California Dreamin’

This is a guest post.  YAY Guest posts!  This one is, like all my guest posts (this is the first), written by my wonderful and tolerant wife, Laura.  We’re in Utah, winding up our winter trip from Kalispell through California and down all the way to Tucson, and then back.  Near the top to near the bottom.  Here’s a current map.  Click on it for a larger image:

Where the tesla has drivenAnd here’s the guest post (It might sound a bit strident, but I was there when she wrote it, and it’s meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek):


You could forgive me for expecting California to be a holier than thou showplace of energy and water conservation. After all, we had visited two summers ago and learned then that Priuses are as common as grass, but that you can play spot-the-Tesla with pretty good results. The state is known to be the home of Solar City and is also known to suffer from high electricity costs, rolling blackouts, a decade long drought, and uppity environmentalists. And smog. Also the state has more wealth and wealthy people than the nicer parts of Hell. So I was bracing myself to encounter…not much. Turns out the state has millions of inhabitants all competing viciously for the limited patches of road and real estate around San Francisco Bay. But they don’t really have that many solar panels on rooftops or in utility farms. And the number of electric vehicles is not yet a meaningful percentage of the total. I had been looking forward to an array of interesting designs for composting toilets and waterless urinals and I never saw even one such. Folks, I have a design for a homemade inexpensive sanitary odorless composting toilet and I have a design for a homemade inexpensive sanitary odorless waterless urinal. Do you realize how much better California’s millions could manage their water woes if they did not have to devote fresh water to handling sewage waste? None of our hosts were using household grey water (laundry to landscape) to water their yards. If they did, they could keep their landscapes green enough to keep from burning up in a wildfire. But a really irksome area of conservation that they are missing is that they run their furnaces to heat their homes in very mild weather. A standard well-insulated home such as is common in our home states of Idaho and Montana pretty well takes care of itself in such weather. Although California has cleaned up its air quality a lot the smog is just nasty. I don’t really hate California as much as it sounds like I do. The state’s scenery is just gorgeous and the weather is lovely. Probably nothing can be done about the traffic-clogged roads and the high prices of… everything. But come on guys… you can fix your smog problems with cars that run on electricity and bio-fuels. You can make your houses “net-zero” for energy use: With your delightful sunny climate you could generate most of your electricity from solar panels and you could learn how to not use much electricity during the hours of darkness. You can insulate and tighten your houses so they don’t need hardly any heating or cooling (although I will grant the need for cooling those valley homes in the summer is extreme). You could stretch your limited water supplies if you stopped fouling it with waste. You could allow your rivers to flow and your salmon to run. You could still have green pretty yards. You could stop having urine-filled toilets smelling up your homes (they are practicing ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down’). You could have beautiful clear air and gorgeous vistas in all directions. You could have heaven here on Earth. Isn’t that one of the big reasons you all live there?


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