When I’m home, I read the news. I probably shouldn’t because it makes me angry. So, howzit doing out there? I read where Assault Weapons have been removed from the bill to Ban Assault Weapons.  Guess the gun lobby won. Hmmm!  Why am I not surprised?

And, lets see, what was accomplished after our ten-year war with Iraq? 600,000 Iraqi civilians killed, about the same number of Iraqi children homeless; over 4,000 Americans killed with 30,000 wounded, maimed, mentally impaired. A stronger Iran, more intelligent, and highly trained terrorists with more sophisticated weaponry. Staggering cost of war of $3,000,000,000 dollars and another $3,000,000,000 in medical costs for vets yet to come; Oh, and an increased hostility to Americans around the world. Wow!  What a minus -zero accomplishment that is.

Guess we have to look at China for any good news. Washington has been tracking the Chinese Government’s stunning example of solar cooking on a large-scale. China funds parabolic sun cookers and uses carbon credit trading to encourage investors to become involved. This is not small-scale at the village level. It is a valuable resource that can significantly reduce global carbon emissions because it reduces the use of coal cookers and deforestation. It cuts fuel use by 30 to 50 per cent. Pretty nifty.

Everyone I introduce to solar cooking is awed by its ease of use. You can substitute one of the bubbly, fake aluminum windshield screens as a cooker. They work, but aren’t stable if it is windy. And, we take our fresh water for granted. Much of the world needs to pasteurize water before drinking it. Voila! The solar pasteurization kit.

The sun, it keeps on shining.

 

FROM INDONESIA AND BEYOND

October 6, 2012

I had an opportunity to meet Mike and Irene Boylson-Perbal from Mokelumne Hill. Irene offered a gourmet Indonesian dinner,  and since I have a connection to Indonesia, I was delighted to have such an opportunity. I’ll explain our connection, briefly. My student, Linda Djamaludin stayed with our family for a year in 1986. She is Muslim. Anytime you connect with another culture, you learn something; it changes your perspective and changes you.

My friend, Carol Gordon accompanied me and I must apologize for my out of focus pictures. My little “purse” camera does not do well without a flash-my error to have turned it off. Anyway, Carol hosted a student from South Africa the same year Linda lived with my family.

Meeting Mike and Irene for the first time, and getting to know each other, over the course of the evening, made me realize, we evolve. I’m not the same person I was in 1986. We live several lifetimes, we go out into the world, and change. We change each other and hopefully change our world to be a little better than what we found. I found that true of Mike and Irene and Carol, too. Kind of a Buddhism concept, before the afterlife.

We covered so many subjects, travel, books, politics, cultures, military, solar cooking, poverty in America and developing countries, it was an invigorating evening.  Mike is a serious and avid reader of politics and history, and philosophy.  He is retired military with a varied and applied life through two wars, WWII and Korea. He spent gobs of time in France and speaks some French and enjoyed a stellar career.

Irene is Dutch, and most of her family is from Indonesia and Belgium. As a child, her family secretly protected Jews and her father was hauled off to a Nazi prison camp and never seen again. A world traveler, she speaks many languages and her major project is spreading the word about solar cooking. She is active with Jackson Rotary and won for them the prize awarded by Rotary International for the best International Project with her solar cooking demonstrations and teachings.

While our wonderful Indonesian dinner of Nasi Goreng, Ajam Ketjap, Sajoer Lodeh and Boeboer Mango, (colored rice, Chicken in soy, beans in coconut milk, mango custard) and plain old American wine was the focus of the evening, we were all over the world instead.

Mike and Irene have hammocks from countries that grow colored cotton.  This orangey-pink hammock is not dyed.

Jewelry made from all natural products, including the tagua nut which is hard and beautiful and carveable. It is called vegetable ivory. I had never heard of it  before.

But I was most fascinated with Irene’s work with solar. She has traveled to other countries and demonstrated solar cookers. I love my solar oven and little hot-pot. I’ve gotten others to use solar ovens locally. But Irene does this in a big way.

