Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sam's Club Carries LED's!!!

Praise the Lord, the LED's have made it to the mainstream market. Sam's now has them on the lightbulb aisle. I only show one kind here, but there are other ones, including flood style lights.

Here's a closeup of the bulb. These are candle style bulbs, the kind all our ceiling fans take.

They do not have the all around brightness that incandescents or CFL's have, they are directional.

That means as you can see here, relatively little of the light needs to be reflected off the ceiling.

A closeup of the bulb in action. Most of the light here is being directed out the center of the bulb and not radially into the camera lens.

This is what it looks like when you are more in the direction of the beam.

Super closeup lit.

I hope most of you know what LEDs are all about by now, but if you don't here's the skinny. LEDs use less energy than CFLs and last ten times longer. Until recently, that has meant that they cost ten times as much, but three of these candle bulbs cost about $15 which is around two to three times the cost of CFLs. They are directional which means they waste less light, but it also means that you'll have to change your way of thinking about lightbulbs because these won't flood your world like other bulbs. I like them because our ceiling fan is in the center of the room and our old bulbs caused a glare off the TV. These ones don't.

Because of the directionality, you can live with much lower wattage. The ceiling fan in the living room is made for four 75 watt candle style bulbs. I have been using two 9 watt CFLs. I now use three (four one day) 1.5 watt LED bulbs. That means I'm using 6% of what incandescents would use. When I add the fourth bulb some day, I'll still only be using a grand ol' 6 watts of power to light the living room. The problem is, I'm still a stickler for turning the lights off.

These LED's are supposed to last 100,000 hours. That's 11.4 years straight through. If I use the bulb 5 hours a day (could be typical in the winter) conceivably, I won't have to change the bulb until I'm 80 years old.

I think that's enough info for now, my brain just blew a fuse.


Opportunities: Ice Storm

We had a bit of an ice storm lately, and it got me to thinking about something. I am presented (as are you) with all sorts of opportunities. Our lives are a series of opportunities that we either capitalized upon or ignored. So I thought I'd start a new series about opportunities that are presented to me in my life. The ice storm was one of them. But first a few pictures

The beehives were undisturbed, but the trees did some interesting things. They are standing up now.

My cherry trees had the hardest time, two others were completely broken off to a 10 foot tall stump.

My home built tomato cages.

The front yard is a mess. Look through the car port, you can see my apple tree. Despite being nearly destroyed by two different fellings of branches, it survived relatively unscathed.

My awesome manly truck.

Here's the opportunity. The older wood came from my property, the younger wood, all of it came from wood I either cut or just picked up after the ice storm.

J Dizzle's backyard...

The stump to that oak tree yielded all this sweet sawdust for my sawdust toilet. Active bin is on the left.

This is the wood pile from a different angle. Excellent opportunity to pick up a bunch of sweet firewood. And I took it!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yes Yes YES!!!!

Now this is what I voted for! Obama's tax plan may come to fruition.

Remember the campaign promises, lower the taxes on people who make less then 200 grand, and raise taxes on those who make more than 250.

This begins to undo the damage that Bush did with his tax cuts for the rich, and is hopefully on the way to undoing the damage that the Reagan tax cuts did. Remember before Reagan, the top marginal tax bracket was taxed somewhere on the order of 70%.

The good and bad: Obama may have trouble getting reelected if he raises taxes, the Republicans have this habit of duping the commoners into believing that tax cuts for the rich are a good thing. However, with the economic problems following the Bush years of tax cuts, people are seeing the problems. Jon Stewart is pointing out the hypocrisy in it. We all know Jon Stewart has more pull any of the other talking heads.

Hopefully, this will restart the trend that followed the Great Depression. The have nots realized that the key was taxing more the people who have more money. That tax policy is what made America great, and the reversal of that policy is what made America what it is today, just good. I hate to use the "S" word, but the best tax policy is one that leans just a bit more in the social direction.

And for those of you who use the word "capitalism" too much, remember, this country was founded on the principles of democratic rule, not capitalism. Don't confuse the two. Capitalism is not what makes our country great.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rick Wagoner Does Something Right.

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner is now calling for higher federal gas taxes. Finally we see the American car companies doing something proactive to protect themselves rather than complaining and dragging their feet ad nauseum about fuel economy standards.

Rick is finally seeing what Europeans have seen for years. The only way to support higher fuel economy is to raise the price of fuel. When fuel economy standards are levied against car makers, they have to sell somewhat unpopular fuel efficient cars, often at a loss, so they can meet the standards, while the big money making gas guzzlers get sold quick because they are popular. As I've said before, this is a top down approach, and it hasn't worked for years. See car makers' financial crisis.

