GEDDESBLOG: An "attractive" idea
11/29/2005 09:18:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Here is a positive idea that took shape out of a tragedy.

In an attempt to boost its stalled economy, the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans is starting the nation's first free wireless Internet network owned and run by a major city.

Mayor Ray Nagin made the announcement at a late morning news conference.

Similar projects elsewhere have been stalled by stiff opposition from telephone and cable television companies aimed at discouraging competition from public agencies.

I believe that the same tactic could be used to attract new residents to an area that needs development and new life.

I continue to believe that this would be a great idea to attract people to live downtown in Syracuse and within the city limits. This story and the launching of this blog, made me remember that Solvay Electric was testing out broadband over power lines. Perhaps this could be a way to instantly give a boost to property values, and attract young residents and small business start ups to relocate into Solvay/Geddes.


(geddes power lines)

Imagine that in the future real estate listings:
2 bedroom apartment. Free broadband internet (over powerlines). Walkable neighborhood. $650.
or
1930's 2 story house, great starter home. Optional store front/office in first level. Off street parking. Free broadband internet for as long as you own your home. $90,000
It would certainly attract a different demographic of residents. Landlords would be more invested in their rental properties, as better apartments would attract more money. College students would find it a great place to live while they attended SU, Upstate, OCC, or LeMoyne. Business start ups could subtract hundreds of dollars from their expenses and would have incentive to locate in the Geddes area.

Higher home values, business receipts and workers living in the area would generate more tax revenue for the town. Everyone wins.

What do you think?
Launch of geddesblog tonight!
11/29/2005 07:20:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Give it a look, local info for the Geddes and Fairmount area of Syracuse. I will be addressing local issues in the context of peak oil and sustainability.

GEDDESBLOG
This blog will be dealing with issues relating to the Geddes and Fairmount areas of Syracuse. My focus will be initially to highlight and promote local businesses, locate and post potential opportunities for development, and to deal with any problems or public issues that arise in our area.



As we head into the future, I believe that communities will be able to rely less and less on the "global economy" to take care of our needs, as the price and availability of cheap oil and oil products declines. Communities will have to face shortages of energy and food if they are not prepared for such an eventuality. Big box stores such as Walmart, and Home Depot will become unsustainable. Local businesses frequented by people in their neighborhood to support them will again become an important and vibrant part of our society.



Communities that have infrastructure that can provide public transportation, food production, energy independence, and walkable communities will be in the position to thrive. I believe that the Solvay/Geddes/Fairmount area, has the necessary ingredients to be a sustainable community in the 21st century.
t h e U N p l a n n i n g J o u r n a l: My New Plan
11/29/2005 09:08:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Go read theUnPlanning Journal. He is working on a plan as well, and having a discussion on how to go about it. Drop by and give your $0.02

t h e U N p l a n n i n g J o u r n a l: My New Plan
Walgreen's blocked in Eastwood
11/28/2005 10:59:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
The Walkable Eastwood folks must be very happy. Score one for the little guys!

Post:
Eastwood Walgreens blocked
The Syracuse Planning Commission, by a 4-0 vote tonight, rejected the plans for a proposed Walgreens on James Street in Eastwood.

Commissioners said they were not opposed to a Walgreens at that location. But they said the developer, HDL Property Group LLC of the East Syracuse, hadn’t fully made the case that it needed several variances from local planning guidelines for the project to work.

As a result, the commissioners turned down the request for the variances “without prejudice.” That means HDL can summit revised plans or additional information in support of its current application without having to begin the whole application process from the beginning.

Guy W. Hart Jr., a partner with HDL, said he would meet with his other partners to decide how to precede. But he said he was not optimistic about the project.

For a complete report, read Tuesday’s Post-Standard.
UPDATE: They are happy -

Application denied!

Tonight, November 28, 2005, the City of Syracuse Planning Board unanimously denied the application for the Walgreens project because of the large number of variances needed that were not adequately justified. This denial was made "without prejudice," which means the developer may still return to the Board with a revised design that more closely meshes with the existing guidelines.

This is an historic victory for the concept of PLANNING in the city of Syracuse. Given that the guidelines are now a part of the recently approved Comprehensive Plan, we can begin to trust that our city decision makers will abide by plans that are developed by the people of the city.
Carnival of the Green now in week 4!
11/28/2005 10:31:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Go read greatgreengoods who are hosting the Carnival of the Green this week. I am planning on hosting in March.

