Monthly Archives: April 2012

Could Wind Farms Be Adding to Global Warming?

I personally don’t believe in man-made global warming (yet, thought I will in the future), though I DO believe in global warming.  I think the Earth cools and heats and we’re not altogether sure why all the reasons are, or if changing the cycle would be good or bad.  I simply don’t think man has outstripped nature’s ability to control temperatures – YET.  I might be wrong, or I might be right, time will tell.  I wrote an earlier post on the topic and I certainly understand both points of view.

Nonetheless, in the area of unintended consequences, I found this excerpt of an article quite fascinating:






BOLDED sections are taken verbatim from the article.

New research finds that wind farms actually warm up the surface of the land underneath them during the night, a phenomenon that could put a damper on efforts to expand wind energy as a green energy solution.

Researchers used satellite data from 2003 to 2011 to examine surface temperatures across as wide swath of west Texas, which has built four of the world’s largest wind farms. The data showed a direct correlation between night-time temperatures increases of 0.72 degrees C (1.3 degrees F) and the placement of the farms.

“Given the present installed capacity and the projected growth in installation of wind farms across the world, I feel that wind farms, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional meteorology,” Liming Zhou, associate professor at the State University of New York, Albany and author of the paper published April 29 in Nature Climate Change said in an e-mail to Discovery News.

FAA data shows that the number of wind turbines over the study region has risen from 111 in 2003 to 2358 in 2011, according to the study.The warming could hurt local farmers, who have already suffered through a killer drought over the past few years. Texas agriculture contributes $80 billion to the state’s economy, second only to petrochemicals, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.

West Texas is a dry area that uses irrigation to grow wheat, cotton and other crops, as well as raise cattle. But increased warming can play havoc with plant growth, as well as change local rainfall patterns.

Texas wind farms produce more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity, more than double the capacity of the nearest state, Iowa, and enough to power three million average American homes, according to the American Wine Energy Association.

Again, my overall position is that the Earth is way more complicated than we understand and that temperature if effected by so many different factors, only a small portion of which is mankind.  I strongly believe in seeking alternative sources of energy to petroleum and I strongly believe in reducing pollution.  I think though that too many of us jump onto a particular theory and oversell it, often finding later we were wrong.’

The flat Earthers still have a few adherents, Earth as the center of the Universe was certainly popular.  Mankind would dissintegrate if we went over 50 miles per hour scared people from riding trains when they first came out.  As with most science, time will tell.  With global climatology, I think a lot more time will pass than we think before we KNOW anything for certain.  I doubt it will happen in my lifetime.

What do you think?


Filed under Humor and Observations

Cute Dogs To Start off the New Week! This Week Dogs and Water!

Most dogs love sprinklers and love to play in water.  Now that summer is upon us, and here in Phoenix we already had our first day at 105 degrees…sigh, remember your little furry friends need extra water and extra play time.  Not only will they love you for it, but you can take pictures of your furry friends and send them in to for posting here.  In the SUBJECT line please put – Pictures for website.  Try to keep it to dogs, interesting and funny things.  No R or X rated stuff please, my wife would not approve.

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GSA Party, Michelle Obama’s Trip to Spain, or Secret Service Scandal – Which Bothers You More or at All?

As a taxpayer there have been three recent scandals that have bothered me.

1)  The General Services Administration (GSA) is the federal “watchdog” to make sure other federal agencies don’t misspend or waste money.  They were recently busted for wasteful spending themselves, even bragging in videos about how they would never get investigated, since they were the investigators.

Congressional hearings this week and an earlier report from the agency’s inspector general, Brian Miller, revealed numerous cases of extravagant spending and mismanagement.

The April 2 release of Miller’s report on GSA‘s $822,000 tab at a 2010 conference in Las Vegas prompted the resignation of the agency’s top official, Martha Johnson, and the firing of two of her top deputies: Public Buildings Commissioner Bob Peck and Johnson’s senior counsel, Stephen Leeds. Another 10 senior managers and employees were place on administrative leave, and Miller has forwarded his findings to the Justice Department for possible criminal charges.







