Monday, April 04, 2011

Water, trailers, firewood, earthmoving, and a plan to save the world, but not kitchen remodeling.

We were making rapid progress on the kitchen, and then life intervened again. I find that being alive and engaged does keep one's dance card rather full. I am mystified (and frankly saddened) by those who seem to do little else besides work and television. Something smells rotten in the kingdom of stewardship if you ask me. But enough of potshots against wasting your life. Ooops. Did it again...sorry. As another aside, our church small group is reading a book titled, "Jesus, Mean and Wild". It illustrates with many examples how Jesus was not a very nice man and ran around getting up into peoples' business and making them uncomfortable. The author suggests that if you're just trying to be "nice" to people, and not offend them, ever, you're probably doing it wrong. So, if I have offended you slothfull TV addicts out there, well hey, that's what Jesus would do.

OK, I really am coming to the point now.

I have not been laying around watching my soaps while the kitchen goes undone. I got a load of firewood, which I have been hacking to pieces and stacking. Steady progress there. The frost is definitely out of the ground, so I used the front end loader on the tractor to spread some more fill around the east end of the shop to level things out. I replaced the wimpy, sucky, broken axle on my little trailer. It developed a bad wheel bearing--again! It was the kiss of death.

I don't mind fixing something once, but two failures in a short period usually means a big upgrade. I went to my favorite junk yard and bought a big manly rear axle from an old minivan. I feel like I have graduated to "big boy" tires instead of the rinky dinky 12" tires/wheels that the trailer came with. It does make the little rinky dinky fenders look silly, since they really don't do much to cover the big sedan sized tires.

And most celebratorily, I got the water hooked up to the mad scientist lair, um, I mean the shop. Part of the biodiesel process involves literally washing the raw contaminated new biodiesel with water. I have traditionally used hot water because it works faster than cold water. And I have hauled that water in five gallon buckets, because I had no running water in the shop. I make a batch every week or two. Each batch needs 5 wash cycles. Each wash cycle needs (4) five gallon buckets, so 20 buckets a week almost. So, for four years, that's 4,000 buckets hauled by hand. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Two weeks ago, something snapped in my brain, and I determined that I had hauled my last bucket of water by hand. Years ago, before the shop foundation was poured, I dug a trench and "roughed in" all the utilities, electric, water and sewer. But there was always something just a little bit more important on the list of things to accomplish, so the final hookup for water just never happened.

Once I had "HAD IT" with hauling water in all sorts of inclement weather, the actual process of finishing the hookup only took three or four hours. I was like an eight year old kid who just got his first bicycle, watching with glee as the water gushed out of the garden hose. Now that I had pressurized running water in the shop, I could afford to switch to cold water washing of the biodiesel. While somewhat less efficient than hot water, WHO CARES, I don't have to haul it by hand. So now I have to do one or two more "wash cycles" on each batch, but my energy costs for electricity crashed through the floor, as noted by our last post. Stewardship ROCKS!

And finally, I have been working on a plan to save the world (in my spare time). As a species, we face several of the greatest challenges ever to our survival as a civilized group. Here is a short (incomplete) list if you want to google them all and go get depressed:

Peak oil
Peak water
Peak soil
Peak coal
Peak uranium
Peak natural gas

Peak phosphorus
Peak copper
Peak iron ore
Peak food
Peak rare earth metals
World overpopulation

I have pretty much worked out how to solve this, but it will take a month or two to write a really convincing summary with all the supporting documentation. Solving all the world's resource problems turns out to be a bit knottier problem than I originally imagined.

I am totally unconvinced that the government of any country, or any group of countries, will do anything meaningful to solve any of these problems. So that pretty much leaves it up to us. I hope to give you the tools and information so that when you consider every meaningful consumption event in your life, you will understand how to do it in such a way as to avert or at least mitigate the oncoming tragedies. Food, housing, transportation and conservation will be the big categories.

If you really really can't wait to save the planet and your fellow humans, I'll give you a little teaser where you could get some significant hints:

Paul Wheaton

The biggest permaculture forum on the web

permaculture meets inner city, aka the urbanfarmingguys

permaculture podcast and interviews

Greening the desert by Geoff Lawton

or do a youtube search for Geoff Lawton and watch everything he has done.

How to heat your house for free, forever, almost anywhere

transportation stuff

Stay tuned...


Saturday, April 02, 2011

Cool It!

Troy had been nagging me for almost two months about whether the power [electric] bill had arrived, and if I noticed "anything." He hinted that he had done something that he thought was going to make a "big difference" but wouldn't tell me what.

He was so excited when I showed him the envelope last week: the power bill was here! He ripped it open and was very jubilant. Compared to the same month last year, the usage had dropped from 1150 kwh to 212--about a sixth!!

So I asked him what had made this big difference. It's not like he was turning off all the power when we were gone (I would have noticed that when I got home) and I didn't notice any other changes.

No, he said, he had stopped using hot water in the cleaning cycle of the biodiesel process. Holy cow! that must have been a lot of water!

I've now caught him washing dishes in cold water too. (He washes them right away; I think that helps.)

He did claim, however, to still use warm water to shower.

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