Archive for the ‘rural living’ Category

On Going Solar, and A Whole Lot More Just For the Fun of It

November 1, 2009

Remember I said <a href=”news101009.html”>last time</a> that NOT going solar was NOT an option? Wrong! It is just an option, because going solar is: one, expensive, and two, something that needs a huge amount of planning, with, IMHO, someone who has either done it or knows enough about it to help you do it, probably for a hefty fee. Without going into all the details of what I have seen regarding using solar energy (suffice to say though I have been to experimental solar houses and know a couple of families out here who use it), the fact is that if one is going to go exclusively solar it is going to cost well over one-hundred-thousand-dollars just to get one’s feet wet in the process. In fact, aside from this one family I know out here who is completely off the grid with solar–and are doing it panel by panel, that is, not having the funds to go full scale running appliances and a computer 24/7–going completely off the grid (unless you are a multi-millionaire like perhaps that ex-ambassador to Mongolia I mentioned recently who is moving out here) absolutely makes no sense. Sorry to burst the bubble I may have created for you.

So then, if you are going to go solar and make the system pay for itself in less than 50 years, then the only option I can think of is to go solar AND stay connected to the grid as well. That way, if you live in an area (such as far west Texas) that is reasonably sunny most of the year, you can generate however much solar electricity capacity you need, and sell the rest back to the utility company that is supplying your “on the grid” electricity. Now, being “physical-science challenged” (I can do the math and that’s about it) and barely remembering when I took physics in college about 30 years ago anything about electrostatics, I won’t go into the details (and you can google it or use wikipedia), but as you probably know by now, the power grid you use now is AC, but solar is DC. (Now why couldn’t Tesla work with Edison? Don’t you think this would have solved a huge number of problems? Then again, most Americans never quite make it to Europe.). This means, of course, that an “inverter” must be used if you are re-selling excess solar generated electricity back to the Utility, and not only that, but are you going to order all of your appliances from Europe instead of using the ones you have now, the ones you know work fine with AC outlets? Because I admit it: I was a complete idiot before the “solar house” exhibits, not realizing that solar ran on DC. Not only that, but I feel like an idiot even bringing up solar! In fact, those of you who are reading this, please send a comment or at least an e-mail. Because I want to know about how having solar energy systems work when your appliances and outlets are AC, or DC, or whatever.

So, while solar houses are pretty cool, I have a funny feeling we are going to have to do a huge amount of planning and reworking our living arrangements before we even attempt to “go solar”!

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The Limits of Trusting Your Neighbor: Plus: You Either Seek the Truth, or You Don’t

September 12, 2009

In the <a href=”news090109.html”>previous newsletter</a> I made a case for practical “community action” with your neighbors, even if you have to resolve conflicts to do it. If there is a crisis, folks you don’t want your neighbors against you as well the rest of the world (you can read “the authorities” into this if you want). But that doesn’t mean giving him the key to your house, meaning your stored food, water, crisis supplies, and giving him license to take as much stored gasoline as he wants! Or letting him use your computer! It means being in a position to work with neighbors to get through whatever crisis hits.

Ideally you want the kind of neighbor we have, a former Libertarian Party guy who ran for some office years ago on the LP ticket, and a guy who knows Ron Paul:  someone who you don’t have to worry about sneaking onto your property when your gone as long as he knows you won’t do the dame thing. Someone you have an unspoken understanding with. So what if you have neighbors who are busy bodies? We are not talking suburbia here, but we are not talking farms, either….six people per square mile stuff. We are talking subdivisions that happen to be in rural areas outside (usually) small towns. This one here encompasses about a seven miles radius and has about 50 full time families/individuals. Even so, there are those people who live in the more flat valley spots that are surrounded with neighbors (as opposed to us…we bought our place in a box canyon up higher, in a place where it would be unlikely to have neighbors on either side).