Here are the previous weeks entries:

Week 1: CityHippy
Week 2: Triple Pundit
Week 3: Sustainablog

And an overall description, for those who haven't been following it yet:
Each week, on mondays, a green blog will host the Carnival of the Green and will provide, in one single and probably large post, a digest of the posts other green bloggers have submitted for consideration during the previous week (friday to friday).

Each Carnival of the Green will also have a link to the previous and next Carnival of the Green hosts as well as a link back to this Launch post (either on City Hippy or Triple Pundit or both if you like).

SUBMITTING POSTS
To submit a post for consideration to the Carnival of the Green (do not submit content - just a link to your post), please email carnivalofgreen@gmail.com with the link.

HOST THE CARNIVAL OF THE GREEN
To add yourself to the list of Carnival of the Green hosts please email one of us at cityhippy@gmail.com or tips@triplepundit.com

As host you will receive, just for your friday to friday week, all email sent to the carnivalofgreen@gmail.com email address.

It is upto to you to make the Carnival of the Green happen each week. Do whatever you can...it should be fun not stressful!
As I posted a week or so ago, I have decided for personal conviction and health reasons to begin eating primarily organic food for at least the next 3 weeks. I have found it to be an enlightening experience.

First off, shopping takes me much longer. It reminds me of when I went to Europe, especially Eastern Europe, where you'd walk in to a store and nothing (I mean nothing) looked familiar. Gone were the usual brand names and crisp packaging. I find myself wandering the aisles the same way now - taking it all in, trying to find the item or two that I am looking for. (Where is that damn organic chicken stock!) Gone are the brand names and the junk food (although Wegmans does carry a large amount of ready-made processed organic, surprisingly.) At first it was disconcerting. The consumer in me felt the loss of familiarity. Now, It has shifted more towards exciting, as I sample new brands, and find new favorites to replace the junk that I have been eating.



Second, I find myself thinking much more about where my food comes from, and what is in my food.
Quick anecdote:
I had always noticed various odd-sounding ingredients in my food. Most of them towards the end of the list. Some I knew were preservatives, others I had no idea. One of those was Xanthan Gum. Suprisingly I found it on a list of ingredients on a product labelled "all natural". So I decided to investigate. I needed to get no further than this:
It is a slimy gel produced by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris, which causes black rot on cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli. The slime protects the bacterium from attach by viruses, and prevents it from drying out.
Before I knew that I needed to pay attention to the food that I was eating. Slime! For cripes sake! I have been eating slime all these years and never knew it! Well, no more slime for me.
I have been leaning towards more fresh fruits and veggies. I couldn't find a decent organic apple that wasn't mealy textured, so I did the next best thing and hunted down some NY state apples in Wegmans. - You have to look hard, they're only found in the 5 lb. bags, not sold individually (from Washington State, can you believe it! There are at least 5 orchards within 20 miles of Syracuse.) I have to find some local fresh free range chicken as well, I keep hearing that the Regional Market is the place for that, I just have to drag my butt down there on Saturday.

Thirdly, I have found my meals include much less red meat. I have been eating tuna for lunch (again, can't find an organic brand, but I imagine that is because of the preservative that goes into the can) or PB and J. Or Clif Bar and a smoothie. Or yogurt and a Lara bar. - You can see that cheeseburger or peperoni pizza is not included in that list. I made a big bowl of rice made with chicken stock earlier in the week, and have been enjoying that with just a pita for dinner, and leaving room for an apple with natural peanut butter for a snack later.

Overall, I am feeling much healthier with my food choices. Not 100% of my meals are organic or all of them "rabbit food" as my dad would say. (I made my famous chicken fingers for dinner with homemade Chili's honey mustard - the best dipping sauce) But eating mostly organic makes me plan my meals in advance, think about what I am eating during the day, and makes me feel better that I am supporting local farms and small businesses across the country.

Lastly, my stomach troubles seem to be on the way out. Some part of that is due to all that I have posted above.
Back in business...
11/28/2005 09:15:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Well I am no longer camera-less. I have spent the past few days researching digital cameras on-line (thus the lack of posts), and today I pulled the trigger and purchased a Kodak EasyShare Z730. (Paying more than 20% less then the suggested cost on the Kodak website.) It is not as compact as my old Canon S200, but given the fact that the problem that affected my camera (lens error E18) was not uncommon in all lines of the Canon Brand, I decided to look elsewhere.

