July 28th, 2011
Hey, … Dale Rohlfing… wasn’t this guy at Fiesta Mexicana Wednesday night???
What’s this all about? Here’s Mickey Hart’s take on it, from his testimony before the Senate:
Senate Speech – Mickey Hart
Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you on an issue of great importance to me. This is the issue of how drumming, the rhythmic manipulation of sound, can be used for healing and health. I also would like to express my support for the concept of preventive, rather than crisis medicine,and specifically the role of music therapy as a means of maintaining mental, spiritual and physical health in people of all ages.
I am a professional percussionist. For over 40 years I have lived and played with rhythm; as an entertainer, as an author, and, always, as a student. Over the last ten years, I have spent much of my time exploring rhythm and it’s affect on the human body. Why is it so powerful and attractive? I have written on this subject in my books Drumming at the Edge of Magic and Planet Drum which try to address these questions. And yet I know that I have barely scratched the surface, particularly regarding the healing properties of rhythm and music.
Everything that exists in time has a rhythm and a pattern. Our bodies are multi-dimensional rhythm machines with everything pulsing in synchrony, from the digesting activity of our intestines to the firing of neurons in the brain. Within the body the main beat is laid down by the cardiovascular system, the heart and the lungs. The heart beats between sixty and eighty times per minute and the lungs fill and empty at about a quarter of that speed, all of which occurs at an unconscious level. As we age, however, these rhythms can fall out of synch. And then, suddenly, there is no more important or crucial issue than regaining that lost rhythm.
What is true for our own bodies is true almost everywhere we look. We are embedded within a rhythmical universe. Everywhere we see rhythm, patterns moving through time. It is there in the cycles of the seasons, in the migration of the birds and animals, in the fruiting and withering of plants, and in the birth, maturation and death of ourselves. Rhythm is at the very center of our lives. By acknowledging this fact and acting on it, our potential for preventing illness and maintaining mental, physical and spiritual well-being is far greater.
As a species, we love to play with rhythm. We deal with it every second of our lives, right to the end. When the rhythms stop, so do we. And this is where music becomes important. According to the late ethnomusicologist John Blacking, music is a mirror that reflects a culture’s deepest social and biological rhythms. It is an externalization of the pulses that remain hidden beneath the busy-ness of daily life. Blacking believed that a large part of music’s power and pleasure comes from it’s ability to reconnect us with the deeper rhythms that we are not conscious of. And it is the connection with these rhythms that gives music the power to heal.
Music as humanly organized sound or vibration has played a pivotal role in the development of our species, beginning with toolmaking. The tool record- all those delicately chipped arrowheads and choppers- is a dramatic illustration of our battle to master the subtle body rhythms that any advanced civilization requires to survive. In order to create the tools that allowed us to move forward as a species, we learned to scrape, strike, rub, shake and swing in rhythm. From there, we gathered in groups to sing our songs, to tell our stories, to dance our dances, all in rhythm. We found that by gathering together in this way, it reinforced our sense of community and family. The natural extension was the use of rhythm, and specifically percussion instruments, in healing ceremonies by traditional medical practitioners.
As modern technology takes us further and further from our natural rhythms, the use of percussion for healing has greater potential than ever. Today, without thoroughly understanding it, thousands of people across the country have turned to drumming as a form of practice like prayer, meditation or the martial arts. It is a practice that is widely acknowledged to help focus attention and to help people break free of the boredom and stress of daily life. More importantly, drumming is a way of approaching and playing with the deeper mysteries of rhythm.
Typically, people gather to drum in drum “circles” with others from the surrounding community. The drum circle offers equality because there is no head or tail. It includes people of all ages. The main objective is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and themselves. To form a group consciousness. To entrain and resonate. By entrainment, I mean that a new voice, a collective voice, emerges from the group as they drum together.
The drummers each bring their own instruments and drum together for about a half hour. Afterward there is a discussion of issues of importance to the group. The drumming helps to facilitate this discussion because as they drum the group forms a common bond. From groups of women drummers, to twelve step groups like alchoholics anonymous to gatherings of men who are part of the ever-growing men’s movement, drumming is used to open up channels of communication and foster community and family. While some drum groups form around a particular issue, others have no agenda whatsoever, except to allow the members an opportunity to come together, play their instruments and share rhythm.
