Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pushing On Icebergs

Some weeks ago No Impact Man had a post succinctly titled Why Bother?.

He was looking for input and comment on the very basic question of whether all our little green activities actually make any difference. The responses got kinda rowdy, and some feelings were hurt before it settled down. Actually, I was glad to see the passion, though most of the hurt feelings were pretty unnecessary.

I commented, near the end, and this was part of my comment: "But yes, Greenpeople- we have an elephant in the room, and we DON'T like to think about it. What it boils down to is; what difference does it make if I sacrifice, and cut, and have one child- so that some jerk on the next block can continue to drive his SUV, using the gas I saved- and have 10 kids and 4 plasma televisions and a jetski?...Mostly what I can offer is- I've been doing it for 30 years- am still doing it- and the bottom line is; I'm an optimist. I think there are ways. But it takes what I call 'pushing on icebergs'."

I have come to understand why great teachers lean towards the extensive use of parables. Somehow, the human brain is just more receptive to a story with a good lesson to it than to plain logic. Stories, and metaphors, reach us better.

My metaphor here is that huge societal problems are very much like icebergs. They are huge; massive, with tremendous momentum and inertia. Walk up to an iceberg (standing on anything you can) and push on it, as hard as you can. You will not see ANY response from the iceberg; it's just too massive for you to affect, you and all your force are infinitesimally small in comparison to the berg.

Pretty discouraging.

And yet. Physics; good old physics, should bring you some realizations here- the outcome of which can be positive.

Icebergs - float. They are not attached to the land; and they DO move. Mostly, they move in response to other huge forces; winds and ocean currents. And they tend to go in what looks like random directions.

But like the rest of us, they ARE subject to the laws of physics; if you apply a force to the berg, it DOES have an effect. It has to.

So this big honking iceberg is edging towards you- and if it keeps going the way it is, it's going to crush your boat, which happens to have your family in it. Your boat is anchored fast; you can't just sail out of the way. Do you stand there and watch the berg come? Or do you push?

Granted, there are plenty of folks who would/will just stand there, and watch it come to squash them.

I can't. I'm gonna push on the damn berg for all I'm worth.

Obviously, one little shove IS useless. You have to buckle down; dig in with your feet, get used to the idea that you have to push, and push and push- and no, you won't see anything happening for a very long time. But- Physics is ON YOUR SIDE. If you keep applying force- the berg pretty much has to respond. At least a little.

Another thing that's on your side- humanity. If YOU are busting a gut, trying to turn this oncoming iceberg- SOME of the bystanders WILL join in. It's just human nature. Now- what are the chances you can deflect the berg- if there are 100 people pushing? Better. But most of them won't help- until they see someone already committed. Really committed- and not quitting. More human nature. And sure, there will always be the jackasses who stand by and jeer, and tell you you're crazy.

History- also - is on your side. Immense social icebergs HAVE been shifted out of their course, multiple times. The nicest example is Women's Suffrage. That iceberg had been floating in the male direction only, for THOUSANDS of years. Logic was not responsible for shifting it. It was the emotional commitment of many many people; over many many years. And it started with a few utterly committed women; who refused to quit.

Many of the other examples are not so nice. "Abolition" was bloody and horrific- and in case you haven't noticed, is not really over yet. "Temperance" was astonishing, and ultimately a proof that logic, in isolation from reality, is a disaster. The outcome was not just funny movies, and speakeasies; it was thriving gangsterism, supporting more bloodshed and misery. Gandhi's peaceful persistence also generated bloodshed in the end. Icebergs are dangerous- don't forget that.

I've actually DONE this. Pushing on icebergs. They do move. The main example I'll give you is widely familiar at the moment- good ol' Global Warming. I was a speaker at the 2nd North American Conference - in 1988. Essentially EVERY scary fact and possibility you've heard about recently - was discussed, in detail, at that meeting. Very few people listened to us, and the hot winds generated by the oil companies and capitalists continued to push the iceberg right down its disastrous path.

But; look where we are, after only 20 years of constant, steady pushing, by a very small community. All of a sudden, a whole bunch of folks - thousands of times more than the original pushers- are starting to push too. Frankly, I still haven't seen the berg move- but things are looking up, quite a bit. Boy, though, we wish folks had started to push sooner. Ah, well.

There will never be a sudden huge shift in the iceberg. It's not possible, and we shouldn't expect it. But the direction, and the trends, can be shifted.

