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Tom Rutledge

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since Apr 15, 2012

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Recent posts by Tom Rutledge

RFE : Broken links, polling external content loading everything into
(Request For Enhancement)

So there I was minding my own business perm-ing away.   Some kind soul had put in a link to some external resource.  ( )

And it sounded perfect, but the image after the link was broken... and the domain is no longer resolving... etc.

Good news! was watching it!*/

There are a few UI things that could possibly help people get to the right place.

1)  Call out broken external links specifically.   There is probably enough umph in JavaScript to figure out when a resource doesn't load or a request to the hosting sites root fails at least.   ( doing it in JS avoids backend complexities )

2)  When a link shows up as broken, point people to the internet archive page for what was there ( e.g. :*/  )  with a  quick howto as to how to use the wayback machine.   E.g. Look for green dots, and scroll back on the yearly timeline to find more dots.

3)  To insure that the archive is populated.   Forever external link (heck for every link), attempt to register the page to be saved in the archive.   ( e.g. )

Thank you for the consideration and time.
Especially if #3 is already being done.

For what it's worth :

Construction of a "bear proof door" , though I'm guessing that the other commenters were completely correct and if a bear _really_ wants to get in you'll need to up your game quite a bit.  Possibly take bear proof trashcans as an inspiration.

3 months ago

Bethany Dutch wrote:The other day I got to chatting with my Dad about a few different predictions about climate change, etc.


We don't have an adequate substitute for oil just yet. We have a few potentials, and maybe some things that will work on a small scale, but nothing on a big scale.


What would life look like for the people who are left? How long would it take before civilization would sorta somewhat recover? Or would it ever?

The Hubbard curve is a real thing : ,

If you'd like to look at a post petrol plan, look at  Jeremy Rifkin's  The third industrial revolution ( ) and zero marginal cost society .

Or read Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-koop's building a better world in your back yard (  )


Elan Musk forced the auto manufacturers to go electric by building a better car.  Trucks and farm tools are next.


Most of the arguments around "we can't without oil" or "an adequate substitute" is really PR from the involved industries.   A more correctly stated version might be "There is no adequate substitute that is cheaper, and is already done for you without any effort on your part... keep buying our oil!".  


Coal / gas and petrol.   it is currently cheaper to decom a coal plant and install wind power than to simply pay for coal shipments.    Gas power plants are being shut down and replaced with battery farms.  we are well on our way to the electrical systems being off petrochemicals.  The rest of it is a question of gumption and pricing rather than technology.  


For some insight into the entire collapse issue, one can look into the Seneca Effect / curve / trap. ( )

The short answer is diversify and understand where one is on the curve.

Note, we didn't run out of whale oil because we ran out of whales. We stopped killing whales when they got rare enough to be cost prohibitive compared to this new thing oozing out of the ground ( only some what true, but a good start) .

The scarcest thing about the end of oil isn't the oil.  It is the end of the Petro-Dollar.   This is _very_ important.  The USD is the defacto world currency, and the  US gets away with lots of shenanigans because it can just go and print more money when every other country in the world can't ( technically its more complicated than that... but not by much ).  

I can't tell you exactly what'll happen or how it'll go.   ( and with an Iranian conflict possibly rising up and blocking the straits of Hormuz
( , maybe we'll find out about that sooner rather than later.  )   There are general responses and planning that we can individually do that will decrease the suffering around the time that it happens.  

e.g. Permaculture!    Gert doesn't much need to care too much about outside inputs ( ) .    If everyone were Gert'n through life, we'd be much less effected by monetary system changes.

Way to long, sorry about that.

6 months ago

paul wheaton wrote:tesla power wall - I got the impression that they are about $7000.  And they supposedly will do fine down to 4 degrees.   It seems that the the thing to do, for a portable solution, is to have them in a super, tiny insulated room with an incandescent light bulb that comes on when temps are below 20.

Out of all of the solutions that you listed, the one that seems the quickest and I am the most comfortable with would be the propane generator and a conventional portable electric heater.


I think the best thing this year is a series of simple, indicative tests.  

