stretching a concept

This headline is priceless. The article is meh.

San Francisco Parks Trashed On Earth Day: Celebrations Are Not Very Eco-Friendly, Huge Messes Left Behind

By Posted: 04/23/2012 5:52 pm Updated: 04/24/2012 1:39 pm

San Francisco may be the greenest city in the nation, but some residents have a funny way of showing their appreciation.

On Earth Day, Marina district residents took their celebrations a little too far, leaving behind a Fort Mason disaster zone.

Our friends over at SFist alerted us to this heinous trashing:

Not to get all hippie-preachy or anything, but this is kind of an offensive amount of trash, right? Do normal and reasonable human beings not look at that mess and say, “…maybe we ought to like, I don’t know? Take some of this trash with us? To a trash can?” or “Maybe we should bring that coffee table back home?” We’ve seen our share of litter-y days in Dolores Park and some embarrassing trash pileups in Golden Gate Park, but leaving actual pieces of living room furniture is a whole new level of prickish park use.

Fort Mason wasn’t the only park to take a hit on Earth Day. Mission residents also woke up to a severely less beautiful Dolores Park this morning.

One resident told Mission Local, “I’m not sure who angers me more, the people who came to enjoy the park on Saturday and left this mess or Rec and Park, which continues to ignore the complaints and warnings of neighbors about the park’s abuse.”


Go there and read. More tomorrow.


These tips are really kinda lame but at least they are trying.

As you’re doing your spring cleaning and getting your air conditioner, as well as your house, ready for the hot weather, consider making some changes around the house that will help save energy dollars this summer.

When cleaning windows, check to see if they’re in good condition.  Loose, leaky or single-paned windows allow heated or cooled air to escape, taking hard-earned dollars with it.  Repair existing windows or replace them with energy-efficient models.

  • If you leave your windows open to enjoy the weather, remember to shut off the heating system.  A thermostat will call for heat when it’s set to a temperature higher than the outside air.
  • Clean under and in back of the refrigerator.  Dust can build up in those hard-to-reach areas, causing the refrigerator to run less efficiently.  If you have an old refrigerator that was manufactured before 1993, consider replacing it with a new Energy Star-rated model.  They use half as much energy as models manufactured before 1993 and 15 percent less energy than other new models.  This change can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
  • Unplug the old, inefficient refrigerator or freezer that’s in the garage – it’s wasting energy and money.  If a second refrigerator or freezer is needed, keep it full.  Water and ice work well for this.
  • Dust or wipe light bulbs.  Clean bulbs provide more light for the money.  Replace high-use incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and fixtures – they use two-thirds less energy and last up to 10 times longer.
  • When washing clothes, adjust the water level to match the load size, and use cold water whenever possible.  Use the dryer’s moisture sensor option that automatically shuts off the machine when the clothes are dry, and clean the lint filter before every load.  Consider hanging clothes outside to dry instead.


Go there and read. More tomorrow.


The first time we got hit by one of these bad boys that we know of in the 1870s, the telegraph operators here in the US had to disconnect their batteries to prevent the batteries from catching fire. Yet the telegraph system still worked without their power. But for the major utility companies (eg. telecoms, electrical, water, natural gas etc.) this is a big deal and that is what we have been talking about here.

A pair of scorching explosions on the Sun’s surface is sparking the biggest radiation and geomagnetic storm the Earth has experienced in five years, space weather experts said Wednesday.

The full brunt of the storm is expected to hit Earth early Thursday US time and last through Friday, potentially disrupting power grids, GPS systems, satellites, and forcing airplanes to change their routes around the polar regions.

“Space weather has gotten very interesting over the past 24 hours,” said Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The fuss began late Sunday at an active region on the Sun known as 1429, with a big solar flare that was associated with a burst of solar wind and plasma known as a coronal mass ejection that hurtled in Earth’s direction at some four million miles per hour (6.4 million kilometers per hour).

Another solar flare and CME followed at 0024 GMT on March 7, setting off a strong geomagnetic and solar radiation storm, both at level three on a five-step scale.