The bottom up approach, the correct approach is to encourage buyers to want to buy more fuel efficient cars. Why would they need to buy a fuel efficient car? The only way it works is if fuel is expensive. I noticed a stark difference in driving habits when I moved to Arkansas. When I lived in Oregon, I lived about 15 miles from town. We only went to town when we really needed to and cut or consolidated unnecessary trips. Gas was somewhat expensive. Therefore, many people drove smaller or at least more modest cars. Compact pickups like Chevy S10's, Toyota Tacomas and Nissans were more popular. Only the more wealthy among them drove the big SUV's, most families with a bunch of kids had minivans, not Suburbans. When I moved to Arkansas, I noticed that there were many more of the large SUVs, pickups and cars. The gas was cheaper.

The truth is, people will buy what they want to buy, you can't tell the car manufacturers to make fewer big vehicles. They make what is demanded of them. Now car makers realize that what is demanded of them (due to their needing money) is fuel efficinet cars. They also realize that they can't keep doing what they always have because the climate has changed. So in order to be able to market and support expensive but excellent electric and hybrid cars like the Chevy Volt, they need gas prices to be higher. We all need gas prices to be higher to support the changes that are necessary to achieve a sustainable existence.

If you buy a gallon of gas, the terrorists win. Really.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In the Pursuit of Truth

My continuing pursuit of truth and justice, or at least truth has led me to come upon something that needs to be addressed.

Homeopathic remedies.

I'll give you the take home points first. If you see the word "homeopathic" on anything, don't buy it, you're wasting your money, unless you intend to buy water or sugar and pass it off as medicine. In that case, go ahead and by it, though you could save money by just drinking water or eating sugar, they have the same effect.

Homeopathic remedies essentially follow the philosophy that you can take a chemical or substance known to cause a certain effect and dilute it, that is mix water or some other essentially inert substance like sugar or alcohol with it and when diluted enough, it will retain properties that help it fight what ever condition the original substance causes.

For instance, the venom of a snake causes swelling. If you dilute the venom say 5x or 10x, you will ostensibly get a medicine that will reduce swelling.

Once you know what the word homeopathy means, it is easy to simply reject it as nonsensical pseudoscience. And every scientific study done on the stuff has the same results. The facts are, most homeopathic remedies actually contain NO DETECTABLE AMOUNTS of the substances they supposedly contain.

What brought this to my attention? My wife has been buying "Hyland's Teething Tablets." The bottle has homeopathic all over it. If you take a look at the bottle, you'll notice that each substance listed has "3X HPUS" after it. What does this mean? First, HPUS stands for the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States. The 3X essentially stands for 1 x 10 to the third power dilution, or 1:1000. That is to say, the bottle is 0.01% active ingredients. It even includes on the bottle the information that one of the ingredients is 0.0003% alkaloids. For comparison a regular bottle of hydrogen peroxide contains 3% hydrogen peroxide, that's ten thousand times as much.

"But he likes them" my wife says. Of course he likes them, the only real ingredient in them is lactose, milk sugar. Of course he likes them. They taste like sugar substitute, try them, they're tasty. They're just sugar.

Interestingly enough, some homeopathic remedies claim 30 times dilution. That is to say the solution would have to have at least one molecule of the original substance dissolved in a minimum of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water. This would require a container more than 30,000,000,000 times the size of the Earth. That's a container thirty billion times the size of the earth just to get a single molecule of the original substance.

So you tell me, good medicine or waste of money?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Comment on Treehugger

I was browsing treehugger.com and came across a post that had a poll asking if belief in evolution was a prerequisite for being an environmentalist. Fortunately, "no" is winning. In the comments section, there was a bit of back and forth with religion and evolution and environmentalism. This was my comment.

As a "religious" person, I find my faith bolsters my environmentalism. I also see no need to believe in evolution to care for the environment. In fact, my belief in God, and that he created the universe, leads me to be more careful about what I do with it. What you do with a gift is the biggest evidence of what you think about the giver.

This is something that many environmentalists miss when "evangelizing" the religious. Instead of drawing lines and taking sides, invade the world view of the religious person. There is plenty to say in the Bible about caring for the environment. Heaven is a picture of perfect environmental stewardship. Instead of trying to appeal to science and evidence, appeal to what the person is already supposed to believe according to his or her own religion. You may not get them to care for the earth for your reasons, but isn't it better that they care for the earth no matter the reason?

Pragmatism people.