Archive for June 7th, 2011

Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya: Near the End?

I’ll go back to posting about the geothermal project later today, but I’ll take a quick foray into politics again.

In the last two days President Obama has hinted that the US pull out of Afghanistan would be faster than anticipated, suggesting it was time for the Afghans to take control.   Secretary of Defense Gates claimed that NATO was close to a decisive blow in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile in Libya NATO forces have pounded Gaddafi targets as the rebels, for awhile in a stalemate with Gaddafi loyalists, now appear to be taking more towns and heading towards Tripoli.   This, along with a flurry of diplomatic activity by China, may hint at a Libya end game.

If by the end of the year the US can point to success in Libya and Afghanistan, the electoral picture for President Obama gets brighter in 2012.   The economy is still the main issue, but successful ends to those conflicts could help bring down oil prices (which as of today are down below $100 again).   Oil price increases helped drag down job creation last month, and maybe one of the most important variables for job growth in the short term.

Iraq saw the deaths of seven American servicemen yesterday, but as bad as that news is, it accentuates the fact that such news has been extremely rare — Iraq is not a vibrant stable democracy, but it’s also not a hot bed of violence and unrest.   In the decade since 9-11-01 we’ve seen wars spread, conflicts go in unexpected directions, and unrest emerge in the Mideast.   Only a fool would suggest that is all about to pass.

But if the US can manage to end the decade by putting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya into the past, allowing the President to campaign on a new foreign policy vision, it may be enough to help him overcome a slow paced recovery.   More importantly, if the US can finally put these conflicts behind us, it will allow a thorough re-thinking of US foreign policy rather than having to react to circumstances which leave us limited options.

Today the President is meeting with German Chancellor Merkel.   They have a lot to talk about.   Merkel’s approach to the recession appears to be working better than Obama’s, and perhaps the two of them can coordinate plans to improve the global economy.   They will also be talking about NATO, Afghanistan and Libya — Germany was one NATO country very skeptical of military action in Libya.   I may be overly optimistic,  but I get the sense that we’re nearing the end of a very difficult decade in US foreign policy.

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Installation Begins

The heat exchange pump is in the lower left of the photo - to be installed

The installers of the geothermal system, Jeff Gagnon heating, arrived at about 10:00 Monday,  later than expected because they had trouble locating our residence.    As they arrived the well rig had already been removed, and Goodwin’s will come back Wednesday to test the water and hook everything up — and we’ll be back on our well water.   After a walk through to determine where the ducts would be and how they could reach the basement through some of the closets, they got started.

This small opening into our very hot attic created difficulties!

The equipment actually turning the heat into forced air is going to be located in the attic and that presented two problems.  First, the hole for the attic is small, and they ultimately couldn’t get the unit (which in theory had 3/16″ clearance) through.  They had to take the unit apart and reassemble it in the attic.   They have a crew of four people doing the work, and they were friendly and professional — just like their boss.

Here is some of the equipment in the attic; they still need to put down plywood and move it to the other end of the house for set up

Even though Maine has pleasant temperatures — today in the seventies — Maine attics do not.   It was extremely hot up there, so by 11:30 after they’d finished the arduous task of getting the equipment up there they needed, they decided not to work up there the rest of the day.  Instead they’d prep the materials for the rest of the house, put some holes through the floor where pipes would go, and then arrive Tuesday at 6:30 AM so they could get work done before the day gets too hot.

We have three holes through closets to bring air to the basement. This one is actually to bring the heat from the heat exchange pump up to the attic from where it'll be distributed around the house (in Ryan's closet)

Today they located places in three closets where they’ll put pipes running to the attic.   The largest will take heat directly up to the attic so it can be dispersed through the house.   The others will try to give as much heat as possible to the basement, though we will at times have to augment that with our oil heater or electric space heaters.   We may use the later more often since the basement is one zone, and most often in winter we’ll just use part of it.   Time will tell.  The oil burner will still be used for water, though a desuperheater will give us plenty of hot water in summer, and be pretty efficient in winter.   It’ll be very interesting to track oil usage this year!

A hole as seen from the basement (from the upstairs entry closet)

I had to make some decisions — where should some vents go, can they place the heat exchange pump a more convenient place than originally thought.   Mostly I just deferred to their judgment — they are the experts.   They were very good at explaining what they were doing and why.

The garage now holds the heat exchange pump, duct work, and the 18 vents (plus two return vents) that will be installed over the next two days.    So though not a lot was done today, I have a clearer picture of what to expect, and it’s pretty exciting.

For those who read this blog for my reactions to politics and world affairs, I apologize that I’ve sort of turned my attention away from all that thanks to Italy and now this home project.   During the school year I have to keep up on all the international stuff because it’s part of my courses (and yes, I do find this to be a fascinating world!)   And at the end of this month I’ll be teaching summer courses so I’ll re-engage!

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