NASA said the second flare — classified in the potent X class — was one of the largest of this cycle known as the solar minimum which began in early 2007, and fell in just behind slightly stronger one which erupted in August.

“The current increase in the number of X-class flares is part of the sun’s normal 11-year solar cycle, during which activity on the sun ramps up to solar maximum, which is expected to peak in late 2013,” the US space agency said.

The solar flares alone caused brief high frequency radio blackouts that have now passed, according to NOAA.

But the ensuing space storm will likely give nighttime viewers in Central Asia a prime look at the aurora borealis, or northern lights, on Thursday night, in addition to possibly garbling some of Earthlings’ most prized gadgets, Kunches said.

The storm is likely “the strongest one since December 2006,” Kunches said, noting, however, that the Earth experienced a stronger radio blackout last August.

“But en masse, if you put it all together with the geomagnetic effects and the solar radiation effects, I would put it on par with one at the end of the last solar cycle which was over five years ago.”


Go there and read. Google for additional solar flare information. More tomorrow.


This Blog on frugality is pretty funny and maybe not for the Joe Sixpack crowd. Things like Retiring In Panama may miss them. But the post about living on food stamps was pretty informative and funny.

Festival of Frugality: Superheroes Are Frugal Too Edition

Hello and welcome to the 325th edition of the Festival of Frugality. The Festival of Frugality highlights personal finance posts that deal with how to pinch those pennies or save that dollar.

I am a sucker for a theme for my festivals or carnivals and while I was tempted to do a leap year facts edition it just wasn’t exciting enough for my blood. So superheroes it is. Because what’s more exciting than superheroes? It also occurred to me that superheroes are quite frugal and who hasn’t sometimes thought that superpowers are needed to stay on the path of frugality.

Editor’s Super Picks

Smart Family Finance has pretty convincing financial reasons to get rid of your junk. There are so may reasons to get rid of your “junk”. It’s nice to have one that will put cash in your wallet too.

Annabelle from Shopping Detox gives her city a frugal audit. This really has me thinking about my own town.

A. Blinkin from Funancials entertains us as usual with how do you judge value?



Go there and read about Wolverine and Batman at least. More next week.


I say frugality is not giving up, it is getting back to what you want. Here the poster asks what is most important too you not what do you want now.

What Do You Want Most?

by Kelly

I found this quote on a fitness website (MyFitnessPal): “The reason most people fail instead of succeed is that they trade what they want the MOST for what they want at the MOMENT.”*

I’ve often fallen into that trap. I’m hungry, so even though I want to stay on my diet, I go through the drive through. I’m feeling down, so I go shopping for a new shirt, even though I want to stay on a budget. I’m tired, so instead of doing my consulting work, I read a book on my Kindle (or maybe even buy a new book instead of reading one of the many I already have).

In fact, figuring out what I want most, I think is one of the hardest things about goal setting. I know, intellectually, that I want to do/act/be a certain way, but I often feel like I have a hard time owning that feeling in a way that will help me commit to following through on the commitment over a long period of time.

My life is in transition here, both at Almost Frugal-land and abroad. I’ve been going through some growing and moving and changing for the past few months, and it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride. Things are good- no need to worry- but finding this quote today has helped me to sum things up.

I’m working on discovering what I want to happen most, not just what I want to happen in the moment.

What do you want to happen most?

*I don’t know to whom I should credit the quote- if you know, please leave the information in the comments.


Go there and read. More tomorrow.


That is right. I know this is an energy conservation blog. It is an environmental blog and an energy industry blog as well. But for awhile this is going to be a frugality blog. Think about it. At one level frugality and sustainable living start by “doing for yourself”. What is more easier and immediate than cutting your own hair. This site is much more than that but it is the first article.

Reader Story: Home Haircuts Can Save Time and Money

Sunday, 26th February 2012 (by J.D. Roth)

This guest post from Shannon D is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes.

My wonderful husband likes to keep his hair short and precise. He works outdoors but dislikes hats, so keeping his hair looking proper is important to him. We live in a rural area without a major chain hair cut shop. While we do have a small barber shop, their hours are very limited. This usually meant that for a monthly haircut we would drive 25 miles to the nearest mall to get his hair cut in the evenings or on weekends at a chain store.

