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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Living Life in the Slow Lane

Four years ago my 1992 breast cancer recurred to my bones, causing a fracture in my back that left me paraplegic.

For the past year, I've been largely confined to bed, with the Internet serving as one of my primary contacts with the world and as an outlet for my creative passions. Though my medical conditions represent a poverty of function, I have found unexpected gifts in my situation, not the least of which is a much slower pace of life that allows for mindfulness, gratitude and creative pursuits.

My exit from the fast track was a forced one, as I did not will my cancer to return with such effects, but I am happier now that I ever have been because of the gifts that come with simplifying one's lifestyle and focusing more deliberately on the important things in life -- family, balance, and wholeness.

In this context, I opened Sabbath, A Shop for Slower Times several months ago as a means of sharing my passion for slower times and all that it entails: stewardship of the global environment, nurture of local communities, and close-to-the-earth creative activity that nourishes the mind and spirit while replenishing the earth.

The shop offers stationery, art, clothing and other gifts that celebrate "slow" choices, including a "Know Slow" line, and two sections that relate to my creative passion for storytelling and gourd-crafting.

All of Sabbath's designs were created by me while confined to bed this past year, thanks to the loving efforts of my husband to rig up my computer so that I could access it from a prone position. Sabbath is still in its infancy and I will be adding many more items to it in coming months. I love to hear from my visitors, who can email me at NOSPAMsabbath_keeper@mac.com (Just remove NOSPAM before sending; I've had to attach that to thwart spammers.)

Holly Stevens, shopkeeper

ESSN had a phenomenal month

Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter broke through 22,000 downloads this month. The July issue was the biggest and best issue we have worked on, and the team put their heart into it. It shows. Tonight, at midnight, the August issue goes up, so don't miss it. All the back issues are available online as well, and it's free, and always will be. In the July issue we talked about biodiesel, electric vehicles, safety, passive solar, efficient lighting, allergy free gardening, methane gas, and more. Check tonight to see what we have done this time!

Laren Corie writes on Insulating Old Houses, Mike Nixon discusses ethanol production, Jerry Dycus writes about electric vehicles, Tom Ogren presents an article on allergies and organic gardening. Also, another piece in the series on small wind by Dan Fink, Suzanne Ubick turned her vacation into an article on "partial off-grid living," we present another methane production article by Al Rutan through the courtesy of HomePower Magazine, and Larry Barr reports on the use of PWM controllers for LED lighting.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

How to make biodiesel

This past weekend we had another biodiesel fuel class at TEVA. Concentrating on making biodiesel in an Appleseed biodiesel processor, it was a productive class, with about 20 attendees. It brought out some startling realities to some of the class attendees, that just because you collect 30 gallons of oil, there's a good chance that a lot of it is unusable in the form of water and BCB's (burnt crispy bits). We covered oil collection and filtering, titration, processing, and washing.

The biodiesel equipment was supplied by BiodieselWarehouse.com

Reading Material:

Biodiesel: Growing A New Energy Economy

How to Make Biodiesel

Biodiesel Homebrew Guide


From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank

The Biodiesel Handbook

Green Trust Forums hacked

Due to a bug in the phpbb software we use for our forums, a hacker gained access to the forums, corrupted the content, and spammed the user database. I've installed a newer version of the software that eliminates that vulnerability, and will try to bring over some of the content from the old system. I apologize for the inconvenience, and for the spam some of you received from the hackers. Why hackers would target a service such as this is beyond me, other than the fact that they get their jollies disrupting peoples lives. The forum is back up and running, minus the content and categories we had originally, but we will rebuild, and ask that you help us by posting content of a renewable and sustainable nature. As posts are made, I'll build categories from them. I need your help to make this a informational site for all to learn and share.

Thanks,

Steve Spence

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Learn about Composting

Composting can help reduce landfills

Solid wastes are an increasing hazard and a great cause for concern in many communities and composting is probably the only viable and long term solution to help solve this problem and protect the environment.

