Fixing the World in 3 Deft Moves

A broad look at America’s energy future this morning.  We think a week during which people were in the dark – by the millions – is a pretty good time to relight the discussion about energy.

We considered a discussion of how this week was very much like a Grid Hard Down scenario, but thought better of it.

Instead, we discuss the interplay of electric and hybrid vehicles and discuss some super-insulated home ideas.

First, however, a few headlines and some charts.

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66 thoughts on “Fixing the World in 3 Deft Moves”

  1. Houston, I have a problem, when I go to click More for Subscribers my curser turns into a capital I and does not let me in to peruse. I do not know if it is me(my computer) or your end that is preventing my entry, to your members only club

  2. ““ultra-insulated” new home”

    One of the disadvantages to the ultra-insulated is mold.

    My thought on creating an ultra-insulated pad cheaply would be by stacking hay bales around the place. Then hit those with layers of spray on concrete. If you’re feeling artsy dye the concrete. Make the place look like a desert rock formation.

    When the SHTF pull the mailbox off the road and the pad will be disguised as a scenic area for a very large rock.

    Dick Clark had a “Flintstone” house so the idea isn’t new.

    • I saw a demonstration on the Discovery Channel for aircrete. Aircrete is concrete mixed with foam. I wonder what the insulation factor is for aircrete. It won’t rot. It is resistant to mold and is very light weight. It can be easily cut with a hand saw. It was designed for the tropics but I wonder if it would work in other climates.

      • R 1 to R 1.75 per inch of thickness. Depending on how it is made. About the same as softwood lumber. Aircrete has no structural vale. A wood post and aircrete wall would have an uniform R value.

      • Many years ago, a foam house was built in a wealthy suburb of Minneapolis. It may have been aircrete. I took a tour of it and was fascinated. Doors and windows were cut out with saws. There were no regular-shaped interior walls. Except for its large size, it was almost like a Hobbit house. I think people actually lived in it, so aircrete must be appropriate for cold climates.

    • Airtight houses have a problem with radon gas. It occurs naturally in the earth, but if it accumulates it will cause cancer at some point. Nothing beats building in the earth, roofed so that it ventilates.

      Fallout shelters used to have a hand powered fan with filters that would change the air in just a few minutes.

      Ecuadorian houses have tiny bedrooms, and 30% of the space under roof is patio. Often with an outdoor kitchen. Bedrooms are where you take your clothes off, sleep, then get up and get out. Living room furniture is replaced with patio furniture. There are houses built with 18” rammed earth walls over a century old. They use bamboo for rebar, and if kept dry will last forever. And every house, if not every room is permanently open to the outside air to deal with humidity.

      Have a friend who was building underground shelters in the northwest for the EOW 2012 scenario. Mandatory was a space where a body could be stored, airtight, in case someone died in the shelter before it was safe outside.

      Disposing of bodies is something most peppers never plan for. An exposed decaying body is extremely dangerous.

      • Real preppers/survivalists take into consideration, the disposal of bodies, the same way they consider the disposal of bodily waste and animal entrails. This includes having a camera (stored in a Faraday cage) available to make photographic records of deaths & burials.

        The greatest advancement in medical science was not the discovery of antibiotics. but widespread use of soap & water. The second was the development of sanitary means of removing human waste from the presence of living humans. It was the post-Reformation adoption of the Muslim (and BTW American Indian) proverb: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” and the eventual integration of it into Church policy and thence, Western society. When refugees came to the New World in 1620, they were considerably less hygienic than the Indians (something you’ll never read in any Mayfloweresque chronicle.) Until we built sanitary sewers, it was commonplace for maids and maidens to empty the chamberpot into the street or alley. If you lived in New York (or London, Paris, or nearly any other city) in 1800, you rode your horse down the streets through piles of human feces, until it rained…

      • I know ray.. isn’t it crazy.
        soaps been around a while.. so had bio-digesters.. I always wanted to know.. who was the first.. to discover that old Urine tossed on a white outfit gave brighter whites.. or gargling with urine made your teeth whiter LOL.. licking a certain toads butt got you high LOL LOL LOL LOL there had to be a number one..

      • “Who noticed a thing coming out of what could be the chicken’s butt and ate it…raw???”

