Saturday, November 29, 2008

Evolve Already


The mysterious black monolith scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey ... I don't think you'd actually seen that much of a crescent Moon when it is that close to the Sun in the sky, but never mind that.

###########

Well, this extended holiday weekend has been OK for me so far. I had a nice Thanksgiving dinner at Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring. Yesterday, I had a nice happy hour at Cobalt and dinner at Dupont Italian Kitchen with Chris T., followed by an Omega jaunt with my friend Brian and his boyfriend Greg who were visiting from New York City for the weekend.

Here is yours truly, Regulus, talking to Bernice at Quill's parents' house before dinner.

Tonight, I'm going to Phil's place for a gathering. As for rest of weekend plans, see below.

#########

Caution: Political Diatribe Ahead

Before continuing, though, I want to write a bit of political commentary on "Black Friday" yesterday, which refers to the contrived day-after-Thanksgiving shopping event that supposedly kicks off the Christmas season on which our Nation's very survival apparently rests.

I'm not exactly sure where the following deep vein of political commentary venom came from but having written it already (this is my after the fact intro to it), I feel better ... so here goes ...

Feel free to skip this section.

The "Black Friday" corporate media bullshit was in full bore tilt yesterday -- ANYTHING to keep the razzle-dazzle machine and financial Ponzi scheme going another yet another day. But this time, it contributed in an indirect way to the trampling death of a 34-year old Wal-Mart associate** at the stupid 5AM opening of a shitty ghetto Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., where a rabid throng of idiot Americans looking to save $40 on plasma screen TVs stampeded him.

Here is a cellphone image of the mob at the store moments before they burst into the store.

**Wal-Mart associate: a minimum wage earning hourly worker with no benefits. Synonymous term: expendable wage slave.

Here is the New York Daily News story about the event and below is a YouTube clip of an AP television news report about it ...

Oh, yes, not only did the shopping throngs fail to get out of the way of the EMT workers, but the shitty store only closed for a few hours and was reopened and packed by 1PM as if nothing happened ...

... because, Dear Children, in Wal-Mart World, nothing did.

What an ignorant country.

If this stampede happened at some religious hajj in Saudi Arabia or a football (soccer) match in Uruguay, we'd say 'What savages they are,' but it happens in the U.S. of A. and involves dumb ass Americans already drowning in an ocean of debt buying on still more credit a bunch of junk kitschy consumer products, half of it made in China with the latest God-Knows-What petrochemical compounds and most of which they already have the last five versions of and do not need the sixth one.

I suppose not only will Wal-Mart not pay for this guy's funeral, but instead a decision will be made "at corporate" to charge his family for the ruined uniform.

Fuck Wal-Mart with its wage slavery business model and lies about "greening the upstream and the downstream of the supply chain."

I'm sure company will hold this fatal trampling by an out-of-control mob up as a model of workplace safety, corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability.

#########

Also, I see that the U.S. stock market has skyrocketed about 15 percent in the past five sessions on the Dow Industrials after YET ANOTHER sky-trillion dollar bailout was announced (this time of Citi Group). Why is this bad? Because there has been no reform of what got us into this mess, only a combined $7 trillion in bailouts.

The goal of these bailouts -- and Robert Rubin is really no different from Henry Paulson -- is supposedly to "unthaw" the credit markets. My take on it is that this isn't for the purposes of creating a truly prosperous and sustainable green economy, but rather simply to restart the sky-trillion dollar financial Ponzi scheme that has DEFINED American capitalism for the past 20 years -- the operational face of which has become the credit card companies and their cartoonishly evil ways.

It is this system that that has so spectacularly collapsed and that the Rubins, Paulsons, and Greenspans are trying to restart because there is still too much money yet to be stolen and power amassed. This is Disaster Capitalism 101.

Behold, American "Shining City on the Hill" utopia in motion at a Target in Aurora, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2008.

And debt drowning but still baffled American consumer will only be too happy to play along because "my 401-k went up ..."

Throw in some more wars of aggression and war profiteering and Halliburton and Dick Cheney and you've got Disaster Capitalism 202.

