Posts Tagged ‘wind energy’

Vulcano Blu is very very Blue

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

From Cefalu we took the train to Milazzo and then a taxi brought us to the Ferry Port.  It was about 10 or 15 Euros for the taxi to the port and the driver explained to use Siramar.  “Go to  Siramar, not Ustica”.  We appreciated the hint.  With Ustica you pay more to get on the same ferry as was later explained to us by Francesco De Pasquale at Vulcano Blu Residence, where we stayed for 2 nights. 

The train (Trenitalia) is very easy to use.  At first we always waited in line to have a person help us buy the right ticket for the right train to the right destination.  There are machines that are actually very easy to use and they give you the English option.  If there are people waiting in line behind you to use the ticket machine (biglietteria automatica) you want to know what you are doing or they will snatch your credito carte and put it in properly.  A bit unnerving but you learn.

The train from Cefalu to Milazzo took about an hour with lots of stops in between.  I was amazed at the amount of solar panels, not only on roof tops but also they are used to cover huge green houses full of produce.  These greens apparently  need to be protected from the relentless Sicilian sun in summer and kept warm in winter;  all the while collecting energy — ingenious really.  The homes are stunning with gates, flowers and tiled carports.  The towns have futbol fields and plantations of fruits and vegetables.  The sea can be glimpsed often as the train rides along the northern coast of Sicily from town to town.  I slowly but surely started to fall in love with Sicily on that train.

while taking the train to Milazzo to grab the ferry for Vulcano, There were many gorgeous sea side homes like this one.

while taking the train to Milazzo to grab the ferry for Vulcano, There were many gorgeous sea side homes like this one.














I was happy to find out Vulcano was the first island stop.  I’ve decided I don’t like ferries.  I didn’t like ferrying around Lake Como and I wasn’t too fond of this ferry either.  I much prefer trains, taxis, horseback, burros, scooters  and cars.  Airline travel is my least favorite form of transportation, but, I like the speed. 

I promised Tony that we would rest for one full day while in Vulcano.  We would shop and eat and swim.  He was very happy to hear that after walking from one end of Palermo to the other and up to La Rocca in Cefalu.  Shortly after arrival to Vulcano we found out you could go up to the rim of  the crater and peer in to it.  It hadn’t blown since the 1800’s so it must be safe.  A bucket list item that just couldn’t be missed.  It would take a good 12 hours to convince Tony to climb up the Volcano with me.  The best mealyet at Vincenzinos helped as did a delicious sleep, and a homemade breakfast of strong (albeit instant) coffee, fresh fruit, yogurt with granola for Tony and Granola with milk for me.  By mid morning we were trekking up the side of the Volcano.  My shoes were exceptionally inappropriate.  (I came down barefoot)


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So, so very glad we made the climb and carried on to the rim.  It was imposing, gave you that “empress of the universe” feeling once you got there.   We enjoyed some fresh squeezed orange juice near the bottom where a lady sold us water before the climb and looked at my shoes and shook her head then pointed to some walking sticks stating “necessario per voi, gratis”  meaning –> necessary for you, free.  I was really really glad I had those sticks.  She was a smart lady and me — not so smart.  I wish only smart people were rich.  If I become rich I will find that lady and give her lots of money.

We walked back in to town and had a wonderful salad and brushetta at a tiny pizzeria.  There was one other young couple, obviously in love enjoying their gigantic sandwiches.  So much love everywhere we go, how can you not be enchanted in such a place?  Then we wandered past the hot mud.  Tony wanted to go in but I wanted nothing to do with it.  It smelled of sulfur and as Francesco explained on the way in to town.  Thousands of people for hundreds of years have been sitting in that mud, the idea is just unsanitary.  We did go to the sea and find some fumaroles.  They are areas in the sea where the Vulcano’s bubbling hot water escapes in to the sea.  The water is crystal clear and the island is very proud of its water and its purity.   Some of the mud bathers would rinse off in the sea which is frowned upon. 

Vulcano Blu Residence

Vulcano Blu Residence

German ship

Giant ship slipping in to port while we swam











I was trying to find a place for a manicure and pedicure, but the place I found was booked up, as was the next place before we knew it we were almost back to Vulcano Blu.  We just walked and found our ambrosial pool and watched the giant ship come in from some far away place.  Francesco explained that the ship companies have to pay and wait their turn to come to the Vulcano port.  Not all ships are allowed due to the stringent rules that maintain the purity of the waters around the Aeolian islands.  The water is strikingly clear;  a teal blue with areas of azure blue.  Inconceivably beautiful water as we found out the next day while kayaking.



