Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Go Solar
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Go Solar

Kristi Kates - April 20th, 2009
Go Solar!
What’s new in ‘green’ gear

By Kristi Kates

Germany and Japan may be the biggest current users of solar energy, but with the advent of a new presidential administration - and the quickly-growing popularity in America of high-tech, green gear - solar as a power source is becoming more popular stateside as well, whether it’s solar panels on a house or an office building.
One of the coolest ways to get started exploring what solar power has to offer is on a smaller level, with consumer-level items - so we’ve spent some time checking out this year’s best solar gadget offerings in person. And these are our picks for those who want to go solar for summer 2009.

Love the great outdoors? Then we’ll start with this trio of solar gadgets just for you.
The first has an extra level of coolness beyond even its solar functionality, as it benefits not only you, but also others. The BoGo flashlight was developed with the assistance of the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program, and its prototypes were tested in the harshest of conditions in Africa - which means it’s even more reliable for your car or home emergency kit. The bright orange model we received was reassuringly hefty and incredibly bright (with several different levels of brightness available via an easy one-button control) after about 10 minutes of charging in the sun.
And now that extra-cool part - when you buy a BoGo light ($59.00, www.bogolight.com), the company will give another BoGo light to a charity that you choose from their extensive list of environmental, literacy, humanitarian, emergency relief efforts, and even more.
The LightCap300 ($29.95, wwwsollight.com) offers solar light in lantern form, via four super-bright white LEDs plus a red LED for nightvision. But this isn’t an ordinary lantern; it’s actually a lantern plus a water bottle, so you can drink from it during the day, let it soak up the sun, and then use it for light at night. We set our red-capped version on a table and hung it up, and it worked very well in either case; the red light was a great nightlight or would be good for checking a map; and you could read by the white light if needed. The bottle seems a little large for everyday use, but would work well for a day hike or camping.
Backcountry Outfitters in Traverse City (227 E. Front Street, 231-946-1339) will be offering something similar this summer, as explained by Eric, one of the store’s managers.
“We actually just ordered some water bottle lanterns,” Eric says, “the really nice thing about them is that they save batteries, and they also give a nice lighting ambiance to your campsite.”
And even President Obama has been seen carrying around a tiny three-paneled Solio Classic Solar Charger ($99.95, www.solio.com.) The Solio - which can hold its charge for up to a year - gives you almost an hour of MP3 music time or 20 minutes on your cell phone for just 1 hour’s worth of sunshine. It can also power up a game player, GPS unit, bluetooth headset, or digital camera. And there are additional Solio units besides the Classic that offer even more power.

Adding a few summery lighting items is a great way to improve the look of your yard, patio, or balcony; and now you can go solar with these extras, too. You might want to start with Garden Goods in Traverse City (3510 N. US 31 South, 231-933-4769), where they carry some of the solar lantern line as offered by Allsop Garden (www.allsopgarden.com.)
Allsop’s hand-made solar Soji Silk Effects Lanterns are beautifully crafted in teardrop and square shapes, and are available in a number of shimmering colors; Allsop’s Soji Modern Lanterns, which are reminiscent of round origami, also make an artistic accent for any outdoor area. Our sample Soji Square Lantern popped up easily, looked lovely, and lit right away, although you might want to hang it in a less-windy area, as you’ll want to protect the internal bamboo supports.
“We’ve actually sold 400 of the Soji Lanterns so far,” Garden Goods’ general manager Robin Smillie says. “They have a solar cell on top and a rechargeable battery - they do a great job of glowing at night. They’re crafted of nylon, so they look like silk but are more durable outdoors. We carry the square and teardrop Soji Silk Effects lanterns, which are $29.99, and we also carry the Soji Modern lanterns, which retail for $39.99. We are super happy with the product - they’ve been wildly popular. People are buying them three or four at a time!”
Allsop also makes the equally pretty Aurora Glow solar string lights ($56.99 at www.allsopgarden.com), which are definitely not your typical string of outdoor globe lights. These are hand-blown of a weighty glass; at first, we thought they’d be fragile, but although we wouldn’t advise dropping them, they simply made a subdued windchime - like tone the few times they tapped together. Aurora Glows are available in a choice of four colors (white, amber, turquoise, and purple) and run solely from a single solar panel that sits quietly in the ground while the Aurora Glow lights glimmer above. The set we tested were gleaming white in the daytime, and in the evening glowed perfectly golden, living up to their name - these would look especially great wound through some thick foliage, and the solar component means they’ll be glowing every evening on their own, as they conveniently switch on at dusk and off at dawn.

