C. Letellier

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since Nov 08, 2013
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Recent posts by C. Letellier

Sharing on of mom's favorite kid things for this time of year.  Cattail twists for additions to bouquets and table decorations.  Cattails are borderline too young for it to work best right now.   It will work for about the next month with prime season for it starting tail end of July at least in this area.

1.  Harvest a plain cattail.   Best is if it can be done immediately after harvest.  If not put its stem in water to keep it moist for a few hours till you can do it.  You will make more mistakes and fewer successes the longer it is from being cut.

2.  Using a smooth table knife held perpendicular scrape the brown off in long stripes up the cattail.  

3.  Color the paler scraped areas with a crayon or marker.  Crayons' color's are typically more durable.  Mostly you will want the really solid colors rather than paler or pastel  Markers typically show better short term and crayons fade slower

4.  Twist the cattail back and forth  working from one end to the other to create patterns in the stripes.  This is the fun kid part as blowing a few up doing this is virtually guaranteed.  Also means it is an outdoor activity typically.  

5.  If using for table decorations spray the cattail down heavily with hairspray to help keep it from blowing up some later day.  No matter how good you do some will fail as they dry or as humidity changes.

You will find by changing how you grip and how you let fingers slide you can make square waves, triangular waves and sinusiods in the pattern. You can even mix patterns. One of the old bouquets has one in it that was done 30+ years ago so with care and luck they can last. But mostly this is a kids throw away project. You do them, use them for the event and compost them. (of course you need to blow them up into fuzz before composting.)
2 days ago
Floating garden.  Here are the tomato floats I do on the reservior.

1 week ago
Currently playing with strips cut off a polyester micro fiber towel.  With it, I am going to say I am getting slightly better lifting power than the cotton fabric and the nylon in my informal kitchen top experiments.  I have semi open bottom tree pots.  Cut a little square of latch hook plastic grid to drop in to sort of close the bottom of the pot.  Cut the cross bars off in a spot in the middle wide enough to run the strip folded double thru it. (push it thru with a table knife.) Put a wide thin scrap of wood thru the loop on top to keep it from falling out and dangled the 2 ends out the bottom for the water.  Sees to be fast and easy to implement.  Not in favor of the plastic but if I keep it out of the sun and water / acid rinse the salts out of fabric every few years hopefully I can use it for decades.
1 week ago
We had a Buff Polish at one point growing up who was broody but would not stay on the nest.  The fertile eggs we had were guinea so my mother hatched something like 14 of them in the incubator to give to her.  Needless say she couldn't cover even a 1/3 of them being such a small bird herself.  Made for some interesting things as instinctual behaviors conflicted.  They were very disobedient children and I think frustrated her no end.   Eventually they ended up roosting in the trees behind the chicken house up 15 feet with her on a low branch under them alone.
2 weeks ago
In 7th grade because of bullying I quit eating lunch.  Did not eat lunch thru HS.  Most days did not miss it.  I can often do days when I only eat one meal and days when I eat the whole day in grazing mode.  Don't know if it is good of bad.  Just survivable.  Typically feel the best if I am matching what I feel like I need at the time.
2 weeks ago
You missed some major key points.  Biggest is you obviously don't live where the wind blows.  Down hill is great but in windy country moving the snow to the down wind side is more important because if you move it to the upwind side it acts like a snow fence and buries your path in a big drift meaning more work.  There again if you must do narrow paths they go to the up wind side of the area you want to shovel at a later date.  

Another key point in windy areas is to shape the snow  where you cut it so later stuff blows thru without collecting.  Rounding edges etc will make later jobs easier.  A sharp edge on the upwind side gives a place for snow to fall off but if you round the corners properly the wind will blow a bunch of the snow thru.  There again round the down wind side in more of a flat taper where possible so the wind drives the snow up a ramp and out.  Avoid shapes that create turbulence as that leads to drifts.

Shapes that create turbulence are for places where you want to trigger the snow to make drifts.  Sometimes a bit of early season shovel work completely away from the area you want to keep clear will save you much later in the year.  When making deliberate drifts think about how they will drain as they melt if possible.

Another point to be re-emphasized is to work harder with early season snows as they will be there longer and you want to leave somewhere for later snows to be put. They are usually easier to move.

