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7/31/2007

THE CRUMBLING REPUBLICAN PARTY: WHAT’S NEXT AFTER LOYALTY COMMITTEES?

Filed under: political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 8:32 pm

By Diane Silver

Karl Rove’s dream of turning the United States into a GOP monopoly has become a nightmare for his once seemingly all-powerful party. Signs of weakness are everywhere. Today’s case in point has popped up in Kansas, which was once the reddest of red states, where the GOP has just created a loyalty committee.

I’m not kidding, although any sane person would think this was a joke…

AG CANADA SHUTS DOWN WIND TURBINE

Filed under: energy, print news — Peg Britton @ 8:18 pm

Last Updated: Friday, July 27, 2007 | 2:06 PM AT
CBC News

A $200,000 wind turbine installed at an Agriculture Canada research station on P.E.I. has been shut down because of complaints it’s too noisy.

The turbine was installed to provide green energy to the research station in Harrington, north of Charlottetown, but operated for only two days before it was shut down for good.

SOME 98 YEAR OLD MOMS CAN STILL DIVE HEADFIRST…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 7:54 pm

I doubled over laughing today while my long-time, friend Jack told me about taking his 98 year old mother for a walk in Jerry Ivey Park. She’s a resident of Sterling House and he’s a good son…takes very good care of her. They take frequent walks in the park.

So, I’ll try to repeat the conversation that ensued after I asked the simple question, “How is your mom?”

Jack: Well, I’ll have to tell you what happened recently on one of our walks. We walk a lot you know. She loves to walk in the park.

Me: She’s 98 and still walks around parks?

Jack: Yes, she has one of those walkers with the yellow tennis balls. Anyway, I take her to Jerry Ivey Park as it is close to Sterling House where she lives. She loves to go there to see the children play and she loves to watch the ducks.

The other day we were there, walking around enjoying the day, the kids, the water, the ducks…and we were on the side walk by the edge of the lake…strolling along talking when mom says, “Jack…that duck is dead!” I spy the duck she is talking about and tell her the duck is NOT dead. She knows most of the ducks by name. She insists the duck IS dead as the duck is motionless. I insisted the duck was not dead, only resting. It IS dead! It is NOT dead!

They argued about the duck…is it dead or alive? She’s still very strong willed and insisted the dang duck was dead. Jack knew the dang duck wasn’t dead.

The duck was only about four feet from them by the edge of the lake so Jack went to get a stick to poke the duck, to prove the dang duck was not dead. He told his mom to stand still while he got a stick to poke the duck, determined at this point to prove to her the duck was alive. He picked up the stick, which was also close by, and, for only an instant, had his back to his mom as he poked the duck to prove to her it wasn’t dead. The duck took off and Jack heard……….A VERY LOUD SCREAM…

JJJJAAACCCKKK!!!!!!!

He turned in time to see his 98 year old mother plunge head first into the murky lake water with the walker flying north to Detroit.

Jack jumped in after his mom and while he was airborne, someone screamed….”WAIT…I’M A NURSE!!!” And with that three of them are in the lake/pond/whatever with more people jumping in with regularity, calling off their “credentials” as their feet left the ground. “I CAN SWIM!!!”, “LET ME HELP”, “IS SHE STILL BREATHING???”, “SHE’S HOW OLD???”, “YOU SAID NINETY EIGHT????”…”MY GAWDDDDDDDD, WHAT’S SHE DOING SWIMMING HERE?”

Jack, his mom who by now had a huge grin on her face, and all these other rescue-type people were standing chest high in water, their feet mired kneecap-high in slimy muck….just standing there.

People converged on the area en masse and Jack hears sirens coming from all directions…the police and an ambulance….people in uniforms are all over the place and in the water. Who called them, he wondered. How’d they get there so fast, he wondered. More people to the rescue. The water level of the lake is rising. Jack, his face red as a beet with embarrassment, is wondering how in the world did this happen and how will he ever explain it.

Getting everyone out and back on solid ground was another issue. It seems there is a retaining wall around the lake so one can’t just walk out of the water. Jack said his son, Jeff, designed it that way. Jack and Jeff are both architects. Isn’t that ironic for such clear thinkers? They shoved his mother from the “bottom” up and everyone else got out the same way. I can only guess how the last person got out. I missed that part of the story.

They took his mom to the hospital to check her over. Jack, dripping wet and covered with mud, dutifully followed. She was fine. They were fine.

Now, when Jack returns to the nursing home to get his mom he’s plagued with comments and questions….”Jack, don’t forget your mom’s swimming suit.”, “Jack, what excitement do you have planned for your mom today?”, “Jack, the ducks in the park are all alive today.”, “Jack, do you have your duck stick with you?”….

