Snow/Cold/Gas Crisis 2011: Crunching the Ins & Outs

To start things off: In honor of this version of the Gas Crisis, let’s start with some music from the O.G. Gas Crisis of 1973…and yes, I don’t believe the term “O.G.” (original gangsta) was much in use when Johnny Winter’s slightly less-talented brother Edgar made this tune a hit…

Yup, I was twelve years-old back then, and, like the folks in Edgar’s band, I had hair so long I could easily stick it in my mouth, too.

And so APS Winter Break II:  Electric/Gas Boogaloo went into its fourth day, and as the next two days were Saturday & Sunday, this meant an impromptu six-day vacation for everyone directly involved in the “education business” here in Albuquerque.  A few comments…

Parents: How are those children of yours treatin’ ya today?  Makes you REAL glad you have some professional baby-sitters (i.e., teachers) most of the time don’t it?

Teachers: Isn’t this like those times in college where you went to that party even though you knew there was a Macro Economics mid-term the next day, and that you really hadn’t studied nearly enough Macro and should just stay home and study, but you went to the party instead, drank way too much and then debated, rather drunkingly, at 3:15 a.m. with anyone that would listen on the merits of just sleeping through the exam at 10:00 a.m., weighing the outcomes of that (e.g. professor never having any respect for you again) versus staggering into the lecture hall, bombing the thing and asking the professor (later, after your hangover subsided) about any possible extra credit?

Well…this school closure is that party, and the rest of the semester is the Macro mid-term.   Are you studying much, fellow teachers?  No…me neither.

And speaking of studying, I find macro-stuff fascinating. I’m not criticizing the APS decision to keep schools closed to reduce natural gas demand..I’m just wondering aloud if closing schools today actually reduces that demand.

For example: Let’s say school is in session.  That empties out X number of houses in town, which dramatically increases the number of households following the Mayor/Governor/Mubarek’s request that everyone turn their thermostat down 10 degrees.  Now did ANYONE actually lower their thermostat by 10 degrees?   The Babble household can honestly report that we lowered our by five.  Not ten.

But if houses are cleared of pesky humans, including youngins…wouldn’t compliance for tens of thousands of households be higher today?  And would that more than counterbalance the increases caused by heating schools?  And how far had schools turned thermostats down, anyway, given the propensity of our old, crappy water pipes to burst?

Then you’re talking the energy outputs of getting to school (rarely natural gas-powered of course), the fact that the state-of-the-art APS bus system has a unique set of diesel buses that can’t run when temperatures are below freezing (funny one that), and it gets more and more complicated.

I’d love to have the free time to fully study the situation, but we only have this impromptu six-day vacation.  So instead, I’ll just, sans research, categorically declare that we’re using MORE natural gas today than with school in-session.  Actual research is for nerdwonk losers, anyway.

Oh, and did I mention the air-conditioning cost of extending our school year into June?  Again, not natural gas there…but this does get a bit complicated, don’t it?

The upshot is that it’s time for us professional baby-sitters to get back to work and grade papers instead of contemplating such things.  Here’s hoping you have too much time on your hands, as well, this weekend.

P.S.: I can’t let any 1973 reference go by without a Zappa tune.  Here’s Frank and the band playing “Montana”  (Duke, Luc-Ponty, Underwood & Underwood, et. al.)  in what looks to be a middle school teacher’s lounge in Stockholm.  Dig all the plaid and facial hair…

Have a good, warming weekend everyone…


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