Zen And The Art Of Lawn Tractor Maintenance – hummmmmmmmm

Yes I am a Headline Whore. But this is a very real nitty gritty get your hands dirty post. Most of the posts here are about environmental theories, or solar power writ large. But many environmental issues involve a compost pile and turning them, or washing off crud from recyclables. In this case if you have grass, and live in town you have to cut it. That means you have maintenance things to attend to. So here they are.


The Family Handyman

Lawn Tractor Maintenance Tips

Professional tips that prevent expensive repairs

Following the lawn tractor maintenance advice in your tractor’s manual is the best way to keep it humming along smoothly. But owner’s manuals usually only tell you basically what to do and when to do it—they seldom include the tips and real-world wisdom gained through experience. So we asked veteran mechanics which steps are the most important and how to make lawn tractor maintenance and tubeless tire repair faster and easier.

You’ll save too. Dealers typically charge more than $200 for routine maintenance that includes an oil change and new spark plugs and filters. But you can do all these things—and more—in just a few hours. A lawn tractor maintenance kit from your dealer (less than $75) might cost a few bucks more than buying parts separately but ensures that you get all the right stuff. And new tubes for a tubeless tire repair cost from $5 – $15.

Clean the mower deck

Remove the belt guards and blow off the debris that wrecks belts and pulleys. Scrape away any debris buildup under the pulleys with a screwdriver.

(thus it starts)


Go there and read a heck of a lot. More next week.


Micro Housing Units – Save energy by thinking small

We Americans created sprawl and with it a massive amount of energy consumption. Could this be one of the answers?


New York City’s first ‘micro apartments’ are coming this spring — here’s what they’ll look like

In 2013, a project called My Micro NY won a design competition for the New York’s first “micro apartments” sponsored by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Intended to create affordable housing for singles in New York City, those promised prefabricated affordable units are finally being assembled in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and will be unveiled this spring in Manhattan’s Kips Bay, according to The New York Times.

The city’s first “micro” building will have 55 rental apartments, all ranging from 260- to 360-square-feet with big windows, ample storage space, and Juliet balconies.

Because the architects believed amenities are important to micro-unit dwellers, the building will also have a public meeting space, café, and common rooftop garden for residents, as well as a laundry room, residential storage space, a bike room, and fitness space.


Go there and read a little (chuckle). More next week.


Carrington’s Flare – While we wait to see how well the cap works in BP’s Oil Gusher

I will try to post more green wash meditations but let us consider how bad things can get here at times. This is an event I was actually unaware of and it’s coolness is pretty high.

Authors: Trudy E. Bell & Dr. Tony Phillips | Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA


A Super Solar Flare

May 6, 2008: At 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1, 1859, 33-year-old Richard Carrington—widely acknowledged to be one of England’s foremost solar astronomers—was in his well-appointed private observatory. Just as usual on every sunny day, his telescope was projecting an 11-inch-wide image of the sun on a screen, and Carrington skillfully drew the sunspots he saw.

Right: Sunspots sketched by Richard Carrington on Sept. 1, 1859. Copyright: Royal Astronomical Society: more.

On that morning, he was capturing the likeness of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of blinding white light appeared over the sunspots, intensified rapidly, and became kidney-shaped. Realizing that he was witnessing something unprecedented and “being somewhat flurried by the surprise,” Carrington later wrote, “I hastily ran to call someone to witness the exhibition with me. On returning within 60 seconds, I was mortified to find that it was already much changed and enfeebled.” He and his witness watched the white spots contract to mere pinpoints and disappear.

It was 11:23 AM. Only five minutes had passed.

Just before dawn the next day, skies all over planet Earth erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight. Indeed, stunning auroras pulsated even at near tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii.

Even more disconcerting, telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when telegraphers disconnected the batteries powering the lines, aurora-induced electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted.