Does your one compact fluorescent lightbulb make a difference? Physics says it does. Physics is a good ally.

So. Find a good place to set your feet. Dig in. And push. Don't quit. And don't waste your time yelling at the jackasses to come help- they won't, and the yelling just encourages them.

Just keep pushing. And watch and see- somebody from the crowd will come and start pushing too- right beside you.

I've seen it happen; and I'm still pushing.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cranky Mom-

Update: We're definitely rained out; what follows below the line was written earlier. Cracks me up! Ah, well; typical of Mom, she does what she wants- so we'll work around her. Saturday now, for us. A good example, perhaps- nobody needs to feel upset if they have to work it a little differently.

In Diversity is the salvation of the world.

(gosh, pontificating is like really fun! no wonder the pope does it so much!)


Mom as in Mother Nature- she's giving me fits at the moment; we've got a BIG chance of violent thunderstorms this evening, which would make it pretty darn hard to really have a picnic. But, of course, you can't really tell from the most advanced radar whether it's going to hit us, or not. Nothing like a good solid front moving in one direction- it's broken up, and messy.

So- at the moment, our Whole Planet Picnic is still on for tonight. BUT- reality is, we might get rained out. If so, that would be the FIRST TIME in 15 years; normally the solstice is not very stormy; unlike the equinoxes. If we do get rained out, we'll reschedule for Saturday. If Mom is going to be cranky about it, then we'll go with convenience in spite of her moods.

A little rain wouldn't stop us- but that's not what they're predicting. Violent storms- not great for conversation.

I'm SO delighted with those of you who've joined up. Please have a lovely evening. We will; storms or not.

Take pictures!! We'll certainly put some up here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Whole Planet Picnic Time -

I've been doing something like this for 15 years now; and every year it's the same thing- "WHAT?? Already??"

Thursday (as in the day after tomorrow) is the Summer Solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year- essentially that day in the solar year when it's half OVER.

Half the year is GONE already; and it's always a shock, both to me and to the friends who've been coming all this time.

There's already been considerable discussion here about the Whole Planet Picnic- why, when, what, where, who, and whatever.

Here are the original posts and comments:
Big Party
Earth Lent

IT'S TIME. Day after tomorrow. Ready or not.

In kind of scary ways, it's a metaphor for the world's problems. "What? Already? Ready or not?" Alas, yes; it's NOW.

So, the Executive Summary; We are beginning a tradition this year, ready or not, of Earth Lent; a one week period, beginning on the Summer Solstice, where the participants "give up something for the planet" - for a period of just one week. And, like the Catholic version; we start with a good party; only it's the Whole Planet Picnic, not Mardi Gras. Kind of a G-rated good community picnic, instead of the R and X type.

We placed the start at the Summer Solstice. No, it's not convenient. But it's REAL. This is the day the year turns over; this is THE day when the balance of nature starts to cycle down. It should be good for us to work on Nature's clock once in a while, not our own.

Then the "Earth Lent" part. Just between you and me- this community of "greenies" here is kind of small. We know that; but hate to mention it much; because if what we're doing is to be of any real use, a LOT more people are going to have to start listening, and doing.

A big big barrier to people getting greener is just that first step. So many "green practices" sound impossible to those who've never tried them- crazy stuff like "no toilet paper!" or "unplug your fridge!" or "sell your car!'. Impossible!

The Whole Planet Picnic is a way for folks to hang out, in a totally non-pressurized way, with folks who are on all sides of the situation. So you can meet someone who lives without a fridge, for example- they DO exist! It IS possible - and gosh; this person actually seems to be... a nice person, not a total whack job. The whole thing is NOT a protest; NOT a funeral - it's a picnic, and a time to enjoy and appreciate; planet and people.

And the following week - Earth Lent - is a way for neo-greens to just TRY one thing- for one week. Many many of them WANT to be greener; but just don't feel READY. Here, the barrier is low- just one thing. Just one week. They can do it.

Then - success breeds success; and belief; and a little pride here and there. We need those.

I think, and hope, this can become a larger event, with plenty of participants. I'd kind of hoped to do more promotion and publicity this year, but it's just not been possible; danged old reality keeps intruding; primarily with "sleep - now - or fall over." Kinda busy here.

But we will take the time for the Picnic; and the Earth Lent, anyway.

I truly hope you will join us, by hosting your own event aimed in the same direction. Does it have to be identical, and meet standards? Heavens, I hope not. Diversity is our only hope.

