Archive for April, 2015

Energy, Such As It Is

by John Weckerle

In a recent article re-posted by Sandia Tea Party Official Internet Spokesman Chuck Ring…

Okay, we’re ribbing Chuck here a bit; as we recall that he wasn’t crazy about the implication that he is the “official internet spokesman.” Still, as essentially the editor of the site, the mantle falls upon his shoulders and we’re sticking with it, while acknowledging that Chuck is a good person and a dedicated member of the community.  We would like our readers to understand that our reference to Chuck as “the official internet spokesman” carries a specific recognition that may not have been apparent: We may agree or disagree on a variety of issues, but Chuck is willing to put his name where his mouth is, where the entire planet can see it, and that takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude.*

We are, however, a bit concerned to see that the Sandia Tea Party site, apart from a few cartoons, seems to be dedicated to reposting articles by Marita Noon on the subject of – well – energy.  We will begin with some disclosures, beginning with Ms. Noon’s relationship with the conventional energy industry:

SourceWatch article: Marita Noon
SourcWatch Article: Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy

We will also disclose your editor’s occasional commercial involvement with the energy industry, which includes consulting to the oil and gas industry in the early 1990s and to some small solar enterprises in the early to mid-2000s.

Ms. Noon’s article opens up with what has become a bit of a tired argument – the idea that including solar and wind energy in the total energy portfolio would result in a situation in which coal-fired power plants would be turned off during peak hours and have to be restarted from cold state on a daily basis.  We do not dispute Ms. Noon’s proposal that natural gas-fired plants would restart more effectively.  However, we do find the idea that conventional power plants would have to undergo a shutdown-and-restart process based on some perceived peak productivity on the part of renewable energy rather questionable; given the state of the industry, we see no reason to assume that renewable energy resources, as currently projected, would be expected to entirely satisfy peak demands in the short- or medium-term.  We challenge Ms. Noon and her compatriots – given that she and they are making the case – to provide convincing economic analyses to make their case -and if they cannot, we challenge the Sandia Tea Party to do so.

* Guts.

Grow Your Own: The New Greenhouse, Part Argh.

by John Weckerle

Work continues apace on the ShelterLogic greenhouse, purchased from, that is intended to replace the hoop house over Bed 5 – depending, of course, on one’s definition of “apace.” We find ourselves now six or seven hours into a project that should be, according to the little picture of the clock in the manual, a three-hour effort.  We also find ourselves having assembled only what might be called either peak or arch pieces. By the end of the project, we will likely have to purchase a couple of replacement rubber mallets (these are actually among the “tools needed” cave drawings in the manual).  It is nearly certain that our entire herd of Blue Streaks will also have to be replenished, as the epithets hurled in their direction are certain to either be fatal or have a sterilizing effect.  One can never have a sufficient supply of Blue Streaks at hand during a challenging project.

And challenging this one is, primarily due to the physical exertion needed to simply slip one piece into another.  Now, before we get started, we understand the need for structural elements to fit together tightly.  And neither are we assembly wimps; we come from that age in which “some assembly required” meant constructing a bicycle from a kit that came with some iron ore, a hammer and tongs, and a Zippo lighter (fluid not included).  However, throughout the assembly process thus far we have noted some manufacturing issues that lead to difficulty in assembly, and we will pass these on in advance of our final assessment of the product. For example, holes through which bolts must be placed do not generally line up well – specifically, getting two holes lined up on one side of a two-tube assembly typically results in the two holes on the other side being “off” by an eighth of an inch or more. “Pushing” two pieces together as far as they can go has often produced a similar result, with one or both holes not properly lining up. Overall, we suspect that the design and manufacturing processes could benefit from a greater degree of precision, including taking the thickness of the coating into account and ensuring that emplacement of the holes does not result in an outward “dimpling” (if there’s any such thing as an “outie” dimple) of the metal on the inside piece.

We remain optimistic with respect to final assembly, but note that, at least for this year, we will likely be gaining more time at the end of the season than at the beginning.  One way or another, we anticipate gaining more vegetables!

Red Flag Fire Conditions Today

by John Helmich

EM Residents,

The first “red flag” condition for the season is forecast for our EM region today from 12 noon until 7 pm. The full forecast is here:

“Red flag” conditions are “short term, temporary warnings indicating the presence of dangerous combinations of temperature, wind, relative humidity, and fuel or drought conditions which can contribute to new fires or rapid spread of existing fires. They can be issued at any Fire Danger level.” Presently, we are at the “Moderate” fire danger level.

Expect high winds, above average temperatures, very low relative humidities. Now is the time to test your preparedness planning. Review the meaning of the various fire danger levels as well as what are the recommended activities during “red flag” conditions.

John Helmich

EMIFPA Community Education Outreach Coordinator

EMIFPA web site

EMIFPA Facebook site

Twitter: @EMIFPA_NM