Sunday, January 21, 2007


Photo APOD

A round ball in a round orbit, the cycle of life.

Energy and the Environment, Sustainable growing, transportation and building practices.

Continue on.....


Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

I hope nobody got caught in the middle of a bumpy ride and every thing lands softly for the new threads to load faster for dialup.

deb said...

Thanks're the MAN!!!

I didn't realize how disconnected from reality one can become without a pc. It is VERY difficult to find out what is really happening without a pc.

I do love my C-Span, though...and actually picked up the phone to call the new set in DC to offer support and encouragement.

I posted down on the suggestions thread earlier this morning about my pc problems...but I will figure it out as I get the time...and will be catching up when I can.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Whenever you guys have the time, here are some interesting documentaries to watch:

Happiness Machines

dan said...

Christin, thanks for the link. I'll check it out soon.

dan said...

Here's an update on Deb's PC problem. Now she can't even launch "internet explorer". She e'd me an asked me to pass along that she's going to be sending her PC to the mfg. for repairs and she may be out of touch for awhile. :-(

Richard Yarnell said...

This evening, Discover Channel is airing a prospective discussion of, among other things, urban planning as it is envisioned in 2057.

I have no idea whether it will be any good, but the fact that there is some discussion on the table can't hurt.

John G. said...

"Urban planning"
Funny you should post this. Several counties in Ga. are now suspending licenses for mfg. housing until new zoning restrictions are developed.
The pros say they want to increase the tax base and prevent their counties from becoming "trailer parks" The cons say they are pushing low income families out farther away from their homes and jobs which is nothing more than discrimination.
The county leaders and zoning officials pushing the restrictions are wealthy land owners or business leaders, The citizens opposing the restrictions are average wage earners with a long (some over 100 years) family history in the county.
The end result will probably be a few mfg. home dealers going out of business as well as many members of the community relocating.
Where do we draw the line between a community being represented by its tax base and its citizens?

Cheryl said...

That's a big question in a lot of communities now.
There was a recent Supreme Court decision that allowed eminent domain to seize property to increase the tax base.
I also heard about a trailor park in Florida that stopped a developer from taking their beach side property.

John G. said...

I would think community leaders would do what they were elected to do and lead by bringing in better paying industry so residents could afford to live in nicer homes. Zoning lower income families out just seems to easy.
After all, what most call "trailer parks" others call home.
They are building a new home across from my house and a few several doors up. The site seems so trashy and wasteful, not to mention loud.
A mfg home would have been brought in one afternoon while I was at work and probably been just as nice. If my neighbor ever got tired of the carpet or siding he could just hook a truck and swap homes.

Richard Yarnell said...

I'm trying this out, so be patient with me.

The following url should give you access to a "set" of 6 "photos"
(actually images generated by the Google SketchUp (free) program) of
the preliminary design for our passive/active solar house.

Assuming the link is active, you will see a medium size image on the left and more than one "thumbnail" images on the right. Click on the first thumbnail so that my description is displayed. If you want to view the next image, click on the next thumb.

We welcome comments. The project is still in flux. We're seeing the architect on Sunday. He disapproves of having the elevator on the Sunny South Side of the building and will try to have an alternative. We don't want to have useless hallways just to get to the thing. We'll see.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to
get better. It's not."

-Theodor Seuss Geisel, author and illustrator

dan said...

Richard, I'm anxious to see your house plans...I signed up at FlickR...but they say your photos aren't available. I'll keep trying the next couple days.
Good luck.

BTW, I heard from Deb and she's been so busy with getting her house built that she's just now sending in her pc for repair.

Richard Yarnell said...

Copy and past the url into your browser. Those aren't posted for public consumption. I think the url is what flickr calls a "guest pass."

dan said...

Thanks Richard. The plans look fascinating but I'm too tired to study them tonight. I love the program and look forward to taking a close look tomorrow.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Richard since I hope to be building a small 14’x 24’ cottage soon and in a few years a 1500ft2 house I am interested to see what you are doing.

You want questions here you go. No need to answer them all at once.

Designing and building a custom house takes time and a lot of thought. Do you think all your energy saving measures are adding a lot more time and thought needed into the design process?

Did you choose an architect with some experience in green building and design?

I wonder about the circular stairway that does not go to the mechanical room for security reasons. You have an elevator that goes to all three floors. You say there are what I assume are exterior entries at ground level for all three floors. Is this security so that if someone breaks in at the mechanical room they will not have access to the living areas except via the elevator which I guess can be locked at a lower floor? In a common break in this may make sense if they don’t come in a door on a different ground level. In a siege mentality security situation I would not want someone above me who can shut off all my power, cable, phone and electric and me be stuck downstairs.

It is hard for me to explain but there is something about the flow pattern through the house with all the doors on different sides of the house, elevator and circular stair that just doesn’t feel right? Maybe I have criminal tendencies and want better access.

How do you circulate the air from the greenhouse in the summer so you don’t overheat?

If you have to excavate 8 to 10 feet down to place the house in the hill doesn’t this put the whole pool, greenhouse, bedroom level below ground?

Do you have some what of a natural hill or elevation change to work with on the site?

Richard Yarnell said...

In order:

1) Yes, and that's a good thing. The more thought put into the design, the better the result. This is the fourth house on which I've been the principle designer. Each has gotten better; each has had the benefit of what went before, including the expert help I had with technical questions. And along with the technical, the design itself, from a livability point of view, improves.

I recommend the SketchUp routine, even if you only do a rough sketch, because you can place yourself in the house and walk around in it. You'll be astounded by how much you learn.

2) Yes. Interviewed three, rejected one on the basis of her greed, and chose a third despite a difficult courtship (he's busy) who had done a friend's green home.

3) It's not so much a fortress mentality as it is the difficulty in securing a spiral stair entry. I don't even lock the door around here unless I'm going off the property.

The mechanical room will have a lock on it as will the entrance to the storage floor.

4) The choice of doors at opposite ends of the house has to do with Universal Access. There are no stairs required to get into any level. And there's another practical aspect: we know why or who will come in on each level - to put it another way, where we'll be going when we go out each door. But, as in all things, compromise is involved. If I get around to it, you'll find that we've swapped ends on every floor. I built a topo model and found it was too much excavation to get the doors close to or on the surface of the ground. But that realization also revealed that having the kitchen/living room door on the West side is a better deal.

5) The greenhouse can be vented to the outside at the top. In fact, it will be vented through a duct that will run across the entire roof under the standing seam roofing on which the thin film collectors are glued. This will cool the collectors and the warm air will be ducted to the heat pump that will provide backup. (While I don't think it will be used much, without a conventional heating system, my heirs may find it hard to sell. Cheaper to put it in at this stage than to retro-fit.)

6) No, because the natural slope is to the SSE. The bottom of the greenhouse will be 3-4 feet below grade, but the louvers that will feed cool air in at the bottom of the greenhouse will be at grade.

7) Yup!

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

My designer's eye was having trouble placing the house into the hill even knowing the mechanical room is totally above ground because I can't divorce the house from the site.

The ground level entries for the two lower floors has me thinking about the slope of the hill outside the house and how do you get to those entries from the car parking, the garden, the cottage or anywhere else on the site.

To be universal access and to code will demand only a certain degree of slope for the paths that lead to these ground level entries. That will make these paths potentially a long distance over the face of this hill the house is in. I know you are on acreage so you have the room. I also know how lazy people are. They don't want to walk any further than necessary, particularly in inclement weather.

How are these universal entries going to interact with each other outside of the house? If I am gardening in my wheelchair at the mechanical room level and want to get to the greenhouse, how do I get there without going through the house?

Is this going to require a significant amount of retaining walls to hold the hill in place and make these universal entry paths possible?

That would seem to add a significant expense to the construction cost.

My designers eye can also see making such hardscaped terraced beds and paths on this hill very attractive.

Richard Yarnell said...

One of the reasons for having the entries on opposite ends of the house is to take advantage of the natural slope of the site.

After our very lengthy (read $) conference with the architect this afternoon, the three of us agreed to transpose the east end of the house (per the posted sketches) to the west end. The existing drive will be nearly on a level with the lower floor entry and, for that matter, the greenhouse entry. Any slope involved there is gentle.

Access from that drive and parking area to the second floor, and the one we will encourage visitors to use, will involve a somewhat greater slope, but one still negotiable by an electric scooter. Keep in mind that Universal Access standards only require access by chair to one entry, although they encourage access to more than one where possible.

Access to the third or storage floor is possible by elevator from in the house. I would guess that anyone in a chair, probably won't be engaged in getting things into storage. However, the slope of the path from the third level to the nearby studio will again be negotiable by chair or by someone using a walker. The intent of universal access is to make moving around a house possible. In some cases, this requires compromise. You'll notice that for the able bodied, there are short cuts: stairs directly into the greenhouse from two points and a circular stair between the lower and intermediate floors.

All in all, the site remains reasonable compact and any additional length to a path from one level to another will wind through and incorporate, a patio and one of two deciduous orchard plantings (pears, Hewes' crabapple, petite plums, persimmons and blueberries.

As for gardening at the storage level, unlikely since that is on the north side of the house, close to the boundary, both sides of which are populated by mature Doug Fir and Hemlock. The serious garden, other than the greenhouse, is below the house to the SE.

We're still working on the backfill and have agreed to abandon the original goal of completely earth sheltering the 2nd floor. The North wall will be a hybrid poured concrete and insulating block (akin to DuroCel - a mix of cement and wood fiber with each cell filled by an insulating insert and a reinforced concrete pour. From an engineering point of view, easier and therefor cheaper.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

The last segment on the NBC Nightly News this evening was on the disappearance of our bees. Beekeepers and environmental scientists are at a loss to explain why all the beekeepers hives are turning up empty. I was busy multi-tasking up until the very end of that segment, but I did absorb from it that humans would die off without bees.

Does anyone here have any theories on why the bees aren't showing up this year? I'm hoping they're just going to be a few weeks late like the start of all of our seasons have been over the past several years. Do you think it's possible that there could be a flaw in a mathematical theory involved in the calculation of the length of Earth's revolution around the Sun?

christin m p in massachusetts said...

This has to do with my question above... When the constellations have returned back to an exact position in the sky, is that our visible proof that a year has passed?

Richard Yarnell said...

Since, among other things, we keep bees and market honey, I think I can shed some light on this.

First, for all practical purposes, there are no feral bees left in North America. They have been decimated by a couple of viral diseases, a serious bacterial one, and by a non-native parasitic mite. Control, particularly of the mite, is difficult because you have to almost kill the bee to kill the mite and treatment can only be done when the bees are not making honey for harvest. In all three cases, the control is very expensive and the Varroa mite gains immunity to the miticides that prove effective. In a word, we're losing the battle.