His mom had a lot to tell the fellow residents at Sterling House. I’m sure the story is being told over and over….

And, the dang duck was not dead!

WIND’S SHARE OF ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION WILL BE LESS THAN ONE PERCENT IN 2030.

Filed under: energy, print news — Peg Britton @ 7:46 am

Conservation Is More Effective Than Wind Energy

Pointing to the very small contribution of wind, National Wind Watch calls for conservation instead of industrialization of rural and wild landscapes

Rowe, Mass., July 30, 2007 — The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that if the world’s nations pursue carbon-reducing plans they are currently considering, then in 2030 there could be 18 times more electricity generated from the wind than there was in 2004.

But because of continuing growth in demand, that would still represent less than five percent of the world’s electricity production.

In the U.S., the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy projects that wind’s share of electricity production will be less than one percent in 2030.

National Wind Watch (NWW), a coalition of groups and individuals providing information about industrial wind energy development, says that conservation could easily make up wind’s small potential contribution.

“It is obvious — even in the IEA’s very hopeful scenario — that wind will never be an important part of electricity production,” says NWW president Eric Rosenbloom, author of “A Problem With Wind Power”. “Wind does not now nor will it ever replace other sources to any significant degree,” Rosenbloom says. He adds, “That is not to endorse any other source as problem free, it is simply facing the fact that wind is not a viable alternative.”

Since wind’s potential contribution is so small, modest conservation would avoid the adverse impacts of wind energy development, according to National Wind Watch.

Industrial-scale wind turbines are now typically well over 400 feet tall to the tip of their blades. They weigh anywhere from 150 to 350 tons. The blades sweep a vertical air space of 1.5 to 2 acres with tip speeds between 150 and 200 mph. Each turbine requires acres of clearance and is secured in a buried platform of tons of steel-reinforced concrete.

Wind energy companies are targeting vulnerable rural communities and landscapes for their construction. Developers are building roads and wind power plants in wilderness areas, particularly on prominent ridge lines.

In May, the U.S. Congress was told about the increasing threat to birds and bats from unregulated wind energy development in migratory pathways and the degradation and fragmentation of habitat. The results of a 5-month study of the new giant turbines on New York’s Tug Hill plateau suggest that the annual toll for the complete facility is more than 16,000 birds and bats.

Reports of health problems caused by noise from the machines are increasing. A team in Portugal investigating heart, lung, and nerve damage from industrial low-frequency noise has found that the conditions for causing “vibroacoustic disease” exist inside houses near large wind turbines. Canadian News has reported families forced to leave their homes because of headaches, dizziness, irritability, and sheer lack of sleep. A couple in England has publicized their experience of intrusive noise from turbines near their farm. An English physician has interviewed residents around wind energy facilities and found serious noise problems to be commonplace. In Maine, neighbors of the Mars Hill facility were shocked by the noise as soon as the first turbine was turned on. Most of these people were initially supportive of the projects and believed the developers’ assurances that they would not experience any problems.

“This is not green energy but a destructive boondoggle. It is even more intolerable that we as taxpayers are paying for it — in so many ways”, says NWW member Sue Sliwinski of New York.

Since the IEA shows that large-scale wind energy will not change anything for the better, and increasing evidence shows how much damage it does, National Wind Watch says that conserving even a small amount of electricity every year is obviously a better choice.

A little conservation can replace the perceived need to build giant wind turbines that do so much more harm than good.

7/30/2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALLY BRITTON….YAHOOOOOO!

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, Dane Britton — Peg Britton @ 1:00 pm

My “youngster” hit 53 today, I think…maybe. We confuse each other’s birthdays or forget them entirely. Today IS her birthday and SHE IS 53. She was born on what had to been the hottest day on record in the Universe in 1954 and it had to be the quickest birth known to man. Brit didn’t even have time to pick up a magazine in the waiting room. She’s been off and running ever since. So, Happy Birthday, Ally and “the family” wishes you many, many more.

The girls from Las Vegas dropped Ally off at Green Acres about midnight and sang Happy Birthday to her. They all had a great time, lots of fun…etc. No details on the trip, as expected.

Out of the clear, blue sky, they” canceled my prescription insurance. That Medicare Part D thing. They being Community Care RX. I got notice of cancellation last week and knew it had to be another screw up. After explaining I had not written on a piece of paper in my own hand that I was canceling, as is required, they finally said it was “a mistake” and that “a lot of people” had received the same letter. Now I get a call from pharmacist Kevin saying it was canceled. He’s off to try again. I did want Brit’s canceled as he now gets all his meds through the VA. Do you think that was easy? It has taken months of “negotiating” and it’s still screwed up. This isn’t over yet.