With the rapidly increasing volume of waste being generated by households, landfills and dumps are rapidly being filled up at a rate that could easily end up creating other brand new environmental problems and concerns even as the landfills are used to try to act as a solution to another environment problem.

Composting by a home owner can dramatically cut down on the amount of waste that ends up at a landfill and thus greatly reduce the need for them. Non recyclable paper and food waste can be composted using a home compost bin. In other cases, instead of using an ordinary compost bin, worms can be used in a vermicomposting bin. Either way the resulting compost can be used in small gardens or for houseplants.

In fact the rising popularity of vermicomposting means that composting can now be carried out indoors quite successfully. This has mainly been of great benefit to apartment owners and residents living in large apartment blocks who still want to enjoy the benefits of composting. The compost can be used for house plants or can even be disposed of much more easily and safely than ordinary unprocessed trash.

The impact of vermicomposting is set to be huge in the very near future. This is because it means that even the huge populations resident in large highly populated big city apartments and locations can also fully participate in compositing and thus cause a large overall impact in any urban area.

The sum result of composting and vermicomposting is that much less solid waste ends up at landfills and dumps, thus greatly helping to preserve our already greatly depleted environment. In fact composting usually ends up having a major impact on the quality of life of those practicing it and even those who do not, because the compost can be used on house plants or to practice organic farming which can produce numerous beneficial advantages and benefits.

Learn much more on this excellent composting resource site - http://www.compost-bin.org/ and read Joseph Jenkins - The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

DIY Bladeless Disc Steam Turbine


Build Your Own Bladeless Disc Steam Turbine Generator

Need for Decentralized Power.
The reader can be certain there is competition to develop new and innovative products that promise to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and gas. One way to reduce this dependence is to generate our own electricity from local energy sources, such as solar energy and biofuels. What is needed is a way to decentralize production of electricity to reduce our dependence on the grid. If every household could do that, we would succeed in meeting the stated energy goals of every President and Congress of the United States for the past thirty-five years. So far, that has not happened and here is a way to take one positive step in that direction.

An opportunity for all.
This is an opportunity for anyone with the right skills to build a small 5KW to 10KW steam turbine for less than $200.00. The cost of adding a generator or alternator will partly depend on the size of the unit and the amount of power it can provide. What should be important to the reader is that the author is willing to share this information with anyone interested enough to take advantage of a proposal for becoming part of a select group. This may end up becoming a pioneering effort by those who participate, but there are no guarantees.


Bob Saunders

nwwpa@yahoo.com

Friday, July 22, 2005

Help shed light on Exxon's dirty games

by Andrew Stone

The U.S. is "addicted" to oil -- we import millions of barrels from foreign countries every day and gas prices are at record highs due to the increased demand. As a result, global warming pollution is raising temperatures and sea levels around the world and melting the polar ice caps. These are scary times -- a lot is at stake!

Yet ExxonMobil - the world's largest and most profitable oil company - is doing next to nothing to reduce our reliance on oil. But they are spending millions to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, block environmental protections, and sabotage efforts to slow global warming.

Visit http://www.ExxposeExxon.com to send ExxonMobil's CEO a message that you won't buy their gas until the company cleans up its act!.

ExxonMobil's list of environmental misdeeds is long and frightening!

ExxonMobil is the only major oil company still trying to open our Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. And despite making a record $25 billion profit last year, ExxonMobil has still not paid all the money it owes to fishermen and other Alaskans who were hurt by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

Now Exxon is making headlines again -- just last month the company hired Philip Cooney, a former White House staffer who recently resigned after the New York Times revealed that he edited government reports on global warming to reflect the oil industry's position.

It's time for ExxonMobil to clean up its act!

Go to www.ExxposeExxon.com and tell ExxonMobil's CEO that you won't buy ExxonMobil gas, invest in its stock, or work for the company until they change their policies that are threatening the future of our planet.

Join me in telling ExxonMobil enough is enough. Just visit www.ExxposeExxon.com.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

NCC sorry for nixing Corn Cob Bob from Canada Day


CBC News

The National Capital Commission has apologized for banning an alternative-fuel mascot from its Canada Day celebrations at the request of a major oil company.

