Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Digs 2.0

The side field: It's cow Christmas here now after we patched all the fences and let them in. But the deer like to graze around sunset. I've never seen so many in my life. Thirty-five at one time is my highest count so far.

The view from the back toward Fayetteville: You can almost see that the Boston Mountains are more of a big washed-out plateau than actual mountains. The National Forest is in the other direction.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What We Talk About When We Talk About Sane Energy Strategies

Although this July was wetter than last year's, Georgia is still in the midst of an extreme drought. That's why it came as an extreme surprise when, two months ago, Jackson County modified its watering ban and encouraged citizens to go out and wet the grass on weekends. The move wasn't just surprising; it was insensible. What?! But we haven't had any appreciable rain.

"That's right," said the water authority, "but water conservation is working too well. We're not making any money because we're hardly selling anything. We need people to start using more water."

Sounds bassackwards doesn't it? I never considered that it worked this way, but utilities are basically organized like any other commercial industry. They manufacture a product--clean water, electricity, etc.--and sell their supply. Joseph Romm, a senior fellow at the Center of American Progress and former acting assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy 1997 (a title so long it's probably meaningless), explained the situation and offered, alternatively, smart government-backed conservation initiatives, in the line of what California has done, in a recent Salon article:

Well, that's pretty much how we have run the U.S. electric grid for nearly a century. The more electricity a utility sells, the more money it makes. If it's able to boost electricity demand enough, the utility is allowed to build a new power plant with a guaranteed profit. The only way a typical utility can lose money is if demand drops. So the last thing most utilities want to do is seriously push strategies that save energy, strategies that do not pollute in the first place.

America is the Saudi Arabia of energy waste. A 2007 report from the international consulting firm McKinsey and Co. found that improving energy efficiency in buildings, appliances and factories could offset almost all of the projected demand for electricity in 2030 and largely negate the need for new coal-fired power plants. McKinsey estimates that one-third of the U.S. greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 could come from electricity efficiency and be achieved at negative marginal costs. In short, the cost of the efficient equipment would quickly pay for itself in energy savings.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New Digs

I may have eulogized the garden and lamented leaving it. I got exceedingly comfortable inside the ecosystem of my urban yard in Athens. The mockingbirds were used to my rumbling around their nest. And I liked the contrast of robins against a fence or a jalopy. But...

I'd be a fool not to admit that I've stumbled upon a pretty sweet gig...

Stay away from Rogers, sober golf, and the soul-patched shitheads with too much cologne, and northwest Arkansas is breathtaking. The view of the Boston Mountain fluctuating into Fayetteville will knock your socks off. I'd say at this point it's worth the odd seed tick, brown recluse, rattlesnake, or black bear.

Better lit photos to come as soon as I've finished a kind of waking ecstasy.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Question Is the Answer

The AP is looking for a retail reporter in Northwest Arkansas to cover Wal-Mart and, apparently, the postmodern condition, which may or may not be located in Bentonville.
This reporter anchors AP's coverage of Wal-Mart's global operations, including its relationships with key suppliers. As part of a team dedicated to covering the retailing and consumer product sectors, this newsperson contributes spot news and authoritative, compelling and useful enterprise stories and packages on Wal-Mart as well as other key retailing topics. This person handles stories on a wide scope of business events, including strategic initiatives, quarterly earnings, acquisitions and regulatory actions. The successful candidate will at times be asked to take charge of the biggest story of the day – a potentially game-changing strategic decision by Wal-Mart or another retailer, an earnings or a blockbuster M&A deal – and fashion it to illuminate for online and print readers how remote-seeming and complex forces affect their lives. He or she will occasionally be asked to cover companies outside of the beat, and may be asked to help cover major general spot news in the surrounding area.
It's an important one, so good luck to whoever gets the job. Dealing with Sam Walton's company is like trying to wheedle a 500-pound gorilla. I've known a couple of folks who've tried, and I imagine it's easier to get a straight, candid answer out of the White House.

Also on the topic of media jobs in NWA: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is seeking an experienced reporter to cover Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat company, and other poultry and meat processors. We’re looking for a journalist who can develop sources with local ranchers and niche farmers while covering breaking and enterprise news concerning a major Fortune 500 company with holdings worldwide.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Leaving the Garden

Traversing the South seems to me my one true profession: I'm good at it. Chestnut Mountain, Georgia to Fayetteville, Arkansas in only nine hours. But I'm an amateur, in the light-headed literal sense, of almost all else. The least is hardly my garden, which I abandoned on the Fourth of July to fortuity and unkind weather patterns. I'm off to follow urgent pursuits, and I hope, as an anxious father might, I've implanted and trained my vegetables as best I could. I suppose the squash, tomatoes, roses were always for other people, anyway. May they give as much pleasure at the table as they gave me in the dirt.

Here are some pictures to mark the end of my invigilation:

Caterpillar and Meal: This was the second I found on my big, healthy tomatoes growing from seed. Neither is currenlty living. No pictures of my one potted plant languishing with rust.

Corn. Everything in the soil was busted, carved, and removed by hand. As I bent over working the dirt and getting secretly sunburnt on my lower back, I'd chant a half-lame nursey rhyme to myself, holding up alternate arms, saying, "This is my harrow, and this is my plow, and everything that happens, happens right now."

Okra: Here the sun has yet to rise high enough for the flower to open up. See a previous post.

Cucumber: This plant growing against the fence is not prospering as well as the ones in the mounds by the rosemary bush. Notice the bee in the flower. This is not a honey bee, but they do swarm over the squash and lavender thyme blooms in the mornings. I usually go out with my cup of coffee to watch.

Squash. Old rough and ready. No matter the heat, I can always count on squash. This plant, which doesn't receive full sun, is especially thriving. There's a lesson here--and a bee in there.

Pepper: The only thing I didn't plant from seed. These little numbers are hot and plentiful and are as equally appealing for their smooth, almost laminate texture.

Scuppernong. Damn shame. Along with figs, I enjoyed adding the native Southern grape to morning fruit shakes last summer. You always knew at my dad's house when the muscadines were in bloom because their fragrance would overpower the air. It was the second wild treat of the season, after blackberries.

No pictures of arugula, basil, or watermelon. Said thyme and honey bee (bird bath in background):

Vayas con Dios.

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