July 2009

by Bill Opalka, Editor-in-Chief, Energy Central Topic Newsletters

Washington, D.C. United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com]

The U.S. military is not just setting standards in the areas of advanced weaponry. It’s also leading the renewable energy charge. It’s involved in solar, geothermal and wind projects and its stake in the field will continue to grow.

One of the first efforts in the early 2000’s was at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, which became the first facility to be 100 percent renewable.

Consider the solar arena: If you thought the biggest solar array in the Americas was in the Southwestern United States, you’d be right. At 140 acres, the site’s 70,000 panels produce peak energy of 14 megawatts, or enough energy to supply 14,000 homes.

But what may not be widely known is that the solar site is at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, providing about one-fourth of the base’s power, with the capability of selling renewable credits back to NV Energy. The site, completed in late 2007, can produce about 30.1 million kilowatt hours per year.

The photovoltaic plant provides electricity that can be used on base, although excess power can be fed into the electric grid. The Nellis solar plant provides clean energy, and the base saves $1 million annually in utility bills. The project, financed by private investors, cost $100 million and took six months to complete.

Another renewable energy resource, geothermal power, has been a mainstay at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in California for more than two decades. Since the 1980s, the 270-MW plant has provided enough power to supply the entire base. The Navy receives revenues from geothermal power facilities. And it recently awarded a contract to build a 30-plus MW geothermal plant at Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada. The Department of Defense (DOD) is looking at other opportunities for similar public/private ventures to tap renewable energy resources.

These aren’t just individual projects to take advantage of local resources, but an overall strategy to reduce energy use and revamp procurement. “The DOD is tailoring its installation energy strategy to address efficiency improvements to existing buildings, constructing highly efficient and sustainable new facilities, managing our energy costs through long-term power purchase agreements and contracts, and incorporating renewable energy and smart grid technologies to reduce installations’ risk of power outages, improve on-site resilience to grid power interruptions and create a measurable increase in energy security,” said Brian Lally, director, facilities energy, DOD.

“In some cases, large commercial-scale renewable power projects can be built that not only provide renewable power to a DOD installation, but also to the city or community that supports the installation through services and an organic workforce,” he continues. “This means that there could be potential that should be explored for other uses.”

Early Efforts

Increased renewable energy use and production by the military has been a priority since earlier this decade. One of the first efforts in the early 2000s was at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, which became the first facility to be 100 percent renewable. Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington is also 100 percent renewable. The Air Force also operates a 2.4-MW wind farm on Ascension Island and a 1.3-MW wind farm at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. Other wind farms are under consideration elsewhere.

Since the DOD is the single largest energy user in the United States, any marginal increases in efficiency or the use of renewable sources could have significant impacts on civilian supply. According to DOD reports, the military consumes 1.2 percent of the energy required in the United States. While the vast majority of its more than 832 trillion BTUs are consumed by aircraft, vehicles and ships, at least 12 percent of its needs are met by electricity at its more than 5,300 sites.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated an increased share of renewable energy over the next decade, therefore causing more urgency in the removal of fossil fuels from some of the military’s uses. By 2013, the military must acquire 7.5 percent of its electricity from renewables.

In this era of environmental awareness, all sectors of American society will make greater attempts to go green. The Defense Department is no different and in fact, it will be taking a leadership role


