Saturday, January 14, 2012

Volcano Energy? Hot Mamma!

While this article made me grin from ear to ear with how elated the scientist(s) must feel who created this technology I feel the urge to warn-- PLEASE for the love of all that is holy don't let some dumbshit scientist near Yellowstone with this tech!!!! That is one caldera that will kill us all anyway and we haven't found a way to delay the inevitable yet.

Not sure what I'm talking about with Yellowstone? Look up "caldera" + "Yellowstone." I haven't met a geo-scientist yet who doesn't break out in nervous, sweaty shakes at the mention of it. It's real.

Now onto the 'groundbreaking' goodness that is geothermal energy:

Geothermal energy developers plan to pump 24 million gallons of water into the side of a dormant volcano in Central Oregon this summer to demonstrate new technology they hope will give a boost to a green energy sector that has yet to live up to its promise.

They hope the water comes back to the surface fast enough and hot enough to create cheap, clean electricity that isn't dependent on sunny skies or stiff breezes — without shaking the earth and rattling the nerves of nearby residents.

Renewable energy has been held back by cheap natural gas, weak demand for power and waning political concern over global warming. Efforts to use the earth's heat to generate power, known as geothermal energy, have been further hampered by technical problems and worries that tapping it can cause earthquakes.

Even so, the federal government, Google and other investors are interested enough to bet $43 million on the Oregon project. They are helping AltaRock Energy, Inc. of Seattle and Davenport Newberry Holdings LLC of Stamford, Conn., demonstrate whether the next level in geothermal power development can work on the flanks of Newberrry Volcano, located about 20 miles south of Bend, Ore.

"We know the heat is there," said Susan Petty, president of AltaRock. "The big issue is can we circulate enough water through the system to make it economic."

The heat in the earth's crust has been used to generate power for more than a century. Engineers gather hot water or steam that bubbles near the surface and use it to spin a turbine that creates electricity. Most of those areas have been exploited. The new frontier is places with hot rocks, but no cracks in the rocks or water to deliver the steam.

To tap that heat — and grow geothermal energy from a tiny niche into an important source of green energy — engineers are working on a new technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems.

"To build geothermal in a big way beyond where it is now requires new technology, and that is where EGS comes in," said Steve Hickman, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif.

Wells are drilled deep into the rock and water is pumped in, creating tiny fractures in the rock, a process known as hydroshearing.

Cold water is pumped down production wells into the reservoir, and the steam is drawn out.

Hydroshearing is similar to the process known as hydraulic fracturing, used to free natural gas from shale formations. But fracking uses chemical-laden fluids, and creates huge fractures. Pumping fracking wastewater deep underground for disposal likely led to recent earthquakes in Arkansas and Ohio.

Fears persist that cracking rock deep underground through hydroshearing can also lead to damaging quakes. EGS has other problems. It is hard to create a reservoir big enough to run a commercial power plant.

Progress has been slow. Two small plants are online in France and Germany. A third in downtown Basel, Switzerland, was shut down over earthquake complaints. A project in Australia has had drilling problems.

A new international protocol is coming out at the end of this month that urges EGS developers to keep projects out of urban areas, the so-called "sanity test," said Ernie Majer, a seismologist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It also urges developers to be upfront with local residents so they know exactly what is going on.

AltaRock hopes to demonstrate a new technology for creating bigger reservoirs that is based on the plastic polymers used to make biodegradable cups.

It worked in existing geothermal fields. Newberry will show if it works in a brand new EGS field, and in a different kind of geology, volcanic rock, said Colin Williams, a USGS geophysicist also in Menlo Park.

The U.S. Department of Energy has given the project $21.5 million in stimulus funds. That has been matched by private investors, among them Google with $6.3 million.

Majer said the danger of a major quake at Newbery is very low. The area is a kind of seismic dead zone, with no significant faults. It is far enough from population centers to make property damage unlikely. And the layers of volcanic ash built up over millennia dampen any shaking.

But the Department of Energy will be keeping a close eye on the project, and any significant quakes would shut it down at least temporarily, he said. The agency is also monitoring EGS projects at existing geothermal fields in California, Nevada and Idaho.

"That's the $64,000 question," Majer said. "What's the biggest earthquake we can have from induced seismicity that the public can worry about."

Geologists believe Newberry Volcano was once one of the tallest peaks in the Cascades, reaching an elevation of 10,000 feet and a diameter of 20 miles. It blew its top before the last Ice Age, leaving a caldera studded with towering lava flows, two lakes, and 400 cinder cones, some 400 feet tall.