Then, at times when our hives looked clean and free of disease, we had almost complete die-off. The first time that happened, I was not here. We assumed that someone had sprayed without telling us so that we could close the hives before the bees went foraging. We suspected poisoning because there were no dead bees in the hives. But it happened again the next year and the hives, and those of beekeepers we know, were not robust. Since it's the middle of winter and we don't have many bees overwintering (we used to, in our climate, overwinter 90% of our hives, now it may be 10% - an economic disaster for those whose livelihoods depend on bees.)

I should correct a misapprehension: bees, by and large, are not migratory. Bees do, however, reproduce by sending a queen and a portion of the workers and drones in an overpopulated hive, off to set up a new hive. Migratory colonies, in the trade, are those that are moved from place to place to provide pollination services during the flowering period of economic crops. We don't move our hives, but our neighbor regularly carts 500-1000 hives to California to pollinate almonds, plums, and one other crop.

Honey bees are, by no means, the only pollinators. Flies, wasps, hornets, spiders, birds, bats, butterflies, among other insects and the wind serve as pollinators. However, except for solitary bees that emerge for a short time to coincide with flowering of certain deciduous fruits, honey bees are easily managed and transported and are active so long as the weather is clement. They aren't particularly efficient at what they do, but because there are so many of them, they do eventually get the job done. (When we introduced our first couple of hives to our small lot in Portland, our neighbor's magnificent orchard tripled its yield. Without the itinerant beekeepers who are paid up to $75 per hive for putting their bees to work in a field during the flowering of a specific crop, yields of most commercial crops in California would drop below what is considered economical.)

One of the things that our notorious leader has done over the last six years has been to dismantle the 6 research stations that were striving to solve the mite problem and which would be invaluable dealing with whatever it is that's killing the bees now. Like all the other agriculture in our country, we tend to raise or keep bees commercially, is close quarters. But even if we didn't, bees can and do forage as much as 5 miles from their hives if the pickings are lean. There's a lot of mixing of colonies even though, for the most part, the girls tend to return to their own hive.

Whether we'll starve without bees, I don't know, but commercial agriculture and food production will be seriously hurt if they don't nail down a solution pretty soon.

Richard Yarnell said...

Regarding calculation of our orbit around the sun in an ongoing task and is not, to my knowledge, disputed. In fact, we're certain enough of the orbit that we can confidently parse time to billionths of a second. The fact that things that depend on this incredibly accurate calculation and measurement of time succeed in practical terms, suggests we're right.

As for knowing when the year (arbitrarily) begins, our position relative to other astronomical objects is one way to do it. As the power of our observational tools and understanding of the relationship of one object to another is refined, the calculations become more accurate.

Historically, man has relied on the Sun, Moon, with daily and montly periods easily charted and then the constellations or single stars which have an annual period, to keep time. We're just getting better at it.

Judy B. said...

Haven't had time to blog much lately, so will try to catch up some...
Richard, once (twice) again you have come up with some interesting information....
Reading your information on your building process is very interesting, so I hope you continue... I am doing a little remodeling (bathroom) right now, and all building information seeps into my builder library in my brain to come out at odd times... I will go to the other site when I have time and probably ask more questions... Christopher, your questions have been most useful...
Thankx to you both...
Aboout the bees... We normally buy Mason bees in the early spring to polinate the early blooming fruit trees (before the hoey bees appear), ... It is getting harder and harder to find Mason Bees to buy... Can you shed some light on that Richard?

Richard Yarnell said...

Once you buy this year's supply of Mason bees, and assuming you don't kill them with pesticide, you should be able to build your own "colony."

I would suggest buying the bees from someone near you or in the same climatic zone, if you can. If not, it may take more than one season to get them in sync with your flowering season. I have no idea whether they will react to changing climatic patterns.

A mason or carpenter bee house can be made at home. They're somewhat finicky about the holes they populate, 5/16ths of an inch being optimum. The holes should be drilled to a depth of 3.5- 4" in order to allow the female to lay (usually) six eggs: five female and one male. Once that's done (rather as its done) she's out foraging and pollinating. She lays an egg, builds up a plug of pollen, lays another egg, etc. until she gets to the last egg, male. Then she puts a plug of pollen in the hole, covers it with masticated plant matter and a final, protective plug of mud. Then she dies. All this takes somewhat less than a month. The eggs will hatch and the larvae mature until they hatch the following spring, when rising temperatures that open flowers, also lure the bees to liberate themselves. If the male survives, he's waiting near the nest to impregnate the females as they emerge.

Mason bees, (one of many solitary bees) are, individually, more efficient pollinators. But there are fewer of them and they work alone. From a commercial point of view, they are much harder to manage since each cell only produces 5 females to forage. A typical honeybee hive will have upwards of 60,000 bees in it, usually not counting the queen or drones. The newly hatched girls tend to the brood comb and keeping the place clean. As they age, they are replaced at that job and forage until they die off or exhaustion, curiously at about the same age as your Mason bees.

When you obtain your annual supply, they will either arrive in straws or little wooden bee houses. Don't destroy either at the end of the season and don't try to clean them out. The bees, if they're interested and the location is good will take care of that. Occasionally, especially if the holes are the wrong size, wasps or some other insect will assert squaters' rights to the hole. That's OK because most of those that do will also do some pollinating next year.

When you build your own bee house, avoid using fresh or treated lumber. Spacing of the holes is determined by the integrity of the wood. If you use a bundle of straws (paper, waxed, of the proper inside diameter) you can tie them into a bundle, cut the ends off of a tin can, and shove them in. The can will protect the straws. Protect either nesting site from really hard freezes, although the wooden arrangement will insulate the outer most bees to some extent. Just make sure that they are kept in a place that doesn't get warm - they'll emerge too soon. As spring approaches, attach the nests outside so that they are kept in the shade (it's air temperature you want to activate the bees, not the sun). You'll get best use of the bees if they are near the crop you want them to pollinate. For that reason, it's a good idea to have several smaller colonies than just one big one.

Let your neighbors know about the bees. They don't sting, are nothing but beneficial, and can be killed with ordinary pesticides. Ask them to fore go spraying until after the bees have been put to bed for the year. When we lived in town, we gave little starter boxes of 5 cells to our neighbors so they'd have a stake in not killing the bees. Point out to them that solitary bees are easily confused with big flies.

I don't know why it's harder now to find Mason bees for sale. They were all the rage for a time. But with a little care, you can cultivate your own. Even if you can't find any to buy, the chance are they're around. You can build a manageable "colony" by putting the properly sized tubes or houses out for their convenience. If you find mud plugs in the holes around the time the last blossoms lose their petals, the chances are good you'll have mason bees for the next season.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

"...until they hatch the following spring, when rising temperatures that open flowers, also lure the bees to liberate themselves."

During the first week of January, a lot of us were experiencing very warm Sringtime weather (60 degrees), which caused some of our flowers to bloom a few months too early. Maybe there is some connection between that phenomenon and the bees' mysterious absence now? During those warm January days, we were already seeing some garden bugs that we usually don't see till at least mid-Spring.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I also wanted to say that sounds like it'd be fun to be a beekeeper -- as long as the protective clothing would completely shield me from being stung. Based on what you've described, that business doesn't require a huge monetary investment to get started either.

Richard Yarnell said...

The flowers that the bees coordinate with are those of deciduous fruit trees. You can keep the bees dormant by keeping them in a cool place, but be careful you don't miss the main bloom. It takes a while for the nests to warm up.

You can do a basic bee hive for around $300-400 including basic protective clothing. As for stings, get used them: the happen.

Buying the bees runs around $50 for one package. You need a coverall or some heavy clothing. You have to buy gloves with gauntlets (some keepers work bare handed, I don't) a hat with a veil, a hive tool, a smoker at least 4 hive boxes (we use deeps for the brood and westerns for honey because of the weight) 40 frames with foundation, a base for the hive, a "telescoping" cover and some kind of feeder. You're also well advised to buy a miticide (please follow the directions exactly. Put it in the hive when they say to, take it out when they say to. Don't make the mistake of leaving it in the hive or reusing it ever. You'll want to feed the bees to help them support building comb - plain sugar dissolved in water is fine. You can also use terramycin to help prevent Nosema, a disease. I also suggest that you buy a basic book on beekeeping and read it before you make any other investment. A little knowledge goes a long way.

After the house is done, we're going to set up some skeps (old fashioned and not very efficient hives, but they look terrific. We'll also build an old fashioned European apiary in which the bees are worked from inside the house.


Cheryl said...

Bees are great fun. Eric used to keep a couple of hives way back before the mite problem. It was an unusual honey, almost hot. Don't know what the bees were finding for that flavor.

I have a suggestion not likely to be in a book.
Tie your hair back. One bee caught in your hair sounds like an entire hive.

deb said...

Thanks for the info on bees. I've never intentionally kept them, but I do like flowers and flowering shrubs, so I seem to always have plenty in my yard.

Sorry for the change in topic, but I was wondering if you had seen this, Richard?

Branson Offers $25M Prize To Fight Global Warming

Any ideas???

deb said...

Very interesting...

Researchers convert heat to electricity using organic molecules, could lead to new energy source

Richard Yarnell said...

Yes, and while the initial prize seems small, remember there have been other relatively small prizes that have catalyzed developments of, oh, sub-orbital rocket launches, independent navigation by automobiles, and others.

Besides, Branson's long term commitment of $3 Billion is not chump change. There seems to be, if not competition among the very wealthy, then a realization that wealth can be put to good use. Most of those who are making very large commitments are mature. That is, they're past the point where they need to reserve their capital for growing their own investments.

As for capturing heat and putting it to use: any process that works will help. That one will take some time to make practical.

John G. said...

Is there a way to duplicate photosynthesis? Make artificial trees or better yet, wind turbines which double as solar collectors and in the process convert carbon dioxide to oxygen? Kind of a tree times 100...we can take the technology with us when we start traveling to other planets...
Also what are some natural processes for removing pollutants from the atmosphere that we can study and multiply their effects?
Has anyone ever studied the atmosphere and level of pollutants before and after a hurricane or storm?
Lightning storms have an effect on negative ions and some air cleaning properties, perhaps we can channel lightning strikes through a giant filtering mechanism? or at least the leakage off power lines...

Richard Yarnell said...

Even if we could, why?

Much cheaper to plant a seed. Better yet, plant lots of them.

