Solar Tour 2014

Cowessess Wind Developments Ltd. turbine.
800kW at 32mi/h
tailless, computer controlled.
Has Li-ion batteries.
Solar Tour Regina

Solar Tour Regina
Solar farm and home system of 10kW
Inverter anti-islanding. Prevents electrifying the grid while grid is down.
Isolation ring for the meter can be installed so you can attach a generator to the house to let the inverter keep working during a grid failure.

A Canadian report of a 2008 study of cities over 200,000 people around the world, listed Regina as sixth best in the world for solar energy generation potential.

Kelln has a system for pumping cattle water, that motion detects cattle, pumps up water to a bowl, and then lowers it below the frost line after the cattle have left.

Solar panels have passed the $1/Watt holy grail.
$500/Watt at the beginning.

250W panels on Toronto St. install.
Pool inside.

Solar Tour Regina
Namerind put a system on a rest home. The Resting Place south of The Serbian Club.
Namerind has a power generation update on their website.
Check out 1100 block Winnipeg in a few weeks.

Battery Depot which we drove by, has no apparent interest in marketing their products to solar users. Why aren’t they making money by putting solar panels on their south facing roof?

Tour’s poster designed by anti-nuke artist Richard Vicarious [sp?].

Picked up a few more people at Candy Cane park, then at Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw.

Mitchell’s thermal hot air system. Pop can design.
Solar Tour Moose Jaw

2.7kW grid tied system next on the south west corner of Moose Jaw. There are two arrays mounted on the ground, and their angles can be changed.

Next was a hybrid system to heat a stable. GAIT equestrian centre.
$1500 for the excavation of a geothermal cooling/heating system seen in photo.

Radiant heat presentation.

Saw a real moose behind Mac the Moose.

5.7kW building integrated solar on a car port in Belle Plaine.

More detail and photos to come soon.

Saskatoon Shiners #exploresk

Saskatoon is a beautiful city, so don’t let these photos fool you. Every city has a few shiners here and there. “There”, in this case, is downtown.
Holiday Inn Supermax Prison
This is the Holiday Inn Supermax Prison. Don’t worry, it only looks like a prison from the outside. You can leave, unlike the more picturesque Hotel California.

Here’s one of the more beautiful parkades with a cell phone tower behind it.

It’s January, and the snow has retreated into puddles due to the unseasonal temperatures, but the gang activity hasn’t retreated.

The people of Saskatoon are friendly, and will accommodate you whether you’re addicted to tobacco or real estate.

The Sturdy Stone isn’t going to see you, so you should go see it.

The HMCS Unicorn will be grinning at you when you walk by.

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Freaking Saskatoon Police #YXE #SKpoli

I’m sure the Saskatoon Police do a lot of good work. They’ve really cleaned up their image since the 1990s, and it’s been decades since they’ve reportedly given anyone a [deadly] Starlight Tour. Unfortunately, a new frontier of ignorant neglect has popped up. Saskatoon Police are not taking the solicitation of lone women in cabs very seriously.

“Take the cab with another person, with a friend,” said [Saskatoon police spokeswoman Alyson] Edwards.

Absurd! Victim blaming much? Also, have you ever managed to share a cab with a friend so you both end up at home while neither is alone in the cab?

Edwards didn’t even state, or the story didn’t mention, that a cabbie kidnapping a passenger for sex, then stranding them shoeless, is a serious crime.

– It’s not always immediately clear whether an incident crosses the line into the Po-Po being dirty…

“Edwards said it’s not always immediately clear whether an incident crosses the line into criminal activity. She said police work closely with taxi companies.

“In the past we have looked at removing those licences if we have had problems,” she said.”

“Work closely with taxi companies”? Horseshit. Try working closely with citizens sexually harassed by gross cabbies who should be in jail! {Never trust public figures saying they are “working closely”.}

Danger Cat writes: pardon my language, but that is some fucking bullshit. Where are we living that a woman needs to travel with another person to prevent her from being sexually harassed in a cab? Yeah – that’s criminal activity. It’s called SOLICITING. It’s called HARASSMENT.