Putting on a picnic is work; no question. But there's never been a year when it wasn't worth it.

So - I hope your plans are well underway. If not- get on the phone NOW! (I have to confess, I just called my porta-potty people; I forgot before. Lucky for me, they can make it.) Get your bratwurst ordered- or your yoghurt, or whatever.

I hope you'll comment here and let us know what you're up to; and I intend to get an email address here where you can send some photos of your Planet Picnic. Hm; Crunchiqita has certainly demonstrated the value of the "contest"; perhaps we'll have one; best story; best photos; best whatever.

I'll toss one out now- I've had "The Teddy Bear's Picnic" song running through my head all day. I knew it well when I was a child, and it's kicking around a lot again. Somebody out there could write a nice parody of it, for us "The Planet Picnic" song. "for every Green that ever there was, will gather there- together because- today's the day the Whole Planet has their Pic-nic."

Or something.


Let me hear from you. Put up a link to this on your blog. Email it out. Contact the Associated Press. And. DO IT. It'll make you feel good; guaranteed. And, it just might help. A little.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Trying to have a nice calm day today; could sure use one.

In keeping with the day, am going to put up another pic of the Smidgen. Many thanks for all the kind comments on the earlier ones! She is, of course, terribly dear to us.

The pic is even relevant to this short post. It was taken as we went out to cut the Smidgen's first Christmas tree, so she's actually just 11 months old in this one. The cool snow looks good at the moment, since it's 90°F right now.

Living in the woods, people expect things to be laid back and easy-going. But it isn't. I travel for our business, and the business itself is always hectic. So often the little things I want to do- for myself- don't get done.

I've wanted, since this picture was taken, to make a pillow out of the needles of that Christmas tree. It was a balsam (planted by ME, years ago) which was the tree I remember most from my own childhood. SOOO fantastically fragrant.

Today- I'm going to take the time, and strip the needles, and do it. Finally.

Yep, I still have the branches. The ones from 2 years ago are getting pretty tatty, to be sure. Most of the needles are dropped. I can just sweep up the remainder. The balsam we had this most recent Christmas will be the main contributor to the pillow; the needles are all still clinging. I'll have to scrape them off. Time consuming. But I'm looking forward to putting my head, tonight, on a pillow that smells like Christmas, and childhood.

Thanks to Spice for giving me the time.

Anybody out there ever made a Balsam Pillow before? They're a well recognized item of trade- souvenirs of Maine, etc, for centuries. But when I googled to find instructions- all I got was ads for selling/buying. How do you DO it?

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Sorry I haven't been able to post for so long; still on the road. It was more hectic than anticipated, which is mostly a good thing apart from the wear and tear.

Currently sitting in the Chicago Amtrak station again, on the way home. Having gone both ways, I have to say I like the experience.

Will be posting soon, but the reality is- is slept in a coach seat last night- not ideal rest conditions.

The Planet Picnic is coming up this next week!

Of course what that means is- HALF THE YEAR IS ALREADY GONE.

Always a startling discovery on June 21. Time to take a little time- for friends, just to enjoy, and to think.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Road Again

Good news- the Chicago Amtrak station has free wireless internet!

On the road for several days; should be some time to do some blogging. Have to go get on the train just now. We checked it out; cheaper than car, cheaper than plane. Just takes more time, but that's supposed to be good. I'm enjoying it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Parental Purgatory

I'm going wimp out here, and put up- a few baby pictures. The Smidgen is 2.3 years old.

No, we don't do anything to her hair, except wash and brush.

Ok, it's NOT because of Colin's last post, at all. It's because both Spice and I are in the latter stages of a plain old cold. You know, that day where- you're out of bed; feel like you REALLY should be doing things to catch up; ALMOST feel well enough - but- you can't. Do 3 minutes of work and have to take a 20 minute nap.

The Smidgen did this to us. She caught it somewhere; had it for several days before it got us. Still need to wipe her nose every half hour; but SHE is right back to work. She feels great.

Her "work" of course, consists of bouncing off all walls, and the ceiling, bursting with enough energy to ignite a tritium pellet, and being totally cheerful about everything. I managed to catch these photos while she was temporarily restrained in her highchair for lunch.

Bah. Humbug.

Neither Spice nor I have the energy to cope with our little pink tornado, and it's a definite disadvantage to living out in the woods- grandma is not nearby for a little respite. So we take turns, grumping at everything.