“What Carrington saw was a white-light solar flare—a magnetic explosion on the sun,” explains David Hathaway, solar physics team lead at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Now we know that solar flares happen frequently, especially during solar sunspot maximum. Most betray their existence by releasing X-rays (recorded by X-ray telescopes in space) and radio noise (recorded by radio telescopes in space and on Earth). In Carrington’s day, however, there were no X-ray satellites or radio telescopes. No one knew flares existed until that September morning when one super-flare produced enough light to rival the brightness of the sun itself.

“It’s rare that one can actually see the brightening of the solar surface,” says Hathaway. “It takes a lot of energy to heat up the surface of the sun!”

Above: A modern solar flare recorded Dec. 5, 2006, by the X-ray Imager onboard NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite. The flare was so intense, it actually damaged the instrument that took the picture. Researchers believe Carrington’s flare was much more energetic than this one.

The explosion produced not only a surge of visible light but also a mammoth cloud of charged particles and detached magnetic loops—a “CME”—and hurled that cloud directly toward Earth. The next morning when the CME arrived, it crashed into Earth’s magnetic field, causing the global bubble of magnetism that surrounds our planet to shake and quiver. Researchers call this a “geomagnetic storm.” Rapidly moving fields induced enormous electric currents that surged through telegraph lines and disrupted communications.


Here is a really good article on it. I am posting a chunk of it not covered above.


The Carrington Flare

April 15, 2009

As it happened, a second member of the Royal Astronomical society (another Richard, this one the otherwise-obscure Richard Hodgson in London), also saw the flare and so proved conclusively that there was nothing wrong with Carrington’s equipment. By the time this was realized, though, it was already pretty clear that something truly odd had happened—something rattled the Earth’s atmosphere the next day, as described above.

The connections between light, magnetism, and electricity were still incompletely understood in 1859 (James Clerk Maxwell would not entirely coincidentally publish his tour de force on the subject over the next few years), but Michael Faraday had already discovered the Law of Induction. Shorn of mathematics, it provided for the creation of electricity if a piece of metal cuts across a magnetic field or the field instead cuts over the metal. That was the connection between the strange readings at Kew and the telegraphic events around the world. The enormous auroras were symptomatic of huge fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field, and those fluctuations were playing across the world’s 200,000 kilometers of telegraph wire. By analyzing the directions followed by wires and comparing them to the effects that occurred at their stations, it was even possible to develop a rough idea of how the fluctuations had flowed around the planet.

Though the correlation between sunspots and the fluctuations of Earth’s magnetic field had already been discovered by Edward Sabine, this was the first really solid evidence that the Sun could reach out to the Earth with something other than light or gravity. Conservative by nature, Carrington himself didn’t commit to a connection between his flare and the electromagnetic storm, but now we know that the Sun throws off coronal mass ejections consisting of protons and electrons (the first having been observed in 1971). We even know for sure that the 1859 event was caused by one, despite the more than a century since it occurred; protons and electrons expelled by the Sun move quickly, but not anything like the speed of light, so that accounts for the delay between Carrington seeing his flare and the beginning of the auroras.

The clincher can be found on one of the charts linked to previously. There’s a “fishhook” shape (marked with an arrow labeled “D: Solar Flare Effect”) in the bottom trace. That’s called a magnetic crochet, and it’s the characteristic bump in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by X-rays from the coronal mass ejection ionizing part of our atmosphere. X-rays move at the speed of light, outpacing the charged particles following them—and it takes eight minutes to get from the Sun to the Earth at that speed. As closely as can be told from the relatively crude instrumentation that drew the track (hours are listed at the top of the same chart), the crochet occurred within the same time frame as Carrington’s closely timed 11:18 observation of the flare. So we have both a delayed effect from the slow stream of charged particles and a high-speed effect moving at light speed; a coronal mass ejection fits the bill exactly.


The Wikki article is kinda lame:


Richard Christopher Carrington

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Richard Christopher Carrington
Born 26 May 1826
Chelsea, London, England
Died 27 November 1875 (aged 49)
Churt, England
Nationality English
Fields Astronomy
Known for Solar observations
Notable awards Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1859

Richard Christopher Carrington (26 May 1826 – 27 November 1875) was an English amateur astronomer whose 1859 astronomical observations first corroborated the existence of solar flares as well as their electrical influence upon the Earth and its aurorae; and whose 1863 records of sunspot observations demonstrated differential rotation in the Sun.