Add in Sebastian Mallaby, Fred Hiatt and his WaHoPo editorial board and the Council on Horseshit Relations blathering about the "historical dictates, imperatives, and mandates of globalization in the 21st Century," and you have Disaster Capitalism 404.

Finally, add in some abrupt climate change, food and resources shortages, riots, mayhem, and an impoverished Third World police state -- but one where enough of the public is doped up on religious fundamentalism so that they can get properly whipped up over irrelevant side issues that supposedly will "protect traditional values" (read: gay marriage), even while their world and its supposed values are being torn apart by the same corporate fascist powers that be and -- voila! -- you have earned your undergraduate degree in Disaster Capitalism.

As it is, I've enjoyed some of Paul Krugman's pieces lately, including his Friday 11/28 New York Times op-ed I reposted on my poor neglected Arcturus blog. I also enjoyed his level-headed and cool analysis in an upcoming article in The New York Review of Books (dated Dec. 18, 2008) available here.

Obviously, Prof. Krugman (D - Nobel Prize Winner) has a very different approach to these issues than my semi-coherent ranting, but I still don't think the gist of what I'm saying is too far off the mark when it comes to BushCo era war profiteering and the massive financial Ponzi scheme that needs to be cleaned up now -- not simply restarted to have this repeat again, probably with even more disastrous results because the U.S. Gov't will have its hands tied that much more.

############

Totally changing subjects and on a more upbeat note, I watched on YouTube the ending "birth" scene efrom the 1984 movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact, which was the follow-on movie to the late misanthropic director Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both are based on the Arthur C. Clarke novels.

This birth scene includes the part where the Jupiter implodes on itself (pictured above) as the number of monoliths multiples exponentially into the trillions, causing the to undergo a gravitational collapse until nuclear fusion turns on in the core, turning the planet into a small sun. Jupiter is a gas giant that is actually an "unlit" brown dwarf star.


I love this scene as the expanding shock wave front overtakes the fleeing ship (but they make it out safely anyway). Then the twin suns in the skies over Earth are really cool too, at least I think so.


And, of course, the almost Biblical message that HAL provided before he was destroyed that had been given by an unknown advanced race millions of years earlier who intended to help with the development of life on the Jovian moon of Europa but who knew intelligent humans would evolve during that time from the primates they found when they planted the first monolith on Earth:

ALL THESE WORLDS
ARE YOURS
EXCEPT
EUROPA

ATTEMPT NO
LANDING THERE

USE THEM TOGETHER
USE THEM IN PEACE

It ends with one of the most famous musical pieces ever used in a film (used also in the 2001 movie): Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra), Op. 30

I didn't realize Roy Scheider had died this past February. Nor did I remember that John "Third Rock from the Sun" Lithgow starred in this film.

Oh, yes, the aero-braking scene earlier in the movie when they use Jupiter's atmospheric resistance to slow down and gravity to insert the spacecraft into orbit around the Jovian moon of Io is also pretty cool:


You'd have to be moving pretty darn fast to fly around half of Jupiter that quickly, and skimming the cloud top level would result in incandescent heating of the ship (or preferably, its heat shields) from air resistance.

About half the dialogue is in Russian. (Mike G., you wanna help me out? I got you to watch the
2001 movie but I don't know if you saw this 2010 movie.)


#############

Back to my holiday weekend ...

Tonight I'm going to a small party at Phil's place. Gary is still away in NY though he may be back later tonight.

Tomorrow, I once again have to be in College Park on campus at 10AM (read: 1030AM) to finish up the group project for my state and local government budgeting class. That is the project where we balance New Jersey's budget and make recommendations for structural reform.

I could not have done this without the approx. 3-1/2 hours of time the deputy director of the Legislative Budget and Finance Office in the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) who went way far beyond what he needed to do in explaining details of the state's budget and the complex and difficult pension issues.

Tomorrow night, Gary is then having a sort of belated Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night at 6PM. It is also a sort of going away party for Gloria, who is leaving for an 18 month World Bank assignment outside the United States.

As for Kristof, everything looks on target for him to return to the U.S. in early Jan. 2009.

As for work next week, there is the usual array of things I may not be able to finish through no fault of my own since they are contingent on the interview cooperation of others, but I'll talk about that later.