        I worked grocery a long time.. it was one of my first jobs at 12 and was a part time th hing most of my life..anyway i was stocking the shelves … headed to break I wandered by the meat display.. stopped and asked the meat guy.what in the hall is that? Pork azzholes. Huh yup once a month we sell a ton of them.. got my juice chips and headed to checkout with a friend and a little guy pushing a cart filled with them.. bread milk mayo catsup mustard lettuce .. my friend looks over and asks.. hey look at that..I wonder what that is.. I said silly haven’t you ever seen someone have an azzhole sandwhich…
        Down the isle for ethnic food I stopped and was looking at a bottle of pickled centipedes.. so chicken butts doesnt surprise me.. with more ethnic groups entering we will see tons of new dishes..
        During the depression butchers use to ask if they could keep the blood and entrails..blood sausage and tripe..seen some tripe in the store a few months ago.. real disgusting..

  3. Ask on Texas grapefruit is $5.49 for six, on sale. The bag says 5lbs.

    I bought in yesterday figuring next month grapefruit is probably going to be $5.00 a piece. May have to switch to grapefruit flavored vodka.

  4. G, your subscriber buttons are not active. I don’t know if it’s everywhere, but it is up here.

  5. What would we Texans do without our wind power?

    Will we find out next that the added load from electric car owners topping off their vehicles immediately preceded the residential load shedding?

    I would still like to have some alternate energy supplying selected loads, but not without grid back-up power.

    I am on Co-op power. I am hoping that will prevent me from getting a four digit electric shock like the stories I have been seeing for the floating rate urban customers:

    Fly-by-night electric saves you money (until it doesn’t)!

    The effects of the wild price swings in the natural gas markets seemed to have eluded the journalists for the moment.

      • Is $450 -$500 high or normal.? I have a sizable place and my total utility bill that includes gas and electric from PG&E averages just $100 a month with 70% of that total yearly bill coming in the fall and winter months. My utility bills from May-October averages only about $70. Of course…we don’t need air conditioning in the summer and rarely use heat in the winter…it’s mostly the early sunset, lights and entertainment features that we use more in the winter that makes the electric portion go up.

      • The good news is all the new tech or old tech that has been stopped because of our economy being based on petrol.. with the new administration attacking the oil industry, I can see these things being promoted .

      • I went online and looked at my daily usage. My next billing cycle should be through the 12th, so the bill for the really cold days will show up a month from now. The real wildcard is whether the contract price stays the same, and whether the fuel adjustment has to cover escalated outside-of-contract pricing. If my rates don’t escalate wildly (which they should not), I may get by with a $200 – 250 bill. If so, that will be largest electric bill in 20+ years. Natural gas is not available out here, and I don’t do propane. I was nervous, but comfortable this week. An extra $100- 150 will be a seasonal operating inconvenience.

      • “my total utility bill that includes gas and electric from PG&E averages just $100 a month”

        Most people utilize their utilities at work..with just a minimum at home.. here just to be hooked to the grid is 57.. to be hooked to the natural gas line is another what 15..
        When we went solar was after we watched a round table discussion on future energy costs. They basically said that even if there wasnt future increases in the demand for energy that the rates would increase five hundred percent.
        So 500 plus is not an out of the ballpark figure.
        On top of it with this event.. theres going to be some serious changes made to make sure this will never happen again.

      • solar panels clear off really fast.. I use to sweep mine.. that obviously is to big a system to sweep..
        I have been suggesting for years and years.. about solar and wind.. go small wind large wind has way to many maintenance issues and integration issues… and we should be doing solar towers.. with the inverted trapezoid reflector in between cells.. the tower designed as a thermal chimney to assist in the ridding of ice and snow. my guess is that solar array is as far away from the power plant as you can get as well.. do it that way just to keep control of it all…

      • “my guess is that solar array is as far away from the power plant as you can get as well.”

        I said that wrong.. my guess is the solar power system is as far away from the furthest point of customers away from the power plant..
        to put them up go to the furthest point then work back to the power plants..
        not only would that take the stress off of the power plants during high demand but areas separated because of ice would be easier to get back up online..
        with the new administration against oil.. I think it won’t be long and we will see individual power systems coming out..

