Merv's Politically Incorrect Audio Blog

Discussion in 'SBAF Blogs' started by purr1n, Dec 26, 2018.

  1. Syzygy

    Syzygy Friend

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    Yeah, we had 3 days of 1h of electricity for every 6-9h of outage at our house. Gas fireplace with ceramic logs and gas stove saved our bacon. We all slept in the living room by the fire (2 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 snake), and put up blankets/comforters to block it off and keep the heat in that area of the house.

    We normally buy in bulk, and saw this coming, so had plenty of food & water.

    If a pipe had burst downstairs, we'd have had to go somewhere else to stay the week.

    I hate to hear you're going through similar circumstance. Glad you're doing okay for now, PM if I can do anything to help.
     
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  2. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    Regarding planning for these things through excessive regulations, you really can’t. I hate when politicians make the excuse of “it’s worth it if it saves just one more life”. There’s common sense precautionary regulations and then there’s excess which negatively affects liberty and the general quality of life.

    in the Iowa city I live in, we had a flood in 2008 that put 1/4 of the city under water up into the 2nd story of all the downtown buildings and flooded first floor and basements up to 3 miles from the river. This was a 500 year flood. We’d had floods before but nothing like this. There was no way to plan for it other than putting a Shawshankesque prison wall along the river stretching through 3 counties at a cost of who knows how many billions.

    Last year we had a derecho come through that was several counties wide. Our building codes are already strict because of severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes as well as regular extreme cold every winter. But you can’t create regulations to safeguard against a storm that lasted 45 minutes of 130mph winds. In my county alone we had almost 3000 electrical poles snap in half and we lost 60% of our tree cover. Everyone had at least minor roof damage and blown out windows, up to houses and businesses that were cut in half by falling trees or the buildings had completely come off their foundations. Miraculously, only 2 people died and power was mostly back up within 7 days due to utility companies from other states coming in and working around the clock to replace poles and lines.

    on another note, the last 2.5 weeks we’ve had brutal subzero cold. This was unusual even for us because of the long duration. My wife and I have decided we don’t want to deal with this when we get into retirement age, so we’re seriously considering a move to Texas in the next few years. We just haven’t decided which area. Probably somewhere within a couple hours of Dallas.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Thank you sir for the offer - it's much appreciated but we've been fortunate and won't need any assistance.

    This is because modern society, TV, news, social media, puts so much emphasis on looking pretty and being youthful. We lock up our old people avert our eyes from aging and death. There's also the sense that with all our know-how and technology, we've earned a right to be somehow free from death or suffering, forgetting that human beings bleed when cut, and that we are mere dust motes - there are billions of us. The universe wouldn't think even once if one, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or even millions of us get crushed in an instant.

    It's certainly scary to think of things in this way, but I also think it can be extremely liberating: there no need to be anyone. Anyone who is close to me in audio matters knows that I would much prefer to be seen as a clown taking infantile potshots at Sean Olive than establishing myself as anyone important.

    One thing which I've found highly annoying through all this are the double-standards in the media. The news totally let Californians and their state government off the hook for the Woolsey and Paradise fires in 2018, blaming it all on the boogeyman climate change. Only after much of California burned again in 2019 did we start to see news articles and experts from NASA pointing to forest mismanagement and public regulators putting green power generation over power line safety as contributing factors to the fires.

    With respect to the homes that burned down in my neighborhood during Woolsey. I am thinking half could have been prevented if nearby brush was cleared and palm trees were cut down. Of course no want likes to cut down beautiful trees. The local authorities sent letters to homeowners to clear the brush or the city will do it for them and bill them. However, those letters were empty threats. With respect to building code, none of these homes would have burned down had they had metal fireproof roofs built for this purpose. The problem is that these kinds are roofs are three times the cost of regular roofs. Our neighbors across the street who have lived there since the late 50s had a metal roof because they knew fires were a regular occurence.

    I'm saying all this because I think it's funny how the news media never pointed out these things: on how Californians could have built better houses to survive forest fires, implemented stricter local regulations for clearing brush, prioritized power line safety before green power generation, better managed their forests. This for fires that have happened once every twenty years - at least for the areas near the Santa Monica Mountains from Agoura to Malibu.

    Now when the once in a 120 year event in Texas occurs, the entirety of the Texas power infrastructure (own island, not federally regulated, true electrical market) is at fault. Sure there are things that can be made more robust - and there will be lessons learned from this event. But the likes of AOC should mind her own business in New York because Texans don't tell her what to do in her neighborhood.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    BTW, this is something that I've recently learned. Texas is still the best power market in the union and possibly the world. The state pulled off what California tried to do in the late 90s. (California so mismanaged the effort, leading Governor Gray Davis to be recalled and replaced by the Governator. The machinations of Enron and Kenneth Lay didn't help either.).