We kayaked

We kayaked











Eugenio we found while wandering the grounds of Vulcano Blu.  He made you feel like you just ran in to a long lost relative.  He was warm and delightful and gave us an intense but short class on kayaking in the sea.  he owns the Sea Kayaking outpost on Vulcano and belongs to the Sports Association Canoe and Kayak Club of the Aeolian Islands based in Messina.  He recently had surgery on his lumbar spine and the doctor told him to stay out of the water for a month.  So his very capable friend Rosario who didn’t speak a word of English took us out for our 4 hour kayak around the base of the Island of Volcano.  They gave us appropriate water shoes to wear and loaned me a surfer shirt so I wouldn’t burn.  What a fabulous day!  So glad we didn’t miss this opportunity before catching our ferry back to Milazzo and looking for our rental car.  Let the photos speak for themselves…




Grotto Blu -- wonder how it got it's name?

Grotto Blu — wonder how it got it’s name?

just can't capture

just can’t capture the beauty and clarity of this water with a camera

My advice for Palermo

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

We recently (September of 2013)  took a two week trip to Sicily.  We had a marvelous time and I would highly recommend the island to all ages and all interests.  There is something for everyone.  Adventure lovers, peaceful beach walkers, history buffs, cliff climbers, horse riders, and fabulous vista viewers.  If you are a fashionista you may be bored; I fit right in. 

I read some books prior to going and they helped to prepare me for what I was in for.  One was called Sicily is not Quite Tuscany by a fellow named Shamus Sillar.  The other was The Leopard a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.   If you go to Sicily The Leopard is a must read so you understand the names of streets and the history of the country.  The other is a fun and witty read that made me look for some of the same places the author Sillar sought while his wife worked.  I have to go back because I never got to eat Milza in Palermo.



Vincenzo picked us up at the airport.  It was wonderful to see him and his tall handsome self and smiling face carrying a sign saying Bordonaro.    He explained his love of Palermo during our drive and how all the young people are leaving it, but, he hopes to stay and continue to be a part of the city he loves becoming prosperous.  He asked us what we thought of Obama and told us that most Sicilians like our President Obama.  He had visited Miami and California and liked them both.

lunch in Palermo at Ferro di Cavallo

lunch in Palermo at Ferro di Cavallo

We met Luca the owner of Ai Vicere B&B where we stayed.  It was a suitable location but I wouldn’t recommend it for luxury or large showers.  They did serve eggs at breakfast and they did pick us up from the airport as promised and free Wifi in the rooms is not available at most places but it worked well here.  Luca is earning a Doctorate in History and is a bit preoccupied with that endeavor I would imagine.  The B&B helps to pay for his schooling.  His family is in the Historical painting and artifact business.  He recommended this little restaurant on a typical Palermo street.  The food was good, the service was lousy, the people watching was excellent.

market in Palermo

market in Palermo

This is a typical market street in Palermo.  I called it the Sicilian Walmart.  Wish we could have bought things but our flight on Easy Jet only allowed one carry on unless you paid $40 euros for baggage.   Kind of a problem for the vendors here.  Also wanted to buy some of the fresh fish and vegetables and fruit and have someone cook it up for us.  At night there were restaurants all over the streets that cooked out doors and you sat in the street at small tables.  It was fun to watch and wander.  Other than the very first night, we felt safe and comfortable.  See my review of Ai Vicere to get a feel of our first night in Palermo.

I was sad the whole while because of news of my friend Andrea’s death.  My stomach was in knots and I cried a lot.  Wish I could go again and enjoy this flavorful town with a happier mood.  I think some jet lag also played a part.  Tony was a gem as usual but he didn’t feel any sense of belonging while wandering Palermo which is where his grandfather was from.

these little Mother Mary shrines

these little Mother Mary shrines could be found everywhere




bombed building

This building was bombed in WWII.  Never rebuilt it is a reminder of how dumb war is.











Taxi to Tonnara Bordonaro

Taxi to Tonnara Bordonaro from downtown Palermo cost 20 euros.  Talked him down from 40 euros.  Never except the original price of anything in Sicily



Sea glass beach

Sea glass beach near Tonnara Bordonaro on Via Bordonaro, next to Piazza Bordonaro and a great restaurant called La Mattanza.












So we strolled Via Vittorio Emanuele, We found the Quattro Canti, we found Vino and Co in Piazza Marina where you can fill a 5 liter jug with wine from their wine vats.  Didn’t eat Milza from a street vendor which I read is a must to experience in Palermo.  We toured the Palazzo Reale with its mix of Norman, Gothic, Spanish, and Napolitan styles, not interested in seeing the catacombs, couldn’t find the puppet theater, and our B&B was right next to the Teatro Massimo (a gorgeous building). 