    • “I would still like to have some alternate energy supplying selected loads, but not without grid back-up power.”

      I personally think that is how it should be.. we will always need the roots of the tree.
      Promote change respect the past.
      Promote solar and small wind an incentive freeze their rates forage ten year period. If they want to be reimbursed for excess power then they pay all rate increases.

  6. I love the idea of fenestration free, with the possible exception of slit windows at 5′ plus. Codes usually don’t demand “egress windows”, simply a second means of egress with minimum dimensions. There’s something to be said for thermal mass inside the insulation envelope too.

    I can’t see where wood prices will be coming down any time soon – I thought they would this winter, but they didn’t. We used to have a material called gypsum block for interior and some exterior walls, but that’s no longer available in the USA. It could be nailed and had hollows for vertical wire runs that could be filled with vermiculite or other insulation.

    There’s a channel on youtube on building efficient houses in Texas:

    The guy knows his stuff and tends to build high end only. His ideas are adaptable for anyone if there’s no code inspectors to deal with.

    • They make construction timber out of hemp fibers to.
      So far its illegal in the USA.. but elsewhere where it can be sold the price is competitive to lumber at last years costs.

  7. George…you said..” Say you live in California, own an EV (Tesla) and charge it from a nuclear power plant.”

    Not an accurate analogy…no negative gifts that keep on giving..Nuclear only represents 9%,of California energy generation and that plant will be off line in a few years as renewables become the favored and more reliable source. Coal is only 1%. Large arrays of wind mills (8%) geomthermal (6%) and solar (14%) in the desert, plus our century old dependence on dozens of dams and hydro generation (12%)..Natural gas is our go to for now with almost 50%.

    Facts matter.

    • Facts DO matter, Mark. Which is why I am calling you out.

      California imports more electricity than any other state. So, you just conveniently disregard how that electricity is generated, don’t you?

      I thought you were leaving this place anyway? We all know better. They pay you far too much to be here shilling bullshit for you to ever leave. Unbeknownst to you and your handlers, your efforts yield the opposite effect than that intended.

      • Joe UPN Ohio..
        Paying me? Hahaha. Dude, you have a wild imagination. In other words. You are stupid as sh#t. I do make money however …at my job. Ask George…He knows me.

  8. Building codes exist for a reason. One of the reasons my utility bills are so low, is that California has strict codes. And I am more than ok with that. It’s a trade off. Pay them now or pay them later. After the 1989 Earthquake, the Bay Area revamped its building codes. They got way too lax during the 50’s-70’s. Many parts of then Bay Area saw the results of those lax laws when their homes and buildings were demolished. Based on building codes we have today, If the 1989 earthquake were to happen again…the impact on the Bay Area infrastructure would be very minimal. As a result, we have lower insurance costs, lower utility bills and the peace of mind that we will be mostly safe at anything less than a 7.2 earthquake. That’s a significant earthquake…and very rare…if any earthquake occurs that is higher, then it will be felt all the way in Texas and you people will have to deal with your infrastructure all over again.

    • It’s not a government’s business to protect me from myself. That’s my responsibility and right. I choose to live in a place designed by me for my own purposes and pleasure. Few if any people are invited, and definitely no minor children. I choose to live my own way and be reliant upon myself, not some generic code designed for a standard human. It’s my right to be left alone to do as I please unless I’m interfering with others rights. If my house burns or falls down, it’s my problem, not yours. I have enough fuel free space around that it’s very unlikely that my house could endanger yours. My idea of an enjoyable house is more like an industrial shop than a residential box. Since I have few neighbors and they generally have the same world view, I take a very dim view of any regulation that prescribes how I should live or build anything. I certainly would rather do without than have to endure a “licensed professional” or inspector on my property doing what I’m fully capable of doing myself! I resent even more the idea of paying them.

      • Good for you…you are one in a hundred million. The rest of us live a life that’s far too precious to have to worry about stuff. I want it done for me. And I worked my ass off for that privilege. I choose the opposite of you, but could be self sufficient if I wanted to. I choose not to. I don’t clean my own house, cut my own grass or paint, And maintain my own house. People do that for me. I flip houses on the side and do everything by code and permits because doing so makes me exponentially way more money. If I did it your way, I wouldn’t have the time to earn monetarily and literally the lifestyle I have today.