I tried to do the right thing and buy from an American company. A local one at that, in my case. But sad to say, the camera was not built in Rochester, NY as I'd hoped, but "Designed in Japan and Made in China" according to the label. At least a few pencil pushers can keep their jobs on my account (G-d forbid an American company hires an American engineer!).

[/soapbox]

Anyways, I am very pleased so far with my purchase. The price was right, the features are numerous, there is crisp video, and the resolution is 2 1/2 times better than my old camera, allowing for larger prints to be made.



I will take it back out on the road again tomorrow, and hopefully get back in the habit of taking a few pictures a day.

I am also tinkering with the idea of a new "sister" blog to baloghblog, that would focus on local businesses in the immediate area, what services and stores are needed (potential opportunities), and empty and abandon buildings that show potential to be rehabed. I'd like to expand my role as a blogger and interview some of the local business owners - I am sure that there are a lot of good stories behind the stores out there. Have to put some thought into that. I'd have to consider my audience versus the time that I'd put into it - most of my readers are from out of state or from the NYC area.
Forgot one -
11/27/2005 01:15:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I am fairly leary of typing Nancy Cantor's name on my blog, click here for why that is so. But I found another letter to the editor that makes a good point.

If the constituents in Syracuse were asked, "If you found out that Jim Walsh had secured $2 million dollars for development of the SU corridor project, would you be pleased and support him?"

I think that the answer to that specific question would be yes.

Now, let's rephrase that.

"If you found out that Jim Walsh voted in favor of cutting student loans, money to the chronically ill, and the food stamp program, and shifted $2 million dollars of that money to pay for the SU corridor project, would you be pleased and support him?"

It's all our money. What are you in favor of? Pork projects for wealthy universities, or pork dinners for those in the projects?

We know Jim Walsh's response.
More Trouble for Walsh
11/27/2005 12:57:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
If Congressman Walsh thought that the "concessions" that he got for voting for the Republican plan to cut government spending were "enough", I think that he was sorely mistaken.

A few snippets from Syracuse.com/Post Standard letters to the editor:
It's very difficult for me to understand the huge cuts that could be so devastating to people with disabilities, the chronically ill, the elderly and the poor. Our representatives' priorities are focused on giving huge tax breaks to the rich and spending money in Iraq instead of taking care of the citizens of this country and I am getting sick of it.

Congress needs to change its priorities. Yes, we need to reduce the deficit, but not at the expense of helpless people. All of us can make a difference by calling our congressmen today and telling them to change their priorities. Money can be saved if Congress changes its priorities.

and-
Last week, Jim Walsh voted in favor of the Republican leadership's budget that is neither compassionate nor conservative, and will harm Upstate New York families.

The Republican plan that Mr. Walsh supported will cut Medicaid by $11.4 billion, squeezing further our state and local governments. The Republican plan will cut student loan programs by $14.3 billion over the next five years, with more than half of those cuts directly hitting students.

The Republican plan will cut child support enforcement by $4.9 billion and impair New York state's capacity to enforce child support orders. The Republican plan will also cut food stamps by $796 million. This will cause nearly 300,000 Americans to lose food stamps.

So why support such drastic program cuts? Not to reduce the deficit which actually goes up under this plan. George Bush and the Republican-led Congress pushed these drastic budget cuts to finance more tax cuts for the very wealthy. That's the wrong direction for upstate New York.
and-
When the House of Representatives voted 217-215 to cut funding for student loan programs by an astonishing $14.3 billion, 14 Republicans - including our representative, John McHugh - joined with House Democrats in opposing this proposal. The student loan programs are among our nation's most important guarantors of access to higher education. The proposal to radically cut federal funding for student loans represents poorly conceived public policy.

[Walsh voted for the cuts to funding]
and from the traditionally conservative paper-

Having won concessions, Walsh and Boehlert provided their votes, which equaled the margin by which the legislation passed the House, 217-215. McHugh was one of just 14 Republicans to vote against the bill.

"This time, they listened to us," Boehlert said, explaining his vote. "What do we do then? Say thank you and vote against the bill? They'd cut us off from future decisions."

Yes, the moderates improved the budget bill. But the legislation still leaves them vulnerable to charges that their party is less than compassionate toward those who rely on federal help for college loans, health care and other forms of aid.

And Democrats, now hopeful that the president's low ratings will translate into electoral victories next year, won't give Walsh or Boehlert any credit. The party that couldn't find anyone to challenge Walsh last year already has three or more hopefuls lined up for 2006, and is taking early shots at Boehlert as well.