The question she is asked most often, is:  What do you do when the sun doesn’t shine?” She introduces them to the hay basket and the rocket stove.  I knew that countries like India, African countries, Guatemala, South American countries that have pockets of deep poverty, where propane is expensive and wood becoming scarce and water in need of pasteurization can be solved with the sun. The rocket stove, an insulated pipe will cook food with very little scrap fuel. And another alternative: if you heat your food boiling hot and then cover the pan and sink it into a basket of hay and cover it over, it will continue to cook and be ready to eat when you return from work, thus using minimal fuel. Wonderful survival techniques. But even more impressive, Irene presented to her Rotary group poverty in America. At first they didn’t want to believe it. But, what does someone do who is living on the streets or in a vacant lot or in their car?  How can they cook food? Using solar. She reaches out in her own community and changes it for the better. And, there is that type of poverty in our own counties, we just don’t see it.   Mike and Irene are two fascinating people and I am thrilled to have met them, learned new things and enjoyed a wonderful evening.

We stood for a few fleeting minutes and enjoyed a lovely sunset. Carol and I hated to leave for home.

Taos, New Mexico – Day 3

September 16, 2012

The motorhome is currently parked at the Fraternal Order Of Eagles Airee #3849. I expect to be here for several days.

On Friday, my first full day on Taos, I decided take the Bronco and backtrack a few miles. Heading West on U.S. Highway 64 I started across the about 20 mile-wide Taos Plateau…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…

The only problem that you cannot see from the above photo is a 650 foot hole in the ground created by the Rio Grande River. If it wasn’t for the Gorge Bridge it would be challenging to cross.

I took the following photos of the bridge and gorge in the watercolor painting mode because I liked them better than in the normal picture mode. It makes them look like old-fashioned postcards…

Looking at the bridge from a southwest view point…

Looking across the bridge roadbed east back towards Taos…

Looking south at the river gorge…

Looking east along the side of the bridge and gorge…

Looking straight down at the river 650 feet below…

Looking north at the river gorge…

You can read all about this bridge by clicking this Wikipedia informational link…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_Grande_Gorge_Bridge

Back in the normal picture mode, I drove about 1.5 miles west of the bridge to visit the site of the Greater World Earthship Community. It’s a subdivision of homes built with natural recycled materials, solar thermal heating, solar and wind electric power, water harvesting, contained sewerage treatment and food production. It’s called sustainable living.

This is the visitors center…

This wall is made of bottles, tires, concrete and adobe…

A look through the bottom of one of the bottles…

and another…

Here are some other views…

You can read all about these Earthships by clicking this link…
http://www.earthship.com/

If you have not checked out my new Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…
http://ramblinmanphotos.wordpress.com/

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

This year, the Obama administration moved to streamline the development of large-scale solar projects on public lands by approving vast tracts across the West  identified as the highest generating potential with the fewest environmental impacts. These sites were identified after the results of an environmental impact report.  An area of 285,000 acres, with sites in Nevada, Colorado, Utah, California, Arizona and New Mexico are in the works.  Jim and I saw one of those massive solar plants  being built in New Mexico earlier in the year.  We wondered why it was out in the middle of no-where. We didn’t know about the way the sites were chosen. Anyway, net result is clean power and jobs, jobs, jobs.

When I had my solar installed, there was a handful of people installing under rigid inspections and rules to make sure there was no space for failure during the process. Now I could choose from 600 different solar producers and as many installers. The rigid inspection process is still that way. I’m investigating solar for a rental because costs have come down so far.

And, we get enough electricity from wind power for 13 million homes. The energy department predicts  that by 2030, we could get 20 percent of our energy from the wind, about as much as we now get from nuclear power plants.

But progress on wind power is in jeopardy because Congress  has yet to renew an important incentive set to expire at the end of this year. It is called the production tax credit, or PTC,  Without it orders for wind turbines are likely to stall, impeding our transition away from coal. The wind industry employs over 37,000 Americans, and we need to keep those jobs, jobs, jobs.

The PTC was instituted by the George H.W. Bush administration, a sensible policy where anyone who operates a wind turbine or solar biomass, or other type of renewable power plant that produces a significant level of electricity to the commercial grid, receives a federal tax credit of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power it produces for the first ten years of its life. It got renewed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package of 2009.