      • I do understand the “do what you do best, and pay for the rest philosophy”. Living in a major league seismic zone would complicate self-performance on a home build immensely, as would dealing with big city inspectors.

        Windstorms are the big problem locally. No one tries to build for an F5 windstorm. Surviving a F3 or so windstorm isn’t out of the question with full structural sheathing, extra wind bracing, and the full complement of coastal wind zone straps with 1.5X to 2X fasteners. The only houses built that way locally are owner built or subcontracted. Engineers for residential contractors seem to spend too much time finding excuses to under perform to save bucks, and local codes are lax to start with. My home was built for cash, exceeds local code, passed about five inspections, and has been upgraded as FEMA windstorm recommendations have evolved. It survived a direct hit from an F0 tornado unscathed, with exception of wind turbines and a bit of damage to a gable. The minor gable damage resulted in bracing upgrades, which appear to have resolved the issue.

        The snow load issue in the Palestine piney woods sounds new and novel. Put together the new structure with Simpson connectors and a mix of PTL ring shank nails and corrosion resistant structural screws, G_____. And brace it for all modes of wind failure. You aren’t in the F4 – F5 zone, but you can certainly get the tail remnants of hurricanes there.

  9. Can we be saved….

    I don’t see how.. with the last stimulus our country sent the vast majority over seas.. the vast majority of our yearly budget is distributed.. elsewhere.. I dont see how.. not with our spend it on someone else ways..
    Our industrial complexes have been dismantled and we are all dependent on other countries in every aspect in our life for the very things that give us quality of life..our youth dumbed down..our police forces being neutered by antifa and BLM..
    Our infrastructure ten years ago would cost 4 trillion to bring it back today that figure has to be several times higher.. last week we seen how a storm started a cascade collapse..what would happen if there was a more severe event.
    The only thing I can see is instead of spending the vast majority of our annual budget over there we should focus at home..retool rebuild and repair.

  10. One old smart fellow I used to work with built a new house to his own specs for Wisconsin winters. The walls were 2×6 studs, and every other one was ‘staggered’, so you had an outside wall and an inside wall, with no stud directly touching both sides. He had several inches gap weaving in & out along the studs, and he filled it with fiberglass insulation. He had a nicely snug home at -40F below zero days.

    • Dad and I built my bedroom addition to my folks’ house like that — 2x4s on 12″ centers, on a 2×8 plate, with the studs staggered so wallboard was on 24″ centers and spaces were stuffed with rock wool. I was into both listening to music loudly, and practicing 3-5hrs per day, and so talked them into it so they’d not have to listen to my presence at an annoyingly loud level. I tapestryed my walls, too, although I should have hung paper egg-crate under the artwork. If I ever build myself an audition room, it’ll be curtained and egg-crated…

      • Ray,
        Did you go to your city and county give them plan apply for permits and when done have the sign offs to record your addition on the county records? If not…in 90% of states, that extra sq ft is not legal and when you go to sell your home, it can’t be sold with that extra sq ft and no appraiser can use it either. Codes matter for resale. I would never let my clients buy a house in which an addition was done without permits and a licensed contractor. There is a ton of liability in unpermitted homes…especially, if it is not disclosed.

        In the Bay Area, for every dollar a homeowner spends on remodeling, he or she gets back $3 in added value. A $50,000 remodel returns $150,000 in added value. But only if that work was done by a licensed contractor and with permits if needed. The only type of work that doesn’t need a permit is like for like. Replacing a kitchen or bath for instance…as long as walls aren’t removed.

        When I hear some of you doing all your own building and additions , I cringe. What a waste of time and opportunity for future financial gain.

      • I built my own house to Ray..
        Made a couple mistakes.
        Hired a contractor to do the foundation he took the deposit and never came back.. took him to court he changed names his company through bankruptcy and I ended up with a ten thousand dollar hammer..
        I intend to hand the place over to a grandchild when the time comes..

      • “Did you go to your city and county…”


        Permits were not required.

        Dad held both journeyman millwright and electrician cards (but that wasn’t a requirement, either), and neither was an inspection of any kind.

