Letter Box

Tuesday July 23, 2013

Internet is slow,
and slow to come

Editor of the Reformer:

Once again, we’re treated to hyperbole about broadband Internet service in this area, in this case a banner headline followed by an editorial lauding the allegedly soon-to-come super-high-speed broadband in the Springfield area.

It reminds me of the old joke about Bill Gates walking into a bar. Immediately, the average income of the bar patrons is more than a million dollars.

If Burlington and Springfield have fabulous Internet access, that doesn’t help the person in Halifax who is still living with dial-up service, the only option for them. Clearly, it’s more profitable for the Internet providers to upgrade service in heavily populated areas than it is to bring even low-end Internet service to back roads that might require miles of cable to serve one or two homes.

That’s why the state received federal money to reach the backroads and byways in the state. But progress is slow. We’re always promised that it will arrive in "a few years." We were promised that it would arrive by the end of 2013. Now they’re talking about 2014, and they may get extensions even beyond that. Some of us will be dead by the time we get decent Internet service.

It’s nice that people in the Springfield area will have access to superfast Internet service. But it’s annoying when our Senators and newspapers write as if this service will be available to everyone.

It won’t.

Even if, on average, Vermont has the best Internet service in the world, it won’t help the person trying to run a business on a back road with access only to dial-up. Remember Bill Gates and the bar patrons. Averages sometimes mean nothing.

P.S.: Speaking of speed, the new, allegedly improved Reformer web page took about 50 seconds to display with satellite Internet. Clicking on a link required another 15 seconds. The only advantage to slow Internet is that it requires one to multitask, doing something else while a page uploads, and that’s supposed to keep the brain sharp.

Gretchen Becker,

Halifax, July 19

Update on urine
to fertilizer project

Editor of the Reformer:

Thank you to over 170 community members who are contributing their urine to our project. The Rich Earth Institute has already collected about 2,000 gallons out of our 3,000 gallon goal for 2013. On behalf of our Board of Directors, we want to express our heartfelt appreciation to this diverse group of early adopters. You have overcome any initial squeamishness and accepted the challenge to treat your urine as a rich fertilizer resource, instead of as a waste to be flushed away.

When dropping off containers of liquid gold, you have shared amazing conversations with us about your experience. It is a pleasure to see how empowered you are by this process, and how committed you are to closing the food nutrient cycle.

At the farm, we are taking the precaution of sanitizing all the collected urine, using methods including solar pasteurization. We will then use it as fertilizer on two hay fields in field trials funded by a grant from the USDA SARE program. Last year, we established that urine is a very effective fertilizer for hay. This year’s trials continue to measure yield, and also investigate ways to streamline the process for farmers.

Special thanks to Best Septic of Westminster for donating toilets and hauling services for our unique urine-collecting portapotties that debuted at the Strolling of the Heifers Expo on June 8. Seth, Jeff and Brenda, the Best Septic staff, are committed to urine recycling and will be collecting urine from special portapotties at other events this summer.

We are most grateful to our partnering farmers, Jay and Janet Bailey at Fairwinds Farm, for their collaboration and enthusiasm. They understand the potential for this abundant local source of fertilizer to not only grow hay for their horses, but to eventually support all the farmers in the region who stand to benefit from this research.

Readers new to this project, please visit our website at www.richearthinstitute.org to learn more. Or come to Brooks Memorial Library on Monday, July 30, from 7 to 9 p.m., where we will be presenting "Fertilizer from Urine: Clean Rivers and Sustainable Farms." Kim Nace,

administrative director,

Abe Noe-Hays,

research director,

Rich Earth Institute,

Brattleboro, July 12

Where do they stand?

Editor of the Reformer:

Gun Sense Vermont. It was great to participate in the July 4th parade, but as we walked we could see that some folks had a question:

"Gun Sense." Are they for it or against it?

These are the three points that we are proposing for our legislators to address:

1. Universal back ground checks.

2. Tougher gun trafficking laws.

3. Safe storage.

That’s it. These three things seem pretty common sense with which, we feel, most Vermonters would agree.

People are still able to own guns. If you agree please contact your legislators. For more information contact www.GunSenseVT.org.

Stewart and Kris McDermet


and Brattleboro, July 17


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