Monday, April 27, 2009

Getting Better All The Time

A virtual heat wave rolls over the Appalachians and then us, raising our pasty white faces up to a blue rather than grey sky, driving the bees crazy, filling the rabbits with thoughts of...well, other rabbits.

It must be a tipping point, because on this most perfect of weekends for it, the Wegman's supermarket started selling 6- and 12-packs of 250 brands of beer, and even chilled singles to enjoy in their cafe. This is momentous for a state still half-locked into Prohibition, with many dry towns and townships and lots of state laws and rules, too complex for many young employees of restaurants who get fired for breaking one they never heard of or understood. We can still hardly believe we got a Wegman's, which is like the Ferrari of grocery stores. We have traveled to Maryland to shop at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, but no more -- foodie heaven is just two towns over. And goodbye to having to deal with the dull beer distributors (unless you need mass quantities, like the Coneheads).

This is for you, Rus: the Patriot-News debuted its new design today, and it's not bad. The headers are in a purple/dark blue, there's more spot color, and, it seems, less fill material. The younger staff is either punching up the layout, or they are copying easy reads like USA Today.

Today (this is added on 4/18), our Senator Arlen Specter switched from Republicon to Democrat, after being blistered and threatened by his party because of voting for the stimulus bill. Catch me if you can, says he!

Another encouraging development (rather than the revolting kind) is the near completion of a new zero-energy home in Palmyra (near Hershey). At 2300 square feet and 15 rooms, it's still way too big in my opinion, but that's a minority view, I suppose. A geothermal HVAC system, extensive solar roof panels, and insulated concrete form walls from foundation to roof, along with quality building envelope materials (triple the required R values) everywhere, means a net zero utility cost and a very tiny carbon footprint. It costs 7 - 10% more, but the owners will get rebates, tax incentives, and about $500 a month in commodity certificates from the utility company. Things I've been reading and thinking about for 25 years are finally, slowly, becoming a reality in Dutch Country, which is significant because if innovation can take hold here there is hope for everywhere.

I'd toast it with a cold one from Wegman's!


  1. Thanks for the head's up! Just went there -- not as cluttered as most newspaper sites, so that's to be admired. On the downside, the first page that opened was a subscription page. Newspapers still aren't getting it! Next time you're in town, tell Cliff we need to get together -- he told me yesterday at lunch about "the stranger in the back yard," so we'll have you all over here for some cold ones!

  2. I'm not the strangest thing ever in HIS back yard. I wish I could have been at your Joe's lunch on Friday; with all our stories, we'd have been there until 8 PM. If those old places ever went away, I think we'd all just curl up like a dandelion on Roundup.