant a ground cover next spring to replace the grass.

They continue to live in their second earth-berm home and conserve energy, living self-sufficiently except for the yearly propane delivery. She stated that there wasn't any doubt that they could get along if the propane truck "didn't show up one year."

Mary told the crowd in attendance, that she didn't live this lifestyle to "save money" it was to reduce their impact on the environment, and live a sustainable lifestyle. She was asked how long she thought that it would take to "break even" from the purchase of a solar system. She said she'd have to leave that question to the solar dealers, she never took that into consideration. She states that with 20+ years living off the grid she was sure that she'd made her initial investment back several years ago. She expected her solar panels to last "indefinitely."

Handouts taught basic energy efficiency in the home, were for replacing aging furnaces with new efficient ones, and gave "25 extreme energy saving tips." She touted the use of CFL bulbs through the home, and told of a easy way to save 1/7 of your energy bill:

Her friends that have children have an "off the grid" every Thursday. They have dinner by candlelight, and play board games and read until bed time. Sounds like a good idea to me.

She led a great talk, and the audience asked many pertinent questions. I think that many came for a quick lecture in how to save some money this winter with soaring energy costs, but heard a great example of how we can all live more efficiently and with less impact on the earth. I was truly impressed at the turnout (I initially thought that I might be only one of a handful of people there). Many more people are becoming aware of the high cost and high dependency we have on cheap sources of energy.

I will leave you with a quote and a few thoughts from Mary:

"I am not saying go do this (live off the grid), we do it because it is the right decision for us. Go home and start small, put in CFL bulbs if you haven't already, or insulate your home... If you are the position to start adding solar, start with just a few panels... It is amazing how it will change the way you think about your energy use."
10/25/2005 09:48:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
This weather is sapping my ambition.

Lake Ontario today. (no not the ocean)
in the meantime, quote of the day:
10/25/2005 09:08:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
"I truly believe that oil prices have been artificially low for so long that we're now beginning to pay the real price," said Gheit. "But if gasoline hits $6 per gallon, I guarantee you'll car pool with your next door neighbor, even if he smells."
working on a larger post
10/25/2005 08:55:00 AM | Author: baloghblog

posting will be light until published. See you soon.
Green Guide: Cutting Costs in a Fuel-Scarce World
10/22/2005 12:35:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
The Green Guide:

With gas pump prices shooting up to almost three dollars a gallon in the wake of fuel disruptions caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, George W. Bush has called for the Federal government and citizens to cut back on unnecessary car trips and flights. But our energy problems aren't just on the road or in the skies: Rising fuel costs this winter will also starve the pocketbook, especially given that the average family of four already spends more than $1,800 annually on home energy costs. That's not only money plucked from your wallet, but greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from fossil-fuel burning power plants. Recognizing these costs, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman followed up Bush's advice with a call for Americans to drive 55 rather than 65 miles per hour on highways, insulate their homes, and set thermostats lower when away this winter.

It's not just about savings: The more energy we use, the more pressure from industry to open up wildlife reserves such as Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fuel exploration. Yet, conserving energy is no more difficult than closing the damper in your fireplace or replacing a few incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. And as fuel costs rise, buying the ripe, Fall harvest of locally-grown foods not only supports nearby small farmers, but skips higher shipping costs of trucked-in food.

Click here for some great energy (and money) saving tips.

More ideas: winter-time energy saving tips.
CNY Sustainability: "Living Off the Grid" Talk on 10/26
10/22/2005 12:03:00 PM | Author: baloghblog


"That's what we like to call our experimental house. We really wanted to see if we could do it and how we would get along," Mary Musacchio, 56, said. "We lived in the village (of Canastota) for about two years, and I hated it. I hated writing checks to NiMo."

Twenty years later, the couple is on their third home all of them built by Frank and none of them connected to external power sources.

Musacchio will discuss her life off the power grid on Wednesday at the Canastota Public Library.

"With the prices of gas and everything else being so high this year, people are really looking for ways to save money, so we thought hearing from Mary would maybe spark some creative ideas," said Tish DeMauro, the library's assistant director.


