Friday, August 31, 2007


Last weekend I drove over to Burlington, Vermont to run some errands. It was a great day for a drive - just a few clouds, mostly sunshine.

On this side of Ellenburg New York I was able to see one of the most stunning sights I have ever beheld. Tall, slender and graceful, soaring a couple of hundred feet into the air, a number of nearly completed wind turbines. Rather than engineering marvels they actually appeared as works of art leaping from the ridge line. As I entered Ellenburg village I soon spotted the sign for the office of the Marble River Wind Farm.

I have been reading and hearing accounts in the news, both locally as well as in North-Eastern Vermont of the uproar proposed wind farms can cause. Concerns of noise, spoiled views and such are the mainstay of the naysayers. I wonder how many of them have ever even seen one, from a distance or up close?

I did not find the turbines that obtrusive. Their neutral gray color caused them to blend into the background. It was only after looking closely that I even noticed units that were further away. They were not operating so I could not hear the noise impact they will make (though I plan to go over as soon as they start up to see, or should I say hear, for myself).

From the research I have done over the last week it does not sound like the noise will really be an issue. At the slow speeds that these units operate and with the efficient design of the turbine blades they will be magnitudes quieter than thier cousins of a decade or two ago. My guess is that neighboring land owners (only after they have turned off thier TVs, Internet, iPods and then also turned off their SUVs) will only notice the noise on only the quietest, stillest days. Even then, my guess is that what they can hear will soon blend in with the background noise they already contend with on a day to day basis.

I think that the main thread of the naysayers is that they are members of the NIMBY club. While they may talk the green talk in the open they do not want to have it be a real part of their local environment. Secretly I think that as long as the Coal, Oil, Gas and Nuclear plants are located somewhere where they cannot see them, thier industrial ugliness and their polution, that out of sight is out of mind.

I would like to see a wind farm in my back yard. I think that they represent one of the energy sources of the future that we will start needing to depend upon as the petroleum reserves start to fail and the rising cost (financial) of the fossil fuels makes them prohibitive to use.

We need to face it, the alternative fuel selections are thin. Most viable hydro sources have already been tapped. So, we cannot look into that direction to magically solve our future woes. That leaves us with nuclear, solar and wind power as our major widespread energy sources.

In this lattitude solar on the commercial level is really not feasible (though at the homeowner level I think that it has a future).

I think that Nuclear power will again become popular down the road, especially when the safety fear is assuaged by realization that modern reactor technology is much safer than that used in our country which is decades old.

Now wind is available in the majority of locations. Aside from the pollution generated as a by product of manufacture, once the turbine is in use there will be no emissions, no green house gasses. None of the negatives that we currently have with the fossil fuels. This really seems to be the direction we need to be going. And, due to the longevity expected from each turbine (a ~$2MM up front cost per unit) they should prove to be cost effective to operate which should relate to being a cost effective solution for the consumer.


The only place where wind does not seem to offer a solution is in the transportation sector. Or maybe I am wrong.

The two most promising alternatives for fueling our cars are electric (battery) or hydrogen (either fuel cell or internal combustion) based. Batteries and hydrogen have one thing in common - they are only storage mediums for energy. Batteries still need to be charged. Hydrogen still needs to be generated (through electrolysis).

On second thought, wind can power our transportation sector.


I think that time is on wind's side. When gas prices hit double or triple current levels and our electric bills grow by the same magnitude due to increased generation costs and when the goods and services that we purchase cost more from the impact of these, then (and probably only then) will the naysayers (not looking back) state 'why didn't we implement wind sooner'.

Copyright (c) 2007, Gary Novosel

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Voluntary Tax

What a buzz this weekend. Powerball was up to a high of $314MM. Quite a sum indeed. And now, one lucky winner will get to step forward to claim the loot.

It will not be me. I did not buy a ticket.

There is a Catholic Church a block away from my house. Two nights a week the parish hall swarms with the elderly, low income crowd, hoping to hit the big Bingo jackpot and reap a little joy.

It won't be me, I do not play.

Have you ever noticed that the voluntary tax always seems to be paid by those least likely to be able to afford it?