Anyway, that's all for now, I must go evolve into my night plans.

--Regulus

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Glad that birthday is over -OR- Thanks Giving, Regulus Style

Well, that was a shitty birthday.

The only exceptions were (1) a nice dinner that LP and I had at a restaurant last night in Bethesda, and (2) my mom actually texted me a birthday greeting. I didn't expect to hear from her.


Otherwise, it was mostly a crummy time, including going to my regular bar, where I had too much to drink and was cut off from and left. I wasn't actually asked to leave ("you can leave whenever you're ready to..." the manager actually gently said to me after making a "it's time to go" hand gesture and I asked him, "do you want me to leave?") but the bartender cut me off. No, I wasn't belligerent. Rather, I was just sort of standing there quietly, though I wasn't in a good mood at all.

I really have to find a better way. I've been very stressed the past few months with full time work and school. I will say that if for some reason my regular bar should no longer be an option for me, I would move out of D.C. back to suburban Maryland. I'm not going to live in the D.C. gayborhood banned from the two main bars. I just won't be in that situation.

Next year I turn 40 on Thanksgiving (Nov. 26, 2009). I wonder what my situation will be by then.

Today is Thanksgiving. I'm going to Quill's parents' place in Silver Spring as I usually do for this holiday. They're my adopted parents, of a sort, and Bernice is my adopted dog.

Handmaiden: Thank you so much for all your kind and thoughtful comments on my blog.

Fifi: Thank you for being you.

Bryan: Thank you for the Hungry, Hungry Hippos - related presents. I'll write more about that in a subsequent entry.

Also, Bryan pointed me to an interesting YouTube clip featuring the song "Future"** by Todd Rundgren set to some early Space Age and other 1950s /1960s-era imagery of what the 21st Century would look like. There is some footage from the 1962 Seattle and 1964 New York World's Fairs.

Left: The brochure cover for the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle. That's not a very good drawing of the Space Needle.

**I think it's called "Future" but I was not actually able to link a song of that title to Todd Rundgren except at this YouTube link, nor could I link the lyrics to any other song of his.

Below: The YouTube clip I just mentioned. I like music and the imagery. It's a 6 min 21 sec clip.



############

From the Nov. 27, 2008 Astronomy Picture of the Day: The 50-million light year distant distorted spiral galaxy NGC 1532 (in the direction of Eridanus) slowly devours the dwarf galaxy NGC 1531 by gravitationally assimilating its stars, much like our Milky Way Galaxy is doing with the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and about a dozen other satellite / dwarf galaxies.

I may not update this blog again until Monday, or maybe over the weekend, circumstances warranting.

--Regulus

P.S. I updated my age to 39 in the profile on the right. I'm very thankful for being able to do that. Indeed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Feels Like I'm 17 Again..." Not.

(Yes, I borrowed the quoted part of the entry title from an Annie Lennox song. My apologies to Ms. Lennox.)

Looking south toward Mr. Sirius territory ... this is looking south down 13th St., NW, toward Logan Circle, from U St., NW, here in Wash. D.C., on a rainy Monday night, Nov. 24, 2008. I had just gotten out of the U St - Cardozo Metro station.

I had a dream once when I was a little boy living with my grandparents and dad in New Jersey (and my mom was in Belgium with her husband) in which I was looking down a rainy night city street -- like that above -- and my (now deceased) grandparents and father were far down that avenue, far away and I couldn't reach them, could never reach them.

I'm so tired of Washington, D.C., but I don't know where to go.


##############

Metrorail Green Line train, car 6070, heading from College Park to U St - Cardozo, Monday night, Nov. 24, 2008. The train was underground at this point heading into Fort Totten station. The train was probably just about at / under the DC - Maryland line.

Well, today is my birthday ... I'm 29-teen years old, which is to say in normal notation, 39 years old. Boo. Next year, I turn 40 ON Thanksgiving.

There will be no contact from my mother on my birthday, but this is a common event, and I'll respond in kind by ignoring her birthday in December and we'll both ignore each other on Christmas.