They equipped the larger house with solar panels, and were finally able to use modern appliances and equipment: a refrigerator, a television with satellite dish, a microwave, a computer, an indoor fish aquarium. Frank Musacchio, a musician, plays electric bass and keyboard.

For the past four years, the Musacchios have lived in a new home, about three miles north of Canastota, that runs on solar energy and propane gas.

And their home, lit by compact fluorescent bulbs, is becoming more energy-efficient all the time.

Last month, the couple installed a toilet that uses only eight ounces of water per flush, rather than the 1.6-gallon (204.8-ounce) systems that standard low-water toilets use.


Mary said some people still think she and her husband are strange for living such a simple life, but she said they are passionate about living greenly.

"People keep complaining about how high their bills are, but they don't want to do anything about it. They opt for convenience over cost or their conscience," she said. "We really enjoy living simply. This is something that really works for us."

40 mins east of Syracuse. I am going to go and check it out (carpool anyone?). 10/26 7:00-830pm in the Canastota Public Library 102 Center St. More info at 697-7030

UPDATE: contact me: baloghblog {at} yahoo {dot} com if interested.
Moment of Zen: cloud cover on a wednesday in fall
10/20/2005 10:31:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
If you want them, for fair use (no commercial use), take them. Just attribute me and link back.

Sunbeam in the dark...

Waves in the sky

close up

(fun with filters) burning sky
FU and your H2
10/20/2005 09:58:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

via DKos:
Welcome to, home of the official Hummer H2 salute. So...why all the fuss? Well, it breaks down like this:
  • The H2 is the ultimate poseur vehicle. It has the chassis of a Chevy Tahoe and a body that looks like the original Hummer; i.e. it's a Chevy Tahoe in disguise.

  • The H2 is a gas guzzler. Because it has a gross vehicle weight rating over 8500 lbs, the US government does not require it to meet federal fuel efficiency regulations. Hummer isn't even required to publish its fuel economy (owners indicate that they get around 10 mpg for normal use). So while our brothers and sisters are off in the Middle East risking their lives to secure America's fossil fuel future, H2 drivers are pissing away our "spoils of victory" during each trip to the grocery store
Quote of the week
10/19/2005 08:11:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
(from icon)

sustainable design

The only design project that’s really sustainable is the one you don’t do. The idea that you can save the planet by consuming resources is absurd. If you want to be really sustainable, buy an old house, fill it with antiques and walk everywhere. It’s the job of politicians to stop global warming, not architects and designers, whose micro interventions can’t make any real difference. The phrase “environmentally friendly” is meaningless. And stop talking about sustainable design, because it’s boring.
I know its blasphemy but you have to admit, on the grand scale, its true.

(via grist)
Buy your kid a freedom tree...
10/17/2005 10:40:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
A good idea.


...Since you can't buy most consumer electronics from a US source anymore, one option is to limit purchases. Buy a good VCR/DVD from an electronics store and keep it for a few years. Get a DVR or a DVD burner and stop buying those huge plastic VHS tapes. Repair your TV instead of replacing it.

With the holidays season coming up, the strong urge is to shop. The trend is even stronger when you have kids to shop for. Think about rental services like Netflix instead of buying game packages that will have a useful life of about a month. Then there's the more creative option.

If you have the money or interest, you could buy your child a solar or wind power system. You can call it a "freedom tree" if you have to explain it to your Republican friends. Get a small system to power their room. As a techie, I would have loved such a toy.

If your kid is not so inclined, you can look into the financial benefits. Take your energy savings, take some for paying off the freedom tree and make the rest an allowance. If the savings are really high, make it a college fund too. It is a lot sounder investment than PetroChina.
how many blogs can you keep up with?
10/17/2005 05:31:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
My limit seems to be about 10-15. I do have bloglines, with plenty of feeds, but find that I don't like to read the political blogs thru bloglines, that it takes away from the true feeling. I have found that there does seem to be a limit to the number of blogs that I can check into on a daily or weekly basis. There is just too much info out there, and from a overabundance of sources (that is the way I like it, don't get me wrong.) I just feel like I can only have so many as favorites...

my top 8 political blogs make my bookmarks toolbar:
Drudge (I know he leans right, but you can't beat his breaking news.)
Raw Story (A sort of Drudge for Left leaners like me, but updated much less frequently)
Crooks and Liars (video blog)
Huffington Post
1st Draft (Holden is great at dissecting the gaggle at the white house)

My peak oil/sustainability favorites are:

NYCO's blog is the mackdaddy.