John G. said...

"Even if we could, why? "

Good thoughts were on space travel again...

"we can take the technology with us when we start traveling to other planets..."

What better place to test it than the safety of home?

Ok... so how many (what kind) seeds do we have to plant to maintain a healthy balance and ecosystem?
If I drive x miles a week, use x electricity, and consume x products what is the proper amount I should personally put back? I would also want to put back some extra to take in account a childs consumption and at least one elderly person...
Let's say you had to put back whatever you use to build your green home, how would the average consumer know how much to put back?

John G. said...

BTW, now that you mentioned it Where can I get some 50 lb bags of wildflower seed relatively inexpensive? Lowes has small containers and bags. I want to seed the bank on my pond so I do not half to trim and mow this year...

Richard Yarnell said...

They tried that in "Earth II"(?) and found it was much harder than anyone thought to keep things balanced. But, all in all, growing trees in the confines of a spaceship probably isn't the most efficient way to use space.

It turns out that the mixed seeds often include seeds that are on the no list from your state (invasive species.) Check with your local Audubon Society for a mix that meets the birds' and the communities standards. Then hie yourself off to the local feed store (farm feed) and buy sunflower (oil) seeds.

deb said...

I tried a wildflower patch on the gulf coast. Problem is that the native weeds will beat out anything that you plant, unless you pull weeds several times a week. You could get a goat or 2 (depending on the acreage) though and not have to be concerned about keeping the area mowed.

An fyi from down under: Australia bans incandescent bulbs

Richard Yarnell said...

Have you noticed that most HEF bulgbs don't last as long as they are supposed to (I put the date of installation on each one in an effort to learn which are the best performers - no results yet.)

I think it's to bad they're jumping on the HEF bandwagon:

1) The cost of manufacture is higher because a) there's more material in the HEF; b) the manufacturing process is more complex; c) there are some heavy metals involved; and d) while the ballast is supposed to last twice as long as the bulb but they're designed to be discarded at the same time. (Early HEF's had a separate ballast so you could replace just the bulb.)

If/when we do the same thing, I hope we focus on LED's. Colors are getting better and they use even less juice than the fluorescents. I think each led in a standard fixture uses .06 watts.

These legislated product choices tend to limit choice. and, frankly, there are some applications where incandescent bulbs are probably the best choice. (How am I supposed to incubate chicks with an HEF, or an LED for that matter?)

John G. said...

"But, all in all, growing trees in the confines of a spaceship probably isn't the most efficient way to use space."

Your a riot:-) That's not what I meant...

Thanx for the tip on the wildflowers guys. Why sunflowers? Will it withstand the weeds? I need something I can throw out and walk away from. The name wildflowers suggests That is what I am looking for. but sunflowers would be cool...the bank is facing due west at an angle.

Cheryl said...

Richard, I was wondering the same thing about banning incandescent bulbs.
We have compact fluorescents through most of the house. They've been working fine for the most part. It's great to not have to replace the hard-to-get-to bulbs. There seems to be a quality difference between brands. The really cheap ones sometimes burn out in a few weeks, and some of them are verrrry sloooow to come on.

John G, I'm afraid that nothing grows like weeds. You might be able to use a ground cover. They are usually a bit of work to get started, but will eventually take over. Goats are fun. They mow the lawn and fertilize it at the same time. But they won't just eat the grass. We had one that kept our wisteria down to a stump.

Richard Yarnell said...

Many plants that are considered weeds in one place and prized possessions in another. Plants that we, for example, have moved indoors as ornamentals, struggle to maintain, grow like weeds in a jungle somewhere. The grow indoors because they're adapted to low light under the jungle canopy.

Invasive species are almost always imported from somewhere else. They compete well (and it is a jungle out there, dog eat dog, a race to be at the top of the plant cover where the light is) because they have no natural predators in their new environment. Some that come to mind: English Ivy, Scotch Broom, Kudzu. The ivy and Kudzu both were intentionally introduced here. We have annual "Kill the Ivy" work days in Portland public parks and it is supposedly not legal to cultivate it. One means by which it is spread: birds. Scotch Broom is almost impossible to get rid of once it has made seeds - the can remain viable for a hundred years. Road departments once planted Scotch Broom in medians because its wiry tough plants made natural barriers that slowed out of control cars. The list goes on and on and on.

Even things we like, blackberries for instance, can be a nusaince. Left to themselves they'll overtake most any competitor. Of the two species that predominate here, only one is native.

What it boils down to is standardizing taste. We plant lawns because the Jones do even though a lawn is an expensive, difficult to maintain ground cover that uses far more water than we should allocate to an ornamental.

Susan has a book that is in the "Library" and consequently has taken me longer to read than normal. It's an account of historical gardens (mostly, but not all, established by the nobility in England dating back to the 11th century. You'd be surprised at how many "pot herbs" were nothing more than native plants that intruded, flourishing naturally because they had been bred for it, and competing with cultivated plants prized by the gardeners. These weeds were waisted. Anything that didn't taste terrible or kill you, was harvested and thrown into the pot to make or garnish stews. Others were harvested as medicinal herbs - many plants that we routinely hack out of our gardens have palliative or medicinal properties. (An example: we remove Foxglove from the pasture and garden because it grows from seed. Foxglove is a natural and potent source of digitalis. While most ruminants won't eat it, if they get hungry or if it's mixed in with other edible plants, they can accidentally ingest enough to make them sick or even kill them.)

deb said...

I visited Corpus Christi a few years ago and was impressed with the yards made from sand. They had trees and bushes, but no grass. How about a beach JG?

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

John G there is no such thing as a wildflower meadow you can just throw some seeds out and walk away from. In Georgia anything you just walk away from is going to turn into forest.

A meadow unless it is natural from the soil, water table or climate has to be mowed, burned or grazed to stay a meadow.

If the object is not to mow it, then don't mow it except once a year after a good frost. There may be wild flowers in there now that you mow down.

You can introduce new flower species into the existing vegetation by seeding. The more you know about the soil, sun, zone and site conditions the better for choosing flowers that will be self sustaining. Lady Bird Wild Flower Center

You can reduce your mowing but you can't stop all togeter even with wildflowers.

deb said...

Richard, I got some time this morning to study your house plans (waiting on a phone call from the inspector...obviously I've done something that doesn't meet code or needs shored up at my house). Here are some of my thoughts if I was laying out the floor plan to suit myself (everybody likes it diffferent ways):

On the mid level I would incorporate the pantry and the back door into the kitchen, the pantry door would be from the front (as per drawing, i.e. pool side) and the right side door would go out from the kitchen, i.e. take out the hall. Kit cabs would go on the wall separating the pantry. I would maybe put the fridge on the kit side of the front left corner or the pantry.
This would give you more usable space for the same amnt of sq ft. in the kit. and allow a larger strait wall on the LR side.

I would make the overhead cabs above the bar a small overhead row of cabs above the bar so that a person has a clear view of the LR from the kit., i.e., bottom of cabs at 68" to 75". I'd also incorporate the LED's under those cabs. Someone sitting at the bar would be able to conveniently converse with the chef.

Just an fyi...a very comfortable bath can exist in a 6x6 space: 42" neo-angle shower and toilet on back wall, sink on side wall next to the shower. A door could be on the other side wall (across from sink, opening toward closet) for access to the closet which allows more wall space in the BR, linen shelves in the closet meet the need for bath storage. This would allow a larger LR with easier space for furniture.

Gotta run for now, but will continue to give my thoughts as I have time.

I do LOVE the house...I am jealous...I want a pool.

deb said...

I tried to do a quick search for master br/bath plans...I would put something like this on the back wall (squared up) and have the M BR overlooking the pool. This plan isn't exactly what I had in mind, but maybe you see where I'm going with the idea.

Home Plan SL-339 Details


deb said...

Richard, please don't take my brainstorming about your house plans in the wrong way. Maybe it's a woman thing to rearrange...only I like doing it with house plans. I've designed and built 2 houses and drawn plans for 4. The log that I'm building was a pkg. but I redid the interior.

I really do like the idea of a french door and balcony coming from the master looking out over the pool...maybe just enough space on the balcony for a couple of chairs.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

I know he said he flipped the house to move the elevator to the opposite wall. The floor plan has changed from the drawings he has posted.

Having the bath connect to the pool and spa may be more of a bathing organization feature. I don't think this pool is so big that it constitutes a "View".

The bedroom on the far side may be a temperature issue as well to keep it cooler and away from the greenhouse warming.

I am sure he will let you know.

Richard Yarnell said...

No offense taken. But Chris is right: a lot of the decisions have to do with making the house perform thermally.

As for the MBR on the rear wall (fully earth sheltered) and the bath on the sunny side, the architect was skeptical too until he understood our reasons.

1) We don't spend much time in the bedroom during the day;

2) The concrete walls in the bathroom (those separating the shower from the tub and the tub from the toilet, are poured concrete that will serve as heat sinks, absorbing sun during the day and giving it up at night. The floor there will serve the same function and won't be covered by rugs that will soften the bedroom. Further, it makes more sense to have the bath near to pool and deck so one doesn't have to trek through another room, trailing water, to get to the shower.

3) The windows on the curtain wall between the pool deck and the bathroom and the large window (obscura) between the bathroom and the MBR, will let a significant amount of daylight into the MBR.

When I have some time, I'll sift through your message and comment on your comments.

I just got back from my first trip to a truly huge Home/Garden show at the Expo Center here in Portland. Even if nothing else pans out, we found the tub that will go in the MBR - a 68" long wood tub made of cypress. As graceful as you can imagine. To go with it, we'll mount a matching wooden lavatory on the polished concrete counter which, the concrete artist we found this evening, says he can stain to match any color, including our Jory clay loam soil.


John G. said...

I do not mean to change the subject but I felt this might be of interest.
Georgia is expanding its bio fuel facilities in both mfg. and distribution; Jimmy Carter was at a recent ground breaking ceremony for one I attended in Plains. I also had the opportunity to speak with a researcher from the University of Georgia whom informed me of the most promising technology for our region of the country, which is wood pulp. This is being developed at a hurried pace to answer to those who do not want grains used in cars while so many go hungry. It promises to bring jobs and economic opportunity to many otherwise poor rural areas and farmers.
This alternative fuels thing is gaining steam and getting exciting...
How do all these air purification systems being sold on the market utilizing negative IONS affect our ozone?

John G. said...

Would Christmas trees, wrapping paper and toy packaging be considered wood pulp?

Richard Yarnell said...