Although the volcano has not erupted in 1,300 years, hot rocks close to the surface drew exploratory wells in the 1980s.

Over 21 days, AltaRock will pour 800 gallons of water per minute into the 10,600-foot test well, already drilled, for a total of 24 million gallons. According to plan, the cold water cracks the rock. The tiny plastic particles pumped down the well seal off the cracks. Then more cold water goes in, bypassing the first tier, and cracking the rock deeper in the well. That tier is sealed off, and cold water cracks a third section. Later, the plastic melts away.

Seismic sensors produce detailed maps of the fracturing, expected to produce a reservoir of cracks starting about 6,000 feet below the surface, and extending to 11,000 feet. It would be about 3,300 feet in diameter.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management released an environmental assessment of the Newberry project last month that does not foresee any problems that would stop it. The agency is taking public comments before making a final decision in coming months.

No power plant is proposed, but one could be operating in about 10 years, said Doug Perry, president and CEO of Davenport Newberry.

EGS is attractive because it vastly expands the potential for geothermal power, which, unlike wind and solar, produces power around the clock in any weather.

Natural geothermal resources account for about 0.3 percent of U.S. electricity production, but a 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology report projected EGS could bump that to 10 percent within 50 years, at prices competitive with fossil-fuels.

Few people expect that kind of timetable now. Electricity prices have fallen sharply because of low natural gas prices and weak demand brought about by the Great Recession and state efficiency programs.

But the resource is vast. A 2008 USGS assessment found EGS throughout the West, where hot rocks are closer to the surface than in the East, has the potential to produce half the country's electricity.

"The important question we need to answer now," said Williams, the USGS geophysicist who compiled the assessment, "is how geothermal fits into the renewable energy picture, and how EGS fits. How much it is going to cost, and how much is available."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Drugs Create A Divide

I'm prone to migraines. The kind that creep up and for three days I have trouble reading, speaking, hearing/understanding people and then WHAM! the actual pain sets in. Then I'm thinking, "Duh, you dipshit. Those crappy days were the aphasia precursor to it. You should know better by now." Do I? No. Of course not. When you have fibromyalgia all those symptoms kinda run together some days and you just suck it up and deal with it as best you can. It's hard to sort it all out.

Meanwhile, the world is spinning and you can't stop looking at your son cross eyed and he asks, "Are you ok?" Sure, son. I'm ok. Just let me go lay down and die.

Schoolwork needs to be graded, huge portfolio projects have to be planned, I have to give both boys PE, dinner needs making, and damn that linoleum in the foyer looks like a muddy bear rolled into our house because it rained last night and nobody bothered to wipe their shoes off before tracking the mud all in the house. And yet my brain hurts with the fire of ten suns.

So I finally broke down and asked my doc for help with the migraines. He gave me 50mg Imitrex. Because I have such odd responses to medications I have to be very diligent about researching before I actually ingest a new medication. So researched the shit out of this drug. The more I read the less I wanted to take one of those pills. (Now I know why my mother temporarily turned into a hypochondriac while in nursing school.) But my head was pounding and stuff wasn't getting done on it's own.

I chickened out. I suffered through it. I called my Mom-the-Nurse and grilled her about the med to get her thoughts on it. She's used to giving it in IV's and not in pill form. And other than that she says it's ok and it wont interfere with my current meds. But I still chickened out.

Then yesterday another one hit me and once I knew for sure that it was indeed a migraine and not just a stress headache I grabbed that box and popped a pill in my mouth before I could think about it too much(thus thinking myself OUT of it). I walked into the kitchen to finish serving dinner and about two minutes later I passed out cold on the floor. Fifteen minutes my ass! The literature said fifteen minutes was when it'd start to take effect but in two minutes flat my blood pressure dropped so drastically I passed out. Imitrex is a vasodilator, thus decreasing the pain of a migraine. Vasodilation causes decrease in blood pressure and when you do that too quickly.... you're on the floor.

My husband carried me into our room and put me on the bed. I opened my eyes and I'm pretty sure I drooled all over the pillow. I couldn't even open my mouth to talk. The next hour was a blur of hanging the upper half of my body over the edge of the bed to try to get blood flow to my brain so I wouldn't pass out again and consciously trying to fill my lungs with oxygen. I literally couldn't breath. I was so sleepy, though, this was pretty hard to do. Then everything from my armpits up went numb. My face and scalp was so numb you probably could have done brain surgery on me and I wouldn't have cared.