The next test of moderate muscle comes in December, when GOP leaders are expected to push an extension of tax cuts on dividends, interest and capital gains. Will the Republican Party cut spending on social programs, then turn around and give upper-income taxpayers a break?

It should be a very interesting year.

(emphasis mine)

An interesing year indeed. I am looking forward to covering it.
Away for the holidays...
11/25/2005 08:43:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I'm back, anything new happening out there?

Have a few good posts in the hopper, check back in soon.

baloghblog
Post: Walsh Rivals Line Up for 2006
11/19/2005 08:52:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Post-Standard:

Jim Walsh rolled into the November 2004 election without a Democratic opponent to his bid for re-election to the House of Representatives.

It's beginning to look as if the town of Onondaga Republican is not going to be so lucky in 2006.

At least three candidates have declared their intent or expressed interest in seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Walsh for the seat he's held since 1989.

Whoever wins the primary and faces off against Walsh I will be on the (very busy) corner of my street with a sign reading:

Walsh cuts food stamps, student loans and healthcare for the poor to support tax cuts for the rich!

To win House approval, Hastert ordered modest concessions on plans to limit eligibility for food stamps and require the poorest Medicaid patients to pay more for their care. He ordered killed a provision to deny free school lunches to about 40,000 children whose parents would lose their food stamps.

Those changes and other promises won the votes of lawmakers who had earlier registered opposition to the bill, including James Walsh, R-N.Y., Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich., and Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y.

Fucker.

His concession?
The biggest concession came Thursday evening when Walsh won language permitting food stamp recipients making the transition to work to continue to be able to receive non-cash benefits for child care, transportation and housing without losing their nutrition benefits.
Good job Jimmy! Way to stand up to your counterparts in the GOP! [/sarcasm]

The article rang true in its opening paragraph:
House Republicans sweated out a victory on a major budget cut bill in the wee hours Friday, salvaging a major pillar of their agenda despite divisions within the party and nervousness among moderates that the vote could cost them in next year's elections.
I'll see to it that it costs you, Congressman Walsh.
To all you rich readers of my blog...
11/17/2005 10:59:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I have sad news, my digital camera is doing nothing but saying E18. Which I imagined correctly, was not good. It means that my lens mechanism is damaged, and to repair it, I would have to send it halfway across the country and pay to have someone tell me what is wrong with it. Given the camera's repair cost to the replacement cost, about 1/2. I have decided that I will have to suck it up and get a new camera. While saving for it, I will be unable to post beautiful pictures of window trim and insulation and the like... I know that that breaks all of your hearts.

Just in case there is a fantastically rich reader of my blog, that can't live a few weeks without my photo posts, I am putting up my amazon wish list on the side. Don't worry I am not getting too big of a head that I think that I can start soliciting donations... but hey you never know, maybe it is Bill G. that has that ISP in Medina, WA...
Eating local - $10 a week can make a difference
11/17/2005 10:11:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I found another upstate blog Rural Life 2.0, through another blog I stumbled across on sustainability/local food in Syracuse and Central NY: Cookin in the Cuse. Here that NYCO, some more CNY blogs have been discovered. (I knew there had to be more of us out there...)

They both draw attention to a challenge from Food Routes to pledge to spend $10 per week on locally produced food.
When you purchase local food, you'll get a wealth of benefits. You'll get exceptional taste and freshness, strengthen your local economy, support family farms, safeguard your family's health, and protect the environment.

[snip]

Remember, every little bit helps:

A recent study in Maine shows that shifting just 1% of consumer expenditures to direct purchasing of local food products would increase farmers' income by 5%. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) estimates that by encouraging Maine residents to spend just $10/week on local food, $100,000,000 will be invested back into farmers' pockets and the Maine economy each growing season.

Think how many local communities would benefit if everyone in the U.S. spent just $10 a week on local food.

There are many farms locally that sell directly to the consumer. Don't know of one near you? Go to the Farmer's market on Saturday's in Syracuse or find one in your community.

Personal anecdote time:
Due to a recent stomach ailment, I have decided to shift my focus from the greening of my home to the greening of my stomach for the next several weeks. I have been perusing organic/health food stores, such as the Syracuse Real Food Co-op (great website and blog too). I purchased some fair trade coffee there, as well as fresh organic garlic and lemons for a roasted lemon-garlic chicken with rosemary springs from my better half's plant. The people working there were very nice and I highly recommend it. Discounts are available to those who join the co-op and work a few hours a month.