Whole xmas trees would not be considered wood pulp but could be process as organic waste. In Oregon, especially in the Tri-Met area, they are composted on a large scale;

Wrapping paper, if it is not imprinted with foil, might be acceptable as post consumer paper to be incorporated into a recycling operation. However, the heavy dose of dyes and the decorations on it, would limit its utility.

I assume your speaking of the cardboard (corrugated and molded). Those, along with egg cartons and such stuff, can become part of the pulp recycling stream. In our neck of the woods, it's all collected and sold to Smurfit and other pulp processors.

John G. said...

Watching an interesting program on TRAVEL Channel (Nazca lines, etc.). Never heard of the Oregon Vortex... until now.
What is your analysis of it, have you ever been there?

Richard Yarnell said...

Yes, many years ago when I was working at Ashland Shakespeare Festival.

I haven't a clue - but I'd guess it is very skillful use of forced perspective. If I go again, I'm taking a compass.

deb said...

Honeybees Vanish, Leaving Keepers in Peril

deb said...

Hot stock tip: Wall Street adds climate change to bottom line

Spread the word. If people invest in green companies the polluters will eventually disappear or wise up.

dan said...

Interesting story Deb. The prospect of a "carbon tax" would cause a lot of corporations to take a closer look at their operations.

John G. said...

In reference to the bees.
Are there new chemicals or fertilizers on the market or did Katrina blow in a Fungi?

deb said...

Maybe we can help make it happen Dan.

Don't know what is happening to the bees JG, other than what Cheryl and Richard have posted here.

deb said...

I got an e from JG 2 days ago and his community was torn up by the tornados. He has been volunteering to help clean and fix the damage.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Got this link from another environmental conservation group:

What is Relocalization?

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I also found out at that site, that the town of Ithaca, NY has already been successful at creating a sustainable culture. They started working on it way back in 1991. They are going to host an event in July of this year to teach people how to run a fully sustainable local community -- focusing on physical necessities as well as the social and psychological aspects. (Localizing for the purpose of sustainability is going to be major culture shock for a lot of Americans, so the sociology and psychology involved has to be worked out just as much as the practical aspects of it.)

A woman named Liz Walker, who is one of the members of that community in Ithaca, has written a book about the process. The book was published in 2005. I hope I can find it at one of our local libraries. Here is the link to it:

EcoVillage at Ithaca : pioneering a sustainable culture

Judy B. said...

Have been away from this blog for a while... maybe it is time to add some comments...
This thread is the most useful, informative and interesting one to me... the discussions of house plans, building, bees, weeds etc. has provided me with a lot of food for thought... Thanks to you all who have shared your experiences and knowledge.

Cheryl said...

Glad to hear you're still around Judy. Some days there don't seem to be any words in me, but I try to squeeze in a little time to lurk.

deb said...

Hi Judy...good to hear from you:-)

dan said...

Hi Judy. I also enjoy this thread even though I don't rarely contribute. Welcome back :-)

Cheryl said...

Dan, you have such a way with words.

dan said...

Cheryl, I can't believe I wrote that...where's my dunce cap?

Richard Yarnell said...

Right over there in the corner where you left it. Or did I leave it there?

dan said...

I earned's mine.

deb said...

The local House of Rep. staff spoke at our Women's dem meeting last night. I had the opportunity to discuss my proposal (the one I am seriously going to work on after this house is finished) with a guy that can make it become a reality. He is seriously interested and we have set a tentative meeting.

My proposal: Put solar panels on every flat surface school in the southeast. The schools would have the electricity during school hours but after hours and all summer long the power would feed the grid with energy companies paying the schools for the energy generated. This would be a huge funding opportunity for schools, and the excess energy generated during the summer would allow energy companies to have (at least a portion) of the energy needed for summers when everyone in the south has their AC running non-stop. It also would provide local jobs and help work out some of the kinks for up and coming solar panel companies.

Even if the proposal were only partially funded the ball could start rolling toward solar energy being a reality. When the schools were paneled then flat surface gov't buildings would be next.

My goal is to have solar instead of any new coal plants.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

It's a good idea. Are you going to find out which people in positions of power and influence are heavily invested in coal mining operations as well as petro and natural gas companies? Unless those same people also have enough invested in solar, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they'd put the kibosh on widespread installation of solar panels.

Cheryl said...

That's great news Deb.
I don't know how well it's working out, but Florida has some interesting solar programs.

Florida Million Solar Roofs Partnership

Cheryl said...

And Dan, I liked your comment. I thought it was clever. Plays on words are always fun.

deb said...

Sorry to be seriously depressing, but thought you might be interested in this article:

To the end of the earth

Thanks for the contact info, Cheryl. The FL initiative is promising.

Judy B. said...

Seriously depressing, Deb..

That is why I supported Al Gore in the past and will continue to do so...

All the problems that we are facing as a world community will seem like nothing if (when) the Global Climate crisis really hits...

dan said...

Thanks for posting that article Debbie but you and Cheryl needn't worry. I just read that two of America's most brilliant scientists, Jerry Falwell and Rush Limbaugh said that global warming is just a scare tactic by liberal tree huggers. Sleep well.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Since Bush hasn't had any luck with his mission of stealing all of the Middle East's oil (yet) -- his Plan B must be to steal all of South America's corn for ethanol.

This was my favorite line in an article I just read about his visit to Guatemala:

"And Mayan priests said they'll purify a sacred archaeological site to get rid of any "bad spirits" after Bush visits there."

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s corn

Richard Yarnell said...

Probably not: Brazil makes its ethanol mostly out of fiber, not seed.

christin m p in massachusetts said...


I have a few questions about South America's ethanol production. I know I can google for it, but sometimes I need a rest from googling, and it's easier just to ask someone who has the information already.

Can you give more details about how they make ethanol from fiber?

Someone told me that South America makes some of their ethanol from sugar. Please don't laugh, but is sugar a form of fiber? (And isn't sugar expensive there too?)

Lastly, what is the reason for not making ethanol from seed?

Richard Yarnell said...

Sugar is made, like maple syrup is from the sap of maple trees, from juice contained in the pulp of sugar cane. The woody material that's left is a fibrous waste product.

Seed produced by most plants represents a relatively small percentage of the plants mass. On top of that, it's usually the seed that is important to us in our nutrition, whether it's used as animal feed or directly by us.

Brazil, I believe, developed an efficient way to make celulosic ethanol which is a fairly complex process compared to fermentation of the sugar contained in cane. I don't know enough about the chemistry involved to know whether producing celulosic ethanol is as efficient as the simpler fermentation process. In the latter, because they use bagasse (cane residue) to produce processing heat and power) the net energy represented by the aclohol is at least 30%. On the other hand, use of fibers other than cane, may mean there's as much or more potential per hectare (in Brazil) than cane. Further, marginal lands not suited to cane production might support crops suited only to fuel production. (Switch grass, I believe, will thrive where other plants barely grow.)

In the end, it's going to take a mix of fuels and technologies. There won't be one magic bullet. Brazil is an oil producing nation and still uses oil and even imports some. Few things are as good at lubrication as fossil fuels. Diesel, whether produced from plants or oil pumped out of the ground (ultimately, the source is the same - it's just taken nature longer to produce fossil fuels than it takes us to make either ethanol or bio-diesel - plants. And bio-diesel produces just as much CO2 as its fossil cousin, although there are far fewer heavy metals and other pollutants that result.

However, given all the advantages of using renewable plant sources to make fuel, the fact remains that it isn't free. Industrial agricultural methods will degrade the land over time, especially since all the plant is being removed from the soil. Acreage devoted to fuel production doesn't produce food, although a good compromise would be crop rotation that included soil amending legumes, alfalfa, and even putting land into vetch and allowing it to be fallow on a regular rotation.

Stay tuned: I haven't read the details yet, but the shrub is coming home with agreements for the importation of alcohol, a big change since I believe we still have tariffs on alcohol fuels.

Unlike many places, Brazil is able to do it all with cane. Once crushed, the cane is used first to fuel the process either by heating the juice or by generating electricity used in the fermentation process. As I understand it, only a very small percentage of the land on which cane could be grown, is now used to produce ethanol, so there is room for growth.

Brazil also produces bio-diesel from soy and corn, but it is a relatively small amount of its fuel production. And since they have celulosic processes on which to fall back or with which to augment the amount of ethanol they produce, they will do better in the future than they are now.

Richard Yarnell said...

Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and ten or eleven others have introduced s.309, a bill to bring the US into line with global efforts to deduce climate changing emissions. The key point for me, is that they predicate the amount of reduction at 80% below 1990 emission levels with the US share proportionate to energy use.

Barbara Boxer (D-CA), among others are soliciting public support as "co-sponsors."

I suspect you can find her petition at her campaign website, but you could try her Senate site too.

deb said...

Thanks Richard, Working Assets has a petition on their site.

Save our Climate, Support the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act

BTW, Working Assets offers phone services and gives a portion of the money to support "justice, peace and the environment". I use them for my long dist provider.

deb said...

Wish I had thought of this:

Fridge gadget could slash C02 emissions

Cheryl said...

Interesting gadget.

The outsourcing section of the paper caught my eye. It leads to a ton of articles like;

Motorola opened a new telecom software development center in Hyderabad employing more than 1,000 engineers

In local news, my employer laid off 1/4 of the employees at my site to lower "expenses". The offshore sites were not affected. The blind dart thrower missed me, but hit a lot of good people.

dan said...

Deb, the refrigerator gadget sounds very promising. I love low-tech solutions.

dan said...

Cheryl, it seems like we're losing jobs at every skill level and every pay scale. It's sad.

Judy B. said...

Deb... The refrigerator new technology is just one of many great new ways to save our planet.... I DO have faith in our (and nature's) ability to get the job done..

Chereyl.. your abilities will keep you employed... I wonder if you have thought of getting into computet/internet security... this is an area that keeps growing and companies need on site personnel to take care of problems

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the good thoughts Dan and Judy. It's been a rough week.

Judy, I appreciate the complement and encouragement, and I'm sorry to be such a cynic, but in my experience, office politics will trump abilities any day of the week. Abilties are helpful, luck is better, and brown nosing the right people is best of all.

Massive layoffs are like a train wreck. How you come out of it is largely dependent on where you happen to be sitting. Everyone is dazed. And everyone is injured in some way.

Judy B. said...

Cheryl... over the months, I have grown to admire you a lot... You obviously have many talents (writing and computer tech being just two of them).

Since you do not seem the type of person to play office politics or brown-nose to get ahead, I wonder what virtues that you have that keep you employed... or are you just lucky????