Syamakunda: Prabhupada, yesterday in this book it said that when a cow gets so old, the most economic solution to do with it is not to waste the meat, that it should be slaughtered.
Prabhupada: Hm?
Syamakunda: The karmis, they say that its… When you have this cow that won’t give any more milk and its teeth are rotten where its going to die — it can’t hardly eat properly — that it’s a waste to not use that meat to feed people. It should be slaughtered.
Prabhupada: I have written?
Pusta Krsna: No. He’s saying in a karmi book.
Syamakunda: They say that the economically proper thing to do is to kill the cow after it, er, and not waste the meat.
Prabhupada: And who will take? When he’ll die, who will take his meat? That is also economical. Why don’t you give it to the animal-eaters instead of wasting it? Why they bury in the ground? Why? Let it be thrown eating by the jackals or anybody else.
Syamakunda: The people should eat their…, the people, then, according to that philosophy, right?
Prabhupada: No, when man is dead, why the economic calculation is not taken? Hm?
Devotee (2): Because they think it is animallike.
Prabhupada: Animal or a man, when it is dead, then it is the same value. Is there any difference of value between the animal body and man’s body?
Devotee (2): They think it is barbaric.
Prabhupada: “They think,” but you think like human being.
Pusta Krsna: But the animal has no soul.
Prabhupada: Soul or not soul, when the body is dead, is there any difference of value?
Syamakunda: Well, it doesn’t seem human to eat a human.
Prabhupada: This is nonsense, the rascal’s nonsense.
Hari-sauri: It’s too horrifying for them to contemplate that they may start eating each other.
Pusta Krsna: Or their family dog.
Dhrstadyumna: Or their grandmother.
Syamakunda: But if it was wrapped up in a package and they didn’t know it was the dog or their mother, they could probably eat it.
Prabhupada: Yes, they can eat by packing.

Morning Walk — June 27, 1976, New Vrindaban

“Actually, Krishna is always guiding us as Supersoul, but due to our forgetfulness, we do not understand that Krishna is friend everlasting. With advance of Krishna Consciousness one is able to realize that Krishna is always with His devotees — not only with His devotees, also with the non-devotees, but the devotees can recognize His Presence and the non-devotees cannot.

“The more you make advancement in Krishna Consciousness you will see Krishna everywhere. Not only on the bank of the river, but also on streets, trees, lampposts, and so on. The more you see like that you know you are making tangible advancement in Krishna Consciousness.

“Actually, there is nothing but Krishna all around us. This is explained in the Gita. He is the taste of water, light of the moon, the fragrance of the flower, light of the sun, sound of the sky, the power of the strong and so on.  So one who is actually making progress in Krishna Consciousness, he can see Krishna everywhere.

“At every stage of life, who can avoid the sunlight, the moonlight, the fragrance of the flower, the taste of the water, the sound of the sky, and so on; but one has to learn it, that there is Krishna in all these varieties of existence. Without Krishna there is nothing. It is simply by the influence of Maya that we forget the relationship of Krishna with everything that be.”

Letter to: Krsna Devi  —  San Francisco 21 December, 1967


Saturday, July 18, 2009

PARIS — Cote de boeuf, foie gras, escargot. French cuisine is hardly the stuff of vegetarians’ dreams.

In Paris restaurants, vegetarians often are met with looks of pity, headshaking incomprehension, even snorts of disgust. Eating out can mean endless “salades au chevre chaud,” the warm goat cheese salads that are the only reliable meat-free menu item.

But veggie visitors need not despair.

Tasty meatless dining is possible here, where choices include a Michelin-starred establishment renowned for garden-fresh vegetable dishes, tiny tofu joints and restaurants dedicated exclusively to all things cheese.



At L’Arpege, vegetables are the centerpiece — literally. All the tables in this chic restaurant are adorned not with a tasteful floral arrangement but with ripe vegetables, like artfully sculpted crookneck squash or bouquets of asparagus stalks.

One of just 26 restaurants in France with a top, three-star rating by the Michelin Guide — the country’s culinary bible — L’Arpege is the only one dedicated to vegetables.

Its most celebrated dishes include “tomate confite aux douze saveurs,” a stuffed, preserved tomato, and “l’oeuf fermier de la Bigottiere en chaud et froid,” a concoction of egg yolk, whipped cream and maple syrup served in the eggshell as an appetizer.

Long a bastion of slow-grilled meats, L’Arpege sent shockwaves through France’s gourmet circles by announcing it was going — more or less — veggie in 2001. The restaurant still serves some meat, such as free-range chicken and mutton as well as seafood, but vegetables are the uncontested stars.

L’Arpege’s celebrated chef, Alain Passard, said his decision was not motivated by ethical or health concerns, but rather by a quest for a new challenge.

