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Front Page » September 2, 2008 » Opinion » Rantings and Ravings
Published 2,242 days ago

Rantings and Ravings


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By TERRY WILLIS
Sun Advocate reporter

Hi there.

Apologies to those of you expecting a Ranting and Raving from Terry. She was busy and asked me to email her column to the paper. I didn't think it was all that great; so I hijacked it and this week's column is provided by "the husband." This week you will not hear about any of my idiosyncrasies or what I prefer to think of as "character traits."

Hey, snoring is a character trait. It is an evolutionary adaptation, informing neighborhood bears and lions that an alpha male dwells in this cave and trespassers will be reduced to rugs. It is doubly adaptive; keeping the females awake, alert and on watch for wild critters.

In the spirit of fair play and marital harmony I shall not mention any of my lovely wife's habits that I may find odd, disturbing or dangerous. In these pages, she has already copped to using a steak knife on a job requiring a #2 Phillips screwdriver.

This column's topic is the ever increasing cost of energy. We think of energy as being oil, gas and other ancient, stale hydrocarbons. In reality, almost all our energy comes from the sun. Oil, natural gas and coal are nothing more than stored solar power. The sun and earth's heating drives wind power. Point is, oil, gas and coal are not energy, they are merely a means of storing and transporting calories, BTUs and mpg.

Energy from corn is not a new idea. Native Americans used corn plants to convert solar energy to calories and human muscle power millennia ago. Our founding fathers produced ethanol in the form of whiskey and bourbon in colonial times. Making whiskey concentrated the sun's energy from corn into an energy dense liquid. This was an efficient way to preserve the corn harvest. As bourbon, the corn was not vulnerable to mice, vermin, mold, fungus, spontaneous combustion and being made into casserole by the women. Our American revolution was fueled by corn calories distilled into amber liquid courage and muscle fuel.

We all learned in junior high science that energy is neither created nor destroyed, it can only be transferred. Actually I learned that in college. They tried to teach me in junior high but I was not receptive to the message; being distracted by the fit of Angela Frizitta's sweater.

We are part of the flow of energy in the universe. We consume solar calories stored in corn and cows and use it to generate heat and movement. Death comes if our personal energy expenditures exceed energy income.

Part of my response to the high cost of gasoline has been a refusal to burn the stuff at least a few days a week. Fueled by corn energy I have been using a bicycle and muscle power for the work commute. Problem is the trip to work is mostly downhill, free energy provided by gravity; but the return trip to north Price is all uphill.

In theory coming back uphill is storing potential energy to be expended going to work tomorrow. It does not feel that way. It feels like pain, muscle burn and lung strain. It did not used to be that way in the days of my youth.

I can only conclude that along with global warming, there has also been an increase in global gravity.

Terry has another theory about that, but it is just too silly to mention here.

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September 2, 2008
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