Two Republicans, Representative David Reichert, and Senator Chuck Grassley have sponsored versions to renew it through 2016 in the house, and 2014 in the senate. Neither measure  has come up for a vote but it is already being heavily lobbied against by the fossil fuel industries.

As a political pessimist, I fear the worst, and hope I’m wrong.  Wind generation is actually competitive in price with the energy produced by NEW coal plants and in my opinion no NEW coal plants should  be issued permits until they can reduce industrial pollution to an acceptable level. Coal plants actually cause deaths from their mercury, soot and carbon emissions, not to mention death to fish in streams.  Wind and solar save our planet from tons and tons of carbon emissions, a clean air benefit for everybody.

THIS HEADLINE WAS IN THE WASHINGTON POST YESTERDAY MORNING:

Security lapses at nuclear site found before break-in
Security problems at Y-12 nuclear complex were identified in classified reports nearly two years before three activists broke into the facility where weapons-grade uranium is stored.
( by Dana Priest , The Washington Post)

After the Japanese disaster, and the huge up front government subsidies to build nuclear power plants (way over the small PTC tax credits), and proven vulnerability of nuclear power plants,  why would we as a responsible nation even consider building more nuclear power plants? The cost to run them  per watt exceeds that of wind and solar. The volatile nature of Uranium, its storage and no ability to render it harmless, are an ever-present danger. In a nuclear plant disaster, the cost to bring it back on-line, if it could be repaired at all, is billions.

If you add into the equation the affects of climate change on hydro power,  wind and solar seem like an even better bet. Check the link below.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/climate-change-challenges-power-plant-operations/2012/09/09/42b26b8e-f6a5-11e1-8b93-c4f4ab1c8d13_story.html

And, don’t get me started on fracking. What a dismal proposal that is. I hope you are listening Obama and Canada.

 

Things are far more complicated than they seem, certainly more complicated than I’m capable of imagining.

I try to buy whatever I need made in America and  avoid buying stuff made in China, nearly impossible in my community. We don’t have the variety of shopping options that city people do. And, I’m a solar nut. I love it, I’m delighted that California leads the nation in solar installations and even without taking the subsidies away from big oil, solar is booming. Now, listen to this:

Solar is booming because cheap panels are coming from China. That leads to competition. Solar panels made in the USA, Germany and Japan are still available and China has forced prices down everywhere.  Since we have a trade deficit with China, it is nice to see it benefit us in such a big way.  American installers are doing a brisk business and we are moving toward sustainable energy because  clean technology is almost as cheap as dirty fossil fuels. The US and the European Union are threatening to stifle this breakthrough. So, how?

Both the US and EU give billions in taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil and Coal. Do they turn those subsidies to clean energy?  No, they are about to drive solar prices back up by putting tariffs on China and China is threatening to retaliate?  Oh, let’s have a trade war. Who would benefit by hurting the burgeoning, green solar industry?  The oil and coal industry, of course. I’m not saying we don’t need oil, I’m just saying we shouldn’t subsidize it anymore. Why not turn those subsidies into clean energy. The oil companies rake in billions in profits and we still subsidize them?  Enough is enough.

I’d rather see them rescind the whole trade agreement than tariff solar. China has a poor human rights record and they supply us with our own stuff at cheaper prices. I read in Smithsonian Magazine where one expert claims that “Every major company in the United States has already been penetrated by China.”  He also fears they have implanted logic bombs , trapdoors and Trojan horses in our electronics, l that can be activated on command like a cyber-Pearl Harbor attack. That may be fear mongering, but we certainly stand to lose our competitive edge. Our F-35 Bomber technology- important and our early American quilt patterns- irritating.

The farm industry in the U.S. has been facing declining beef and pork consumption in the U.S.  Now, land grabs for grazing land are being taken over to keep beef flowing to Asian countries. Yup!  They take our electronics, steal or buy our technology, and now we export our food to them.

