Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lughnasa :)

The Lughnasa service at Turning Circle worked out pretty well this weekend. It was the first time for me leading this ritual and thirteen people came. Being able to write poetry comes in handy since I can create rhyming Quarter Calls.

It is a time of power. It is the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. It is a time when the forces of growth have slowed and on the verge of decline. It is the last day of the brightest quarter of the year. Soon we will see autumnal colors and the days will cool. There is something good about every season. :)

Our poor old dog, Lola, probably doesn't have a whole lot of time left. I don't know how old she actually is, but she cannot be younger than 16. Doug and I have been together 14 years. Doug got Lola a year before we met, and Lola was already a fully-grown dog. She's really slow now, hardly eats, and pretty much sleeps all day. She doesn't seem to be in any pain, but I have the feeling that one of these days she will go to sleep and not wake up. I will miss her. She's a really nice dog.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Exercise when it's hotter than Hell!

Well, it's a good thing that we have ecologists like Pat Robertson and George W. Bush to tell us that there's no such thing as global warming. Otherwise, I might be concerned that over 900 heat records have been broken this summer. ::sigh:: There are days where I think Carl Sagan was being optimistic when he gave the human race a 40% chance of surviving 100 years (and that was in the 1980s.)

It was 101 degrees yesterday when I did my ten mile power-walk on the NCR trail. Usually the first two miles is pretty packed with casual visitors and then it drops down to nothing. But yesterday, it was vacant from the get-go. I guess most folk don't like to exercise when the heat index reads 113, eh? Despite the heat, it was really nice to have the trail to myself. I heard all kinds of insects and birds, and I DIDN'T hear any ambient noise from cell phones and iPods. It was great.

I brought two liters of water with me. I discovered around mile 8 that two liters is not enough water for a 10 mile walk in 100+ degree weather.

According to the ten-day forecast, it is going to be close to 100 degrees every day for the foreseeable future. So I guess holding my Lughnasa ritual outdoors is probably not going to happen.

It was 92 degrees when I got up this morning. Blech.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The looming end of Dino Fuel?

I think it's really interesting that most people I know are unaware of what a bell curve looks like:
For large oil reserves, the production life of a particular field very closely follows the bell curve progression. For example, the United States hit the top of the bell curve back in the 1970s and those reserves are now about 80% exhausted. When the "peak oil" hit, the drop in Texan oil production happened very quickly and very dramatically, leading to huge price increases, gas rationing, and the formation of disastrous trade deals with nations that don't necessarily like the United States.

As a nation, we should have learned something from that catastrophe. Government policy should have been rewarding innovation in automotive efficiency. Instead, the average fleet fuel economy remained nearly unchanged for 40 years.

Fast forward to 2006. This is the year that the Middle East reached peak oil. Sometime between 2012 and 2016, it is very likely that production output will begin to have a very steep, sustained decline. It will make the Texas peak oil of the 1970s look like chump change. It won't be a matter of simply paying very high prices for gasoline. It will be a matter of not being able to get gasoline at all. If OPEC has a choice of selling fuel to India, China, and America, which nation will get first dibs (hint: it's won't be us).

By 2050, however, the Middle East oil fields will be in the same condition as the Texas oil fields are in now. And that will bring humanity to face another uncomfortable problem: overpopulation. From what I have been able to research online, the Earth can sustain indefinitely between 1-2 billion people if you take fossil fuels out of the equation. The Earth is almost at 7 billion people. So we're basically overpopulated by a factor of three.

I don't see a way around a terrifyingly brutal ecological correction of the human population towards the middle of this century. I really do believe the human race will survive. I really do believe Earth's ecology will survive. But I think that humanity will cause grievous injury to the planet during the last ten years of the big oil crunch. They will try to extract oil from shale. They will convert coal to oil. They will convert crops to fuel. All these things will deplete the water from the ecology or water and farming land. Of course, that ecological devistation will only hasten the ecological correction of the human population.

So... what will the human race be like by 2150?

It will be a much less populous species. Without electricity, the Internet, cars, modern medicine, etc., people without practical skills in agriculture, construction, cooking, and sewing will be unable to survive (personally, I would starve since I don't know the first thing about raising crops or cattle). My best guess is that there will be a few hundred million people worldwide and it will take several hundred years to build back up to the ecological maximum.