        The house was built in 1868, and had a 10’6″ “wraparound porch” with full foundation under the porch. We eliminated the porch and built to the foundation, and replaced the 8′ windows with 46″ Anderson thermals. Everything was overbuilt to be massively in-excess of NBC & NEC code requirements.

      • ” There is a ton of liability in unpermitted homes”


        This house had natural gas lighting, no indoor plumbing, and no electricity, until the 1930s, when the PO added 12′ onto the back, over the outhouse cistern, installed a kitchen and bathroom, and plugged the 1/4″ gas pipe, replacing it with rubber/asbestos sheathed 14ga and 18ga knob & tube.

        Mark, stay in Cali. You would absolutely lose your mind if you ever relocated to a part of the country where 180+ year old houses were commonplace and a few folks still live in log cabins with Shawnee arrow scars in the wood…

        “When I hear some of you doing all your own building and additions , I cringe. What a waste of time and opportunity for future financial gain.”

        Understand, Mark, if one is planning to live a long time in a home, potential financial gain is irrelevant. My parents moved from the East to the Midwest during WW-II, bought this house from the relative of a SIL, then lived there until they died…

      • It sounds like CA building permits are a bit more constrained than those here. My late father and I were the general contractors of record for my home, and there was a building permit issued. And as I stated previously, we passed all the required inspections, and had all the correct license holders on board where required. As for resale value, anyone who buys the property is after the land, not my little house.
        As for mistakes, I got more things right than wrong. If your goal is to live a decent standard of living, and stay out of debt, then building your own home is something you should consider. If you are more interested in flipping the house, Mark’s advice is sound (especially in CA).

  11. Hawaii is looking at the ‘miles driven’ road tax. I received a ‘feeler’ survey commissioned by a State agency about dropping the state gas tax and implementing an annual mileage tax. We already have annual ‘safety check’ inspections of vehicles and the mileage is taken and recorded annually, so they have the data available. The feeling, and several pointed survey questions addressed the issue of… “Will the old gas tax truly be COMPLETELY eliminated if we go to this system?” There is great mistrust that government will not want to let go of an existing tax revenue scheme already in place.

  12. Hi,
    I hope you have seen the new study that found a way for scientists to communicate with lucid dreamers while the dream is happening. sounds right up your alley.

  13. I don’t know about the Elliot Wave system anymore.

    I posted about silver and gold. Both were supposed to go down according to my view.

    Silver did the possible “throw-over” and is now stuck to the upper line, not so much down at all. Gold is working lower as expected. 50/50.

    I’m starting to think the “systems” can only work if the bulk of folks are using the same system.

    • Both PMs are totally controlled markets so nothing like Elliott or other analysis is going to work until that market mechanism is broken. If they weren’t controlled they’d have followed Bitcoin up the wall if not led it because it’s so much easier to buy and hold them for one reason, the other reason is their traditional store of value quality. People look to the spot price of PMs to guide them but with no such mechanism in place for BC it’s the Wild, Wild West. Look at premiums that reflect both scarcity in the physical markets as well as gouging. I haven’t tried to order from Apmex or other mail order seller but I do see a lot of categories with “sold out” notices for many coins and bars on their webpages.

      • This is true. Huge premiums on the buy side(over spot), yet no market mechanism to sell above spot unless you do the rather clumsy ebay thing.

      • Right, Ebay or Craig’s List’s face to face selling but I still wouldn’t sell a PM for cash now unless you were in dire need. I strongly believe we’re going to see a massive increase in silver prices – and premiums on pre-64 change will increase as well. Given the decrease in purchasing power of cash people will be doing their best to swap from one form of “money” to the other in an increasingly desperate manner over time which could go on over the next couple of years.

        Another aspect of scarcity causing PM prices to rise is the lack of quantity of specie or coins to go around. The price of goods and services will have to be adjusted to meet the quantity of, call it “silver and gold M1” and re-adjust as more PM money comes into circulation from all its hiding places in an uncontrolled manner. But for the love of Pete don’t try and deposit what you have in a bank! The banks will ship it to the Fed centers and it will never see the light of day again because PMs are the enemy!