It was at that point that I tried calling out to Pleroma. When you're scared you talk to God, right? Right. So I tried. "You hoooooo... anyone there?" I called and called and called. I could not feel the slightest sensation of connection, just a wall that I felt like banging my head against, but only because my head was so delightfully numb at that point. All I wanted was acknowledgement and a hug that everything was going to be ok. But all I got was a lot of nothing.

That lack of connection, that great divide which separated us for a time- it was torture!! While I lay there on the bed praying with all my heart to be able to feel him all I could think about was the fact that I knew he heard me and I was simply unable to hear him. With as little coherence as I was capable of I prayed a bunch of feeble gibberish. It's all I could do.

My headache went away for about two hours and then came back. This particular med can be taken again after two hours but I chose not to. I was too frightened. The next morning, however, I was blessedly pain free! Usually I have a lingering 'teaser' headache for a few days afterward; teasing that it may flare up once again. This time I didn't even feel a twinge.

So would I take Imitrex again? Yes, if I was sure it was going to be a bad one then yes, I'd take it. But the experience has taught me a valuable lesson about pharmaceuticals and our connection with the divine- pick your poison carefully and take it as infrequently as possible. When you feel that great divide suddenly spring back up in your mind it is truly terrifying. You feel like you've lost a part of yourself.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bishop + Family = Shameful Hush Money?

Blog author's comments below article.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles assistant bishop had a secret family in another state

updated 1/4/2012 11:16:46 AM ET

An assistant bishop of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles has resigned because he has a secret family, including two teenage children.

The Vatican said on Wednesday that Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation of Gabino Zavala, an auxiliary bishop of the diocese which has been plagued by sexual scandals.

A brief Vatican announcement did not give the reason for Zavala's resignation, saying only that the pope had accepted it under the norm in canon (Church law) that says a bishop who is ill or otherwise unfit to carry out his duties should resign.

But Zavala's direct superior, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, has prepared a letter for the faithful in the archdiocese explaining the circumstances of the departure of Zavala, who was assistant bishop for the San Gabriel region of California.

In the letter, a draft of which was obtained from a Catholic Church source in Rome, Gomez said Zavala, 60, had informed him in early December that he was the father of two teenage children who live with their mother in another state.Link

The Catholic Church demands celibacy from its priests.

"Bishop Zavala also told me that he submitted his resignation to the Holy Father in Rome, which was accepted. Since that time, he has not been in ministry and will be living privately," Gomez says in the letter.

"The Archdiocese has reached out to the mother and children to provide spiritual care as well as funding to assist the children with college costs. The family's identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy," the letter says.

Gomez asked for prayers "for all those impacted by this situation and for each other as we reflect on this letter."

Zavala's resignation under a cloud was the latest headache for the diocese, which paid a $660 million settlement in 2007 for cases of sexual abuse going as far back at the 1940.

Zavala was also the latest Catholic Church official who was found to have had a secret family.

The late leader of the Legionaries of Christ religious order, Father Marcial Maciel, who died in 2008 at the age of 87, lived a double life for decades that was not discovered until after his death.

Maciel, a Mexican, was found to have abused seminarians. He was also discovered to have had a mistress with whom he had fathered several children.


My most immediate concern with this situation was money.

"Since that time, he has not been in ministry and will be living privately," Gomez says in the letter.

Living privately. And supporting himself privately? Really? And then we learn that the Church is putting together a college fund for this bishop's children?! I am all for compassion but why exactly should faithful followers of the Church pay for this man's illegitimate(in his ex-employer's view) children? If I was one of those faithful I'd be frothing at the mouth mad. Compassion doesn't mean rolling over and handing people hush money. Not that it'd help in this case. The story would have gotten out any way. I do not understand the Catholic sense of 'compassion' here. Is it to make sure the kids don't get on the news circuit to tell what it was like having a bishop as a father?

Another commenter to this article states: "So, a bishop who has consensual sex with an adult resigns. Priests who rape children are allowed to continue being priests. Really?"

Someone else responded with, "Celibacy, was instituted in the 4th century, to keep the clergy from gathering wealth to pass on to their family's and children, thus depriving the Church of it's revenue; it is out of date and must be changed; the Vatican has now allowed married pastors of other faiths to convert to Catholic and become Catholic priests and remain married; if the Catholic Church wants to exist in the next century it will do away with celibacy."

Hear hear! Get your grove on and then get into the organization of your choice! (sarcasm) But I agree that the celibacy yoke needs to be removed from their requirements. If you're in a position of authority over people's souls(supposedly) then why put this sort of stipulation in the job contract which most people can't keep to? I think it is a recipe for failure by its very nature. Celibacy should be a private choice, not part of a job contract.