Sunday, November 11, 2012

On Veteran's Day :: Honoring The Military Men In My Family

My dad after WWII...he attended The University of Texas on the GI Bill and became a Geologist for Union Oil Company of California...
Remembering my Dad

Skiing in the Italian Alps at the close of WWII...I'm pretty sure his ship never engaged the enemy...
Remembering my Dad

My dad was in the Navy, a "Signalman". The guy who flashed the bright light in Morse Code to communicate to other ships. That's about all I know. I'm wishing now that I had talked to him more about this time in his life. We were close - we had a good relationship - but I regret not "knowing" him better. I'm sure he was full of stories. He was full of poetry that he could recite from memory. "Gunga Din" by Rudyard Kipling was a favorite, and lots of Robert Service. I still keep the book of Robert Service poetry close by - my mom & dad gave it to me for Christmas or my birthday one year during high school. "The Cremation Of Sam McGee" is one that I almost know by heart. My dad also introduced me to Jack London's novels, and lots of other literature long forgotten, I'm sure.

I remember going to his office as a little kid. Back in those days it was stacks and stacks of maps and well logs. I remember playing with his slide-rule, and triangles and drawing and drafting implements. I still have one of his leather shot filled map weights on my desk. I also still have most of his drafting stuff. In a box. Somewhere.

It's been thirty years since his death from lung cancer - thirty years this past April. I still miss him. I miss knowing him. I miss not knowing him.

He was a good man.

My grandfather, Felix Alex Todd, Jr. was a Lt. Colonel in the Army. I never met him. He died in a military plane crash on June 30, 1943. My mom was 11 or 12 years old at the time. My uncle (her brother) was 6 or 7 I would guess.

All I know is the stories my mom has told me. That he died in a plane crash and that sabotage was suspected. That he had something to do with the establishment of the Officer's Candidate School. That he was stationed in the Phillipines for a time - where my mom was born. And then stationed in Panama - where my uncle was born. Then to Fort Benning in Georgia. Then after that I don't know. They may have lived in the D.C. area up until he died. I'm not sure.

My grandfather in the early 1900's...he was born in 1905...
My maternal grandfather :: Felix Alex Todd, Jr.

Graduation Photograph - Westpoint - July 1923
Felix Graduation

Felix Alex Todd, Jr.

Newspaper clipping
Lt. Col. Felix Alex Todd, Jr.  newspaper clipping

And as it turns out, there is one more military man in my lineage that I should pay respects to. My 5th Great Grandfather (on my mother's side) was John William Smith aka William John Smith, born in 1792 in Virginia. He ended up being one of the messengers at the Battle of the Alamo, and served as the first mayor of San Antonio - two terms I believe. He also became a Senator representing the Bexar District (San Antonio and environs) of The Republic of Texas.

So obviously he wasn't in the United States military - it was the Texas Revolution, The Battle of the Alamo - but still, I want to remember and honor him, as well.

Here's a link if you want to read more him:

On Sunday :: Mother Earth. Worth Dying For?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Get Up Stand Up Don't Give Up The Fight

This is a wonderfully succinct video. Rachel Maddow pretty well sums up how our system of government is supposed to work. But there is a natural expectation that somehow Republicans/Right Leaning Folks will somehow see "the error of their ways", "their 'wrong' policies/beliefs", and magically change their minds/belief systems. Within just a couple of days after the election, I'm getting the drift that really nothing will change on that side of the aisle - that Republicans and Tea Party candidates will continue hell-bent in their Obstructionist Approach to Obama, his policies, and all things "Democratic" and "Socialist". There is a great deal of cognitive impoverishment and cognitive dissonance out there in the ranks of the Right. The hard work has only just begun. Our votes are not the end of our civic duty - our vote is the beginning of our civic duty. Our job now is to become intimately involved in our own governance at the Local, County, State, AND Federal levels. Pick them all, or pick one issue/area near and dear to your heart. Dedicate an hour a day to following the issues - and becoming involved. How many of us have written to our elected representatives? Or called? Or emailed? I, for one, plan to get involved, and personally meet with every single one of my elected representatives. I plan to let them know that they represent me even though I didn't vote for them. I plan to let them know what my expectations are of them as my representative. I plan to let them know I will be keeping tabs on their actions, statements, and votes that effect me, my loved ones, my precinct, my town, my county, my metropolitan area, my state, my country, my ecosystems, my hydrologic systems, and my planet. I wholeheartedly urge my fellow citizens to do the same. It is time to get up, stand up, and start the hard work of making our world a better place to live.

Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight.

Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight

Preacher man don't tell me,
Heaven is under the earth
I know you don't know
What life is really worth
It's not all that glitters is gold
Half the story has never been told
So now you see the light, eh!
You stand up for your right
Come on!

Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight
Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight

Most people think
Great God will come from the sky,
Take away everything
And make-a everybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights, jah!

Get up, stand up (Jah, jah)
Stand up for your right (Oh, hoo)
Get up, stand up (Get up, stand up)
Don't give up the fight (Life is your right)
Get up, stand up (So we can't give up the fight)
Stand up for your right (Lord, Lord)
Get up, stand up (Keep us struggling on)
Don't give up the fight, yeah

We sick an' tired of your ism-skism game
Dyin' 'n' goin' to heaven in-a Jesus' name, Lord
We know when we understand
Almighty God is a living man
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time
So now we see the light (What you gonna do?)
We gonna stand up for our rights (Yeah, jah, jah!)

So you better
Get up, stand up (In the morning, get it up)
Stand up for your right (In the night)
Get up, stand up
Don't give up the fight (Don't give it up, don't give it up)
Get up, stand up (Get up, stand up)
Stand up for your right (Get up, stand up)
Get up, stand up (Don't be a nigger in your neighborhood, yeah)
Don't give up the fight (Get up, stand up)
Get up, stand up (I don't think that should be very good, Lord) (Get up, stand up)
Stand up for your right (Get up, stand up)
Get up, stand up (I said, don't be a nigger in your neighborhood, yeah)
Don't give up the fight

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bruder, können sie ersparen 22 Gigawatt solarenergie?

I saw this up on Facebook a bit ago. The math didn't sit well with me after a lil' bit 'o pre-coffee sluggish brain cypherin'.

So y'all who know me know what I had to do. Break out the spreadsheet and get to Google'in. Here's what I came up with in response/commentary:

Solar power to nuclear power is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Posts like this are good – necessary to get the information out there to fuel the global paradigm shift to sustainable energy sources. We need more and more of this in the U.S. where the shift has barely begun. We are way behind other countries who are not under the grips of the petrochemicalmilitaryindustrialcomplex/lobby. Way behind.

But these posts/memes are not good when they mis-inform, even if unintentionally. Inaccurate information/math doesn’t help the sustainable energy cause. Don’t even get me started on the topic of intentional/willful disinformation. But I don’t think that’s what we’re seeing here.

Let’s do the 8th Grade math (don’t get me started on the American educational system – let’s say it’s 8th grade math everywhere else in the world – in the U.S. it’s college level math)…grin…

Taking Germany’s nine (9) nuclear power plants at a combined rated capacity of 12,696MW, extrapolating that to twenty (20) plants, yields a capacity of 28,213MW. That converts to 28.21GigaWatts. With an average capacity factor of 70% for nuclear power, we arrive at 173,000GWh (Gigawatt-Hours).

For a total rated capacity of 22GW “Solar”, using a capacity factor of 15% (which is being really generous with the German sunshine – Arizona is 19% - John Wind is correct at about 9% capacity factor) – the simple math gives us 28,908GWh.

20 Nuclear Plants = 173,000GWh

22GW of Solar = 28,908GWh

In this example, the solar values equal 17% of the nuclear values.
So, every 6.58GW of installed solar replaces the output of one (1) average nuclear power plant.

The reason for this is that nukes run almost 100% of the time (downtime for maintenance, repairs, changing fuel rods, decreased demand, etc.) and solar only “runs” when the sun is shining.

To replace twenty (20) nuclear power plants, it would take 131.66GW of installed solar capacity.

Germany’s goal is to have 66GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, which is admirable. It is the right thing to do. But it is not enough.

Germany is currently purchasing electricity from nuclear plants located just outside of their borders, and increasing their coal-fired electricity output to replace the electricity from the eight (8) nuclear plants they shut down in 2011 after the Fukushima disaster.

Adding electricity generating capacity from solar, wind and other renewable sources is the right thing to do.

But it is not everything. It is not the end of the game. It does not get us to where we need to be, energy-wise, nor lifestyle-wise.

The one thing that everyone is not figuring into all of this – is that we ALL need to begin changing our lifestyles to BEGIN USING LESS ENERGY. Using less energy tomorrow than we are today. And even less next year than this year. And less, and less and less.

There is a myth prevailing that we can get all of our energy needs from solar, wind, and other renewables. We can, but not at our current rates of energy consumption. The entire planet will have to drastically reduce its energy needs. And “drastically” is an understatement.

And, indeed, Louis Cruz, Jr. is correct. The photo is of the PS10 Concentrating Solar Facility in Andalucia, Spain.

P.S. None of this analysis deals with the fact that solar only supplies power to the grid during the sunshiney daylight hours – unless we start talking battery storage for every PV array – then the math and economics and environmental benefits get much more complicated.

On a very related subject, check out a prior post of mine...