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When the music’s over … turn out the lights, [ Earth Day update ]

See Marilyn Pratt’s blog:  Enlightened Citizens of the World ‘in the dark’ for Earth Hour

(There are only 2 technical changes to this blog for 22-Apr-2008, but I thought it was worth a re-post given the date)

3:55 filmed power meter “before” self-imposed blackout

8 seconds of power meter – note the radial sweep



3:59 shutdown unix server, vonage dongle, voip wireless phone base. Skipped downstairs hub-dongle buried.

4:02 microwave, coffee machine-skipped stove, fridge and wired phone base. Dongle for kitchen stereo. Unplugged DeWalt cordless radio charger and B&D FireStorm charger.

4:07 Unplugged tv, dvds and laptop charger.

4:27 filmed power meter “after” blackout

About 15 seconds – imperceptible rotation.


Hot water heater is still on. Dishes? (later)

During the day, I charged up my solar powered lantern.  I got it for use at camp, but tonight seemed like the right time to light it up.



Dinner was a can of soup with extras, prepared using my solid fuel powered backpack stove.




Access To Tools 

For more information on this stove, which uses twigs, sticks or charcoal lumps from other peoples’ fires 😉 see: 

It uses a AA battery for a bellows effect; I’m using a NiMH rechargeable battery but don’t have a solar charger (yet).

There’s a review by Stewart Brand (yes, that Stewart Brand) here:

with a shorter version here:

A short quote from Brand’s review: “We’ll all want one when the economy collapses completely and we have to live homeless.”

I brought the lights back up around 9:30, switched on the heat and the background hum of electronic devices.

So, what does this mean to ye SDN reader?

See my prior blogs on measuring energy use and sustainability topics:

Obligatory business return on investment advice: 

If you leave your PC on all the time, but only use it 40 hours per week or so, you’re wasting about 3 times as much energy as you are using productively (168-40).

I did not analyze what my trough energy use was when shutting down, but 2 ways of doing this would be to count the meter rotatations per minute to get watt-minutes or fractions of kilowatt hours, or add up all the nominal wattages for all the devices.  I think the server had the biggest hit (200 watts maybe?). 

(note: the book photo above was shot in daylight, not lantern light)

Credits: Title inspired by The Doors song – When the Music’s Over

[un-checked autoplay for quicktime videos 03-Apr-2008 as people reported browser crashes – technology is so underrated] 


[22-Apr-2008 / Earth Day – copied the movie files to SAP site as my ISP is shutting down]






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    • Krutarth – thanks for listening.  I’m interested in how people in other countries view what has been described as “The Ugly American(s)” (google for book and film). /jim
  • Jim,

    I really liked your article on energy conservation.  It is something we all need to be aware of.  There is this guy who sits opposite  me who never switches his computer off when he goes home…..he sais things like “global warming is a big con”, “the earths core temprature is going down not up”, “the alps had it’s biggest snowfall in 25 years this year” and “the polar ice caps have increased in size in some places”.  He thinks climate change will happen regardles of man and that the current phenominum is down to unusal sun-spot activity.  He also doesn’t like polar bears as they eat their young (sometimes) and, they are always left handed.  He also thinks that the goverments have perpetuated “the glonal warming” myth so that they can put up oil prices, road taxes etc.  I am not a big fan of this guy.  He doesn’t know anything about SAP either…!

    I on the other hand believe everything you wrote.  I would even take things one step further.  I am reading a book at the moment called the “Ultimate Nutrition Book” by Patrick Hallford.  This guys is a genius like you!  He sais that we should avoid cooking food as much as possible as it takes all the good nutrients out.  I couldn’t help but motice that you were cooking mushrooms.  I would throw away that buncen burner of yours and eat the mushrooms raw (natural is always best).  If it is a little bland then garnish the dish with some crushed black pepper or chillies (my favorite) hmmmm yummy.   If you really need to heat it up, try leaving it in the sun for a couple of hours.  Obviously, depending on your location you probably could steam the food.  The guys in Yellow Stone park have nothing to worry about – as they have hot springs to leverage off.

    The only part of your article that I slightly disagree with (if you permit me) is this “ugly American” thing.  We should avoid brandishing one nation like this.  I know lots of good looking Americans – Tom Cruise is one of my favourites albeit he’s a little short and I didn’t like him is “Days of Thunder”.  But seriously, we are all one race and should not single out one particular country.  This is a world problem and we need to deal with it as such.  We need American just like they need us.

    Keep writing, I can’t wait to read your next article


    • Aabhari: I’m glad you like this series, and I will check out the recommended book.  A side benefit of eating better is feeling better and hopefully living longer.  As far as the “TUA” I rented a copy from Netflix and will see how it turns out.  With Brando in it, it should be great. /Jim
  • Great article that brings attention to how much equipment, do-dads and gee-gaws that we all have that are plugged in.
    I realized that I no longer needed nightlights in any of my rooms because of all of the red, white,and green lights from all the computers, appliances, and extension cords.
    Thanks for showing us the way!


    • Thanks Bob!  Actually, people probably think about their power usage once per month when the bill comes in, or maybe standing at the gas pump.  I’m a pack rat, so I have records going back years, and got motivated to do something (a lot of credit to Marilyn Pratt for her challenges and charges!).  Maybe a solar water heater and battery chargers are next. /jim
  • Jim,

    Thanks for the article.

    You’ve made me stop and think about all of the things I have running at home and question what I even need to turn on (dang, forgot about the microwave and TV).

    With gas predicted to go over $3.50 USD (here in the states) it is starting to feel like using energy is going to become a luxury.

    Thanks again,

    J. Haynes

    p.s. Now if I could only find a way into the house to power my laptops with solar panels…