Tomorrow is National Horseradish Day. Don’t miss it.

Tonee was here from Milestone to clean our flues and inserts in preparation for winter. He does such good, clean work. Caleb has a couple of cords of wood to split for us then we’re ready for whatever winter brings. The Svaty’s had a huge, huge, huge potato crop and I hear that’s a sign of a long, cold winter.

Ally has her neighbor coming out to witch for water one of these days. He not only can locate water, he can tell how far down it is. Funny, you say? Well, I once was a skeptic until George Panzer witched for us and noticed I had that that look on my face of “Okay, I’ll go along with this funny stuff just to keep you happy”. He let me hold the rods and they darned near flipped me upside down. Now I just smile and roll my eyes in wonder.

Dane just had some Botox injections in his paralyzed left side to see if it will help with the pain. Let’s hope it helps and that he can get some sleep at night. He goes to a doctor in Hutch for pain control.

I don’t know how much rain we had last night, but our gauge shows about 3″ and it’s under tree limbs. There have been heavy rains around us. The cracks in the soil are getting big enough to trip over so we can use the rain. I love rain.

Still nothing from Tyler.

Thanks for tuning in. It has been another good months for hits. I’ll post the results Wednesday when Metapros parts with the totals. It will be somewhere over 130,000…

7/29/2007

VILLISCA: LIVING WITH A MYSTERY

Filed under: friends, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 8:25 pm

As expected, the Rundles continued to improve the documentary that some of us had the opportunity to see in its earliest stages several years ago at the PAC.

Tammy and Kelly Rundle’s documentary that showed on PBS for two hours this evening was excellent and contained information they told us about several years ago that was not included in the original version.

The Rundles have been in and out of Ellsworth several times over the years and I was fortunate to meet and help them the first day they arrived to investigate the possible ties of an axe murder here to the murders in Villisca. I worked with Ed Epperly as well who narrated much of the documentary. It made me smile to see the Ellsworth Historical Society and my name on the credit list. If you like a good murder mystery, this has all the components that make it one of the best.

Their 1912 Villisca Axe Murders Blog is a new addition for the Rundles and you might want to check it regularly for new updates, discoveries and news about the infamous case and their award-winning film. Visitors to the blog are encouraged to share comments and insights about America’s Greatest Unsolved Mystery.

There aren’t any current plans to show the film again in Kansas, but it will be shown elsewhere in the midwest. If you see it advertised, I think you’ll find it a most interesting murder mystery and informative documentary.

ROGER PEARSON FEATURED SPEAKER IN WILSON ON WEDNESDAY

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:15 pm

Please join the Wilson Chamber of Commerce at its monthly Business Breakfast on Wednesday, August 1st.  This month’s featured speaker is Roger Pearson, Administrator for the Ellsworth County Medical Center.  Roger was our featured speaker in March, 2002.  Roger will update us on what has happened in the last five plus years and the future plans for our County hospital.

The Breakfast will be at Made from Scratch on Old highway 40 in Wilson.  The program runs from 8:00 am to 9:00 am.  Doors open for breakfast at 7:00 am.  We hope to see you there.

Brian Boisvert

7/28/2007

COUPLES, BOTH HET AND GAY, WILL BE REGISTERING IN LAWRENCE AS DOMESTIC PARTNERS

Filed under: political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 8:38 pm

Discrimination is rampant across Kansas. All our towns should look at Lawrence as a beacon and follow their lead.

From Kansas Voice by Diane Silver:

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 1, couples will gather at the Lawrence City Hall to become the first to register as domestic partners in the state of Kansas.

Registry will be done via computers in the City Commission room on the first floor. The fee is $75.

Now couples — both same-sex and straight — will be able to gain access to health insurance and other benefits already offered by their employers. This is just one of the advantages of being able to legally prove a domestic partner relationship.

Kudos and huzzahs to the Kansas Equality Coalition for winning approval of this important registry. The Equality Coalition has more about this here.

TOUR DE FRANCE: RSR WEARING THE BLUE JERSEY

Filed under: print news — Peg Britton @ 7:53 pm

Well said from Red State Rabble’s blog:

As a former amateur bicycle racer, July is always a big month in the Red State Rabble household. Around here, things are put on hold and we watch the Tour de France on Versus and follow the riders over the stages on the Internet.

As a longtime rider and fan, I have to say I’m sick at heart at what’s happening in this year’s tour with Alexandre Vinokourov testing positive for blood doping, and the wearer of the yellow jersey, Michael Rasmussen, being kicked out of the tour for avoiding out-of-competition drug tests and lying about where he was training.

