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Tag Archives: SoCal

A Caddie!

Alliance Shoot-Out For The Arts – July 7, 1997

I just came across this picture, which was taken at Sherwood Country Club, in Thousand Oaks, California, about month after my 50th birthday. I had been golfing less than four years at the time. I was not scheduled to play in this tournament. In fact, I was actually working as a volunteer.

My job was to stand at the gated entrance to the club to see who had arrived, as they would have to check in with the guard before they could proceed. I would then radio ahead so people could have all the correct names of who was arriving and could both address them properly and provide them with name tags and goodie bags. Toward the end of the arrivals I got a call on the radio.

“Rick. Did you bring your clubs with you?”

“Of course I did. I always have my clubs in my car.”

“Well . . . you might have to play. Hang on and I’ll get back to you.”

Might HAVE to play? Oh, please, please don’t throw me in that briar patch! I knew the base fee for this tournament (it was a fund-raiser) was $750, which was a major reason I hadn’t even considered for a pico-second picking up a club. Never mind Sherwood is a rather exclusive club and I’m hardly an exclusive person. I was beyond excited.

The Sixth hole at Sherwood Country Club
PAR 3
The 186-yard par-3 is the signature hole of Sherwood Country Club. You are greeted by a spectacular view over seven pools and 14 waterfalls with beautiful mountains set as the back-drop. The tee shot is all carry over the water to a green that is only 21 paces deep, so make sure you have the right club, or par will become unattainable.

Shortly afterward I got the call. Come on down. We need you to fill out a foursome. Needless to say, I hightailed it to the clubhouse, prepared to play a course I had never even dreamed of playing. When I arrived at the clubhouse I was told there were no more carts available and, rather than driving the course, I would have to walk. However, they replaced the cart with a caddy. Although I hadn’t been playing for all that long, I’d never considered having someone to carry my bags and help me decide on how to play the course.

Unfortunately for me, the guy I got was pretty new to the course and really didn’t know it that well. If I recall correctly, he even cost me a stroke or two because he didn’t know what wasn’t visible on one of the holes. But, he also carried my bag and raked traps, etc. Regardless, I got to play one of the more exclusive clubs in the world . . . for free!! And it included everything that came with a paid spot; loot bag, snacks (Dole played a major role in the food side of the tourney), and a damned good meal after playing. I think I shot in the low nineties, though I don’t remember perzackly. It was, after all, over 22 years ago.

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Apparently, God Loves California

Currently, the sun is shining brightly through my home office window, as we’re enjoying a short respite from the deluge we’ve been experiencing. Here in SoCal there hasn’t been quite as much moisture, but the central and northern portions of the state are getting hammered. The table below shows just how dramatically our fortunes have improved since a year ago and, particularly, in just the past week. There’s more rain in the forecast and we’ve still over two months to go in our traditional rainy season.

US Drought Monitor Table of Data

Drought Conditions in California Improve Dramatically

People like Pat Robertson, and others of his “deep” religious conviction are quick to claim “The Lord” is punishing us when bad things happen. Perhaps they should consider recognizing, if that is the case, then we must conclude God is now rewarding California for rejecting Marmalade Mussolini last November. Surely The Lord is even-handed in both punishing and rewarding us for our aberrant, as well as our compliant, behavior.

To appreciate just how much our conditions have changed, here’s a screenshot of the State’s major reservoirs. Note how many are near or above their historical average. This doesn’t translate directly into replenishment of our depleted water table but, with an increased snowpack and more precipitation on the way, we’re at least moving a long way toward normal conditions. I expect an awful lot of people are going to continue their water conservation efforts regardless of this reversal in our fortunes. Californians are recognizing how precious fresh water is, and how easily it can be hard to come by if we continue using it unwisely.

Reservoir Condition Changes

Less Than a Month Ago These Reservoirs Were All Below Their Historical Average

 


Our Switch to Solar Saves Thousands

Solar Panels

The Finished System – 38 Panels – 9.5 Kilowatts

Just received our latest electricity bill from Southern California Edison. Our total charges for delivery are $1.77, which is applied to a current credit balance of just over $200.00. Now that we’ve returned to bundled service from SCE, which means we are totally on a net energy metering account, we are consistently producing more energy than we’re consuming. I have been keeping close track of our total expenses since we had net metering fully enabled and I’m projecting we will save approximately $2,000 over last year’s bill. Think about that. This includes the amount we pay each month on the lease of the solar panels which, since we use a lot of energy, is a large system and is more than some people we know ever spend on a month’s worth of energy.