#############

Ha ha

##############

I will try to write a better entry a little bit later today. It's 833AM right now ... I will be at least an hour (or more) late for work (but my boss isn't in today). Updated: I was two hours late.

Left: the Melkoya Island LNG facility located off the Arctic coast of northern Norway that is part of the Snohvit natural gas project. Brr.

I'm supposed to be writing up a report on the carbon sequestration licensing issues surrounding this facility.

###############

Above: The Univ. of Md., College Park Stamp Union on a rainy night, Nov. 24, 2008.

I look like a nightmare right now. I'm hung over from last night and I'm, well, pretty much feeling and looking like death warmed over. Boo me. Maybe my next entry will be more upbeat. I rather doubt it, though. I'm very glad the next two days are off, plus the weekend, although my Sunday will be busy with school stuff on that class project trying to balance my home state's budget. New Jersey, that is.

Have I mentioned I really don't like Washington, D.C., anymore? But where would I go and how would I survive there?

##############

I love me Pearls Before Swine comic strip.

###############

Oh, yes, "mom" -- the woman who gave birth to me -- has ignored my birthday. Again. This has happened on at least half my birthdays. We are in ANOTHER estrangement. I will ignore her birthday next month. Truth to tell, I'm sorta glad we're not talking. It's easier.

########

What follows is one of the periodic bank scam emails I get on my UMD account. These days they always come from Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), not Nigeria. I have even created a folder called "African Bank Scams" and I now have 13 of them dating back just to Sept. 18, 2008. I thought this one was creative.

While these email scams are childlike in their stupidity and we may laugh, what's not so fun are the massive financial Ponzi schemes (scams) we in the U.S. have buried ourselves under and that have resulted in the current financial and economic mess.

Furthermore, I have to say that the incoming Obama Administration looks like it's putting together a team that will perpetuate the sky-trillion dollar financial scams that are destroying the American economy, what with fucking Robert Rubin and his corporate kleptocratic cronies set to "solve" the problem.

Behold, Robert Rubin (I - Troll), Master of the Universe of financial scams.

Rather than fixing the American economy and making it something based on real wealth generation in a healthy, eco - sustainable way, instead it appears that it's all going to be about making the financial dark wizards of Wall Street such as the thieves at Citi Group and Goldman Sachs happy, all while the familiar pseudo- intellectual pimps like Sebastian Mallaby, the WaHoPo Editorial Board, the Council on Horseshit Relations, AEI, and Alan Greenspan (R - Mr. Andrea Mitchell) can have their never ending circle jerk.

The bottom line is: the whole fucking disaster-capitalism cycle predicated on glorified corporate thievery and facilitated by a complicit government and idiot, debt-leveraged American consumers repeats again.

Anyway ...


Date: Mon 24 Nov 07:54:52 EST 2008
From: "princessmamouna_sambo2"
Subject: Dear Friend,
To: [*****]

Dear Friend,

Good day and Compliments,

I am writing this letter in confidence believing that if it is the wish of God for you to help me and my family, God almighty will bless and reward you aboundantly and you would never regreat this. I am a female student from University of Burkina faso,Ouagadougou. I am 27 yrs old. I'd like any person who can be caring, loving and home oriented. I will love to have a long-term relationship with you and to know more about you I would like to build up a solid foundation with you in time coming if you can be able to help me in this transaction.

Well, My lovingly Parents died two Years ago and left I and my junior brother behind. My late father was a king, which our town citizens titled him over sixteen years before his death.I was a princess to him and I am the only person who can take care of his wealth now because my junior brother is still young . Now am matured to face the life.I know all my father's wealth. He left the sum of USD 25! ! ,000.000 Dollars (Tweenty Five Million US Dollars) in a Security Company here in Burkina Faso In West African Country.

This money was annually paid into my late fathers account from Shell petroleum develop - ment company (SPDC) and chevron oil company operating in our locality for the compensation of youth and community development in our jurisdiction.I don't know how and what I will do to invest this money somewhere in abroad, so that my father's kindred will not take over what belongs to my father and our family, which they were planning to do without my present because I am a female as stated by our culture in the town.

