Saturday, 3 September 2011

09:16 – There was little good news last week on the euro crisis. Even the euro cheerleaders are starting to get depressed.

Even Goldman Sachs Now Expects A Tremendous Financial Collapse

Incidentally, when I mentioned this article to Barbara, I pronounced “Sachs” as “socks”. She said she’d thought it was pronounced “sax”. I told her I really didn’t know, but as a German name I thought it should be pronounced “socks”. That’s nothing unusual. People look at me funny when I pronounce Bayer (as in aspirin) to rhyme with “buyer” or Julius Caesar with the J as a Y, the C as a K, the ae as a long eye, and the last syllable beginning with a hard ess rather than a zee.


We had a strong thunderstorm yesterday afternoon. Apparently, a tree fell over on a power line or something, because we were without power from about 1615 to 2045. Like all of our young Border Collies, Colin doesn’t pay much attention to thunderstorms. Except yesterday he did, because we had a couple of very close, very loud strikes. Those scared him, but once things returned to a dull roar he was back to normal.

I’m doing laundry this morning, and we’re working on assembling two or three dozen more chemistry kits. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, because we don’t have room to store all that much finished inventory. Once I get more shelves up, we’ll probably still assemble them two or three dozen at a time, because I have to leave room for biology kits, and eventually forensics kits, AP chemistry kits, and so on. All of which require not just room to store finished goods inventory, but also room for component inventory.

12 thoughts on “Saturday, 3 September 2011”

  1. How many power lines in the States are still on poles? Does the USA needs to do some infrastructure work?

    It’s been so long since we last had a power failure that I really don’t remember when it last happened. The computers reset for no obvious reason about 6-8 years ago, but it wasn’t anything we noticed – must have been very momentary. Actually being without power for hours? I don’t think that has happened in the past 20 years. This despite numerous hefty storms and a couple of minor earthquakes. I’ve thought about buying a UPS, but there’s really not much point – it might actually decrease the power reliability…

  2. A big part of the power reliability problem is that it’s less expensive for the power companies to leave things as they are, with overloaded transformers and almost no redundancy and paying overtime after storms, than it is to make things “right”, with buried lines and more or bigger transformers and more transmission lines running hither and yon. Throw in the fact that the power companies are essentially immune to lawsuits for outages. Throw in the state regulators who must approve rate increases. Throw in NIMBYs who prevent new lines from being run. (IIRC, the California blackouts in the days of Enron and Grayout Davis were caused largely by the NIMBYs having prevented a 300kV line from being put in, running from where the electricity was being generated to where it was needed.)

  3. I’m in the US, and our subdivsion has buried power lines. For what it’s worth, we’ve still had about a half dozen power failures in the last two years.

  4. “People look at me funny when I pronounce … Julius Caesar with the J as a Y, the C as a K, the ae as a long eye, and the last syllable beginning with a hard ess rather than a zee.”

    I’m sure Cicero would have approved but that’s not how it’s pronounced in modern English, or by your mates in the Vatican. If I’m speaking Latin I do it your way, if I’m reading a translation into English I pronounce them as English words.

  5. I can’t say I’ve heard of many places replacing poles with underground wires, but around here at least the codes changed some years back so that new developments have to put new services underground. Our house (built 1968 or so) is serviced from a pole, while less than a block away everything is buried. My wife, who used to be on the planning and zoning board, thinks the rule changed in the mid-seventies.

  6. I’ve never been bothered by above ground cables and poles. My suburb in Adelaide when I was growing up had them (in the street, with wires running above ground to the house), my current house has poles in the neighbours back yards – not the street – with wires on the poles but the power goes underground from the pole to my house – but the telephone/cable is above ground.

    I’d rather have reliability, ease of maintenance and lower cost. I’m not really bothered by above ground wiring.

  7. Also, I see a lot less TV antennas now, I guess people are either more discreet in their placement of them or use cable. There’s a ham a few blocks away too. The thing that Americans don’t have, so I’m told, are clothes lines in the back yard. Aussies I know in Virginia Beach have one, which is against some sort of regulation or other. Apparently people peek over their back fence to see this strange contraption. Practically every house in Australia has them.

  8. I live in an area with underground wires. All the trees along the street get to grow naturally, instead of being hacked into dangerous shapes to clear the overhead wires.

    The city tried to mandate that all poles be replaced by underground wires, but lost in court to the tel and cable cos, who didn’t want to bear the expense.

    I MUCH prefer the clean look without wires.

