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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Morgan At Loyola Station Now Open

Rogers Park's newest rental property, the Morgan at Loyola Station,is now open and leasing, and I took a tour last night. The building is located just south of the Loyola el station, at 1209 W. Arthur, Sheridan & Arthur.

It's an attractive and appropriate building of moderate height- 8 stories, sheathed in red brick, with large balconies for all units, and large, attractive windows. This is a full-amenity building, with a glossy lobby, a parking garage across the street, recreational facilities, a 2nd-story roof deck in back with a fire pit and a fountain, and washers and driers in all units.

The rooms are relatively large, and the extremely large windows make these apartments seem larger. The balconies are large enough to put a sofa on, as was demonstrated by the rattan sofa and chairs on the balcony of one of the display units. A great feature of this building is that the back apartments have a reasonably attractive view as well as the front, because they overlook the roof deck.

Interestingly, I was quoted rents of approximately $1100-1200 for a convertible one-bedroom, to $1800-1900 for a 2-bed 2-bath, and the large one bed I was shown was offered at $1271 plus $75 for the heat and air conditioning. These were lower rents than I remember hearing, and sure enough,when I got the promotional brochure home, the rents quoted therein were substantially higher, ranging from $1337 for the smallest units to over $2700 for the largest. Perhaps the realization that the Edgewater-Rogers Park area will not support these kinds of rents is sinking in, or they are trying to get the building rented quickly as possible.

The building is a fine addition to the neighborhood and improves the appearance and tone of this part of Sheridan Road substantially. The street feels cozier and livelier thanks to the addition of another "streetwall". Let's hope this building succeeds and that more attractive multiuse buildings like it go up close to this corner. The Devon/Sheridan area has so much going for it- proximity to a variety of retail, to transit, and to the lake, and looks to be developing into a really lively and interesting neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Community Meeting For New Garden In Rogers Park

The Rogers Park Green Space and Food Systems Coalition is having a meeting tonight regarding establishing a new community garden to replace the Sophia Garden on Loyola Ave, which has been leveled for new development.

The Coalition is working with the Chicago Park District to establish a new garden in Schreiber Park at Schreiber and Bosworth, behind Devon Hardware.

The meeting will be at 7 PM, at Schreiber Park. Everyone is invited.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Greenpeace Co-Founder Endorses Nuclear Power

It's refreshing to see signs of rationality among the members of the Green movement, as some of the more humane, astute, and reality-oriented among them are beginning to realize that, while renewables have a great deal of promise and are often fine solutions in a few limited applications, we cannot rely upon them in their current state of development for more than a fraction of our power needs.

Recently, a prominent member of the Green movement, endorsed the development of nuclear power.

Dr. Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace co-founder and current Co-Chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy), addressed a joint committee in the Wisconsin State Legislature early in April, and advocated the repeal of the Wisconsin moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Dr. Moore stated that,
"Nuclear energy is essential to an environmentally sound energy future. Nuclear is the only source that can power the nation without polluting the nation. The round-the-clock baseload production of nuclear energy can power our homes and businesses while creating high paying jobs that cannot be shipped overseas, all without polluting our air and lungs."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Vacation at Lake Columbia

Welcome to our own freshwater mosquito hatchery and pedestrian barricade at Sheridan & Columbia. Bring your wading boots. Lake Columbia forms every time we have a heavy storm, and it often extends halfway across the intersection and clear back to the alley behind the Starbucks, making it necessary for pedestrians on Sheridan to walk halfway down Columbia to cross it without wading through water up to the middle of their shins.

Will somebody in our AlderCreature's office ever get off his or her duff and bloody do something about this? This has been a persistent problem at this intersection for years past, and the flooding is getting worse over time.

The Democrats' Greenwash and the Automobile Welfare State

Does the United States already have enough damn corporate welfare? And do we have enough cars out there already?

The Cash-For-Clunkers bill, enthusiastically endorsed by Obama and an army of Democratic leaders, is expected to pass easily this week, and it is supposed to stimulate purchases of new automobiles. It will offer auto buyers a voucher (not a tax credit) of $3,500 to $ 4,500 to purchase new, more fuel-efficient autos.

We need to ask some questions about this.

Like, is it really "green" to give auto buyers a tax-funded voucher of $3,500 to $4,500 to replace a car that cost 27 barrels of oil to build and is possibly less than 5 years old, and buy a new "green" car?

Is the money to fund this program not taken from public transit and from people who can't afford a car on any terms?

Can people who've already maxed out their cards, are losing their jobs, and are falling into delinquency on all their obligations really ante up for new cars even with a handout from Uncle Sam?

Could we just possibly have an economy founded on industries other than housing and automobiles?

And is it wise, in an era of declining liquid fuels, to continue to subsidize auto ownership and driving, while starving public transit?