And do I have the energy to write a nice cogent reasonably well reasoned blog entry? Nope.

So this is what ya get, this time around.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Urban Foxfire/Unplugging the Fridge

Had a new comment come in on one of the "unplugging your fridge" threads, so I'm going to take this opportunity to answer a number of questions on that topic.

First of all; let me point out that Vanessa, of Green As A Thistle ACTUALLY -oh-my-gosh- UNPLUGGED; on May 17.

That's 20 days ago- and not only is she apparently NOT dead, from starvation or food poisoning; but she's actually- um, feeling pretty frisky.

And, her blog post there about unplugging got 30 comments; a lot for this blog.

For those of you new to this thread, it started here.

Before I get to the questions, I want to plug an idea that came to me a while back-when trying to answer a question on Colin aka NIM's blog.

I live in the woods. When I moved here 30ish years ago, one of the best sources of information was the Foxfire Books . By far. Multiple stories from old-timers who'd DONE what they were talking about, for years. Much of the construction of the Little House came right out of Foxfire One. It was enormously more useful than sources like the Mother Earth News - which alas tended to be full of tremendously enthusiastic "success" stories; from people who'd done what they were writing about - once; probably last month.

Most folks live in cities. That's not going to change, maybe ever.

Where are the Foxfire Books about life in the city?

Very seriously; there are lots of older folks who lived without refrigerators- or water, or heat, or airconditioning - in the cities. But we are losing them. And their knowledge and experience is priceless.

SOMEBODY reading this- needs to launch an Urban Foxfire project. REALLY. I'm talking to YOU. :-) More than one; really; living in Boston is not the same as living in San Diego.

You could get funding! And Save Lives, in the years ahead.

Ok, questions. I'll start with the newest first, since Isle Dance posted just a day or so ago, and is possibly still hoping for an answer sometime soon. Here we go.

May 21, 2007 3:05 PM  Isle Dance said...

"Could I really get away with keeping a bulk jar of Mayo out of refrigeration? Do I want to risk testing this out? Of course, in the future, I'll ideally make a fresh batch as needed, so that would solve the whole dilemma."

Eee. Mayo scares the heck out of me, since many times it contains egg; which spoils very quickly. One of the tactics that works very well when fridgeless is to change spoilage-prone foods from "daily staples" to "occasional luxuries". Just buy a small jar of mayo that you can use up before it spoils. I guarantee you'll appreciate it as much as if you'd had the BIG jar. Being less common makes you notice it far more. Cheaper, too.

"Once a week I buy a bulk order of cooked poultry (a temporary thing) but see myself keeping some free range in the freezer in the future. So, I'm guessing I really do need a small freezer drawer, at least. Or?"

If you're really going to stash meat, you've GOT to either freeze it- OR CAN it, or DRY it. It'll depend on your preferences. Taking chances with unrefrigerated meat is very likely to get you into the hospital sooner or later. I've canned chicken- it works pretty well, taste wise. It takes quite a bit of energy to can, of course; but once canned it can sit on your shelf for a year, with no problems; likely longer. Drying chicken?? hm. Not so sure. Lots of folks dry beef; I've jerked beef and venison; no problems there. I HAVE had a "freezer locker" in town sometimes; used to be that every small town had a "locker plant"; much less common now, but still out there. That can be a good solution too. And/Or - eat less meat in warm weather. We do- and in fact, it's AMAZING how much more interesting a hamburger is when you've been living on new potatoes and peas and applesauce and peanutbutter and radishes for 4 days. :-)

"Do you recommend a particular cooking pot brand that seems to work best for unrefrigerated meat cooking/storage?"

Not really- what you want is stainless steel, or cast iron for stews; always with a lid that fits VERY well. Leaky lids will let that random bacterium in, and start things spoiling. Good old cooking pots are awfully easy to find in garage sales/auctions. I don't use teflon anymore.

"I keep a week's worth of fresh organic fruits and veggies in a low, cool cabinet. However, fruit flies can be an issue (even if stored in sealable containers). Maybe I've just not found the ideal container? I've assumed this means I should really be refrigerating these things to avoid the hassle."

Yep, fruit flies are a pain. For me, the best tactic has been to totally clear out the population of flies, by not having ANYTHING available for them to live on for a week- then start over. If you are careful not to let any fruit/potatoes start spoiling, you can go a long time before the flies get back in. Putting fruit into sealed containers is perhaps a way to make it spoil faster- some will ripen much quicker if their own "exhalations" build up around them; ethylene being a major one. There's an art to it, and vigilance is more than half the battle.