Even if we ran the generator for a week, holding the interior temp at 85 degrees F for a week and then observed what happened in the following weeks - all of that would still be nothing more than indicative.  

The real test is a year from now.   Hence the challenge with "annualized" - it takes a year to do proper tests.

If we had more people in the bootcamp the last few years, we might be two years ahead on this testing.   Which is why I have placed so much emphasis on the bootcamp and the BRK for boots.

Totally fair and right.  

My understanding with the power walls,  $7-8k cost, + installation ~= 10k.

( I just found these) Slightly better than strait propane would be something like a cozy cabin propane heater, they are sailboat heaters that send flue gasses out the chimney.   Neat!

Also, they make the same thing but for diesel.   Diesel heaters : flue gasses go out and the heat stays.    And diesel. :/

These are probably both cheaper / better than a generator and lights, but would be more single purpose tools.

And yes, artificially loading up the mass is testing, and possibly testing things that are not the most important.

Good luck!

paul wheaton wrote:I haven't finished reading your post and I need to comment on the propane heater.   I have two big concerns:

    - it uses up the oxygen in the space (and i am also concerned about the invisible exhausts)

    - it puts a huge amount of water into the air

No worries.   The oxygen issue (e.g. killing things with lack of it ) can be solve by the Mr. Heater  Big Buddy  it's got an low oxygen shutoff.  Maybe not something to _only_ trust, but it's something.

The water might be the solution to get the mass more charged.

A pool heater, that circulates warm water around coiled tube inside the wafati.    ... They seem to be costing in the kilo dollars. well fooie on that.    a home brew solution might work well enough temporarily enough to charge up the mass.


The volts wagon.   It might be possible to hook up a heater (or some lights) without the inverter or the batteries.   (depending on the details of everything)  A dump/diversion controler => 3k worth of lights or resistance ; done. ( :) )


The power wall will be something like $10k ( and they _really_ might not like it being used as in a mobile installation ), for 13.5 kwh .   13.5 turns into about 46k btu, and each round trip is going to take 3-4 hours.  I'd guess the cook top is doing more.


heat water with the cook top?    That might help the heat transfer better... maybe...


5kw of propane generator (outside) and a bunch of halogen lights (inside) ?    It's temporarily icky, but might be worth it for science. ( and the cheapest/ simplest/ fastest solution ) .   And I can see not being happy with that one; I'm not.


Tank hot water?  Is there a large hot water heater on the lab?   a 55 gallon barrel of water at 210 degrees has about 50k BTU usable in it.     4 of them might be a good start, though driving that stuff around is going to be dangerous and getting it all moved around is going to be burn inducing.


That being said, it's a good problem to solve.    having to wait 3 years to _realy_ get a place happy is a larger ask for the general human populations.


Build the sauna.  Put it down hill of the floor of the abby.   Add some water heating coils to the sauna heater.   Thermosyphon up to tank(s) in the abby.    Daily sauna activity.  ?    


As a first data point it's probably a good idea to start recording wood weight.  It'll put an upper bound on BTU required to increase the air temperature in the space.   Adding more BTU than that number is just going to be wasted.  (Should! hA!  I almost should'd Paul, I need some sleep I think).  A week or two of watching the temperature loggers and recording wood weights, we can go back and get the temperature rises per weight of wood.    Two burns a day, one when it's getting warmer and one when it's getting colder ( and dark) would be helpful.  Is there an exhaust gas temperature for the typical burn on the cook top?  ( getting an approximate idea of cook top thermal efficiency might be helpful too ).  


I'll ponder it more after some sleep.

Good luck with it!

Some partial fractional solutions / ideas :

I'm working through a similar design problem.   I'm trying to estimate how much external heat (or cold) a space will require.

I accidentally figured this out by running a propane heater in the space.

If a 4k btu / hour heater heats the place, it's losing less than 4k btu /hour at the current temperature difference.

The heat loss equilibrium would be  heat_added =  heat_lost_to_environment + heat_put_into_the_mass + heat_added_to_the_wafati_envilope.