Shell didn't want to compete with Corn Cob Bob on Canada Day

Corn Cob Bob is the front man for the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, a not-for-profit group that promotes clean energy.

The association had secured an information booth at Major's Hill Park through the NCC, which had even offered a 50-per-cent discount on the usual fees.

But last Wednesday, the commission called to cancel the arrangement after pressure from Shell Canada, a key sponsor for the Canada Day celebrations in the capital.

Kory Teneycke, the executive director of Canadian Renewable Fuel Association, was surprised by the call.

"They said they were very sorry but they said one of their major sponsors had indicated there was a conflict between the message that we were promoting and their company's interests," he said.

Teneycke says the NCC shouldn't be in the business of caving into corporate pressures and curbing free speech.

NCC spokesperson Guy Laflamme says the decision to cancel Corn Cob Bob was not approved by senior management.

"We will make sure this doesn't happen in the future. But once again, we are committed to promoting alternative sources of energy," said Laflamme.

The NCC called Monday afternoon to apologize to the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, and invited the group to attend next year's Canada Day celebrations.

A Shell spokesperson said the company's arrangement with organizers meant it had exclusive rights when it came to fuel products.

Solar PV Battery Charging

This is an 18watt, 15vdc solar panel. Good for keeping a battery charged on your car or boat when not using it for long periods of time, it's also good for camping when you need to keep a cell phone , radio or other small equipment running. In the small wattages, PV panels are very expensive, just over $9 / watt, where the 120 watt and up panels can be had for less than $4 / watt. For the right application however, it's a good value.

ICPSolar(tm) BatterySAVER SE18 (18W X 1200mA)

Product Specs:

http://www.icpsolar.com/specifications.php3?id_article=7

Saturday, July 09, 2005

SOLAR AIRCRAFT TO FLY AROUND THE WORLD

Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard is constructing a solar-powered plane to fly around the world. His aim is to support sustainable development by demonstrating what renewable energy and new technologies can achieve. ESA is assisting by making available European space technologies and expertise through its Technology Transfer Programme.

Bertrand Piccard made the first non-stop around the world balloon-flight in a Breitling Orbiter in 1999 with Brian Jones from Britain. Now together again, and with a team of 60 specialists, they are constructing an aircraft named Solar Impulse that will be powered only by sunlight.

"Solar Impulse will promote the idea of a new aviation era using cleaner planes powered by the almost infinite energy of the Sun rather than the dirty, finite reserves of fossil fuels," says Bertrand Piccard.

"Although in its present design the craft will never be able to carry many passengers we believe that Solar Impulse can spark awareness about the technologies that can make sustainable development possible."

ESA's Technology Transfer Programme is providing technological expertise while the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne is the 'Official Scientific Advisor' for the project.

"The sun is the primary source of energy for our satellites as well as for Piccard's plane. With the European space industry we have developed some of the most efficient solar cells, intelligent energy management systems and resourceful storage systems," says Pierre Brisson, Head of ESA's Technology Transfer Programme.

http://www.solar-impulse.com/

Friday, July 08, 2005

Free CAD Software

Last week I received an offer of free mechanical CAD software, by a new company XCAD.

They are looking for 100,000 people to express a pre-interest in their new product, and will then give a free downloadable copy to all those that have pre-registered.

This seems a very charitable act, especially if you, like me, are in need of proper CAD software.

They are still looking for 37,000 interested parties, in just the next three weeks.

I am in no way connected with XCAD - I just think it is an opportunity not to be missed, particularly if you are working on a tight budget.

Follow this link to pre-register, and then pass on the link to your friends and engineering colleagues - especially if you happen to be at University!

http://www.x-cad.net/thankyou.asp


regards,

Ken Boak

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Off-Grid Radio Interview

We want to interview some of you for a Radio 4 report in July. We are looking for Brits living off-grid anywhere in the world, who are willing to let Radio 4 into your home or camper van, for a chat about why you do it, how you do it, and what you get out of it.