Saskatoon Police, you work for the women of Saskatoon, not a taxi company or its gross sexual violators. Having your spokesperson blame women for creating a dangerous situation, and saying it’s not clear if crime has taken place given the serious, specific, and repeated accusations, is irresponsible. It sends the wrong message to women, and the wrong message to taxi companies and their unsafe drivers.

delee83 writes:
This is a poor headline choice that incorrectly places blame on the victim. It should read “Taxi drivers accused of sexual harassment.” Despicable, completely unjustifiable behaviour.

Killer Robots From Earth

I grew up thinking that Killer Robots From Venus was a pretty amusing song. Now that we’re living in 2013, the ‘future’, we have to seriously contemplate the implications of building robots that can kill as their intended purpose. Our next-future expectations depend upon what we choose now. I’m not okay with building Terminators, just because we have the technical capability. We should be seriously concerned, even if we don’t think a Skynet scenario will play out as it did in the movies.

The consequences are dire and deadly even if the machines don’t ‘decide’ to turn against their human programmers.

“Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take technology too far,” said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch. “Human control of robotic warfare is essential to minimising civilian deaths and injuries.”

US political activist Jody Williams, who won a Nobel peace prize for her work at the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, is expected to join Sharkey at the launch at the House of Commons. Williams said she was confident that a pre-emptive ban on autonomous weapons could be achieved in the same way as the international embargo on anti-personnel landmines. “I know we can do the same thing with killer robots. I know we can stop them before they hit the battlefield,” said Williams, who chairs the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

“Killer robots loom over our future if we do not take action to ban them now,” she said. “The six Nobel peace laureates involved in the Nobel Women’s Initiative fully support the call for an international treaty to ban fully autonomous weaponised robots.”

“They may be metallic, but they’re just like me and you.” – Arrogant Worms.
No, they are not just like me and you; they’re killing-machines. Don’t let computer scientists program killer robots.

We can’t even seem to convince some people that it’s a good idea to harness wind energy, yet those same people might defend the creation of deadly robots that could quite literally be turned against them and their family giving a worst case scenario.

Wind Through The Ears

The Windmill NIMBYs are in Saskatoon now. While other countries are getting rich off green jobs and renewable energy sources, we have old farts who are looking gift horses in the mouth. The wind is blowing everywhere in Saskatchewan, but especially through the space between the ears of people working against multi-million dollar projects that will bring green jobs to their neighbourhoods. The SWTC is a group of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), astroturf (fake grassroots, supported by special interests), nincompoops that could cost the City of Saskatoon’s utility millions of dollars and more importantly stand in the way of a partial solution to climate change.

The SWTC flacks have to admit there are no scientific findings that support delaying the construction of the turbine. The CTV news clip points out that delaying the project is as good as cancelling it, because more than $2.3M in funding for construction would no longer be available from the federal government. Already, more than half a million has gone into researching the safety and construction of the turbine. Another report indicated that a profit stands to be made from the expected life of the turbine, after only 9 years! If someone told you that you could make millions of dollars, after only 9 years of recouping your original $5M (minus $2.3M government funding) investment, you’d be a poor investor to say, “No thanks.”

Additionally, the Montgomery neighbourhood residents who are complaining about an “eyesore” within view of their homes, may need to have it pointed out that the turbine will be built on a landfill. Yes, people who live next to a DUMP are now more concerned that green power generation going on next to their homes will lower their property value and pride in their neighbourhood! Instead of being concerned about noise in the wind, they should maybe worry more about smells wafting in. For now, only their attitude is confirmed to stink.

UPDATE: The City of Saskatoon IS a poor investor. They said “no thanks” after they got only one bid, more than their original budget. They’d still have made money and clean energy in the project, but not as quickly, so they’ve cancelled the idea. The Province is failing to build this marketplace, and the City is squandering an opportunity to build it too. Shame on them.

Anonymous Promoting Occupy Saskatoon Protest

Someone identifying with the Anonymous Internet group may have decided that Saskatoon sounded obscure and cool enough to be participating in Occupy Wall Street, that they deserved a little extra boost of attention. The Saskatoon news media jumped all over it, but with an unbalanced article that appears not to have made an attempt to contact anyone in Anonymous for their side of the story.

The very nature of Anonymous, not having a command structure or hierarchy would make it difficult, but that should be explained well in the article. Instead I sent a criticism to the news director.