I also shopped the surprisingly extensive organic section of Wegman's grocery. I had seen the pricy organic fruits, veggies, and herbs in the vegetable section, but never ventured down the aisles filled with most anything natural or organic that you could wish for. Wegman's and myself don't always get along (I never did hear back from them), but I have to admit that I was very pleased at the variety and selection of the organic and natural foods stocked.

I will be attempting to eat primarily organic food over the next 3 weeks, which will be a big change to my diet. I know that this may be old news to many of you, who eat much more "green" than I have been... I will post and let you know of my adventures. I will say that already I have been leaning - GASP - towards a more veggie and grain based diet. (Yes I know I just talked about roasted chicken!) This will be more an adventure than putting those windows in!

p.s. it is the first real snow of the season tonight.
Wal*Mart revisited (the topic that is)
11/15/2005 10:18:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Well I've had a little time for the outrage and bile to subside after seeing the WalMart Movie. I have been thinking how I would approach the subject on my blog today, because I didn't want to turn it into a review of the movie, nor a bullet-point review of what I saw. I still encourage everyone that has shopped at or will consider shopping at WalMart to see a screening of it, or to get their hands on the DVD. I guess I will just give my $0.02, and if you would like to discuss more or disagree with me, leave me a comment, and we'll keep the conversation going.

A couple of interesting facts from the movie (paraphrased):
  • The Walton family has only given 1% of their wealth to charity, while Bill Gates has given something like 57%.
  • The Walton family had a WWIII style bunker constructed after 9-11, and plans to meet there if there is a breakdown in society.
  • There is enough empty walmart buildings (that the company relocated out of) to provide classroom space for over 500,000 students.
  • Walmart considers full time employment at 28 hours a week, which leaves the associate with a yearly salary of under 13,000 dollars.
  • Walmart (at one time, and possibly to this day) encourages it's poorer workers to apply for goverment assistance with medical and food stamps.
  • The cost of the corporate jet fleet (each year) is over 125 million dollars.
While searching for the facts for my list I found this page on the WalMart Movie's website that gives all of the (disgusting) facts.

My $0.02:

Walmart is a company that goes against everything that I have come to believe over the past year. It destroys local businesses and main street economies. It is a "serviceless" retailer, in a "service" economy. Very few employees if any, can impart knowledge or wisdom to customers regarding the products that they sell.

The store and shopping experience provides a buffer or shield from the tremendous labor and enviromental cost of the goods that they provide. There is no focus on quality, durability, or necessity of the products sold - only cost. We have not shaken our dependence on slave labor that fueled the early American economy. Yes, the slaves have been freed within our borders, they now just take the form of cheap oil and Asian and Central American "workers" who toil for 12-16 hours daily and live in pitiful conditions.

On the US side, workers are kept below the poverty level, and forced in many cases to return much of their paycheck to the very store that they work at to provide food and goods for their family. Haven't I heard that business model before?
When an operator was unable to expand his mining capacity or the volume of his sales, he would increase the number of his miners. This would so cut each man's working time and earnings that it left no surplus to spend outside the camp.

"I loaded sixteen tons and what do I get
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter don't call me cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store."
(Merle Travis)
What was that saying about history repeating itself? It disgusts me that the companies biggest customer base are those that can afford no more than Walmart provides. It is a self fullfilling prophecy.

The part that gets me the most, is the loss of the soul of towns and cities as Main St dissolves, and local businesses shutter their windows and doors. No one thinks to go to the local hardware store to get a box of screws, then to the bakery to get a loaf of bread, and then to the toy store to pick up a toy for Johnny's birthday party. We want it all, and we want it all at once. Downtown used to provide all of these things in one place, now the remaining mom and pop stores lie scattered throughout the area. The mall and WalMart Superstore provide a canned replacement for the downtown of old.

What can you do? Oppose the building of new WalMart stores in your area, and push local representatives to help provide a living wage for workers, through organizations such as Walmart Watch.

If you are lower-middle to upper-middle class, you have a choice and you can "vote with your dollar." Frequent local businesses and search out products that are made in the USA. Avoid WalMart and other big box retailers, and opt for independent grocers, hardware stores, local appliance retailers, and community supported agriculture. Yes you may get less "phalanges per dollar", but you will get improved service, quality, and a good feeling knowing that you are supporting local businesses in your community and the families that own them.