My own opinion is that it is your honesty coupled with your abilities that make you a prize employee.... and maybe you take your frustrations home and work them out in the dirt... so you do not become a croninc complainer in the work place...

Gardening is such a healer of bodies and souls...

Anyway, give yourself credit for staying employed amist all the lay-offs... You obviously have talents that are still needed...

And maybe for those who have lost their jobs, there will be a better job somewhere else...

My husband was forced into early retirement because of down sizing. While it was painful for a while,(the train wreck) it was the best thing that ever happened...

It is hard to see the sun when it is raining... and yet the sun still shines....

Cheryl said...

Judy, Thinking about a response has a full blown blog wanting to come out. I'll have to find time between staying employed and family responsibilities to write it before it goes away.

The short version. I don't like office politics or brown nosing, so that leaves me abilities and luck. I'm not better or worse than most of the people on the other side of the layoff line. Decisions on a big layoff are often made by people so far removed that they have no idea of who is doing a good job. Some of our best people were let go. There aren't many people here that I don't respect, but a few are still here.

Sometimes a blow is just a blow. There is no silver lining. You just have to accept it and move on. The only benefit I had from being laid off in the past, is better empathy for others in the same boat. Other than that it's just plain lousy. Our savings still haven't recovered.

Judy B. said...

I certainly didn't mean to trivialize the job loss situation... When you experience a mill closure (as my husband did) or the lay-off first hand, there is much anguish... (And I could write a blog on our own personal experience as well....)

And, because, we have the skills/talents, the fortitude, and maybe the luck, we came out of the traumatic incident better off than we were before.... I know that this does not happen for everyone...
All that I really meant to imply was that I believe in you... your abilities, your work ethic... and in your honesty...

Please do not think that i believe that it is easy for the people when they are in the middle of the situation... but what can you do but move on....

I guess, I do have an opinion on how people choose to move on... With an optimistic attitude, things seem to get better faster.... with a "poor-me" attitude, the bad events seem to keep coming... at least that is how it seems to me from my own personal experience....

It seems that we only have a few choices> Face up to the fact that we live in a Global Community, where we still have (one of) the highest standards of living, the freedom to make our own personal choices about how to make a living, and we do have a better safety net than exists in the rest of the world...

Or we can choose to isolate, throw up barriers to trade and ignore the rest of the world, while we try to maintain self-sufficiency...

All in all, it can get verrry complicated..

Cheryl said...

I really do appreciate your warm wishes and encouragement. I understand what you are saying, and didn't think you were trivializing anything.

We come from different life experiences and coping mechanisms. That's one of the reasons I enjoy talking to everyone on this blog.

I think that the point trying to come out was that many believe that if they are dedicated enough and work hard enough, everything will be fine. They completely buy into the company line, and work incredibly hard in the belief that being a perfect employee will protect them from layoffs. Layoffs only happen to people that are less worthy. I prefer to accept the fact that employment is a mutually beneficial business arrangement. I'd like it to be otherwise, but that's the reality I live in.

Judy B. said...

I agree with you, particularly:

"They completely buy into the company line, and work incredibly hard in the belief that being a perfect employee will protect them from layoffs."

And I believe that that sentiment can be multiplied by the number of people who believe the same about our government...

The belief that someone else will take care of us, completely takes away our choices. We become completely dependent on someone (business, government, family) and live disfunctional (fearful) lives..

We look the other way to preserve our own self interest;
We fall in step with uncomfortable positions so as not rock the boat and have attention focused upon us;
We listen to "leaders" (elected, appointed, clergy, family)who have the power, and we "choose" to believe them (thereby giving them our choices),
and when enough of us fall into lock-step behind them, we go to war....

AND, then someone else makes us verry uncomfortable with a choice they make for us, and we have to decide for ourself.... or go furthur into denial...

Denial traps us.... until someone elses decision (mill closure, lay-offs) sets us free to become whole again...

The epidemic of dependency has made us a society of addicts.
More often than not, everyone but "self" gets blamed for our predicament.

Until we take personal responsibility for the choices being made (make oour own choices), we will live with someone elses consequence...

deb said...

"If we couldn't laugh we'd all go insane"

That line to a Jimmy Buffett song came to me while reading this article:

Riches Await as Earth's Icy North Melts

Judy B. said...

Reminds me of an old story that kept aksing the question "Is it good, or is it bad" and the answer was always..."I don't know. It just is."

Richard Yarnell said...

Does Kaz wish to share his bona fides with us?

He's made several statements that aren't supportable by any facts that I know of.

A curious thing about pollinators: they don't compete directly for the privilege.

KAZ said...

Harkening back to a few people who suggested that humans might die, or starve, without honeybees:

Honeybees are an invasive species in the US. Native plant and animal life would benefit from their disappearance. Many of the most important food plants, including tomatoes, corn, peppers, cucumbers, most beans, gourds/squash, peas, potatoes/yams/sweed potatoes, et cetera, do not need honeybees, and might even benefit from the restoration of the pollinators displaced by the foreign honeybee.

That said, I don't really care about the silly worry of "invasive species" and the not-actually-fragile "balance" which is supposedly disrupted when we import species like honeybees.

But I'm pretty confisdent that we don't need them to survive, or even to eat well.

But, of course, the die-offs that occurred in the last year are not the first, this has gone on sporadically for over 100 years. And it probably will NOT snowball into the disappearance of honeybees from America, much less the world.

One of the worst things authoritarian busybodies do is to take any short-term change and project it outward as if it would continue, then cry doom. They are almost always wrong.

deb said...

Hi KAZ, I must have missed something...this is the first post I have seen here from you. (Fellow bloggers let me know if there might be a problem with my pc, OK?)

"One of the worst things authoritarian busybodies do is to take any short-term change and project it outward as if it would continue, then cry doom. They are almost always wrong."

Let me guess, KAZ, are you a republican? Or perhaps one of the neo-libertarians?

The reason I am asking is purely for personal research. I have noticed since the advent of corporate rule in our country that it is typical to use name calling (authoritarian busybodies), huge generalizations (any short-term change and project it outward as if it would continue, then cry doom), and then make a blatent unsubstantiated claim (They are almost always wrong) instead of logically and rationally discussing the facts.

Do you not see that statement as insulting and counterproductive to studying the issue? Or is it that you would prefer no discussion as the issue really is whether or not a product can be sold without any bad data about the product leaking out to the public?

deb said...

Just an FYI:

Using solar energy to keep homes cool

OK...back to topic...

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

I missed what may have caused a response from Richard to appear before KAZ. Was a comment deleted? Not by me.

Kaz is right Honeybees were imported to North America by the Europeans when they brought cows, horses, chickens and all their other domesticated animal and plant foods to settle the new world.

As the land was cleared for farming and now suburbia, the upwards of 15,000? native bee and wasp species, most which do not form hives or large colonies were displaced as their habitat shrank.

Kaz is also right that many food crops like corn and wheat are not pollinated by bees.

The food crops that are like apples, peaches, plums and almonds now rely largely on honeybees for pollination because they are planted in large monocultures without enough nearby wild habitat to support native bee species in the quantities needed to pollinate them naturally.

No we won't starve but the quantity and variety of food will diminish. The farmers who grow these crops will lose money and maybe their land and homes. It will have economic consequences.

Honeybees also pollinate many wild trees and flowers that other animals are dependent upon for food and shelter. It is not only humans whose food supplies will be lessened in quality and quantity.

If the Honeybees are dying what other native Hymenoptera species are being affected? Are we losing the wild species too?

Your right KAZ, the sky is not falling. It may however be fading to dark quicker than we think. The planet has shed itself of many life forms through the process of extinction and can do so again. I don't think the dinosaurs or the Mastodons saw it coming. When the environment and habitat could no longer support them they disappeared.

Richard Yarnell said...

Kaz may live somewhere that doesn't use DST and I must have seen his post shortly after he made it.

It is true that apis mellifera crossed the Atlantic, probably with the second wave of immigrants. And it is true that habitat for just about everything has changed dramatically and continues to disappear. However, it's not correct to say that there's competition among pollinators.

Whether it's birds, insects, the wind or rain, or even humans, pollination is accidental. I've seen honey bees, bumble bees and humming birds all visit the same blossom in quick succession. Each of them took away a load of pollen to distribute. That particular flower probably produced a nice fruit.

As natural habitat has disappeared, it's quite true that some pollinators have been displaced. And as industrial monocropping, with all its dependence on herbicides and pesticides, have further reduced the number of natural pollinators and, at the same time, increased the need for them, managed colonies of bees, to my knowledge the only pollinator that can be delivered to the fields ready to work, have become more important.

It would be nice if we could find out why the bees have gone missing. Like it or not, we've become dependent.

deb said...

Kaz's bio puts him in St. Louis.

Just some brainstorming:

Kaz showed up after "Monsanto" was typed on this blog (remember those RSS feeds?). Monsanto has a serious vested interest in "The University of Missouri-St. Louis has established graduate and undergraduate certificate programs in biotechnology, and also offers a Ph.D. program in cellular, molecular and development biology." (from Monsanto's web site

Kaz implies bees aren't necessary.

Could Kaz work for Monsanto? If so is it something that Monsanto is doing that is killing the bees?

Let us know Kaz.

deb said...

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cheryl said...

This has been entertaining, but I'd say that this Kaz is just a very small person, who likes to pretend to be big. S/he does have a very big thesaurus.

The blog name links to a dead site named "". This isn't someone who actually knows anything, or wants to have a real discussion. Looks like this was another hit and run attempt at feeling important. Not that I mind a little detective work diversion.

deb said...

Cheryl, What would you think of typing "monsanto" on your blog just to see if anyone takes the bait?

I was just guessing in writing, but the thing is that these are strange times. Exon/Mobile is paying scientists 10K a pop to discredit global warming and last year I found out that neocon think tanks were paying bloggers to blog. I mean, just why would someone get his pants in a wad because we were wondering about the decline in bees? And so much so that he jumps onto our blog and starts calling names? Sort of off the wall behavior I think for someone who doesn't have any sort of vested interest.

deb said...

A bit more:

Mystery disease stings honey business

"Imidacloprid is used on termites to make them forget how to return to their nest and causes their immune system to collapse, he said. A question could remain if sub-lethal doses of it can negatively affect bees, but because the insecticide has been used for years, "why would it be killing bees now?" he asked."

Perhaps there is a "new and improved" nicotinic pesticide on the market?

deb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan said...

Congratulations to our resident amateur sleuths on some fine work on the Kaz/Monsanto caper.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

It is not out of the question for paid bloggers/commenters to wander into sites as strangers on hot topics. Tags, RSS feed, links and all the other tracking and sorting technology lets people search out the topics that interest them.