    There is no public monopoly on electrical power generation in Texas. I could literally buy 50 Honda gasoline power generators, hook them up to the grid, and wait until power demand hit peaks of $9000 to fire them up. Below is the wholesale market right now as a type this. It's a true supply and demand system with ERCOT being the referee. Right now, power is dirt cheap. In a handful of areas, putting power into the grid nets you negative money.

    upload_2021-2-20_10-6-42.png

    Consumers buy electricity from middle-men companies, of which there are hundreds of outfits, some respectable, some iffy (think some outfit run by Scarlett O'hara and Rhett Butler hiring ex-cons).

    After this event, I would expect better processes for earlier identification of extreme weather events to increase power reserves and ensuring sufficient power generation was on standby - paying them to be on standby. The notion of winterizing power generation, particularly in south Texas is dumb. Long term, it may not even be an issue as more power generation capacity is being added by the day. And who knows with Elon Musk in Texas. If batteries become cheap enough, they would be a good way to ride out demand peaks. (Of course the unexpected would happen: the Tesla batteries would freeze over.)

    I'm looking forward to Biden's visit next week, if he does visit. I hope he doesn't come off as an unempathetic dickhead scolding us about moar regulations and climate change when there is no evidence that global warming is responsible for this freeze.

    Anyway, I thought the electrical market concept realized here in Texas was pretty awesome and I'm shocked that "government" could pull it off. As an ex-Californian, one thing that I am still getting use to is that Texas citizens (regardless of red or blue), demand more from their government and expect it to be accountable. Hey Mr. Newsom, how's that high-speed rail project going after $22B spent?
     
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    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  5. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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  6. Syzygy

    Syzygy Friend

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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It's likely accurate.

    As I mentioned, there are electricity middle-men (actually retailers) who are iffy, run by the likes of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler.

    Griddy offers "wholesale" variable rate spot pricing, passes that through, with markup and a monthly fee. As such, their customers, most of the time (96%) are going to reap electrical rates about 20% less (delivery costs are an extra handled by local monopolies) than most other providers. Griddy "assures" their customers that their rates will exceed $0.30 only 0.5% and $1.00 only 0.1% of the time. Unfortunately for their current customers, that small percentage of the time just occurred for a extended period this past week when wholesale prices went up to $9 per kWh. Griddy isn't being straightforward about it when they say "Wholesale beats the TX average 96% of the time" because they omit how they charge markup (is it fixed or is it a percentage) or what happens that other 4% of the time. Griddy instead offers simple graphs on their website downplaying the risks and highlighting their savings.

    Think of signing up with Griddy like an APR loan, except with interest rates that can go between 2% and 1000%. Griddy does provide tools, smartphone apps, that inform their customers what their current rate is and their usage. It's not like they leave their customers totally in the dark.

    I opted to sign up for a fixed-rate plan with a more honorable outfit run by a Jimmy Stewart type with good customer service ratings. This plan comes with a one-year contract. This longer term plan which has a higher rate than Griddy (most of the time) allows my provider to ride out the price fluctuations so that I do not have to.

    The thing about Texas is that the state allows people to be stupid. Some people can't handle freedom. State Rep Gene Wu in that video has a good point in that the state should look into whether people are signing up for things which they do not understand.

    Now before people go off on how evil Texas is for not being the guardian of dumb people, we only need to look at Silly Con Valley's Robinhood who never really informed their customers of the risks of margin buying, playing with derivatives, possible limitations on trading during unexpected high volumes, and their salami-slicing of customer transactions Richard Pryor styles in Superman 3 (nod to @Psalmanazar). Then again, the Millennials who lost money of GameStop seem to have been satisfied that they lost it for a good cause - taking it to man (little did they know that they got played by an inner circle of ex-traders at r/wallstreetbets).
     
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    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
  8. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Wait... are water heaters in the attic a common thing down south? Nevermind weird weather phenomena, just considering the weight of the water and risk of leaks when the tank gets old, I don't see why people would do this unless you're seriously cramped for space.

    edit: I believe our local building codes here in maple syrup land actually require the water tanks be placed near a floor drain
     
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  9. Syzygy

    Syzygy Friend

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    After years of fretting "am I getting a decent deal on energy", and having to research and do selections every 1-2 years, my neighbors turned me on to Energy Ogre, which I first signed up for last June when my energy provider contract was about to expire. It's a service that looks at your usage pattern and selects/manages your electric plans for you, for a $10/month fee.

    And I think the top wholesale price was $9k/kWh, not $9/kWh. At least according to the WFAA story.

    Yeah, but more often they're in the garage, I think. Depends upon your floorplan. There's a drain pan beneath with a pipe running to the eave for draining. And when they're in the attic in Texas, they barely run in the summer time!

    We had 2 50-gallon tanks up there above our master (plumbed in series; we have 5 full baths), and finally after 20 years one of them gave out. Our drain pipe was on a long run and had sagged over the years, so we did have some leakage into the master. But it was very slow and not over our bed. We had a plumber out to turn it off and bypass it to the second one temporarily, and dried the carpet and replaced the sheetrock that got damaged.

