comment to Nat’l Geographic on “green” fracking

After I had already commented on this article:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/03/140319-5-technologies-for-greener-fracking/#, a call went out from a fracktivist blogger that we should also blog our comments, so here is mine:

No fossil fuel can be green. Period. All of the things that are in this article have been around for several years and get trotted out by the industry to try to give themselves cover, but they are not widely implemented and some of them are not widely implementable. Fracking with gelled propane is not only more expensive, it is also much more dangerous and cannot be used close to people because of the explosion hazard. Most of the methane that leaks is not from the wells, although some is, but from processing and underground pipelines. The horrible explosion in NYC recently highlights the deplorable state of methane infrastructure in the US. The only green choice is to stop going after unconventional fossil fuels and use remaining conventional sources as we move to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible.

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Daylight Savings Time

Time for my (semi-annual) rant about changing clocks. Daylight changes a few minutes at a time. Changing what the clock says when sunset happens does not “save” daylight; it just re-names it.

DST puts me out of sync with the seasons. At my latitude, going on daylight savings time when it is still winter means that many more weeks of getting up to start the day in the dark. In the summer, it barely gets dark for bedtime. In the fall, we are back to dark mornings for a much longer time than we should be.

Admittedly, changing clocks is difficult for me personally. My circadian rhythm is very stubborn. Even one hour’s change throws me for a loop. I joke about being a “delicate flower,” but changing my sleep pattern can quickly devolve into multiple body systems going haywire. (And writing a blog post at 4:30 AM on no sleep.)

As you can guess, I don’t do well when I have to cross multiple times zones…

Mardi Gras

It’s Mardi Gras! So, theoretically, I should be gorging on all the fattening foods in my house, consuming as much as possible before Lent begins tomorrow.

But that’s not my way.

While I will observe the traditions of my church in regards to fasting and and abstaining from meat on certain days, I don’t find it spiritually useful to give up chocolate or dessert or some other food or drink.

Instead, I strive to live moderately and thoughtfully in general, so that, when a special season such as Lent occurs, I can concentrate on spending additional time in prayer/spiritual reading and service, as well as making special monetary donations to charities.

I am certainly not discounting those who truly find fasting and giving up luxuries a spiritually beneficial practice. I am only sharing what works for me.

So Happy Mardi Gras! You can have an extra doughnut or pancake for me.

What I wish would happen in Ukraine

I, along with others in the US and around the world, have been anxiously watching the situation in Ukraine. It’s disturbing to see people in Crimea raising the Russian flag over Ukrainian government buildings and to see masked Russian troops controlling the airports and streets. The Ukrainian transitional government can’t fight the huge Russian army.

It seems strange to me that so many Russian-speaking Ukrainians consider themselves Russian. Putin apparently considers them Russian, too. Violating Ukraine’s sovereignty is not a good way to deal with this problem. I wish they would institute a peaceful way to resolve this without violence and without dividing the country. Perhaps Russian can set up a mechanism to re-settle ethnic Russians who do not consider themselves citizens of Ukraine in Russia. During a ninety day transition period, Russians and Ukrainians could patrol together to keep peace and those who choose to leave could settle affairs in Ukraine before leaving for Russia. Russia could still retain its military base in Crimea. If the US can have a military base in Cuba, Russia should be able to retain a military base in Ukraine.

I don’t know what will happen, but hope and pray that the situation can be resolved peacefully without dividing Ukraine.

This week in NYS IBM news

On Monday, Governor Cuomo lauded IBM for keeping 3,100 jobs in the Hudson Valley and adding 500 in Buffalo. On Thursday, IBM carried out yet another round of lay-offs in the US, including Poughkeepsie and Endicott NY. No speeches from the Governor on that.

Endicott, the birthplace of IBM, is just across the Susquehanna from me. In a perverse twist on decimation, IBM now employs less than 10% of the people it once did in Endicott. Decimation would be knocking out every tenth person; instead, IBM has knocked out nine, (usually) keeping the tenth.

It’s happened over time. Sometimes, IBM sold a division to another company. The workers get transferred to the other company, but their employment there doesn’t tend to last very long because the new company wants the contracts, not the experienced workers whom they deem too expensive. Other times, IBM off-shored the jobs. It adds insult to injury to have your last weeks of work spent trying to train a new grad in India to do the job for which you spent years developing your skills. In recent years, it seems to be that corporate America’s answer to everything is to cut costs to drive up the earnings per share, regardless of what this does to your ability to deliver quality products on time. There are only so many cuts you can make before you run into difficulties with not having enough skilled people to complete the job, even though the remaining workers do lots of (unpaid) overtime.

In Endicott, the situation is exacerbated by the fact that IBM has not done much hiring here in the past 20+ years. Most of the cuts now involve workers with over thirty years of experience, who wind up being bridged into retirement. What goes with them are critical skills and knowledge base which haven’t been able to be transferred to younger workers because there aren’t many around.

IBM’s mantra for decades was THINK. The corporate leaders seem to have forgotten that. IBM made its name because it was loyal to its workers and they were loyal to IBM. IBM invested in their training and well-being and the employees innovated, obtained record number of patents, and made great products. IBM on a corporate level is making itself into just another company chasing some number for the next quarter and not thinking about the long-term future for themselves, their employees, the communities, and their customers. Will they remember their heritage before it is too late?

poem for K and in memory of M

For K and M

The last time I saw you -
     layers of winter clothing
     not quite obscuring
     a bloated belly
     on your thin frame -
you felt full
eating a single egg.

I tried not to panic -
     remembering the last friend
     with a similar story
     that became a stage three
     ovarian cancer patient -
soon enough to win a couple of battles
but not the war.

You had new doctors
with your new ACA insurance -
     some blood tests done
     office visits coming
     maybe some digestive problem?
     gall bladder? -
diagnosis pending.

Yesterday, the news -
     hospital
     abdominal tumor
     entwined with multiple organs
     origin uncertain -
oncologist acquired.