(Shown Above)  Jeff Neely, the federal official at the center of a Wild Las Vegas spending  scandal, took the Fifth Amendment before a House committee yesterday after  photos surfaced showing  him relaxing in a hot tub there on the taxpayer’s dime.  Neely, a commissioner with the General Services Administration, orchestrated the  lavish $823,000 Las Vegas conference in 2010 that resembled a Roman feast of  endlessly flowing, taxpayer-paid booze, sumptuous meals and an assembly line of  entertainment jesters that included a clown, a mind reader and comedian

In addition, GSA employees spent a week in Hawaii for a one hour ribbon cutting ceremony.  They even made videos about wasting money and how they would never get caught.  Their leader posted pictures of his penthouse suite, sitting in a hot tub with champagne, all paid for by us, the taxpayers.  They have people who paid around $100 for a hotel room but charged the government $1,000 in reimbursements.  And more and more…

2) First lady Michelle Obama’s 2010 trip to Spain cost taxpayers nearly $470,000, according to a conservative watchdog group that obtained Secret Service records from the overseas excursion.








That trip, which the first lady took with her younger daughter Sasha, drew widespread criticism at the time — as the visuals of the first lady in an elegant Mediterranean setting clashed with the still-struggling U.S. economy.

Judicial Watch, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request, claimed Thursday that documents show the trip cost at least $467,585.  This is not the first, but only one of many expensive vacations taken by the first lady and the first family.  Why are people outraged with the GSA spending $800k of taxpayer money on a trip, but not the first lady spending $470k for a personal vacation to Spain?

3)  The Secret Service Scandal.  People who are responsible for keeping our elected officials safe are off partying with hookers, at least one in the same hotel as the President would be staying at.  I think the count is up to ten secret service folks to be involved so far.  They got found out, because they refused to pay the lead hooker $800 (which I admit seems a lot for a Columbian hooker, but I don’t know what all or who all see, um, provided entertainment to).  They flashed their badges and tossed her out the hotel room, offering her only $28.  She began screaming and banging on the door, hotel security arrived, and voila – scandal.








Dania Sanches, the Columbian dancer/prostitute, age 24, who wanted to get the $800 she was promised for services rendered.

From having served in government, I am SHOCKED by this.  The secret service have always been my idols.  To allow foreign hookers and booze, (and some report cocaine) in to a place where they can blackmail or overhear plans for the President and Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to a hot bed of violence like Columbia?  Unthinkable.  Then, I personally theorize that if ten or more are involved, this ain’t the first time this type of thing has gone on.

So my question… Are you upset by 1), 2) or 3)?  By all of them?  By none of them?  If you are upset, which one upsets you the most?

As a taxpayer, I must admit, that even the waste of money does not upset me nearly as much as leaving our President and Secretary of State in a position of danger.  Even if everyone who is involved is identified and fired, and they become completely clean and professional, the message has been sent to all who would assassinate or kidnap our leaders, that the Secret Service are vulnerable.  This alone might lead some groups to “give it a go.”  I do not agree with our current administration’s politics, but that does not matter.  It is our President and our Cabinet member, and the whole world needs to know we kick butt and won’t let anyone near them.  I am upset by all three, but especially the Secret Service Scandal.

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Amazing Cardboard Art by Christopher Gilmour

Christopher Gilmour was nice enough to give me permission to post some of his carboard artwork here for your entertainment, inspiration and general reactions of WOW!  Here is his link:

I had to put these small to fit into the gallery, but please click on his site to see more amazing cardboard art, all in higher resolution and bigger pictures.

This last one is provided so that you can see that these are full-sized sculptures.  Here is a work in progress on as Aston Martin.  You can see by the background that these sculptures are in fact life size, not small imitations.









Nice job Christopher Gilmour, quite impressive!

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A new type of “Hip”ster

As most of you know, I stand on the precipice of setting aside my pure human status and taking my first step to being a cyborg.  I will not start off a $7 million dollar man, but at least a tens of thousands dollar man…  I have been waiting for awhile to get my full hip replacement because I wanted a specific doctor – Doctor Jimmy Chow.  Here is a video about him:

He has a new method of doing hip replacements that is much more difficult for the surgeon, but easier for the patient.  Instead of making a huge incision so things can slide in and out – old dead bones out, new cyborg components in – he makes a smaller incision and does the work inside you.  Here is what the difference is supposed to be:










As you can see, the last column, the way he does it, seems like a better way to go.  Not that many folks do this new procedure, so he is always booked way in advance.  As afraid as I am to get this done, the pain is so bad now that I have little choice.  Those of you who are believers, please pray for me.  Those who are not, spread some good vibes my way.  I know tons of these procedures are done every day and the risk is low, but I almost died during my last heart cath, so I am still kind of freakin out.

