Sunday, August 31, 2008

Global Warming Solution



Taking care of global warming...American style:





And once again on this happy note...have a great Labor Day, folks.



Monday, August 25, 2008

Uncertainty



Hope has two beautiful daughters.
Their names are Anger and Courage;
anger at the way things are,
and courage to see that they do not remain
the way they are.


- Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Kaputt



On Wednesday evening, one of our two air conditioning units decided to die on us. Well, isn’t that just wonderful?! Especially when one lives in the Nevada desert. In the middle of August. When the temperature is still hovering way over 100º Fahrenheit and barely cools down at night.


Ah, the joys of living in the desert.


Luckily, we were able to have a technician over the next morning to take a look at it and fix it. At least temporarily. He switched out a fuse, which will blow out again pretty soon since the units are drawing too much power and overheat due to their age. These babies are 17 years old. All still original from the day we first moved in...well, 17 years ago.


We really can’t complain though. They’ve been working great all this time without any incidents. They’re both air conditioner/heat pump units which are true work horses. We were really lucky. Of course, it also helps to keep an eye on these things and trying to maintain them so they run efficiently. And being environmentally conscience as we are, we never cool our home lower than 84ºF anyway. This also helped not putting too much strain on them over the years. Besides, we never understood why people want to turn their homes into deep- freezers. It’s quite unhealthy to expose your body to extreme temperature fluctuations, like constantly walking in and out of an arctic home into the hot furnace of desert hell.


Well, that and trying to avoid a heart attack every time one receives the monthly power bill.


Anyway...


It’s only a matter of time before one of the units, or even both, will eventually crap out on us completely. George and I decided to bite the bullet and buy two brand new ones. Call it an investment. It’ll add to the home’s value when we’re ready to sell the place down the road. But have you seen the prices of these things lately? How many zeros were there again??? Good Lawd!


Ah, the joys of home ownership.


We’ll get the two new air conditioner/heat pump units installed next Friday. The A/C company must also bring a crane to lift both units onto the roof of our house. Hmm, a couple of tons of steel, valves and the like...resting on wooden beams over our heads. That’ll be interesting. After all that hassle and the money we’re about to spend, they had better send some cute guys over to install those things. We’re just saying. There must be room for some eye candy.


Yeah, we know. Who are we kidding, right?


George and I are both taking the day off from work for this joyous occassion. But at least it’ll turn the upcoming Labor Day weekend into an even longer one. Not bad. Not bad at all.


** On a completely unrelated note, it’s my father’s birthday. He would have turned 81 years today. Our relationship never was a perfect one. But he would have done anything for me. Always. And he did. Thanks for everything. Hope you have a good one...wherever you are. **


Happy Friday to everyone and a great weekend. Make the most out of it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cher



George, his mother and I went to see Cher at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace yesterday. We bought the tickets months ago as they were selling out fast. All three of us were excited and hyped and ready to go. Finally, the day has arrived.


First off, the show was absolutely fantastic. Cher is how old now? 61 years…43…24? Who knows? And who cares?! All these so-called stars of today can’t even hold a candle up to this woman. The audience was ecstatic. Here we were from all walks of life. Young, old, the die-hard fans and dressed up drag queens in-between simple looking folks. They all came from Anytown, U.S.A. and all over the world, to see this phenomenon called Cher. And she knew it. She knows she’s the shit (her words) but never takes herself too serious. This was a fun show. She admitted that she had to work even harder here as the Las Vegas audience is a tough one to get excited. And excited they were. Towards the final numbers, she had everyone go wild and dancing in the aisles.


While it was definitely one of the best shows we’ve seen on the “Strip,” there were a few things to gripe about. She was fashionable late, but that was expected. However, the transition phases between sets were far too many and dragged out to long. These were used to switch props on stage and to give Cher time to change into her many fabulous costumes. During these breaks we were treated to video clips, emphasizing the many highlights in her career. Cher is also famous for her outlandish outfits and that too is expected when one sees her shows. But paying the high ticket prices that all of us did, we would have rather seen more of her live on stage than some canned old footage projected on a giant screen. Her die-hard fans didn’t seem to mind and basically fainted every time at the first tone of some oldie, but goodie song. Fortunately, her fantastic dancers, acrobats and the incredible live band helped tremendously to bridge some of the dry spots.


Was it necessary for her to change a hundred times just to sing one song, only to vanish once again into the closet to get ready for the next transformation? Granted, phenomenal transformations, but still...


But still...


Still...we forgave her. It was Cher. She was amazing. Even with a few mishaps here and there. Including her rendition of “Love is a Battlefield” and “I will Survive.” Why would she sing Pat Benetar and Gloria Gaynor songs? Didn't we come to hear Cher's songs? It didn’t matter. The crowd went nuts.


