In response to May online exclusive A Penny for your Donation? by Alex Hoeft and Za’s Lakeside fundraiser for the sculpture

Thank You, Friends of the Penny Bear!

A big thank you to Jonny Roscher and Za’s Lakeside Restaurant in Tahoe City for hosting and donating all the food and a percentage of the bar revenue to our first annual Pizza For Pennies fundraiser dinner Nov. 3 to benefit the maintenance, signage, and lighting of our  Precious Penny Bear sculpture in Tahoe City. The pizza, pasta, Caesar salad, and wings were delicious and plentiful; the wine, beer, and cocktails fl owing, and everyone had a great time!

Many thanks to Dan Copeland for providing his entertaining music, and to all the donors who provided items for our silent auction including Trunk Show, Homewood ski area, Squaw Alpine ski area, Wolfdale’s, Sno Shark, The Bridgetender, Tahoe Art Haus, A Santé Lakeside Fitness, Tahoe Dave’s sports, The Carmel Gallery, Coffee Connexion, Tahoe CrossCountry center, the Tahoe Gal, Tahoe City Winter Sports Park, and Obexer’s.

~ Vicki Kahn, Tahoe City resident, via letter


The Enemy isn’t PG&E or Fossil Fuels, It’s Us

In 2011 to ’12 I was the live-in caretaker of a large scientific facility in the middle of the wilderness. The facility considers itself “off-grid,” meaning it’s powered by a $300,000 state-of-the-art hybrid system including 17 large solar panels (five of which are mounted to passive trackers based on a variation of a concept I invented during engineering school in the 1970s), a wind generator tower, a $20,000 AC/DC sine wave inverter tower, 54 solar storage batteries weighing over 100 pounds each, and a 2,000-gallon water tank. Did you  notice I put “off-grid” in quotation marks? That’s because there are also three 500-gallon propane tanks and five propane-powered generators there that provide electricity when there’s no wind and no sunshine, which is frequently the case.

That hands-on experience taught me more than any textbooks just how we can never abandon fossil fuels, and to think we can is pure scientific ignorance. No amount of money thrown at the issue can ever subvert the inviolable laws of physics. Without wind or sun, there’s no power generation; there are no reliable ways to store electricity from wind and solar systems full-time; steel cannot be produced without coal; and none of the thousands of synthetic products we all use can be made from anything other than fossil fuels. In the proverbial nutshell, without fossil fuels we would all be catapulted backwards into a very primitive life.

My “off-grid” experience also taught me respect for our power companies (PG&E and all the others) that make our modern lives possible. Our array of power providers do all that tedious work every day that I had to do at that facility so that we can have lights, TVs and stereos, computers, cellphones, heating systems, AC, electric vehicles like the Tesla, and all other amenities that keep us out of the caves.

Whether it’s PG&E or any other power provider, we need them, and to attack them is not only ignorant, it’s insane.

PG&E is only partly responsible for all the fires blamed on downed power lines; the real culprits are all of us who have over-burdened the grid (40 million Californians and growing) and moved increasingly into wild areas rife with canyons and forests. As Pogo once quipped “I have met the enemy and he is us!”

~ Jeffrey Middlebrook, Truckee resident, via letter


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