Sunday, February 02, 2003

Today today

A keyed up brain, again. The list format and sentence fragments of this entry are to get stuff out of my brain so I can wind down.

The shuttle. In my small church there are three retired JPL employees. This morning, one of them brought pictures of the various space craft and space shuttles he's worked on or seen launched.

Music. Played the organ for the English service and piano for the Spanish service. I really like the Lutheran Spanish hymnbook, Libro de Liturgia y Cantico. At $13 for the pew edition, it's a great deal for anyone wanting to learn some new music. The melody line with chords is printed. (The chords are written in the do-re-mi system, which I hadn't learned when I started playing for the Spanish service. But it didn't take long to pick it up.) And some of the songs have English translations, too.

News. (At boarding school, on Thursday afternoons we had "news and music." We pupils weren't allowed to have radios, and television was available only in the cities and then only from about 6 to 10 pm. Time magazine arrived a few weeks late, and by the time all the teachers had read it, it was really outdated. So once a week, the headmaster gave us a précis of current events. I still remember sitting on the green-polished floor of the library—if you were wearing white socks, the green floor polish would rub off on your socks—in 1975 hearing about the start of the civil war in Beruit.)

In today's paper, another reminder that the energy we use to heat our homes and cook our food comes from somewhere and at a cost, in this case, methane gas from Wyoming: "Prosperity's Brutal Price," by Jim Robbins.
"Whiskey's for drinking and water's for fighting," they say out here. But [Ed] Swartz and many other ranchers around Wyoming and throughout the West are now engaged in a fight that has turned that adage on its head. It's not about too little water but too much--too much of the wrong kind. Water is being pumped out of the ground at a neighbor's ranch upstream because the water contains methane gas. After the gas is stripped out, the water, with high levels of sodium, is considered waste and is dumped into the creek that runs through Swartz's property. "I want things back like they were," says Swartz. "The state is so greedy for money they will let anything happen. They will ignore their own rules, laws and regulations to kiss [up to] the methane industry. And it really, really bothers me."

....There's a for-us or against-us mentality here. People who question the way gas producers do business or advocate more regulation may feel [small gas company president] Kennedy's wrath. People such as Swartz, who lives 20 miles out of town, are in the minority. The term "wackoenvironmentalists" is all one word in Gillette, and comes from deep within the people who use the term. Those in the methane industry are living large, and nobody is getting in the way if Kennedy can help it.

[Edit 2/10/03: Just came across a Mother Jones article about this story, published in their Nov/Dec 2002 issue.]

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