And all this comes, of course, on the heels of American tour winner Floyd Landis testing positive last year. Favorites for this year’s tour like Basso and Ullrich have retired or been suspended over doping allegations.

No matter what happens, I will ride my bike as long as I’m able, and I’ll always be a fan of bike racing. To my mind, there’s nothing more beautiful than a fast-moving peloton moving along the open road. I just hope that the riders who are cheating will come to their senses and stop before they kill this great race and destroy a beautiful sport.

These tour riders are hardly role models for my two young biking heroes…Sam and Nic.

PARADE SIDE IN WILSON AND HOME WHERE IT’S COOL

Filed under: prairie musings, family, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 7:03 pm

This has been an eventful day in Wilson. Todd and Dane spent part of the day together, until it became too hot to continue. They didn’t make it in time for the legislative coffee but were on time for the parade.

As it was last year, the entries for the parade were spread apart so much that you could drive an battalion between them…old tractors, old cars, emergency vehicles and the occasional float. It doesn’t make the parade better to string it out because there are fewer entries than expected. There is nothing wrong with a “short and compact” parade but that never seems to happen around here.

There was only one candidate for the Czech queen competition and there was no carnival which was a disappointment to many. The carnival was always an attraction for the children. And, according to several people, the numbers of spectators was low, just as last year.

Todd and Dane both were hoping for a big smoked sausage on a good bun, topped with sauerkraut, chopped onions and mustard, as once was common place after the parade, but lately they haven’t been available. I think they became a thing of the past when Malcolm sold his grocery store. He had the most popular smoked meats in central Kansas and was the source of those special sandwiches.

Instead, they found a buffet at Made From Scratch that included sauerkraut and dumplings, another family favorite.

Dane had an opportunity to talk to many friends, which he always enjoys. He and Todd had a good time together. They got in a little trouble this morning calling Karen and Ally in Las Vegas at an hour that was too early for them since they hadn’t been in their rooms long after a night on the town. Ally said their rooms at the Sahara weren’t the best so she managed to get them upgraded, one of her specialties.

My niece wrote today to say that her daughter, Molly Bachand, who has been an equipment manager for the Jayhawk basketball team just took a job with the University of Colorado as Assistant Director of Equipment. She’s been involved with the KU basketball team since she was in high school and worked for them all through her college years, so adjusting to be a Buffalo will take some serious concentration. Congratulations, Molly!

We’ve still not heard from Tyler, but maybe we’ll hear from him next week. He has no more time to read mail than he does to write. Tomorrow starts his second week of BMT and he’ll be working on academics that will provide an opportunity to be counseled on which tech school he wants to enter. He’ll have increased physical training and lots more things to learn. By now he should be used to 2 minute showers. I imagine his face looks like it’s been through a meat grinder from the constant 2 minute shaves to keep his face free of whiskers. He’s never like shaving.

All About My Mother arrived today from Netflix. This Academy Award winning story of Manuela and her three “Esteban”s powerfully explores love, sexuality, gender identity; and how, in the end, nothing but love really matters anyway. This film provokes laughter, tears and thoughtful reflection on our preconceived notions. It will touch your heart. I highly recommend this movie for those mature people who do not easily get offended.

Still no rain although it’s been forecast as a sure thing. I’ll cross my fingers as we could use a nice rain.

Ringo is sitting on Brit’s lap and making bedtime sounds. What a dog. He has his stuffed purple tiger close by.

Brit will have his usual breakfast date with Ruby tomorrow morning.  They go to KCs for breakfast as they did all winter while she was living with us. They both look forward to it. It’s pretty cute of them.

Thanks for tuning in.

7/27/2007

MISTER RINGO

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:23 pm

Mister Ringo is one beautiful, proud, struttin’ around the house doggy. Before Susie came with a bag of grooming equipment and set out to transform him into a sweet-smelling happy Ringo, he was a typical male canine. Dog!

She combed and scrubbed him with shampoo and lots of well water that rid his coat of tangles, knots and dog smell. Then she combed and brushed him over and over, making his coat shiny and beautiful, while he laid prostrate and motionless in front of her with his plaintive eyes begging for more. She attached a new collar as he nudged it with his nose. Then she tied his clean bandanna back around his neck as if to say, “We’re finished. Your time is up”.

Every week she goes through at least part of this routine to make Ringo beautiful and happy. We are so happy…and so is Ringo, especially since there are special cookies that follow.