Older Americans are largely unfamiliar with this movement and yet these are the people who could benefit the most. The formation of drum circles among the elderly should be an integral part of any music therapy program. There is a large and enthusiastic group of drummers who could be called upon to lead workshops and make instructional videos to be distributed among the older population now isolated in nursing homes and retirement communities. It would be emphasized that the object is not public performance. Because, when we speak of this type of drumming, we are speaking of a deeper realm in which there is no better or worse, no modern or primitive, no distinctions at all, but rather an almost organic compulsion to translate the emotional fact of being alive into sound, into rhythm, into something you can dance to. Through drum circles, the aging population could tap into this realm, into these rhythms. The benefits would be wide-ranging.
First, there would be an immediate reduction in feelings of lonliness and alienation through interaction with each other and heightened contact with the outside world. While today many older people spend hours each day sitting in front of the television, drumming is an activity which would allow them direct exposure to younger people from the outside community. Whereas verbal communication can often be difficult among the generations, and in the sickly, in the drum circle non-verbal communication is the means of relating. Natural by-products of this are increased self-esteem and the resulting sense of empowerment, creativity and enhanced ability to focus the mind. Not to mention just plain fun. This leads to a reduction in stress, while involving the body in a non-jarring, safe form of exercise that invigorates, energizes and centers.
There is no question of the substantial benefits which could be derived from increased funding for the study and research of music therapy. This funding is critical to explore the most effective ways to utilize the techniques described here and by the other speakers. Billions of dollars are spent each year for crisis care, while little energy is spent trying to figure out how to avoid the crisis to begin with. A shift from crisis to preventive medicine needs to occur. The introduction of drum circles and percussion instruments into the older American population is a new medicine for a new culture. It was a good idea 10,000 years ago, and it is a good idea today.
July 25th, 2011
The importance of siting properly — maybe the message is getting through? Just like a nuclear plant, you can’t be putting generators in the ground without a lot of respectful planning and consideration for neighbors, be they the people living next door or the migratory birds making their way through, or in their foraging, roosting and nesting territory.
Eagles are as much an issue here as with the CapX 2020 Brookings transmission line crossing of the Minnesota River, and will be an issue with any of the proposed crossings for the CapX 2020 transmission line across the Mississippi River, which is North America’s major migratory flight path. Eagles in the proximity of transmission lines was the reason (arguably, because the real reason was that they couldn’t use the Myrick Road route, but that’s a whole ‘nother post, see www.nocapx2020.info and search for “Myrick”).
When you’re planning utility infrastructure, and permitting it, you’ve got to have concerns for impacts, but when it’s no
longer the “Environmental Quality Board” handling it, and it’s the Dept. of COMMERCE with their COMMERCE charge, humans and eagles don’t have a chance against the corporate promoters of these projects. It’s time to transfer review back to the Environmental Quality Board and develop standards for siting (do you know there are NO standards for
siting wind projects over 25MW? They just do it on a case by case basis, with no scientific basis whatsoever), and eliminate the Dept. of Commerce and their corporate shills from any oversight of utility projects, unless they want to intervene as a party.
Yesterday there were two articles on this, in the STrib and the LA Times:
Here are the full articles so they’ll be around once archived. First from the STrib:
Just before the government shutdown on July 1, the 12,000-acre project cleared a major hurdle when the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to move it forward. But in recent months, a citizens group that has opposed the project discovered that the 50 turbines will be built smack in the middle of prime nesting territory for that beloved American symbol of freedom.
“It comes down to whether they want to take on the risk or not,” said Richard Davis, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who has monitored the project for two years. “I do think there is a higher likelihood of a strike in that area than any other wind project I’ve looked at in the state.”
Chuck Burdick, project director for the developer, AWA Goodhue Wind, said the company has been diligent in responding to the concerns raised by both federal and state wildlife officials. It’s done everything possible, he said, to site turbines where they will cause the least harm to flying wildlife, from long-eared bats to loggerhead shrikes to eagles. But all projects entail risks, he said, and the company plans to start construction this fall.
The conflict between these two opposing environmental goals — clean energy and protecting wildlife — is occurring increasingly as wind farms sprout across the nation. There is a growing realization that the massive towers with blades that travel hundreds of miles per hour are killing millions of wandering birds and bats.