Take a walk or short drive and list the businesses in your immediate area on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Keep this list or refer to your phonebook for local retailers when you have to make your next purchase, or need a particular service performed. And if you can, by all means, stay out of WalMart.
Going to the Walmart Movie free screening tonight
11/14/2005 06:15:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Going to go to the recently renovated Palace Theatre in Eastwood tonight to see The Walmart Movie: The High Cost of Low Price.

Should be interesting:
WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE is a feature length documentary that uncovers a retail giant's assault on families and American values.

The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight a goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide healthcare for her two small children. A Missouri family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A mayor struggles to equip his first responders after Wal-Mart pulls out and relocates just outside the city limits. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins!

Producer/Director Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films take you on an extraordinary journey that will change the way you think, feel -- and shop.

We have wanted to see the Palace too!

UPDATE (9:30pm):
I am going to vomit. Then I am never ever going to shop at WalMart again. If you read this blog, you owe it to yourself to hunt down a screening of this movie, or host a screening yourself. You will never shop at WalMart again. I mean it.

I will have to gather my thoughts before I post more on this issue. My wife and a good friend of mine went with me, I was the only one that had any idea what we were walking into. My friend was happy that I took her to it, but pissed because she was so fired up about it.



[if you are local, watch news10now, for a rare glimpse of baloghblog speaking out in public. Updated with video]
This is the kind of "friendly wager" I'd like the mayor to make
11/10/2005 03:31:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
TownOnline.com:
Barnstable and Falmouth are in competition again.
This time the traditional Thanksgiving football rivals will be competing on the grid rather than the gridiron.
On Nov. 2, Barnstable Town Manager John Klimm and Falmouth Town Administrator Robert Whritenour met in Barnstable Town Hall to announce that they have engaged in a friendly wager as to which town will get 3 percent of its residents to sign on the Cape Light Compact Green clean energy program by the end of the year. The first one to meet its goal wins.
If Barnstable wins, four Barnstable residents will win a round of golf at Falmouth Country Club. Should Falmouth win, four Falmouth residents will be treated to a specially prepared Barnstable "Bounty from the Sea" meal.
Maybe newly re-elected Mayor Driscoll can make the same wager with the mayors of Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany. We don't need to wait for DestinyUSA to start making CNY greener.
Why is the title of this article "Crazy"???

Is it "crazy" that someone would use alternative green energy to provide 65-70% of their family farm's energy needs?

Jim Mather is no different than most people he's disgusted with high energy costs.

In addition to regular conservation methods, Mather would like to build a windmill on his 100-acre farm in the town of Marcellus.

The town, with no guidelines for building windmills, has scheduled a public hearing for 7:15 tonight to establish a six-month moratorium on windmill construction.

"I expected it," Mather said. "They are totally justified. We all want things to happen instantly but nothing happens instantly."

Safety is the major issue, Mather said. That also was the flavor of remarks from town board officials.

"There are some controversial issues," town attorney Mike Cogswell said. "There's the visual. Evidently, they make a racket.

"And there's the safety issue."

[snip]

Mather said hevisited a small farm in Moravia that has a unit like the one he wants.

"They're very happy," Mather said. Those farmers think the windmill will pay for itself in seven years; the manufacturer suggests a 10-year payback period.

"And I was within 500 feet of their windmill and didn't hear any noise," he said.

This particular windmill has fewer moving parts than most and has a good warranty, Mather said. "It seems to be the most efficient."

The windmill would take care of 65 percent to 70 percent of the electric needs of the farm. More, Mather said, if the family conserves.

I understand that having a windmill on a neighbor's property may cause some concern, if you lived in a row home! This guy has a 100 acre farm! I hope that the town will do the research it needs to do and allow windmills for energy production. I never quite understood the aesthetics question of windmills. Are they ugly? I always thought that they kinda looked peaceful.

I think that Kunstler was right, that many battles will ensue as people begin to challenge the status quo in their communities, and zoning boards will be the grounds for many green issues. Hopefully by the time you read this Syracuse.com will have changed the title of this article. Crazy?
Insulating My Water Heater
11/09/2005 09:05:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Or, how I turned my hot water tank into a big (energy efficient) marshmallow.

US Department of Energy:
Insulate Your Water Heater Tank for Energy Savings:

Unless your water heater's storage tank already has a high R-value of insulation (at least R-24), adding insulation to it can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%. This will save you around 4%–9% in water heating costs.