        Oh! And be diligent in checking the change you get. I received a 1943 “war nickle” in change at the Wal-Mart self checkout stand a few days ago.

      • And all of this will be going on while the Fed and its banks are performing all their behind the scenes shenanigans trying to convince everyone paper and electrons are still “money” and the gubmint tries to tax all the PM sales. Yeah, interesting times ahead.

      • Let’s look at Bitcoin then. Do you have any type of wave count for Bitcoin? T/A should be clearer, no?

        I think premiums are questionable. People have credit cards. They’ll get riled and run into anything. Do you know how to check silver pricing at the wholesale level (I don’t)? Coin blanks are coming from somewhere. I’d like to know the spread on pre-stamped silver/gold coin blanks?

        If gold/silver were really in short supply the premium spreads would be closer together.

        I have the Elliott Wave Principle: Key to Stock Market Profits book. If you’ve got the book we can compare patterns.

      • Coin blanks would probably come from the silver producers but they are on Ebay and Etsy. My question for those would be how would you convince a buyer later on they were pure and genuine? But wholesale prices would require a significant investment. Don’t know what the producer’s minimums would be as I’ve not been able to reach those quantity levels.

        Premiums tend to be pretty evenly matched across the board and only higher when you’re dealing with the small coin stores. Your best bet would be to find a private seller and negotiate with them. I bought a 50 peso gold coin from an acquaintance last year for less than a single ounce costs now. Bargains are where you find them.

  14. Friends,

    Take a sabbatical from reality. I’m not sure if even Diana Ross can take us higher. Uncork the champagne, loobricate any marxist animal crackers, and let’s jump into high places. Reconquista II is underway?

    The CBC finally filed a report today, the 21st day of the festival month of Roman purification, of a disturbance from much earlier this month at a geographic quadrant some 600 kilometers north of Saskatoon. It’s sacred to both Indigenous trappers on the land as well as geologists of the underworld permit-in-hand seeking their critical cake ingredient that Wallyworld doesn’t stock: U308. Anyhow, the Toronto hq of the pennystock exploration company grasped the drift of the wind, and both sides have their happy faces on again. That’s it. Everyone else, please follow Lassie home now.

    Well, it turns out the newly sprouted rock explorer is an offshoot of a consortium of three largest nuclear cycling-type companies in the world, at least two domiciled in Saskatoon – that berg famous for chosing an ivory tower over a maximum security prison when the opportunities were on the table.

    Of course, coinkydoink would have it that one of the “domestic” nuclear giants is substantially tethered to French state-owned transnational. She was created by a French businesswoman hailing from the birthplace of Joan of Arc, and initially named her corporate offspring after the birthplace of Queen Isabella I. You likely remember she was one of the financiers of Christopher Columbus, and perhaps less so that she was mother of the last Queen of England before the Civil War.

    Can we bury the hatchet, and go nuclear again? Yesterday’s newspaper had a full page interview from The Washington Post with Mr. Gates holding forth on his just-released climate change book. He seems to have sunk his faith wholly in the saving mantra against climate change by use of batteries, or nuclear fission, or nuclear fusion.

    Has the room warmed up enough for us to talk about clean hydroelectric power? Last Tuesday, the first of an eventual seven turbines started generating electricity from the newly built 695 MW Keeyask Generating Station up north. Two additional complementary generating stations totalling 2300 MW never left the drawing board 25 years ago and transmission lines weren’t built. The potential export customers of the time went for non-hydro power generation.

    A coinkydoink about Keeyask is that one of it’s longest deals is a 20 year 100 MW package with neighboring Saskatchewan signed 5 years ago. Of course, we live in a time of “climate change”…and politics being politics…

  15. What a winter of disinformation. Grab the shovel. Nothing like snowy reception when mounds of stories are piling up. The BBC published a report on Saturday from their India correspondent, Soutik Biswas, with helpful information about the glacial flood in the Himalayas two weeks ago caused by global warming.

    The article links via the “lost plutonium likely lies in a glacier” sentence to a 2007 Peter Taneka “Rock & Ice” article reprinted two years ago. There’s a helpful Buckeye comment entered a couple of months after that. An India climb expedition leader weighed in on Sunday afternoon. Of course one is left wondering? What was in the vessel?

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