Archive for March, 2010

2003 BP Solarex Tour

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by Drogo

The BP Solarex Facility Tour in Frederick,  MD

November 2003 – These are the notes.

Jefferson County, WV residents toured the BP Solarex facility in Frederick, Maryland. In attendance were John Henry Dale, Michael Shor, and Walton Stowell Jr. & Sr.. The following information is based on notes taken during the tour and official Solarex publications. Special thanks to Public Relations representative Debby Burgon. They did not allow photographs inside.

Although Solarex is now owned by British Petroleum, the Solarex plant was owned by Amoco & Enron in the 1980’s.  Now BP Solar boasts that their “Projects Group designed and supplied over 50,000 systems (totaling 70MW) and managed over 25,000 installations (nearly 15MW).”, and “completed installations in more than 150 countries (a record unmatched by any other company in the industry)”.

First on the tour was the Casting Room and the Sizing Room.  Michael asked what Silicon cost per # . The ‘crystalline operations’ and ‘tech center’ contained blocks of ingot, crystalex controllers, and a large cutting room  1=> 25 bricks / casting station vats.  An ‘ingot crusher’ machine cranked away as a loud speaker echoed in the docking bay.  Terms such as ‘silicon powder’ and ‘top-cut’ were discussed and cylinders were cleaned with corrosive chemical bath.  Next was the ‘hot form block melting room’.

The ‘wafer cutting room’ contained many purple, pink, orange ear plugs; white suits, grey slop gloves goo, and blue slippers.  This is where ‘template calibration’ for the solar cells took place also.

Next an Airlock leads into a blue floor, where wafer separation, cleaning, and setting begin.  Automated cleaning and etching stations occurred in glass tanks.  (SiN) Silicon Nitride  240 microns = 3-4 sheets thickness.  A violet / dark blue wafer coating with “silver paste” was then baked in aluminum.  These would go to a drying furnace in front and back lines with automated tooling systems.

multi- & mono- solar cells  (multi-cells are darker, absorb more sun, more efficient)  “silicon is dangerous”

A large final room housed machine plates that mounted bar stripes (bus bar) with tabbing ribbons, and negative / positive copper wire with silver coating.  Then there were assembly-soldering operations for the complete solar panels; which were then laminated, and ‘cassettes’ were loaded into a matrix machine with roller knobs.  Contained in soldered back-matting is dios wiring and label black caulking buettle. Current / voltage testing / reading SPI sun Simulator BP 380U. The panels are cleaned, flashed, and boxed in argon @ 23.8 degrees.  NRE National Renewable Energy

The cost of a solar system is directly proportional to how much energy you require.  Small cabin systems start at a few 1000 dollars.  A typical household system could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000. “Clean Power Estimator” = evaluates $ saved contact section to discuss design with a distributor. Array combo – Inverter – Utility kw/h meter.

Currently prices are still not economically feasible or comparable with grid power in most states. Illinois has a very limited subsidy program for homeowner, like in Japan and Germany. Skylight connector modules have (leads) silicon-nitride covering over wafers.

Some questions remain:

“What percentage of energy used to produce solar panels in the plant, is provided by solar energy?”

“Why is taking so long to open more plants?” and “Why do you now have a barbed wire fence?”

“Why did you cut over half of your workforce in 2010?” (update)

2010 BP Solarex Job Cuts


Oil Company cuts jobs at Solarex, BP “Big Plans” for the Future!

Posted in Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by Drogo

Oil Company cuts only Solar Panel manufacturing plant it has on the East Coast by 2/3 in 2010

Blame it on poor economic bubbles created by giants of industry and banking.

Blame it on anything you want, but the facts are sad regarding our plans to improve ourselves in the 21st Century. Besides all the economic and political problems we have been facing in housing, banking, health care, insurance, and jobs; forget about issues of War in the Middle East, Education and Terrorism; one industrial plant stood alone on the entire East Coast of the United States of America. That was BP Solar. It had been restructured and growing in the past decade. Now that hope is diminished by more than 2 thirds.

SCOD was proudly given a tour through the plant years ago, with some hope for the future of alternative energy and good American jobs. Now we are being thrown back to the Reagan years, where it was popular to make fun of Jimmy Carter’s environmental energy policies and tax cuts for solar panels. Who needs alternatives when America is addicted to Oil and stubbornly proud of it?

BP Solarex justifies cutting 320 workers because labor is cheaper in India and China. About 110 workers will remain as sales distribution and engineering staff. Maryland State Government had already dedicated over ten million in stimulus credits last year, but BP said it was not enough based on current market problems. They have already shut down plants in Australia and Spain.

This reinforces my opinion that alternative energy plants need to be run by more public utility companies, and not fossil fuel companies. Rules should be put in place to enforce companies to fire CEO’s and managers when “unforeseen economic problems” arise and cannot be handled, rather than lay-off workers.

Is there no rehab for Oil Addiction? Step One is admitting we have a problem. What is Step Two?

