is flyingtalkingdonkey dead?
9/30/2005 11:54:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
that is too bad if it is true. I didn't always like all of the template changes over there, but I always enjoyed the content.

Say it ain't so...
I always liked Etan Thomas
9/30/2005 08:14:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
When he played basketball for Syracuse University. He was a great team player and athlete. Turns out he is a well spoken and out spoken person.

Anyone who likes SU, is from the CNY area, or wants to here a great speech given at the protest rally in Washington needs to read this Kos Diary by AnthonySF
Update on Wegmans (food store) and walkability
9/28/2005 11:09:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I posted on Sept 20th about Wegman's - Can't they do more?
The walk is nice and about a mile each way from my home, if that. Three things I noticed? 1. there is no sidewalk that extends from the store. You have to walk in on a service road, and over uneven grass. 2. the streets and sidewalks along my route were in such poor shape, with garbage that had been there for months (doesn't anyone clean this area? DPW, etc?) 3. Why is there no public transportation that serves this store? The nearest bus stop seems to be a good distance away, with again, no sidewalk to get there.

Two conclusions: 1. Wegmans has an opportunity to improve it's accessibility and promote good health by making their stores accessible by foot/bike. 2. County/town/local officials should be forced to walk the streets of their district at least once every six months to get a feel for what the pedestrian experiences, and get a closer view of the area, not just in a passing car.
Well I did receive a response from John Mathewson at Wegmans by email, here it is:
Thank you for your recent comments. I agree that pedestrian access to the property is limited. We did look at this when the site was completely remodeled in ’99 and 2000. Because of the commercial setting on this part of Genesee St. and because of the lack of sidewalks on the street we elected not to put sidewalks in connecting to the road, as we did not want a sidewalk of ours to end at a very heavily trafficked street. We do have a sidewalk along the South side of the store going up the hill on Blueberry Dr. This links the residential area of the neighborhood to the store. We also have 3 crosswalks with stop bars and signs in the driving lane in front of the store to make it safer to cross this busy part of the parking lot. We also have curb cuts and crosswalks from our lot leading to McDonald’s and Tully’s as we accommodate overflow into our lot from these businesses. We have several traffic control signs in the parking lot and the entrance and exit roads designed to slow cars down and make it safer for anyone walking in our lot, whether they arrived on foot or in a vehicle.
He did do the following correct things for a response letter. He thanked me. He agreed with my premise. He acknowledged that there was an issue and that it had been included in the planning 6 years ago.

My response however is this:

I understand that a vast amount of money was spent on remodeling the Wegmans several years ago, and that this would have been the optimal time to address these issues. However, you did fail to mention why the business is not accessible by public transportation. As the price of gasoline rises, many will unfortunately be forced to use public or pedestrian means to travel to your store. Some of your workers currently travel on foot past my house, and down the same route that I take to your store. There will come a time (if it hasn't come already) where a worker making $7-9/hour at your store will find it "cost-ineffective" to fill up the gas tank with several hours worth of work of a part-time job, and more will join the ranks of the walking and those taking the bus.

I am not putting Wegmans down. I think that it is a wonderful store with many positive aspects including a growing organic foods section, and fresh produce and meats. You have constantly been ahead of the curve offering meal choices for diabetics, providing labelling for those customers who are looking for low-fat, vegan, or foods that avoid certain allergies. You promote healthy eating, and increasing intake of locally grown fruits and vegetables. (related to this blog - that is one of the most sustainable things that a grocery store can do is to cut down on food-miles)

My premise is this: Get out ahead of the curve on this one as well. Improve and promote your accessibility by foot and by bus. If your sidewalk ends on the town's street? Get the town to extend the sidewalk to the neighborhoods, you have clout as a large local employer who provides the local government with tax revenue. Promote gas-saving methods among your employees including carpooling and taking public transportation. Set an example for your customers. Let the public know that purchasing locally grown foods is not only good for the local economy, but promotes conservation of fuel - as food doesn't have to be trucked in from across the country. Energy costs and energy saving is on the minds of nearly every customer that you have. Many will be cutting back on purchases this winter as home heating bills cut into discretionary spending. Tap into that concern, and take the opportunity to lead the competition again going into the decline of cheap oil/gas.

p.s. another idea: why doesn't Wegmans produce a canvas or other reuseable bags that are inexpensive for customers to purchase aimed at reducing the amount of plastic bags used at your stores. You could sell them at the registers, and promote them upon entering the store. As an incentive for people to purchase and reuse them, you could provide the customer with a small discount in lieu of using the plastic bags that would normally cost you money. Say 1% off your purchase or a dollar off of a $50 purchase or something like that. a) you'd make money selling the reuseable bags (increased revenue), b) encourage their reuse with a discount and lower the number of plastic and paper bags you'd need to provide (decrease your cost), c) provide a environmentally concious way to shop at your store, reducing waste/energy cost and chemical production of the plastic bags (attracting/retaining customers) A win-win proposal for you and your customers. I figured I'd add that while I had your attention.
p.s. others feeling the vibe at the oil drum
9/28/2005 11:05:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

Ianqui writes:

For example, peakguy notes on Peak Oil NYC today that the reason that people—and the economy—seem to be putting up with $3/gal gas is because they don't have another choice. As the Slate article that peakguy refers to argues: "The rule of thumb in economics is that people react to price increases only when they can turn to substitutes...people can't change the type of fuel they put in their cars, and they can't stop going to work."