This blog has a very low profile, being on old blogger and not highly linked to. I think the RSS feed is enabled. I'll look.

I have seen similar things in other places. Granted there are plenty of lurkers who may read a site and never comment until something really gets them going.

Then you have the whole notion of trolls who are not paid, but just get their jollies from stirring things up.

Who knows what KAZ is or is not. Only repeated contact will reveal more.

Cheryl said...

Speaking of Exxon, Monsanto, et al.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is kicking off their second annual "Science Idol" scientific integrity cartoon contest to draw humorous attention to a very serious issue: political interference in science.

deb said...

I just read an article along those lines, Cheryl:

Exclusive: Report Charges Broad White House Efforts to Stifle Climate Research

Brian Ross is an investigative journalist with ASC news. I don't watch TV and am wondering if he has a program. So far I am impressed, but also wonder if his info is being released on mainstream TV news. To send him tips: We're always in the hunt for new stories. Use this space if you have inside knowledge of a story you think we should investigate."

deb said...

Oh, ABC news...sorry.

deb said...

A few more thoughts on KAZ... I've been posting and reading on the net since before the Iraq war. I noticed that the "bullies" typically spout rhetoric from the Rush/O'Reilly/Coulter playbook. They insist that those of us with a broader point of view should "check our facts", but the reality is that their sources are neocon leaning TV programs and the "facts" they present disappear with a slight bit of research.

That said, the neocon thinktank strategy of intentionally and selectively presenting specific "facts" has not educated our fellow citizens through MSM as to why it's OK for bees to disappear, i.e. the "bee" propaganda hasn't been on TV.

This is why KAZ's post threw up a red flag for me. Maybe he's a loner, but the topic just doesn't fit the brainwashed TV watcher MO. It is the same type of bullying with a single real fact (honeybees aren't indigenous); the logic being that the "fact" implied should be irrefutably accepted (therefore, we don't need them).

Thoughts: A company is making millions or billions off of a product that is killing bees. A strategy of swaying the population to accept the disappearance of bees is planned. What better place to "test" the strategy than a small blog first moving to larger blogs and finally into mainstream media?

The very best method of propaganda is to repeat the lie so many times that it becomes real to a majority.

John G. said...


20 Things You Didn't Know About... Bees
Undertaker bees, the queens who were called kings, how honey helps wounds...
by Liza Lentini, Discover magazine

1 There are 16,000 species. Most are solitary insects; only about 5 percent are social bees, the most common being the honeybee. As many as 80,000 of them colonize a single hive.
2 Drones—the male honeybees—live only for mating with the queen. If there is a shortage of food in the hive, the workers kick their lazy, gigolo asses out.
Worker bees have strictly regimented roles, including that of undertakers
3 To die for: When drones mate, they die afterwards from a ruptured abdomen. Sex detaches their endophallus, which gets stuck inside the queen.
4 She continues to mate—the drones aren’t terribly smart, apparently—until she collects more than 70 million sperm from multiple males.
5 The queen was known as the king until the late 1660s, when Dutch scientist Jan Swammerdam dissected the hive’s big bee and discovered ovaries.
6 Someone call Homeland Security! Australian researchers discovered that honeybees can distinguish human faces. The insects were shown black-and-white pictures and given treats for right answers.
7 Oh, someone did call Homeland Security. In the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project, Los Alamos scientists have trained bees to recognize explosives.
8 The term “honeymoon” is derived from an old northern European custom in which newlyweds would consume a daily cup of mead, made with fermented honey, for a month.

9 The term “bee’s knees” was coined by American cartoonist Tad Dorgan, who was also responsible for “the cat’s pajamas,” “the flea’s eyebrows,” “the canary’s tusks,” and (apropos of nothing) “Yes, we have no bananas.”
10 During World War I, honey was used to treat the wounds of soldiers because it attracts and absorbs moisture, making it a valuable healing agent.
11 Honey never spoils. Ever.
12 Bumblebees can estimate time intervals. Researchers have found that the insects extend their tongues in tandem with the rhythm of a sweet reward. This aids in the hunt for nectar, whose availability waxes and wanes.
13 Melittosphex burmensis, recently found preserved in amber in a mine in northern Myanmar, is the oldest bee known. It lived 100 million years ago.
14 After he had pioneered the laws of genetics with pea plants, Austrian monk Gregor Mendel bred a strain of hybrid bees. Unfortunately, they were so vicious he had to kill them.
15 The buzz that you hear when a bee approaches is the sound of its four wings moving at 11,400 strokes per minute. Bees fly an average of 15 miles per hour.
16 A newly hatched queen immediately kills all other hatched and unhatched queens in the hive.
17 The Honeybee Boogie: In 1943 Austrian zoologist Karl von Frisch published his study on the dances bees perform to alert fellow workers. A round dance indicates that food is close by; a waggle dance means it is distant.
18 Worker bees have strictly regimented roles, including that of undertakers who drag their dead siblings from the hive.
19 On the April 1984 Challenger flight, 3,300 bees, housed in a special but confining box, adapted perfectly to zero gravity and built a nearly normal comb. But they didn’t go to the toilet. Since bees excrete only outside the hive, they held it in for seven days. A NASA spokesperson said the space hive was “just as clean as a pin.”
20 According to an old wives’ tale, a bee entering your house means a visitor is on his way, and if you kill the bee, the visitor won’t be a pleasant one. Suffice to say, invite that unexpected honeybee guest to sit down to tea.

Richard Yarnell said...

Clarification on some of the bee facts:

Except for the drones and the queen (in some rare instances, there can be two queens in a managed hive), bees have a succession of jobs. Newly emerged bees do the housekeeping and some tend the queen. As they age, they move closer to the hive entrance, defending the hive against intruders and then, finally, as foragers. On average, during the active season, bees live for about a month. During the winter, if the hive is well stocked with pollen and honey, most of the bees will overwinter and be available to tend a new crop of larvae.

It's not so much that bees can recognize human faces - they're capable of recognizing patterns. To cut down on "drift" many keepers will mark their hives with large numbers or patterns. The bees will tend to return to those patterns.

I'm not sure that the bees have been trained to recognize explosives so much as the humans have been trained to recognize a bees behavior that is associated with specific chemicals. I don't remember the details of those experiments.

Mead is good.

Honey is being used in New Zealand and Australia as a surgical dressing. I use it myself to dress wounds. Not only is it Hygroscopic, it's also acidic and has enzymes in it that discourage bacterial growth. It's naturally sterile, and, as you point out, won't spoil so long as its water content doesn't go much above 18%. Mead can be produced by diluting honey which allows the sugars to ferment and produce alcohol. When honey crystallizes, and it will, you can either use it that way, or you can re-melt it in a water bath or very slow oven. The temperature should not be allowed to rise above 150F-110F. Never use a microwave since that will carbonize individual molecules of the honey and change its flavor, almost always for the worse.

Bees have an "eye" on the back of their head that is used to keep track of the sun. It's amusing to watch a bee fly over a mirror or highly reflective surface. They will become confused and flip over on their backs, mistaking the surface for the sky.

Researchers are still trying to interpret the various "dances" that scouts perform to inform the rest of the hive where productive nectar and pollen sources have been found. It appears they are very explicit. Flowers don't appear to the bees the way they appear to us. They actually see in a diffent end of the spectrum. One site that shows the difference:

"Undertakers" aren't so specialized: they remove all the trash in an effort to keep the hive clean. I've seen several bees working together (it's not all that organized) move a dead mouse out of the hive.

during the winter, when weather conditions allow, bees take what are euphemistically called "cleansing flights" during which they excrete waste material from their gut. I don't know how long they can hold it in during the winter.

John G. said...

"Clarification on some of the bee facts:"


You are a genius...

deb said...

Thanks for all of the info you guys. I buy local honey, but I've heard that all honey has to be processed before it can be sold at a store. Is this true? Should I try to buy direct from a bee keeper? What happens during "processing"?

I'll give it a try on wounds.

Mead (wiki)

Cheryl said...

The only processing that I know of, is filtering through cheese cloth. This is to filter out bits of wax and the occasional dead bee.

If you can go to a bee keeper, get some of the cappings. The best honey is in the caps. You just slice the caps off, and eat it with the wax.

deb said...

Thanks Cheryl.

This is a petition asking Congress to pass legislation for CO2 reduction.

href=""> Tell Congress to get serious about stopping global warming

"Send a message
telling your Senators and Representative to pass a bill that
cuts global warming pollution 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent
by 2050."

deb said...

I have absolutely no idea what happened, but here is the link (I hope):

Tell Congress to get serious about stopping global warming

deb said...


Climate And Ocean Scientists Put Under New Speech Restraints
Any Scientific Statements “of Official Interest” Must be Pre-Approved

Cheryl said...

It's a start.

Safe Climate Act of 2007 (Introduced in House)
Sponsor: Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] (introduced 3/20/2007) Cosponsors (131)

"`Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator shall promulgate annual emission reduction targets for each calendar year beginning in 2010 and ending in 2050, as follows:

`(1) In 2010, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions shall not exceed the quantity of United States greenhouse gases projected to be emitted in 2009.

`(2) Beginning in 2011, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions shall be reduced by approximately 2 percent each year, such that the quantity of such emissions in 2020 does not exceed the quantity of United States greenhouse gases emitted in 1990.

`(3) Beginning in 2021, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions shall be reduced by approximately 5 percent each year, such that the quantity of such emissions in 2050 does not exceed 20 percent of the quantity of United States greenhouse gases emitted in 1990."

"`(a) In General- The regulations promulgated under section 703(a) shall include regulations under section 202 setting standards for greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. These standards shall reduce such emissions at least as quickly and at least as much (on an average vehicle basis) as the standards adopted by the California Air Resources Board at its September 23-24, 2004 hearing (California Code of Regulations, title 13, sec. 1961.1)."

Judy B. said...

Back to the bees...
All of our fruit trees have been in blossom for a while and no bees around to pollinate them so we bought some more Mason Bees to set out around the trees... They came out in just a day or two... don't know if it was just too cold for to old ones, or if the old ones died off... any way they are buzzing around now, and hopefully we will have cherries, plums and apples to eat later this year... also grapes, raspberries, huckleberries, wild blackberries and blue berries...
OH... this sun makes my heart sing...

deb said...

