Before the Lights Go Out, a book by Maggie Koerth-Baker

I just finished a book that I think portrays well our current situation regarding our use of carbon based fuels.

The author, a contributor to, explains the complexities of the situation as well as the fact that there will likely be no simple solution.  She has clearly spent time understanding the nature of electrical energy generation, transmission, and distribution. She discusses issues associated with the inherent variability of most alternative energy sources.  Distributed generation is discussed as well as the so-called “smart grid.” Unintended consequences of the use of devices that consume electric power more efficiently are also discussed.

In general, I think that this book is well-grounded and presents a balanced view.

Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us
Acknowledgments Page#
Introduction: Choice and Change p. 1
1Making Apple Pie from Scratch p. 9
2One in a Quadrillion p. 22
3The Efficiency Paradox p. 36
4The Emerald City p. 52
5A Box Full of Lightning p. 67
6Good and Good Enough p. 84
7The View from Merriam’s Peak p. 102
8The Take-Charge Challenge p. 121
9The Olive Green Revolution p. 135
10The Default Option p. 150
11Home Fires p. 173
12Bigger Little p. 186
13Good Citizens of the Grid p. 211
Notes p. 226
Index p. 279

And, in case you are wondering, I do believe  that we have a serious problem that requires a pretty speedy response if we are to avoid large and undesirable consequences.


Gale Woods Farm

The Three Rivers Parks District is responsible for this unique site.  It is dedicated to showing how small scale agriculture works.  It was donated so that it could be used for this purpose. The farm/”park” actually generates their own products that are for sale on-site.  In the winter these are meat and eggs sorts of things.

I was reminded of the site when some friends and my wife and I attended a Valentine’s Day event there.  (I was sceptical about this, but I went and had a good time.)  They served a delicious dinner, some of which consisted of their own products. There was a sleigh ride, snow shoeing, a visit to the animals in the barn, and dessert by the fire.  It was well planned, and the weather cooperated by providing clear skies from which a full moon lit up the snow.  Two Percherons pulled the sleigh and reminded me of stories from my dad’s youth in South Dakota. – Not for everyone, but we had a fun relaxing evening.

Three Rivers Parks reference =

Richard Stallman

In one of my random walks through some of the geekier parts of the web, I ran across recent interviews with Richard Stallman. It was good to find a person who has stayed true to his principles, which are, to say the least, not in the mainstream.  He is responsible for starting the Free Software Foundation efforts that have brought us GNU/xxx and similar products.  His definition of “free” may not be what you expect.  Free does not have anything to do with price to a users.  Free has to do with whether a person can use the software without encumbrances that may restrict use or result in loss of privacy.  I think that he is a real believer in software that does not surreptitiously collect information about the user.  He thinks that people should develop software that does not diminish the privacy of the users. Such software might come in exchange for money, or not.

He also has interesting thoughts about ebooks.  Not many kind words about the Kindle, which he calls the “swindle.”  Ubuntu does not escape unscathed either.

If you want to see more about the Free Software Foundation or Richard Stallman, here are some links.

Free Software Foundation (FSF) home =

Richard’s blog at FSF =

Richard’s own site =

An interview with Richard = (Watch out, you may find this to be too much!)