If people can't stop using gas, what happens? Well, they charge it on their credit cards, of course. But this AP article reports that as a result of this credit card activity, Americans have fallen behind on their ability to pay off their credit cards. (In fact, this topic seems popular in the news today.)

"The rise in gas prices is really stretching budgets to the breaking point for some people," the [American Bankers] association's chief economist, Jim Chessen, said in an interview. "Gas prices are taking huge chunks out of wallets, leaving some individuals with little left to meet their financial obligations."
Couple this with some other problems we've seen lately in the financial realm, and we should be scared.
More unease... here's why
9/28/2005 10:41:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
via drudge, ft.com:
President George W. Bush's call for the US public to conserve energy is aimed at preventing a run on petrol at a time when the US is precariously short of it.

Energy companies have been trucking fuel in from various parts of the US to restock pumps that ran dry in Texas, following two hurricanes that struck the heart of the nation's energy infrastructure and a massive evacuation that cut into much-needed supplies. This has stretched already tight national petrol supplies.

“The president's best bet for the next two weeks is to try to see if he can get Americans to stop doing discretionary driving without creating panic,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, research fellow at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy. “He's in a very challenging position.”

The US petrol market lost close to 80m gallons of petrol in the evacuation of about 3m people from Houston ahead of Hurricane Rita. Although Houston was not hit, forecasters had projected that the fourth-biggest US city would be in the eye of what was then a Category 5 hurricane. That boosted regional demand 4-5 times higher than normal as residents fled, Baker Institute research shows.

(emphasis mine)

He better start doing a better job of selling conservation then.

Is my life just like reading "The Oil Storm" in slow motion"?
does anyone know how to post a video clip to blogger?
9/28/2005 05:01:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I have my own storage thru a geocities account, but I am not sure how to post it on blogger for others to see.
Flickr of ACL Fest
9/28/2005 12:07:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
slideshow here for your enjoyment

a lot of randoms, I just uploaded them all (except the identifying and 'incriminating' ones :)
unease
9/27/2005 10:59:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I am very troubled at the president urging use to conserve. That's like the president urging letting the tax cuts for the rich expire to pay for the hurricane reconstruction. Both are logical responses to pressing issues, ideas that you would want a president to say, but in a weird way it worries me to have this president say it. (and I'll shit if I hear the tax cut expiration idea come out of his mouth.)

Damage done to many oil platforms and to natural gas sites from Rita and Katrina, but the price of oil is going lower on nymex.

The fed starts to change it's tune.

I have a feeling that something big is happening.

I am not the only one. Peaknik, Kunstler (as always), Sustenance (starting more indepth survival skills), and a new blog oilstories I found today are worried as well.
Quick glance at the ACL fest
9/27/2005 07:53:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
More pics and thoughts coming later, for now... uggh. Back to work! Random order due to blogger...

The tickets:


Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, up close on the big screen:


Great sign. Should be posted in NYC as well.


Sunset over Bloc Party:


The Arcade Fire - I will have much much more to say about them. They may be the best band out there right now:


Another sunset picture, made it up to at least 96 deg each day, topping out at 108 on the last day of the show. At least no hurricane! Just plenty of sweat, and seeking shade:


Seeking shade:


Another great show of the concert, Rilo Kiley:


A plug-in hybrid group was collecting signatures and handing these fans out:


Kasabian rocked:


pic of the crowd, not sure who is playing at first glance:


All in all, one of the most well organized, great sounding shows of my life. Introduced to some great new music that is out there. Will write and post more pics soon.
Track #3 on the Peak Oil soundtrack
9/21/2005 11:10:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
The Arcade Fire

Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)

I woke up with the power out,
not really something to shout about.
Ice has covered up my parents hands
don't have any dreams don't have any plans.

I went out into the night,
I went out to find some light.
Kids are swingin' from the power lines,
nobody's home, so nobody minds.

I woke up on the darkest night,
neighbors all were shoutin' that they found the light.
(We found the light)
Shadows jumpin' all over the walls
some of them big, some of them small.

I went out into the night.
I went out to pick a fight with anyone.
Light a candle for the kids,
Jesus Christ don't keep it hid!

Woohoo! Woohoo! Woohoo!

Ice has covered up my parents hands
don't have any dreams, don't have any plans.
Growin' up in some strange storm,
nobody's cold, nobody's warm.