I just wondered if anyone pondered the same thing as I did. I try to be a good reader of all the great blogs out there, like all the ones on my bloglines list to the right that I catch up with as I can.

I am no expert on blogs, but what sells me is
  • more photos. text is great, but c'mon, throw in at least a snarky picture once in a while.
  • shorter to the point writing. I have been known to type up a good rant, but c'mon 2000 words on Judy Miller? I don't give THAT much of a shit. Get to the point.
  • more rants. yes, I just contradicted myself, but an off-on-a-tangent balls-out rant is good for the soul, and good for your readership. Just know what is rant-worthy is all that I ask.
  • more cool links. like why the hell didn't I think of this?
  • a good layout. nothing makes me not want to go back to a site than an unreadable type one shade different than the background color.
  • A good stromboli recipe. (I prefer straight pepperoni)
Well I guess to keep my readership, I better follow my own rules: Here's a cool pic of Venice -

And a cool link:
the lost numbers blog
PeakOil Map: Frapper
10/16/2005 07:18:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Easy to join peak oil map now located at Frapper.

Via DeadAnts.
File Under: Are you kidding me?
10/16/2005 04:34:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

Wilma? I'll spare you the Flintstones jokes. But seriously, after beginning to limp back to previous output levels, the Gulf of Mexico platforms could be in for further shut downs by next weekend.
Cold Weather, Low Energy Tips
10/16/2005 03:09:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Found this in the comments of a article:

>From a Reader living in Quebec, Canada :

Tips to stay warm and sleep tight even if it is rather cold in the house:

– On the whole, get ready for Winter, just like people use to do when things were not that easy. And have fun doing it. – The best trick for all areas where people experience cold and damp nights : Heat up some bricks or nice flat stones in the oven, wrap them up in many layers of newspapers, put them under the sheets at the foot of the bed some time before going to bed. The newspaper will act as in insulator for the bed sheets to not be damaged by the hot bricks and for the sleeper to not burn his feet and it will allow for the heat to be released slowly. It will probably stay warm till morning. And as it provides dry heat, it balances out the dampness in the air that occurs when a room is not heated enough. Try it, it is wonderful. [LD: also a hot-water bottle works, but is a petro product.] – Sleep with a woollen cap (tuque) on or something like that. Body heat escapes from the top of the head. The hat will prevent the body heat loss. And wear wool socks on the feet. – Make your own down comforter. It is easy to fabricate – once you get your hands on some down feathers of course – and duvet is the warmest of blankets you can ever find. If you can’t make it, buy a used sleeping bag of good quality or an old fur coat at the thrift store. – If all family members wear warm clothes in the house â?” good sweaters, body warmers, woolen socks, slippers, you can keep a house at only 60°F or 15°C all day long and it will be all right. Everybody will get use to that temperature and not even notice after a while. This is what I do here every winter. It is important to keep the back of one’s body, the belly and the feet real warm. The rest of the body will take care of itself if these parts are warm and nobody will catch a cold. – Eat hot meals, like porridges for breakfast, hearty soups, stews or crepes for dinner, etc. food that provides heat and burns slowly in the body, without being expensive or taking a long time to prepare. Choose a recipe that requires the use of the oven for a long time, like baked beans. It is the right type of food in a cold season and the oven releases heat slowly, for hours, thus keeping the kitchen warm. And the smell of the food while it is cooking pleases everybody. – Never be cheap regarding heating the basement; keep it around 60°F too. A warm basement assures you comfort on the first floor without spending so much energy. A cold basement on the contrary will not allow you to build a really comfortable temperature on the first floor. – Forget the fireplace to warm up a room; it is a romantic idea that doesn’t stand a reality check. The chimney sucks up almost all the heat which goes out immediately. You can feel warm next to the fire; but if you stand back a little, you notice how cold the rest of the room is. It is not a matter of contrast really. It is because the heat in the rest of the room has gone up the chimney. Unless you have a slow combustion type of fireplace with a system that pushes back the heat into the room or a good old wood stove, forget about buying wood. – Seal the windows by covering them with a layer of plastic if you can feel a draught coming through or see ice forming on the glass. The layer of plastic makes a big difference and it is a cheap material. And curtains are important too. Close all the curtains and shades at nightfall to keep the cold out. – If you have young kids and you want to warm up the bathroom real quick in the morning, run the hot water in the shower or bathtub for a couple of minutes. – If you live in a area where snow is abundant, use it to draught proof the house on the outside. It is an old trick from the pioneers era. Build up a snow bank against the outside walls around the house, as high as you can. Inside the snow bank, the temperature stays the same. Even if it is minus 20-30° outside and windy, the temperature into the snow bank does not change (if I remember correctly, it stays at some 26°F or minus 4°C); so the snow helps keep your basement protected against the wind and the very low temperature, thus assisting you in your effort to keep the basement and house warm. It will also help tremendously if your basement is damaged and shows cracks. In my house, a snow cover stopped the water in the pipes from freezing before I had the basement repaired. It is that efficient. – If the kids have to walk to school in cold weather, you can cook them a hard-boiled egg that they will carry in their mittens to keep their fingers warm. When the egg is cold, they can eat it (fancy eh?).