Also, it did not help seeing the size of these things when I visited my great friend Ted Carpenter in the hospital after his accident.  This is what it will look like:







It means invasive searches by TSA if I take a plane.  If only I could get female super models to work there on my days…  Here is what it looks like now.  This is not MY personal MRI, mines actually looks worse.  The dark spots are where bone is dead and there is no blood flow:







Unfortunately, in the MRI above, all the greyish area is completely black on mine…sigh.  It really sucks, especially since it wasn’t my unhealthy living choices that led to this, but taking predisone and methylprednilisone for asthma off and on for 15 years.  No one ever told me it could kill off my bones…sigh.

I will try not to whine about my problems anymore for awhile.  Don’t want to be that old person who just talks about their aches and pains.

Last night at our Central Valley Writers’ Group, one of my good friends there told me his son-in-law is dying of incurable cancer.  His daughter and his son-in-law are newlyweds.

God always has a way of making you feel petty about your own selfish concerns.  My heart and prayers goes out to him and his family.



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Power Throughout Human Existence – What Next?

We once relied on our own sinews, muscles and brute strength.  Then we created tools.  Spears, clubs, digging and banging tools, cutting tools, but still muscle powered.  Over time, we developed levers, screws, nails, bows and other complex devices to amplify our strength, but it was still just us.  If we had a big project, we either had to have a lot of us, or go get other people and force them to do the work.  Those early projects like the pyramids included a lot of unhappy laborers using ropes and logs to pull big blocks.









Then, we domesticated some big animals.  History now shows we domesticated dogs over 10,000 years ago.  (see my earlier post).  However, dogs were good at guarding and fun to pet and hang out with, but not much help with building and farming.








Horses, water buffaloes, cattle and such were a huge improvement. We learned to harness their strength to pull plows, pull logs, to carry us over long distances, to do all sorts of useful things.  In fact, we still measure things in “horse power.”  This period of time lasted for a long, long time.  Sure there were basic machines, such as the trebuchet or catapult that worked on torsion, friction and other physics, but there was simply not much in the way of power.

Some used gravity, such as the ingenious aquaducts built by the Romans to haul water which relied on slight changes in elevation.  But for the most part, it was human labor, some horses and some cattle.  The first real power source advance was gunpowder.  At first a plaything and more fireworks and flash than power, we soon learned how to propel bullets and shells to kill each other and knock down fortresses.  Most of our really good advances came from wanting to kill each other more efficiently.







This again lasted for about 800 years before coal and steam power really came into its own during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.












This time, in less than 100 years, petroleum and oil products replaced steam, while electricity came on to the scene as well.













Electrification and petroleum became dominant power sources quite quickly, with coal tagging along for the ride still.  The next big advance was nuclear power, which happened just 50 years later.  Concerns with nuclear power have resulted in no new plants in America in a very long time, but many places in the world, such as France, use it extensively.








So what will the next major change be and when will it occur?  We went for thousands of years with brute force.  Then around 2,000 years with brute force and domesticated animals.  Then 800 years with gunpowder added.  Then we went 80 years with steam.  Then 50 with oil and electricity, then added nuclear.  Of course, we have solar, geothermal, methane trash gas collectors, wind turbines, hydroelectric, etc, but those represent a very small portion of the world’s energy, and despite people’s green fantasies, they will not  likely ever be enough to replace gasoline, electricity and nuclear.

Could it be clean fusion?  Hyper magnetics?  Hydrogen?  According to history and the accleration of technology, we should be on the cusp of something new right now.  Also, according to history, we likely have no idea what it will be, until about five to ten years after it has taken over the world.

What do you think?


Filed under Humor and Observations, Uncategorized

Myths About Writing

Once in awhile, as a now full-time novelist, I think it would be helpful to share myths about writing as I discover them.  I have a slew already, but I don’t want to overwhelm or bore anyone, so I will start with a few of my favorites:


1)  Only write about what you know.  Really?  I hope that Stephen King and James Patterson break this rule regularly.  Don’t write about serial killing, torture or horror unless you’ve done it?  Space travel?  Vampires, werewolves, pretty much any science fiction would be off the table.  In fact, no matter how simple your topic, it will include things you don’t know.  For instance, I have female characters in my stories, and what man on Earth REALLY understands how women think?