I went out into the night,
I went out to find some light.
Kids are dyin' out in the snow,
look at them go, look at them go!

Woohoo!(3x) WOO! Woohoo!(3x)

And the power's out in the heart of man,
take it from your heart put in your hand.(hand)

What's the plan? What's the plan?

Is it a dream? Is it a lie?
I think I'll let you decide.
Just light a candle for the kids,
Jesus Christ don't keep it hid!

Cause nothin's hid, from us kids!
You ain't foolin' nobody with the lights out!

Woohoo!(3x)

And the power's out in the heart of man,
take it from your heart put in your hand.
And there's something wrong in the heart of man,
Take it from your heart and put it in your hand!
(hand!)(What's the plan?)(ha ha hand!)
Off to the Austin City Limits Music Festival...
9/21/2005 11:10:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

I hope that our journey is safe and that the weather [cough]Rita[/cough] will cooperate. We have been looking forward to this trip since we bought the tickets in the spring!

Great bands are scheduled to play:

Coldplay, Widespread Panic, Oasis, The Black Crowes, The Allman Brothers Band,
Wilco and Lyle Lovett Join Up-and-Comers Arcade Fire, Bloc Party and The Doves
for One of the Most Diverse Music Weekends of the Summer

(and many more)

Will take a few (many) pictures and post some when I get back. Hopefully the concert will go on as scheduled. Me, being a grownup now, bought a pair of ponchos for inclement weather.

I'll leave you with the next post, track #3 on the Peak Oil soundtrack.
Soundtrack for Peak Oil Track 2
9/20/2005 07:23:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I've already mentioned David Byrne... this is fitting too:

THE POSTAL SERVICE

"We Will Become Silhouettes"

I've got a cupboard with cans of food, filtered water, and pictures of you
and i'm not coming out until this is all over
And i'm looking through the glass
Where the light bends at the cracks
And i'm screaming at the top of my lungs
Pretending the echoes belong to some
One
Someone i used to know

And we become (we become) silhouettes when our bodies finally go
Ba ba ba...

I wanted to walk through the empty streets
And feel something constant under my feet,
But all the news reports recommended that
I stay indoors
Because the air outside will make
Our cells divide at an alarming rate
Until our shells simply cannot hold
All our insides in,
And that's when we'll explode
(and it won't be a pretty sight)

And we'll become (we'll become) silhouettes when our bodies finally go
Ba ba ba...
And we'll become (we'll become) silhouettes when our bodies finally go
Ba ba ba...
And we'll become (we'll become) silhouettes when our bodies finally go
Ba ba ba...
And we'll become (we'll become) silhouettes when our bodies finally go
Ba ba ba...

And we'll become
And we'll become
Wegmans - Can't they do more?
9/20/2005 07:48:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Typical parking lot at Wegman's Food Store (on a monday):


I got my butt up and walked down to the supermarket yesterday, because I couldn't justify getting in the car and driving down there for 2 items. (pepperoni & marinara sauce for a homemade stromboli, if you must know.) The walk is nice and about a mile each way from my home, if that. Three things I noticed? 1. there is no sidewalk that extends from the store. You have to walk in on a service road, and over uneven grass. 2. the streets and sidewalks along my route were in such poor shape, with garbage that had been there for months (doesn't anyone clean this area? DPW, etc?) 3. Why is there no public transportation that serves this store? The nearest bus stop seems to be a good distance away, with again, no sidewalk to get there.

Two conclusions: 1. Wegmans has an opportunity to improve it's accessibility and promote good health by making their stores accessible by foot/bike. 2. County/town/local officials should be forced to walk the streets of their district at least once every six months to get a feel for what the pedestrian experiences, and get a closer view of the area, not just in a passing car.

The above will not dissuade me from walking again, though, it was a beautiful sky:


Over Konsumerland:


I will give Wegmans kudos for there recycling effort, taking in not only their plastic bags for recycling, but also household batteries fort the local recycling agency:
"The Big One" for upstate this winter?
9/17/2005 09:33:00 AM | Author: baloghblog


I tend to agree with this post that this will be a rough winter. Go read NYCO's blog.

There's soaring natural gas prices:

National Grid:

SYRACUSE, Sept. 15, 2005 -- Higher commodity prices could result in Niagara Mohawk’s natural gas customers seeing a 35 percent increase in heating bills this winter based on current market conditions, the company said today. The projected increase is based on average usage for a typical winter. Market prices, a customer’s natural gas usage and weather will ultimately determine the actual bill impacts.

[snip]

At last year’s commodity prices a typical residential customer who would ordinarily use 952 therms during a normal heating season (November to April) would have paid about $1,020 over the six-month period. At this winter’s projected commodity prices, the same amount of usage would cost $1,380.
We used an estimated 1016 therms last winter (damn single pane windows!) So at that rate, our bill should increase to approx $1472 for the "six month" heating period from Nov to April. Hopefully replacement windows will reduce that increase, and allow us to lower the thermostat.