I wish you a nice time reinventing living amid the changes.

With love,
Huguette….” (unquote)

The jist of the article that the comment was made under was a rebuttal to renewables saving ourselves from peak oil. Depressing and a negative view from a doomer, but worth reading (like a good smack in the face to wake yourself up.)

Some of Kane's personal solutions, more like a preparedness list like we've been discussing lately:

Small wind turbines should be investigated, and perhaps, invested into by those who can afford to do so. However it may not be possible to install such systems in urban or suburban areas. Law likely prohibits this, and it may be a good time to take strides towards finding out what the legislation is in your area and how, or if, this can be changed. There is a good online handbook addressing small wind turbine installations. Wind and solar hybrid systems are discussed and look somewhat promising. [7]

Fire places and wood burning stoves are good investments. It is best to burn cedar and maple woods, seasoned for at least 6 months. After 4 years the wood may start to lose carbon content and burn less efficiently. A good tarp covering the wood to avoid getting water logged is important.

It would be wise to have supplies for a minimum of 2 weeks on hand in your home. Lighters, matches, candles, flashlights, batteries, crank radio, heavy blankets, bottled water, and canned goods are necessities in times of blackouts, crisis or shortages. Make sure to store things that you need as opposed to accumulated junk from years past. In case of problems with municipal water systems, it is worth having multiple buckets/barrels that could be used to collect rainwater or rainwater run-off.

Run-off comes from your roof and is quite an efficient form of water collection. However, roofing shingles are made with petroleum which may present a problem for human consumption. Perhaps a tarp can be set up to gather water and funnel it into a barrel or bucket. Let your roof or tarp be pounded for a long period of time before starting your collection – this should help rinse off chemicals. Jan Lundberg can go into further detail on this, as I first read about this from his own experience living in the redwood forest.

Relocation should be considered. Water and food are primary concerns. Electricity is a luxury that is not required for survival; you can go to sleep when it is dark, and wake to the sun. Ready yourself for a humble lifestyle, as the Indigenous Natives of what is rightly called Turtle Island [8] have told us for so long.

Ultimately – based upon the current will and mind state of society – I am convinced there won’t be any tech-“no-logic” solutions, as my dear friend Tiokasin Ghost Horse has profoundly stated on many occasions. Internalizing critical knowledge and cultivating spiritual practice are the only way forward to true sustainability.

Less Words, More Action: Pantry Stock Started
10/12/2005 08:23:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

Futhered our personal preparation today by going to BJ's wholesale and started a food and supply pantry for the winter months. I felt slightly paranoid stocking up on batteries, spam and jars of PB&J, but after I got it home and on the shelf - I felt much better.