China has a poor human rights and environmental record, and its strategy of flooding the global market with subsidised goods is annoying and costly to jobs. The best thing is not to blame China, but to aggressively entreat our leaders to subsidize US solar manufacturers with cheap loans just like China does. We should learn from their practices.

Experts predict that tariffs could cost 60,0000 US jobs. So, cheaper panels provide more work for people. Forget the tariff. It only sounds like a good answer.

More information:


NYT — “U.S. Slaps High Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels”

Bloomberg – “U.S. Solar Tariffs On Chinese Cells May Boost Prices”
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-17/u-s-solar-tariffs-on-chinese-cells-may-boost-prices.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/18/business/energy-environment/us-slaps-tariffs-on-chinese-solar-panels.html?pagewanted=all

The day before yesterday, I was delivered two Warriors T-shirts and two souvenir basketballs for tonight’s game with the NETS at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. I’d like someone to use the free tickets, so, anyone local, who wants them, call me. I’m in the phone book.  I hate to see these box suite tickets go to waste. I tried to give them to an Oakland friend, but he wasn’t interested. I didn’t think about anyone around me until this morning. Anyway, here they are for the asking.

The reason I got them is because Mark Danenhower, of The Solar Company, was selected as the solar installer for the Warriors practice facility and he has invited his former customers to a free game to celebrate. It is a huge contract and no one is more deserving than Mark.

Mark was a building contractor and solar was a newish enterprise  in 2003. He took the classes, signed up with the state, and got started. It was a tough change. Solar was expensive.   I got bids from two other installers. Neither one got up on my roof and measured it and checked to see where the roof trusses were located, like Mark did. They did everything on paper.  Since I had five brothers, a son, and a nephew  in the construction trades, I knew instantly I was in good hands with Mark.

I asked him how many installations he had done and he could have told me any number.  It was under five. I checked out everything, his insurance, the vendors he bought his panels from, I got ratings on the panels. He checked out tops on everything. I had faith in him and he used me many times for a reference after that.

I can attest to the fact that solar pays for itself. The price of PG&E continues to rise, but my electricity is practically free.  My installation took place late in 2004, my first bill was late in 2005. PG&E charges approximately 6.00  a month to read my meter. And, as I’ve purchased new electrical devices, electronics, mostly,  and a hot tub, etc. my use has gone up. My bill for a year, including meter fees was  178.41 in 2005.  It was 141.38 in 2008. It was 178.81 in 2010, my highest bill so far.

I did a video for our local Public Access Television Station entitled, “I Am My Own Power Company” , and I believe the statistics that show we could cut our carbon footprint in half  if  just 5% of buildings used solar. I’m so proud of the fact our new jail being built in Calaveras County includes solar. I prodded the new Mark Twain St. Joseph’s hospital to include solar when it was built several years ago.  What a wasted opportunity. They did not. We have one solar winery in county and many homes. If our local government would require all government buildings to use solar, what a difference it could make in our taxes.

Mark Danenhower only does solar now. He is available at 877.607.6527.   I don’t often promote businesses;  I’ve certainly trashed a few in this blog.  But, I’m proud to endorse TheSolarCom.com.

I’m currently parked at Slab City, an old deserted military base deep in the deserts of Southeastern California. I’ve been here numerous times and have written many Blog entries about Slab City. If you want to see some of them…look in the past years archives in December. For a general understanding of Slab City…just enter those two words in your Internet Search Box and you’ll find several sites describing this most unusual place. I’m here to upgrade our solar system on the motorhome, for which I have an 8:30 AM appointment this morning.

While here I’m parked directly in front of my friend Leo’s motorhome. I thought you might enjoy to see some of the photos during our about 45 minute walk yesterday morning. As always, you may click on the photos to see them in an enlarged view and then click on them once again to see an even larger view.