An over-heated Lake Ontario producing more lake effect snow:



And local residents already strained with higher gasoline costs.


(click for enlargement)

A 44% increase over last winter's prices.

Combine those energy cost increases with your 3-4% cost of living adjustment (or none at all), and it is a combination for financial hardship. Fewer Christmas presents under the tree mean fewer temporary workers hired during the holiday season. Poor 4th quarter results leading to a blizzard of pink-slips in January. Or, we "trudge on" as "Americans" charging our way deeper into debt, maintaining a lifestyle that is unobtainable, and the bankruptcies/foreclosures start to roll in the same time the holiday bills do. Hell, even the foliage watchers need to be enticed to get up to Vermont this year:
Still, gas prices, which averaged $3.15 a gallon in New England on Thursday, are clearly on the minds of visitors. The Green Mountain Inn in Stowe extended a promotion that gave visitors a $50 gas card for their return trip home.
What can you do?

Time to batten down the hatches in the Northeast this winter. Seal and caulk around windows and doors.
Add insulation. Consider efficient burning woodstoves and fireplace inserts (or have a friend or neighbor that has one that you can stay with in a pinch.) Consider energy saving landscaping methods. The Red Cross has a great brochure on food and water for an emergency (warning .pdf file) well worth the download. Stock up on high energy foods in your pantry.

More winter emergency preparedness:

NOAA
CDC (in depth and highly recommended)
Ready.gov (basic preparation)

The bottom line (my $0.02):

Help your friends and neighbors. Prepare in advance. If you know how to do something like caulk or insulate a home, teach others, so they can in turn help others. If you have a back up supply of heat or a generator, offer your home to your neighbors in an emergency. Speak to the elderly or infirmed in your neighborhood, and make sure that they have someone to turn to in the event of power outage or natural gas disruption. As we've seen with Katrina, community support is very important, and we need to be as self sufficient as our means allow. Those with more, should be prepared to help others with less.

God willing, this winter will not be a killer, and those of us in upstate NY will just have the usual inconveniences that we face each year.
Cable line meets lawn appliance
9/17/2005 09:19:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Been offline for a few days after a mishap with a poorly buried cable line coming into the house. Excuse my absence.

While I catch up on some reading, here are some pics from the past week:

A-la-Ianqui: (Rural) Graffiti


Newly sealed driveway: {thanks to the colonel again!}

We have to get it resurfaced next year, anyone know an environmentally friendly way to do that? (would have to stand up to abudant snows and frequent plowing, however)

What's that I hear? The sound of gas prices falling?

There were 15 cars at the neighborhood gas station last night, b/c the price had come down 10 cents to $2.899. You'd think they were giving away free toasters or something. (normally 2-3 cars there at a time)

More soon.
Another Recommendation - The Geographer's Library
9/13/2005 09:57:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Just finished this book. Picked it up on a whim at the library. Debut novel from Jon Fasman.

from a Washington Post review on Amazon:

The Geographer's Library, by Jon Fasman, absolutely falls into the category of the arcane thriller, but it is a much more interesting and creative book than many of those making up the marketing wave on which it will no doubt attempt to ride. Yes, the story features obscure books in forgotten tongues, secret brotherhoods, exotic locales and clever puzzles, but Fasman comes across as a novelist genuinely interested in unraveling the convention of the thriller, and he gives his tale a delightfully and successfully postmodern flavor. And rather than presenting obscure knowledge as valuable only because it gets you things, he is far more interested in showing how physical things lead to knowledge.

The book contains two primary narratives -- one conventional, the other far less so. The first revolves around Paul Tomm, a recent college graduate who has landed a job as a reporter at a weekly newspaper in a small and depressingly stagnant New England town. Tomm is clever and charismatic, though largely devoid of ambition until one of the locals, an elderly Estonian immigrant, dies and Tomm is charged with writing the obituary. The dead man turns out to be Jaan Pühapäev, an aloof professor from the same prestigious Connecticut university that Tomm himself attended. With the help of another former professor -- as polished, unhurried and generous with his time as only fictional academics can be -- and the professor's policeman nephew -- as wise-cracking, unhurried and generous with his time as only fictional policemen can be -- Tomm sets out to reveal the genuinely bizarre truth of Pühapäev's identity and the cause of his mysterious death. You know, after all, that when the town coroner announces that there's something strange about the body, but dies before he can tell anyone the specifics, there's something going on. As it happens, there's quite a lot going on, including a menacing Albanian, decayed body parts left hammered to doors and a beautiful woman with a secret, but in Fasman's capable hands these conventions have the kind of narrative power that keeps the story from feeling trite and contrived.