CALAMITY JANE JUST PASSED THROUGH…

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends — Peg Britton @ 11:18 am

Calamity Jane….er, Joyce Thierer, just passed through Ellsworth. She’s a very busy lady with gigs all over the state. She dropped in after she and Amelia Earhart, aka Ann Birney, appeared at the Geary County fair. We always have a lot to talk about as our visits are few and far between. We were up very late last night and at it again early this morning talking endlessly about things of mutual interest. I love our visits. Then she was off to Nicodemus to see a student (Joyce is a history prof at Emporia State University) and then on to Collyer to spend the night in the Convent aka new B & B.

Joyce was stopped on her way here last night as one of her headlights was out. She wondered why it seemed so dark in front of her as she was making left turns. Son George came to the rescue this morning at Ellsworth Service Center and replaced the bulb so she can continue her journey westward.

Eugene Ranker is here, in the Nick of Time, at Brit’s request tackling a jungle of weeds engulfing our house. I last saw the top of Eugene’s head barely showing above a vine of mysterious origin that has been creeping up the side of our house about a foot a day. From the comfort of our arm chairs in the living room, we’ve watched it slowly consume our house like something out of the Twilight Zone. Each morning it has become more ominous looking while gradually blocking off sunlight to the house. Much like the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, Eugene is currently hanging perilously close to the top of the monster about thirty feet up the side of the house. Let’s hope the growth at ground level would break his fall from any height. If no one bellows “Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman”, he should survive.

Dane is stranded in Wilson for a week or so. The ECCA bus is out of commission and, as a consequence, so is he. They have to order parts from afar but maybe with luck, it can be repaired and he can be back over here next Thursday. He said the beer truck arrived yesterday to supply the town for the weekend. The festivities have begun. He’ll have a good time talking with people who are there for the Czech Fest.

The Las Vegas girls are gathering together in Wichita to catch an early afternoon flight for fun and adventure. Ally is the only one who packed a swim suit. Not one to spend hours in a casino, she has alternative activities planned. She won’t miss out on a thing. Others I’ve talked to are opting for weekends at Wilson or Milford Lake and Branson where the Beach Boys are appearing. I opt for staying home.

Thanks for tuning in.

7/26/2007

UNSOLVED AXE MURDER DOCUMENTARY TO AIR ON KPTS

Filed under: Ellsworth, print news — Peg Britton @ 8:52 am

Award-winning axe murder documentary “Villisca: Living with a Mystery” will air on KPTS July 29 at 7pm. The film explores connections between the 1912 Villisca, Iowa axe murders and similar unsolved murders in Kansas, Illinois and Colorado.

IT’S STARTED…WE’LL SOON HAVE POWER LINES OVER THE WHOLE STATE.

Filed under: energy, print news — Peg Britton @ 8:29 am

LATEST HAWVER REPORT:
KETA OK’s power lines

The two-year-old Kansas Electric Transmission Authority this afternoon issued its first “intent to construct” order which calls for someone, or possibly the KETA itself, to build a high-voltage electric transmission line from Spearville, just east of Dodge City, northward to the Hays area and possibly into southern Nebraska.

The “intent to construct” means that the KETA has determined that the power line is feasible and would pay for itself through electric carriage charges and would have significant other benefits for the state.

The line also apparently is OK with the Southwest Power Pool, a multistate electricity oversight outfit that is seeking more construction of high-voltage power lines to assure electric reliability in the southwest region of the nation.

The line is expected to do several things, including becoming a backbone for electric transmission in western Kansas, freeing up transmission capacity for new power plants and encouraging wind energy production in northwest Kansas.

The KETA, meeting today at the Kansas Corporation Commission building, also officially took notice of, but didn’t take any formal action on, a proposal by ITC Great Plans, a holding company that specializes in power transmission, to build a power line in roughly a check-mark shape, 160 miles long from Kinsley to south of Coldwater  to Wichita. That line, which would be financed by ITC, is seen as a way to get southwestern Kansas wind energy into the national electric transmission grid and may wind up also being the key east-west gateway for transmission of power across Kansas. There really isn’t a good, high-voltage line from western Kansas to eastern Kansas and to adjoining points that would allow either access in western Kansas to relatively cheaper electricity from eastern Kansas or to send wind power to eastern Kansas.

It’s all pretty technical, but Rep. Carl Holmes, R-Liberal, chairman of KETA, said the KETA-ordered line and the ITC line should not only improve electric distribution in Kansas and into the national power grids, but might move production of wind power from Texas and Oklahoma northward into Kansas, an economic advantage.

That KETA “intent to construct” starts a time clock through Dec. 1 by which private companies that want to construct the line can make their cases to the board, or if no private firms want to build the line, KETA could have the Kansas Development Finance Authority issue bonds (probably upwards of $100 million) to build the transmission line. Those transmission lines, much like pipelines, charge power producers and buyers to carry their electricity.