It’s amazing how far we have come…but the Oil Gusher shows how far we have to go..


An Environmental Funny – Or never take yourself to seriously

I have spent the last 30 or 40 days since we got back from California going on about dire things happening with the planet, ways to save energy in your house, and the crazy commodity prices that I sometimes forget that you have to laugh. Why be on the planet if you don’t. This was brought home to me by a blog that Dan Piraro just posted.


In that Post he talks about going to a school in Indianapolis and talking to some kids. He made a joke which I thought was pretty funny about being loaded when he was there. First he got hopped by locals who thought putting the kids picture on his blog would endanger them somehow. Then they hopped him for saying he was loaded….That really got to me. Part of it was that I had planned to go see him there and had to cancel for a very important event, my inlaws 60th Wedding Anniversery. Such things are irreplaceable and though many plans for the trip had been made…still your 60th Wedding Anniversery is huge. l I felt bad because here Dan had gone and done a nice thing and probably turned on (every pun intended) some youngsters to Art while volunteering his time. But also Dan will probably not come back to Indianapolis again because of his treatment and that is as close as he usually gets to Springfiel, IL.

It might be because another of my favorite funny guys the Sports Writer Mike Nadel got fired by the GateHouse people to save money. I mean GateHouse is like the Tribune, they are what’s wrong with this country. They took on trillions of $$$s in debt to produce an inferior product. He is still being funny here:


So please give him a read and if he ever produces anything accidentally about the environment I might post it here. Then I started thinking about all the funny guys I have been missing,

Lewis Grizzard


Who must be laughing in heaven because his last book came out two years after he died.

Dave Berry (pulizer prize winning Dave Berry I might add)


who was retired and whom championed the Lawn Rangers:


Gary Larson who kinda retired too:


And Berkley Breathed who kinda retired too (pulitzer prize winning):


The point being that this cartoon has languished in a pile oh stuff for ever, because more serious things had to be posted. As penance I put it up on Sunday (when I normally don’t post) this Dan Piraro gem from early December:




Happy Martin Luther King Day – And what a day it is

Environmental Justice is predicated on the idea that pollution is purposely sited to poor communities, many of which are not of European descent:





Honor Martin Luther King

by Fighting Environmental Racism, Promoting Environmental Justice

Monday January 21, 2008

On Martin Luther King Day, Americans celebrate the life and vision of the late civil rights leader who has inspired generations of people to work toward a society characterized by equal opportunity and free of racial discrimination.

In 1968, Dr. King’s life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet, a violent act of racism that stunned and saddened people worldwide. Today, racism still threatens the lives of millions of African-Americans and other people of color.

That threat includes environmental racism, in which the residents of poor minority communities are subject to much higher health and safety risks than people in more affluent communities because of the proximity of their homes and schools to landfills, hazardous waste sites and factories that pollute the air and water.

Environmental racism was first documented nearly 30 years ago by Dr. Robert Bullard…


For more please read the article or this wiki article:


Merry Christmas From Everyone at Community Energy Systems

If you think Christmas is about crass comercialism than go here:


But if you think Christmas is about lowering your use of fossil fuels, and other scare resources, please try here:



Weird Bird Friday – This one will be a quick one because there is breaking news

TGI(WB)F! Heh we should start a restaurant that serves only emmu or something. Its a totally original idea. Today’s weird bird is more like birds. There are 4 birds in the picture, can you point them out:



Dedicated to John and Susan in Denver who have increasingly focused on the Great Denver Fire caused by the 2008 Democrat Convention.


Little do people know that they both have very naughty tattoos on large parts of their bodies.

