When Solar Goes Bad: A Case Study

Apparently someone reposted an old 2015 story and gave it new legs, and my news feed has been full of reports regarding a rural town voting a moratorium on solar energy because the panels would, among other terrible effects, suck up all the sun and stop photosynthesis.

I think you guys are being unfair and are just following the critical mainstream media on this, without paying attention to the evidence which is right in front of you.

In September, I unwisely had solar panels installed on my house, believing the environmental propaganda that they would provide me clean energy without nasty side effects. And sure, by my calculations we’ve produced over 3.4 megawatt-hours of power so far even in a rainy October, the equivalent of more than 4 NYC-LA flights and saving over 60 trees’ worth of CO2.

But. You know there’s a but.

My trees were full and green when those panels were installed. And look at them now. Brown leaves or even bare branches — it’s true. I installed the solar panels, and the trees stopped photosynthesizing. YOU CAN’T ARGUE THE EVIDENCE.

Roof with solar panels beside leafless branches and trees with dead leaves.

You can’t argue the evidence, people.

Continue reading

What is up with #Inktober?

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

If you follow my social media, you might have noticed that I’ve been posting ink drawings for #Inktober, and that they’re generally awful. You might have asked yourself why I would do that. Do I know how bad they are, or do I see my work through a blissfully ignorant filter? Is it some sort of prank?

So here’s what’s up with Inktober.

First, in case you aren’t familiar with it, #Inktober is a month for doing one drawing — in ink — and sharing it per day. You can find the brief background and this year’s optional prompt list from the creator Jake Parker. It’s something like National Novel Writing Month, but for visual artists.

Now, let’s recognize that I’m bad at drawing. No, I’m really bad at drawing. The local catchphrase for referring to truly hideous visual design is, “It looks like Laura drew it.” (Don’t feel bad. I’m often the one saying it. It’s not wrong to acknowledge my skills are in other sets.) So why on earth would I do Inktober, which unlike NaNoWriMo specifically requires publicly sharing one’s work?

I’m doing Inktober for several reasons: Continue reading

A Marathon Legend

I posted this on my Facebook page and got more reaction than I expected. So here’s an expanded version for your reading pleasure.

For most of my life, I’ve believed the story I read in my 5th grade schoolbook about Pheidippides running 25 miles from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to declare “We won!” before promptly dropping dead, and that’s the origin of the marathon.

Today I learned that’s not at all true. Continue reading

Birds & Fish

photo of trees on the other side of pond

the heron, in the trees beyond the pond

I walked out to my pond today and was not nearly fast enough to photograph the Great Blue Heron I startled out of it, but I did manage to snap a photo when he perched in a tree to avoid the enthusiastic Doberman chasing and barking at him. (Undómiel apparently did not get the memo about large birds not being dangerous aliens.)

What? You can’t see the heron? Well, sorry, all I had was a cell phone and some excitement, which does not equate to a telephoto lens, no matter how much excitement is involved. Continue reading

Let the Sun Shine! New Solar Panels to Power My Work

two-story brick house with ladder to roof and solar panelsAfter two days of intense upgrades, my house is powered by the sun.

We’re brand new and still working out the bugs, but our first day of full sun produced enough power to fuel my car over 250 miles. Our first day of partial sun produced enough power to run our house comfortably. We’re on Day 3 right now, so I can’t offer much more in the way of numbers or averages. Continue reading

Paramour: A Broadway Review

Paramour Broadway posterI had the opportunity recently to visit New York City and attend Paramour, the new Cirque du Soleil Broadway musical at the Lyric Theater. The show closed shortly after, and I had a number of people ask me to share my thoughts on this unusual fusion of circus and theater. We like circus, and we like theater, but would they work as well together like some sort of fusion cuisine? Continue reading

Contest Results: The Derpening

You might recall that I offered a prize for making fun of my awkward pictures. Because I take myself that seriously, all the time. And now, we have the results.

Tiny Laura in green dress with mushroom inside hollow tree trunkThe grand prize of three ebooks and a $20 Amazon gift card goes to Alex McGilvery, for his tasteful and dainty view of a tiny fairy Laura flaunting her tiny fairy status. Alex reports that the mushroom photo is his own, and the dress is stock. What a fun photo manipulation! Congratulations, Alex!

I did include the following guideline:

Winner will be chosen via a bizarre and wholly subjective algorithm of both execution and sheer concept, so if you aren’t sure you can nail both, just hit one or the other really hard.

1966 Batman and Robin fleeing giant head of LauraAnthony Vernon sent his submission with a bit of an apology for being new to photo manipulation, but he nailed it on concept. I love the 1966 Batman and the idea of being an over-sized and over-the-top villain watching the Dynamic Duo flee is kind of awesome. So I had to invent a runner-up prize for this one, and Anthony will be receiving two books of his choice and a $10 gift card for his work.

Oddly, no one took me up on my “any medium” provision (“Any creative take on my distress or hair flip, in visual art, words, song, sculpture, interpretive dance, whatever, is eligible”), so I have no other categories of work to share. Maybe another time!

Please join me in congratulating our winners!

A Chocolate Coffin

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Chocolate.

That’s a very literal title.

After all, I wouldn’t lie to you.

It’s no secret that I have a thing about the classic Universal monsters and gothic tales. Nor is it a secret that I have a small problem with chocolate. And so I was absolutely delighted to receive this chocolate coffin. (Or casket, really.) Continue reading