7/25/2007

A GOOD DAY…

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends — Peg Britton @ 7:48 pm

Ringo is exhausted so that’s a sign we’ve had a busy day.

The Abilene house is empty. Ally ran the sweeper over the carpet and called it quits. The rest of the house is clean and ready for the new owner. The loan inspector for the new owners was happy. Ally and Ruby were going to have dinner at the Brookville Hotel tonight to celebrate the move. I don’t think they’ve had a sit down dinner in days.

The transfer of stuff from there to Green Acres was long, tedious and very tiring, but it’s complete. Ally and Ruby officially live in Ellsworth County now. We couldn’t be happier about that.

My friend, Pam Grout, and her daughter Taz came by today for lunch and a nice visit. Pam lived here for several years when she was younger. Her dad, Bob Grout, was the Methodist minister and her mom, Shirley, taught school. We’ve been corresponding for awhile, I have most of the books she’s written (and here) and we’ve settled into a nice friendship. Her daughter, Taz, is a middle school student, stunningly beautiful and wonderful.

I took Pam and Taz to the Antique Mall so they could take a quick look and we could have some homemade ice cream for dessert.  We went by the house where Pam and her family lived and showed Taz the route she took from school when she walked home every day. It was fun to relive some old memories with her.

Pam writes professionally for a lot of different magazines. She mentioned she’s currently writing an obit for Tammy Faye Baker Messner for People Magazine and an article on a dude ranch south of Dodge for Midwest Living. Her humor and quick wit reflect perfectly in her writing.

Todd and Karen came by for dinner to help get rid of the surplus food from lunch. Dane will be here tomorrow and that ought to finish the salads, meats, cheeses and most of the fruit.

When Tyler left for the Air Force, we lost our yard man. Brit had to get out the mower and cut the grass around the house today. He’s really too old for that and it was hot and tiring for him, but he did okay. He has his schedules for doing things. Ally will take care of a lot of that when she gets settled.

I’d like to be a mouse and fly to Las Vegas on Friday. Karen, Ally, Patty, Lisa, Heather, Clara and Georgie are spending a “what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas” weekend there. You can bet a lot of what they do we’ll never know. Girl weekends are important and fun. Pam has even written two books about that: “Girlfriend Getaways, 2nd: You Go Girl! And I’ll Go, Too.”

ELLSWORTH ALTERNATIVE ROCK BAND WINS TALENT JAM AT MARSHALL COUNTY FAIR

Filed under: print news — Peg Britton @ 4:13 pm

Eliphaz, an alternative rock group from Ellsworth, played four original songs and was named winner of the Marshall County Fair Jam Friday at the fairgrounds in Blue Rapids.
The band topped nine other groups and soloists for the $500 prize.  Read more…

TUBINES POISED FOR ATTACK

Filed under: energy, print news — Peg Britton @ 3:57 pm

Wind turbines, the beginning of a sky full of them, are being delivered by rail and deposited at the north end of Kanopolis, if you want to take a look at them. Soon they will cover the prairie landscape north of I-70…16 miles of them, and four miles deep.

And we have an article of interest:

Midwest substation getting an upgrade

…The line that will run south also will connect with lines once owned by Aquila and some Sunflower Electric lines.

Helm also said work has started on the wind farm located on Interstate 70 in Ellsworth and Lincoln counties.

Midwest is buying 25 megawatts of electricity from the wind farm, as is Sunflower Electric. The power will be brought in via a transmission line owned by Midwest.

Construction on the Smoky Hills Wind Farm, which will supply wind-generated power to Midwest, Sunflower and the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, has started.

Work on towers to produce the first 100 megawatts of electricity is expected to be completed later this year.

That line is already capable of carrying 230,000 volts of electricity and interconnects with Westar lines where power from Jeffrey Energy Center flows in. That power plant provides a considerable amount of electricity to Midwest and ultimately its customers.

But it is one of a multitude of electric supply contracts that soon will be expiring. As a result, Midwest is renegotiating contracts for electricity.

Most likely, Helm said, costs under the new contracts will be significantly higher. That also will mean higher utility costs for consumers…

7/24/2007

DEMOCRATIC DEBATES

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:22 am

I’ve watched very little of any of the political “debates” until last night during a Democratic question and answer forum.  The questions came from YouTube participants who were more direct and on topic, in my opinion, than journalists who usually pose the questions.

There was a minimum amount of waffling or straying from questions. There were tough questions and strong, direct answers. It was refreshing to hear candidates respond in the best question answer forum I’ve seen in a long time. Catch a replay if you can as it was very informative.