The other aspect of The Geographer's Library is a collection of interlinked tales that spans several centuries, beginning with medieval Iran and ending in more modern times and roaming through various parts of the former Soviet Union. Each of these sections, told with a variety of distinctive voices and tones, fixates on a particular artifact -- a key, a flute, a deck of cards -- with unique properties and sought by determined and ruthless agents. Fasman's method here approaches David Mitchell territory (Cloud Atlas, Ghostwritten), and if he lacks Mitchell's powerful skill in hopping seamlessly from character to character, he does, ultimately, make clear how these different objects and stories come together.

Worth taking out from the library or purchasing and sharing. Anyone else have any other ideas for books? Read this one in a couple days and I am itching for another good book. Anyone out there read Codex?
For health care workers - greener hospitals
9/13/2005 08:33:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
from sustainablog comments from Joe:

http://hcwh.org

Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations and religious groups. Find out how to JOIN THE CAMPAIGN.

Mission:

To transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

Goals:

1. To work with a wide range of constituencies for an ecologically sustainable health care system;
2. To promote policies, practices and laws that eliminate incineration of medical waste, minimize the amount and toxicity of all waste generated, and promote the use of safer materials and treatment practices;
3. To phase out the use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastics and persistent toxic chemicals in health care and to build momentum for a broader PVC phase out campaign;
4. To phase out the use of mercury in all aspects of the health care industry;
5. To develop health-based standards for medical waste management and to recognize and implement the public’s right to know about chemical use in the health care industry;
6. To develop just siting and transportation guidelines that conform to the principles of environmental justice: No communities should be poisoned by medical waste treatment and disposal;
7. To develop an effective collaboration and communication structure among campaign allies.
More Work = Fewer Posts
9/13/2005 04:37:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Trying to earn some extra money for some projects around the house, so that leaves a little less time to be blogging. Will try to add some of my thoughts regarding the recent increase in gas prices and a possible shortage of natural gas in the winter.

For your viewing pleasure two moments of zen:

Sunflower patch at a farm:


Gas back below $3.00 for the first time this week:
Crash - the movie
9/11/2005 12:42:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
highly recommended.

"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In LA, nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."
New on sidebar
9/07/2005 09:30:00 PM | Author: baloghblog



lists the day's highest and lowest local prices for gas. Couldn't find it on the gas buddy site, so I shamelessly ripped it off from this biochemical life, where I found it. Hope they don't mind...
"Media restriction" prophecy coming true:
9/07/2005 09:15:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
UPDATE: athenae has more at first-draft on the subject.

You know, we've had this line up at at the top of the blog for a while: Proud members of the reality-based community. It's a reference to a statement made by a Bush administration official that they create their own reality by their actions.

And it's been a joke for a while, their reality and ours, the world they create and the world that is. But it's not all that funny, really, because we're seeing the results of that determined refusal to live in any world but the one in their heads, we're seeing the results of that in NOLA.

Reality came crashing down on the Bush administration last week, reality they couldn't hide behind some bunting or shove behind a backdrop. Not that they're not trying, now. Now that it appears reality has never been kind to these people, and finally, finally, some people are starting to wake up and realize that.


FEMA wants no photos of dead taken, and apparently is now restricting journalist access to New Orleans.

My original thought: (9/4/05)
Conspiracy thought - future media restrictions?

Was watching the news today (CNN), and they reported that they were going to force all people still in New Orleans to leave the city, (and rightly so) due to the deteriorating health conditions.

Chertoff stated that American citizens need to steel themselves against the horrible images that will come after the city is drained of water.

The government (military) has taken full control over the rescue and recovery of N.O.

My thought is this: Do you think that there will be media censorship of the recovery? I can't imagine that they will continue to allow reporters to broadcast live from the recovery effort in the middle of that "toxic stew". Given the fact that the military will be running the show, it wouldn't surprise me if they could limit access to the city. What do you think?


Confirmed via:

Atrios

Raw Story

Drudge

Sometimes you just don't want to be right.
Surpassed 10,000 page loads!
9/07/2005 08:55:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Although I may have been a percentage of hits the first few months of stat counting at baloghblog, I have to be proud that I have gotten my 10,000 pageload here!

Page loads: 10,131
Unique Visitors: 5,004
First Time Visitors: 2,935
Returning Visitors: 2,069

Average page loads: 61
Avg Unique Visitors: 37
Avg First Time Visitors: 29
Avg Returning Visitors: 17
(past 30 days)

First Post here February 17, 2005

First Flicker photo:

out my front window this a.m. Posted by Hello

First peak oil post

First Rant

Thanks again to all you visitors who have stumbled upon this lowly blog and have come back for more. Now I can count on 17 loyal visitors (up a bit from 3!). Looking forward to the day when I have 100 loyal readers.
Nothing much to say, so here's a few pictures:
9/07/2005 08:40:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Gas down 25 cents today to $3.24 in certain areas. Still $3.39 at the end of my block.


Doesn't need a caption: (no photoshop I swear)


Does this sign mean "drive slowly, there is a populated area" or "There is a less smart group of people in the vicinity."?