If the wafati human envelope is at a stable temperature, and the mass is at a stable temperature then the result is the amount of heat lost to the environment at that temperature difference.  ( it gets complicated because there is air and ground temperatures to deal with, ignore it for a bit ).

By finding several equilibrium points with different amounts of added heat, the system should be characterizeable.   If there is measurement of how many BTU is required to change between equilibrium points in mass temperature, that should be usable to help inform how many BTU are stored ( and thus available for use later ).

Also,  If I had my maths with me ( I forgot them long ago apparently ),   The shapes of the curves in the temperature graphs would help : e.g. ,   The Un heated temperature graphs show a logarithmic decrease.   They should be asymptomatic to the temperature of whatever is driving the system ( presumably the mass and energy losses to the cold cold outside ).  

The front wall clearly shows this sort of shape :   Though it's probably responding to the outside temperature more than than the thermal mass charging.

Is there a temperature sensor in the floor?

Is there a reticence to using temporary portable propane or kerosene heaters?   If the voltswagon isn't doing anything  3kw of solar turns into 10k btu of heat with an extension cord and a resistance heater.  ( just don't run it on the batteries cuz' it's abusive ).

We should be able to math this out some.... humm..

Some answers :

More specifically the questions arose from me working on phase changing materials (PCM) for use as part of the thermal mass in one heading solutions.    The easy PCM materials are water, waxes and fats.    Water ; Boom squish  and if it's left to freeze it'll destroy it's container.  ( though hyper saturated salt water might be an option for the freezing part ).  Waxes and fats... they tend to be flammable.   Which brought up the idea of, WTF does one do if one breaks PCM containment over a hot part.

In other fields the answer would be something like Emergency Power Off (EPO) the equipment and get out.    

I completely failed to consider the earthquake / major structural issue angle.  

Maybe a fiberglass fire blanket?    

Possibly a wad of fire safe cloth like stuff on a stick to plug up a ruptured chimney?

Thank you all for the helpful comments.
6 months ago

Peter van den Berg wrote:There's an old recipe which was used in former days in the Netherlands. Somewhere beside the cole stove a two pounds paper bag of salt was placed on the floor. It could stay there for years until a chimney fire occured. The recipe was to rip open the paper bag and throw it in the fire, bag and all. Immediatly after that all the air inlets should be closed and the chimney fire went out just like that. Presumably the salt getting hot, was producing a gas that's supplanting the oxygen in the stove and the chimney. The stove shouldn't be opened immediatly after the fire was out, the fire could start again in a flash.

Maybe it would work in a J-tube rocket as well?

I do like the good old ways, thank you.

Baking soda seems to be one of the options.    A smaller than feed tube sized bag of baking soda might be the thing, followed rapidly by sand /  a cover plate.

6 months ago

Bits and bobs :

1) heat from the cooker :
Have you tried using stack effect to draw more air across the surface?  
e.g.  Grab a 4-8 ft piece of ducting from the bone pile or wherever and hold it a few inches above the hot burner area ( maybe with a stand or hanging from the ceiling ) .   It should help get the heat away from that area.    If that works more would work better.
A solid maybe.

2) De humidification :

Intentionally leave one of the windows without a cover to get the water condensing their first, then figure out how to deal with _that_ window condensing.  Possibly a metal plate rather than a window.   Possibly placed in a cold sump / the lowest spot in the area so that the cold doesn't drain the rest of the structure of heat, but can be allowed to get cold enough to dehumidify then let the water flow down ( and out? ).

Good luck!
6 months ago

A friend swears by the sauna.  A minimum size is 1 inch larger than you are with a head hole to poke your head out of.

One of the Nifty things about the Finish style sauna's is they were built first in most long term camps.    With this there was always a refuge for getting warm and clean ( and delivering children ).

I'd council the size be increased so that someone could use it as a sleeping space in a pinch.  So a bench of at least 6 1/2  ft x 30 in  or so.

With a bench high and a bench low, this results in a 4 or so person sauna with space.

With a little bit more space it might also serve as a winter time clothes dryer.   ( just add clothes lines or drying racks )  

I'd second the safety fence around the burning bits.

Good luck!
6 months ago