This country has been an Automobile Welfare State for the past 80 years as it is. The taxpayers at large, whether they drive or not, have been paying for this country's 5.7 million miles of paved highways and for the resource wars we are currently fighting, inasmuch as our only reason to be involved in the Middle East at all is because we need their oil to run our 200 million cars and trucks.

Obama is repeating Bush's mistakes, only in slightly different form. Bushco granted tax credits for buying fuel-guzzling SUVs, and his fiscal policies drove the creation of more suburban sprawl and created the credit bubble that resulted in our present economic debacle.

Obama has merely dressed the Republicans' failed fiscal and economic policies in green Democratic clothes. He has generated trillions of dollars in new Treasury debt to support the trillions in bad debt created in the past 6 years, in an effort to continue an economy based on printing fake money to keep the house and car sales machine going.

Obama has barely been in office three months, but is rapidly squandering his considerable political capital by continuing the very policies that set us up for this financial debacle to begin with. Worse, he is squandering the last opportunity this country has to prepare for the terminal decline of oil supplies and coming price shocks. If his policies don't start to work really quickly, he will find himself unable to accomplish any of the worthy goals he set for his administration and will be a one-term president.

Somebody needs to tell our current team that their chosen strategy, which is emptying out the treasury and printing unlimited quantities of fake money to support everything and everybody, has been tried before. They should read the history of the Perons in Argentina and see how well it worked for them.

Somebody really needs to get it across to Team Obama that paying people to drive cars and borrow money they can't afford isn't exactly the path to less dependence on oil or a stable economy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Neighbor Seriously Burned in Sunday Night Fire

A very sad accident took place last night here in Rogers Park. A neighbor, a 64-year-old woman who lives at the Wayne Senior Apts. at 6928 N. Wayne (at Morse) was seriously burned when her nightgown became tangled up in her wheelchair when she was cooking. She stated that she panicked trying to free it, and caught it on fire.

She was found in her kitchen with the gown "melted" to her body, and suffered multiple 3rd-degree burns.

Please, neighbors, be alert to common fire hazards. We all get careless from time to time, and it only takes a couple of seconds to create a tragedy that changes your life forever.

Some of my own tips:

1. Be very careful around a gas stove. An old stove hooked to a corroding old pipeline can "flare up" suddenly, and catch your sleeve on fire. This happened to me once, and fortunately, I was wearing a heavy fabric that had been treated to be flame-resistant. Also, cooking oils and grease can catch fire if overheated. Keep a pan lid handy to snuff out a skillet fire. It goes without saying that you should not have dishtowels, window curtains, a roll of paper towels, or other cloth and paper close to your stove burners. Keep your stove hood or vent clean to prevent grease fires.
2. Synthetic fabrics, such as those most women's nightclothes are made of, catch fire easily and tend to "melt" on your body, causing really vicious burns.
3. Candles- if you like candles, make sure you have the candle in a stable holder. It's suggested you burn the big, solid pillar candles that don't tip over easily. Keep paper, cloth, and other flammable materials away from the candles.
4. Cigarettes and other smoking materials-the majority of house fires are still caused by careless smokers. Make sure you are sitting upright when you smoke. Never, ever smoke while lying down, because you can fall asleep too easily. Also, be careful with butane cigarette lighters, for many of the cheap plastic lighters can leak the butane and cause a fire.
5. If you smell gas, call the gas company, not your landlord. Most older rental buildings have old gas pipelines and old gas stoves that are more prone to this and to leaking gas.
6. Please, please, please don't light firepits and grills on your porch. It's illegal to grill on apartment building landings, with good reason. Be careful about grilling on a balcony, because you are very close to the building.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Tragic Scam

The Obama administration is moving aggressively on its stated plans to implement various forms of renewable energy, and there are indications that massive changes in energy policy are being made without carefully considering potential costs......such as the lives of 300 million or so American citizens.

The urgency is understandable. At this point in time, oil production has most likely peaked, at least according to prominent oil geologists Kenneth Deffeyes and Colin Campbell, and gas supplies on this continent will reach their production peak at some point in the future. It's hard to determine exactly when, but a major jump in demand for natural gas will surely cause that resource to deplete rapidly. Worse, U.S. has made almost no provisions for lower energy consumption or for alternatives to oil, gas, and coal.

Unfortunately, we are engaged in a frantic struggle to pretend that we can manage a steep reduction of consumption of fossil fuels with absolutely no alteration of our habits or living arrangement whatsoever, and this pretense is driving our policy decisions, with results that will echo and amplify down through decades. Whether or not we will even have reliable electric power will depend on policies implemented right now, given the power of the government to impose broad policies and fund them lavishly, at the expense of the taxpayers. It is unfortunate that this country tipped into to total statism and has erected massive barriers to the individual initiatives and adjustments that could produce appropriate adjustments on a small, local scale, but we have to deal with things as they are.