If I were to give advice to Palermo, it would be for the Carabinieri to come out of their immaculate buildings, and get in with the people to help them clean up the trash, scrub off the graffiti, enforce traffic codes and pedestrian crossings to make the city safer and join the young people who love their city in making it prosperous and attractive to tourism.

popped in for a shave at Mario Cardinale's barber shop.  A total man facial for 5 euros.

popped in for a shave at Mario Cardinale’s barber shop. A total man facial for 5 euros.

vegetable oil collection site on via Bordonaro

vegetable oil collection site on via Bordonaro.  Just thought it was interesting

1% vs 99%

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Wouldn’t it be better if the TV and radio personalities would talk  about facts rather than presuming fault?

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Wouldn’t it be better if we stopped listening to the loud whiners?  Shut them off, change the station;  too busy admiring people who are discovering and inventing stuff.

The desire to classify ourselves is human nature.  Humans are influenced by each other to impose group boundaries.  For instance the 1% versus the 99%.  The 99% is vast,  not cozy;  whereas the 1% are in bed together cuddling and clinging.  Here are some pretty interesting things being done by members of both groups .

Inventor Shawn Frayne has come up with a device that harnesses the power of wind without any rotating parts. Instead, his company’s Windbelts capture energy using fluttering fabric. Air passes over a taut membrane, it induces a vibration, somewhat akin to a violin bow.   Magnets mounted on the membrane bounce back and forth between metal coils, inducing an electric current.

What makes this so way cool is that it can be put on fences in urban areas and it can be palm sized or room sized and the materials it is made from are all available right here in the good ole USA.





Richard Branson has started a “Carbon War Room”.  Does he qualifiy as part of the 1%?    He has an influence on them.  He concerns himself with the future of the planet and makes money doing it.  His latest venture is opening a shop  near the White House for Venture Capitalists to hang out and find investment solutions.  International corporations like Maersk, the global tanker operator, 3M,   and General Electric Co., the major U.S. maker of gas turbines, windmills and appliances;  find there is money to be made and profits enhanced by cutting noxious pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions.



Pegasus Global Holdings Announces Plans to Develop World’s Largest Tech Testing and Evaluation Center

Pegasus Global Holdings bought a town in New Mexico.   They needed a place to create and test green technology innovations.  How cool is that?  Is this the enemy doing cool things with their money?   Pegasus Global Holdings is actually one of those big scary conglomerates making billions from war tools and satellites; which qualifies them as a member of the 1%.  Perhaps refocusing their moneymaking prowess on technologies that have an end result of a healthier, cleaner, and subsequently happier planet is a good thing  —  even if their motivation isn’t benevolent grace.


A.I.M. Interview: Algenol’s CEO Paul Woods

Paul Woods is a hero.   He has a biorefinery  in Lee County, Florida.  It will consume almost two dry tons per day of carbon dioxide obtained from industrial sources, and will produce 100,000 gallons of fuel-grade ethanol per year.  Whats not to love about that.  He is an innovative scientist and has become pretty wealthy by being smart and steadfast, he is one of  the 99%.



free energy?

Friday, October 14th, 2011







Exxon-Mobile is running frequent ads on TV claiming they care about teachers and education.  One thought on this could be they are interested in controlling what is taught in universities.   They might cause universities to back off on the Environmental education and focus more on finding oil, extracting oil and refining oil.  Frankly oil sells itself so that is a no brainer.

There are lots of bright young minds with brand new engineering degrees planning to go to Texas, Mexico or Canada and work for an oil company.  They don’t need to be recruited or guided — money talks.  Money also talks to the legislators of various state run Universities.  Like a big circle, politicians give subsidies to oil and educators.

 Geothermal, solar, wind, biodiesel, and other renewable sources of energy aren’t at the Universities recruiting these brilliant young minds.  They don’t have the politically backed funding for that.  Oil and coal receive federal funding and they use much of it for recruiting brilliance and luring them with buttloads of money.

Meantime, we’re building tired old SUV’s in our auto plants and wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t want them.  Because the rest of the world has young brilliant minds too.  They are being recruited into the renewable energy industry and making fast and powerful cars that run on batteries and biodiesel.









read about Nicola Tesla…




solar and wind feed-in tariffs

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Wind and solar farms,  can have severe impacts on wildlife and their habitats when they are built as huge corporate owned farms.  Solar panels on the roof of a home or business does not hurt any being.   Wind turbines installed on roofs much the same as the roof vent type does not hurt any being (see wind-belts).  Net-metering and Feed-in tariffs are wonderful ways many countries and 11 of the states within the United States are successfully providing energy.  So why aren’t feed-in tariffs and their success embraced wholeheartedly within the US, especially the southern states where the Sun is so abundant?











A feed-in tariff, offers small-scale producers of solar energy long-term contracts (usually at above-market rates) for the electricity they sell.  Net-metering allows anyone, whose solar or wind system is producing more electricity than they need, to sell the excess back to the utility in turn reducing or eliminating their electric bill.  But once their bill falls to zero, the homeowner gets no more money from the system, although some grids will give credit.