The concerns are having an effect. In April, a wind development in North Dakota halted when Xcel Energy, which had agreed to buy the electricity, abruptly pulled out of the deal because of risks to two endangered birds — the piping plover and the whooping crane. The developer, EnXco, still doesn’t have a buyer for the electricity.
Just this week, the federal Department of the Interior proposed new voluntary wildlife protection guidelines for wind projects, but they were denounced by environmental and bird-loving organizations as grossly inadequate. At minimum, such rules should be mandatory, the American Bird Conservancy said.
In Minnesota, the drive for wind energy comes in part from a state law that requires utilities to derive 25 percent of their energy from wind by 2020. Now, the pressure to build has been intensified by industry fears that the federal Production Tax Credit, which greatly reduces the costs of the projects, will expire this year.
Wind energy proponents argue that the risks are worth it. After all, they say, mountain-top coal mining and air pollution from fossil fuels are far more destructive to wildlife than wind turbines. But critics say that doesn’t justify the harm, noting that 55 to 94 golden eagles die every year at Altamont Pass in California — one of the oldest and, many say, most poorly designed wind farms in the country.
The eagle problem in Goodhue County surfaced only this past winter, thanks largely to the Coalition for Sensible Siting, a citizens group that opposed the wind project from the beginning. Mostly, they don’t want the turbines close to their homes because of concerns about the effect of stray electrical voltage and the annoying strobe-like shadows cast by the moving blades.
But when the company issued the results of a wildlife survey it conducted on the site last summer, opponents realized they might have more leverage. Company biologists said they found three eagles’ nests within a 2-mile radius of the project, but concluded that the birds were not at risk because they didn’t hunt near the turbine sites.
Ron Peterson, the company biologist, disputed that number. He said that only two additional nests were documented, and that they were there because the eagles were feeding on “improperly disposed” livestock carcasses. If farmers stop leaving carcasses out, he said, the eagles would move on.
But at this point, all Davis and state wildlife officials can do is make recommendations on how to best site the turbines to protect the birds. The ultimate decision on the future of the wind farm is up to the PUC. The citizens groups and Goodhue County, which also opposes it, can ask the commission to reconsider its approval, but a major change is unlikely, participants said.
Still, the commissioners’ concern about vulnerable species was evident. The permit will be one of the first in Minnesota to require a bird- and bat-protection plan, which the company must develop with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.
Burdick said the company’s biologists are tracking the flight paths and hunting territories of eagles and other vulnerable species at the site. He said he expects the company will also “promote wildlife in the general area” and work with the state and federal agencies on turbine locations.
The federal government can step in only after the project is up and running, if something happens to a protected bird, Davis said. The options in that case might range from shutting down problem turbines, for example, to legal action.
And in the L.A. Times:
Helo Energy plans to scatter 450-foot machines across hundreds of acres in nearby Sand Canyon. A few miles away, near the Old West Ranch enclave, Terra-Gen Power is building the nation’s largest wind farm with hundreds of turbines, if not more. The project, Alta Wind Energy Center, is backed by hundreds of millions of dollars from Google Inc. and Citibank.
Federal and local officials hail the Tehachapi Valley, a harsh desert expanse about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, as an alternative energy mecca that will help wean Americans off fossil fuel. Kern County, home to the nation’s largest concentration of wind farms, is looking forward to millions of dollars in much-needed tax revenue and has approved most proposed installations.
The growth is being propelled by federal incentives and state clean-energy mandates. In April, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that requires California utilities to get 33% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. As of the first quarter of 2011, they’re at 17.9%.
But with thousands more wind projects on the drawing board, they’re increasingly generating opposition among local residents. Less than 100 miles from Tehachapi in the Antelope Valley, proposed turbine developments are facing similar resistance. Across the country, Cape Cod, Mass., residents and political heavyweights such as Sen. John Kerry waged war against what could be the country’s first offshore wind farm.
Residents of Blythe, Calif., near the border with Arizona, showed up at the recent groundbreaking of Solar Millennium’s massive solar plant there to protest its proximity to sacred Native American sites. Gleaming mirrors will blanket nearly 6,000 acres, helping to generate electricity for Southern California Edison.
