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About Those Solar Panels Now

November 2nd, 2015

Remember those solar panels I was all excited about back in January?

Remember those solar panels I was all excited about back in January?

I’ve had them up on my roof putting out clean energy for almost a year now. Eleven months ago today, I generated my first watt, and I’ve been meaning to post about it ever since. The trouble is, for the entirety of those eleven months, until this very morning, I was locked in bureaucratic battle with the electric company to get them inspected, signed off on and correctly wired into the billing system so I could actually benefit by them. That was frustrating. It was Kafkaesque. And it didn’t seem worth posting about until I actually had something to celebrate.

My first day's worth of power - Dec. 30, 2014

My first day’s worth of power – Dec. 30, 2014

Now, finally, I do. Here, then, is a bit of a roundup. This is the laughably short version. More to come, maybe, if you’re interested in the nitty gritty.

Read the rest of this entry »

   Angry, Environmentalism, Technomancy | No Comments »

Orange Mycena

June 28th, 2010

Mycena leaiana
On a rotten hemlock log across a brook, Mt. Toby Reservation.

The new camera, for those who care, is this, not a digital SLR but a budget 12 MP Kodak point and shoot the first thing I did on which was reset the resolution to 10 MP. It has a big long zoom that, without stabilization, shockingly works not all that well, and a wide angle that lets me be 3 inches from the mushroom, which is old hat to most people but is new and wonderful to me. I’m still learning the semi-klunky interface, but it takes a nice picture when I let it.

   Fungi, Summer, Technomancy | No Comments »


May 17th, 2010

Wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, West-facing cliffs, Mt. Toby Reservation, Sunderland.

My camera died. Rest well, Sony Cybershot DSC-F717. You came from the factory with all kinds of defects, your autofocus algorithm was dated and finicky, but you were good to me. You let me recollect beauty in millions of colors. One time you pretended to be a handcannon to protect me from poachers. Curse the loose screw that killed you. I wish I had treated you better.

My old Powerbook G4 12″ has gone the way of the dire wolf and the dodo. Funes, you kept me alive. You ate through rechargeable batteries like a radio-controlled Mechagodzilla. Your touchpad didn’t work for shit, forcing me to wield a retro-aesthetically superheroic rubber ball mouse from my original iMac 233 circa 1998. I was ridiculously, unhealthily attached to you. I am beside myself at the prospect of letting you go—but all things must pass. With any luck, you will only sleep awhile and return from the shadows, like the coelecanth or the ivory-billed woodpecker.

Now I got me a handed-down white dual 1.8 MacBook, christened Ilom, for which I shall remain eternally grateful to parties who know who they are. It stands out less from the coffeeshop crowd than poor old Funes; on the other hand, it can run Illustrator and iTunes at the same time without destroying itself and has carried me forward into the video age. Will I ever learn to love it as much? That’s a question best put to Time.

“They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is the way in ours.”

—Robert Frost, In Hardwood Groves

   Flowers, Spring, Technomancy, Visions | No Comments »

Greening the Skull (Nerfing the Skjellyfetti)

January 31st, 2010

One of my new year’s resolutions, as urged on me (not really) by Al Gore and the repoweramerica.org mailing list I signed up for sometime in December, was to move my various internet assets to a carbon-neutral hosting provider. So I did a lot of research into green web hosts, and I settled on Green Geeks–they’re among the highest rated “green” hosts, despite the fact that they pay for carbon offsets rather than actually running their servers on wind or sunlight, because they offset three times as much carbon as they produce and are talented and reliable too. It’s only been a couple weeks, but I’ve certainly found that to be so.

So now The Mossy Skull and The Homeless Moon and various other internet projects of mine are carbon-positive. You, gentle reader, need not bother about that so much, except perhaps in that you can feel slightly less guilty as you read. Sadly, I haven’t gained much benefit on that account myself–it still feels like too little, too late. I need to do more. But them’s my personal neuroses, gentle reader, and they need not concern you.

There has, however, been one more substantial change that may require your brief attention. The Mossy Skull has moved–it used to be at the slightly unwieldy, mildly counterintuitive http://mjd.joskinandlob.com/wordpress/, and now it’s at the the satisfyingly clean and transparent http://mossyskull.com/. If you would be so kind, please change your bookmarks accordingly. Those of you following via RSS, make sure you’re syndicating http://feeds.feedburner.com/themossyskull and you should be all right.

And thanks for reading!

   Environmentalism, HM, News, Technomancy | No Comments »

"Starlings" in Abyss & Apex #31

July 27th, 2009

My near-future-apocalyptic magic realist short story “Starlings” is now live in Abyss & Apex #31. (Which issue also happens to feature a very cool poem by LCRW author Daniel A. Rabuzzi—lucky me!)

“Starlings” is a story about climate change, tech withdrawal, and memory—themes all very near to my heart. With the possible exception of “Construction-Paper Moon”, in no other story of mine have I laid my own emotional evolution so open on the page.

Please go read it, and enjoy!

   Environmentalism, Technomancy, Writings | No Comments »

State of Emergency

December 19th, 2008

This is coming a bit late–most everybody has their power back by now. But I have a free moment to breathe, and I really have been hurting for something to scroll down the freakish zoot-suit-boogieing android post immediately below.