Just liked this one:


Obligatory front path (almost finish pic):
Home projects - 1 aesthetic, 1 sustainable
9/05/2005 03:18:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Project #1:
I finally got started on my rainwater collection project:

Step 1, which involved ripping down the old gutters:


Step 2, replacing damaged fascia board:

(The colonel helping me out, I would have been lost without him!)

Step 3, painting:


Step 4, putting up new gutters:


Still have a few more gutters to hang, but now we've got the "hang" of it. Put some soffet vents too, in under the eave, to increase air flow. Have to find a big container of some sort to hold the water in too, and figure out an overflow plan.

Project #2:
Front walkway, had some much needed help on this one too. (Can't mention their name on this blog though...)

Before: (with old gutters)


After:


Not bad for 2 non-"masons"
Conspiracy thought - future media restrictions?
9/04/2005 01:53:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Was watching the news today (CNN), and they reported that they were going to force all people still in New Orleans to leave the city, (and rightly so) due to the deteriorating health conditions.

Chertoff stated that American citizens need to steel themselves against the horrible images that will come after the city is drained of water.

The government (military) has taken full control over the rescue and recovery of N.O.

My thought is this: Do you think that there will be media censorship of the recovery? I can't imagine that they will continue to allow reporters to broadcast live from the recovery effort in the middle of that "toxic stew". Given the fact that the military will be running the show, it wouldn't surprise me if they could limit access to the city. What do you think?
F--- Saudia Arabia
9/04/2005 08:12:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
CNN:

Middle East

SAUDI ARABIA - Saudi Refining, a Houston-based subsidiary of state oil firm Saudi Aramco, will donate $5 million to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Let's see, hmm. We send you billions upon billions, upon billions every year to purchase your oil. Your measly response?!? $5 million, and a promise to produce oil that you can't keep.

F--- Saudia Arabia.

The tiny oil rich nation of Qatar?

The oil-rich nation of Qatar has offered the United States $100 million to assist in the humanitarian crisis triggered by Hurricane Katrina.




UPDATE: Kuwait has offered $500 million in oil products as a donation to the US relief effort.
I don't care what you're doing now, or how fast your internet connection is. Go to Crooks and Liars and watch this video from Hannity and Colmes last night.

You will want to cry.

And for some strange reason, you will love Sheppard Smith and Geraldo Rivera
(Peak Oil) Energy Vacation - Without leaving home
9/03/2005 07:24:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
UPDATE: Bumped up to top b/c it was going to fall off front page.

An interesting idea:

This fall, plan a weekend, or two consecutive days and nights as an "energy vacation". Start upon waking Saturday and go until waking on Monday morning. During your "vacation", turn off your thermostat, refrain from using any lights and use electricity only sparingly - i.e. to keep food from spoiling. No driving. No TV. And, yes not even any blogging or 24 hour news updates. (if you must, a solar/crank powered AM/FM radio can be used to get your news porn)

You have two ways to start your "vacation". The first is fully prepared - having stocked up on all necessities: candles, good books, deck of cards, bottles of wine, gallons of water, grill food, etc. Some people just like to be prepared, and you have to give them that.

The second way is to use items and food stocks that you have in your home, and use foot or pedal power to get the rest. Walk to the library on Saturday to get a good book. Stop by the grocery store, buy and carry what you'll need for the day on the way home. What, your nearest food store is 5 miles away? Dust of that bike and flexible cooler and head out! Or, see if there is a closer alternative that you could walk to. Local corner stores, butchers, specialty stores would love to have your business. You won't have asian pears, and imported organic soy oat grass bars (or what ever is your fancy) in the same place, but maybe you'll be surprised at what you can find in walking distance. (I found a delicious meatball mix at an Italian butcher down the hill from me that is to die for!)

Aside: If you live more than 5-10 miles from the nearest food store, and you don't either a) grow all your own food, b) have a neighbor that can provide you or barter with for all your food, or c) enjoy going to bed hungry. Maybe the exurbs or rural setting isn't for you, in the face of peak oil.

As far as food prep goes, you can be as "hardcore" as you'd like about that. For me? The grill/smoker will be allowed. I'll stick to charcoal instead of gas. I think that I'll (gasp) skip the electric coffee pot though. Try to stick to locally produced or grown food as much as possible. Try to leave a small enviromental footprint. Recycle all packaging, compost waste (or if you don't have one, start a new compost), and avoid imported goods and trivial purchases.

