I have numerous short stops that i make on most days at Twin Oaks. One of them is by Coyote’s room. We will chat about current community gossip and politics. He will ask me to get him another box of candles or a double cheeseburger with double onions. While in his room I often write a quick letter to Cassie ex, which he then completes and sends.
And sometimes, when i am lucky, he drop on me a piece of writing, a poetic bomb. Today was one such day. Coyote has been off the labor system for a while now and leads a quiet life mostly on the second floor of Ta Chai. He is an avid reader and writes to his favorite authors. He wrote to the poet and revolutionary Wendell Berry who sent him back the powerful poem HOW TO BE A POET (to remind myself). Which includes the lovely lines:
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
And desecrated places.
Coyote’s room is like a tiny gallery. He has copied pictures of the people important to him, famous or familiar. And is regularly rearranging these memories to suit his current desires. And tangled among these images are some of the most profound ideas of our time.
Part of it is that i am on some intentional community Facebook groups which have distinctly different politics generally than i do. One of these groups is the Intentional Communities Discussion Group, a group which has more interested spirituality than i am, there are some rugged individualists, some folks into gun rights. And they have questions. This was one of them:
Can you weigh in on this…?
The situation: Our community is roughly 40 adults. We are a non-profit, focusing on sustainable education. We offer lunch and dinner Mon-Fri with community members getting ‘credits’ for their cook and clean shifts (credits go toward their rent/fees). The schedule, ordering, organization and admin of the kitchen is managed by the kitchen coordinator.
The problems: We are having some difficulties running our kitchen effectively. We’re losing money (as we have to buy all organic ingredients). Cooks are uninspired to cook with variety (often cooking beans, rice and baked vegetables, over and over). People aren’t buying into our meal plans (perceptions of being too expensive, not meeting variety or dietary needs, etc).
The question: How do you run your kitchen? How do you keep costs down? Any tips on where to source cheaper organic ingredients? How do you keep cooks engaged in preparing *good* meals? How do you get community feedback on the communal dining experience?
*THANK YOU* for any input you can give us!!!
In the extremely close confirmation process for ruthless corporatist Neil Gorsuch, who has also recently been shown as plagiarizing , there is something you can do, but you need to do it quite quickly, because the filibusterer will start tomorrow, Thursday April 6th.
If you are from Maine, South Carolina, Nevada or Arizona you have a Republican senator who might oppose the “nuclear option“. You should contact them the using the their online forms (under their links) or call their office.
- Maine is Susan Collins – (207) 622-8414
- Arizona is John McCain – (602) 952-2410
- Arizona also has Jeff Flake – 602-840-1891
- Nevada is Dean Heller – 702-388-6605
- South Carolina is Lindsey Graham – (864) 250-1417
If you are not from these states you can send money to the campaigns designed to influence legislators in these states.
It has happened to almost everyone who drives these days. You put an address into your phone with the expectation that it is going to take you some where, and your phone has different ideas.
Oh, it might be your fault when you selected Hemlock Way, instead of Hemlock Expressway. More frustratingly, it could be that your multi-billion dollar internet miracle combined with sophisticated free sat nav software have sent you someplaceyou have not interest in going to. I call this a slip trip.
There is not a word in common usage for this situation, but i am hoping to coin it here. A slip trip is when ever you end up someplace you were not expecting by following instructions from a navigation system.
Abigail and i were hoping to go to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. We faithfully followed the instructions we were given to get out of Santa Cruz, but quickly found ourselves in the slightly post apocalyptic dreamscape of Fort Ord.
There were dozens of boarded up buildings and even more that wished they were. I jumped to thinking about how these buildings so close to the ocean could be turned into communities. Later I would learn the compete lack of water and the over abundance of asbestos made these fantasies inaccessible.
Part of the Slip Trip experience is how you respond to this once you discover that it is happening to you. I have argued in the blog for nimble emotions around getting lost. Your GPS simply reroutes and keeps heading on it’s way. You could do the same.
More common is people getting upset, either at their machine or at themselves or sometimes both. There is little upside here. Perhaps it is gratifying to curse at your software, but not so secretly you know, if you are on a Slip Trip, most of the time it is because you messed up somehow.