City-dwellers could produce just as much clean electricity without the transmission hassles, they said, using rooftop solar panels, small wind turbines, fuel cells and other adaptable forms of renewable energy generation.
Veterinarian Beverly Billingsley has been hosting anti-turbine community meetings in her new Sand Canyon barn, just up the slope from where the cluster of 450-foot machines is slated for construction.
Lately, though, locals say that farm animals have begun cowering as construction vehicles rumble across lawns and surveyor helicopters roar overhead. There are worries about turbine oil leaking into water wells and turbines obstructing landing maneuvers at the local airport.
Last year, an older machine began spinning uncontrollably, forcing authorities to shut down a main freeway for hours. The resulting traffic was an anomaly in a community where most jams are caused by high school football games and meandering sheep.
They also argue that the projects aren’t helping the local economy. Local residents say pickup trucks driven by construction workers often have out-of-state license plates. Each new project causes nearby property values to plunge as much as 40%, city officials say.
“It’s a question of what you’re willing to give up to be green,” said local lawyer Kassandra McQuillen of some recent project plans. “It’s like proposing clear-cutting Griffith Observatory or the cliffs of Malibu.”
“It is not unusual for projects to fall by the wayside early in the development process,” Terra-Gen said in a statement. “The decision to pull back in an early stage on the Pahnamid project was a result of several important development concerns, including local opposition.”
By the end of the year, the developer said it will have invested $2.2 billion in Kern County, become the county’s third largest taxpayer with $30 million a year and made more progress building its 1,100-megawatt Alta project.
But with so many projects on the plate for the region, Tehachapi city officials are urging Kern County to impose a temporary moratorium on wind projects near homes. And the city that has long been associated with the fields of propellers is now trying to draw tourists by talking up its chili cook-offs, historic downtown and pristine mountains.
July 21st, 2011
First, the bad news – the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has affirmed the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission approving the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission project:
And now, on to the pressure… The National Park Service is working to do it’s job as steward of our national park land, in this case, the federally declared Wild and Scenic Delaware River and the Delaware Water Gap.
Seems that some don’t think they should be allowed to do that job, and are pressuring them to “hurry up” so the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line can steamroll on through. Well, BACK OFF!
Then in my inbox a sour grapes press release from FERC Commissioner Phillip Moeller whining because the newly adopted rule won’t do what he wants, it won’t address “problems” like NPS doing its proper review of transmission projects:
Here’s the Susquehanna-Roseland specific part:
“While I offer substantial praise for today’s final rule, the Commission should have taken a different approach to several important issues. We must recognize that all of the nation’s difficulties in building needed transmission will not be resolved by this rule. Rather, this rule largely addresses planning for long-distance transmission lines, which is only a subset of the critical issues that are inhibiting needed investment.
This rule cannot address issues like the delays caused by other federal agencies in the siting of important projects, as this Commission lacks the legal authority to require other federal agencies to act. For example, see the comments of PJM in this proceeding at p. 17, which state that:
[t]he PJM Board approved the Susquehanna-Roseland 500 kV line in 2007. The Susquehanna-Roseland line was approved by the state regulatory commissions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for 2012. The line is currently delayed by the National Parks Service [sic] and is not expected to be in service until 2014 at the earliest.
Ohhhhhhhh, isn’t it too bad. He’s just one Commissioner, and he’s got to put his dissent out there as an extensive and extended rulemaking proceeding closes… Why is he pushing, why does he care, and why does his care rise to the level that he sends out a dissenting press release? Lighten up, the National Park Service has a job to do. As the testimony in the Susquehanna-Roseland proceeding before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities reflects, we are NOT going to freeze in the dark in an incubator without a job…
And here’s Pre. Charlie Dent’s whine:
The Sierra Club this week issued a release claiming Dent added the amendment in an attempt to “handcuff the park service from doing their job in complete violation of the public trust” and “undercut the National Park Service and push an environmentally destructive and unnecessary project.”
First pitched in 2008, the Susquehanna-Roseland line has been described by the two power companies behind the plan — PPL Electric Utilities Corp. in Pennsylvania and Public Service Electric & Gas in New Jersey — as necessary to bolster the region’s power grid. The 130-mile power line is proposed to link the Berwick, Pa., area to Roseland, Essex County.