If you don't know your water heater tank's R-value, touch it. A tank that's warm to the touch needs additional insulation.

Insulating your storage water heater tank is fairly simple and inexpensive, and it will pay for itself in about a year. You can find pre-cut jackets or blankets available from around $10–$20. Choose one with an insulating value of at least R-8. Some utilities sell them at low prices, offer rebates, and even install them at a low or no cost.

First I insulated the copper pipes with Polyethylene.

Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature 2ºF–4ºF hotter than uninsulated pipes can deliver, allowing for a lower water temperature setting. You also won't have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water.

Insulate all accessible hot water pipes, especially within 3 feet of the water heater. It's also a good idea to insulate the cold water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet.

Use quality pipe insulation wrap, or neatly tape strips of fiberglass insulation around the pipes. Pipe sleeves made with polyethylene or neoprene foam are the most commonly used insulation. Match the pipe sleeve's inside diameter to the pipe's outside diameter for a snug fit. Place the pipe sleeve so the seam will be face down on the pipe. Tape, wire, or clamp (with a cable tie ) it every foot or two to secure it to the pipe. If you use tape, some recommend using acrylic tape instead of duct tape.

slides right over existing pipe, just cut to length:


pressed into place and then taped up with duct tape: (yes that is my thumb)


Ozone friendly? I guess so, that's what the label says...


Next I moved on to the insulating "blanket", which I wrapped around the water heater and cut to length. It cut easily with my trusty swiss army knife.

Nude water heater:


There was just enough tape to make it fit on there:


Finished product, note that the electrical components are kept uncovered:

(The BIG marshmallow!)

Here is a close up of the top, again left uninsulated according to directions because it is a gas water heater. Note the insulated hot water pipe leaving the top is now all taped and insulated as well:


I hope to save money on our natural gas portion of the energy bill, by this insulation and by reducing the setting on the thermostat. I was shocked to see that it was on full blast high setting. That was quickly remedied! We will test out the level that it is now and make adjustments higher or lower depending on comfort.

Shaving at minimum 10-15% off of last winters energy bill is my goal. We are attempting to do this by:
  • reducing thermostat on heat to 68 degrees on our programmable thermostat when we are home and down to 62 degrees during the day when we are not.
  • installing low-e energy star windows, and insulating around them
  • wrapping hot water tank and hot water pipes as above
The windows are an ongoing large project, but this was an inexpensive quick way to increase your homes energy efficiency. I completed the whole thing in about 1 hour, and I highly recommend it if you own.

Given the fact that our EnergyGuide was written in 1994, I suspect that this water heater is at least 10 years old. With a average life-span of 13 years, there are only a few good years left in it. At that time I'll replace with a more energy efficient Energy Star model, or, if we are going to stay in this home for the long haul - an on-demand hot water heater.
Blog update
11/08/2005 09:31:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
thinking about playing around with the template again soon. I want to put in my own picture on the header, and was thinking of going with this... or some form of it. (not sure about the font yet)



now, how the hell do I do that?

Anybody? Bueller?
Syracuse = Big Sky Country? Beautiful sky country at least!
11/08/2005 03:47:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

Sepia filtered sky on the way home.


sans filter...
SU announces L.E.E.D. certified Dormitory Project
11/08/2005 03:22:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Post-Standard:

Syracuse University is growing greener.

The university plans to announce Wednesday that it will join eight organizations to come up with ways to protect the environment. The plans call for constructing buildings that don't harm the environment and integrating so-called green principles throughout their organizations.

At SU, the announcement will mean that all new construction or renovation projects totaling $10 million or more will follow U.S. Green Building Council guidelines and seek the council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, Chancellor Nancy Cantor said.

[snip]

The announcement follows SU's creation of a new Energy Council, made up of SU and State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry campus members. The group, which plans its kick-off meeting Wednesday, hopes to educate the campus community about energy issues, including green power.

In July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named SU to its Top 25 Green Power Partners. The list recognized SU's voluntary commitment to buy at least 20 percent of its electricity in the form of renewable energy. SU tied for 23rd with Santa Monica, Calif.

[snip]

Building green is a matter of education and priorities, not just money, Fedrizzi said. Some factors to consider when planning a new project include the position of the building slab in relation to the sun, incorporating natural lighting throughout the building, and using geothermal systems under the floor, he said.