Other Solar Panel Links:

SCOD Tour of BP Solarex (2003 notes)

SCOD Tour of BP Solarex (video slideshow with narration)

Frederick News Post Article

BP Solar Website

Saruman Sings Symphonic Metal

Posted in Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by Drogo

Saruman Sings Symphonic Metal

Christopher Lee sings as his relative Charlemagne

Album: “Charlemagne”

Genre: Operatic Rock / Symphonic Metal / Musical Pop

Released: March 15, 2010

Produced: Cadiz Recording Company


Dracula, Saruman, Count Dooku, or however you know him, Sir Christopher Lee sings about his historic relative King Charlemagne! That’s right: 8th Century Karolus Magnus (Charles the Great), King of the Franks as operatic rock! Charlemagne became the Christian Emperor of Western Europe, in the face of Pagan Barbarians and the wreckage of the Roman Catholic Empire. He was the Son of King Pippin the Short, and his worst defeat was against the Basques in Iberia (Spain). The oldest surviving historic epic in French Literature, “The Song of Roland”, is about one of Charlemagne’s knights when they were departing Iberia.

Now, this album plays as a dramatic Broadway musical; whimsical, over-the-top, emotional and even educational; complete with historic narration! Orchestral music, the type often used for Motion Picture Scores, bleeds into occasional Heavy Metal riffs. For fans of Christopher Lee, Medieval History, Opera Rock, and high quality cheese this album is a must!

Previous recordings with “Rhapsody of Fire” and “Manowar”

Suburban Sprawl: The Cookie-Cutter Row Housing Epidemic

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Historic Architecture, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by Drogo

Suburban Sprawl: The Cookie-Cutter Row Housing Epidemic

Five types of urban row housing have spread like a plague into the countryside, thus turning pastoral farmland into suburbs and slums.

1. Townhouses – all houses literally jammed up against eachother

2. Tract Housing – all houses almost jammed up against eachother

3. Duplexes – 2 houses jammed up against eachother in pairs

4. Condos – Apartment Complexes

5. McMansions – huge gaudy mansions crowded on a small lot of land

The selling factor for these crap homes is AFFORDABILITY.

It is cheap for the builders to develop an entire farm field.

It is cheap for new home buyers to buy them, relative to real homes.

Through increased taxes, the county can then begin improving infrastructure.

That is where the benefits end.

Here are the negative effects of SHITTY DEVELOPMENTS:

1. Destruction of farmland

2. Destruction of wild habitats for animals

3. Transforming all rural land into suburban sprawl, which leads to urban slums

4. Overpopulation pollutes all the natural resources over time

5. The infrastructure is always playing “catch-up” to the overpopulation demands

6. Historic Landmarks are destroyed or crowded around destroying their landscape

7. Deer overpopulate due to lack of natural predators and hunting grounds, therefore most are free to eat and poop in yards, spreading Lyme disease; and then wandering and jumping across roads adding to automobile accidents.

8. Aquifers run dry due to increasingly high demands for tap water

9. Traffic jams on an urban scale

10. With the rate of growth all these problems and more become exponential

The problems with the actual crappy card-board homes are numerous as well:

1. Standard Housing, can easily be substandard with hasty construction

2. Poor planning even by Urban Standards

3. Urban Standards are applied to a Rural Setting

4. Materials are often sub-par

5. Labor is often sub-par

6. Continual Fixes after completion will be expensive

7. Urban population density creates social problems endemic to a city

8. County government will raise utilities and taxes to meet the new demands

9. The housing is “cheap”, but still over-priced based on bubble-economics

10. Architectural quality and pride in craftsmanship is dead

(full list still being compiled)

Conclusion: Frank Lloyd Wright knew it was better to build a few separate Apartment Towers, with gardens and farmland between them, than to over-crowd our beautiful landscape with stuffy, unimaginative shit boxes.

Punk Rock

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Music Reviews, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by Drogo

Punk Rock

Evolving from garage bands of the early 1970’s, urban industrial working class citizens began expressing their political and anti-establishment angst. Punk Rock defined itself with less emphasis on music quality, and more emphasis on speed and shorter songs. Just as urgent anger can drive a worker to finish a job faster, anger is released in punk rock as an urgent call to pay attention, to celebrate the moment, to seize-the-day, or just-do-it!

1976 is seen as a pivotal year for Punk Bands like the Ramones, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, etc. Being ‘Punk Rock’ means practicing any non-conforming or socially shocking vocals or physical behaviors. Punk Rock physical behaviors include looking or strange and/or acting illogical. Punk Rockers look different by wearing improvised and socially rejected attire and hair cuts. Although the shock value of Punk Rock is communicated by audio, visual, and physical modes, the underlying principles of Punk Rock are actually breaking through to alternative thoughts.

Into the 1980’s and 90’s Punk Rock subcultures were often fierce and divided. Punk Subcultures are defined either by their own style, or an associated genre: Rockabilly, Thrash, Surfer, Skin Head, Straightedge, Skater, Ska, Oi, Celtic Punk, Goth, Gutterpunk, Glam Fashion and Big Hair. Informal urban tribal gangs as audio based social movements. True Punk tends toward aggressive rebel anarchism.