Now that you’ve got your hanging lights covered, don’t neglect the ground level, whether it’s a pathway, driveway, or garden border. Sentinella Lawn Lights from Smart Solar ($149.95, www.smartsolar.com) work in a similar fashion to the Aurora Glow lights - they also have their own miniature solar panel that rests away from the lights themselves, but feeds them enough solar energy to run from evening to morning. The sleek Sentinellas have a rich copper finish and a milk-white bubble top, and are perhaps the most solidly constructed - and definitely the brightest - lawn lights we’ve seen yet, with several LEDs per light.
A set includes six Sentinellas on one long string, complete with motion-sensor ability. There are motion sensors in both the first and last lights in the solar string, to easily light up a walkway upon your arrival, and then save energy by shutting off once you’ve passed the last light, a feature that’s also great for winter, when there’s less sunlight and therefore less charging opportunity. The Sentinellas are pretty terrific, and reminiscent of well-appointed professional landscaping.
If you’d like to make an even bigger solar statement in your yard or garden, Smart Solar is back with their entire line of solar fountain birdbaths. Unlike a regular birdbath that can sometimes result in stagnant water, or the usual fountain birdbath that needs wiring and plumbing in order to work, these stand-alone solar models are super-easy - all we did was a bit of setup with the attached solar-run pump - and the running water is both beautiful to watch and calming to listen to.
The one we tested, the dark-toned Chatsworth ($249.95, also www.smartsolar.com), ran just fine, sending water in arcs from the top tier to the second level, which serves as the birdbath part; a large solar panel embedded in the top tier is what collects the energy, although this one definitely needs sunny days to work well. Our first test on a bright day, it ran fine; when we moved it for our (overcast) photo shoot day, it didn’t get enough sun to be active, although of course the birdbath part still applied - but keep in mind that it actually did pretty well considering this is early spring, so these should do very well in the summer. And it’s striking enough to look at whether or not there’s enough sun to run the fountain; it’s constructed of resin, so it’s not heavy at all to move around, but with its oiled-bronze finish, you’d swear you’d purchased a far more costly item.

And if you want to bring all of this solar power inside, you can do that, too. Obviously the aforementioned Bogo Flashlight and LightCap 300 are perfect additions to a kit that you might want to keep for power outages or other emergency situations - but there are still a couple of additional solar gadgets for the great indoors.
The Tanita HS301 Solar Scale ($59.99, www.thecompetitiveedge.com) is exactly what it sounds like - but not what you’d expect. It’s an indoor scale for your bath that measures your weight in pounds or kilograms; but more importantly, its attractive, minimalist white design hides a solar panel. This digital scale will never need batteries - just set it near a light source (even household light works), and it will run indefinitely so you can check your weight whenever you’d like.
And last - but most certainly not least - is the futuristically-cool Boiler watch by Freestyle ($115, www.freestyleusa.com.) The first solar-powered watch from Freestyle features a solar-cell charged battery that can run 12 months on a single charge. Not only does it look hip - the flat, square black test model we received also featured a structured rubber wristband, detailed and easy-to-read display, and a nightvision backlight - it can also survive a water dunking just fine with its 100-meter water resistance, and it kept time perfectly, too; yet one more reason why it is, indeed, time to go solar.

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