Now,i urgently need your humble assistance to move this money from the security company to your bank account, That is why I felt ! ! happy when I saw your contact because I strongly believe that by the grace of God, you will help me to invest this money wisely.I am ready to pay 20% of the total amount to you if you help me in this transaction and another 10% interest per Annual After Income to you, for handling this transaction for us, which you will strongly have absolute control over.

If you can handle this project sincerely and also willing to assist me in lifting this fund, kindly reach me. Please, note that this transaction is 100% risk free and I hope to commence the transaction as quick as possible, I will send you my Picture as soon as I hear from you. You can contact me through my private alternative box [*****].

Princess Mamouna Sambo
Ouagadougou,Burkina Faso
West Africa.

Gee, a Burkinan princess. The only princesses I know are on 17th St. in the D.C. gayborhood.


Ha ha.


Also "Ouagadougou" is my favorite African capital name, followed by "Nouakchott" (Mauritania). I also love the name of another city in Burkina Faso, "Bobo-Dioulasso."


--Regulus

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beneath the cold November morning sky so blue and so vast ...

The 4600 block of College Ave., College Park, Md., Sunday morning around 1015AM, Nov. 23, 2008.

I took the bulk of the images posted in this entry with my mostly crummy cellphone camera in College Park on this bright, cold morning and sunny, chilly mid-afternoon with low-angled sunlight flooding the world. Those pictures and captions are posted to break up the text of this entry.

Another house along College Ave., College Park, Md., Nov. 23, 2008. This house in the 4800 block is a bit closer to the College Park Metro station. These numbers are actually on the D.C. area street grid -- numbered east of the U.S. Capitol building. The north-south numbers are in the 7300s and 7400s, or 73 / 74 blocks north of the U.S. Capitol Building.

###############

The reason I was in College Park on this Sunday -- and why I had to be there by 10AM, although in fact I didn't to where I needed to be until 1030AM -- is I had to meet with some of my classmates on that New Jersey budget project. We're supposed to balance the state's FY2009 and FY2010 budget, and given that the state is in a crisis now -- in keeping with the larger financial and economic crises afflicting the Nation -- it isn't easy.

As it is, Jan. 20, 2009 cannot come fast enough. Bush and his cabal can still cause a lot more damage by his acts of commission and omission in the next 58 days.

##############

The Univ. of Maryland (UM) Memorial Chapel on the UMCP grounds, around 1020AM, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008.

My friend Kevin got married in that chapel just about ten years ago (Oct. 1998, I believe). I was once in the cupola with the chapel rector in 1993 or 1994. The view is tremendous from the top -- you can see for 20+ miles in all directions, including nearby D.C., including the 8 mile distant Washington Monument and dome of the 7-1/2 mile distant U.S. Capitol building.

Here is the UM Memorial Chapel. The tree in front of it on the right is an old white oak -- I estimate it to be approx. 100 years old. The tree is in noticeable decline (I've noticed it in my years that I've been on and around the campus) and it will probably be cut down in the next few years, since the University doesn't allow sick trees to remain around long because of liability issues should one lose a branch or even topple over and hurt someone.

This tree was actually a seedling from the Wye Oak, which was the State of Maryland's state tree. Maryland was unusual in that it had a SPECIFIC tree instead of a species and the Wye Oak in Wye Mills, Md. (on the Eastern Shore in Talbot County) was a white oak.

Maryland's Wye Oak -- pictured here to the left -- finally felled in a violent thunderstorm on June 6, 2002 -- was estimated to be have been approximately 450 years old and was recognized as the largest white oak in the U.S.

The UMCP white oak is apparently a sapling of it according to this UMCP Web site. (It gives the tree's age as about 80 years old but just looking at the tree, I estimate it to be at least 100 years old, maybe even a bit older.)

##################

One more view of the UM Memorial Chapel ...

... as seen on a bright late November morning, McKeldin Mall, UMCP campus, Nov. 23, 2008.

The top light on the chapel was replaced with an LED composite array that blinks much more quickly than the old light bulb since LEDs aren't light bulbs.

##############

Returning to my course work and speaking of New Jersey, my other class is a water resources management one, and for that final project, I am analyzing the Green Brook Sub-basin project of levees and floodwalls put in by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - New York District to avoid flooding along the Green Brook and other tributaries of the Raritan River.

