News from the frontlines in Guam about the Typhoon

	Got the note below from my Mom, forwarded from my cousin, who's
stationed over in Guam right now, where they're mopping up after a massive
typhoon. I think the winds hit something like 135mph. (Yikes!)

	I know I probably don't have to say this, but it's a great
application for disaster relief shelters. :-)

	The ironic part is, much of Guam is military base & economy
supported by the miltary. (My cousin's in the Air Force, there.) And even
with a highly mobilized, well trained group, and the resources of the US
Military behind them, they STILL expect it to take 3 months to get power
back to everyone? 

	Can we say "infrastructure problem?" :-)

	Ok, so to frame this in a constructive manner, here's a few ideas
I've had about power generation and decentralizing the power grid so that
massive outages like this don't happen...

	As we've talked about before, each house should have its own power
source. Not just a hookup to the grid (although it has that option, when
there's grid nearby), but something(s) to generate power. This means solar,
wind turbines, perhaps mini-hydro generation, if there's suitable water
nearby (although that's a more long-term sort of installation. Not as good
if you're moving around a lot), and fuel cells. 

	For those who don't know, fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to
produce electricity, with drinkable water as a waste product. (Not a bad
waste product, IMO... :-)  ) They generally have no moving parts, and are
thus very silent (unlike generators). We've got another Reality Sculptors
mailing list devoted to the discussion of fuel-cells, and some of you are
on it. For those who aren't, but are interested, check out for info. (This is being CC:'d there.) 

	So, if you've got a fuel cell and other sorts of power generating
capability, that's great. You store your excess, or sell it back to the
grid and make money from it, or, in the case of small (or not so small)
communities, you run a cable across to your neighbor's house, and do some
"net metering" with them. Thus you create a small "community grid" in your
neighborhood. Similar to the way that the internet allows people to hook in
and disconnect at will, you could hook in, providing power for neighbors,
and disconnect when it was time to move on to a new locale. 
	The more houses that cross-linked like this, the more stable it
would be, and it would still not require huge, polluting, centralized power
companies shipping power (inefficiently) over long distances to get it to
your house. You make it at your house, you use it at your house, you store
it at your house, and perhaps share some with your nearby neighbors. 

	Where I live in Boulder Creek, California, we get about 60" of rain
every winter. That's all usually between November and February, so we get
mudslides, downed trees, etc. One tree branch can (and does) take out
entire sections of town, and sometimes 2 or 3 small towns. 

	When 5000-10,000 homes can be stopped with one tree branch, I think
there's something wrong with the system. :-)

	Last night, a tree fell and took out 2 vans and a car. Last year,
one destroyed most of a house in town. A few years ago one fell on my
friend's house. These are usually 150' Douglas Fir trees.  They're big,
they're heavy, and they do a lot of damage. 

	Trees fall. This can be expected. However, relying on a huge and
spindly power distribution system that can be knocked out anywhere along
miles and miles of roads seems like it's just asking for trouble.

	On the internet, machines come and go, links come up and go down
(as, for example, the way my link is down most of the time while I deal
with the $800/month phone bills - I got another one, by the way... :-)  )
and the rest of the Net doesn't care. The Internet as a construct was
designed to withstand outages and massive losses, and still keep its
services and information flowing. 

	Designing a power grid can be done the same way. It is, in fact,
but there are still only a relatively few power generating sites, servicing
large regions, rather than every site being a generator as well as

	So, in the case of a tree falling in a future
domesteading/autonomous community someplace, it might come down and knock
out one house, but not take out the rest of the community in the
process. (In fact, you could run over, re-connect the power, and provide
them with emergency power from the nearby houses while you deal with
contacting Reality Sculptors, reporting the damaged home, and getting a
confirmation on delivery of a new one to the site within 24 hours. 
	Ah...but that's a rant for another time... ;^)

	   ___________________Think For Yourself____________________
		 Patrick G. Salsbury <salsbury at sculptors dot com>
	    A long memory is the most subversive idea in America.

Here's the report from Guam... 

------- Start of forwarded message -------
From: EarlyBird at reddragon dot com
To: salsbury at sculptors dot com
Date: 21 Dec 1997 15:39:54 EDT
Subject: Typhoon

Darren sent this - I don't know if he sent it to any of you or not.


Well I don't have much time, the generator is about to run out of gas. But I
just wanted everyone to know that we are alive and well, we took alot of water
in the house the night of the storm (tuesday, monday for all of you) and are
still trying to dry out the house. The entire island is without power and the
estimate right now for power being restored is about 3 months. Most of the
island has gotten its water back, except us, and i don't know when we will see
it. Our telephone is working so if you want to call go ahead. We are 14 hours
ahead of eastern time. The # is
671-632-0618. Can't promise that anyone will be here and the answer machine
doesn't work.  The island is completely destroyed. there are about 6000 people
that lost there homes, and alot higher # have alot of damage. As for us, we
ended up with a tin roof in our car port and I lost the toneau cover from the
truck, we also took alot of scraps on the vehicle but we were very lucky and
are for the most part still in shock. well got to go don't know when i will be
able to write again so don't get mad if I don't reply promtly. I will try to
check email at least once a week.

Merry X-Mas all

------- End of forwarded message -------

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