Just imagine the possibilities of a weekend spent at home without any distractions. Unplug the phone if you wish or leave the answering machine plugged in with the volume down and return calls on Monday. No TV, no blogging too! No trips to the store or shopping. Boring to some, second nature to others, there are many things that I can think of to do on an energy vacation:

- write letters to family and friends on real paper and mail them out.
- play cards
- read a good book
- walk to a friends house, or introduce yourself to a neighbor
- talk to your spouse or significant other, talk about all the things that you dream about doing in your life, things outside of the day to day distractions, and daily grind
- get up at sunrise and take a walk through your now peaceful and quiet neighborhood
- star gaze under a cozy blanket at night
- build a fire (if you have the means) and zone out into the flames
- brainstorm ways to reduce energy use and live a more sustainable lifestyle
- go through a old stack of pictures, relive some memories, and add some new pictures to your picture frames
- take a walk around your home, or neighborhood and take a roll of film on nothing in particular, just what ever catches your eye
- draw, paint or write something creative
- anything you like!

Just try to do it for two consecutive days to get the real feel for it. I think that you will be feeling more relaxed (and appreciating electricity a hell of a lot more) on day 2.

We all depend way more than we think on cheap oil and electricity. A couple of days "vacation" from it, can make us realize how we can get by without a trip out of the home each day by car, and without all the lights in the home on, and non stop TV, internet and news bombarding us with information. It will awaken your own imaginative and creative side, not to have TV doing the imagining and dreaming for you. Sit and think about what is really important to you, what your views on a subject are, not some pundit's on a blog or TV show. Think about ways you can directly impact the area you live in, instead of worrying about global ideas that are for the most part out of your hands. When you come back from "vacation" still read DKos, and Eschaton, but check into sustainablog, baloghblog, unplanning journal, peakoil NYC and others, and help start to shape your community directly, and help prepare for your future in a world without cheap energy.
Alternatives to Plastic
9/03/2005 06:55:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Via Bill Totten's Weblog (which I recently just found thru FTD):

Better (HTML) version at mindfully.org

Snippets from Paul Goettlich's article:
Over the past few of years, many people asked for help in getting plastic out of their lives. It is hoped that this article guides you to a cleaner lifestyle. While it is presently impossible to actually remove all plastic from one's life, it is definitely worth reducing it to a minimum. Being that the author's age is greater than 50 years, he came into a world that was nearly free of the scourge that has come to fruition since then. His own attitude contrasts greatly with most anti-plastic activists — he is considerably more adamant about removing all plastics from his life and not so concerned about one or another type of plastic or single chemical within each. It is also through years of research that he has seen that all plastics must be stopped rather than one or even many. But as you approach this subject, please do so at a pace that doesn’t overburden you into dropping the issue altogether. But do move along as quickly as is practical.
[snip]
Below are images of the my container collection used in contact with food and drink. Each is labeled and some have suggestions for other uses and sources. These are most likely what you came to this article for. However, getting plastic out of your life is more about a change in lifestyle than merely removing a few plastic containers in your home. I am working on a book that will include suggestions for a lifestyle change. What it requires is simply using common sense and a healthy disrespect for status quo. Stop worrying about looking out of place in a world injected and coated with plastic. Start your lifestyle change by disconnecting from consumerism and commercials. Disconnect the cable — 500 stations with nothing intelligent on any is a crime. Stop your newspaper subscription. Considering that newspapers are more than half advertising and don't tell the truth, it's a crime to use new or recycled paper for this purpose.
There are some great ideas here for more natural containers and storage, as well as cooking and transporting food. Great ideas to reduce use of plastic when shopping (bring a salsa jar to the bulk food section to fill with peanut butter - Ianqui would love this article).

Byrne Dairy in upstate NY has milk in 1/2 gallon glass containers. The require a 20 cent deposit, but I always though that the milk tasted better out of them. I will have to go back to those bottles.
We have stopped using the Teflon pans and have been using the stainless steel and the cast iron skillet (my favorite).

The best thing is many of these items can be found at garage sales for pennies on the dollar. We bought two glass bowls that I make my famous blue cheese vinagrette salad dressing and salad in from scratch. We mix in them, we hold prepped veggies in them prior to cooking, etc. We also got 10 small pyrex bowls (jell-o serving sized) at the same garage sale. Total cost was 4 dollars or less for all of them I think.

I think that lunch time is still the hardest for me to avoid plastic. At least we now recycle the ziploc storage containers to hold our sandwiches and sides, then just rinse and reuse - saving a few hundred plastic baggies a year.
Katrina brainstorm - What about the closed military bases?
9/02/2005 08:10:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
What about all of the country's military bases that have been mothballed in the past or are scheduled to be closed now? Couldn't they be easily turned into refugee camps, with the barracks, the mess areas, and the grocery/store in place?

Just a thought. Any others? What are we going to do with all these people that have no home, no job, etc. I still can't stop thinking about it.
Sustainability Entry: potato harvest
9/02/2005 07:49:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I dug up the potatoes from the garden today, after the tops had yellowed and wilted. There was a decent harvest from the 6 plants that remained. I had originally planted 8 "clumps" but took two out early when it looked like the leaves had some sort of infection.