The slip trip invites you to make your unforecasted destination and adventure.
With quite some joy, I just penned the following wikipedia update under Westinghouse Electric Company LLC:
On March 24, 2017, parent company Toshiba announced Westinghouse Electric Company was filing for bankruptcy because of US$6 billion in losses from nuclear reactor construction projects. The nuclear projects responsible for this loss are mostly the Vogtle reactors in Georgia and the Summer reactors in South Carolina. 
This bankruptcy might halt the construction of every reactor being built in the US at the moment, at least for some period of time. Without a bailout from a likely reluctant Trump administration, these reactors might never be completed though over $10 billion has been spent on them. Before you doubt these projects might be abandoned, remember that half of the reactor projects started in the US were abandoned, many because of cost overruns.
Despite having followed this story intensely for some weeks now, I am still surprised at this result. I thought the Koreans would want to buy this reactor company for both its contracts and its technologies. Westinghouse has active construction projects and solid leads in many countries including the 4 nearly complete reactors in China. Russia and China were never serious suitors because they are unlikely to be approved by the US federal government for the sale of this sensitive technology.
My first anti-nuclear protest was at the Westinghouse reactors at Diablo Canyon in 1981. I fought Westinghouse at the Temelin reactors in the Czech Republic through the 1990s. Westinghouse developed the first 3rd generation reactors including the AP 1000 which is currently under construction in more locations than any other Gen 3 western design.
What went wrong? There is a pretty standard formula for building nuclear power plants in the US. The reactor vendor comes in and underbids the contract, while still seeking a huge amount of money. The regulators accept this low bid on behalf of the state. Not long into construction inevitable delays and cost overruns begin. The nuclear construction company turns to the utility and says, “Please pass these extra costs on to your rate payers (or in some states the tax payers.)” Historically, the regulator has obliged. This way the frequently exploding costs of nuclear construction, typically over 200% the initial contracted price in the US, do not bankrupt the construction company. But even this formula was not good enough to restart nuclear construction in the US.
Beyond this the AP 1000 was Westinghouse’s new design. It was simpler, more safe, better simulated and tested than any other reactor Westinghouse had ever built. And it was testing the future of reactor construction: Modularity. Historically, reactors are built on site. There are too many custom pieces, many of which are huge, to be built in a factory. But Westinghouse was a forward thinking company. They knew they need to change the ways reactors were built to keep costs down. They presumed, as did many in the industry, that standardizing designs and building components in factories like giant legos, which were then fastened together onsite would make it easier and less expensive. Turn out reactors are not like legos, and this modular strategy was central to Westinhouse failure at Summer and Vogtle.
The Bush/Cheney administration attempted to boot strap the “nuclear Renaissance” with a generous aid package, which included:
- Government-preferred equity investment facilities
- $18 billion of subsidized federal loans
- Tax-exempt financing
- Federal power purchase agreements at above-market rates
- Taxpayer-backed insurance
Despite this generous program, only 4 reactors began construction, two in Georgia at Vogtle and two is South Carolina at Summer. A disappointing yield for an industry that at its high point (2009) had 30 applications in for new reactors.
To land these 4 contracts, Westinghouse (which was acting as the general contractor) had to require that the construction subcontractors bid fixed price contracts. Chicago Bridge and Iron (CBI) was working on the Vogtle reactors and ran into serious difficulties working with Westinghouse and sued them. Counter-suits which further delayed construction followed. Ultimately, Westinghouse would purchase CBI for $229 million to avoid going to court for $1.5 billion.
But once Westinghouse owned most of the construction responsibilities for these reactors there became no way to pass on the cost overruns. The nuclear utilities had protected themselves from this old trick by requiring fixed-cost contracts. It is telling that once the cost overruns could not be passed on, this scam no longer worked, and it promptly bankrupted the nation’s largest nuclear construction firm.
I’ve been fighting Westinghouse my entire adult life, and I did not expect to outlive it. There will be some hard won celebrations by clean energy advocates across the land this week.