I live in the Connecticut valley, so the ice storm passed right over our heads without breaking a branch. There was a visible line on the sides of all the hills, at maybe six or seven hundred feet—a stark division between bare brown oak and black hemlock woods and a crystalline otherworld of steely, sparkling ice. Over the first couple days there was a rash of paranoid tree-felling along the street I live on, beautiful, perfectly healthy, centuries-old maples chainsawed into towering heaps of lumber for fear the next storm might bring them down and kill us all. I felt guiltily fortunate, hearing news reports about what had happened to people barely more than five miles away.

Then I had to drive up into the hills to the farm where I work.

It was unbelievable. There were miles-long sections of road where the top of every single tree on both shoulders had been sheared off fifteen feet up. Entire houses and yards were buried under fallen timber. National guard humvees rolled past with coal-gray chunks of slush clinging in their wheel-wells, utterly surreal against the frozen landscape. Dozens of electric company cranes moved in long, slow lines, surrounded by dead-eyed, frost-covered dudes in grey and orange.

On the dirt road that leads to the farm, a huge tree-trunk had snapped almost completely in half, fell across the road and got caught in branches on other side, so that I had to drive underneath its horizontal trunk, swerving to avoid the low-hanging brush and praying that the whole thing wouldn’t choose that moment to fall and crush me.

At work, they had been without power for six days. We operated on a little gas generator, switching off every few hours between powering the refrigerator and oven to the computers and fax machine. I learned how to work the generator: a horrible roaring gremlin, like a lawnmower engine off its wheels, loud and awful-smelling. It gave me a new appreciation for electric power—and a potent sensibility of its limitations. Running a small hair-dryer (for shrink-wrapping herbal tinctures) at its lowest possible setting was enough to blow out the generator in three seconds flat.

We had our christmas party by candlelight, huddled close to the wood stove in hats and coats. At four, when it got too dark to see, everybody packed up and went home.

The local home-supply megastore, which had only opened the week before after overcoming vehement community resistance (and which I’ve been angrily boycotting in the vain hope it will go away and the marshes and pasture it replaced will magically reappear) sold out its supply of generators in two days.

“This is what it’s going to be like from now on,” my boss said. “People can’t rely on the power company anymore.”

I felt sick. The implication is there—the cause of all this. And gas-powered generators aren’t going to be the answer.

So I went home and tried to make myself feel better by filling out my christmas shopping list with LED and CFL light bulbs and solar-powered cellphone chargers and worm-powered home composting kits. It hasn’t quite worked. Maybe it’ll help to blog about it.

Here’s some other stuff I would have bought for people if I could budget it:

I’ll shut up now.

   Environmentalism, News, Technomancy, Writings | 5 Comments »

%@#! Apple Greenwashing

November 30th, 2008

Greenwashing is the despicable practice of spending a bunch of ad money to make it look like you did something to reduce your corporation’s environmental impact without actually doing anything to reduce your corporation’s environmental impact.

This is Apple’s new ad for the MacBook Pro.

Claims it makes:

  • Made with recyclable aluminum.
  • Uses a quarter of the power of an incandescent lightbulb.
  • No mercury or arsenic used in display manufacturing (LED instead of CCFL).

How we are being bullshitted into feeling better about buying their expensive, beautiful, elegantly designed, decadent, capitalist luxury fetish objects:

So what exactly is this ad telling us? That Apple knows damn well it has us hooked already and doesn’t need to do a damn thing to keep our loyalty, even in these troubled times, beyond throwing us a bone to ease our troubled conscience. That Apple is taking pretty much the same stance on global warming as the Bush administration: sidestep the issue until somebody forces them to act.

What else could they be doing with all the bank they’re making as the tech industry once again proves itself recession-proof? How about a sponsored computer recycling program? How about spending some of their %@#! ad budget on some research and development? How about voluntarily making their whole operation carbon-positive?

If it wasn’t Apple and I didn’t already love them and what they do, I wouldn’t be so pissed off about this.

   Environmentalism, Technomancy | No Comments »

Two Point Oh, Bitches

September 22nd, 2008

If you’re here, you’ve no doubt noticed the new and improved Mossy Skull layout 2.0. It’s bigger, easier to read, has more pictures and more/better stuff in the sidebar. And the theme css is a lot cleaner and easier to comprehend, and the php jives better with WordPress 2.6 (even though I am still stubbornly running on the safe and reliable 2.3.3). Though that doesn’t really affect you, valued reader, since I am still not sharing it.

I am, however, taking suggestions if you have any.

   Design, Technomancy | 2 Comments »

Fair Warning

March 21st, 2008

Been having some odd happenstance around here…entries showing up in triplicate and suchlike. So I am upgrading to WordPress 2.3.3. Things may go haywire for a short while. You will likely not notice at all.

   News, Technomancy | 1 Comment »

Crank-Powered MP3 Player

December 18th, 2007

Wind Up Eco Media Player
(This link brought to my attention courtesy of el Nubo.)

They claim it runs for 40 minutes on one minute of cranking. Seems eminently usable. Sturdy. With a color video screen, which is more than I need. Unfortunately, it appears to be available only in the UK and Australia. You know, cause Americans are too complacent and stupid to want one. Also, like everything else that doesn’t come with an accompanying cost in fucking-up-the-earth guilt, there is a cash premium involved. It retails for £155 ~= $315.

I think if I’m saving my money I’d rather go with the laptop. Then again, I’m pretty happy just listening to the wind and the birds.

   Environmentalism, Technomancy | 5 Comments »

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