"One of my favorite Mother Earth News articles (about fifteen years ago) displayed instructions on how to build an outdoor underground/stream fridge. I've always wanted one...but there are lots of rats on islands...ew...I might be too girly to deal with them near my food!"

I don't have rats- I've got raccoons, which are kind of like rats on megasteroids. The trick is to make your storage TRULY SECURE. If they are NEVER able to GET food there; they will not hang around. If your storage is - ALMOST good enough- what you have is an animal feeding station. If they CAN get in; they'll hang around constantly until they do. If a coon finds out that one time in 10 there is catfood left on the porch- he'll visit the porch EVERY night, and poke into everything, looking for that catfood. You can have NEVER; or FOREVER with the critters.

I have a good rule there, related to my Aggressive Passive Design Principle- if you're building something like your stream cooler, and you find yourself saying "hm.. MAYBE this will be strong/good enough..." - - - IT ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH. Build it so there's just no question.

May 21, 2007 11:00 AM  tansy said...

"i've been playing around with this myself. if it were just me and my kids i could do it but the other adult would not be receptive to the idea."

You could sneak up on 'em- "just for this week, dear..." :-)

"question on the eggs, how do you know when they've gone bad, the smell? do they instantly stink?"

Not necessarily. If you use your eggs within one week, there's RARELY any problem. When you're dealing with 2 week old eggs, what you do is crack them into a separate bowl- one at a time, before you add them to whatever you're cooking. Once cracked, a spoiled egg is very obvious!

April 5, 2007 5:30 PM  Robbyn said...

"Do you use fermented foods often, and if so, do you have a good resource so that a person like myself can know if how to keep foods safe? Seems we've lost a lot of collective traditional knowledge in our age of "progress".

Hey, exactly! Urban Foxfire time! I'm a cheese fan; Spice is a yoghurt fan. I've made pickles and sauerkraut at various times. All those are pretty safe; if your cheese has gone bad, it's usually obvious; and cheese in fact keeps beautifully with no refrigeration- as long as you're fairly constantly USING it up. Any good cheese store will sell "cheese-keepers" that are designed to keep it from drying out as it sits on your kitchen counter.

The whole point to fermented foods is that we intentionally get a "friendly" microorganism started in it- and then that bug keeps other bugs out. Mostly works. But there's tons of "art" to all fermenting- ask any winemaker... or cheesemaker. Fun, too, though.

April 11, 2007 11:04 AM  Robbyn said...

"Do you have any suggestions for my climate? I'm in Florida, and needing ideas. "

Ah. Yep, different climates have different problems and solutions. I lived in the tropics a couple times as a kid, so I am familiar.

"Unfortunately, we have acclimated to AC to the point where it will take our eventual move to acreage OUT of the city (where we can safely keep windows raised for ventilation) and a period of time to get used to the "untempered" hot temps. Any suggestions?"

Boy oh boy. Needs a book. Hm. "Miami Urban Foxfire Book..." :-) The tropics I lived in were pretty wet/humid, so not so far from Florida. A big part of the problem these days is that architects have totally embraced airconditioning/massive power use. Buildings are constructed with NO thought to anything else, which makes it very very difficult. Most native architecture in such regions is "open" - often just a roof, with mat walls for storms, but otherwise open on all 4 sides for the breeze to blow through. And the mosquitoes, if you built too near a swamp. Not to gloss over the problems.

I DO know from multiple times visiting home during college that your body DOES adapt to non-airconditioned um, conditions. And it takes several DAYS. When you're used to leaving the airconditioned house for the air-conditioned car to go to the airconditioned mall or store- it's a shock to live in the real world at first. Bloody hot! But in 4 or 5 days suddenly it will feel mostly comfortable. It will NOT happen in one or two days.

"Also, do you preserve your food for the times it's not so readily available? We don't live in a forageable area, for the most part, but I'm trying to gather ideas of how we can shrug off our dependency on modern "musts." To us, this spells freedom, whatever OUR choices will be throughout the process."

We DO can vegetables, and have salted meat in the past, as well as having a freezer-locker. Drying stuff is good when it works; we eat a lot of dried apples!

I recently learned something interesting; and perhaps useful- a major reason breadfruit was such an important foodstuff in Polynesia was that it could be fermented. Buried. Taro, also- good Hawaiian poi can be pretty tangy. So those folks certainly ate stuff fresh- but also stored things up for the thinner times.

