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Energy Upgrade or 401(k)?

first_imgStart with an energy auditI hope you can both invest in your retirement and also have an efficient home. But if you’re struggling to keep up with energy bills while also saving for the future, I would at least start with an energy audit.Tristan Roberts is Editorial Director at BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, which publishes information on green building solutions. Sure, I’ve heard of placentas before, but my mental image of them was of some kind of amorphous blob that sort of disappeared after the baby was born.But as an expecting father, I learned in a class last weekend that the placenta is the main source of nutrients, waste processing, and oxygen for the developing fetus, which is attached to it via the umbilical cord. From the Latin word for “cake,” it’s a flat, roundish organ attached to the uterine wall. Within half an hour after giving birth to the baby, the mother gives birth to the placenta, which weighs in at one to two pounds!What happens next depends on your species and culture. Most animals that have a placenta, including herbivores, eat it, but few humans do so. People of many cultures bury it. In some cultures it is fed to animals — for example, fed to ravens to encourage prophetic visions in the child.In Eastern medicine, it may be dried and included in herbal formulas for certain conditions. That practice has been catching on in some pockets around here, with midwives drying it and putting it in capsules for the mother to take as post-partum medicine. The hormones in it may help ward off post-partum blues. But in most of the western world, this unique object is simply incinerated. Spending on inefficiency costs more and moreI don’t know what the “right” thing is to do with the placenta, but the idea of treating it as a resource, even as a food or medicine, got me thinking. In our culture we tend to literally burn the resources that are closest at hand, and then go looking further afield for new resources to replace those.In the energy realm, I can definitely tell you that this is not a good idea. The strategy of living with inefficient homes and cars, and then looking to retirement accounts and paychecks to pay for that inefficiency appears more and more questionable. And I have some numbers to prove it.An astute analysis was recently posted here on GreenBuildingAdvisor.com by Ted Clifton, a builder, and the founder of Zero-Energy Plans (zero-energyplans.com) in Washington. The numbers Ted put together are pretty straightforward, but the conclusions might be startling to many people, particularly those living in a home with significant energy bills, while also thinking about retirement. Are there any sure bets?Wait, you say. I’m not relying on Social Security — I have a retirement account invested in stocks and bonds. Fair enough. The stock and bond markets have been great at times, with 10-year annual returns often better than 10%. On the other hand, 10-year annual returns can be more like 0%. It’s a volatile investment world. Are there any sure bets?Ted proposes a simple, radical solution: “If you could use the equity in your home to buy your next 30 years worth of energy at today’s prices, you could lock in a rate of around 5% interest on the loan, and receive a return of 6.33% over time. This would allow you to earn a return of 1.33% per year on the bank’s money.”In other words, do a major energy upgrade on your current home, or buy a new (or used) energy-efficient home. Depending on the home and your needs, you may even be able to afford a “net-zero energy” home, one that produces as much energy as it consumes.center_img Straightforward stats, startling conclusionsClifton quotes statistics kept by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which has been keeping track, since 1974, of the price that consumers pay for energy. Although energy prices are very volatile, and are different for various energy sources (oil goes up and down, while trending up over time, while electricity is more stable, while still going up), Clifton found that the average annual increase for overall energy prices including natural gas, heating oil, and propane, has been 6.33%.According to Ted, “By comparison, the Consumer Price Index, used by the government to calculate increases to your Social Security check, has only risen at an annual rate of just under 1.54% during that same period. It is clear just from looking at these two numbers that if you are trying to use your Social Security check to pay for your energy use, you will be falling behind by about 4.8% per year.“The average American living in a 2,000-square-foot house is currently paying home energy bills of around $214 per month. In addition to the home energy costs, the average American is also spending a similar amount on gasoline for transportation. At the current rate of energy price inflation (over the last 38 years), this number will double in about twelve years. Yet your Social Security check would only increase by about 18% over the same time period.” Too far-fetched? Make targeted investmentsIf this seems too far-fetched to you, maybe some more targeted investments would make sense. I just had an energy audit that identified several possible energy efficiency upgrades, all of them pretty basic stuff—caulking to reduce air leaks, and adding insulation.To give an example, my single-family home is lacking insulation in a strategic location — the above-grade portion of the basement walls. Adding spray-foam insulation to the interior of those walls would cost $2,310. An incentive through Efficiency Vermont should reduce that cost to $1,760. Thermal House, which did my audit, predicts that this project will save $25 per month in heating costs, meaning that in a “simple payback” calculation, the upgrade will pay for itself in just under six years. Let’s say that I borrow the $1,760 at 5% for five years to pay for the work, bringing my overall cost up to $1,848. It still pays for itself in just over six years. Neither of these calculations looks at likely increases in energy costs, either. I’m also not looking at return on investment (ROI), because that varies a lot based on your time horizon.last_img read more