It is nice to know that I have a week or two worth of food and the beginning of a nice food pantry. G-d forbid that we have to use it in an emergency, but if we are stuck in the home for a extended period of time, we won't have to brave the throngs of people at the supermarket.

Some other items that I would like to stock up on are: soup and beef stew (too expensive at BJ's), additional canisters for lantern or back up for the grill, lighters (only came in 50 pack), a good first-aid kit, and a water filtration device of some kind.

Oh, and I found out that our new energy efficient windows came in today and will be delivered late this week or early next week. That will be the next project and learning experience.
Update on Jake Roberts: "Going Green"
10/11/2005 10:19:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

Just a quick post, more later. For those who have been following... Jake Roberts made a valiant attempt to get on the November ballot as a mayoral candidate under the YES! party independent line. However, a sufficient number of signatures were not gathered prior to the deadline. Jake and his crew planned a write-in campaign, but an email today informed me that the focus will now shift to campaigning for Howie Hawkins the Green Party candidate for major.

From the Syracuse Post-Standard:

Roberts: Lack of time key factor in decision to leave mayoral race

Monday, October 10, 2005
By Michele Reaves
Staff writer

Jacob Roberts said Sunday he just didn't give himself enough time to run in Syracuse's mayoral race.

Roberts joined the campaign less than a month before the August petition deadline. He needed 1,500 signatures to get on the November ballot. His campaign petition was 500 signatures short, so he could run only as a write-in candidate.

Roberts confirmed Sunday that he has dropped out of the race.

He said he attended all the mayoral debates and felt his ideas closely matched Howie Hawkins' plans.

"Primarily, one of the things that we hold true is power to the people, grass-roots democracy," Roberts said.

Hawkins welcomes Roberts' support.

"We were hoping that he would be with us on this campaign," Hawkins said.

Roberts said he and Hawkins plan to release an alternative to the Destiny USA project this week. He would not give details of the idea.

Roberts said he also backed Hawkins because he liked how Hawkins fared against Mayor Matt Driscoll, a Democrat, and Republican-Independence-Conservative candidate Joanie Mahoney at debates.

"I had a chance to watch Howie and see how he was able to stand up to the two other candidates as a third-party candidate," Roberts said.

Hawkins may have a good chance to win if people look at the candidates' ideas and not vote along party lines, Roberts said.

"The word I heard on the street . . . was that we need solutions," he said. "We need people that are going to bring strong solutions to the table."

Roberts said he might run again in the future. In the meantime, he will devote his energy to Hawkins' campaign.

It is unclear what impact - if any - Roberts' decision will have on the race. Traditionally, write-in candidates struggle to attract even a small percentage of the vote.

Neither Driscoll nor Mahoney could be reached for comment.

Staff writer Ngoc Huynh contributed to this report.

I am onboard with this decision. Without being on the ballot, it seemed a very difficult climb to get any press, and any respect. I kept hoping that Jake could at least get invited to the debates to get his great ideas out there in the public forum. I continue to support what Jake Roberts has brought to this years mayoral campaign, and look forward to learning more about Howie and supporting him.

Keep up the good work, Jake.
One chore done - wood for winter
10/11/2005 05:05:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
The face cord of wood that I ordered arrived today in a big wet jumble on the driveway (drizzling all day today). It took a few ounces of effort to move it, to say the least! This should provide us with a little back up in case of expensive bills this winter, or G-d forbid shortages come spring. Not much wood really when I thought about it, but we have approximately the same amount in the backyard from trees cut down from spring 2004. Enough for a cushion at least.

Here is a pic of my proud pile:

And an obligatory "going overboard for Halloween picture" from my travels:
Peak Oil Preparedness Update
10/06/2005 09:37:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Prepping for winter right now, and getting over a stomach bug. Less time for blogging lately.

Here's what I am working on: (isn't it funny how one thing leads to another?)