Jesse and I exchanged messages this morning.  He had this to say about Joe Biden, whom he supports:

I’m hoping that the recaps give Biden his due … he’s really the only candidate, Democrat or Republican, who I’ve seen willing to spend a great deal of time talking about Iraq (typically it’s brushed off with a “withdraw” or “stay the course” talking point). TIME had a decent, if not a bit discouraging, column about him:

Critics say that he talks too much. I find that mentality distressing on a couple of levels: 1) it means the media is straight up looking for style over substance, and 2) the public is willing to accept that. His mouth may get him into trouble at times, but I’ve found Biden to be the most experienced candidate running right now, and I think that means a great deal for whoever will be the next president. To be guided by ideology is one thing; to be driven by it is another, as I think the Bush administration has shown us all.

Biden is definitely one to watch.

7/23/2007

WHEN YOU BUY ETHANOL, YOU ARE PAYING TWICE FOR IT…

Filed under: prairie musings, energy, water supply, print news — Peg Britton @ 5:58 pm

This is a blog I wrote in March. Following it is an editorial that appeared today in the Salina Journal written by editor Tom Bell. There are lots of similarities. Please take the time to read both, if you would please. Your understanding of this issue is vital to the understanding what our Kansas government officials are doing to our water supply by encouraging this industry and how we are paying twice for the product.

3/12/2007
WHY WOULD ANYONE ENCOURAGE ETHANOL PRODUCTION IN KANSAS AND WHY WOULD ANY CONSERVATIONIST WANT TO USE IT?
Filed under: energy, political musings, water supply — Peg Britton @ 4:19 pm

Things you need to think about:

The Great Plains Ogallala Aquifer is the largest underground reservoir in the U.S. and one of the largest on the planet. It once held as much water as Lake Huron. It could cease to be a water source in another generation.

Once the Ogallala is drawn down beyond repair…and we are nearing that point…the exodus from America’s rural heartland shifts from second to third gear.

Most of Kansas’ water – or 86% of it – is used west of Salina.
Almost all of that western Kansas water use, or 93 %, is used for irrigation.

Almost all ground water in KS is found in an aquifer, in porous rock. Eastern KS has hardly any ground water, but has a lot of surface water. Western KS has ground water but very little surface water.

When the water level in the aquifer lowers below the stream bed, there is no water to recharge the flow.

The decline rate of water in the aquifer is in feet while the recharge rate is in inches. The Ogallala is a non-renewable resource.

In some places the water has run out. In others we have several years left before it runs out. Irrigators are using tomorrow’s water, and it’s about gone.

Irrigation is seen as a temporary prosperity for some that will lead to environmental poverty for most.

Between south Salina and Assaria, only a few miles south of Salina, there are 10 potential irrigation sites and there are six pumps on those sites that would use as much water per minute as the city of Salina uses per minute. 47,000 people live in Salina and use on average 126 gallons of water each day, per person. Then there are factories, golf courses, etc. You get the idea.

The depletion of ground water is what causes rivers to go dry. Ground water is water beneath the earth’s surface, often between saturated soil and rock that supplies wells and springs. Ground water is a non-renewable resource.

For a farmer who lost 2 feet of water in his a well last year, it would take 48 years to replace that water.

Irrigators are using most of the water. Government payments are encouraging farmers to use water by the acre feet. Our tax dollars. Stop the payments and farmers will change their operations. New farming techniques will emerge. They have made plenty of profit from the use of our water.

It takes five gallons of water to turn 21 pounds of corn into one gallon of ethanol. Kansas producers irrigate 72% of their corn. It takes 1400 gallons of water to irrigate 21 pounds of corn for one gallon of gas. So, 1405 gallons of water are pumped out of rivers and wells in Kansas to make 1 gallon of ethanol. We are growing corn today using our grand children’s water.

The price of corn has risen because of this to a point Mexico has implemented tortilla price controls because of public outcry over the price of corn. Beef, poultry, pork, chicken and egg producers are facing soaring corn prices. Catholic Relief Services intend to deliver 20% fewer tons of food to Africa and South America because of corn prices. Check the price of a box of corn flakes the next time you go to the store.

Eight dry mill ethanol plants are currently in operation in Kansas with a capacity of over 215 million gallons. Other potential plants are in various stages of planning and construction in many Kansas communities. Ethanol production in Kansas could quadruple in the next two to three years

Kansas government officials and politicians are encouraging the construction of ethanol plants in Kansas.