2)  You need to have an MFA and be an excellent literary writer.  I have made a point to read a lot of excellent authors, and I can tell you, some of the classics are pretty dense reading.  Just because you have elegant prose and punctuation does not make your characters or your stories interesting.  I would rather read pulp fiction comic books that are fun than sit through War and Peace, Jane Eyre or Moby Dick again.  Don’t get me wrong, those are three great writers, but the books are bit tough going, admit it.  Also, with respect to education, a famous author once said he was glad he did not go to literary school.  He would have been compared to Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, all the best of all time.  Other kids in the class would have been smarter than him and done better, he would have quivered in shame and quit.  Instead, he went on to sell millions of great books.

3)  Popular authors are sell outs and lousy writers.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard and unpublished author criticize Stephanie Meyer or JK Rowling, I would still not have as much money as either of those two authors.  The fact is, hundreds of millions of people love their books and have enjoyed reading them and seeing their movie adaptations.  I consider that excellent writing.  Even if they never used a word over four letters long and got the punctuation wrong, it would still be great writing.  Isn’t pleasing the reader the ultimate goal?  I would love to write something the unpublished call drivel if it pleases millions of readers.

4)  E-books are not the same as “real” books.  My books are in both formats, and most of the short stories I have had published are also in both formats.  Oddly enough, all the words are exactly the same!  Amazing!  I admit that I prefer to hold a printed book in my hand, smell the pages (I know many of us do that, I just admit it), feel the turn of the page.  I love to read.  I also read on my android through Kindle, and it is a less comfortable read for me.  But in a generation, kids will laugh and mock us, “You mean you used to carry a stack of heavy books back and forth to school?  You used to fall asleep with a ten pound hard back over your face?”  “You carried one book at a time?”  They are going to have something a few ounces in weight with a whole library on it they can slip in their back pocket.  So who will feel stupid then?  Are we really arguing the horse and buggy will outlive the automobile, that men weren’t meant to fly?

Feel free to comment with your favorite myths about writing.


Filed under Humor and Observations, Writing

The Dreaded Cat-a-pillar!

Long thought to be extinct, the dread cat-a-pillar has been found to still exists:


Filed under Animals

More Dogs in Costumes for Your Monday Blues

Nothing starts the week out better than some adorable animals.  Once again, the subject is Dogs in Costumes.  I do not recommend you dress your animals up in costume, because they generally don’t like it and it is kind of humiliating, but it is also cute.  So here goes:
































































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Life on Mars!

While long dismissed that no life was on Mars, recent studies show that the possibility strongly exists.  It started here on Earth, where researchers found that impacts from meteorites, while they destroy everything in their impact zone, spread pieces far and wide in the underground areas of the impact zone.  Water and nutrients can find these fragments through fissures and provide them with the ability to survive.  While it is believed the likelihood of life on the surface of Mars is still unlikely, researchers now think that perhaps life exists underneath the surface, due to its much different density and composition and the large number of former meteorite strikes upon its surface.  According to the article:

‘The deep subsurface promises to be a protected habitat for potential Martian life.’

– Dwayne C. Brown, NASA spokesman

Read more:


“However, the sub-surface of Mars, even a few inches below the surface, may be protected from solar ultraviolet and particulate radiation and life may find a hospitable zone there. Asteroid and meteor impacts provide a ‘window’ to the near-surface, the subsurface of Mars — and may provide a unique opportunity to search for life there.”

Levine retired from the NASA Langley Research Center last year after 41 years of federal service and joined the College of William and Mary as Research Professor in the Department of Applied Science, where he continues his research on the question of life on Mars — including the possibility of flying a rocket-powered, robotic airplane a mile above the surface of Mars to detect trace gases of biological origin that may be produced by sub-surface life.

According to James Wray, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and a scientific team member for an upcoming NASA mission to Mars, the Martian surface today is too cold — and the air too thin — for liquid water. But there’s water ice in the subsurface, and if a source of heat is supplied, it could be melted.

Read more:

Of course, it is unlikely the life will be like that in the movie version of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles:

And even less hope the life will look like the Princess of Mars from Edgar Rice Burroughs:


I have a feeling that Princess of Mars types only appear in literature and in movies and anything we encounter in space will be less appealing to our purile interests.  I am guessing our Martians, if they exist, will look more like this:



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