Using Florida as an example:  The Governor of Florida and Florida Power and Light (FPL) are trying to pass legislation that is being marketed to the voters of Florida as forward thinking and green.  Large utility companies would control the renewable energy industry in Florida.  Smaller businesses would still have to pay exorbitant utility rates.  This would cause them to bring their business to feed-in tariff (FTI)  states where they can have their own solar, wind and/or biofuels for their business.

There exists a trend in which consumers are looking for USA made products that are made in a low carbon impact way.  Florida and it’s constant sunshine should be the forerunner of this trend.  Instead Florida’s Governor and Florida’s privately run FPL are interested in increasing the surcharge on their customers’ bills. Who benefits from this?  Compared with neighboring states, Florida’s industrial utility rates already are 52 percent higher and residential rates are 20 percent higher.

Florida could do both utility owned and privately owned alternative energies.  FPL can put algae ponds around its current Coal fired power plants.  The algae is used to make biofuel and feeds on the CO2.  Algae needs massive amounts of CO2 to grow, coal fired power plants are thought to be evil in part because of their massive amount of CO2 emissions.  Talk about a win win!!


Meantime, manufacturing and big box stores and private homes and associations of homes can have their own solar panels (if they so choose).  Small solar wind and biofuel companies will flock to Florida for the substantial need and abundance of resource.

PS: “Conservation: addition by subtraction
Even though this doesn’t technically generate electricity or transfer energy, we have to mention this;  one dollar worth of energy conservation can save three to five dollars in energy generation equipment costs; if you can use what you have more efficiently, there’s no reason to spend more to make more. While designing for efficiency is the best way to achieve high levels of energy conservation, there are lots of retrofits in insulation and efficiency upgrades that can help cut back on demand.”  Colin Dunn

Back in the days of the Renaissance the lords of the land (the folks in the castles) owned the land and the mill.  Serfs (the folks in the huts) paid the Lords for leasing the land to grow grain, they then took the grain to the mill and paid the Lords to have their grains milled.  This same concept is all I can think of that keeps states from allowing homeowners to provide their own energy and get credit for excess energy.  The governor of Florida Rick Scott seems to want to be Lord and we the beholden serfs.



Net Metering

Thursday, December 17th, 2009
The only way folks are going to change the way they do things is if it creates jobs and saves money and makes money.  Net metering seems to be the answer in my mind.  We need to get our state legislatures to make it possible for factories, stores and private homes to create their own energy with solar and wind and contribute to a central grid through net metering.

solar and wind

Manufacturers may actually come back to the USA if it is more cost effective through net metering.  Jobs will be created through installation of these systems, and hopefully job opportunities returning to the USA.  Manufacturers love saving money, their profits improve so then their stock holders are happy too.  Making money is the central purpose to life on this planet.  With net metering we can save the planet and make money.  Everybody is happy.


Here is the easiest explanation I could find regarding Net Metering.

Imagine the simplest possible metering arrangement: a single, 1960s-standard electromechanical meter. Now imagine that a residential customer, Ray McSolar, added a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system (also known as a solar-electric system) to his home, on his side of this meter. Ray wakes up early for his job; on most days, he is out of the house before sunrise. In these dark morning hours, Ray makes his coffee and breakfast while watching the morning news on TV. The electric meter spins forward as Ray is consuming electricity from the grid.

Determined not to waste a bit of electricity, Ray shuts off all of his appliances as he heads off to work. Ray’s solar panels now start churning out electricity as the sun rises—electricity Ray sends back to the overstressed grid. His meter now spins in reverse.

When Ray returns at night to cook dinner and relax in front of the TV, the meter spins forward again as he consumes more electricity than his system generates. The result? Ray’s bill will show only his net consumption of electricity from the grid. Should it be a hot sunny month (when the grid needs the most help), or a month in which Ray’s electricity use is low, any excess electricity his system generates is rolled over to his next bill, just as he might rollover excess cell phone minutes.

Utilities should not have a divine right to charge for electricity that customers can otherwise generate more efficiently and more cleanly on their own.

Congress realized the vast potential of net metering when it mandated in the 2005 Energy Bill that every state consider adopting or expanding net metering programs by the end of 2007.

Participation in New Jersey has skyrocketed by over 30,000 percent since 2002. It’s amazing. The state utility commission is literally drowning in new applications. Because they embraced the net-metering concept and new business applications soared because of the savings on their bottom line from providing their own energy. What New Jersey and other states (like Montana, and Oregon) prove is that Americans are willing to invest in their own energy independence if state regulations would only let them.


Why don’t legislators in the south like it?  Any ideas?

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