That is an area that has had some significant flooding over the years, including the area called Bound Brook, which isn't too far from where my mother's home town of South Amboy. This is Middlesex County, not Monmouth County, where I am from (Long Branch / Sea Bright).


###############

McKeldin Mall walkway, UMCP campus, Nov. 23, 2008. These trees are willow oaks and date back to the 1930s or 1940s, although some of have been replaced.

################

As for the change of seasons, the leaves are now mostly off the trees and as you can tell, the world looks winter bare now. Combined with the low-angled sunlight, there is no mistaking the time of year. The weather actually turned cold this past week and we even had a few snow showers, though not enough to accumulate in D.C. and its immediate environs, or even whiten the ground. The cold weather is noteworthy since more typical nowadays is to have way, way above normal.

###########

A squirrel at the base of a willow oak tree, McKeldin Mall, UMCP, Nov. 23, 2008. The campus population of squirrels is about as big as I ever seen and they are bordering on the version of being tame.

#############

Speaking of the weather, there was an interesting article last week on the WaHoPo.com by the local "Capital Weather Gang" outfit entitled "Does D.C. snow continue its decline?" about the steady and relentless long-term decline in snowfall in Washington. Using the 15-year average (rather than the NWS's 30-year average that is updated every 10 years, although that too shows a decline), the following results:

The 15-year average at National Airport (DCA) for the 1994 - 2008 period is 13.8," down substantially from the 22.4" and 25" for the 1889-1903 and 1904 - 1918 periods, respectively, although the 1919-1933 period had a remarkable dearth of snow that somewhat rivals our own period.

The actual official NWS average for the 30-year climatological period of 1971 - 2000 is 15.2" at DCA, 18.2" at BWI, and 21.2" at IAD (Dulles). Links from here.

These 30-year averages represent (as I calculated when they came out in 2001) a drop of about 14 percent for both DCA and BWI from the 1961 - 1990 period. (The next 30-year "climatological normal" period will be 1981 - 2010.)

However, the 1994 - 2008 period is skewed by two particularly snowy winters, as shown in the following chart:

Excluding the 46" in the winter of 1995 - 96 and the 40.4" in the winter of 2002 - 03, the 15-year remaining average is just 8" (or 9.3" just counting those 13 years).

The full 120-year average since official records began in Jan. 1888 for Washington, D.C. is 18".

This isn't due to global climate change per se, although that is part of the larger picture. The more immediate causes are the regional heat island effect that have resulted in what were always marginal conditions (i.e. near 32F) now being slightly warmer.

The fact that the snow numbers have dropped at BWI suggests this is real and not due to the fact that DCA, where official Washington, D.C. weather obs have been kept since the early 1940s, is an inherently shitty place to take snow measurements, particularly in big snowstorm events because of micro-scale river effects.

IAD snow numbers only go back to Jan.1963 so it's not the most robust record on which to base anything.

As for overall precip., that has not changed -- it's still approx. 40" for the three airports.

################

Old house at the corner of Dartmouth Ave. and College Ave., College Park, Md., late afternoon, Nov. 23, 2008 ... I love old houses.

################

Yikes. Yours truly, Regulus, on the College Park Metro platform, Nov. 23, 2008

##########

I guess that's about all for now.

Above: an image of the 2500 light year distant Cone Nebula in the direction of the constellation Monoceros.

As it is, I am feeling blue this Sunday because I've been alone lately: Kristof is away in Poland for six more weeks, Gary was in Boston this weekend, LP is semi - incapacitated with back problems, and as for the others, everyone is off in their own world. The number of text messages I have gotten in the past week has fallen by about 75 percent.

My next entry will be on or about Wednesday, Nov. 26th, my 214th 39th birthday. I prefer it go unnoticed and unremarked upon.

--Regulus

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Energy Equals Me, See, Squared

OK ... this entry started out as a sober one written after a late (820PM) night at work, such as it is, but now it is a drunken finished up one (1AM, the day after the date atop this entry). I went to Cobalt where my favorite bartender was working and I got drunk. But I'm home now and need to go to bed.