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The Indians Win Streak Wasnt MLBs Longest — But It Might Be

It had to end sometime. After sustaining a perfect record and a staggering 142-37 scoring margin over more than three weeks of play, the Cleveland Indians finally lost Friday night, dropping a tight contest to the Kansas City Royals. It was their first loss after winning 22 straight games. Now that The Streak is over, Cleveland can go back to focusing on the playoffs like any contending team.Just because the Indians can put their streak in the rearview mirror, though, doesn’t mean that we can’t dwell on it a little more. It wasn’t the major league record for consecutive wins — if we include unofficial ties in between victories, the 1916 New York Giants’ 26-game mark still reigns supreme. But we can compare the Indians’ streak to that Giants’ run and determine exactly how difficult baseball’s best winning streaks were in general. (And, because I can’t resist, compare the Indians’ accomplishments with winning streaks in the NBA.)Depending on how you measure the streak’s likelihood, the chances of a team like Cleveland pulling off their streak might have been as low as 1 in 65,000.To judge this, I compared all the MLB streaks to one another, assuming they were done by the same, generic contending team. I set up a simulation under which a team with a fixed Elo rating — our method for determining how good a team is at a given moment — would take a crack at the particular opponents1Including the location of the game and the opposing starting pitchers. faced by every real MLB team who had a winning streak2Again, including streaks interrupted by ties. of at least 18 games since 1901.A few more technical details of the simulation: I gave all the teams the same fixed rating, 1560, which is the average Elo of a World Series participant since 1903, when the first modern Fall Classic was staged.3For context, the average Elo rating is about 1500. For comparison’s sake, the Indians’ rating at the beginning of their streak was 1555. I also assumed the streaking team had a five-man starting rotation, with the team’s rotation slot for the initial game of the streak randomized.4The generic team’s Elo pitcher ratings were then based on the long-term average for that slot number in the rotation. The opponent’s was still the real-life version that reflects the actual starters a team faced during its streak. (This matters because a team that goes into a potential streak with its No. 5 starter is much less likely to get off on the right foot than a team putting its ace on the mound.)After running the first round of simulations, here were the odds of our generic contending team pulling off each streak: Which MLB winning streak was most impressive?Probability of a generic contending team matching MLB’s eight longest winning streaks since 1901 1904New York Giants181471.466.41,691 What if we account for rotation size and era?Probability of a generic contender matching the longest winning streaks, adjusted for historical spread of Elo ratings and shorter rotations in past According to this model, the hardest streak still belonged to the 1916 Giants — which isn’t too surprising, since they won four more games in a row than the Indians. And sorry, Billy Beane: the 2002 “Moneyball” A’s also fall behind lesser streaks because of the weak opposition they faced during their streak. But another thing that stands out are the odds, which are much more favorable than if we simply ran them on a .500 team. 1904New York Giants181471.468.9860 (We’ll have to leave the impressiveness of the Dodgers’ feat — winning 52 out of 61 earlier in the season — for another time.)The difference is because a 1560 Elo squad is (by design) no ordinary .500 team. Our generic team is going to be predisposed to running off a stretch of games like this, which only makes sense — average teams don’t go on these kinds of tears. And our simulation teams only got hotter as they won — that is, a team’s rating is fixed at 1560 before the streak begins, but then it gains steam with each victory, making the odds of winning again higher.But there’s another layer we can add to the simulation to make it more reflective of the conditions under which each streak was actually compiled. Most clubs didn’t use the five-man rotation, for instance, until the 1970s or early ‘80s; likewise, the best teams of the past used to be much stronger Elo-wise, making it more likely we’d see such a run of greatness earlier in baseball history. We can account for these wrinkles by assigning a four-man rotation to teams before 1980, and adjusting our generic team’s fixed rating to be slightly higher in the past than in later seasons.5The adjustment, which is based on smoothing out changes in the average World Series team’s pre-playoff Elo over time, isn’t huge for most comparisons, but it does drop our fixed rating from about 1580 in 1903 to about 1540 in 2017. After re-running the numbers with these two tweaks, here’s an amended list of the most difficult streaks: 2002Oakland Athletics201489.563.78,454 2017Cleveland Indians221496.763.029,951 1906Chicago White Sox191507.461.411,642 YEARTEAMSTREAK LENGTHAVG. OPP. ELOAVG. WIN PROB.GENERIC TEAM ODDS 1916New York Giants261493.465.2%1 in 76,702 1916New York Giants261493.567.234,720 1906Chicago White Sox191507.563.95,313 2017Cleveland Indians221496.660.9%1 in 65,566 1953New York Yankees181518.058.616,752 1947New York Yankees191506.260.813,297 1953New York Yankees181518.059.213,895 YEARTEAMSTREAK LENGTHAVG. OPP. ELOAVG. WIN PROB.GENERIC TEAM ODDS (ADJ.) In a plot twist, the Indians’ streak now rises to the top — a function of being accomplished in an era of (theoretically) more parity and a higher chance for some scrub pitcher to mess the streak up thanks to a bigger rotation than older teams had.So how does this stack up against notable streaks from another sport like, say, basketball? Using the same Elo-based method,6Except without any of the fancy starting pitching adjustments, obviously. I calculated the odds of a generic contending NBA team (with a 1660 Elo7The average Elo for an NBA Finalist since 1984, when the league adopted its current playoff format.) pulling off some of the longest streaks in pro basketball history. And even the most impressive streaks on the hardwood can’t compare with baseball’s hottest runs.The longest winning streak in NBA history, the 1972 L.A. Lakers’ 33-game winning streak, would have a 1 in 720 chance of being accomplished by our generic contender. The Golden State Warriors’ 24-game streak to start the season a couple years ago raises the bar a bit, with a 1 in 1,879 chance of being achieved by a generic contender, since the Warriors faced a much more difficult slate of opponents. But even a streak as memorable as the Houston Rockets’ 22-gamer from 2008 seems weak (1 in 247 odds) when compared with the baseball streaks we looked at above.Streaks are nice, but the Indians surely have another accolade in mind: the World Series trophy. As of now, we give them a 1 in 4 chance. Given what they just pulled off, doesn’t seem so hard, does it? 1947New York Yankees191506.261.710,223 2002Oakland Athletics201489.462.213,775 1935Chicago Cubs211499.663.119,477 1935Chicago Cubs211499.764.312,736 read more

