Discover more from Writings by the Woodwind Maker Casey Burns
Power Grids and Pepper Sprays
We need eyes on every Substation, but can ignore the Squirrels for now
(Rough Draft - pics and editing to be added soon)
Sorry it has been a while since I last posted anything. Sadly, Lizzo’s team never contacted me so that connection wasn’t made. It still could, just not in person. I haven’t been doing anything on the glass flute front anyway. I’ve been reacting to the change from the very warm weather in October to the very cold weather in November that continues in December. Brrrr!!! Meanwhile I’ve sent off a few dozen flutes and I am working on a quartet of 4 keyed flutes, and a small batch of Folk Flutes before the end of December.
I have also been involved in the Fall Harvest. This year was a great year for chestnuts! Last year wasn’t resulting in the invasive Eastern Grey Squirrel population shrinking. This was assisted by a family of Red-Tailed Hawks and the family of coyotes that were here in the Spring and Summer. Thank you Guys! So for the first time since I planted these trees 30 years ago, I got a proper harvest by picking these up off the ground, instead of having to pick them some 3 weeks early off the trees and letting them ripen indoors.
The other and more important harvest was the Svoboda Pepper harvest, in conjunction with Katie, Joanna and Sam at Saltwater Seeds. They decided to do a trial on these and were throughly impressed by these hot and sweet pimiento peppers. They shared several pounds of these with us and we dried up a bunch for pepper flakes, and saved enough seed to fill some 400 seed packs that will be on their seed racks in the spring. They are also contacting other heirloom seed outfits and recommending this variety. The seed remains viable for up to 2 decades if stored carefully in the butter section of a refrigerator.
This pepper is very important to me. This pepper first arrived in the Pacific Northwest via an Italian immigrant sometime in the 1930s. In the late 1960s he shared this variety with his fence-line neighbors the Portland composer Tomáš Svoboda and his wife the artist Jana Demartini, both originally from Prague. Tom and Jana have grown them since. Tom shared this pepper with me in the fall of 1975, when I became one of his composition students.
After Tom’s horrible stroke in 2012 Jana asked me to carry on with this pepper. She has been able to keep a few plants going in the meantime. I’ve been able to keep it going here locally via a few farmers. At home it is the only pepper I grow in order to keep the variety from changing in its characteristics. Territorial Seeds and Westwind Gardens in Oregon tried it. Westwind will provide me with some great starts every spring if I ask. Finally Saltwater Seeds is going big with this pepper!
Tomorrow (December 6) would have been Tom’s 83rd birthday. Alas, we lost Tom on November 19th. I am thankful that I was able to visit him in late October, and share some of Saltwater’s peppers with him and Jana, and give them the fantastic news about this pepper’s future.
This last year has seen the loss of too many. Mickie Zekley who ran Lark in the Morning and Lark Camp passed away earlier in the fall. In December Tom Rice who ran the seashell museum in Port Gamble and David Stone who ran the violin shop on University Way passed. All were very close and dear to us.
Onto other matters! I have finally carved some time ahead in January and February to work on the glass flutes. I will be mastering-up the metal parts and getting these cast by Alchemist Casting in Seattle. And then I will be working in a few different glass blowing shops around the area attempting (with their expertise) to produce the rough tubing needed for these. Ideally I would then be able to order these roughed out pieces when needed. Laurent himself had his glass blown by some of the best Paris glassblowing companies - thus I am following in similar footsteps.
Power Substation Mayhem and other Politics: We are thankful that the Dems kept the Senate. We are enjoying how the Republicans are making fools of themselves. The concept of Marjorie Taylor Green becoming the Speaker of the House is entertaining. She would be as effective as Sarah Palin was as Governor of Alaska (she quit). This would be a boom-time for late night comedians who would barely have to write their own material. The Senate and Biden with his veto could keep them largely in check, I suspect. Hopefully the Republican House will focus ONLY on Hunter Biden’s Laptop, since that affects so many of us Americans.
Popular opinion might also help, especially with the “Originalists” in the Republican Party now faced with their leader wanting to go even farther back in time in this fashion - back to when we were ruled by Mad King George. Except it would be the Madder King Donald in charge. King Charles has too much on his plate, even with Camilla helping him. I hope that tomorrow turns out well for Warnock and that the Nation finally says enough in November 2024 and votes out all of the MAGA and Tea Party crazies.
In the meantime, I am a bit worried. Yesterday's shooting of the Power Substations in North Carolina by extremists reacting to a LGBTQ -friendly performance that they didn't like may be a thing that is copied elsewhere, inspire in part perhaps by Putin's attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure.