While we usually tried to combine his trip for a haircut with other errands in town, we typically just made it into a dinner evening. So on top of the other costs, we often had an extra dinner out that we not have otherwise enjoyed.

We estimate our costs to have been the following:

  • $25 per trip in mileage
  • $18 haircut – including the tip
  • A solid two hours spent getting a haircut

With this happening once monthly, we were spending $516 per year — not including dinners — and 24 hours of time getting his hair cut.

Note: My own hair expenses are not cheap — not factoring in fuel since I get my hair cut while in town for work — and cost us about $300 per year.

We decided to try something different, not because of the money so much as the time and convenience lost making the commute just for a haircut. After my husband asking me several times, I finally got the confidence to try cutting his hair. I am no cosmetologist. My haircutting experience includes buzzing my brother’s hair — at his request — in high school and shaving my long-haired dog during the summer. And I should mention that my husband’s haircut is not a simple buzz. It made me nervous.



Go there and read as much as you can take. More tomorrow.


I know this and the following posts may seem off topic. What does simplicity or frugality have to do with home energy conservation. Well to use an extreme example, what if you simplified your life by using no generated electricity. So much in your life would change. No computer, no telephone, and no lights at night. While that would be thought of as extreme by some and it would only save my household a couple of thousand dollars a year, it is still an interesting concept. This blog here makes a good place to start.

Choose Simplicity
Thoughts on Voluntary Simplicity

Welcome to Clay and Judy
Woods’ homepage.

Many simplicity gurus urge us to become “tightwads” as the true path to a simple life. But voluntary simplicity and frugality are not really the same thing. To be sure, frugality is a vehicle for achieving simplicity, but the driving force is a vision, a philosophy, a world view.

If life were a poem, simplicity would be the poet, frugality the line and meter.

If life were a painting, simplicity would be the artist, frugality the paint and brushes.

If life were a building, simplicity would be the architect, frugality the hammer and boards.

Voluntary simplicity is about freedom. It’s about owning your own life. Frugality is living with less of what money can buy. Voluntary simplicity is wanting less.

Soon after beginning our partnership more than 35 years ago, we made a revolutionary discovery. It changed our lives then and it continues to make us “different” now. You’ve heard it before: “time is money.” What we discovered is that’s not true – time is better than money!

This revelation has allowed us to be content in our work or to change that work when it no longer satisfies. It has permitted us to spend less time acquiring things and more time acquiring experiences, insights, and relationships. It has encouraged us to lend a helping hand in our community, whenever the need arises, because we can make the time to do it. It has given us freedom and control of our lives.


Go there and read in much larger print. More tomorrow.


I am not as funny as Ray Lytle but the Springfield City Council was on a roll with CWLP last night when they tried to ask for a WHOPPING 9.3% increase in the rates they charge their electric customers. First they blamed the spot market, then they blamed the EPA’s new regulations, then they blamed the increase in the price of coal and finally they blamed the bond markets. They never explained why they borrowed 6,000,000 $$$ from the water fund.


Council rebuffs CWLP rate hike, seeks alternatives

Posted Jan 31, 2012 @ 11:00 PM
Last update Feb 01, 2012 @ 05:52 AM

Springfield aldermen Tuesday rejected the idea of a 9.5 percent electric rate increase and directed City Water, Light and Power officials to come up with alternative plans.

Eric Hobbie, the utility’s chief engineer, told reporters after the meeting that the possibilities are limited and might mean “substantial changes to the way we do business.” He declined to elaborate on what those changes could be.

CWLP officials and Mayor Mike Houston have said a rate increase is needed to give CWLP a sufficient revenue cushion to repay its bonds and maintain the utility’s bond rating.

The immediate rate hike would raise $19.1 million annually, Additional, smaller rate hikes also are being sought in future years.

However, no city council member even moved Tuesday to put the matter on next week’s city council debate agenda.

Several aldermen said they are concerned about hiking electric rates.

“We can’t do that to the citizens today,” Ward 1 Ald. Frank Edwards said. “We need to find some different means, some different alternative. … There’s a lot of people really hurting out there.”

Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner agreed.

“I just cannot in clear conscience vote for a 10 percent increase,” she said. “I just think that is just too much to put on the ratepayers.”

“There’s got to be a better way,” Ward 4 Ald. Frank Lesko said.

Utility officials say CWLP’s revenue problems began in the fall of 2008, when the economy collapsed and energy prices dropped. Prices for power CWLP sells on the wholesale market have continued to decline ever since, and the utility’s wholesale revenues are $20.5 million below budget, officials say.


Really funny guys. Go there and read the rest. More tomorrow.


I know, this is my alma mater. I also know that it may be a teensy weensy bit expensive. But this looks like a real good educational opportunity and today I had to write about roofs anyway so:

Course Summary:

Latest Roofing Technologies and Their Applications

Course #M987
April 30-May 1, 2012
Pyle Center*,  702 Langdon Street, Madison, Wisconsin
Course Fee: $995
Enroll Now


Attend and benefit as you:

  • Learn how “green” roof systems work
  • Find out how much they cost
  • Understand the intricacies associated with their design, installation, and maintenance
  • Evaluate the benefits, but also the potential for failure
  • Determine when these systems are right for your facilities

This course has been approved by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) for 13 GBCI CE hours for LEED® AP maintenance. See additional EPD courses approved for GBCI CE hours.


  • Advantages and disadvantages of “green” roofing technologies
  • Special design requirements—new construction and existing buildings
  • Codes governing design and installation
  • Special installation requirements
  • How to resolve potential conflict between different trades involved in the project
  • Dealing with warranty issues
  • Maintenance you will need to provide to ensure continuous, effective operations
  • Steps you should take to estimate your project’s first and life-cycle costs
  • LEED, Green Globe, other recognition programs


  • Owners
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Designers
  • Contractors


By participating in this course, you will earn 13 Professional Development Hours (PDH), 13 AIA Learning Units (LU) and 1.3 Continuing Education Units (CEU). Learn more about PDH, LU, CEU and state licensing boards.

General Information

Fee Covers Notebook and other course materials, break refreshments, and certificate.

Cancellation Policy If you cannot attend, please notify us by April 23, and we will refund your fee. Cancellations received after this date and no-shows are subject to a $150 administrative fee. You may enroll a substitute at any time before the course starts.

Accommodations We have reserved a block of guest rooms (rates starting at $89, including continental breakfast, parking and private airport taxi (a $30 value)) at Campus Inn, 601 Langdon Street, Madison, WI. Reserve a room online at Campus Inn or call 800-589-6285 or 608-257-4391. Room requests after April 9 will be subject to availability. Other fees and restrictions may apply.

Course Location This course will be held at Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison, WI. 608-262-1122

More Lodging in Madison

Parking Transportation Weather

Visitors’ Bureau*

Course information is subject to change.


Go there and read. More next week.


You can read either article below. The facts stay pretty much the same but  each has one of my favorite pictures of the horrible damage. The overhead shot is the most compelling:

Then there is the “boats and camels” shot:,3

The World’s Ongoing Ecological Disasters

While it’s probably still too soon to celebrate, BP appears to finally be getting the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico under control. But many of the world’s greatest environmental catastrophes continue, with no end in sight.



Disaster: The shrinking of the Aral Sea

Going since: The 1960s

Damage done: Straddling the border of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth-largest inland water body and home to at least 20 species of fish and a thriving coastal economy in the surrounding towns. In the early 1960s, the Soviet government built more than 45 dams and 20,000 miles of canals in an effort to create a cotton industry on the desert plains of Uzbekistan, depriving the sea of its main sources.

Over the next three decades, the sea shrank to two-fifths its original size, turning fishing villages into barren desert outposts. Thanks to the high salt content in the remaining water, all 20 fish species are now extinct. Drinking water supplies in the area are dangerously low and the ground contains dangerous pesticides from the cotton farms. When the wind sweeps across the now-dry sea bed, it spreads up to 75 million tons of toxic dust and salt across Central Asia every year.


Go there and read. More tomorrow.


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