Bees and Wasps

For some reason my yard is full of bumblebees this year. I noticed a couple of them about 2 weeks ago hovering around the rose bush by my mailbox. Then a couple days ago I noticed there were 5 or 6 bumblebee buzzing around the rose bush. Of course, the rose bush is in full bloom right now, so it is obviously very attractive to bees. But I do not remember seeing so many of them buzzing this bush last year.

There is a new wasp nest in the soffit of my roof, just around the corner from my front door. I have seen 3 or 4 red wasps flying about the yard this week, but I couldn’t find the nest. But this morning as I was going out to get the Sunday newspaper, I noticed a wasp flying over my head and as I tracked him with my eyes I noticed the next tucked away in the soffit. So next time I’m at the hardware store I’ll have to pick up a can of wasp killer and take out that nest. I can put up with the bumblebees as eco-friendly gesture but I can’t abide the red wasps.

Wind Farms for Energy

Years ago as we drove through Nevada and Southern California I was impressed by the lines of wind turbines along the ridges of the hills. The massive towers and slowly swirling blades are silent sentries generating electricity for homes and businesses without polluting the environment. The land around the base of the towers can still be planted and farmed, and livestock can still graze safely. Although some people have called them ugly, I think they are majestic.

With a little research on the internet I found that not all areas of the U. S. are suitable for making use of the wind turbines. You must have a sustained wind of so many mph to be able to harvest enough wind to generate electricity. There are wind maps that show zones of the different levels of sustained wind, and in my area there is not enough natural wind to take advantage of the turbines.

Recently there were news stories about T. Boone Pickens and his energy plan to involves erecting hundreds of thousands of wind turbines throughout the midwest and western states. He has a web site with compelling videos and energy facts supporting the plan. I see he will be on CNN today and talking about the status of his plan. It’s worth taking a listen and getting involved if you agree with the strategy and want to help solve our Country’s energy crisis.

Clever Brews

For a while the buzz on the street was all about microbreweries and the thousands of local beers that were popping up all over the country. I never really thought much about how beers are a regional thing until I moved out of state the first time. Suddenly, several of the beer brands that I was used to seeing on the grocery shelves were no longer available. I especially noticed and missed the little green bottles that had Rolling Rock beer in them.

I just read an interesting story in the San Francisco Chronicle about a local brewery that is breaking all the rules and putting their beers into cans instead of bottles. They say that the cans offer several advantages that bottles don’t, such as cans being allowed in a lot of public places where glass containers are not allowed. Cans are better for the environment. Also, cans keep out the light, the number one enemy of beer flavor.

I also like the names of the beers they make and think they are really clever brewers: “Hell or High Watermelon Wheat” and “Brew Free! or Die IPA.” I just hope the beer tastes as good as I’m coming to expect.

Cobalt Commercial

Funny commercial on the History Channel tonight was for the new Chevy Cobalt. The scene starts with a car parked at the gas pump. The pump hose disengages itself, reaches down and deflates the rear tire of the car. Then the words, “Gas Pumps Hate Us” show on the screen. The car’s owner comes out of the convenience store with chips and drink and goe sto get into his car when he notices the flat tire. Then the words “Chevy Cobalt . . 36 MPG” come on the screen.

Makes you stop and think, could I downsize to a Cobalt for the sake of the better MPGs?

Saving on Printers, Ink and Toner

My home office has my desktop PC and two printers hooked up to it. The first printer is a little HP color inkjet printer that does a decent job on photos and anything that has to be color. But the real workhorse in my office is an HP monochorome laserjet that prints only black and white papers and man, does it print them fast and cheap.

I have to print out reports every night of the week except Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that’s a lot of printing. The color printer would take up to three hours to print the reports and since they are just black and white it occurred to me that I should look into get a monochrome printer that is faster. The fast color printers are just too expensive for my home office budget. So I found the HP laserjet and discovered a little bonus – the laser toner cartridge lasts 6 times longer than the inkjet cartridges.

The inkjets were running out every week of one color or another, especially the black cartridge. I could easily go through two black cartridges each week. But the laserjet toner cartridge lasts about one month. Of course the price difference is huge. You can buy inkjets for $20-$30 at the discount stores but the laser runs $80. But the yield is much greater than the increased cost, so I’m saving a lot of money and time with the laser.

Trying to pinch my pennies even further, I decided to check out the generic cartridges and also getting refilled or recycled cartridges. If I know I can recycle something I feel guilty tossing it into the trash and not recycling. There’s been so much buzz about recycling printer cartridges that I knew I had to start doing that. So I surfed the internet and found a cool site called Inkjet Deals. They have information refilling both inkjet cartridges and laser toner cartridges for my HP laserjet and all the top brands of printers.

I like the sectio on their site that is a resource center with informational articles. After I read the one about “Generic and Remanufactured Cartridges,” I knew right then that I must start recycling my cartridges and also spread the word so everyone else will do that, too.

Another article they have that helped me with the penny pinching mode is called, “Seven Tips for Saving Ink.” Now some of those tips might be obvious to you, but I hadn’t thought of them until this article pointed them out.

I’m also not sure that I’m going to keep my HP color inkjet. After reading this site and learning more about printers, I might be better off buying a different brand for the photos I want to print. I’m seriously thinking about shopping around for the right site to buy Epson color printers online for less money than the local discount stores and getting a better quality photo print for my collection.