This post isn't as focused as those previous, but read on, kind sirs and madams: A big week for me at Angie's List and for Adopt An Animal. At Angie's List, I set up our magazine department's blog and released List-en up!'s first true video podcast. I say "true" video because previous episodes were in what was technically a video format, but were basically a still-image slideshow with pictures to accompanying the audio. This time, though, I actually followed a home energy auditor and videotaped the house-inspection process. After watching the video, I hope you have an audit performed on your home to find out how much money you can save through some simple energy-efficient upgrades. As for the blog, you'll notice that its design is basically the same as the Angie's List podcast site. For the "Blue House Blog," as we're calling it (thanks to Brandon Smith, Angie's List magazine artist and Goldfish Don't Bounce bandmember, for the awesome logo!), I used the same Wordpress content management system, and the same theme, K2, simply because it works well. It looks good on its own, but is easily customizable and functions quite well for the most part. And though I have little PHP-programming experience, going into the code and fiddling with certain things isn't too difficult. And there's a tremendous network of free plugins, forums, and bloggers that serve as terrific resources for any Wordpress-related problem. On a Wordpress-related note, I've posted some more dogs for adoption in Indianapolis at my Wordpress-based Adopt An Animal site. Please check them out (an adult female German Shepherd and adult male Pit-bull mix) and let me know if you or someone you know is interested. Finally, I hope to install Ableton Live this weekend and create my first digital mix of some songs I've been really into lately. If you have any experience with Live and have tips to offer, please let me know. Thanks!
Entries in energy (6)
I just received a free Home Energy Efficiency Kit from my local electricity provider, Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL.) As Napoleon Dynamite would say, it's flippin' sweet! After I found out about it from Shawndra (whom I met once at the only Irvington Green Initiative meeting I've been to :P ), I ordered a kit online at IPL's website (click here to order one ASAP if you're an IPL customer) less than two weeks ago, and it was on my doorstep when I got home today. I pretended I wasn't excited about it and let it sit on my kitchen counter for awhile, but couldn't resist the urge to open it before my wife got home. Inside were two compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), a hot water gauge to check water heater temperatures, a refrigerator thermometer, an awesome luminescent night light that emits a nice light-green glow for only pennies a year (even if left on for 24 hours a day, every day!), switch and outlet draft-stoppers (glad I bought and installed these a few weeks back :P ), a water flow meter bag to determine faucet/showerhead efficiency, and finally my favorite thing (barely edging out the night light): a "Spoiler" low-flow water saving showerhead. I haven't installed any of it yet because I wanted to show my wife the nifty package. Well, I lie: I just couldn't help myself from testing and installing the night light. It's cool of IPL to offer all this for free (though it's probably wrapped up in my monthly electricity bill somehow). Hopefully it will offer people who don't know much about saving energy an idea of where to start. There are many things we can do to improve efficiency, without going as far as installing solar panels or moving to the Arctic tundra and living off the land (good luck with that.) I can't help wondering, though, why IPL is offering all this for free. It's the third in a short series of things that made me go "hmm..." (ah, how I miss C + C Music Factory.) The first, part of IPL's "ongoing commitment to protect and preserve the environment," was their installation of a new 565-foot stack and scrubber that reduces sulphur-dioxide emissions. The old one was big, but the new stack looks friggin' huge and sends off an impressive, relatively clean, white, mostly water plume, especially on clear days. Check out the picture below. Okay, so that seems like a good idea. I haven't done much research, but it has to be an improvement on the original stack. Anyway, the second thing that made me go "hmm..." was IPL's offering of a renewable power option (click for info and to enroll), which I signed up for last year. You can specify how much of your energy you'd like to come from renewable sources (10% through 100%), and then IPL's magic Green Power Option elves send electricity from Midwestern wind farms or Indiana landfill gas generation plants (sounds pleasant) to your home. I don't really understand how the whole "sending electricity from somewhere distant" process works (that's my phrase, by the way, not IPL's), but it sounds somewhat like what Enron was doing when they were trading and shifting energy between states and rather distant regions (check out Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room for an entertaining and informative look into what happened.) I'm not blaming IPL for anything. From what I can tell (I admittedly haven't done a lot of research on their history), they're making some good moves towards going greener. But I can't help being somewhat suspicious when members (or at least acquaintances) of the carbon cabal shed their smoky appearances for green. If IPL is indeed charging full speed ahead toward a clean future, kudos to them. If not, well, no one likes to be greenwashed, even if if they don't yet know what the term means.