Pop Rock (Popular Punk Rock) existed from the beginning with elements seen in New Wave bands, and artificial bands created by producers. Pop Rock continued using Punk Rock into the 1990’s with The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Mighty Mighty Bostons, Green Day, The Offspring, and other bands popular at colleges.

In the 21st Century a Pop-Emo appreciation of The Cure and Radiohead produced many new bands based on moody, sad personal emotions; with less emphasis on group hardcore resistance to established norms. Punk Bands like Bad Religion continue to express paradoxes in themselves and civilization, loud and proud.

Punk Rock is freedom of thought and expression in music; which extends and resonates through all the arts of life. Punk Rock has certain modern stylistic trends that identify it for labeling (for example as a similar but separate tradition from Acid Jazz); however punk as a philosophy can also be used for any anarchistic revolutionary action, look, or behavior.

Drogo Hawkest


“A righteous student came and asked me to reflect
He judged my lifestyle was politically incorrect
I don’t believe in self important folks who preach
No Bad Religion song can make your life complete
Prepare for rejection
You’ll get no direction from me
You’ll get no direction from me
You’ll get no direction from me”

–  from “No Direction” by Bad Religion


“a sense of self-definition and also sort of playing music for music’s sake and being part of a family for family’s sake.”
Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi)


“Punk rock is just another word for freedom.”
Patti Smith


“Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don’t let them take you alive.”
Sid Vicious

Hilltop Hotel Ruins 2010

Posted in Historic Architecture, Organic Architecture, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2010 by Drogo

Hilltop Hotel Ruins 2010

Multi-Million Dollar Terrorists did this, by purchasing the Hotel and then without negotiation, condemning it. Then without talking to the architect of the 2000 Master Plan, designed something 3x the size (from scale drawings) after this is demolished.

Oh and removing a central beam from the porch without replacing it helped alot. Why not help demolition along? Holding a landmark property hostage, without real negotiation of design, it is treated as disposable for corporate greed. It shows disdain for the local community, common among out-of-town big-buck investors.

So much for historic preservation and a place for lower income people to visit (like Appalachian Trail Hikers). So much for the Presidential Green Award that was given to the Hotel in the 1990’s. So much for Sustainable Maintenance improvements and designs. So much for Environmental Eco-Cabins, earth-sheltered into the historic hillside. So much for local architects being respected.

Hello Bribes!

Welcome Bubble economics and Madeoff schemes! So long ghosts of an old building that few professionals would touch. Perhaps those ghosts will continue to haunt the grounds. Perhaps after demolition, the property will be sold to Middle Class Americans, like the original family that built it, the Lovetts. And perhaps someday, that family can start from scratch, with one house, open to all.

For the right way to handle the Hilltop House Hotel property, read this article:  The Historic Hilltop House, Revisited


Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Environmentalism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2010 by Drogo


Hippies are people too. Sometimes we forget because the hippie movement fell out of favor only a decade after it began. Why? Because hippies were different, hippies are made fun of, and often financially powerless because by definition they gave up desire for those social and political constructs and aspirations. Also it is popular to say they “stink” because they often smell different due to bathing and patchouli practices. It is popular to make fun of astrology, and “new age” alchemical spiritual beliefs. It is the natural tendency to make fun of people that are different than normal standards, by birth or by choice, and to be biased against them.

So “hippy” has become a derogatory label.  There was a decade when many believed and felt they were part of larger revolution, and not just a fashion taboo. Others will always believe that their idealism was flawed, and they were always just criminal bums. Those people are usually called different names by those they call hippies, to be fair.

The popular Hippie Movement during the 1960s, had evolved from the 1950s counter-culture of hipster beatniks, and embraced a revolutionary return to naturalist folk traditions. Peace was a major motivating factor for many people to become a hippy. Environmentalism, drug use, and alternative lifestyle freedoms were also very dominant aspects of the movement.

The peace symbol was developed in the UK as a logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and was embraced by U.S. anti-war protestors during the 1960s. Originally the “V” finger sign stood for Victory (a return to peace) in WWII, but ironically was adopted by hippies to remind people about the joys of peace. Hippies were mostly pacifists and many participated in non-violent political protests, such as marches and demonstrations for civil rights, liberties, and peace.

The degree of political involvement varied widely among hippies, from those who were active in non-violent demonstrations, to the more anti-authority street aggression of the Yippies (the most politically active hippie sub-group). The active yippy political rebels led to underground resistance groups like “The Weathermen”, and often operated violently as anarchists. Pacifist hippies tend to disagree with hateful tactics.

The Hippie Movement continues to the present day, but began to decline in the 1970s with the emergence of new popular movements like Disco, and later was rejected by Hip-hop breakdance, Goth, Punk, and Yuppism in the 1980s under the hyper-inflation of Reaganomics. The economic bubble of the 1980s (which revived the 1950s industrial enthusiasm) had a lot to do with the cultural supremacy of Cocaine.

The multi-culturalism of the 1990s was a peaceful integration of many colorful hippy values like celebrating ethnic diversity and environmentalism, with modern technology and the enthusiasm of the commercial 1980s. Improvements in transportation allowed these benefits of travel, including the popularity of tattoos. However, this positive zeitgeist was smothered by the Military Industrial Complex under Bush II.