Some of our savings can be attributed to our being a bit more proactive in cooling the house in the evening and morning by opening up the windows and doors, and using an inexpensive box fan to pump the cooler outside air into the house before buttoning up as the temperature rises. Also, we’ve set our thermostat a bit higher in the Summer months, and have learned to be comfortable with an occasional high temp of 78 or even 80 degrees in the house.

Our two biggest expenses in terms of energy consumption are the pump for the swimming pool filter and our old, not terribly efficient air conditioner. We can’t do much about the pool, as we kind of would like to keep it and there’s nothing we can do to change the need to filter and circulate the water. So the pump remains a drain. I have tweaked the timing so it turns on after the Sun has reached an elevation that generates enough electricity to nevertheless keep our meter running backward, and turns off when the Sun is too low to be of much effect.

SCE Bill

A Portion of our October Bill, Showing Net Production.

Actually, during the Summer I experimented with different settings on our thermostat, which ran the gamut from cooling the house early in the day to take advantage of the abundance of solar energy our system was generating, and waiting until the inside temperature reached 78 degrees before switching on the A/C. Thanks to SCE’s online tools, I was able to track performance on an hourly basis and, by paying attention to the vagaries of the weather as well, I was able to fairly accurately determine what settings made the most sense in terms of production and conservation.

Another aspect of our particular situation is where our house sits relative to the path of the Sun. I don’t think we could have planned it any better if we could have picked the entire house up and planted it facing the perfect angle. Prior to installation of our panels, I’m pretty sure our house heated up far more quickly because of its placement. Now, not only do we have the maximum amount of energy produced by the two sets of panels, but I’m reasonably convinced we benefit as well from the fact the panels also shade the roof and absorb a fair amount of the heat energy as well, meaning the house heats up far slower than it used to.

I have to give kudos here to the company that designed and installed our system. They took into consideration our historical usage and the location of the house and the angle of the rooftops relative to the path of the Sun, and designed a system to provide the bulk of our energy needs. In fact, the system is efficient enough to offset whatever energy we use when the Sun is down, e.g. lights (most of which are CFLs, LEDs, and other fluorescents), TV, computers, etc. That company is Real Goods Solar, one of the first to enter the business and one that is local here in SoCal.

All things considered, I’ve concluded this was a very wise choice for us. Not only do we get to play a role in conserving energy, but we also save a rather substantial sum over what we had been paying for our overall electricity costs. I recommend you consider whether your overall energy consumption, coupled with the amount your house can produce based on its location and conditions, warrants the installation of a system. Not every home will benefit, but I’ll wager a considerable number will find the savings worthwhile. I seriously urge you to consider the alternatives.


Quit the Bragging, California!

it’s marvelous – and ominous – at the same time. While much of the United States has been enduring extreme cold temperatures and hard Winter weather, those of us on much of the West Coast (certainly here in Southern California) have been enjoying unseasonably warm weather. I think it’s been in the mid-seventies to mid-eighties for at least a month and we’re now approaching the “dead” of Winter with no end in sight.

A Week's Weather

Another week of unseasonably warm Winter weather

If this continues, it does not bode well for those of us who live in this neck of the woods. The reason. Drought. According to the California Department of Water Resources, we are now into what may be the third year of drier than normal conditions. They point out it’s a bit too early to conclude this year will be as dry as the previous two, as half of the previous years that started out this dry ended by catching up to normal at the end of the season. They also point out, even if there’s plenty of seasonal rain, it still won’t compensate for low soil moisture and depleted water storage.

So . . . while we’re enjoying the weather here, especially when contrasted to what the Polar Vortex has wrought to our East, it’s important to keep in mind what it means in the long run. It doesn’t matter if you believe in climate change, anthropogenic or not. We are now into our third year of drought in the West, and this wonderful weather may come at a far higher price than I care to contemplate. There’s no reason to brag about it.


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