Wednesday, 28 February 2007

The Sixth Degree of IRC

Being now over 50 and officially an OldFart, I had to revisit. What does an OldFart revisit? Well, his old IRC channel for NotQuiteOldFartsYet. Empty except for one person.

"Wow" I thought, "what an attrition rate!" but the lone person still in channel like a rusting marker buouy told me that the channel had been abandoned in droves and everyone was hanging in a new channel, so I headed over there.

The three people in that channel were similarly either asleep, in town, or on chores. But eventually I began to be able to carry out a strange, time-warped conversation. Several of the occupants I'd met in real life here in Perth, and one of them who went interstate married the bloke that uprooted his life here in Perth and followed her there a month or two later.

As I was chatting, it turns out that the bloke is the agent for one of our PRAWNHEADS members here in Perth although (and despite both living here at one stage) has never met the man he works for. Wow - world of wonders, all that.

But we got along well (in relay mode, his wife was relaying messages between us) and next time he is in Perth he now has a guaranteed lunch date.

So I went to PRAWNHEADS lunch today full of the news but the local chap wasn't there, but one of the others, as I told the story, went "oh yeah that would be so and so I knew him when he ran XYX Storehere years ago!"

Just goes to show. If you live in a geek baby boomer environment, the world really IS a small place...

PS: For the curious, PRAWNHEADS is an acronym for Perth Radio And Wireless Noodle House Eating And Discussion Society, we now have affiliate members interstate %) and we meet weekly for lunch and bullshit slinging. If you feel at home with the name and can spare one long lunchtime a week and are in Perth (other cities coming soon!) feel free to contact us and show up for a lunch...

Monday, 26 February 2007

Well that showed where the gutters are full!

Most pleasant, have had short but intense rainstorm and the gutter out back at least is blocked with leaves and crap because it overflowed within five seconds of that little cloudburst. Am I going up on the roof to clear it now? You kidding? Lightning bolts the size of planetbuster bombs, thunder to match, and the last twenty minutes the power has spiked and sagged at least fifteen times, I've switched to my very oldest and crappest laptop because I think the first surge took the less old one out, at leastways, it won't boot now either...

That makes two laptops taken out by powerline noise since December. And Western Power won't take responsibility for either one (they have already declined to replace the one their power spike killed in December, thank you. And our insurance company likewise decline to assist, what the hell we pay them for I'm stuffed if I know) so I am now down to a very slow old toshiba that's about seven years old. Never mind, I'll put in a claim to the insurance company again and I bet they will decline again.

Strikes me that what I once said about "service" companies is, if they are making a profit then they are indeed "servicing" you but not quite in the way you imagined...

Tips For Managers

We can get by on one simple dictum: "do unto others as you would that they do unto you" but it seem that to be a manager you need another 73 things beaten into your skull. I'd have thought these were all abvious, I use at least some of the rules all the time in my interactions with people around me, and all of the rules at some stage.

We All Need Smart-ass Cats

tonight for some reason when I showered I closed the bathroom door, after a year I'm still not fully realising I have this room and adjoined bathroom pretty much to myself.

And then I started thinking that Ghostie wasn't sitting on the toilet as he usually does. Opened the door while drying myself and in he ran all miaows and accusations that I've locked him out of my life - and then he communicated what he really wanted. I know his "come on I'm hungry" miaow now, and that was it.

See, back when the house had only one bathroom and I'd put a spa in it, there wasn't yet a curtain around the spa tub which is also the shower. Ghostie would have been two at that time, and he came in and sat just out of spray reach and watched me for a few minutes, then miaowed and when I looked to see what was up, very deliberately began washing himself. ("See? I know what you're doing Ted!")

And so whenever the bathroom door is open, he now comes to make sure I don't get harmed by that water stuff, and he washes himself too. Generally if I haven't fed the cats their evening meal by then, he miaows and calls me to the kitchen. Except the night I didn't have anything for them and said "sorry, nothing tonight". That night he just jumped on the bed at his usual post on the foot end and lay down. He understood me alright...

And then last night when I heard a noise out front and wrapped the towel around me and said "hang on I'm just going to check" - when I got back he was still sitting there waiting for me to brush my hair and finish drying... He understood that too.

Tonight as I said he gave me the Starving Cat Miaow and even though I'd fed them already tonight, why should he need to be hungry? So I said "you want to be fed, right?" and off he took for the kitchen... No communciation gap there either...