She made up by singing many of her favorite hits. “ I Got You, Babe,” “Half Breed,” “If I Could Turn Back Time,” “Believe,”…


It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime extravaganzas. Something like this, someone like her will never come again. You’d better enjoy it now while you still can and suck in every little essence that is Cher. After all these years, one can’t help to be still amazed by her. After the show has ended and the Colosseum emptied, people were still ecstatic.


Do you believe in life after…? Nah…let’s not go there. Believe this though…Cher will live on forever.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Required Reading

The following opinion piece should be required reading for Americans, especially politicians. But maybe our two presidential candidates are more worried about their celebrity status than talking about and dealing with real issues? The text below is from the New York Times.


Op-Ed Columnist
Flush With Energy
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN Published: August 9, 2008

Thomas L. Friedman
(Photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Copenhagen

The Arctic Hotel in Ilulissat, Greenland, is a charming little place on the West Coast, but no one would ever confuse it for a Four Seasons — maybe a One Seasons. But when my wife and I walked back to our room after dinner the other night and turned down our dim hallway, the hall light went on. It was triggered by an energy-saving motion detector. Our toilet even had two different flushing powers depending on — how do I say this delicately — what exactly you’re flushing. A two-gear toilet! I’ve never found any of this at an American hotel. Oh, if only we could be as energy efficient as Greenland!

A day later, I flew back to Denmark. After appointments here in Copenhagen, I was riding in a car back to my hotel at the 6 p.m. rush hour. And boy, you knew it was rush hour because 50 percent of the traffic in every intersection was bicycles. That is roughly the percentage of Danes who use two-wheelers to go to and from work or school every day here. If I lived in a city that had dedicated bike lanes everywhere, including one to the airport, I’d go to work that way, too. It means less traffic, less pollution and less obesity.

What was most impressive about this day, though, was that it was raining. No matter. The Danes simply donned rain jackets and pants for biking. If only we could be as energy smart as Denmark!
Unlike America, Denmark, which was so badly hammered by the 1973 Arab oil embargo that it banned all Sunday driving for a while, responded to that crisis in such a sustained, focused and systematic way that today it is energy independent. (And it didn’t happen by Danish politicians making their people stupid by telling them the solution was simply more offshore drilling.)

What was the trick? To be sure, Denmark is much smaller than us and was lucky to discover some oil in the North Sea. But despite that, Danes imposed on themselves a set of gasoline taxes, CO2 taxes and building-and-appliance efficiency standards that allowed them to grow their economy — while barely growing their energy consumption — and gave birth to a Danish clean-power industry that is one of the most competitive in the world today. Denmark today gets nearly 20 percent of its electricity from wind. America? About 1 percent.

And did Danes suffer from their government shaping the market with energy taxes to stimulate innovations in clean power? In one word, said Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s minister of climate and energy: “No.” It just forced them to innovate more — like the way Danes recycle waste heat from their coal-fired power plants and use it for home heating and hot water, or the way they incinerate their trash in central stations to provide home heating. (There are virtually no landfills here.)

There is little whining here about Denmark having $10-a-gallon gasoline because of high energy taxes. The shaping of the market with high energy standards and taxes on fossil fuels by the Danish government has actually had “a positive impact on job creation,” added Hedegaard. “For example, the wind industry — it was nothing in the 1970s. Today, one-third of all terrestrial wind turbines in the world come from Denmark.” In the last 10 years, Denmark’s exports of energy efficiency products have tripled. Energy technology exports rose 8 percent in 2007 to more than $10.5 billion in 2006, compared with a 2 percent rise in 2007 for Danish exports as a whole.

“It is one of our fastest-growing export areas,” said Hedegaard. It is one reason that unemployment in Denmark today is 1.6 percent. In 1973, said Hedegaard, “we got 99 percent of our energy from the Middle East. Today it is zero.”

Frankly, when you compare how America has responded to the 1973 oil shock and how Denmark has responded, we look pathetic.

“I have observed that in all other countries, including in America, people are complaining about how prices of [gasoline] are going up,” Denmark’s prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told me. “The cure is not to reduce the price, but, on the contrary, to raise it even higher to break our addiction to oil. We are going to introduce a new tax reform in the direction of even higher taxation on energy and the revenue generated on that will be used to cut taxes on personal income — so we will improve incentives to work and improve incentives to save energy and develop renewable energy.”

Because it was smart taxes and incentives that spurred Danish energy companies to innovate, Ditlev Engel, the president of Vestas — Denmark’s and the world’s biggest wind turbine company — told me that he simply can’t understand how the U.S. Congress could have just failed to extend the production tax credits for wind development in America.

Why should you care?

“We’ve had 35 new competitors coming out of China in the last 18 months,” said Engel, “and not one out of the U.S.”

A version of this article appeared in print on August 10, 2008, on page WK11 of the New York edition.



Sunday, August 10, 2008

This is only a test...

This is only a test on our emergency broadcast system...Please don't change your dial...This is only a test...We'll repeat this message in German momentarely...Translation may vary...

video

Wir wollten nur schnell das Video raufladen ausprobieren...und hiermit auch schnell mal Hallo sagen.