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Victims mother reacts to Gov Newsoms new death penalty order

first_imgVictim’s mother reacts to Gov. Newsom’s new death penalty order Sasha Foo, March 14, 2019 Updated: 10:05 PM Sasha Foo center_img 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO (KUSI) – There’s more reaction following Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to order a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Danielle Van Dam, the mother of the 7 year old Sabre Springs girl who was abducted and killed in 2002 said she was frustrated and confused by the Governor’s decision.A jury convicted David Alan Westerfield of murder and sentenced him to the death penalty.In an exclusive interview with KUSI, Brenda Van Dam said she did not understand the Governor’s executive order.In 2012 and again in 2016, California voters rejected ballot propositions that would have abolished the death penalty. Van Dam said the Governor needs to listen to the voters.“He says it goes against ‘bedrock values’. Well the voters have voted and they told you what we want. Those are our values,” Van Dam said.She said she does not think her views of the death penalty would change, although she said she’s torn when she considers the impact on taxpayers, “because it’s very expensive for the taxpayers, although it is reserved for the worst of the worse. And there’s nothing really happening in that system anyway. So, in my eyes, it’s a huge waste of money. Why are we wasting time trying these people for the death penalty, give them their appeals, if we’re not going to follow through on the process?”Westerfield is locked up in the prison at San Quentin and Van Dam said she’s certain that’s where her daughter’s killer will die.The State of California has not put any inmates to death since 2006, because of legal challenges to the state’s method of execution through lethal injection.“Honestly, I feel the longer he’s in his box, he’s being tortured. I hate to say this as a person, but whatever is worse for him is better for me,” Van Dam said.The Governor’s executive order is a temporary reprieve which will expire when he leaves office.The question of whether the death penalty should be abolished permanently in California could resurface shortly. State lawmakers are working on another ballot proposition that may go to the voters in 2020.Three other states have imposed moratorium on the death penalty; Colorado, Oregon and Pennsylvania.Related stories:Gov. Newsom signs executive order that stops the use of the death penaltyJan Goldsmith: Gov. Newsom uses executive order to stop death penalty Posted: March 14, 2019 Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitterlast_img read more

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