A grab bag

A few days ago I read that Iowa has up to 20% of power production from wind. This done by farmers realizing that they could make a reasonable return on investment. They are the correct group to price such an investment too since they routinely make such investment decisions with their machinery.  20% is huge, the usual is about 5% at the upper end but more likely 3%. Denmark is the only place that is above at about 25%. But they have huge subventions. Their producers get a grant to build the turbines, then they get a top up on the bill and a tax relief on the sales tax. Of course in Europe it is harder to price since the government tax&duty on oil or gas can amount to 75% depending on the jurisdiction. So much so that when we hear friends and family from the USA moaning about the price of gas/petrol at the pumps we instantly get depressed since ours is twice and a bit more.

The new computer is going a storm. I did a re-jig of my wires and put the tiny tower in a semi hidden nook. It’s been a bit hard to get used to hole left by what was a fixture in the room. Now all I have on the desk is the screen, landline and the usual pens and crap. I hardly know myself.

In that vein. the new computer shipped with a DVD player. But it’s the usual Dell sleight of hand. Yes they ship a DVD player but it’s the basic version so you have to buy the upgrade and worse, it freezes. So I was truly delighted that the MS windows media player works well. Anyhoos, I debuted a DVD I got in Tesco’s for €5. The Way with Martin Sheen by his son Emilio Estevez.

The film is one of those that will run and run. And it will make more 15 years from now than today. It’s one of those that will make you blink for it zones in on a tragedy but lifts it and makes something sublime from it. It begins a bit thin. Perhaps intentionally so. It could be Estevez wanted the shallowness Tom’s (Sheen) life. Going to work, playing golf with friends that were only fairway friends. We only see a glimpse of the real man when he gets a call about the death of his son while playing a golf. But it reverts back to the slack thin shallowness for the next 25 mins. In this 25 mins Tom arrives to France, identifies his son, watches him burn in a crematorium  and decides to walk the Camino to Santiago. Through all the high emotion of these mins there is nothing coming off the actors. It isn’t until he is resting on a bridge and his backpack falls 60ft into a swiftly running river with the silver box full of the sons ashes that you realize what went before was a brilliant bit of direction by Estevez. You simply couldn’t sustain that emotion of the earlier sections and keep turning up the heat. Something would break. It was at that point I stopped wondering about the thinness for it’s actually a good, very good bit of acting and directing. This film was made on a shoestring but it doesn’t feel that way. But to repeat, I believe it will become a Christmas film in about five years and a good fallback film for a home library. I would give it 4**** for it allows the viewer in that old way to become part of the story by using their own emotions to fill what’s behind when the actors are blank or over funny. It would sit well beside Schindler List. Beside, yes, but not the same. It isn’t as immediate, for like any good play you pick up bits days after watching.

If Oscar Pistorius was fully able-bodied and drilled shots through a bathroom door and into his girlfriend would we be as confused.

Beef or horse ?.

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10 Responses to A grab bag

  1. Kelly says:

    Not enough wind in my area for power, but I’ve started seeing a few homes here and there with banks of solar panels. Would only be a supplement, but we’ve certainly considered looking into it. We built our house with an eye toward “energy savings” more than 26 years ago, but there are so many things I’d do differently now.

    • V.H says:

      Yes I believe it only makes good sense to lower the power draw from the grid. The problem is how to price it. What’s happening now is the suppliers of domestic equipment are pricing in your saving from what it cost you to buy the supply. And any country I’ve seen are providing a subsidy for the supplier of the equipment not the end user. It only seems that way.
      But what the farmers in Iowa have done somehow is price as a crop, any crop, so they are pricing at what it costs an energy company to produce not to what that company sells.

  2. Ed says:

    I wouldn’t think that Iowa has anywhere near 20% wind energy production but then I am from the southeast part where we don’t have any turbines. I have to go up north to see the miles and miles of them.

    By the way, the only reason farmers make a lot of money from them is because they are very heavily subsidized by the governments for allowing them to be put up. Even then, I think the normal contract says they have to have them on their land for ten years before they get a percentage of the returns other than an initial maintenance contract.

    I saw The Way a year or two back. I liked the movie and it makes me want to hike that trail. I like that kind of hiking.

    • V.H says:

      It had 18.8 in 2011 see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Iowa. I can’t find the reference online for the 20%. But doesn’t Iowa State law insist the utility companies buy a percentage of renewables.

      Yes I intended to do that hike myself but things got in the way. This year I’m going to quietly make plans hoping I’ll be out and back before fate takes a hand.

  3. Kimberly says:

    We’ve got the largest wind farm in the country (and maybe the world) with the Alta Wind Energy Center – just north of Los Angeles County in Tehachapi. It is something to see all the turbines on the drive up to NoCal and how it’s grown and grown over the last 20+ years. Solar has also become more accessible for regular people in the last couple of years. That’s a direction I’m thinking of going if it works out to be a cost saving measure. My winter bill is pennies while my summer bill is horrendous and full of intentional brownouts. I wish that we’d do more which would create jobs while also updating our infrastructure. The power going out at the Super Bowl a couple weeks ago says a lot about the current one.

    I have heard good reviews of that movie from others as well. I bet the cinematography along that walk were stunning also. It sounds like a peaceful movie without all the unnecessary bells and whistles in most things anymore.

    Oh, and I’m checking the box for beef, please.

    • V.H says:

      Years ago I had envisioned that the domestic dwelling could easily have 30% and more where applicable in renewables on site. Be that wind or solar. But the way domestic investment has gone there is absolutely no financial reasoning to doing that. If it cost you €/$3000 to instal a system, you better be getting back more than €$538 a year over the 10 year life of the equipment to make sense. And none of the current stuff will give you that. Then you have the government grant for installing. Here that’s €600 but, again that is simply added to the costs that the fellow selling you the equipment is putting on the invoice. Put simply it’s creating havoc and achieving the opposite of the intention.

      The film had lovely landscape shots. I must look again to see how intended. You know very few are a John Ford or a David Lean, with those two you could take any single frame from the entire length of a film, frame it and hang it in a National Gallery.

      On the horse meat being put into beef. The authorities keep saying there is no health hazard. But if you don’t know what’s in the damn meat patty how the hell can you say that isn’t a public health hazard.

  4. Sage says:

    Ed’s right about the government subsidizes–but the farmers there are kind of us to it as corn and beans area also subsidized. There is a huge plant that makes those oversized windmills on the east side of Iowa–that I’ve seen from the train.

    • V.H says:

      The question is about return on investment. What the Iowa farmers have done is find a way to price the risk. In a way they have succeeded to get to 20% in spite of the subsidy, not because of it. It is notoriously difficult to price in subventions from the exchequer. You are investing today in expectation of getting xx.x% which mightn’t come. Or if you had priced over a number, a small dip, or even if the subsidy didn’t keep with inflation would wipe you out.

  5. Rebecca S. says:

    Thanks for the movie recommendation. It sounds like a good one.
    Now Oscar is saying it was all an accident, and he thought he was shooting an invader. Too weird for words…I really do hope he turns out to be innocent, though!

    • V.H says:

      Yes, it isn’t a bad one at all.

      I think my point is I don’t think not having legs or winning Olympic gold necessarily makes him incapable of shooting dead his girlfriend with intent. I’m not saying he hasn’t given a plausible reason, I actually think he has given the only plausible excuse for him killing her.

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