1. ordered a cord of wood for back up winter heating. Actually a "face cord" which is about 1/4 of a full cord and about 1/3 less expensive. To be delivered next week. [leading to:]

2. cleaning out the garage to be able to store our vehicles for the winter. I have to make room for a newly purchased wood rack to store wood cut and seasoned from tree trimming last year, and delivered wood in the garage, to keep it dry. [leading to - something efficient to burn all that wood in]

3. we have a fireplace in the upstairs of our home (rancher), as well as the basement. This is a completely inefficient way to heat the home, as smoke (and all your heat) travel up and out the chimney, with little but reflected heat from the fireplace.

Good article for energy efficiency here:
Before you light that fire ...

Fireplaces are thought to be a great natural resource because they provide heat with no utility cost. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Traditional fireplaces are among the most inefficient heating sources because most of the warm air goes right up the chimney.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a roaring fire can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, and subsequently cold air is pulled into your home to replace it. And a home's heating system is usually employed to warm up the cooler air. Have you ever wondered why having a fire tends to make other areas of the house feel cooler?
So we are looking to purchase an EPA approved wood stove as a back up heating source in the basement. I know that wood stoves produce a lot of particulates, but then again, what should your back up heat be in a region filled with forests? Certainly not coal. And burning corn, while efficient, just seems weird to me. We're hoping to get a gently used stove that we can get installed by a professional for the most safety. And I am hoping to do it for less than a grand. Dreaming? Not sure yet.

4. which leads to purchase and update of our smoke detectors and buying a carbon monoxide detector.

5. We need to improve the efficiency of our furnace so we are changing the air filters (ahem, for the first time since we moved in) - but that's not enough, so we are also...

6. Putting in replacement windows in the bedrooms and bathroom. No more cold tush on the toilet this winter! No more tidal waves of cold air cascading down from the single paned bedroom windows.

from the energystar program:
Windows typically comprise 10-25% of a home's exterior wall area, and account for 25-50% of the heating and cooling needs, depending on the climate.
I am hoping to see a reduction in the natural gas use by about 15-20% this winter, by the new windows alone - as we will be able to maintain a lower thermostat temperature as we sleep.

As you can see with the temps predicted to start falling and the hand tending to want to reach for the thermostat, I have been a little preoccupied with the upcoming heating season. (although it was 84 degrees today!, it will be 38 this weekend)

Other plans in the works include stocking a modest pantry. Always talked about and yet, still on the "to be done" list. Making out the list for BJ's tonight. Any suggestions?
Bob Loblaw, Esq
10/04/2005 10:49:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
I don't know how many people have said it, in how many ways, but Arrested Development has to be the funniest and best written comedy on television.

I nearly pissed myself the first time that I heard their new lawyer's name. Say it out loud and you can see why.

I stole this screen shot from he Tamingoftheblog

Give him some traffic for the petty theft. Worth it though, adding a visual to the joke.

[Scott Baio!]
Energy Hog scavenger hunt (.PDF)
10/04/2005 08:56:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Here's a US Government endorsed kids scavenger hunt for the home, but even adults can take it too. Good general suggestions for making your home more energy efficient. A random sampling:
2. Furnace Filters: Ask an adult at home
how often your filters were cleaned or
changed in the last year.
􀂉 Not at all (2 points)
􀂉 1 – 3 times (4 points)
􀂉 4 or more (6 points)

6. Lights: How often do
you turn lights off when
you leave a room?
􀂉 Rarely (2 points)
􀂉 Sometimes (4 points)
􀂉 Always (6 points)

7. Light Bulbs: Count the number of compact
fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) you’re using at
􀂉 No CFL bulbs (2 points)
􀂉 1 – 4 CFL bulbs (4 points)
􀂉 5 or more CFLs (6 points)
The rest can be found here.

The energy hog website must have been in production for some time, because it is quite extensive. For kids, but worth a look.