The 500-kilovolt line is being evaluated by the park service because the route, as approved by New Jersey and Pennsylvania utility regulators, crosses the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and other federal lands.
“The timely completion of the impact statement is of great importance to the reliability of the regional grid and is critical to the supply of electricity to 58 million consumers in 13 states and Washington, D.C.,” the bill reads.
The National Park Service earlier this year pushed its goal to finish the impact statement back from fall 2012 to January 2013, after the utility companies asked the agency to include another alternative in their review.
Collin Long, spokesman for Dent, responded Tuesday in an e-mail, “The congressman’s amendment does not show favor toward any of the alternatives being considered and respects the integrity of the environmental impact statement.
“It simply requires the National Park Service to follow their own timeline for completion of the review process, which already includes a six-month extension of their original deadline to October 2012.”
July 19th, 2011
Read the STrib today? Xcel has 9,500 record peak.
Xcel, how dare you… the 9,500MW peak you report is exaggerated… naughty, naughty. You didn’t deduct for the interruptible service customers’ megawatts, and you’re including electricity you’ve generated and sold elsewhere, that the number represents the totals Xcel put on the grid, and not accounting for the demand that they’ve shed, not wholesale sales in other markets. THIS IS NOT PEAK DEMAND!!! YOU’RE CHEATING, XCEL… sigh… what’s new…
Thanks for clearing that up, little birdie!
But even considering that sleight of hand, it’s no record, it’s not even up to the 2006 peak… and that was FIVE years ago. Your CapX 2020 transmission is predicated on 2.43% (is that right, 2.4 something…) increase annually, but folks, we’re not even close to that.
Here’s the peak demand over the last 10 years:
And here’s what the STrib said today, what they said that Xcel said, blah blah blah, 9,500 my ass:
Xcel Energy said it set a new record for demand in Minnesota and three neighboring states on Monday as temperatures hit the high 90s in the region.
Hoen said Monday’s demand was 9,500 megawatts in Xcel’s service region in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The previous record was set last Aug. 9 at 9,100 megawatts (MW). By comparison, Xcel’s largest power generation station — the three coal-fired Sherco units near Becker, Minn. — puts out a total of 2,400 MW.
Xcel on Monday activated remote-controlled power-saving switches on air conditioning units of residential customers who signed up for the conservation program. Hoen said the conservation step, which cycles off customers’ air conditioning condensers, was activated for about an hour.
July 14th, 2011
From Albert Lea Tribune, Fair Use, capturing one of those classic “oh shit…” moments in trucking… (see article below).
In another “oh shit” moment, the Bent Tree Wind Farm noise testing report is out, was released about a month ago, and I’m finally getting around to publishing it.
Take a look at p. 19 and 20 for L10 and L50 levels, and look how frequently the levels are higher state noise limits! See Minn. Rule 7030.0040:
Here’s a summary chart from the Bent Tree noise report, p. 13:
And what they’re trying to do is to remove background sound so that the numbers won’t be above what is allowed by the state’s rules. Graphically, here’s what that comparison, with and without background noise, looks like, p. 43:
The article that was the source of the photo at the top is from the Albert Lea Tribune, and it’s old news, from Sept. 2010, but for those inquiring minds that want to know:
MANCHESTER — A section of a Vestas wind turbine tower slipped off the semi that was hauling it early Thursday morning.
The truck was carrying the large tower section on gravel 695th Avenue north of Freeborn County Road 29 near West Freeborn Lutheran Church. It fell off near a turn in the road.
The gravel roads in southern Minnesota were saturated after heavy rains Wednesday night. Albert Lea received more than an inch on Wednesday.
Fortunately for the construction workers, the ditch along 695th Avenue was shallow compared to most. It is a minimal traffic road.
Trucks have been delivering these large pieces to each site in the Bent Tree Wind Farm since July.
The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident. The call went out around 7 a.m. Sheriff Mark Harig said as far as he knew there were no injuries or damages reported.
“It’s just blocking the road,” Harig said.
He said as of 8 a.m. a deputy was still near the site performing traffic control.
“They’ll have to get a crane to pick it up and move it where it needs to go,” Harig said.
Calls to Bent Tree Wind Farm officials were not immediately returned before this story went to press Thursday morning.