Care about climate change/the environment/our national energy policy? If you drive a car, eat food that travels via a gas-fueled vehicle, use electricity, or are alive today, you should. Thus far, the presidential candidate debates have been sidestepping the environmental and energy-related issues. Not to say that the war in Iraq, health care, and the economy aren't important, but everything's related, so we should give consideration to other things. This handy-dandy chart from Grist compactly compares the candidates' viewpoints on greenhouse emissions caps, fuel economy standards, renewable energy, biofuels, coal, and nuclear energy. Since few people in the mass media are talking about these things in the primaries, you might want to research it yourself before picking a candidate.
Everyone's been talking the past year or so about global warming, going green, etc. In terms of housing, green construction standards (such as the US Green Building Council's LEED) have been a hot topic in the U.S. and in other parts of the world (India's wealthiest resident is building a 60-story "green" home in Mumbai). It's all well and good that wealthy people like Al Gore are going green with their mansions, but what about the estimated 1/3 of the population that will be living in slums by 2030? Architect Cameron Sinclair might tell you with a straight face that those people will make decent homes out of wealthier people's "green" refuse. Sinclair, winner of 2006's TED prize, started the Open Architecture Network to spread affordable housing throughout the world — a rather impressive goal. The projects in the network are rather interesting, to say the least. According to Sinclair, "Someone's working on a $700 house. The Now House is a World War II retrofitted home that's carbon-neutral... There's a spinach-powered house, there's a grow-your-own clinic, a clinic you eat. All of these projects have to be sustainable." So even though the gap between rich and poor isn't shrinking, it's good to know that people like Cameron Sinclair are planning a future that's better for everyone.
Grogginess, grogginess, please go away. Grogginess, grogginess, please don't come back another day. After 5 days away from work, I had one heck of a time getting back into the swing of things this morning. Though my grogginess probably wouldn't have been helped with the addition of grog, I felt like I could've used some to help me navigate the treacherous waters of work. Luckily, I came across this article called "7 ways to restart your day", which will hopefully help me feel better about waking up early and slogging away every weekday. Among the tips: As soon as the alarm rings ... Spend your first 15 seconds awake planning something nice to do for yourself today. Get up The longer you lie there, the more you ruminate, the darker your outlook is likely to become, says Christine Padesky, Ph.D., coauthor of "Mind Over Mood." So get vertical and make a cup of coffee, take a shower, feed the cat ... Drink ... Two glasses of water upon awakening, the time when our bodies are dehydrated, says Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D., author of "The Good Mood Diet." Dehydration causes fatigue, which affects your mood. Move it Just a few minutes of movement -- a fast walk, for example -- raises energy and reduces tension, says mood expert Robert Thayer, Ph.D., professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, and author of "Calm Energy." Investigate When you're dogged by anxiety or the dread you woke up with, try to pinpoint what's causing it. If you can figure out why you're upset, that's halfway to feeling better. Be kind and thankful Do something nice for a stranger or friend and see if you don't feel better about yourself. Also, jot down three things that you're grateful for. It seems so simple, but counting your blessings just has a way of making you remember the sun is shining. Laugh at yourself Look at your own life and try to appreciate the absurdity of what doesn't go exactly according to plan. Acknowledging how little control we actually have over what happens is sometimes a most freeing gift to yourself. Hope this helps (you and me!) Also, this blog has some good points about work and vacation. Additionally, timeday.org is a good place to check out and advocate for. Timeday.org is the website for Take Back Your Time, a major U.S./Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment. Sounds good to me!