Monday, March 31, 2008

System Failures
It's once again been a very wet weekend here in the Ozarks. The rivers and lakes continue to rise and the immediate forecast doesn't give us any chances of long-term dry outs.
Besides the threat of losing power everytime we have a thunderstorm here, we've been watching the drain field of our septic.
Our drain field is on a slope and we haven't had problems with standing water in our yard, given we're on the side of a mountain, but this potential problem could affect anyone with a level yard in this type of weather.
If water is standing in the drain field, it could cause the septic system to not be able to drain properly.
Here's a good article that will give you warning signs and things you can do to help the septic make it through the rains:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We're not Flooding
Several peple have contacted me regarding the flooding as they know we are close to the White River. We're fine here, the flooding is to the southeast of us.
Thanks for the concern.
I'm still amazed at the strange weather this spring, wondering if it does indeed fortell of an uprising by the earth as a result of the environmental damage we've done to our planet. I spoke with a man yesterday who had been in London over the weekend - and it was snowing. I think I've already written about the weird weather while we were in Munich last year. During July, we spent everyday wearing heavy sweaters and coats.
Here's one of the top news stories for today, telling of a large chunk of artic ice breaking:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Environment and Humans a Natural Clash
We went back home to Kansas City this past weekend. I needed to do some research on the book I'm writing. We waited until my husband had a day off on Good Friday to make it a long weekend and so we could see friends and family all in one trip.
As we've learned to do here, we had numerous errands to run, trying to make the most out of a single trip.
I had been in the metropolitan area for only a couple of hours when I told my friend, Pris, that we had seen more traffic that day than we would probably in a year in Arkansas.
My mom and I used to marvel at some of the things my aunt said, after having lived out here in the wilderness for awhile. It seems, sometimes, she felt insulated from the rest of the world.
When I returned on our trip home, I felt that as well, after having lived here only 9 months. It's easy, when you only see your family - and maybe a handful of people - when you go to town, to believe that the only things happening is what's going on in our own little piece of the world.
I have to work harder to obtain information here about what's happening in the rest of the world - and that includes news about the environment.
It's easy when you're surrounded by natural beauty everyday to think everything's going to be ok for the planet.
And then you go to a mid-sized city and are once again awed by the amount of vehicles polluting the environment and also the waste. I wondered how many people a week, for example, used the disposable cups in our hotel room. We ate out all weekend of course, and saw a ton of styrofoam containers going home with people.
There's a lot of questions swirling about what "going green" means.
We all get involved in our own little worlds.
For me, coming out of that and doing things to help the bigger picture is what going green is all about.
On a scary side note, here's an example of how nature is clashing with development in the Kansas City metro. Coyotes are becoming ever more brave and attacking dogs in backyards. Here in the mountains, we're ever aware of this danger - and others, including bears and big cats, but to think a pack of coyotes would even jump fences for a Maltese or Jack Russell?
To my friends in Kansas City, especially in southern Overland Park, watch your animals:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away
The big environmental story here in the Ozarks is of course, the rain. They say we've "only" gotten 7 inches, but it has been raining for seemingly 40 days and 40 nights. My husband called me from Ranger Boats, where he works yesterday, and said they could use some of those boats in the parking lot.
Again, I believe this is one of the effects of global warming. The weather is much more severe and showing itself in more disasterous ways.
Read more about the rain and flooding:
The rain, we hope, is supposed to stop today.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Generator Quandry
I admire the woman in our small writer's group here who lives in a cabin completely "off the grid," meaning they don't have running water or electricity.
Not only am a spoiled by modern conveniences, I found out that this winter, after two power outages and one lightening strike, that I can't effectively run a business without electricity for my computers and phone lines to interview sources.
I told my husband, after the most recent power outage (a relatively small 5 inch snow storm), that no matter what, we'll have to factor in the cost of a back up generator when we do the addition to our home.
I recently read a good article in Mother Earth News regarding propane generators. We also looked at a house last week with a large back up system, powered by propane, that kicks in as soon as there is a power failure - and had the capacity to power everything in the house.
As I was doing more research, I learned that propane is also the most expensive. However, it is (behind solar power) the best on the environment.
Gasoline generators that I've seen (such as the one that kept our fridge running during this last storm), are noisy. As well, you can't store gasoline for as long as propane, nor as safely.
However, as my aunt said last week, you still have to be able to afford propane should you need it.
With regards to the solar generators, I couldn't find one above 40 watts, which doesnt' seem like a whole lot of power to me. I'm not sure how much could be ran on 40 watts and for how long.
Also, if it is cold and dreary with heavy cloud cover, will it even work?
As are most decisions with regards to going green, its all a bit confusing and I'll have to do more extensive research to sort it all out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Daylight Savings?
I'll get to generators next week. In the meantime, I've been thinking this week, as I wait until almost 8 a.m. to feed the dogs and go for our daily walk - does all this daylight savings really save energy?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not necessarily a foe of daylight savings. We've been having a grand time this week taking walks, sitting on the deck and overall, enjoying the extra time in the evening.
But, it sure is dark in the mornings. And for people who have to rise early to get to work, does it really save the planet to have an extra hour of darkness in the morning?
Not according to a study conducted in Indiana, which concluded people in that state spent an additional $8.6 million a year when the whole state was forced to go to daylight savings time.
Here's a good article on the subject with a link to the Indiana study:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Global Warming Doesn't Always Mean Hot
As mentioned last week, we're facing some challenges here in the Ozarks. Most of them related to the current environment. At the beginning of February, a terrible spring-like tornado nearly destroyed a town about 18 miles east of us. We don't have a full basement here yet and when I saw that aqua green sky, I became terrified. This Kansas native knows that color usually represents a tornado.
Through the month of February into early March, we received a series of weird weather that alternated between 8 inches of snow, to ice, to spring like weather again.
Last week was no exception. On Monday, we were in the middle of a thunderstorm when lightening struck my modem and put my telephone line and me out of business for a better part of the day. By Thursday, we were back to winter with winter storm advisories. We only received 5 inches, but it was enough to knock out power for us - and according to a friend of mine in Pennsylvania who saw a news report - 44,000 others in Arkansas.
"I'm sick of winter and I would like to see some of that global warming," said an editor when she called to inquire about some files I couldn't send until our power was restored late Saturday.
Oh, but we are seeing the effects of global warming, it just doesn't alway show itself as hot.
Our goal now is to meet these weather challenges. Due to the terrain, underground basements are usually not built here. If people have shelter from tornadoes, they usually put in some type of storm shelter. I've seen two variations - one that goes underground and a heavily constructed concrete structure that sits on the lowest part of your land above ground. Although the lower level addition to our home will still be above ground, we've planned a concrete safe room for a storm shelter.
As for losing power, my aunt is investigating solar while we're investigating propane generators. In my next two posts, I'll talk about the advantages of each.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Lightening Strike
That's what happened to my modem on Monday morning. I'm typing on an 11-year-old laptop right now, but all my files are on my other computer.
I'll be back with new posts (hopefully) on Monday.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Challenges here in the Ozarks are preventing me from presenting a meaningful post this morning.
We had a beautiful weekend with 70 degree temperatures and today they're talking about ice and snow.

Have a good Monday!