Sunday, June 29, 2008

Germany drops oil use 18% in 10 years

While resting my knee from the mild overuse I got sailing yesterday, I've been catching up on some online reading. A pointer to an article about Germany switching to sustainable energy sources caught my eye. They've been doing a concerted push from both private and government areas to convert to renewable energy and improve fuel efficiency. I found THIS ARTICLE heartening for several reasons. First, they've made significant strides in 10 years without going on a crash program. Second, Germany gets about as much sunlight as we do here in Seattle. Yes, I know, we have those grey clouds but we still get sun through them. So, it's a good comparison for my geographic area, at least when it comes to solar power.

I'll list here the part of the article giving the sustainable factors the author thinks are important. If they can do it, so can we, so this might be a good list to work from for those interested in doing so. I'll only point out that several of these require government action.

Sustainable Factors (some more sustainable than others)
- People using mass transit and high speed rail
- People buying more fuel-efficient cars and driving slower on the Autobahn
- Government incentives for using renewables, insulating homes, subsidies for commuting reduced, road pricing for trucks introduced.
- High take rate up for wind and solar due to feed in tariffs
- Heating fuel switching to solar & wood/pellets
- Heating technology switching to CHP (Combined Heat & Power or cogeneration) and heat pumps
- Stable and aging population, less consumption growth and less growth in commuting
- Mindset to save costs, people heating and lighting their homes less and desire to help environment
- Sadly, warmer than average winters due to global warming
- Expertise in producing energy efficient technologies and bringing them available to market

And yes, the sailing was wonderful. We're finally into summer weather here in the Pacific NorthWest and being out on the water, with sun and warmth was fabulous.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Electric Vehicles display at Seattle car show

We're getting our house ready to sell so I've been busy decluttering, painting and giving away stuff on freecycle. I've not kept up with the blogs I normally read so I didn't see this article in the Electric Vehicle blog I follow until last night. The car show in Seattle today will have a special display of all kinds of currently available Electric Vehicles both commercial and personally done conversions and creations. Including scooters. If you're going to be in Seattle, and you're interested in transportation that's not gasoline powered, this would be something to check out.

Unfortunately for my interest in these things, I already have plans to go sailing. *smile*

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Three graduations this last week... busy, busy, busy

Last weekend was graduation weekend for all our kids: my son James in high school, my daughter Allie's second university degree, and our "adopted" son aspen's long-time coming university degree. In addition to driving to Bellingham for the university graduation ceremony, we had relatives in town for the high school graduation. So, there was time spent cleaning up before and after the relatives arrived and left. I did get some work done. I did the piece below for aspen's graduation. (And yes, aspen has shown up before as he's the owner of the three wheeler that I've posted about.)

He's been getting his degree while working full-time so this is a long awaited achievement and I wanted to celebrate it with him. The trees on the sides are aspens, as are the golden leaves. He wrote the words printed in the middle so this is a very personal piece of art. I hand dyed the fabric the words are printed on as well as the green and yellow that I used for the leaves above and below it. I'm pleased with how well those fabrics coordinated with the aspen pictures I got from wikipedia.

In addition to all the running around to get everyone ready for graduation, and get the house ready, James and I went into Seattle and bought his graduation present, an electric bicycle. We got him a folding bike version which has much smaller wheels than a regular bike. And it's lower powered than the other electric bikes available from the dealer. The advantage is that he can fold it up and take it on a bus with him. (We overheard talk about the bike racks filling up on the buses in Seattle. ) He's enjoying riding it around, and having his own wheels rather than having to negotiate with us for the use of the car. Not to mention no money spent for gas. :-) Here's a picture of James with his new bike.

We bought it at Electric Bikes NW. They also do a whole selection of folding bikes in addition to the electric bikes. Part of why we got the folding one is that it's the only one they had in stock. Everything else is on order, and there are waiting lists for the bikes they've ordered. So, if you're thinking about doing this, I'd do it soon if I were you...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Quantum Lake: newest completed fiber art

Having mentioned this piece, Quantum Lake, in another post, I now feel obligated to post about it. Even though I'm not thrilled with the photo I've got, I'm posting it because I've been busy with other stuff for the last month and haven't gotten to taking a new one. I took the photos I used in this piece and pushed some artistic limits for myself in improvisational cutting when it came time to put the pieces together. It's a new direction for me and I'm pretty happy with how it came out.

Part of the motivation for posting this piece is that I wanted to talk about another personal victory that I experienced on Saturday. During my morning walk at the greenbelt referred to by Quantum Lake, I met a nature photographer who does mostly birds. In order to continue in the new direction, I need more detailed shots of birds to use. So, I got my nerve up and asked him if he was interested in collaborating. I gave him my webpage address and went home to await his response. Not only did he agree to let me use his photos, but he was very complimentary about my work.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Practice piece for FM quilting

I have a couple of pieces in the works, one of which has already been accepted into a show and I'll post about that later. I'm still working on my larger piece, finishing the quilting with hopes of submitting it to Houston later this week. Last night, I did some practice stitching using spirals and 2 different types of thread. I wanted to use 3 different threads, but the Signature polyester, size 30, kept breaking even with the size 100 needle. The picture below shows the different background fabrics with the sulky variegated rayon on the left, and the Signature variegated cotton on the right. (The smaller spirals on the turquoise fabric on the top are different Signature cotton that I decided not to use because it was too red.)

I'll have to work on getting the spirals smaller which is not surprising. Due to my medical issues, I haven't done serious FM quilting in several years so there's lots of rust on these skills. But another couple of practice runs, and I'll be ready to step up the real piece. I'm still trying to decide which thread to go with when I start the quilting on the piece today. The rayon is prettier, but I don't want the background quilting to pop out too much as there's already some quilting elements on the quilt. And those elements are done using rayon so there's one part that says match the thread and the other side that says, use the less obtrusive thread to highlight the other figures. Decisions, decisions...