Heating And Cooling Your House The Grown Up Way – Pump pump my heat pump

That’s right for you rap fans Hump up to the Heat Pump, Jump up to my Heat Pump it’ll burn you baby!…Well maybe not. The idea behind a heat pump is temperature differential. When its cold outside you throw heat inside because the fluid is colder than the cold and when its hot outside you throw heat out side because the heat is hotter then the hot. Well let’s let the experts explain…


According to the second law of thermodynamics heat cannot spontaneously flow from a colder location to a hotter area; work is required to achieve this. Heat pumps differ in how they apply this work to move heat, but they can essentially be thought of as heat engines operating in reverse. A heat engine allows energy to flow from a hot ‘source’ to a cold heat ‘sink’, extracting a fraction of it as work in the process. Conversely, a heat pump requires work to move thermal energy from a cold source to a warmer heat sink.

Since the heat pump uses a certain amount of work to move the heat, the amount of energy deposited at the hot side is greater than the energy taken from the cold side by an amount equal to the work required. Conversely, for a heat engine, the amount of energy taken from the hot side is greater than the amount of energy deposited in the cold heat sink since some of the heat has been converted to work.

One common type of heat pump works by exploiting the physical properties of an evaporating and condensing fluid known as a refrigerant.

A simple stylized diagram of a heat pump's vapor-compression refrigeration cycle: 1) condenser, 2) expansion valve, 3) evaporator, 4) compressor.

A simple stylized diagram of a heat pump’s vapor-compression refrigeration cycle: 1) condenser, 2) expansion valve, 3) evaporator, 4) compressor.

The working fluid, in its gaseous state, is pressurized and circulated through the system by a compressor. On the discharge side of the compressor, the now hot and highly pressurized gas is cooled in a heat exchanger called a condenser until it condenses into a high pressure, moderate temperature liquid. The condensed refrigerant then passes through a pressure-lowering device like an expansion valve, capillary tube, or possibly a work-extracting device such as a turbine. This device then passes the low pressure, barely liquid (saturated vapor) refrigerant to another heat exchanger, the evaporator where the refrigerant evaporates into a gas via heat absorption. The refrigerant then returns to the compressor and the cycle is repeated.

In such a system it is essential that the refrigerant reaches a sufficiently high temperature when compressed, since the second law of thermodynamics prevents heat from flowing from a cold fluid to a hot heat sink. Similarly, the fluid must reach a sufficiently low temperature when allowed to expand, or heat cannot flow from the cold region into the fluid. In particular, the pressure difference must be great enough for the fluid to condense at the hot side and still evaporate in the lower pressure region at the cold side. The greater the temperature difference, the greater the required pressure difference, and consequently more energy is needed to compress the fluid. Thus as with all heat pumps, the energy efficiency (amount of heat moved per unit of input work required) decreases with increasing temperature difference.

Due to the variations required in temperatures and pressures, many different refrigerants are available. Refrigerators, air conditioners, and some heating systems are common applications that use this technology.

A HVAC heat pump system

A HVAC heat pump system

In HVAC applications, a heat pump normally refers to a vapor-compression refrigeration device that includes a reversing valve and optimized heat exchangers so that the direction of heat flow may be reversed. The reversing valve switches the direction of refrigerant through the cycle and therefore the heat pump may deliver either heating or cooling to a building. In the cooler climates the default setting of the reversing valve is heating. The default setting in warmer climates is cooling. Because the two heat exchangers, the condenser and evaporator, must swap functions, they are optimized to perform adequately in both modes. As such, the efficiency of a reversible heat pump is typically slightly less than two separately-optimized machines.


Everyone sells them..everyone:


If you want a quote on one:



 or if you just want to look:







Dan Piraro Is One Of The Funniest Cartoonist Alive – Well at least to me

I am told that unofficially and off the record, Chris Robertson and the people at Peak Sun Silicon think so too.


I think the Peak Oil People are wrong. I think Oil Speculation has DOUBLED the price of oil. The Saudi’s claim that they believe oil is worth 70$$ a barrel. The real question is who tried to corner the Oil Market and Why? The second question is like the Hunt Brothers before them (in silver) when will they go to jail?

A bigger question is will the Saudi’s give the money back that they made as a result? Unfortunately they may have screwed the pooch because people are switching to mass transit and scooters.