Another site linked from energyhog: Alliance to Save Energy's Power$mart
A surprising fact: The average home produces twice as much greenhouse gas pollution as the average car! Due to emissions produced by power plants that generate the electricity used to run modern homes—plus home emissions from such things as oil or gas-fired furnaces—a typical house releases 22,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, almost twice as much as a typical car’s annual 11,500 pounds of CO2 emissions, estimates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Compact fluorescent light bulbs revisited
10/03/2005 12:26:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Reuters: (today)
U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and the Alliance to Save Energy consumer group will announce a joint program on Monday to encourage Americans to cut back their energy usage and shave their heating bills.

Bodman on Wednesday will join Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson to launch a national effort to get consumers to switch to light bulbs that use less electricity. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. residential electricity demand goes toward lighting.
Purchase on-line through a store here.

We have been using the CFL bulbs since June of this year. After a week or two of adjustment, we are completely used to them now, and have noticed a decrease in our energy bills. We now have 6 in our home, and will replace future burnouts with more CFL bulbs.

My original challenge:
Buy a single fluorescent lightbulb and put in the light that you use the most or leave on the longest in your house.
CFL bulbs also provide a benefit to the environment based on their energy savings over a regular incandescent light bulb. According to the U.S. government's Energy Star website, if every household in the United States replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb, it would have an environmental impact equivalent to removing one million cars from the American roads. [1]
This is this week's challenge. Check back soon for next week's.

(sub challenge: tell one person about this blog)
Peak Oil Mainstream article from SF Chronicle
10/02/2005 09:40:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
via southsider1 at

It's hard to overstate the impact the looming oil squeeze is going to have. A lot of people are going to be left stranded in the suburbs, and a lot of grocery store shelves are going to go empty as supply lines collapse due to rising fuel costs. Many folks are going to lose their jobs as our oil-dependent economy withers. But there will be a greater need for farmworkers, as petroleum-fueled factory farms give way to smaller, labor-intensive operations. In general, human energy will replace machine energy, and there will be an increased demand for craftspeople with time-honored skills: shoemakers, soapmakers, glassblowers, seamstresses.

It will be a wrenching transition as we go from a passive consumer society to one in which each of us will need to play an active role in providing our basic needs. It's easy to see why there are already predictions of economic chaos, widespread violence and looting, and the imposition of martial law if we fail to begin planning now for a post-oil future.

This is just a snippet, go read the full article.
That which is right with Syracuse.
10/02/2005 06:56:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
These two letters to the editor were found with a search for "gasoline" on / Post-Standard.

They combat my opinion that there are few Syracusans who are concerned with peak oil, and what to do about it.

Higher gas costs a necessary process

To the Editor:

For those of you advocating reducing gasoline taxes, I earnestly request that you rethink your position. Fossil fuels, especially oil, has a limited supply. It will eventually run out. The only question is whether it will occur sooner or later. Reducing taxes just encourages us to continue using up our oil supply like there is no tomorrow.

We are a nation hooked on cheap fuel because our gasoline taxes are so low compared to other developed countries. Lowering our already low gasoline taxes sounds like it helps people, but it just enables our gas-guzzling habit. The most effective way to reduce our oil consumption is to increase its price. That's starting to happen now. As prices rise, people rethink the unnecessary driving they do and look for more fuel-efficient vehicles. It's not a painless process, but it's a necessary one. If we care for our children, and our children's children, we'll pay the price now and slow our consumption of fossil fuels.

Fred Wenthen


OnTrack provides link where gondola would go

To the Editor:

Over the last few months, some people have been talking about different ways to transport people between downtown Syracuse and University Hill. I would like to point out to them and this community that we have a system is in place today and running under the name of OnTrack.

Over the last 11 years of operation, OnTrack has quietly moved thousands of people each year to many different events at the Dome from downtown.

OnTrack service can be expanded to some other areas of the city of Syracuse at a lower cost versus the cost to build the gondola in the sky, as some people want to do. An example of this would be that you only need to build a platform and walkway to add service to the West Genesee Street area of the city.

Also, it is time for this community to get together and push to finish the long-delayed Park Street bridge project. With that done, OnTrack could finally get to the Regional Transportation Center.

To end with, OnTrack can do more things than it is doing today, if it is given a chance and some support from this community. Take a ride on the little train for a change. For you may find out you like it.

