John Avlon – Voters should fire hyper-partisans

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 12:03 pm

Another good opinion article on CNN, this one by John Avlon advocating voters rejecting hyper-partisan candidates.

via Voters should fire Bachmann, Grayson – CNN.com.

A great quote:  “We need to stand up to the extremes on both sides to stop the cycle of incitement before it gets even uglier.”


David Frum – We’re not on a ‘road to serfdom’

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 5:35 pm

I try not to define myself as liberal or conservative – but some of the fear-mongering and end-of-the-world fatalism being used in this election cycle is inappropriate and ultimately destructive, rather than constructive and adding value to the debate.

David Frum has a good opinion article on CNN about it –

We’re not on a ‘road to serfdom’ – CNN.com.


Zero Energy Casita in Fort Worth

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 7:32 am

Inhabit posted a story about a net-zero energy small house (1,051 sq ft) built recently in Fort Worth:

Zero Energy Casita in Texas Opens to the Public | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.


Our Home Efficiency Improvements

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 8:50 pm

Lisa and I recently went on the Austin Cool House Tour co-sponsored by the Texas Solar Energy Society and Austin Energy Green  Building.

We realized the efficiency retrofits to our home were pretty similar to what we saw on the tour, so for fun I thought I’d write up the green feature list of our house in the same format as used by the tour book.

Home Solar Plant - Small

Spangler Home – Northwest Austin

Built as a traditional non-green building, this Austin home has been retrofitted for energy efficiency and simple but high-tech living.

Owners: Lisa and Jason Spangler
Solar PV: Texas Solar Power Company

Green Features

  1. 10KW grid-tied solar photovoltaic array (by Texas Solar Power Company)
  2. Whole-home energy monitor (TED 5000).
  3. White reflective metal roof (Sheffield Metals CoolR Solar White Galvalume – Reflectivity 0.68, Emissivity 0.85, SRI 82, 25% recycled content, 100% recyclable – installed by Southwest Metal Roofing Systems).
  4. Level 2 EVSE (electric vehicle car charger) and a Chevy Volt range-extended electric car
  5. Lawn replaced with native plant and prairie garden which requires almost no supplemental watering.  Crushed granite and limestone paths allow water penetration.  Mature trees provide shade.
  6. R-38 insulation in attic with R-8 ductwork.  R-9 garage door insulation.
  7. 1 gpm low-flow showerheads (from New Braunfels-based Bricor).  Shut-off values on showers for optional Navy shower.
  8. Solar screens on all windows.
  9. Energy Star appliances from the highest CEE efficiency tier (dishwasher, refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer).  Energy Star electronics.
  10. 19 SEER multi-zoned HVAC system with variable speed motor and fan coils, and programmable thermostats.
  11. All lighting is CFL or LED.  (LED fishtank and main kitchen lighting reduces energy usage of most-used lights.)
  12. High efficiency aerodynamic ceiling fans with timed remotes throughout.  (Gossamer Wind fans)
  13. Masonry and fiber cement siding  and trim (Hardiboard).
  14. Ethernet networking (Cat6) and high speed Internet connection enables telecommuting to save energy and reduce emissions.  Energy-efficient computers. Notebook and Home theater systems that sleep when not in use.
  15. Weather station (Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus)
  16. Easy access to transportation – bike lanes, public transportation (bus stop 0.4 miles away), two light rail stations nearby (4.0 and 5.2 miles).

Any other ideas for increasing energy efficiency or going more green?  Leave the in the comments!

Update: Here is an aerial photo of the metal roof and solar panels from Google Maps:


[Updated] Two Texas Prairie Heroes – Bob and Mickey Burleson

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 5:00 pm

[Update #2: Texas lost a great man when Bob passed away in April 2009.  He is buried on the prairie.]

Bob and Mickey Burleson are two of my prairie heroes.  Decades ago, when few people talked about tallgrass prairie conservation and restoration, they went and did it: they purchased worn our crop land and an overgrazed prairie remnant in Bell County and spent many years restoring over two hundred and fifty acres of highly diverse, native tallgrass Blackland Prairie through collection and planting of local ecotype native seed from area hay meadow prairie remnants, invasive plant removal, prescribed burning, haying, and other management practices.

The Burlesons collected local ecotype seed from native prairie hay meadows in the area, many of which no longer exist due to being destroyed by plowing or development. Their prairie is an invaluable source of locally adapted native plant genetics and seed, and they have provided prairie seed and seed hay for use in other restorations.

[Update: A Texas Legacy Project interview with Mickey and a joint interview with Bob and Mickey (requires RealPlayer)] (more…)


May the Fourth be with you! – Happy Star Wars Day

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 4:02 pm

Funny!  Laugh out loud you will.

Darth Vader recording GPS audio

DNS partially break under Fedora 12 recently?

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 3:23 pm

Did DNS partially break under Fedora 12 32-bit or x64 on your machine recently?

It was the strangest thing…  DNS problems started for me last week, even though I had not done any software updates since the beginning of April.  Machines using my caching nameserver would be fine, but some programs running locally would fail all name resolves (while others would succeed).

After much pulling of hair, gnashing of teeth, and searching of Google, I eventually ran across a bug entry and comment that helped with the following instructions:

  1. yum install nss-mdns
  2. Change the hosts line in /etc/nsswitch.conf to “hosts: files mdns4_minimal dns”

And name resolution is back! 🙂


Funny science quote…

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 10:43 am

“Because today it’s so hard to get anything past the ethics boards, compared to the good old days, when you could just electrocute people and call it science. You can hardly do anything these days!” – University of Hertfordshire psychologist Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds.

He was joking around…  I think.  😉

via The Self-Help Psychologist Is In – Freakonomics Blog – NYTimes.com.

When Software Kills…

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 10:22 am

Buggy software played a part in radiation overdoses given to some cancer patients, leading to deaths.

The Radiation Boom – Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm – Series – NYTimes.com.


How Different Groups Spend Their Day

Filed under: — Stormwind @ 9:07 am

The NYTimes has some really neat graphs on how people spend their day, divided by hours and activities, on average.

via How Different Groups Spend Their Day – Interactive Graphic – NYTimes.com.

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