And as always he wanted to make sure I knew he appreciated it, even though he was very hungry (must have gotten chased away by the older male, his uncle) he came and rubbed against my leg first and then miaowed from the food bowl to make sure I was watching and gave me the cat love stare. You know the one their face goes all fat and they almost fully close their eyes, it's cat for "I love you and trust you" - so I know how much communication takes place.

Anyway -- just had to write that up because these cats have shown me how intelligent they really are and I still find stuff like that to amaze me every day... If it's not cats then it's chimps using spears to hunt.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

American Capitalist - Senators? . . .

Sometimes, Ask Yahoo has just the most thought-provoking answers . . .

Like this one. Yes, you have to click and go read.

Okay, now that you're back. I'm sure you picked up the worrying quote from all that - "Although the position doesn't guarantee wealth, a shocking 40% of senators are certified millionaires. Gotta like those odds... "

You should "gotta be horrified" at those figures, Mr and Mrs Average American. The positions most definitely don't guarantee wealth, so you "gotta ask yourself" where that money is coming from . . .

This is, by the way, also a good test to apply to Government officials here in Australia. Take a long hard look at their personal wealth. If they have more of that than you do, do you really want them representing you?

Yes they have more expenses than we do - but if all things are equal and they don't have their snouts in too many troughs, then their personal disposable wealth after all those expenses shouldn't be that much more than ours, and definitely not more than the GNP of some Third World countries.

Once you are sitting in a restaurant for dinner every other night, you quickly forget how hard it was to have macaroni cheese four nights a week while you were struggling to get through Uni . . .

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Newswarp.. Newswrap... Yeah...

Telstra has a record share price despite a loss in profit and our stock market breaks a record. I'm sitting here at home in Perth's southern suburbs using an ADSL connection which is slower on average than a dial-up connection, because Telstra can supply ADSL2 to Yackandanda Pub but they can't supply broadband in capital cities... It really really makes me angry, it does. I can't even go back to dialup because the line with ADSL imposed on it is now too noisy for a modem to work.

And on a lighter note, it seems like the whales are finally going to get a break - apparently the japanese saw the videos of the light-up deep sea squid and said "man! I gotta have me some of that, yummm!"

REVA Electric Cars.

Won't post this again, go take a look.

New Section Added

Newly added, for your convenience, a blog which serves as a database of addresses of businesses and companies, most of them in Perth but there will be more as other cities chime in. For now, go take a look at the new section, and what a typical address card looks like.

I've mainly added this to support the zencookbook and reviews blogs, but it's also a resource that may blossom into something better with time. Stay tuned...

If you know of any business, person, or company which should be registered in the list, or if you're such a body yourself, please leave a comment for me and I'll investigate and make it so...

Wailing Twats On Whaling Boats

Is it only funny to me that the japanese are being such total twats?

I pointed out in a previous article that the captain of the Nisshin Maru a year or two ago lied his ass off to get restocked by a ship's chandler here in Perth. That alone qualifies Japanese whalers as total pond scum in my books.

And now their Nisshin Maru is on fire, they're asking us, who have made it plain we abhor what they are doing, for aid with their ship? And to make matters worse they are "not extending that request to anti-whaling ships in the vicinity..."

Personally I say let the bastards sink, let the anti-whaling campaigners go and "help" by pumping the fuel oil for themselves so that when the Nisshin Maru sinks it won't be a total ecological disaster. But as far as aid goes, let them abandon ship, we'll claim the NM as a salvage and turn her into a reef where whales can go to eat krill and laugh.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

The Easy Way To Renewable Clean Energy

The short answer is, there isn't an easy way. I am tending to agree with Tim Flannery (via PerthNORG) on his assessment of the situation. This is a situation far more serious than war. A war can devastate *most* of the planet . . .

If you make the Government responsible for driving the change to sustainable clean energy sources, you are putting them between a rock and a hard place. And you will still end up with the situation I propose. Why? Well, in order to make energy available to us from clean renewable sources, the Government first has to scrap existing plant. That has probably not amortised yet, nor returned the investment and ongoing costs. They have to do this themselves in the case of State-run plant, or by proxy in the case of privatised plant. But the cost has to be borne.

Then they have to buy and install renewable energy sources. These don't come cheap either, and Western Power / Synergy (here in WA, used as an example only) would be increasing electricity costs substantially in order to recoup the costs and losses.

Also, wwhenever Government gets involved, the contractors and suppliers automatically add a nought to the figure. Come one, they think of a profit and double it for the consumer, and to such people, the Government resembles a very warm, very welcoming , very squeezable udder of milk honey and money. Of course they'll do it.

