Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I encountered an interesting word this morning: hedonics. I have been meditating on nuclear power since the recent unpleasantness in Japan, which is how some nuclear proponents seem to be viewing it. Mitch McConnell said that we shouldn't let what was happening in Japan affect how we think of nuclear power in the US. I guess Mitch has been listening to Frank Zappa's It Can't Happen Here.

The lead Talk of the Town New Yorker article is about nuclear power and mentions that, at its inception under Eisenhower in the 50s, insurance companies decided it was too risky to insure. They said they would only insure plants to one tenth of what they estimated a nuclear accident would cost. A government insurance pool was created for the nuclear industry instead.

All power generation has environmental costs, of course, even solar. I wondered what the effect of solar panels was on the resale value of a home, mostly because there are a LOT of houses with solar panels in my 'hood. The city of Austin, which owns its own power company, has generous rebates and citizen-friendly incentives for putting panels on your house. It's still freaking expensive, but pays out in a bit less than 10 years, with a life rating of 20, so you get perhaps 10 years of free electricity. Not a bad thing for someone hoping to retire...

I couldn't find a lot of info on the resale issue, but this little blurb from the Christian Science Monitor caught my eye:

This study uses a large sample of homes in the San Diego area to provide some of the first capitalization estimates of the resale value of homes with solar panels as compared to comparable homes without solar panels. While the residential solar home market continues to grow, there is surprisingly little direct evidence on the market capitalization effect. We find evidence using both hedonics and a repeat sales index approach that solar panels are capitalized at roughly a 3% premium. This premium is larger in communities with more registered Prius hybrid vehicles and in communities featuring a larger share of college graduates.
he·don·ics (h-dnks)
n. (used with a sing. verb)
1. The branch of psychology that studies pleasant and unpleasant sensations and states of mind.
2. Philosophy The branch of ethics that deals with the relation of pleasure to duty.
hedonics [hiːˈdɒnɪks]
n (functioning as singular)
1. (Psychology) the branch of psychology concerned with the study of pleasant and unpleasant sensations
2. (Philosophy) the study of pleasure, esp in its relation to duty

The part of the abstract where it says that the 'premium is larger in communities with more registered Prii' cracked me up. I joke that in my neighborhood you're most likely to be run over by a bicyclist or a Prius driver who's talking on their smart phone while sipping their green tea from a eco-friendly cup.

And, finally this morning, a present from the NY Times... Pictures of clouds.

A couple of recent-ish journal spreads...
pages 60-61 from Red Lead...

pages 72-73 from Red Lead...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Post 2...

I'm almost caught up with my envelope exchange doo dah. I mailed my February envelopes off today, and feel totally inspired for the upcoming months.

Pen and ink... And really cool Abstract Expressionism stamps from the USPO!
These ones went much more quickly than last month's. That's supposed to be me, saying the names and addresses of the recipients...

Last weekend, I went to the rally in support of the unions in Wisconsin. Felt kinda cool, 'cos I knew that some of my friends were up there protesting. The funniest thing about the rally here in Texas were the anti-rally protesters... All six of them. They were motorcycle people, five guys and a woman, and the guys were all rigged out in their leathers and colors and caps and boots and were carrying a sign that read "Protect us from the Union thugs!"

Here's what the demonstrators looked like:

Really thuggy looking folks! I learned lots of interesting things at the demonstration, mostly from talking to the State Troopers on bicycles. Who knew Texas had State Troopers on bicycles? The bikes have flashing lights and everything! They told me about how they can use their bicycles to form crowd barriers in riot situations and how much they LOVE being on bicycles. One of them told me he'd done time in the military and been in law enforcement for twelve years. He said the only time he's almost been killed was while riding his bike - as a Trooper - when a lady turned into him. Fortunately, she saw him in time.

Otherwise it's spring here! The trees are all blooming and going for my afternoon walk is a joy because of the flowers and warmth... And the beautiful blue skies...