Finally work smarter not harder.  A snow fence, row of trees etc,  in the right place might save you many hours of shoveling later.
3 weeks ago
Easily possible at higher elevations any month of the year.  In HS or early college I joined my parents for a trip on the 4th of July weekend.  We started up Beartooth pass only to be turned back as they were closing the road.  Left the mountain in early Aug another year in a major blizzard.
3 weeks ago
Here is the recipe I have stored away.  But haven't used it.  So no idea if it works best.

Making fish hydrolysate
1 month ago
Can you shave needs off in other ways before worrying about the PV part.

Solar thermal is 3X to 4X more efficient than PV.  Battery can be simple mass be it dirt, sand, rock, concrete,  water.  Roughly 50% to 70% of your household needs are thermal in heating, cooling, domestic hot water

Here is my first steps.  More to add here but all thermal solar air.

solar collector

Worst case looking at 100 watts to run fans.  Current peak is 70 watts.(better fans would bring it down to 50)  Neat thing here is most of the power consumption is only needed on days the sun is shining during those hours so ideal for pv.  Rest will need batteries too.

Next step is solar thermal water for hot water heating.  Large insulated box tank as a preheater for the hot water heater.  Looking at 300 gallons roughly in a non pressurized storage heated with a double pane window glass collector.  Looking at the info suggests tank suggests that for a family of 4 it gives 1 1/2 days of heat storage.  By myself I should be able to get 4 or 5 days out of it.  Will only heat the stored water to 140-150 degrees.  If I can add another collector either evacuated tube or optical concentrator so I can take that tank temperature on up that might be doubled.  Lets say this system might include 4 pumps at 30 watts each.  1 for main collector, 1 for high temperature collector, 1 for a ground loop so the other 2 can be oversized for better heat recovery and 1 final pump for household heating in winter used only to maintain some minimum temperature.

Then simple geothermal ground loop system for cooling and boosting the minimum temperature the house reaches when heating.  Information suggests I will likely need 400 feet to 600 feet of buried 3/4 inch black poly line for 12,000 BTUs of cooling.  Looking at the climates and soil temps of the people providing that information guessing I am closer to the 400 for 12,000.   Soil temperature here is approximately 56 degrees F.  On the worst summer I remember the 18,000 BTU window air conditioner was almost keeping it comfortable.  Lets pretend I buried 3 zones 300 ft long.  The pump information for the pump of interest suggests I can run 400 feet of line and get enough flow.  So lets assume the other 100 is in a ceiling loop inside the house.  If you do the math on surface area for those 3 loops that is equivalent to a 2 foot square radiator 2 inches thick with 10 fins per inch which is slightly more than the AC evaporator size.  By spreading it out in the hottest part of the house up high the hope is I can cool without needing a cooling fan.  Most of the year the house will almost maintain by simply opening windows and cooling off at night and closing up tight for the day.  Gets too warm late in the day and into the evening.  But cooking/canning wrecks that and we have 2 to 6 weeks where it typically doesn't cool off enough at night to cool the house off.  Now if I want to run a desiccant air conditioner on top of that would want 3 more pumps and another ground loop.  So potentially another 180 watts of pumps here.

So for potentially 400 watts of power I should be able to heat the house, heat the majority of my domestic hot water, boost the clothes drier input temperature on sunny days, do an HRV air circulation system and air condition the house for the summer and  have most of that power only needed during sunny days.  That looks way more doable on the PV end.  My primary batteries are concrete, soil and water and should never wear out.  Buried water lines should have a 50 to 100 year life expectancy at the very least.   Pumps are low voltage DC, magentic drive so no seals to fail and information puts their MTBF in the 20,000 hour range.  Relatively cheap rebuild kits should get them out to the electronics and winding failure points which should be in the 60,000 hour range if treated well.  The fans for the system show a 70,000 hour life expectancy for the good ones.

Where is this system going to fall short?  1.  Domestic hot water is the most obvious.  I have maybe 10 days of storage at best.  But my longest gray winter day run since I started watching it was 17 days with only about 6 hours of good light in that time.  If I can get an evacuated tube collector even on gray days it will do a little.  But I likely need another fuel source to heat hot water on occasion during the winter.  RMH with a convective loop to my hot water tank?  Small propane instant on heater with a pump heating my water tank?  Wood fired outdoor boiler?  Other answers?  2.  Will likely need to swing slightly more temperature range that most people are comfortable with.  I still think it can probably hold in a 60 to 80 degree F range for the house temperatures with a bit of work.  It will not be the 65 degree summer day, 75 degree winter day locked temperature most people seem to want any more.
1 month ago