I remember the occasional knocking down of the transmission towers in Oregon that feed energy to California. This was during the energy crisis or sometime after, and was a regionalist approach - kind of defending the energy we produced by hydropower here in the Pacific Northwest and resenting the fact that this went to Californians. "Don't Californicate Oregon" was a big slogan in the past. I am sure there still persists a big feeling and even as a 5th generation Oregonian, I experienced this myself after moving to California in 1986, and returning here in the fall of 1988, freshly married with my wife Nancy. We were both driving around with California plates on our Honda Civic - which inspired the locals to yell at us. Nancy got harassed by one of her office mates at the environmental consulting firm where she worked. This guy complained how Seattle was filling up with Californians, like Nancy.
Her officemate came here from New York! And Nancy was born outside Boston.
I personally cheered on the Tower Toppers. They made their point and it fed into the regional feeling that we should attend to our own needs first before we export our energy to other states far off in the grid. Similarly, we should conserve our fossil fuels for our own use, instead of sending these far off to the lowest bidder in Asia (at least on this coast). Also, that building 5 new nuclear plants in Washington so that we could export even more energy to California and Nevada was a bad idea. That project eventually became known as Whoops!!! thanks to one of our antinuclear activists who found himself on the Eugene Water and Electric Board. He convinced the other members of the board to sell off their 1% stake in WPPSS and they did. This was the first domino that woke up Wall Street to the fact that this industry couldn't be insured and was a very bad risk, resulting in a rush to the exits and ending up with the largest municipal bond default in US History!
But the shooting of substations by MAGA -inspired idiots with their guns for something that is widely felt by their cohorts, is the kind of mayhem that could occur anywhere in the US - and even in Canada. These folks are probably saying to each other “hey Bubba. You don’t like them Antifa Gays? Well Bubba, just go shoot up some Transformers at the substation! Those insulators are good for target practice! Do it at night and enjoy the fireworks! Go America!”
I predict that we may see a copycat crime by the end of the week. The substations around here are largely unguarded except maybe by security camera (not that this will help). Its easy to shoot the large insulators holding the wires etc. without having to enter the stations - you just use the chain link fence to support your assault rifle or shotgun.
Quoting Google: There are more than 55 000 transmission substations in the United States, but an attack on less than 10 could plunge the entire nation into darkness, according to a study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that was obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
I am kind of laughing about 40,000 being plunged into darkness in North Carolina as if that was shocking. A December windstorm in the Pacific Northwest will plunge many more into darkness and eventually the power will come back on. I remember one big storm up here in Seattle in 1990 that paralyzed the city and surrounding regions. One of Nancy's cousins was flying in that night and it took her 12 hours to go from SeaTac to her parent's home just east of UW! NW 15th Avenue below 80th Street looked like a surrealistic movie set with several abandoned jackknifed articulating busses.
I think this got under our skin in a weird way, when Nancy and I went out the next morning and witnessed this (especially Nancy). This may explain all the accordions in the house with more on the way.
This storm cut off power to over 100,000. The power crews here in Kitsap County were pissed off by the attitudes and privilege of the wealthy Bainbridge Island residents at the time and attended to them last, some 2 weeks later. They wanted to be attended to first but nobody in the crews here could afford to live there. Oh the humanity. This storm also knocked down a large Madrona tree on my friend Jon’s property. He gave me a big chunk which we used for the big center post in the middle of our house, bark warts and all.
Currently I am imagining the mayhem that would result a large attack on many substations responding to something inevitable such as Trump being found guilty of Sedition or some other crime. There are the line crews who are good at putting up poles and new wires. But I wonder if these same crews are the ones who can service the rarely affected substations. Also, the hardware in these may be in short supply. And then there is the risk to the Nation's nuclear plants similar to the ones in Ukraine that are suddenly powerless and dependent upon diesel generators. I can see why the FBI is suddenly investigating this and taking it very seriously. Or at least I hope they are, with a broader picture in mind.
It may even be worth a call to the FBI offices in case they aren't. This last Saturday part of my county in an area with a population of over 15,000 was cut off from all phone and internet service (including 911 access) for 14 hours. I decided to drive to a place where I could call Kitsap 911 to see if they were aware of this. They weren't. Thus I wouldn't count on the FBI aware of these larger possibilities. The network came on soon after my call. I suspect they kicked some butts immediately after my call.
Here is a last thought: instead of Poll Watchers or Mail-in Voting Box Watchers - maybe citizens should volunteer to keep an eye on the 55,000 Power Transmission Substations so we can keep the lights on, and safe from the MAGA Stormtroopers.
Stay Safe Everyone and Wear a Mask! Get your Flu vaccine if you haven’t yet and your booster shots. One of the new variants that is increasing ignores your immunity from vaccinations or previous infection. Well the vaccines may provide some protection. Wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding crowds and restaurants - you know this tiring and never-ending drill. And then this flu that is going around is proving itself to be bad. Then there is RSV. Thus, wash your hands and avoid touching your face! We are stuck in March 2020 and Trump hasn’t gone away…