Can anyone explain to my why they are doing this when facts demonstrate we are quickly running out of water? It is counter-productive to use ethanol because of all the water and fuel that are required for the production of corn.
**************************************

The Salina Journal editorial, July 23, 2007 by Tom Bell, editor.
Ethanol is a flawed solution

Ethanol has done wonders for ag-based communities where farmers grow corn. The crop is used to make ethanol, and demand for that fuel is on the rise, thanks to government mandates, tax incentives and to the notion that ethanol production will reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil.

However, growing demand for corn has some negative consequences.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: We don’t begrudge farmers the increased income. We thank heavens whenever producers get relief from poor prices, drought, hail, floods, high wind, weeds, plant disease, and ever-rising costs for fertilizer, fuel, parts and equipment.

But consumers need to understand the flip side. Consider the story on the front page of Thursday’s Journal. It reports that higher prices for milk and dairy products are due to higher corn prices. That’s the same reason consumers pay more for beef and other protein sources fed with corn.

Higher consumer prices are not the only problem with ethanol production. Growing corn demands vast quantities of water. Most of the corn grown in Kansas is irrigated, which contributes to declining water tables and dry riverbeds.

As reported earlier in the Journal by Duane Schrag, it takes about 1,400 gallons of water to grow the 21 pounds of corn necessary to produce a gallon of ethanol, and another 5 gallons of water to process the corn at ethanol plants. An ethanol plant that produces 100 million gallons a year requires about 1.5 million gallons of water each day. That is the size of plants under consideration in Russell and Concordia.

Another problem pops up once the ethanol is blended and at the pump. By increasing our reliance on ethanol, Americans avoid the hard task of conservation, which by far is the best way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Apparently our government would rather push ethanol then promote conservation. Lawmakers often are influenced by oil companies to keep demand higher. Additionally, greater fuel sales mean more tax revenue. Kansans pay 25 cents per gallon in state taxes, which generated $30.9 million for the state treasury last year. We pay another 18.4 cents per gallon in federal taxes, which annually pours more than $80 billion into Washington.

Products besides corn can produce ethanol. Plants are under consideration that will use switchgrass instead of food products. Development is a lengthy process and corn-based fuel will be with us for a long time. Consumers will continue to pay double for ethanol, once at the pump and again in the grocery store.

Conservation is the best way to offset those extra expenses.

– Tom Bell

Editor & Publisher

THAT PESKY CEMENT MIXER…

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends — Peg Britton @ 2:52 pm

Wouldn’t you know? One of my good friends, a blog reader, wrote to complain I never explained the cement mixer at the tractor parade. hehehehhh…how can I explain any of it. One guy had one of those small cement mixers behind his tractor. The kind that’s about the right size for home repair…like for mixing a little concrete to throw in a pile in the front yard to put a foot scraper in to please the little lady.

And, technically, it bugs me when they call them “cement mixers” when, in fact, they mix concrete in them and one of the ingredients is cement. The purpose of the whole tractor scene escaped me. It was obvious there were a lot of guys who had very little to do that day. I guess it’s no different from getting a line of anything…boats, cars or a pecking order of ducks…and heading out behind the beyond. The guy who led the tractorcade was definitely the leader and the other 28 guys did everything exactly like he did.

Remember back in the winter of ‘79 when thousands of farmers drove their tractors to Washington D.C. to protest the farm policy? Huge convoys of tractors from the Midwest…yes and some from Ellsworth…rolled eastward picking up support and gaining numbers as they went. They wanted their message of economic woe told to the world. They were fighting for survival.

We’re all wondering how Tyler is doing. He enjoys good meals. I’m not sure he’s ever had a bad meal in his life…even school food here is good. He loves eating, but he likes well-prepared food…and a wide variety of it. He’s an excellent cook and has followed Ally, the chef, around in whatever kitchen she was in, standing beside her on a chair and yelling, “Voila Béarnaise!”

Tyler doesn’t like onions unless they are pulverized and he can’t see them. He’s been known to spend half a life time unobtrusively picking them out of his food. He gets about eight minutes to eat in the AF chow hall and we figure it will take him about all that time to separate the onions from the rest of his food.

The air outside is so thick with humidity it’s like breathing under water. I wish it would rain and get it over with. Maybe it would cool things off.

Dane came for lunch today and especially liked the freshly cooked beets Harvard style. They were fingerling beets and took forever to cook, but they were really good. This is a veggie family so meals around here are better than usual when we have fresh produce from someone’s garden. Kathy May brought us cucs and zucchini that we’re enjoying. Ally stops in for leftovers too, which is really nice. She’s always prone to whip up something good for us if the kitchen looks bare. We’re looking forward to more of her culinary perfections now that she lives in the neighborhood.

Thanks for tuning in.

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