    I haven't yet, but plan to replace them with a hybrid tankless system (I feel bad for those that had just tankless during this no-power episode; that meant no hot water for them).

    I'd drained both tanks to clean out residue 6 months after we built the house. Also I set the first one to heat up to ~90º, and the second one to heat to ~135º. I figured we'd lose ~5º on the travel between heaters and faucets, but that lower temperature meant nobody had to worry about getting scalded, ever. Dishwashers and our laundry both have built-in water heaters. Any way, I think having them staggered like that, each doing some of the heating job, and cleaning out the residue, helped contribute to their longevity. And saved energy at the same time.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    That's a brilliant idea. With the kids getting older, having their own bathrooms, and wanting to take longer showers, I'm finding myself SOL more often with respect to hot water. I dislike turning up the heat because I know I will scald myself.

    The first tank almost acts like a holding tank getting temps up to ambient. I'm sure it effectively will be in the summers.
     
  11. shredical

    shredical Friend

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    is it just me or does everyone else see right wing media and conservative pundits, political members lead nearly every attack against democrats with the word. "radical".

    'radical' 'insert your opposition party member, agenda, platform'
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Pretty much, but it goes both ways and even in the middle - toward moderates (sellouts, rinos, gutless, etc.). Heck, even water pipes' propensity to freeze in the winter gets politicized.
     
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  13. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    "radical" "socialist" "baby-killers" "Non-American" Yeah...petty much.

    You know what, this tacit does work. I have plenty of right-wing friends who consume a lot of right-wing media say those words in "" when any discussion about the Democrat comes up.
     
  14. haywood

    haywood Friend

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    It’s a common thing on both sides of the aisle to try to paint their opponents as out of touch with ordinary Americans but unfortunately the country has been so polarized by corporate and social media so they’re both kind of right.

    If you’re familiar with the Overton window it’s shifted so far left that the fringes of the Democratic Party (and if you’ve been paying attention it’s really not that fringe anymore) are starting to become almost indistinguishable from classical far right rhetoric, e.g.:

     
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  15. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    I wasn't familiar with Griddy but it seems predatory. The perceived lower rates would be desirable to lower income households who are more likely to be part of the "stupid" people you mention who would be less likely to understand things like hyperbolic discounting, black swan events, and calculating expected returns over long timelines based on historical power prices and global weather models. Regulations we'd hope would be there to prevent companies not just from hurting vulnerable people but stopping the construction of the type of financial Jenga towers like we saw in the 2008 crisis. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like they were that large of a company.
     
  16. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    Why stop there: people buy mutual funds with 3.1% management fees, idiotically speculative stock, buy crypto currency. Why not try to stop people from doing anything they do not understand, but the state obviously does?
    Example: Blockchain general ledger is an ingenious, but a very complex thing.
    What if someone decided 5 months ago that only institutional investors can buy bitcoin because most people definitely do not understand what a currency build on blockchain is?
    If the state has regulation power over utilities and resellers, go after them, but what does it have to with supervising what people do or do not understand?
     
  17. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    The Noble Peace Prize is usually ridiculous. Historically, lasting peace is usually achieved by one belligerent leveling the other’s cities and slaughtering their population of young men. How do people think the Civil War and both World Wars ended for the losers?
     
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  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Well, I don't see things as having to be so black and white. It's the age-old argument of how much the state should be involved. Sure there is a side of me that would like to say, fuck these people, it's their fault because they are dumb. However, this isn't a very pragmatic approach. Lots of people suckered into $1600 to $16000 electric bills doesn't do a community any good. It's better to have people who can economically contribute to the community rather than people taken out of it because of monstrous bills from a predatory electric outfit. And let's face it, the Griddy website does a great marketing job while avoiding any disclosure of the real risks.

    I found out that teen drivers in Texas are required to take a Impact Teen Driver course as part of their drivers education. The Impact course is like modern equivalent of Red Asphalt for those of you old enough to remember these films. The funny thing is that the Texas course is modeled after the work from the California non-profit, but unlike California, Texas actually made it mandatory.

    The state doesn't need to prevent people from being stupid, but it can help educate people into not being stupid or require honest to goodness disclosures of the risks. Of course the state can also go too far: I'm pretty sure everything in California causes cancer per the Prop 65 warning.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
  19. Syzygy

    Syzygy Friend

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    I seem to recall something about teens not being allowed to drive after dark without their legal guardian in the car either. And there are limits to the number of teens allowed in a car with a teen driver IIRC. Enacted a few years ago now.

    I have a ways to go before I'm paying much attention to it…16yo doesn't want to drive, and 11yo is 11.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    My soon to be 16yo "wants to drive" sorta - in that we have to remind her if she wants to drive.

    I guess it's different for kids these days. The smartphone is today is the driver's license of yesterday.
     
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