“One day, I woke up and asked myself, ‘What have I done with a leek, with a carrot? Nothing, or maybe just 10 percent of what can be done with a carrot,'” said Passard

All the vegetables served at the restaurant — some 40 tons annually — come from its three organic gardens in the Sarthe, Eure and Manche regions of northern France.

And the menus reflect what’s in season: mostly tubers and leafy greens in the winter and a strange and copious variety, including blue kohlrabi, globe turnips and purple asparagus in the summer months.

But don’t expect veggie fare to be easier on the wallet. Even if L’Arpege serves up more spinach than lobster, its prices remain in line with those of other three-star restaurants. At lunch, its eight-course tasting menu runs $170. At dinner, the 10-course menu costs $450, not including wine.

“We want to create a ‘grand cru’ from vegetables,” said Passard. “I talk about carrots the way others talk about Chardonnay or Sauvignon.”



To taste luxury veggies in their natural environment — or as close to it as you can in Paris — try La Cour Jardin, the Plaza Athenee Hotel’s terrace restaurant, where the tables are interspersed with tomato plants.

The restaurant — which operates under the supervision of French chef celebre Alain Ducasse — changed its menu earlier this year to emphasize vegetable dishes.

“We put meat and fish aside so that the first ingredient that the client reads on the menu is a vegetable,” said the restaurant’s 26-year-old chef, Sylvain Fouilleul. “We’re not trying to teach clients how to eat, but we want to show them we can eat differently.”

Highlights include the “cocotte de quinori et legumes croquants,” a crispy vegetable casserole, and the “fenouil confit au safran,” light puffs of saffron-dusted fennel.

The dessert menu is heavy on fresh fruits — raspberries, wild strawberries and, intriguingly, a “lemon in acid and bitter declension.”

At an estimated $120 per-person for lunch or dinner, drinks not included, La Cour is pricey. But the verdant terrace, which rings with the call of birds at play among the vegetables — not to mention the food — make it well worth it.



Far from the workaday staple that it is in the U.S., tofu remains an exotic ingredient in France, where it is still largely relegated to Chinese restaurants and natural food stores. But vegetarian restaurants — once an almost unheard of oddity that have mushroomed in recent decades — now serve up a wide variety of tofu-based dishes.

Highlights include:

— Le Grenier de Notre-Dame: Founded in 1978, this cozy restaurant in the heart of Paris bills itself as the French capital’s first vegetarian restaurant. Its large and lengthy menu offers a wealth of choices, the best of which include meatless variations on French classics. Cassoulet, the bean and pork or duck casserole from southwestern France, is made instead from white beans, tomatoes, peppers and seitan, a meat-like protein made from wheat gluten.

— Au Grain de Folie: This hole-in-the-wall in the Montmartre neighborhood specializes in heaping dishes of grains like quinoa, as well as an ever-changing menu of salads, tarts, terrines and casseroles. With just a handful of tables, reservations are advised.



Vegetarians who do dairy can sample some of France’s reputed 365 varieties of cheese (estimates vary widely from this legendary figure), from international blockbusters like brie and camembert to rare goat’s and sheep’s cheeses.

The restaurant Pain, vin et fromages (Bread, wine and cheese) is a fine place to start. Tucked into a building with a 17th century stone basement near the Pompidou Center modern art museum, the restaurant serves up raclette, fondue and cheese platters, with each hunk adorned with a little flag rating its pungency on a scale of 1 to 10.


Read the complete article, with restaurant recommendations, here.

From Time.com

I am standing in Dilli Haat, New Delhi’s popular open-air handicrafts market, feeling a little guilty. My usual uniform for a hot summer evening — jeans, sandals and a comfortable cotton tunic — is putting people out of business.

“People in Delhi have abandoned their own traditional clothing,” says Bilal Ahmed, 24, a weaver who works for his family business in Jammu and Kashmir. Ahmed and his family specialize in Kadhai work, a type of embroidery. “We have started making more suits and shirts than saris,” he says. “People don’t buy saris anymore. Now they buy jeans.” (Read about fashion and the recession in India.)