However, if you must buy land in very flat and desirable locations, a consequence might be that you will be surrounded by neighbors who might be live and let live or who might be busy bodies and gossipers, or who might want to borrow every tool you have and then you have to literally threaten to sue the guy unless he returns it. I never said you would escape jerks if you moved out to the country! Plus you might find one fine day that you have new neighbors…with six kids, seven dogs, eleven cats and fifteen clunkers sitting out on their front lawn…er, grassy areas by the road. Might remind you of one of my favorite “Simpsons” characters: “Some folk’l never eat a skunk, but then again some folk’l, like Cletus the slackjawed yokel…”

So. If you get those kinds of neighbors, don’t try to sue the SOBs or do what someone did out here: put out the eye of the neighbor’s goat. What you are going to have to do is go up to the head of the household and reach an understanding. Don’t go saying what he “ought to do” without some sort of compromise yourself, just because you’ve been “out here” for twenty years and he is the new guy. If the neighbor cats are pooping in your garden, don’t kill the critters, because cats are cats and that is what cats do. Cats ain’t dogs if you know what I mean. Deal with it. Take out that gun and shoot it in the air, not
at the cats. Maybe you can convince the neighbors to do whatever is possible to keep the cats in their property. Barking dogs? Noisy kids? Unsightly clunkers? Develop an understanding, and rue the day that you bought that flat place in the valley knowing you might someday have a bunch of neighbors surrounding you!

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Out Here, ACORNs Fall From the Oak Trees, and More…

September 1, 2009

We don’t have ACORN (or HCAN or the SEIU) out here. Instead we have lots and lots of acorns falling out of oak trees. So what if it’s still summer? Seasons are weird in West Texas. We have the Dry Season and the Rainy Season (from July4 until sometime usually in September), with the rest of the year being in the Dry Season…except in certain El Nino years NOT followed by a La Nina! In 2004, for instance, it rained from May until the following February! We got 60 inches! Our main creek ran from June until the following April! But, back to why I brought up ACORN…

Folks in the community are “organizing” without ACORN telling us how to do it. Has nothing to do with “Town Hall” meetings, either. (And besides, our Rep., Ciro Rodriguez–the same Rep who voted no on the bailouts but will not support Ron Paul’s “Audit the Fed” bill–did his Town Hall meeting on HealthCare over the phone. I guess he saw what was coming, so he chickened out of the real deal. Didn’t want to speak in front of the gaggle of Ron Paul supporters that live out here and in Alpine–Dr. No has LOTS of support out here, I am delighted to say!). Considering this was a very divided community only ten years or more ago, this is quite an accomplishment.

Not only was this community the site of the “Republic of Texas” standoff in April-May, 1997, there was a lawsuit against many of the property owners who had stopped paying maintanence fees for one reason or another, mostly because of faulty land surveys and prior lawsuits. After the suit was settled in 2000, there was still a lot of bitterness over it, and it took a while for things to get back to normal and for people to bring themselves to speak to those on the opposite sides of the suit. For instance, I am now buddy-buddy with an elderly couple that I wouldn’t consider speaking to before the suit ended! Pretty much the bad vibes are gone out of this community, at least among full-time residents. This has allowed community groups to start doing things to help their neighbors.

From the very beginning of putting this site together, I have always insisted that if you are going to move out to the rural remote, especially full time, you must learn to get along with your neighbor! We are, I think, reaching the point where doing whatever it takes is going to be the only option. If things get as chaotic as some think they will (social upheaval, and the looting and crime that goes with it…or, on the other hand, the “Great Depression-like” destitution and begging in the streets type scenarios), wouldn’t you want to know that you can trust your neighbors not to steal that extra gas can you’ve been saving for emergencies? All part of the preparation, folks, preparation.

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Anonymous Comments Will NOT be Posted!

July 30, 2009

Something Happening comments at this website, based on the Something Happening Here newsletter beginning with July 31, 2009 (and any previous newsletters I decide to post here retroactively for comments), will NOT post “anonymous” comments, period, no matter who is posting, a subscriber or not.

If you have the guts to speak your mind you should have the guts to put your name or username to the comment. This is to keep trolls, CIA-FBI-NSA-Mossad-MI6 stooges, or anti-semites of the “semitic” variety from posting their anonymous ADL-type “hate” comments.

If you want to call me a name or say I committed some kind of “hate crime”, have the “chutzpah” if you know what I mean to say who the hell you are!