Sunday, November 29, 2009

My own energy cap is the circuit breaker

China, US and other countries are discussing numbers with Copenhagen Climate Conference on it's way.

It isn't likely to mean much till differences start trickling down to the grassroots level.

I've got my own "energy cap." It's the circuit breaker.

My room has one wall socket feeding a network of extension cords and surge suppressors. It all has to fit under 15 amps (around 1,500 watts) or the breaker goes plunging everything into darkness.

Computers and compact lights don't take much energy so that part is fairly easy.

The heater is a bit more challenging. I have a great portable heater for one room, but it stays on it's lowest setting - 600 watts. There's also a 900 watt setting and both switches equal 1,500 watts.

600 watts is the safest setting to keep the breaker happy.

Oh, I forgot to mention, one or two plug ins on the same breaker are scattered around in my neighbor's apartment. That means less than 15 amps for me, depending on what they've got plugged in across the hall.

No problem, I just wear jackets in the house and the sun warms my south facing window, on sunny days. Climate here is quite mild so we get very few days below freezing.

There's some residual heat from other parts of the house. The other apartments have radiators that run from the gas furnace. For some reason, this room doesn't have that.

Still, it works out quite well. I'm out a lot anyway and usually turn things off unless I'm home.

Living near downtown Bellingham, the world is my living room. There's warm saunas at the YMCA, dancing, biking and the symbolic warmth of having many friends.

One thing that really helps back home is an electric blanket. It can keep one toasty without heating the whole room. Draws roughly 180 watts.

I don't drive, but all the warm showers and saunas that I enjoy take energy.

Possibly my biggest greenhouse sin is chocolate milk, however. I drink lots of it. Dairy industry is local (for the buy local advocates), but supposedly a greenhouse gas emitter.

Maybe someday, I should switch to soy milk.

Find me a tasty, less expensive soy milk product and I'll see.

Those who head off to Copenhagen and run the numbers aren't going to be able to accomplish much unless "we the people" are up for changes.

Incidentally, from what I hear, the city of Copenhagen offers many examples of living with a low carbon footprint. A compact European city with lots of windmills and bicycles. Maybe Copenhagen can be a learning experience for the world.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

TV challenged

People say I am TV challenged since I don't watch TV. I'm often at a loss when the conversation goes to TV shows and actors. It's not really my world. I'm the same way with movies and sports.

Who's Tiger Woods? Well, I sort of knew. Something to do with football? No golf.

Monday, November 23, 2009

First proton collisions at Large Hadron Collider took place earlier today


In plenty of time for Christmas. They were hoping to get collisions before the Christmas holidays. Looks like they've been good. Santa even brought that stocking stuffer before our (USA) Thanksgiving.

More presents (1.2 TeV per beam) await opening under the tree before Christmas and even bigger packages (3.5 Tev) after New Years.

What's inside the packages, behind the wrapping?

Pieces for the cosmic puzzle that is slowly taking shape; like the farm scene puzzle my brother started one Christmas. Maybe before too long, we'll be able to make out part of the barn.

I envisioned a gift to the earth of bright light emitting diodes during a closing circle. That was during the closing circle for a discussion which was sponsored by Transition Whatcom. The discussion dealt with moving toward a low carbon footprint economy.

I see technology as one of the important tools toward a sustainable world.

Others in the closing circle envisioned gifts to the earth of cool forests, singing people and so forth. My vision was different, but it got a good response.

My envisioned gift to the earth to help it cool down. LEDs rather than fires.

LEDs make good bike lights also.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Water on the moon

Possibly good news for future space missions to use. Easier than carrying it up there.

Maybe it's too spread out and hard to extract, but at least it's there.

Also has science value. Core sampling in some very old ice. Learn more about the history of the solar system?

Also in the news.

Large Hadron Collider in Europe has successfully sent a proton stream around it's entire circumference. Another step toward the high energy collisions between protons that will teach us more about matter, space, time and other cosmic questions.

One justification for science. It's a jobs program for intellectuals.

I've noticed that the local job market seems to be over saturated with college educated folks. Many work as waiters around here, for instance.

Nothing wrong with a simple life. Not everyone has to be in a big field, so to speak, but it does seem like there is a glut of educated people out there.

Better to ask cosmic questions than make bombs with that unused talent pool.

We need more science projects to employ the flood of educated people pouring out of schools these days. Pouring out into economies dominated by places like Walmart.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bike light retrofit

It's that time of year again. Days getting shorter. Good to have lights on your bike.

This bright wand full of LEDs runs on 3 AA batteries.

It's not really designed for bikes. I got it at Fred Myers several years ago for only $20. Bright and handy.

It's actually a shop light. Designed to hang among pipes, or whatever. There's a retractable hook at the top.

Remember old shop lights with the dangling cord? LEDs make it easier. Less worry stumbling over the cord. Bright light runs maybe 3 hours on one set of batteries.

This can't be much of an ad for the light company, however. All I see is a sticker on the bottom saying "the designer's edge." Behind battery compartment door, the type is in German. Who made it?

Oh, I just found out. The Designers Edge lighting company.

I made a loop from bungee cord. Stretchy so it's easy to shove light into stretchy circle of cord to be held with friction.

Text added Sept. 2012.

Light for only $7.95 in bucket at grocery / hardware (everything) store in Rainbow, Oregon.

The only store in town (town?), but it had what I needed including a bucket with these LED shop lights. Wow, the price has come down. Got my first shop light of this style back in 2008 for $20. This bucketful had them priced at under $8 apiece. Technology keeps marching on. I think even better than the previous design. I retrofitted it with foam padding and a bungy cord to make a great bicycle headlight.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Seattle defeated anti gay Initiative 13 in 1978 Seattle Times front page picture

Hopefully Washington State can celebrate the passage of Referendum 71; preserving the domestic partnership bill that was passed in Olympia, but challenged at the ballot box. Looks like 71 is ahead, but more ballots are being counted as I write.

Ballot box victories for gay rights may be somewhat rare, but not unprecedented. Usually human rights are extended by court or legislative action rather than popular vote, but Referendum 71 isn't a first.

In 1978, Seattle voters rejected an initiative to repeal that city's non discrimination in housing and employment ordinance which had been extended by the city council to cover sexual minorities.

Pictured above, November 8 1978 Seattle Times that I happened to keep.

In Seattle, a group called S.O.M.E. for Save Our Moral Values mounted their campaign to repeal the ordinance.

Initiative 13.

It was defeated with a sound margin.

Notice the angry look on the face of one of SOME's proponents beside the celebration of gay rights activists.

I remember a brochure from one gay rights organization saying, "Stop SOME before they become many."

That same election day, California voters rejected Proposition 6, otherwise known as the Briggs Initiative. Prop. 6 would have singled out gay people to ban from teaching in the schools, among other things.

Hopefully Referendum 71 can be added to the list of ballot box victories for human rights.

Note added later. Referendum 71 passed in favor of preserving domestic partnership.