I thought you’d like an update on the solar system, as I’m not blogging any more (I got tired of not getting any feedback. Blogging would work for me if I got money, adoration or hot Turkish Houseboys eager to please, but as it stands….). You’ll be happy to hear that Radiant Engineering, the firm which designed the system, had $115k embezzled by the receptionist. That lovely lady who wrote me threatening emails claiming that her boss could do no wrong…. So that’s nice. God seems to be on my revenge team.
I never got any satisfaction from either RE or the plumber, Bruce Gramaux at Ginnaty plumbing, and had finally written the whole thing off to being cheated, so I was heating my house by the wood stove. Lucky for me, the national forests around here are chock-full of standing dead trees just begging to be chopped down and thrown into the wood stove, since they have been infested with pine bark beetles, spruce bud worms and, – it wouldn’t surprise me – existential angst for good measure. I have oodles of firewood chopped and ready. Then I found a fellow over in near Missoula who was kind enough to slog through a whole bunch of emailing pictures and suggestions back and forth, while he tried to figure out what wasn’t working on the system.
With Greg’s help, I replaced one valve, which was nice, but not helpful. Then I disconnected another and hotwired the boiler directly, and am now able to turn it on and make it put heat into the floor. It can only be on full blast or off, so every so often I turn it on for a few hours to keep the slab warm. One solar panel has been working its little heart out, after Mike – who seems to be a better sort of plumber than the others, but there’s time yet for him to disappoint – took it apart and repaired it. RE and the Viessmann company insisted that that was impossible, but they were, as ever, wrong.
In the meantime I worked with the area representative of Viessmann down in Colorado to get the other panel replaced. They said it was a good will gesture, but it didn’t work. I wouldn’t recommend Viessmann to Dick Cheney. The negotiations for replacing the panel only took two years, but finally they came through. The hoops they made me jump through for their ‘largesse’ were such that I’m grateful for the years that I’ve practiced yoga. Today, the second panel was finally installed, and despite my having lost some of the hardware, and Viessmann not having provided some of the adjuncts they had promised, Mike’s ingenuity pulled us through. We’ll see what THAT bill looks like soon enough, no doubt.
Like most of the other people who know a plumbing framus from a heating gee-gaw, Mike is of the opinion that the design was hideously over-complicated from the beginning. I did run the design by a engineering type or two before I agreed to the project, but no one had anything helpful to say then. Then was then. Do I sound bitter? Oh, good. Anyway, Mike took some pics and is going to draw up a proposal for re-jiggering the system, re-using most of the parts but eliminating a lot and replacing some to make something that will actually work. Snort. We’ll see. My financial obligations are already such that I’m learning all about beans. If only I could pay him in hand-thrown pottery sinks.
So that’s the all the news that isn’t. Aside from that, life is pretty much bearable. Jiminy the cat left me a mouse head to discover with my bare feet. She’s so thoughtful. Allie the dog never thinks of that.
Just in case you were wondering, there is, in fact, a compelling, logical argument for the postulation that we create our own realities. That we do is a common refrain from numerous corners of the contemplative world like spiritual seekers and philosophers. These types spend time wondering how it is that we exist. Now there’s also a refrain about creating our own realities coming from those who wonder not how it is that we exist, but how we exist: scientists. Most physicists you have the opportunity to ask would pretty vigorously deny that the contemplative types are asking the same questions as scientists are in their algorithmic world, much less getting the same answers. Physicists’ stock and trade is in hard physical facts – unless they get into quantum issues, where the facts are physical all right, but a lot harder – to understand, anyway. Continue reading
“Tension Simmers in the Cheese Market” – International Herald Tribune
“Busts, bail-outs and shotgun sales are re-drawing the banking map faster than you can say collateralized debt-obligation.” – The Economist
Headline from Eurasianet.org: “Surprise Nuclear Power Plant in Kaliningrad” They’re popping up like mushrooms after a rain.
“The sky grows dark with chickens coming home to roost” Wish I had a context for that one.
“Socialism means social justice and equality, but equality of rights, of opportunities; not of income.” – Raul Castro. Hmmmn, sounds like compassionate conservatism to me.
Sait Halim Paşa (1863-1921), an intellectual and bureaucrat said: “In Eastern thought, our mind always shapes things; but things do not shape our minds.”
“Life is like this: first you are temporarily immortal, then you are dying.” – someone.
“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.” – Eric Hoffer
“A democracy will continue to exist until that time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by dictatorship. Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence back again to bondage.”
Six snowmobilers found alive and hungry, which is good news for the most delicious looking one.
– The Denver Post
Naomi Campbell, of all people, sits down with Hugo Chavez, proving once again that there aren’t too many fools on Earth, but rather that lightning bolts are improperly distributed
Aggressive coyote shot and killed near Colorado ski resort, rocket-powered ACME skis confiscated.
-The Denver Post
Inquiry is a process of reaching a consensus on the best way of coping with the world and ‘truth’ is just a compliment we pay to the result.
-Jim Holt in The New Yorker
Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
Just as the news on the international scene was beginning to look likely to drone on forever in an impossibly grim and boring list of stupidly violent and senseless acts of political prurience, relief is in sight. And in the shape of a bright pink Soviet Era tank, no less! I was really beginning to despair, since there was no possibility of unraveling the Gordian knot that is political and pecuniary relations between Gazprom, Naftogaz, Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, Puti-Poot and both Medvedevs in any gainful way. And then the North Koreans, usually a good source of material, have been spending all their time photoshopping the ever-colorful and creative Kim Jong Il into photos since he’s either too coy (hah!) or ill to step up to the tragic-comedic plate anymore. Sigh. I was starting to feel like I could really understand what today’s political cartoonists are facing, with the exit of The Shrub. The future seems an unrelieved desert of dolorously wresting water from a stone. Blood from a turnip. Irony from a cherub.