Officials from the Syracuse Center of Excellence and Energy Systems, a consortium of institutions led by SU, plan to seek the highest rating awarded by the Green Building Council for its proposed $26.5 million headquarters at East Water and Almond streets in Syracuse. The building may have bike racks, so people could bike rather than drive there, and may use environmentally friendly biofuels, architects have said.

Great to see SU taking the "LEED" so to speak in green building in Syracuse. (yes I am overtired and that was a lame attempt at a joke).

What I should have said:
Shorter Nancy Cantor: 'we don't need to wait for DestinyUSA, we'll show Destiny how to get it done.'
Updated: P.E.A.C.E. working to expand winterization program
11/07/2005 10:44:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
UPDATE: Posted from the comments:
phil said... It might be a great idea, but the implementation (as usual in this town) is severely lacking. The weatherization program from NYS is run in each county by the local Community Action Program--PEACE, Inc. in Onondaga. They do a fairly good job--energy audit, some insulation and some other small repairs.

The problem is the YEAR AND A HALF WAITING LIST. This is only one of many programs for low/moderate income families with long waits. Try negotiating any of the programs to help families with loans to make serious home repairs (roofs, foundations, plumbing etc.)

This program got the publicity in the paper because the Gifford Foundation paired up with a small local non-profit to provide funding for a very small number of families in a tiny neighborhood on the Southside (about 5 square blocks). The foundation money allow these families to jump the queue and get their work done now.

Explain to the families on the outside of this boundary why they have to wait 18 months.
It's a shame that this program suffers from bureaucracy. Perhaps if more light were shed on the issue, a few more dollars might be allocated and the waiting list would shorten.

Original post:

I didn't know that they were doing this in our area, but I think that it is a great idea.

Syracuse.com:

Alexander Williams is trying to restore his home on Syracuse's South Side to top-notch condition.

It's a task made easier by the more than $4,000 worth of work being done on the house for free by P.E.A.C.E. Inc.

The work which includes insulation being blown into the walls and a new energy-efficient refrigerator is part of P.E.A.C.E.'s weatherization program.

"This helps a lot, especially with heating costs going up the way they are," said Williams, who lives on South State Street. "With the energy savings, I will have more money in my pocket to do other work."

Williams' home was the backdrop for an announcement Wednesday that P.E.A.C.E. is expanding its program through a partnership with the Rosamond Gifford Charitable Corp. and a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

P.E.A.C.E. generally spends about $1.4 million a year to winterize 330 homes.

The $200,000 will allow the agency to do an additional 44 homes this year, said Ray Yehle, director of P.E.A.C.E. Inc.'s home energy program.

[snip]

Yehle said the average American spends about 3 percent of his or her income on energy, whereas lower-income Americans spend about 14 percent.

"That's a reflection of the fact that they have less income, so they are spending a higher percentage, and also that lower-income people tend to live in the worst housing stock," Yehle said.

"This place, for instance," Yehle said while pointing to Williams' State Street home, "probably has never been insulated. The amount of energy it takes to heat a place like that can be extraordinary."

Williams said Yehle was right.

"It has never been insulated," Williams said. "It is going to make a big difference."

5 out of 6 windows in
11/06/2005 10:11:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Although not fully installed with outside trim, yet. I got a little worried with the severe weather that came thru the area today. Beautiful prior to that, over 70 degrees for November? Must be a record for Syracuse.

Better entries coming soon, I swear. I'll have plenty of time when the snow starts flying.

More Lake Ontario, where I tend to be spending more of my time on the road lately:


and a beatiful wispy sky on the way home Friday:
signs of the apocalypse
11/04/2005 03:46:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
There is now a Children's Pepto-Bismol.

You know, for your obese child that just wolfed down his third piece of pizza. You'd be a bad parent to let him suffer with heartburn.

sorry no posts...
11/03/2005 05:27:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
taking advantage of the wonderful dry weather we've been having here. I am up to window #3 installed. 1 bathroom (smaller) window to go and then outside and inside trim, and I am going to be toasty for the winter. The windows are already working well, it dropped down to 33 deg last night and the windows kept all the drafts out.

Today, the windows are open and letting in a beatiful breeze... Indian summer as they say around here.

I'll leave you with a few pics:


$2.50/gal again. Phew, we need a break from $3.00/gal gas.


This guy is a bigger boob than he thinks.


Coming soon to a northeastern climate near you.