Philip D. Buffham


The connection to the transportation center is a key step that must go forward to improve ridership on OnTrack. Hotels in the downtown area would benefit, as those taking Amtrak or the bus into Syracuse would have a direct, and cheap way to get to their hotel. Next, if you could get the train to extend to the airport, we would really encourage a larger ridership and a much more accessible city. As an aside, no DestinyUSA plan should be drawn up that doesn't include using public transportation using light rail, and given the proximity of the R&D park to both the Airport and Transportation Center, this seems like a great time to start talking about the expansion of OnTrack.
That which is wrong with Syracuse.
10/02/2005 06:27:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Those who fight for sustainable issues including more pedestrian friendly layouts and walkable "town" centers face an opposition that is strong and that is out there, in this case, writing letters to the editor:

Syracuse Post-Standard:

Let Walgreens build it, and we will drive there

To the Editor:

I am a 40-year resident of Eastwood, where my husband and I have raised our three children. We live approximately a block and a half from the site of the proposed Walgreens drug store.

I write in support of the Walgreens' proposal to locate a drug store on James Street and to take issue with two parts of the Eastwood Design Guidelines that Walgreens' opponents cite as a reason for their objections to the project.

Those guidelines are that a building must have windows and an entrance on the James Street walkway. Those guidelines appear to characterize James Street as a place where Eastwood residents frequently take a stroll.

The James Street business district is the service area of our community. Most of us never walk to James Street. And we definitely don't stroll down James Street and look in the windows. We drive our cars to the service on James that we need.

We drive to the library, to the post office, to our banks. We drive to church, to our dentist, to our insurance agent, to our hair salons. We drive to our lawyer, to the dry cleaner, and, of course, to the gas station. We drive to Wilson Farms when we run out of milk and to Dunkin Donuts for the staff of life. We drive to our beloved Palace Theater, to breakfast at Steak & Sundae and lastly to our undertakers. All of these services are located on James Street and we drive to them - my guess would be 90 percent of the time.

We do not stroll down James Street to look in the windows of these service providers. Nor do we take a walk to look in the windows of the retail establishments.

The people of Eastwood take evening strolls, walk their dogs and push their baby strollers on neighborhood streets and the beautiful trails in Sunnycrest Park.

The guidelines requiring that a building must have a door and windows on James Street are ridiculous to me. The Eastwood Guidelines should be applied on a case-by-case basis, and never be so restrictive as to limit the introduction of any business to our James Street corridor that will fit its character and better serve our residents.

I believe that Walgreens will do that, and I ask the Planning Board to grant Walgreens the opportunity to become part of our Eastwood community.

Joan Guinto


[emphasis mine]

Well Joan. Lets review something. James Street runs centrally along the Eastwood area, and actually does provide services that neighborhood residents need. Many residents live one to two blocks off of James St, and you are proposing development that encourages residents to drive this ridiculously short distance instead of walking? This is a chief reason that our nation is so dependent on foreign sources of cheap oil. Walking encourages improved health. It encourages a sense of community, as residents care more what condition their neighborhood and sidewalks are - you tend to notice more and want a more aesthetically pleasing look when you are walking rather than wisking by briefly in your car. It also encourages support of local businesses and their owners and employees, who may just be your neighbor.

Those in the planning committees are trying to fight blight and sprawl that has cheapened a once vibrant area of the city. Looking forward, it will be important to address issues of walkability as the increased price of gas will begin to push more residents to have to [gasp] walk to get a half gallon of milk at the Wilson Farms. The suburbs and exurbs will be left to the rich that can afford frequent trips out of the house and frequent gas fill ups. The "mature" suburbs that ring the city center will become more enticing as many begin to realize the importance of community and convenience that a walkable community offers.
We do not stroll down James Street to look in the windows of these service providers. Nor do we take a walk to look in the windows of the retail establishments.
This is a shame. Many businesses depend on walk-in traffic for additional revenue. I encourage those in the area to walk along James St. and to visit shops and stores that you haven't before because you've been driving down the street in your car. Support local businesses, reduce your use of gasoline, and improve your health by walking.

Remember this the next time you need a gallon of milk.