Today I did what I usually do at work: write about energy-related issues.

All I seem to write about are utility industry and energy issues.

All kinds of energy issues ... today, renewable energy. Indeed, I stayed until 820PM -- naturally, given the weird place I worked, people were still there, while I typically get out by 630PM -- and wrote a 12-page paper (in one day, a lot even for me) on the principal Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) tracking systems in place in the United States, with a focus on the Texas Renewable Energy Credit (REC) Tracking System.

(Certificate and credit are used interchangeably and represent 1 Megawatt-hour of power from renewable / green sources.)

The Texas system is the oldest and a bit unusual. Ironically, it was then-Gov. and future catastrophic Pres. George W. Bush who signed the program into law in 1999 but as part of energy market deregulation, not for carbon emissions reductions reasons.

Here is a map of the five principal REC tracking systems in place.

I love the weird names: NEPOOL GIS, PJM EIS GATS, M-RETS, WREGIS, and Texas REC.

These are the REC tracking systems that are administered distinctly but in association with either regional transmission organizations (RTOs) or independent system operators (ISOs) that manage the sprawling and strangely run U.S. power grid (99 percent of whose electricity generation capacity does NOT come from renewables but almost entirely from coal, natural gas, and nuclear, with a bit of petroleum thrown in.).

Here is a map of the ISOs/RTOs put out by the aptly named ISO/RTO Council

Got it?

As for me, I'm exhausted and feel like I'm running out of energy. I haven't been this busy in a long time, and, quite frankly, I don't particularly like it.

The full-time work and school (two graduate classes) is too much. As I have mentioned, I am planning on returning to four days beginning in late Dec. or early Jan. ahead of the spring semester ...my final one whereupon I will have completed my THIRD masters degree ...

Below: Geothermal energy. Yay! Maybe Iceland should figure out a way to pipe this to Europe as electricity rather than bank scams at the end of the Bush Reign of T/Error.

I am, however, going to an "inform- ational interview" tomorrow and will next week be applying via the USAJobs Web site for a position at the Federal agency here in D.C. where I interned in the summer of 2006.

I have to go to campus tomorrow by 4PM -- not easy from Bethesda without a car and before the evening J4 express buses start running. I need to leave by 245PM. But considering I stayed until 820PM tonight finishing up a 12-page paper, I don't care, even if I've exhausted my PTO. (I did get a reluctant OK to do this since I said I'd work remotely from campus.)

On an unrelated note, except I found it today on YouTube at work when I wasn't writing about energy issues and RECs, back when -- speaking of unlimited sources of energy -- I used to go to a Stellar Somebody's bar (pre-May 2004) for Monday night show tunes, there used to be a funny clip.

It's a funny version of Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky" and I dedicate this version (and ONLY this version) to that far away stellar somebody.



This is from a skit that aired on the French and Saunders comedy show in Britain in April 1990 and it features the British comic duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders and the actual mezzo-soprano singer Sarah Walker, CBE, doing a "dueling divas" rendition of the song. (Is it me or does the conductor looks like Grandpa Munster from The Munsters??)


That show was on for 20 years (though there weren't that many episodes) and it starred Dawn French (who I recall from 'The Vicar of Dibley' show that is still aired on PBS, and I didn't realize she had so much comedic actor talents) and Jennifer Saunders (from the 'Absolutely Fabulous' duo).

I have two big things to do before a 10AM Sunday meeting in College Park (ugh) on campus for that damn course project about New Jersey's budget and then two small things to do by Monday.

Also, I hope to have posted soon the second round of last Friday night's Buca di Beppo restaurant temporary-goodbye goodbye dinner for Kristof, but that requires the pictures be sent to me (ahem).

This is a solar THERMAL array, not a solar PHOTO - VOLTAIC array.

If we could harness a billionth of the Sun's power -- all 386 billion BILLION Megawatts of its generation capacity -- we could power human civilization as we know it for a hundred thousand years.

Anyway, NEXT WEEK, Thanksgiving week, things should slow up dramatically and, Dear Jesus, I can / may rest a bit.

I also turn 39 yrs old next week. Boo.


--Regulus