Without fossil fuel, the future humans will be unable to make some of the same mistakes we made. If cars make a comeback, they will have to run on something other than gasoline. Likewise, future humans won't be able to "cheat" on crop production using petroleum fertilizers because there won't be any petrol. With fewer natural resources, the future humans will be far less likely to create "throwaway" cultures. (Actually, I think today's junkyards will be tomorrow's mining operations since we throw away so much plastic and metal). My guess is that planned obsolescence will be considered obscene. Technology will likely grow at a much slower rate, but it will grow. I'm hoping that the new Dark Ages lasts only a hundred years and not several hundred years.

I really do that humans are innovative and survivors at heart. I think the humans of the post-oil age will make better decisions than we did. I think they will find energy solutions that we are too lazy, blind, or greedy to see. And I think the future archaeologists will be able to look back on the madness and irresponsibility of this era and use that information to guide humanity away from future disasters.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Workout Help

I have discovered that having a puppy is a great way to keep up with one's workout schedule. A few months ago, Doug brought home a completely adorable cocker spaniel puppy that had survived a pretty abusive ordeal at the hands of not-nice owners. So we were happy to give this new critter a home.

Lemme tell ya: I have never seen a creature that just NEVER runs out of energy! She practically bounces off the ceiling. The plus side is that she loves to go out on walks with me. She's a favorite amongst the neighborhood kiddies. She also gets along with our 9-month-old kitten.

I think Stella would drag me at 20 MPH if she thought she could get away with it. She's also been unintentionally helpful in getting rid of clutter since she chews and shreds the crap out of anything she finds on the floor. She also likes to eat old paperback novels. And wallets. And stuffed toys. And DVDs. And cell phones. She also likes to chew up my socks and chew on my fingers. Egads!

I'm hoping that when she is bigger she can come on power-walks on the NCR trail. As it stands, when I go on a 3-mile neighborhood walk, I usually end up carrying her the last mile home.That would be pretty cool.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Some Family Worries

I haven't been posting lately because I've had a lot on my mind. First and foremost, I didn't know where my mom was for six weeks. No one told me she was in the hospital. My sister is basically MIA and my brother's cell phone got cut off. So I kept calling mom several times per week for the past 1.5 months until I finally reached her.


My brother and sister are about useless.

So mom was in a rehabilitation center because her weight had dropped to 77 pounds. Now it's back up to 92. Her target weight for her height is 100 pounds. She did sound a lot better than she has in nearly a year. But I feel bitterness towards my brother and sister for being so useless.

Doug (my spouse) has to be away for a week soon. His mom is having a surgical procedure done on her shoulder so she will need Doug's help for about a week after the surgery.

It really seems like my family (apart from Doug and his mom) will basically cease functioning as a family once mom dies. She is the only thing that me, my brother, my sister, and my uncle Jimmy have in common. I have a seething hatred for Uncle Jimmy (he's a millionaire but mom has to use food stamps for groceries because he won't give a dime to his terminally-ill sister). My sister is a lying, cheating, money-grubbing sociopath that has never done a day's honest work in her life (she's done quite a bit of dishonest work, however, since she was a loan shark for a few years as well as a check forger). My brother... well... I just don't know what's the matter with him. He has an exceedingly high IQ, is creative and funny, but he can't hold down a job for more than a few weeks. We also don't have much in common since he is about 14 years younger than me.

So, it just seems that it is unlikely that any of the four of us will have any reason to talk to each other once mom dies. It's a shame. I really would like to have a family. I sure didn't have one growing up. Dad was a sexual sadist who showered me with ceaseless, withering derision. Mom was a raving, histrionic drunk. They both cheated on each other. They both used their children as living weapons against each other. I may be genetically related to my mom and dad, but they utterly failed to fulfill the role of "parents" by any reasonable definition of the word.

And so it really feels like I don't have a family in the traditional sense.

I am grateful, however, that I have family in the non-traditional sense. I am very happy that I have Doug in my life and that we were finally able to get legally married last year. I have Doris and Clint -- two very dear friends that are very much *like* family. I have a best friend named Jeff that is as close to being a brother as two unrelated people can be. My "real" family rarely failed to fail.

It's funny how life works out sometimes, eh?