  9. Our neighborhood was built in 1968, and has overhead wires. As someone said, starting in the 70’s, new developments tended to use underground wiring. I’m not sure when it became a requirement here, but I’d guess in the 80’s.

    It’s quite unusual in suburbia to see buried wires in any development built earlier than about 1970. Of course, urban areas often use buried wires simply because there’s no room for all the poles to support overhead wires.

    We have maybe three or four power failures a year, usually for only a few minutes to an hour or so. Ice storms are particularly problematic, although thunderstorms are probably responsible for nearly half the failures. Every once in a while, someone crashes a vehicle into a pole.

    Before we bought this house in 1987, we lived in a Winston-Salem neighborhood called Ardmore, where the two major hospitals and a couple smaller ones are located. In the four years we lived there, we had zero power failures. Apparently, the power company makes it a very high priority to keep power available to the hospitals, and we benefited from that.

  10. “Incidentally, when I mentioned this article to Barbara, I pronounced ‘Sachs’ as ‘socks’. She said she’d thought it was pronounced ‘sax’. I told her I really didn’t know, but as a German name I thought it should be pronounced ‘socks’.”

    Actually, most “s”’s in German are pronounced as our “z”. So, the German pronunciation of “Sachs” would be “ZAH-ks”. Ahh-nald never has gotten rid of the “s” as “z” when speaking English.

    Tiny Town is criss-crossed with above ground power lines. VERY unreliable. We have power failures from 10 minutes to 2 hours about once every other month. Like Brad, I do not remember any power failures in Germany–except those caused by our son’s remodeling projects. He seldom remembered to tell us when he was taking the power down, and the computers had a lot of file-checking to do when he got it back up. Still, I never ran anything I thought was so mission-critical that I ever needed UPS. Batteries in the laptops sufficed, until both batteries eventually died.

    Overhead lines are really dangerous. In this part of the country, we have deaths from fallen lines several times a year–most are a result of traffic accidents, but there were a bunch of kids playing in the street in a neighboring town when a frayed line fell down and electrocuted one, not long ago.

    Those kinds of accidents are seldom reported by the major media. It is just like tall radio/TV antenna structures. About half-a-dozen of those fall every year in the US. I heard about them because they are reported in industry magazines; but the general public never knows. In about half the cases, somebody is killed in the fall–often a worker is on the tower when it falls. In Indianapolis, they are letting developers build apartment complexes right up to within a few dozen feet of the base of the towers. That should never be allowed.

    Indy has buried power lines in the central city to about 38 blocks north, then overhead lines, then buried in the new expansion and developments north of the 56th block–which is where the city stopped and farmland began, until I was out of college. There are overhead lines to the immediate south of the city all the way out of town. Besides being ugly, they are just plain dangerous.

    Privatization has killed any care about infrastructure here. Just like the UK rails suffered so much from lack of maintenance and upgrades and were responsible for killing scores, the US is now in pretty desperate straits. They closed the power company office here, and maintenance is now done out of Muncie–which is a 40 minute drive away. We have wooden telephone poles that lean at better than 15 degrees in Tiny Town. Those would have been replaced immediately when I was a kid and the state owned the power company. Not now.

    As for the Euro–here we are, another month down the road, and it has not collapsed. Imagine that! How does it do that?

  11. I’d rather have reliability, ease of maintenance and lower cost. I’m not really bothered by above ground wiring.

    Reliability is a combination of many factors, but from everything I’ve heard buried wires win that contest hands down. Maintenance may be harder, but there is a lot less of it, and there are ongoing costs to having wires exposed to hazards.

    We have a friend who lives down close to the coast. Trees came down all around her house, and she had live wires in both the front and back yards. A week later and she is still running a generator, and expects days more of that. I doubt that she or her family give a hoot about the esthetics of utility poles and their wires, but they might have some choice words about things like reliability and cost.

  12. Here in the UK, in pretty much any town or city, even most small villages, electric wires are underground. Many places (built pre 60s) have overhead telephone wires, but not electric.

    Cable only arrived for 40% of the country in the 80s and was forcibly installed into the ground. Takeup is not as high as they wanted due to the strong competition from satellite (cable = approx 4m subscribers, satellite over 10m, out of ~27m households).

    Anyone with a TV has to pay the licence fee (£165/y) and gets 30+ digital channels pretty much everywhere now, so yagi antennas on the roof are very common. Some people put them in attic/loft if it works.

    Many UKers first visit to the US remark on how “untidy” the street look with all the power. Distribution of 110v being harder too, with many more transformers on poles, whereas we have “substations” at ground level handling an entire estate. (240v).

    Just different I guess. 🙂

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