At the moment the average West Aussie must be spending somewhere in the vicinity of (gets calculator out, hums and harrumphs a bit) $1200 to $2200 per year for electricity, and about a third less for gas., say $800 to $1500. I know a few people to whom the energy bill already presents a substantial obstacle every six weeks or so. How are they going to fare when those costs double or even quadruple?

Over at the Zen blog I present some ideas for reducing your energy use but even optimistically I can only expect the average West Aussie might reduce their energy demand by 25%. The brings the electric bill down to $1650 per year now, and possibly $6600 instead of $8800 if utility prices go up as predicted. That is still scary shit for the average Aussie, very much there will be less lights switched on, back to sitting around one TV, etc.

Oh yes and the price of the electrically pumped water supply will go up by a similar amount, too.

SO . . . What's the solution I propose? Okay as Flannery says let's put this on a war footing. Anyone exceeding their quota of greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants, is a traitor in this war, and traitors really do get shot. That removes the temptation to pull a swifty and make money undeservedly, a squad or three of REAL ecological response teams will start making the public aware that we do not mess around.... (Sorry - I know this is radical but I also know that human nature and greed being what they are, even this measure will not discourage everyone from trying their luck, to the detriment of the environment.)

Then make some war type efforts. During the war, munitions ordnance and machinery were cheaper than beans, because they were the entire focus of the war industry. We need to do the same thing with wind generators, solar panels, geothermal turbines. Again, I'm working on the ideas for making them cheaper, making them smarter, and making them more efficient so we'll need less of them to do the same amount of energy. But the machines need to be tooled to produce these things, in HUGE quantities.

By the Government subsidising the plant that makes them and sticks to the prices, and by the Government then subsidising each home installation per watt produced - certified watt produced - it would become as expensive as two years' electricity bills. Banks would be required to provide energy loans at the most reduced interest, no questions asked, no balking allowed, if the borrower had an approved set of plans for their house and a work quote from the installer.

You pay the bank about as much as you'd been paying on your electricity bill before solar activation, for two years, and the rest of the power is yours. If you produce surplus power, you feed it back into the grid and Synergy / Western Power pay you for that electricity. But not immediately. For a few years they accept your energy for free, until the credit equals the amount of subsidies that were provided. Are you seeing this? 100,000 houses in one city each producing a spare 5KW/hrs a day will no doubt repay their subsidies inside the same two years that the bank loan runs for. After that point, all electricity harvested by your installation is yours, and free, and you can sell it to the grid and earn money on it. Want to install a second installation just to put power back in the grid? Go ahead (within local zoning laws) and make some money!

You see, for each home that puts power back into the grid, it will do so during the work day when people aren;t home using electricity as much. And that's a time that commercial air conditioners are running in the business and industrial districts, and all the machinery is switched on. So Western Pwer don't need to build a bigger power plant, just clean up the emission of the existing ones. And in the atfernoon when the "people getting home" peak once used to hit - nothing, a tiny ripple . . .

Using solar stills, you can also recover your own grey water for washing and watering plants, reducing the demand on the water grid in turn. As proven recently you can use wind to extract water out of thin air - but you can also do that with solar energy and diesel energy if you like, the machines I'm working on just need a power source (grid or solar) and unlike wind powered extraction plant, work steadily no matter what the wind conditions. If using them for asgricultural purposes, they are perfect because when it's raining, there isn't enough solar energy to keep them running, and when it's hot and dry and the air is incredibly transparent, they work at their best.

Again, subsidise both ends of the chain (but not so heavily as solar power - see next paragraph) to make them more affordable, and by decentralising water gleaning you again produce economy by sheer numbers.

Why one can't subsidise this too much is that you do NOT want anyone returning water to the water grid. First, it will play havoc with carefully designed hydrostatics, and second - but VERY importantly - it gives anyone who rents a house with water gleaners access to the city's water supply, from pretty much any place around the city. A real terrorist/nutcase/anyone with an axe to grind Heaven, that would be.

That's why I say the war on weather-altering greenhouse gas emission will be won house by house, home by home. Not State by State, not by the hair on John's chinny-chin-chin. Read the zencookbook blogsite through, and grab the RSS feed - there will be a war, and the chains of communication go out as of now. (Also, there's some ideas on what you can spend the tax cheque on in order to save the value of that tax cheque in the next six months to a year. That makes sense doen't it?)

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Dead Men Don't Wear Belts

Reading p7 of the Sunday Times the story about increasing fines for a variety of traffic/driving infringements, and while I hate the idea of sticking more money in the Government's coffers, I also can't help but agree.