Not so! Enter David Cerny, the Czech artist who made his name by sneaking through the inky shadows into Continue reading
I live in the snowy mountains of northern Montana, surrounded by miles and miles of pristine forest. People around here like to go snowmobiling, backcountry skiing – and the regular kind, too, at our local ski hill – snowshoeing and even dog-mushing; anything to get outside into the crisp, clean hills during the cold months. I like back-country skiing, which is like cross-country skiing, only you use heftier equipment, so you have a better range and can go in rougher country. One cold day my friend Bonnie and I decided to make a ski trip that would take three or four hours and offer us wide, sweeping views from the ridges, deep powder in the bowls and pleasant interludes of kick- Continue reading
I confess that I have not managed to read the Bible cover to cover, so I might have missed something, but from what I’ve heard, Jesus was a socialist. What I think he said was: If you want to be perfect, sell what you own, give the money to the poor and follow me. He may as well have said “spread the wealth around”. But that was thousands of years ago. I don’t think that nowadays many people have set their sights on being perfect- at least, not so as you’d notice- so Jesus’ words are perhaps not pertinent today. I’m pretty sure Jesus never said – but I wasn’t there, mind you, and I don’t know first hand, so don’t quote me – “invest your money in mortgage-backed securities or credit default swaps, then spend your profits on business investment targeted at job creation and let the minty-fresh monetary goodness trickle down to the poor.” I’m pretty sure that Continue reading
Back in the day when I lived out on the treeless prairie I had a friend who used to say you could always tell when the winter wind was out of the north even without trees bending in the breeze or snow showing the way, because all the horses face away from the biting north wind. Today you can bet that every horse’s ass in the county is pointing north, because it’s brisk out there, compadres. It’s minus 25 right now and the wind is coming straight from Santa’s house, briskly. We got enough new snow for me to test out my new snowshoes, so I bundled up and headed out. It was fine traipsing through the forest where the wind is blunted, but when I got to the valley floor where the wind had nothing to stop it but me, it made no difference what the temperature was; all you needed to know was how many seconds it was between exposure and frostbite. My guess is 37.
Lucky for me I’m the kind of person who, after spending a certain number of years repeating experiences like being exposed to cold under various circumstances; I learn. It only took ten or fifteen years before I wised up and began to carry something warm to cover every portion of my body every time I leave the house. I have no need to pretend the cold doesn’t affect me. It does, but I like to think that being a sentient being makes me smarter than it. Certainly I’m a lot smarter than all those people who went up to the ski hill for opening weekend, where it’s even colder and windier than here. I did my little outdoor adventure, and then settled in next to the wood stove with a glass of wine and a movie while they keep flirting with hypothermia high above the slopes, clinging to the chair lift as the killing wind howled through them. It’s something to think about while tossing another log on the fire. It used to be that you’d only ever find me with a glass of wine and a book before said fire, but on one of those dark, dark mornings I stumbled out of bed and straight into my TV, sending it crashing to the floor. No tears were shed, since I don’t have any TV reception anyway and can always watch movies on my computer, but now I’ve got a new TV, thanks to my friends Mary and Duane.
It’s the cutest little thing – seriously, no bigger than a bread-box. Back in 1976 it was state-of-the-art, but now it looks so anachronistic you have to wonder if you need to light the oil lamps behind the screen. At first I thought it was unusable because it didn’t have an auxiliary jack to accept input from my DVD player, but then Duane reminded me that these things used coaxial cables. Remember back when they were da bomb? Just saying “coaxial cable” was enough for you to get an honorary membership in a futurist club. Nowadays children are surprised and charmed when they learn that your analog wrist watch does nothing but tell the time. From this vantage point it seems like coaxial cables were around when the Earth’s crust was still cooling, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that Lo! and Behold! my DVD player even has a coaxial jack! Who knew? It’s like finding a tethering ring on the front bumper of your car just in case you find a need to tether it in front of the saloon while you clatter in through the swinging doors to down a shot of rot gut while listing to the player piano.
Will my great good fortune never end? Pop the popcorn, because its movie time! Its such a treat to have time off just when the weather begins to impugn. Most times I’d swear that she has a direct line to my appointment book, so she can throw down a blizzard on the very day I need to travel somewhere. The only time its sunny and sweet is, in my experience, the day I have a mammogram scheduled in a busy office where the wait is long and chilly. But for today, at least, the curse has been broken. Today I can just let it snow and blow every single btu out of the county while I sit snug in my underground mansion, watching films with subtitles. What more can I want? Oh yeah; money. Send money. Why does everyone ignore that part?
Back in the day, I knew a Nepali guy who ran a whitewater rafting company. My friends and I hired him to take us on a four or five day trek down some raging torrent tumbling out of the Himalayas. It was so long ago I have no recollection of the guy’s name, the name of the river or even the names of most of my friends, but I do remember the time we emerged from some torrid whirlpool, soaked and disoriented, prying our white fingers reluctantly from the ropes that had kept us from being flung into the roiling, boulder-strewn moil. Our raft was nearly sunk, full of water, and just as we were taking it all in the guide shouted “bail out!” I obediently and carefully began climbing out of the raft onto a nearby rock, which sent the guy into a raucous bout of merriment, because he meant to bail the water out of the raft, not to bail out. It was not the most Continue reading