A few months ago I listened to a How I Built This episode about the Dripsie, a meticulously and carefully designed sink strainer. I have a garbage disposal in the bottom of our single bowl kitchen sink and thus have no need for a Dripsie. I bought a two-pack anyway and took them up to our ski lodge to try them out.
They work much better than the old stainless strainers full of little holes. Even when they’re full up with food scraps, they continue to drain very well. Tonight Alicia asked me where I got them. At first I couldn’t remember and googled a few terms related to sink strainers with no luck at all. Then I finally remembered the name Dripsie and voila.
Keeping your children from dying is the first and highest goal of every parent. Humanity in the Agrarian Age could not do so. That is an index of how much pressure from material want humanity found itself under.
If you ever wondered why we can’t have single form tax returns, or automatically prepared tax returns with the information the IRS already has, the reason is because Intuit and H&R Block have made it illegal for the IRS to offer such a service.
They’re trying to perpetuate that status quo, permanently preventing the IRS from offering tax prep software. The best way to fight them is to never again pay them a single penny.
For tax prep, I’ve been using credit karma for the past couple years and I recommend it.
In the year 2013 we acquired our fish tank and a few goldfish from Highland Terrace Elementary. Months later our tank population grew when neighbor kids tired of their fish. The goldfish eventually outgrew our tank and retired to an outdoor pond. We replaced with a few Neon Tetras. One by one, the tank population shrank until 2016 when only one (from our neighbors) remained: Methuselah the Ancient.
Methuselah moved with us to our new home in 2016. After that initial year of construction and mayhem we added two more fish, three snails, and a pair of shrimp. Methuselah had tank mates again but he paid them as much attention as they paid him: not much at all. Methuselah the Ancient has been the subject of many stories and his old owners still come visit (he never knew they weren’t coming to see him).
On Saturday June 16, 2018, Methuselah the Ancient was found stuck to the intake of the water filter. Farewell oh ancient one.
I’ve grown Basil on our windowsills for a few years. Version 3 is now growing in Utz Cheese Ball containers.
With flower pots, I used a moisture sensor and watered the plants a couple of times a week.
Version 2 of my window planters was less pretty but massively more functional gallon milk jugs. Their square shape provided far more volume in the same sill print. In that extra space, I also integrated some physics to reduce maintenance. I put an inch of gravel in the bottom of the jugs, a layer of fabric, and then filled the jug with potting soil. The fabric just keeps the soil out of the gravel. The gravel provides drainage when the soil gets saturated. As the soil dries, water wicks up from the gravel via capillary action and moistens the soil from below. When I can’t see water in the bottom, add some. It worked very well.
While v2 worked great for the plants, the gallon milk jugs were hard on the eyes. I watched for substitute containers. Last years make-the-walls-7-inches-deeper-project left us with 9″ deep window sills. That permitted use of containers in many more sizes and shapes.
Version 3 was born when the last jug of cheese balls was empty. I nipped off the top couple inches and assembled it the same way as v2. I dropped in a few basil plants and set them in my West window. They couldn’t be happier. Since I only have to water them every few weeks, I’m happy too. It’s time to buy more cheese balls!
Today I heard my neighbors car alarm go off so I headed to a window. Then their other car’s alarm started going off too. Looking out the window, I could see both neighbors and their daughter, pushing buttons on their remotes to get the alarms to shut up.
Seizing the moment, I grabbed a broom and raced out the door towards them. While brandishing my broom high I screamed at them, “get away from my neighbors car.” Rhonda, their daughter, who had set off the first alarm was rendered utterly helpless. Apparently it’s much harder to dodge a broom waving maniac while busting a gut laughing. Who knew?
Smitty, upon hearing the first alarm, thought it was his car so he grabbed his keys and hit the alarm button to turn it off, which is why there was now two car alarms blaring. Rhonda had turned off the first alarm, but then Smitty’s started so she hit the alarm button again, turning it back on. I arrived in time to inject more confusion and transform it into a true comedy of errors.
I now have a full year of electric production and consumption measured. I also have the SCL rate updates for 2017 and 2018 so I have updated my solar ROI estimates. The significant change is that the Net Metering benefit has substantially increased due to:
SCL electric rates are higher in Shoreline than Seattle.
I was still insulating deep into the heating season.
I guesstimated the kWh it would require to heat a 1955 house with heat pumps.
I installed a fast (level 2) charger for our Leaf. We were able to use it more, offsetting gasoline with electricity.
The increased usage is all at the higher 0.14¢ price tier.
Reasons 1-4 weren’t known during my initial estimates. Reasons 5 and 6 were planned but their scale was unknown. I knew I’d be removing all natural gas appliances (furnace, water heater, fireplace) but I hadn’t yet decided whether to install tankless electric or a heat pump water heater. I hadn’t chosen the heat pumps for house heat yet so I didn’t know their HSPF. I also didn’t know how much more we’d be able to use the Leaf.
The net result is that I now estimate a 100% return on the solar array in the 6th year instead of the 8th year.
I did not include the cost of the heat pumps or the heat pump water heater. Those were efficiency upgrades that I’d have done anyway. If I were keeping natural gas, I’d have replaced the old 80% furnace with a 97% modulating furnace and the “well past its expected lifespan” gas water heater with a gas tankless. In both cases the costs are comparable and just like replacing the fridge, the efficiency increases have their own ROI schedule.
The coldest Puget Sound winter in decades is receding and with it the heat pumps heavy period of energy use. April showers are upon us, the sun is rising higher each passing week and solar output is crawling out of the winter basement. In the past week, the solar panels produced 75% of our household energy budget. It looks like we’ll be into “solar surplus” territory by the end of April.