One of my favorite novels is "The Wrong Side of the Sky" by Gavin Lyall. In it there is one scene where the main character is laying on the bed of his cheap hotel room, staring at the ceiling, daydreaming the dream that is dreamt by many others in the same circumstances, in the same cheap hotel rooms around the world, of riches.

I don't ever expect to win the lottery.

But, I still do occasionally buy a Mega Millions ticket. Why? For the entertainment value.

Where else can you experience so many emotional ups and downs for a buck? The anticipation as you buy the ticket - knowing that you don't have a chance in hell of winning while at the same time having (statistically at least) the same chances as everyone else. The rush of checking the numbers to see if (just maybe) your payday has come in. The let down as you see that if hasn't. And then when you see that (more likely than not) noone else has won, the hope and dream that the next drawing (if you plunk down another buck) you can go through it all again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


While I like the 70's soft rock band of the same name, and have even been known to sing their tunes while driving long distances in my car, this post is about the more substantial, soul filling, warm feeling, baked loaf.

Last week I baked two cheater loafs of bread. They almost did not count as they started life as lifeless, frozen pucks which I had to wait several hours for before being able to bake them.

But you know, when they were baking, they really smelled good (or so I have been told - fodder for a post to follow). And, neither one lasted more than a couple of hours, being devoured by the kids and I while still warm and fresh.

It must be getting on towards autumn.

During the summer, fresh bread loses some of its appeal. Well, actually the baking process and hot kitchen makes it less appealing. But as the weather cools down there is nothing like fresh, home baked bread to make you feel all warm inside.

I'm thinking that I need to bake some more this fall. Previous efforts at making bread have resulted in mixed results. I can bake an Onion Lover's Twist that comes out reliably good. This is a recipe that I got from my Mom, who had picked it up from it's origin as a Pillsbury bake Off Winner. This is the ultimate bread for me - warm and tasty plus lots of memories from growing up.

It doesn't get any better than that.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Fair Time

The end of summer is drawing near as every student counting the days will be able to tell you. The corn is growing high with sweet corn stands starting to open here and there. Second cutting of hay is ongoing and gardens are ripening up nicely.

Time of the year for the fair.

Growing up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont the end of summer heralded the Caledonia County Fair. Ah... memories of the Midway, the rides, the games, the food. As I grew older I ventured more around the fair grounds and discovered the livestock, floral hall, horse pulling. I also got to attend other area fairs. To the north was the Barton (Orleans County) Fair which was nearly a carbon copy of the Caledonia County Fair. Across the Connecticut river to the south was the North Haverhill Fair, one of my favorites just because of the emphasis on agriculture.

Since moving to Northern New York my fair going has bounced between the St. Lawrence County Fair and the Franklin County Fair, which happens to be going on this week.

But coming up next month is the one that I (currently) like the best - the Hammond 4-H and FFA Fair. What can I say, this fair is strictly a small town agriculture fair primarily devoted to the kids of agriculture. In other words - this is what fairs started out as, a celebration of agriculture and as well the end of another fruitful growing season.

I guess that I had better mention the food. The Caledonia County Fair is the best place to get Apple Crisp. All of the other fairs offer up the same fare that we all look forward too, sausage and peppers, fries, fried dough. (sigh).

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hot, Damn Hot

Adrian Cronauer (as played by Robin Williams, not the real deal) stated it best in "Good Morning Vietnam" - Hot, Damn Hot! Well, actually it was Cronhauer as played by Williams improvising made up character "Roosevelt E. Roosevelt". Confused yet?

Anyhow - it is hot and damp in Massena today. Not really unseasonably so, just a lot hotter and damper than it has been all summer.

An absolute nightmare for those working in manufacturing facilities. This is the type of weather that when combined with hard work can bring the strongest to thier knees. Time to keep your fluid input up to an appropriate amount to stave off all sorts of heat related maladies such as Heat Exhaustian and Heat Stroke.

At the plant where I work we had a worker go down last Friday who spent the weekend in the hospital recovering. It was a near thing, it very well could have been a funeral the worker was attending - thier own.