Ahmed has been working in the sari business for the past 13 years, during which the popularity of the famous garb has declined drastically in India’s cities. Handloom-weaving is a small-scale business, so there are no comprehensive statistics to track it, but weavers say they’ve noticed a marked decline in the past decade. V.P. Sharma, 48, has been employed as a weaver in the handloom sari industry in Bihar since 1988. He blames the slowdown on women’s changing tastes. It is particularly bad for handloom saris — the simple cotton saris that many Indian women used to wear every day. Their plain designs and muted colors have no appeal for women like Rashmi Raniwal, a 22-year-old sales assistant. “Sari?” she says, giggling. “I never wear it casually, only for formal occasions.”

Sales do pick up in the winter, Delhi’s high season for lavish parties and weddings, but fashionable young women are more interested in designer saris in sheer fabrics made on power looms, not the traditional handwoven silks like the ones in their mothers’ cabinets. “I’m a sari freak,” says Deepa Nangia, 36, a nutritionist. “I love wearing saris for parties and functions, but that’s only designer saris, actually. Who wears traditional saris anymore?” She adds that she is the only one in her circle of friends who has any interest in wearing saris at all. “Youngsters feel like it’s more ‘oldy’ stuff,” she says. “I think it’s just gradually dying out with time.”

The most prized Indian sari styles — Banarasi and Kanjeevaram silks — are also facing new competition. Depending on the intricacy of design, it takes 15 to 30 days to weave one of these saris, which sell for $50 to $60. A Banarasi silk weaver, Abdul Basit Ansari, 37, has been working for the past 20 years weaving these garments, which come from the holy city of Varanasi. “The industry is facing lots of difficulties,” he says. “This is primarily because the sale of fake Banarasi saris made in power looms has been picking up and also because of the sale of cheap imports from China. The government is not stopping this, and our trade is suffering.”

Even in South India, where saris are much more popular than in the north, weavers are having trouble finding a market. Kanjeevaram saris, made in the town of Kanjeevaram, near Chennai, are made by cooperative weaver societies. In 2004, there were 22 weaver societies in Kanjeevaram, but only 13 are left today, according to Business Today. Of these 13, only five say they are doing well. Last year, the 13 weavers sold about $12 million worth of saris, down from $40 million in 2004.

The best-known sari shops, like Nalli, which has gleaming showrooms in several big Indian cities, have contracts with some Kanjeevaram weaver co-ops, which is helping them hang on. But it isn’t enough to stop people from fleeing the profession. In and around Kanchipuram, famous for the Kanjeevaram silk saris that hail from this region, the manpower in the weaving industry has gone down drastically, from 60,000 10 years ago to about 20,000 today.

While those dwindling numbers may spell the death of India’s traditional weaving skills, women in Delhi embrace the change as a sign of progress. “There is a general perception that you would consider a woman in Western formal wear more empowered than her more traditional counterparts,” says Kriti Budhiraja, 20, a political science student at Delhi University. And to be fair, the sari industry is not exactly putting up a fight. It’s exiting the stage slowly and almost imperceptibly, with the exception perhaps of Indian soap operas, in which every woman is dressed in an impeccably ironed and draped sari while she cooks and schemes against her mother-in-law. Of course, everyone knows that’s not real life.

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he said.

I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”

“Like what?”

“Well … are you religious or atheist?”


“Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?”


“Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?”


“Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”


“Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”

“Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!”

To which I said, “Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off.

We had our party and over 80 people showed up, including my three granddaughters. Lots of prasadam, including a sheet cake from Dharma, which just barely lasted to the end of the night.


All five of my kids were here at one time, a rare occurrence.

family shot

The boys might look big but I can still knock heads when it is needed — provided I sneak up behind them, catch them unawares, and have a clear line of retreat.

knocking heads

We had lots of stuff to do including a visit to ISCOWP and seeing some special cows.

Gracie with the cows

Vidya had bought at flea markets a small bike, a smaller bike with training wheels, and a tricycle so all the younger kids could have something to ride around on.

tulasi on trike

Time with the grandkids is precious, now I am left with pictures memories.

three grand daughters

A good few days.

The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.

A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.

Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.

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