About one-half hour before sunrise I stuck my head out of the driver’s side motorhome window and took this photo of Leo’s front yard under a full moon…

We left right at sunrise  and shortly thereafter cast long early morning shadows upon the desert floor…

Two of the motorhomes in the distance are ours…

Leo’s is center left and mine is center right in this zoom shot…

A graded road makes for easier walking…

Leo’s Doberman Deja’ can be seen in this photo of a gaily painted deserted military base water tank…

The Slabs has quite a nice pet cemetery…

A close-up of one of the graves…

Oh, I almost forgot to show you last night’s sunset…

And a few minutes later…

It’s really peaceful and quiet here miles away from any city. During the night one can only occasionally hear the long mournful sound of a diesel train passing about three miles away…and the beautiful sounds of the coyotes howling at the Moon!

And speaking of the Moon…how about a full Moon rising photo…

Now…that’s something to howl about!!!

It’s a lousy job…but someone’s got to do it!  :)

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

Yesterday I Did A BM…

October 29, 2011

Every six months…more or less…during the months of April and October…it’s time for me once again to do Battery Maintenance.  This is a photo of our coach batteries. They are connected to the large solar panel on the roof where the sun keeps them fully charged when we are parked. They are two six-volt golf cart batteries wired in series to produce 12 volts which power all of the 12 volt devices on board. They are located under a cover of the entrance steps to the motorhome…

The battery maintenance process involves cleaning the batteries and connections of any residues of grime and accumulated battery acid build-up. Once the batteries are cleaned then I usually have to add some distilled water to the battery cells. In addition to these two batteries I also do the engine-starting batteries on the motorhome, Bronco and Mary’s pick-up truck. I did such a good job of cleaning them six months ago that this time the process was accomplished in less than two hours. This type of preventative maintenance when accomplished while in a convenient working location prevents problems while out on the open road. It’s time well spent.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

Jim says:

Yesterday we drove motorhome the about 175 miles from Lake Havasu City, Arizona to Henderson, Nevada. I say we, but it was really me. Mary rode in the passenger seat. She’s very talented, she can read a book and take a nap at the same time…without losing her page!

Picture

Southwest of Boulder City, Nevada we passed by a huge solar power generating station.

Picture

Here’s a view from Google Earth…

Picture

From a distance along the road it looks like a lake, but they’re solar collectors…

Picture

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Here’s a Wikipedia link about this particular generating station…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevada_Solar_One

Here’s a photo of Las Vegas in the distance as taken from the highway in Henderson…

Picture

We’re parked next to her oldest son’s home in front of a neighbor’s house who are away.

Picture

.Mary’s oldest son Ken and his family, including Mary, watched the game. I retired to the motorhome and read a good book.

Picture

The Super Bowl holds not the slightest interest to me. If you are a regular follower of my Blog, you know I haven’t listened to the news in the last 14 years…and that’s just fine with me!

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

Jim says:

In yesterday’s Blog entry I ranted and raved about the U.S. Postal Service. and it was well deserved.

When I went to the Pensacola Post Office on Friday in search of my package and it wasn’t there…Sandy (who would be the only employee working there on Saturday), volunteered to call me if it came in. She did call and it did come in. Hallelujah!

Picture
Sandy – A service orientated postal employee.

The Priority Mail package that took five days from St. Louis, Missouri to Pensacola, Florida, a distance of 734 miles. I think it must have traveled by Mule-Express!

Back to the motorhome…time to install this puppy dog. Its function is to take the 20 volts created by the solar panel and reduce it to 14.1 volts so the coach batteries do not boil. Once the batteries are fully charged it shuts off the current flow. When I use the batteries for a function like watching TV, the controller once again allows the current to flow into the batteries until they reach full charge.

Picture
Not a very complicated device…just have to be sure to get the wires in the right connection.

It took about one-half hour to install properly. The reason it malfunctioned was because the original installer did not properly secure the wires to something stable. While bouncing down the road the wires jiggled around and broke the connector off of the circuit board. I’ve got the wires secured now and hopefully I’ll not have to deal with this issue again.

Picture
Installation complete…functioning properly.

Sandy retires in one year, two months and two weeks and wants to go RVing! Happy Trails, Sandy!

Thanks, Sandy for going out of your way to assist me!

Thanks to American Legion Post #240 in Pensacola, Florida for allowing me to park in their lot for the last 13 days while I took care of this matter.

I’ll be back on the road again soon.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

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