We dined on fresh potatoes (with a little butter and sour cream, I must admit) tonight with some BBQ boneless thighs on the grill. Delish!

Here's a few pictures of the harvest: (not bad for eye filled potatos that were to be discarded instead of planted)


Straight out of the garden


After a hose down


Final Rinse

I plan on planting them differently next year. I plan to combine a large amount of topsoil with compost and manure into a large mound, then plant the potato pieces all over the large mound in the loose soil. I will also keep it watered more, and hope for slightly larger spuds.

What will I keep it watered with? Coming soon: rainwater collection system project.
I take pictures (revisited)
9/02/2005 06:55:00 PM | Author: baloghblog



There should be 2 pictures above this, I think that blogger is "bloggered" as I heard someone eloquently put it before.

UPDATED: pictures are back up. These are from today. Not just an anomaly, the gas stations at the end of the street are at $3.499 as well.
Over/Under on Gas price results:
9/02/2005 07:30:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Today at 8 a.m. was the over/under line for $3/gallon gas.

Click here for news: Google News on "AVERAGE PRICE OF GAS"

I think that I was wrong (I picked under), despite local averages above $3.00. Syracusegasprices.com reports a national average of $3.019, but I have to deem that "unofficial"

Jeff you were right. (I should have made the line 5 pm!)
Spitzer getting on the case of higher gas prices
9/02/2005 07:25:00 AM | Author: baloghblog

Syracuse Post-Standard:

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's offices across the state, including in Syracuse, were fielding "a heavy volume of calls from angry consumers, and basically they're asking why is the price of gas so high," said Marc Violette, of Spitzer's Albany office.

The attorney general's staff has begun studying the gas pricing structure, Violette said.

Later in the day, Spitzer and Gov. George Pataki issued a statement saying the State Gasoline Price Stability Task Force is paying close attention to gas prices. They publicized a toll-free hotline for motorists to register complaints on price-fixing, (800) 214-4372. Motorists also can register complaints online at www.nysconsumer.gov.

Spitzer's office said that complaints of price-gouging will be investigated

For those with a "visual mind":
(click to enlarge)
9/02/2005 07:19:00 AM | Author: baloghblog

Notice two things: Even Fox thinks that this recovery effort is a national disgrace, and now there are "explosions heard, flashes of light seen around Superdome." Posted by Picasa
Katrina thoughts (UPDATED)
9/02/2005 07:19:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
I just can't get the damn thoughts out of my head. They are too big to wrap my brain around.

  • What are all these people going to do for work?
  • For shelter?
  • In a week?
  • In a month?
  • In 6 months?
  • Are they ever going to get to go home and collect any remaining belongings?
  • How will they find their loved ones?
  • How will any building remain structurally sound after soaking in sewage and oil water for 6-8 weeks? Will they just bulldoze entire neighborhoods?
  • Where will the rebuilding money come from? (Bush will certainly not reinstate the taxes that he cut. And the Iraq War isn't going away either.)
  • What kind of day to day life is it living in the SuperAstrodome?
  • What about all of the smaller communities that aren't making the news every hour?
  • What jobs will be there to return to?
  • How will they control the lawlessness? Shoot to kill orders? (I see it coming soon)
  • How will they distribute money to the victims?
  • etc........
I have some other thoughts in my head, that I had planned on posting about: more Jake Roberts for mayor info, and insight; local gas prices (on one hand, how can I complain about that? But on the other, how can I not complain when I travel everyday to make a living.)

We will be making a donation this week on payday. Maybe then I will feel like I have contributed something to the effort. Until then, I guess everytime I see the images on the news, I will have to hold back the urge to go down there and help.

UPDATE:
Gov gives authorization to shoot, kill hurricane survivor 'hoodlums' - RAWSTORY

Made our donation to Red Cross.

Michael Moore writes a letter.

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Houston Stadium "full" after accepting only half of refugees from Superdome. Texans stadium to be filled next.
Time to panic
9/01/2005 08:27:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Ghostbusters (1984) via IMDB:
Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.
and you know when President Bush is pleading for oil companies not to gouge and people to conserve energy - the shit has hit the fan.

Reuters:
Bush expresses 'zero tolerance' of price gouging in interview as prices spike above $3 a gallon.
September 1, 2005: 8:04 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush warned against price-gouging of gasoline Thursday in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and said looters should be treated with zero tolerance.

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this, whether it be looting, or price-gouging at the gasoline pump or taking advantage of charitable giving, or insurance fraud," Bush said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Gasoline sellers have been fast to raise prices in the wake of the storm. Prices have risen above $3 a gallon and in some places higher because of a sudden drop in oil supplies.

Bush said Americans should conserve more gasoline in response to the crisis and said he expected Saudi Arabia to do "everything they can" to provide more oil. He said eight refineries are down in the Gulf and "it's going to take a while" to get them going again.

"I would hope Americans conserve if given a choice," he said.

emphasis mine. fear also mine.