“Some have used the video’s call to extremism to colour the organized protests in Saskatoon and Regina as hooliganistic.”

These sort of “weasel words” wouldn’t pass muster on Wikipedia, and shouldn’t make it onto a news website. Identify who the ‘some’ are, or at least state that those people have been interviewed but did not want their identities revealed.


Meanwhile, in another example of failed “journalism” a guest rightly calls the CBC “Fox News” as O’Leary attacks him as a “nutbar” while obviously taking the guest’s position personally. It’s a video exchange you have to see, and should be on YouTube for a wider audience to share, as it sums up what’s wrong with the media, and what Occupy Wall Street is all about.

Thinking About Sustainable Cities

Crocus at Oro Lake
– Your lawn can’t legally look like this?

People are understandably mystified by some of the things I do, they have different outlooks on life. When they see a TV in the garbage they think, “Someone upgraded to a Plasma,” while I think, “There’s a few more pounds of lead to leach into drinking water.” When they’re in favour of a city bylaw banning chickens and goats from backyards and parks, I try to rally people against it. They say, “Problems left with the animals,” while I say, “the animals are the solutions to our problems.” They ban clotheslines and long grass, and encourage lawn fertilizer and spraying for dandelions. I say ban lawn fertilizer with phosphorus and spraying dandelions, and encourage clotheslines and long grass for soil moisture retention. Our climate region is dry, so why don’t our laws conserve precious drinking water? Ottawa, Saskatoon and Regina each had emergency water restrictions this year.

Why do I so often want the opposite of what the city’s bylaws say? Am I a raging contrarian; A rabblerouser; A negative nelly; A rebel; A hippie? I’ll proudly be any of those if it means I understand that our current laws were not written with sustaining life in the forefront of their purpose. Various other motivations were used, and that’s why we have laws that send environmentalists screaming down the bike lane-lacking streets, pulling our long hair out, all the way from City Hall meetings.

Allow me to put on my sarcastic voice for a paragraph. If goats or sheep were allowed to maintain grass in Wascana’s parks and Regina’s backyards, think of the negatives. Won’t somebody please think of the poor people mowing the lawn? Think of the poor lawn mowers and weed sprayers! The Saskatchewan Lung Association will also have to update its statistics on how many people die from air pollution each year, think of their statistician! What about doctors who rely on work from lawnmower amputations? Shed a tear of loss.

We need our politicians to understand that business as usual isn’t going to work when our business is degrading the environment that we rely on for our drinking water, and our economy. Steve May in Sudbury inspired me to write this. Here’s a sample of his spark for wanting to reform outdated bylaws:

My City, though, like most cities, hasn’t yet come to terms with a number of problematic practices which we frankly have to get a handle on if we are to be serious about creating a culture of conservation (although clotheslines have always been ok here). This by-law which prevents naturalized lawns [longer than 20cm] is but one archaic relic which, in my opinion, needs to be abandoned, no matter how nervous long grass might make me feel.

Municipalities with by-laws on the books banning clotheslines began repealing those by-laws because…they really didn’t make any sense. The use of aesthetics as a rationale for prohibiting environmentally friendly practices is really poorly thought out.[Emphasis mine.] Just because something looks bad doesn’t mean that we should outright prohibit it.

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Saskatoon Traffic Jam Bridge

Saskatoon has bad traffic at the best of times (for Saskatchewan anyway), but it’s worse now with the closure of the Traffic Bridge. This leaves clever people to ponder why there aren’t more people in Saskatoon biking to work instead of driving cars. The weather is great, the exercise is good for most people, it costs nothing in gas, and the city should be encouraging it by installing more bike racks and painting more bike lanes.

If I’m not borrowing a vehicle, or sharing one, my primary transportation is city bus or bicycle. My Buick sold last week. That’s an average of $8400/year I don’t have to spend on a car now. I also don’t have to bother getting oil and transmission fluid changes, washer fluid, trunk hydraulics, fuel gauge repair, air filter, cabin air filter, temperature sensor repair, Winter tires installed, etc. And I won’t be scraping windows in the Winter either.

Rantwick has a fun sign on the back of his bike, I’d consider doing this.