Washington hears beekeepers’ woes

Happy for you, Judy, that the sun is shining in the PNW. Jeff and I woke this morning to a light coating of snow. It had been a warm beautiful spring with the flowers in full bloom, but a cold front came through with the snow. The flowers won't last, but they are so pretty this morning poking through the white blanket.

Judy B. said...

Speaking of snow...
Tried to watch my (Seattle) Mariners play at Cleveland Friday and Saturday and both games were snowed out...
They will try a double header today...
I am sure there have been snow delays and maybe even one game postponed before but can't remember when it happened two days in a row...
Climate change????

Judy B. said...

Make that 3 days in a row... Double header snowed out again today....
Will try again tomorrow...
Dan.. what is happening in Detroit?//

dan said...

Judy, we had a warm March and so far a cold April with only a dusting of snow in the Detroit area. Cleveland got hit very hard with some lake effect snow.

deb said...

There is climate change censorship - and it's the deniers who dish it out

deb said...

Selling off the rainforest - a modern-day scandal

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

I was just having a debate of sorts with a guy at GardenRant that sounds exactly like this denial strategy.

Cheryl said...

I had no idea how unenvironmental, not to mention denial, some gardeners could be. There were a few posters that I would like to read more of when I get a chance.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

My father is a wonderful gardener and about as loyal a right wing luny as you can get. It is a bit unsettling to see someone you have always thought of as intelligent, and he is in many ways, accept so blindly all the talking points promoted on Faux News.

Last summer when I was there I got the melting ice in the glass doesn't overflow routine. Yes that is true but you forgot to add the melting ice on the land that all flows down into the glass.

Gardeners are a diverse bunch.

dan said...

Christopher, I was surprised at the intensity of the discussion at "Garden Rant". You always do a wonderful job defending your positions.

As far as dealing with your dad, just keep your conversations on gardening for now. I'll bet we all have family members who view the world through Faux News tinted glasses...there's nothing to do but love 'um and hope they see the light some day.

deb said...

Christopher, Hope you didn't mind me butting in at Garden Rant. I know I must sound like a broken record to you, but I'm going for the tactic where if something is repeated enough it eventually sinks all the faux news watchers haven't thought of the logic of what they are saying.

Jon over at the rant believes that the mountaintop coal companies are replanting and renewing their mess after they dig out the coal...which is total BS...those coal companies are scraping the ground a bit and throwing out some grass seed at best, and without any topsoil even that isn't growing. The I love mountains site has google earth pics that show the destruction, but I guess Jon didn't want to look. The coal is washed in a slurry and the then poisoned water is filling the once clean mountain streams with poisonous waste.

Anyway, my goal is to try and educate a few people at a time and actually present some rebuttal to the brainwashing people are hearing in the media.

Do any of you read Time or Newsweek? Believe it or not they are still close to being "centrist". A subscription to either might make for a good gift for those relatives who only get their news and education through TV.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

No of course I didn't mind you butting in at GardenRant. This is cyber space. There is plenty of room.

I know it is best to stick with gardening and the weather with my Dad. Sometimes it is difficult. We both seem able to get past our differences, but politics is not a place we should dwell in very long.

Cheryl said...

Talk about your good news/bad news. The EPA has a rule change to increase the amount of ethanol available for fuel.

"Until today, corn milling plants that make ethanol for use as a fuel additive have only been allowed to emit 100 tons of polluting emissions per year, while plants that make ethanol for human consumption have been permitted to emit 250 tons per year.

The new EPA rule allows all ethanol producers using corn or other carbohydrate feedstocks to emit 250 tons of air pollutants per year."
"The six criteria pollutants are particulate matter, ground level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead."

They snuck in another little change with the rule. They only have to count the emissions from stacks or vents. They no longer have to count emissions from equipment leaks and such.

Richard Yarnell said...


I've got a design modification that bypasses the stacks altogether.

deb said...

Richard...the world needs you!

deb said...

Why is this not surprising?

LaRouche Movement in Germany Sets The Climate Against Global Warming Hoax

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

And Tom Friedman writes a very long essay on going Green being our salvation to our major problems.

deb said...

Great article Christopher. Friedman left out that one of the driving factors in the US is "keeping up with the Jones". If it were easy for me to go out and buy solar panels (say Lowes) and slap on my roof, and then purchase a hybrid plug-in car (or even a fairly zippy golf cart)...then I would do it, and plenty of others would too, just because it is the right thing to do. The neighbors would then follow suit, because in this country many of our citizens are all about "one-upping" each other.

I did a search on "buy solar panels" and then added "china" to the search. Photovoltaic panels are inexpensive there. What is exactly the problem with importing those inexpensive panels? We import everything else from them.

Cheryl said...

Net metering is available in a few states. That means that the power company has to buy back any excess power you create. One of the many easy ways to make alternative energy cheaper for regular people.

I find the media profiles of people building energy efficient houses interesting. Why is it that they are always building an enormous, expensive house that no normal person could dream to afford?

Richard Yarnell said...

On a world wide basis, there is a shortage of the refined silicon crystals from which solar panels are manufactured (hint: invest in a company that makes them). It's a demanding process that requires a substantial investment and it's taking some time to ramp up production. Supply and demand, where the free market reigns, is keeping the prices high. A, so far, less efficient (in terms of the amount of light that's converted to electricity) is thin film solar. This requires some sophisticated sandwiches of rare materials, but they do seem cheaper per foot. Research is hot now, and I expect there will be efficiency gains in thin films. They're easier to install (they are self-adhesive and made to fit standing seam roofing or to be glued down on flat roofs.) In China, and other places, the heavy subsidies that support the fossil industry here, have been turned toward solar (China, Israel, Germany, among others.) Batteries are no longer the expensive impediment to solar, so long as we have the capacity to produce enough juice when the sun isn't shining. I think it will be a long time before we reach that point so long as we continue to improve efficiency of the equipment we power. However, sooner or later, demand will exceed capacity of conventional generating plants and some kind of storage will be required. How that's done is going to be crucial. In the meantime, we need avoid putting all our eggs in a single basket.

FWIW: while I believe that the requirement that utilities buy back power from those who produce it, I'm not sure it's fair to require that they buy it back at wholesale rates. Why? Because producing the electricity is only part of their operating costs. They also have to maintain the distribution network. A fairer formula would be to determine how much it costs the utilities to produce the juice and what their profit margin is. Home producers (or businesses that produce excess power) should be paid that amount plus the same profit margin that the utilities make. In the short term, subsidies could be used to make it more attractive for those who install PV systems. But to demand that the utilities lose money (since they have to build and maintain the distribution network) doesn't encourage their participation nor does it bode well for the long term maintenance of our electrical infrastructure.

deb said...

We used to have a good system for regulating energy companies. They were always allowed to make a reasonable profit, but at the same time weren't allowed to give the top employees unconscionable amounts of money. Enron and those like Enron had the laws changed to an unsustainable method.

deb said...

First eco-friendly town to be built in Tianjin

deb said...


deb said...

Richard, Somehow this article seems important. Duke Energy Carolinas Issues Call for Renewable Energy. Are you interested in selling them one of your inventions? I mean, would that be possible? Here's the link to Duke's request for proposals.

Richard Yarnell said...

Duke's a little out of range. So is 2 Megawatts. Besides, I haven't any energy patents to offer.

deb said...

I was thinking of a windmill in the waist of an hourglass with warm air coming in at an angle creating a small tornado. Honestly, I don't have a clue...but have been wondering if such a contraption would be an efficient energy producer. Perhaps, I could be enlightened a bit? ;-)

I do realize that there are some very savvy people and there is little that hasn't been thought of. But I also see that every once in a while somebody comes up with a very usefull device that wasn't terribly complicated, just a new way of looking at something.

Our EMC has proposed a new coal burning plant. I have some major homework to do. I am planning to see how far those same dollars would go toward subsidizing photovoltaic for individual roofs. The individuals would not recieve any money back from electricity feeding the grid until the photovoltaic subsidy was paid back to the EMC in full, however the individual would reap the benefits of lower electric bills in the interim. Any opinions about this idea? The EMC annual meeting is in about a week.

Richard Yarnell said...

Long ago, I think I described in some detail the patent, never developed after it was put on the shelf by a large corporation, that used a cylinder, partially open to the wind, that formed a vortex over a horizontally mounted turbine. When I first read about it in the late 70's, I built two or three versions in about a 1/10th scale. The full scale version would have been 30' high and 9' in diameter using a 5' or 6' propeller.

At my scale it worked well. However, I did not put on it some of the controls that would have been needed to harvest wind coming from various directions. Nor did I have stability issues.

To scale it up to even several tens of thousand kw, would be a major project. Whether it would be cost effective, I don't know. One of the things I like about wind farms that use many smaller machines is that they're cheaper to build than one huge machine, and if one needs repair, taking it off line doesn't appreciably affect the output of the farm.

I think the Australians have proposed building a large scale version of the Wang patent. I think they're nuts. I don't know how much it would cost to build a 9x27' version with a turbine in it. I won't find out anytime soon because I now have wind speeds recorded for a year here. There just isn't enough wind.

As for using the vertical cylinder in wind farms: even though each machine makes a whole lot more juice out of a wind of a given speed, the first line of them would obstruct the wind approaching the second rank. In addition they would take up a lot more ground and farming or pasturing animals would not be compatible. Someone should do the work on them though.

deb said...

My idea was to use the Wang concept in conjunction with the "tower of power" Aussie concept on a small scale for an individual residence. A vertical tower with a horizonal turbine being fed warm air from a house ridge vent (but similar to solar heated water from layers within the roof) in the summer and perhaps add chimney heat in the winter. Could there be enough hot air from a roof to make enough wind which would then make an appreciable amount of electricity?

Changing the subject, this sounds very promising:

The bacteria that eat pollution

I wonder why they feel it would take ten years to get the investors?

Richard Yarnell said...

The heated air isn't sufficient to generate much electricity. However, it might do a dandy job of strengthening the vortex once you have enough wind. The inventor thought that a 30 foot tower (10' diameter) was about the minimum to be practical. That would overwhelm most houses. But they should be installed - just not on the testosterone driven scale of the Aussie project.

I don't know why there would be trouble getting investors. If it exists and it's organic, there's a bug someplace that will eat it. I thought oil eating bacterial were already in use. Back when I was in the USCG (late 60's) they were working with them to clean up oil spills.

Cheryl said...

How many superfund sites do you live near?

If that's not scary enough, take a look at what got flooded in the recent hurricanes.

Cheryl said...

The administration that never sleeps, (at least when there is an oilfield left undrilled).

They want to drill 7,000 more gas rigs in Yellowstone.

details and action letter at

Richard Yarnell said...