When the feds decide to implement a program, it is done decisively, and broadly. Unfortunately, it is also done without due consideration of the costs involved, and least of all to unintended consequences. Worse, once a particular policy is in place, we seem unable to reverse it, or correct its more pernicious effects. The disastrous unintended consequences of programs put into place 40, 50, 75 years ago are still cascading through the system, producing the same disastrous results, only vastly amplified, and foreclosing the very actions and adjustments that otherwise might correct the distortions and massive misallocations of resources resulting.

And, just as we have been unable to control or reverse the destruction of our cities, the metastatic spread of suburban sprawl, or the overpaving of our landscape and our inflexible demand for outrageous quantities of fossil fuels that are the end results of the well-intended programs of Roosevelt and Eisenhower, we will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to control or reverse the end results of the energy policies of the Obama administration.

Therefore, it is deeply unsettling to read the broadside statements of Jon Wellinghoff, Chief of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in which he states that no new coal or nuclear plants may ever be needed in the U.S. and that "renewables" such as wind and solar will fill the gap. Wellinghoff's statement is stunningly irresponsible given the energy demands of our current systems and the realities of solar, wind, biomass, and other "renewable" forms of energy generation as they are currently known. Notice that he is not promoting the development of wind and solar alongside nuclear, but is suggesting that we abandon all research and development of nuclear and coal in favor of solar, wind, biomass, and other renewable energy sources. Given Mr. Wellinghoff's position, we can safely assume that he will be driving energy policy going forward and that his priorities will be translated into rigid policies that will drive all development of energy sources during this administration, which is a very chilling thought.

As of this date, there is only the remote possibility that solar and wind can even fractionally fill in the yawning gap between supply and demand that will be left when oil, and later, gas supplies go into terminal decline. While solar and wind technologies may have great potential for large-scale power generation, they are at this stage of development creaky, unreliable, and intermittent sources of power that are extremely reliant upon the local weather conditions, and bear hidden costs that haven't been discussed, such as the vast amounts of land necessary for a solar array or wind farm capable of generating even a significant fraction of the power of a typical coal or nuclear plant, or the amount of water a solar plant consumes, which is a major issue in the critically water-short desert states that are the most advantageous locations for a large solar array.

The ethanol bubble has already burst. "A tragic scam,"energy analyst Matthew Simmons called ethanol and biomass, for it has become painfully obvious that a diversion of our diminishing farmland from food production to fuel production, in the amounts needed to produce enough fuel to run even a substantial fraction of our fleet of 200 million autos and trucks, would collapse our food supply and subject us to critical shortages of food that are usually referred to as famines. Yet the current administration is still emphasizing biomass and ethanol development.

None of this is to say that development of renewables should be abandoned in favor of coal and nuclear. Wind, solar, and geothermal need to be aggressively explored and developed, for nuclear is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and every technology that could supply power needs to be developed.

However, to baldly state that renewable energy can completely replace fossil fuels flies in the face of everything we know to be the case concerning the necessities of power generation. We know, for example, that while demand has dropped somewhat due to the economic situation, that we still have an inflexible demand-demand built into the systems we need to run our economy and our lives for massive amounts of power, and that that demand is barely being met by our existing generating capacity. We also know that demand will surely increase, for our population is still unfortunately growing at the rate of 5% a year. We know also that we will need to electrify our transportation if we want to have any, and that alone will cause demand to ramp up steeply. We also know that our existing fleet of nuclear plants is aging rapidly and will need to be replaced very soon just to keep up with current demand, and we know that the cost of coal in air pollution can't be borne much longer.

Wellinghoff and his confreres in the Green movement are perpetrating a scam- a tragic scam-in their insistance that we can run our systems or any significant fraction thereof on "renewables" while still maintaining anything like current levels of consumption. These people have no excuse for not knowing that a major shift to renewable technologies will have to entail a major cut back in consumption, and that is not possible at this point, nor will it be possible at all if we continue to foster the delusion that we can maintain current levels of consumption, let alone increase them, strictly by means of renewable energy sources.

In coming years, as the oil supply problems setting up right now start to bite with a vengeance, we will need every alternative technology devised, including renewables, in addition to stringent conservation and the complete rearranging of our lives, to retain current levels of comfort and amenity. At this date, nuclear power offers our only hope of generating power sufficient for our current and future needs while reducing carbon emissions and toxic pollution. It would be criminal not to explore promising new nuclear technologies that offer much safer generation with new fuels whose supplies can be extended far past the time when Uranium 235 will be depleted, and failure to develop these technologies would be a tragic mistake that would almost surely result in the U.S. becoming another third-world country within 20 years.