Fun & Games with the Power Grid

August 30, 2007

And you thought power crises were things that only happened to other nations…

The California Independent Service Operator Corporation, who runs California’s power grid, have declared a Stage One Electrical Emergency.   A quick look at the graph on CASIO’s website shows that expected demand is going touch the maximum available electricity resources, which I believe would mean a Stage 3 Emergency, and rolling blackouts for parts of the state.

This isn’t a unique occurrence, for California seems to have  power problems every summer.   It’s good to keep in mind that almost 40% of elctricity generated in California comes from natural gas, which appears to be having supply issues much like petroleum.

Why I Don’t Focus on Sustainability Much…

August 27, 2007

Miranda over at Simple Living has been taking some brickbats recently from readers from the sounds of it. For those of you who don’t read her blog (and if you don’t you should IMO), she and her family have been taking some massive steps towards reducing their energy usage (see her Riot for Austerity post for details) by 90% or more. It’s a laudable goal, and while she’s not there yet, she’s making good progress, and at any rate she’s doing a hell of a lot more than I am on that front.

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Recent Adventures in Food Prep

August 25, 2007

I’ve been trying some new recipes and whatnot in recent months and have finally uploaded some photos to share.

Photos & notes after the jump.

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Hurricane Dean: Good News/Bad News

August 20, 2007

Well, it appears that Dean will stay far enough South that it will miss the US and (more importantly for this site), the US oil infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico. Dean looks like it’ll slam into the Yucatan Peninsula near the border with Belize as either a Cat 4 or Cat 5 storm, will lose a lot of strength over land, re-intensify a bit in the southern GOM, and then hit mainland Mexico again.

The good news (for us anyway) is that Dean will avoid major population centers and won’t hit the US directly at all. The bad news is that it’ll smack into the Cantarell oil complex and will likely cause some damage there. Oh, and the next storm in line appears to be forming in the Atlantic now, though it’s far enough north that it’ll likely avoid the Gulf, and if it does organize into a storm, it may just spin through the Atlantic and not hit the mainland at all. We’ll have to see. All I know for sure is that we’re just starting to hit the peak of hurricane season now.

Locally, we got a fair bit of rain over the weekend, though not nearly as much as people in Southern Minnesota. A house in our development was hit by lightning, which made a hellaciously loud thunderclap, and my son got to watch the local fire department use their ladder truck to good effect while putting out a small fire, and inspecting the roof of that unfortunate house. The hole was small, but there was at least 3 hours where the rain was running right into the attic.

Clock is Ticking on Las Vegas’ Water Supply

August 17, 2007

Found this in the comments section at The Oil Drum:

The news coming from the Southern Nevada Water Authority Thursday about the valley’s future water supply is worrisome. Unless we act quickly, there will be no water for hundreds of thousands of Las Vegas Valley residents in just three years.

The problem can be solved, for a while at least, by spending at least $45 millon on new water pumps at Lake Mead. How long the lake could support such extra water demand is an open question as well, for water levels are falling year over year. Keep in mind that Las Vegas already banned sod in front yards in 2004, so they have already taken some steps towards reducing needless water usage.

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Interestin’ Stuff

August 17, 2007

There are times life is slow, and times life turns fast. We appear to be entering into the left lane of life for a while…


  • The stock market continues to see-saw around. It drops during the day and then makes amazing comebacks late in the day. Whether this is truly ‘bargain hunters’ (well-coordinated ones at that), devious machinations of the Fed and their minions, or computerized trading programs deciding it’s time to jump back into the pool I don’t know. The fun & games with subprime mortgage debt continues, with Countrywide Financial (i.e. the largest mortgage company in the USA) feeling the heat hard enough to tap an $11.5 billion dollar line of credit. As explained here, this is akin to you or I getting behind on our bills and having to go to one of those payday loan shops for a loan to go to the grocery store. If your dad finds out about this, he’ll probably give you hell for being such an idiot with your finances. In a similar vein, Moody’s is punishing Countrywide by downgrading it’s corporate bond rating from A3 (pretty good) to Baa3 (one step above junk). Any further downgrading of Countrywide’s rating will spell disaster for the company, as many institutional funds would be forced to sell any bonds now rated as junk. This is the largest home mortgage lender in the country folks, and they have minimal exposure to subprime loans. It’s another example of how the liquidity binge of the last five yars or so is now unwinding and catching a lot of other companies, investors and others in it’s net… and this is probably just the start of this cycle. Read the rest of this entry »

An Excellent Intro to Peak Oil

August 16, 2007

If you haven’t seen Gail Tverberg’s in-progress booklet on peak oil, you really should take a look.  It presents a lot of timely information in a neutral and balanced tone.  This is especially important when introducing new people to the subject.  I like Kunstler’s writing, but it can be terribly off-putting for some people, and information about our potential (I’d go so far as to say probable) energy future is too important to everyone to allow it to stay pigeonholed as it has been so far for the most part.

Read the booklet and pass the link on to anyone you think would be interested in the subject.