Ok- getting long- nuff for now.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Not in the plans

Too much going on in the Big Woods; it's been hard to steal time to get here; sorry about that.

Not everything that happens is on the list. I've had solar (photovoltaic) power in the Little House for 20 years or so. In all that time, it has served me very well. It's not a path without bumps, however, which we may get into someday (like the old phone company batteries we got for free- huge, glass cased, single cell batteries with a high power rating- that were totally unsuited to our uses, which I carried carefully up the ladder, then down the ladder...)

Something you really need to understand. Being a pioneer is bloody expensive.

I never set out to "be a pioneer"; it just happened that what I was interested in doing- no one else had done here before. When you're doing something new - you WILL screw up; and that's expensive, in every way possible.

When I installed my 3rd collection of solar panels, 20 odd years ago- I screwed up. Because of a worry that was current then, and no one even mentions now- the potential threat to glass looking up at the sky from hail.

What!? Is hail a concern for solar panels?? Well, no, not really. But back before some of us knuckleheads went out and got experience, it WAS. Glass is glass, and if you drop big balls of ice on it, it could break. The reality is- this particular catastrophe happens so seldom it's not worth worrying about- at all. Your array is far more likely to be hit by lightning, or a tornado.

But back then, it was a worry. Particularly for me, because of where I am- in the summer the sun is very high, and in the winter very low. Summer is when we have thunderstorms- just when the panels are tilted the least; i.e. most likely to get broken. And we DO have big, nasty thunderstorms, on a regular basis.

So in a fit of brilliance I very carefully crafted plywood backing for the panels, so they weren't just a piece of glass waiting for a hailstone, but a piece of glass lying on a perforated (for heat escape) sheet of 3/4" marine plywood. Much less likely to break. Probably.

Outcome- 99.999% of hailstones just bounce off of solar panels (a true statistic I made up). And- wood rots. Even marine plywood. Eventually.

So I found myself, at year 20, with a solar array that was starting to fall to pieces. It was getting fragile to the point where one good windstorm could rip it into fragments- and falling off the roof WOULD smash the panels, no question. We took the array down; and for too long have been unable to muster the time and personnel to put it back up. Last weekend, we finally did.

The roof on the Little House is steep- when I built it, we were having normal winters, often with heavy snow, and it seemed like a good idea. These days I wish we'd built it with a less "A-frame" type top- I'd prefer that the little snow we get stay on the roof and keep us warm.

Steep roof also means it's tricky working up there. And while I put it up alone the first time, it's really not a sensible job for somebody 58 to tackle without help.

When I say "in the Big Woods" - that's the truth. It's a pretty silly place for a photovoltaic installation. The best site we've got is on the top of the roof; on a mast as high up as I could reach to work without too much danger of leaving my family precipitously. Over the years- the surrounding trees have continued to get taller, cutting our sun more and more. Still- it makes most of the power we use. In winter, or very cloudy spells, we will use a little Honda gasoline generator for back up; but it's usually once a week at most. Chances are if we were out of the woods, we would use far less gas, even with this very small array.

What goes up on the mast is kind of a museum of solar panels. Used to be 3 types, now only two-

The more modern panels are Arco's; the lovely old antique round cell panel is a Solarex. Actually- the older Solarex was better built; though it has so much wasted non-photon catching surface-

Something under the glass on the Arcos is browning; probably an adhesive? And at this point it's certainly cutting some of the capacity of the cells. Eh. So, my little pieces of rock put out a few less milliamps. I'll probably live. The glass on the Solarex panel is still as crystal clear as the day it was born.

Here is the process; me and a son up on the roof, bolting and wiring- 2 on here.

It takes a fair amount of time. You just can't afford to drop a bolt- most of them are special in some way, and finding it on the ground is no joke. So you don't drop anything. Which means moving slow. You also can't afford to step off the scaffold. It's all just a bit nervewracking. Amazing how good it feels to have your feet on solid ground when you get down.

Then, finally - it's up. This time with a steel frame; nothing to rot. Guy wires on; turnbuckles tight.

It's hard to explain the psychological impact of getting it back up. Great relief, in part. Satisfaction. Security.

The batteries are inside the house- so as I type this, I'm listening to the cozy sound of- batteries bubbling hydrogen right close by my desk. Can't tell you how much I've missed that.