I was surprised to learn that there are only three listed in Oregon.

However, the Lower Willamette and the Columbia, where the Willamette joins it, probably could qualify. Better than a century of activity is responsible, much of it dating to a less enlightened time.

deb said...

Thanks for the superfund link Cheryl.

BTW, there are 3 sites listed in Asheville and 2 in Waynesville, which are both fairly close to me and where Christopher will be building.

Thanks for the Yellowstone action letter link. I've had very little time to stay involved lately, the action letters at least let me sign a petition. Hopefully our collective signatures will help make a difference.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Without looking first I am going to guess one of the sites near me and Deb in the Asheville area is a paper mill. Now I will go look.

I had my Bon Voyage party yesterday, finished cleaning up this morning then crashed. Tomorrow the big unloading begins again in ernest.

dan said...

Best of luck with your move Christopher.

John G. said...

close friends of ours from Georgia were killed in a plane crash in the asheville area in the past week. If you and Deb have any info which may or may not be available to us in this area it would be appreciated.
What kind of airport were they trying to land at? What factors are unique to that airport which may have not been made aware to this very experienced pilot?

Thanx again.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

I have no clue John. I have not lived there yet.

Cheryl said...

John, I'm so sorry to hear this.

There is a lot of information online available for private pilots about the status and condition of airports.

deb said...

That is sad news, John; my condolences to you.

There has been nothing in the news since it happened. Here are some links to local papers:!statenews

deb said...

Sorry to follow the sad events of the crash with this article, but I wanted to post the link and suppose that this thread is where it belongs:

Foster's brewery, scientists create energy from making suds

Richard Yarnell said...

Sugar? Starch? Alcohol? Doesn't sound like waste to me!

deb said...

LEDs emerge to fight fluorescents

Welcome to the Future of LED Lighting

deb said...

Wash. Utility to Build Solar Project

Perhaps 'as goes the PNC so goes the nation', at least I hope that will be the case.

deb said...

Scientists Back Off Theory of a Colder Europe in a Warming World

Cheryl said...

Thanks for all the interesting links Deb. We have some LED flashlights, but the price needs to come down a little before we start replacing our compact fluorescents with LEDs.

Always good to hear about new solar projects.

deb said...

Greenpeace: Exxon still funding climate skeptics

deb said...

OK, I am impressed:

Updated: Bill Richardson's Energy Policy

Cheryl said...

Why should we have to choose between buying green and buying American.

"I'm green and I support U.S. jobs. GE should invest in U.S. plants so we can manufacture CFL bulbs and other technologically advanced and environmentally friendly products in the United States. I want to support the environment and good U.S. jobs. I want to buy a U.S.-made CFL light bulb. GE, do the right thing and invest in America."

Petition at

deb said...

I signed the petition Cheryl.

I am thinking that the mercury in those bulbs may be the main reason that they are made in China.

dan said...

Debbie, I also was impressed with Bill Richardson's energy plans. If he's not our next president, I hope he'll play an important role in the next administration.

dan said...

Here's a story about how one man found a way to bring much need light to African villages with solar, LED flashlights.

dan said...

Cheryl, I also signed the petition to G.E.

BTW, I've been super busy for the last few weeks and I haven't had time to comment on your blog entries. But I do read them and I'm convinced you're a talented writer with great perspective. Keep up the good work!

deb said...

Heartwarming story Dan. The ExxonMobile factor caught me offguard, as I have come to associate the corporation with much that is wrong with the world including invading other countries for oil.

I found some interesting info from a company in CA who burns waste for energy:

Envirepel Energy Hits 'Zero Emissions' Renewable Energy Target With Demonstration Test

Here's the link to their webpage:


Here's a link about using aluminum to create hydrogen from water in an engine:

Aluminum could add up to a new fuel option

I watched the Nova "Saved by the Sun" last night. Here is a brief description of the show: TV Program Description

Cheryl said...

Dan, thanks for the encouragement. I haven't been able to write nearly as much as I would like to lately. Sometimes getting by takes a lot of time and energy.

That's a wonderful story about the solar flashlights. Anything on how they compare to the ones you shake to power?

Anyone hear from Christin lately? Her blog appears to be deleted.

Richard Yarnell said...

As soon as I read the NYT piece about Bogo, I sent a message asking for the specs. Haven't heard yet. However, the two replaceable AA cells are supposed to run the light for up to 8 hours on a full day's charge - much longer than the charge from the shakeable ones. With no moving parts, and a well encapsulated solar cell (large compared to the flashlight) that should be almost indesctructable, I'd give the nod to Bogo. The two for one deal is $25 plus shipping (a lot of shipping). You choose from a limited list of charities - lots of religious ones.

deb said...

Another interesting tidbit I found while reading the news:

Chernobyl Fungus Feeds On Radiation

deb said...

Victim of Climate Change, a Town Seeks a Lifeline

John G. said...

Most of you have heard about the fires in my area of the planet and the drought which has accompanied them. Smoke and toxins envelope the whole area almost daily and water restrictions are in full force while everybody crosses their fingers and hopes for rain.
When rain finally does come is it not going to be a different kind of rain? Will all that stuff floating in the atmosphere from the fires not come down with the rain and become some sort of acid rain? should we be careful what we wish for? or will it have no impact?

Richard Yarnell said...


The rain will wash the particles and some of the gas out of the air. It will be beautiful to see.

Whether it's acid or not? Depending on what's burning, I assume wood and grass for the most part, it's not sulfur laden fossil fuel.

I'd take the rain. Lot's of it. I heard this AM that it will take upward's of 40" to make of for the drought.

deb said...

Another example of the current administration not being able to see the big picture:

Budget Would Halt Some Land Conservation

Conservation program funding may be slashed

John G. said...

Anything would be nice. It is hot smoky and the lakes are down 4 foot. We installed a pump today to try and draw some out of the creek and fill them back up before we lose all the bass and cat. Never had to do that before.

deb said...

Heard that y'all have been getting rain JG. Hope the drought is over with!

deb said...


Google pushes 100-mpg car
Offers millions to advance plug-in hybrid vehicles and other technologies that link nation's transport system to the electric grid.

dan said...

Hi Deb, Patty is retiring as of tomorrow and a plug-in hybrid would fit her (our) new lifestyle perfectly. I'll join you in a big Woo Hoo for Google.

Cheryl said...

Congratulations to Patty. I'm sure it's well deserved. Enjoy.

deb said...

Congrats to Patty!!!

"The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off." ~Abe Lemons

More retirement quotes;-)

Quotations: Retirement

dan said...

Cheryl/Deb, Patty thanks you both for the well wishes. She had some impressive results teaching some very underprivileged children in the inner-city, but it did take all her energy. She's ready to move on.

What she wasn't ready for was her husband being laid-up on the first days of her retirement. I managed to tear a calf muscle playing tennis and my doctor has me in a splint and crutches for a minimum of 10 days. So action on her list of projects that we were going to plunge into will suffer a short delay.

Most of my energy has been spent on activities in my new community. Because of my involvement in almost every committee, someone dubbed me the "mayor" and that nickname seems to be sticking. I do feel like we're progressing very well and I suspect there's not a friendlier place in the country.

I know that national and international affairs demand my attention also and I'll get back to that soon. For the moment, involvement in local matters with measurable results is much more rewarding.

I hope you're both doing well.

deb said...

Sorry to hear about your accident, Dan. I wish you a speedy recovery so you can enjoy y'alls retirement and you can get back into being the mayor...or maybe run for the US Senate;-)

The changes that we are seeking have to start locally, keep up the good work!

Richard Yarnell said...

The shell of the "craft workshop" arrived this morning, dropped from one trailer to another at the feed store. The driver, a good ol' boy from SC started in on Democrats. He was warned off but failed to heed the advice. Susan nailed him twice, hard.

She'll have a picture of the kit: impossibly small when you consider it will be a 20x15x32 foot building. I kid you not, the pallet was 3'x4' and had everything on it except two buckets (3050 bolts) and the long pieces of channel that receive the shell on top of the stub wall above the slab.

It's going to go fast from here on out.

deb said...

Good for Susan. South Carolinians can be the worst...even for the south!

Oh, and don't rub it in when your cottage is finished before the house I've been working on for a year and a half;-)

Enjoy...a house is the ultimate craft project.

Christopher also plans to put up a small cottage in short order. He will be living there while he builds a larger house.

Richard Yarnell said...

The county here is adamant that we not put in a stove, even though we have a legitimate use for one - dyeing, processing wool, warming honey, etc. "You could live it it!"

All the work to make it homey will be done after the main house is finished and the inspectors have gone home. After that, they need a warrant to enter!

Christopher C. NC said...

Richard your "craft workshop" will be a bit bigger than my cabin, 14x27 with a sleeping loft. I want to see about removing the gas furnace/stove from the cabin and putting it under the cabin or else where to get the interior space it will use up.

I learned from the county septic system inspector that size requirements of the system are based on number of bedrooms not the number of bathrooms plus kitchen. He was asking about dens or offices with closets. When I asked why he explained it is the potential number of bedrooms/people that they look at. Now the sitting rooms in my future house will not get closets until they need a warrant to enter.

Cheryl said...

Way back in the olden days of New Orleans, property tax was based on the number of closets in a house. That's why there aren't any closets in most of the historic houses there. Chifforobes were very popular.

deb said...

Architectural designs based on taxes and gov't regs have created some interesting buildings. When the US was a British colony the Brits taxed more if a house faced the planned city streets (sign of wealth) as opposed to those houses without a road in front. Houses in Charleston from that era usually have no front door.

Row House

deb said...

Well DUH ... Study: Plug-In Hybrids May Cut Emissions. And, hopefully, this article will motivate people to demand a PHEV. There is also an update on the PHEV progress in the article.

dan said...

I'm ready. I had the builder add some extra outlets in my garage so I could
easily plug in my PHEV.

deb said...

Now we convince the power companies to generate green electricity.

The new coal plant that Duke power intends to build will cost them 1.8 billion, and they still have to buy coal for it. I wonder how many solar panels could be installed for that amount?

deb said...

Energy Search Goes Underground

"Scientists say this geothermal energy, clean, quiet and virtually inexhaustible, could fill the world's annual needs 250,000 times over with nearly zero impact on the climate or the environment.

A study released this year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said if 40 percent of the heat under the United States could be tapped, it would meet demand 56,000 times over. It said an investment of $800 million to $1 billion could produce more than 100 gigawatts of electricity by 2050, equaling the combined output of all 104 nuclear power plants in the U.S."