If you live off-grid, especially in the UK, please get in touch. Please send details about your off-grid life and situation, plus contact numbers to Nick Rosen, nick@off-grid.net, or ring 07971 543703. Thanks!

Nick Rosen
nick@off-grid.net
http://www.off-grid.net

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Is Ethanol sustainable?

"There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel," says David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell. "These strategies are not sustainable."


David Pimentel has claimed the answer is no for years, and recently confirmed his findings again. But is he any more right today than he was was 10 years ago?

Apparently not:

Pimentel in bed with petroleum industry, research discredited!

Life Cycle Energy Efficiency


THE 2001 NET ENERGY BALANCE OF CORN ETHANOL


Technology Breakthrough Enables Biodiesel Production from Ethanol Plants

Ethanol and sustainable development

Is ethanol energy-efficient?


Critical study of biodiesel is flawed

David Blume Presentation: Alternative Fuels – Promise and Perils

The Off-Grid Home or RV battery bank

The heart of an off grid system is the battery bank. It needs to be sized properly to handle your expected electrical loads between recharge times. Green-Trust runs on a 675ah battery pack consisting of six Trojan T105's, but for the budget minded, the Walmart Type 27 DeepCycle would also work. At $53 each for a 115ah 12v battery, 10 units would make a nice sized pack at 1150ah. This would give you a useful 575ah of power before needing to recharge. A good charger is critical to the health of your batteries, as well as not discharging more than 50%. One charger we recommend is the Vector 40amp charger. This is a bit undersized for our theoretical 1150ah pack, but is ideal for our 675ah pack. Since we run our VeggieGen more than 8 hours a day, it's sufficient to do a full recharge of our batteries for overnight use. Our 90 watt PV array puts about 22ah's daily into the pack as well.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Earth Day founder, Gaylord Nelson, passes away

In 1969, as a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson came up with one of the most powerful ideas of his time: Earth Day. Inspired by the teach-ins dealing with the Vietnam War, Earth Day was an instant success, drawing 20 million participants the first year (1970). American Heritage Magazine called the first Earth Day "one of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy."

Nelson died at his home today in Kensington, Maryland, of cardiovascular failure, said Bill Christofferson, Nelson's biographer and a family spokesman. He was 89.

"He died peacefully. His wife was with him," Christofferson said.

Thirty-five years after the first Earth Day, April 22 is still a day on which many people plant trees, clean up trash and lobby for a clean environment.

A conservationist years before it became fashionable, Nelson was recognized as one of the world's foremost environmental leaders. Then-President Clinton presented Nelson with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 for his environmental efforts.

"As the father of Earth Day, he is the grandfather of all that grew out of that event: the Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act," read the proclamation from Clinton.

Nelson entered public life in 1948 as a Wisconsin state senator from Dane County, a position he held for 10 years. In 1958, Nelson became only the second Democrat during the 20th century to be elected governor of Wisconsin.

http://stockholm.usembassy.gov/earthday/founder.html
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/07/03/obit.nelson.ap/index.html

I am aware of the controversy over two Earth Days, and two founders, so this is the "other" Earth Day ...

http://www.earthsite.org/john.htm

http://www.wowzone.com/why-ed.htm

For more background on the two Earth Days and their founders, read http://psychcentral.com/psypsych/Earth_Day

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Measuring Power Consumption


Living off-grid, either in an RV or a renewable energy powered home, there is a great need to be able to measure the power consumed by various devices. This is necessary in order to size your power generation devices, like PV Panels, your distribution devices, like inverters, and your storage batteries.

Even in an on-grid home, a Kill-A-Watt is good to help you conserve energy by comparing energy comnsumption of various appliances for purchasing decisions.

For 120vac devices, we use a Kill-A-Watt to monitor and predict daily power consumption. This unit monitors Volts, Amps, Watts, VA, HZ, PF, kWh, and hours used.

For DC devices, we use a "Watt's Up" watt meter which replaces an ammeter, voltmeter, wattmeter, Amp-hour and Watt-hour meter:

Watt's Up Meter (Color: Blue, End Configuration: Powerpole Ends)


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