After a long break, I can begin posting pictures of my ceramics again. I went to Ukiah last weekend and fired my glaze kiln twice. It is so good to be back making pots again. My broken arm was a serious situation, but it didn't end my creative life. And now I can get on with the throwing and experiments that I was planning last May.
Here are some pictures from my first firing. First there's the loaded kiln, ready to light. Then the finished load when I opened it the next day. Finally there's a picture of all the pots from the kiln unloaded and displayed on my kitchen table. Click on any picture to see a larger version.
It's funny. I like the dark temmoku glaze but it's not my favorite. But last year many, many people looking at my pots really loved the temmoku pieces. So this firing was mostly with that glaze. Gonna give the people what they want.
Forget a Prius or the mundane hybrid Civic. There are some designer electric cars out there that are really far-out. This is real fantasyland stuff. But there are ideas here that are worth thinking about. Why not have micro-cars for tooling around a city? Can these expensive rich folks toys be simplified for regular people? And why not have a really cool looking car to drive back and forth to Safeway?
While staying in Santa Barbara recently, our hotel had a very upscale mag called Broughton Quarterly and in that there was an article about the latest in electric cars. (The link is to the index for the issue, click on Electric Vehicles under the Contents tab pulldown menu)
My favorite, since it already exists, at least in a trial form, is the Tango. This is a one person commuter that’s the size of most motorcycles. One idea I like is that they build it around a protective cage similar to those used in race cars. It claims to hold two people, one behind the other. Just looking at it I’d have to try that out to believe it. But it can certainly carry one person and a bunch of stuff to and from work or shopping.
The version they’re working on first is the super tricked out $100,000 version. But they also have $40,000 and $20,000 versions in the works as well. The range varies depending on the batteries but it’ll do fine for around town trips.
Then there’s the Twike, a Swiss electric/human powered tricycle/car that requires a lot of slashes to describe. It can range up to 80 miles at 53 mph on one charge. And it allows the passengers to contribute some muscle power to the equation through a pedal arrangement inside the car. Two people can sit side by side. It looks a little like too much work to me in the way it’s set up. I don't picture myself pedaling a car up the mountain to my house. But I like the creativity in it’s design. Here's an article about it.
The Zooop is a very fashionably weird French item by designers Maison de Courreges. Who knows if something like this will ever see the showroom floor. But there’s an annual new-auto rally in Paris every year where it was the wildest thing on the road. Cars have looked the same for ages. It’s time for new ideas.
Finally, if you’ve got a spare $100,000 lying around, there’s the Tesla. This goes 0 to 60 in 4 seconds with top speed over 130 mph. And it can travel 250 miles between charges putting it far beyond the commuter distances of other electrics. This is a real rich-guy’s toy.
First and foremost, I think it’s fantastic that the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth took home the Oscar for best documentary of the year. It’s well put together and it presents important scientific ideas in a reasonably coherent and understandable way. Gore is doing some very good and important work in our world today to raise our awareness about the problem of global warming.
I wanted to start out with that paragraph because there’s been an attack on Gore since the Oscars that I want to address next. But I didn’t want to give the right what it wants – that the main story be answering their stupid claims about Al Gore’s energy uses. So I deliberately led off with the important news – that the Oscars has recognized what a significant issue human caused climate change is for everyone living on our small planet.
Now for the muck. Since the Oscars, and its hard to believe all this has happened in just the last 5 days, we’ve been privy to yet another example of the loudness of the blaring right wing noise machine. Right after Oscar night, an unknown right-wing group put out a news release claiming that Gore’s energy use at his home in Tennessee is much higher than that of the average American household. This unsubstantiated claim was picked up by all the usual conservative talkers – Rush, Fox News, etc. It bounced around so much that a Google search on Al Gore two days after the Oscars picked up more links to this story than to the Oscar win itself. And I’m sure that was exactly the result that the right was looking for.
There have been many responses in the liberal blogs to this stupid claim. I want to add my voice to that chorus. It’s important when the right puts out these stupid bits of “news” that they’re exposed for what they are – attempts to manipulate the media cycles with bogus tales.
The best response I’ve read to this comes from an article by David Roberts which appeared in the Huffington Post on February 28. There’s no way I can improve on the points Mr. Roberts laid out to explain why this attack on Al Gore is so wrong. I’ll simply quote them here. Roberts wrote:
It's nice to see the conservative media taking the message of conservation and energy efficiency seriously. Hopefully they will hold their own leaders and readers to the same high standards.
The Tennessee Tax Dept. does not consider the "Tennessee Center for Policy Research," which roughly no one had heard of before this, a legitimate group. It's run by a long-time right-wing attack hack, and its only registered address is a P.O. box. Why is everyone in the media taking what it says about Gore's electricity use at face value?
Gore's electricity company has no record of being contacted about his bills.
The "average" home electricity use quoted by TCPR is a national average that includes apartments and mobile homes. In Gore's climatic zone, the East South Central (Dept. of Energy PDF), the average is much higher, thanks to hot, humid summers and cold winters. Within that zone, Gore's usage is three (not 20) times average, and his per-square-foot usage is squarely average. (More here.)
The Gores are not an average family. He's an ex-VP with special security arrangements, and has live-in security staff. He and his wife both work on their many business and charitable undertakings out of their house, so they have space for offices and office staff. All that would be tough to cram in an average size house.
There are hopeful signs for Oakland’s problem with violence. A new program has begun which will bring volunteers to the roughest areas of the city to work with people on the street to reduce the violence there. The program is supported by state Senator Don Perata and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. And the training for the volunteers will be done at Youth Uprising, the center we’ve been supporting here at Musingworld.
The plan is to pull people from neighborhoods in Oakland and Richmond . . . give them some training in conflict resolution and make use of their real-life experiences to help each other on a common-ground level. These team members will then recruit additional volunteers.
The peacemakeers will have support from substance-abuse counselors, social workers and others. State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata raised $300,000 in private funding to support the program.
I’m glad to see some positive steps being taken in Oakland to deal with the violence that’s so serious in some of our neighborhoods. And I’m glad that our new mayor, Ron Dellums, is working on this project. I always appreciated his efforts in Washington when he was my congressman. Maybe he can bring that same energy and wisdom to his new local gig.
Finally, I continue to be impressed by Olis Simmons and the crew at Youth Uprising. They are really working hard to turn that area of the city around. This weekend we’re hosting a Musing house party to introduce a few friends and neighbors to the work of the YU center. If more people in our city get involved, we can make Oakland an even better place to live than it already is.