Partially this is down to a quote that a friend often refers to, made by a policeman at the scene of an accident she stopped at. He said:

"I have NEVER unbuckled a dead person from a crash."

Seatbelts save lives, for sure. Airbags, SIPS, aircurtain bags, and all the other spongy bits, they also save lives, but the setabelt prevents you sliding so far forward that the airbag breaks your neck.

Also mentioned are stiffer fines for speeding. This same friend has already said that she is now going to be watching her speed like a hawk because she can't afford a $650 fine. Excessive, yes. But if it stops her and thousands like her who just "push the person in front a little bit" then it will save tens of thousands of incidents causing irritation and driver distraction every year.

As a scooter rider, you know I've seen the attitude of "let's just push and see if the other person gives way" attitude, because on a scooter I'm seen as particularly vulnerable to push-shove tactics. And I've learnt the value of controlling my speed and distance to the vehicle in front, because while VMotos may be way cool and use less fuel, they have quite shit brakes...

So for your own sake, buckle up. Every time. And drive within the stupid limits. They're not so much to slow you down as to make sure we're all going at the same speed.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

WA Chandler Restocks Japanese Whaler!

The whaling ship that's on the cover of the West today, the Nisshin Maru, it rang a bell for someone I know, who used to work for a ship chandlers place in Spearwood. The chandlers were lied to by the captain of the Nisshin M, and so we in WA ended up supplying a Japanese whaling ship after all, despite the embargo.

According to my source, the captain was asked as part of the routine questions if the ship formed any part of a whaling expedition and also allegedly, he replied that the Nisshin M was NOT part of any such expedition.

The point that comes out of it is that it seems that the Japanese will stop at nothing in their quest to fill their demand for whale meat, and we need better control over the whole Port supply scene. Who knows how many other whaling ships restocked here under false pretenses?

I propose that we undertake a comprehensive register of known offender ships which is available to, and advertised to, anyone who may deal with shipping. I'm happy to begin researching and finding them, because at the moment they're pissing themselves laughing at us...

Friday, 9 February 2007

Too Little Done Too Late?

The grip over the Murray water reserve is too little. The proposal for an emission level control system is too late. John Howard spent the last few years telling us that there's no such thing as Global Warming, and if he'd had his way he would have had ASIO make El Nino disappear, too.

And today, the bunfight over whether or not a 60km/h electric car can be brought into the country unless they pass Australian crash test standards. I say that my VMoto is not very crashtest friendly, yet it's street legal. These cars have about the same kind of range and speed as the scooter, yet they have a body around the driver. And WA is going to hopefully get fifty of the little beasts in and trial them.

I'm all for it but I suspect that the little electric broombrooms will not be popular for one important reason - no airconditioning... On the scooter I have natural aircon (and ask me what 46 degrees feels like on a VMoto I have first hand experience, why do you think it has a drinks holder?) but the little cars will be like hotboxes.

I applaud any step in the right direction. You've heard the murmurings of the utility companies and Government about how supplying green energy is going to be more expensive, and in a way, I agree that electric power needs to become as expensive to us as it is to the environment. When it costs half your salary to keep the air conditioner running on State electricity, people will start putting in solar installations if they want to keep cool.

So stand by for a bit of a shift in world economy. Can I give you my gentle readers a hint? Right now a solar installation for the average house will set you back between $15,000 to $25,000, and even at the cost of electricity today that is well worth it, the system will repay itself in ten to fifteen years, which coincidentally will reduce to five years as electricity prices go up in the very near future.

You just know that once more demand appears for solar installtions they will start costing up to $50,000 on the pretext of "demand," so sad but true, if there's a profit to be made the sharks will be there. I hope some of my ideas pointed out in the article which my last blog post refers to will see the light of day, because those ideas will make for some relief from those high prices. But your best bet is to get in now...

Important New Post at Zencookbook Dot Com!

I need your help, at zencookbook.com's blog. Please go there, take a look, and let as many people as you can know about it, and hopefully you'll be able to say "I made that happen!" in the near future. This really is a worthwhile cause, more so in light of the global warming and greenhouse gas emission control situation.

And I'm not kidding, I really do need YOUR help! All it is, is a quick cut and paste of the URL and send it to anyone you know who may be interested in helping me develop several ideas for cheap clean renewable power. No fancy shmancy technology, just good solid ideas on how to use it better and make it do more.

Go on - you know you want to help...

Saturday, 3 February 2007

SAVING ENERGY


http://zencookbook.blogspot.com/2007/01/smart-energy-stars.html

starting my personal crusade to reverse global warming now that i've reversed prostate cancer... please take a look...

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