Dr. Snarky Sparks and officemate Dr. Shrinky are dedicated to prevention and treatments that help their patients avoid or weather storms--real and imagined. A growing concern for the medical professional duo is solar storms, not only because they can make one\u2019s hair stand on end. They also can cause power and electronic blackouts. Given the rise of digital grids, iPhones and other electronic gizmos, national space weather forecasters are beefing up solar storm tracking because of increased vulnerabilities. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, solar-induced geomagnetic storms are expected to surge in 2013. In March 1989, geomagnetic fallout from solar disruptions was responsible for \u201cwidespread disturbances\u201d to the U.S. electrical infrastructure, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corp. Instead of Romulans and Vulcans in a Trekkie confab, it was a Space Weather Forum last month. The Washington, DC, meeting was held to educate utilities, other service providers, and regulators about the \u201cmultiplying uncertainties from increasing reliance on space weather-affected technologies for communications, navigation, security, and other activities, many of which underpin our national infrastructure and economy.\u201d Also undermining our infrastructure are gas pipelines, which are reported to be leaking in San Francisco. According to multiple sensors placed in downtown San Francisco by a new firm, Picarro, numerous leaks of methane were measured between 1.9 to 2.6 parts per million, and at levels above global background levels. Dr. Snarky has a patent pending on a stink-o-meter that clients can use to pinpoint noxious olfactory threats. Also being released above background levels is another gas--it\u2019s not natural, but it is inflammatory. Some politicians are creating their own lightning (bulb) storms over the federal ban on inefficient incandescent light bulbs. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives attempted--without success at first--to repeal the 2007 energy bill signed by President George W. Bush. The new federal legislation, known in some circles as the Dim Bulb Act, was introduced by Texas Republican Joe Barton. He attacked the 2007 law that phases out inefficient light bulbs, claiming it infringed on freedom of choice. \u201cIf you\u2019re Al Gore, and you want to spend $10 a light bulb, more power to you,\u201d Barton stated. \u201cWe are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money,\u201d countered Steven Chu, Department of Energy secretary. More efficient light bulbs are estimated to save consumers about $6 billion in 2015, according to the White House. Under special rules in place for the measure, it took two-thirds of the 435-member House to screw in an incandescent light. A vote short of that in the House allows the existing law seeking to increase energy savings to go into effect. Only 233 votes were mustered early this week in a roll call tabulation, short of the 290 needed. That was good news for California, at least for a few days. \u201cOur state standards are early adoptions of federal standards. If that bill had passed it would have preempted our standards,\u201d said Susanne Garfield, California Energy Commission spokesperson. But don't speak too soon. On Friday, July 15, the House passed the measure on a voice vote, with no roll call of the yays and nays, attaching it to a spending bill that later passed. While Dr. Snarky deals with solar storms and light-ning, Dr. Shrinky is a little concerned about the frequency--not of sex, but reliability (although sometimes they do intersect). Dating may be problematic this summer due to a test the North American Electric Reliability Corp. plans to run. Under it, grid operators will suspend the practice of what are known as \u201ctime corrections.\u201d So, if you\u2019re planning to get together at 8 p.m. for a date, make sure your watches are geosynchronized. In a perfectly timed world, the grid operates at a frequency of 60 Hertz; that\u2019s one cycle per a sixtieth of a second. Analog electric clocks are built to tick off one second for each 60 cycles of current. In real time applications, the frequency on the grid drops slightly below 60 Hertz, slowing clocks a bit. In fact, NERC found that occurred on almost 1,900 minutes over a five-year period ending in 2010. To keep clocks running on time grid operators have boosted frequency during some minutes to even out times when frequency drops. But, beginning July 15 NERC plans to suspend this practice for the next year to see what happens. With more digital clocks and the small number of minutes in which frequency drops, many think it won\u2019t matter much. After a reassuring Canadian prescription for reliability, next in queue for Dr. Shrinky\u2019s couch is the depressed cap-and-trade market. California\u2019s carbon trading market is not the robust young upstart it was a year ago. It suffers from delayed intercourse and lawyers. And, cap-and-trade\u2019s relatives are flaking out. The Chicago Climate Exchange sister-in-law suffered a partial closure. Permit thefts in cousin European Union caused it to take a powder, although it may resuscitate in 2013. Two Asian nephews--South Korea and Japan--put their carbon trading regimes on Prozac. Australia simply left the family for a new carbon tax honeymoon. While the weather\u2019s been up, down, and over, there\u2019s one notable patient who claimed to be \u201cunder\u201d the weather. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) failed to appear at the Heartland Institute\u2019s Conference on Climate Change held in Washington, DC, which was funded by Koch Industries and ExxonMobil. The reason for not appearing was that he was \u201cunder the weather,\u201d reported media outlets.