Ron Helwig

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since Jul 28, 2014
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forest garden hugelkultur tiny house
New Hampshire
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Recent posts by Ron Helwig

E-books ONLY!!!

I can no longer read physical books. Just the act of holding and manipulating them puts me to sleep.

I can't use Kindles because they idiotically choose to keep one of the worst features of physical books - turning pages. With a physical book you have to use pages, but they are an artificial construct unrelated to the content. Content is made up of letters, which make words, which make sentences, which make paragraphs, which make chapters, which make books, which make volumes. Each of those has natural breaks between them, which allow you to ingest the info. But a page break is unnatural and takes you out of the flow.

I can understand why they kept the page in their E-ink readers. That's because the screen technology uses so little power that they can't refresh fast enough to keep up with scrolling. But they also keep it in their phone and tablet apps. Even if they just had a button that scrolled to the next paragraph that might work - that's how I read, read a paragraph then scroll to the next one. It keeps the entire para in view so I can consume it all at once.

And I despise PDF. It is a poor hack of a data format (I had to look into it a long time ago as a programmer) designed specifically for printing - and it can't even get that right. It doesn't allow text to reflow when you resize it, so if you need to make the text larger to read it then you often end up having to move the screen left & right constantly to see the entire line. To me PDFs should ONLY be used when something MUST be printed and MUST be printed in the exact same layout each time. (And that's where it fails the worst. I've tried making PDFs where I needed exact measurements, down to the millimeter. But the same file will come out different on different printers, voiding PDF's entire reason for existing.)

These are in addition to the obvious advantages of E-books like being able to have a virtually unlimited umber of books. And a friend posited another advantage most don't consider: if your stuff is being stolen or seized, e-books can be easily deleted, preventing the thief from gaining from their crime.

Finally, most newer phones and tablets, as well as good E-ink based readers, have a resolution so good that it is virtually indistinguishable from paper. IIRC most humans can't see at any better than 300DPI. (But I can still see how paper's illumination profile can sometimes be better.)
3 weeks ago
Has anyone seen a picture or video of someone who isn't skinny doing the Asian (or Grok) squat? Because I have never been able to do it.
4 weeks ago
I used one of these in my 6" system, the one mentioned in my "Burning perlite?" thread. 36" Insulated Double Wall Stainless Chimney Pipe -

Every year I checked it when I opened it up for cleaning, and saw no damage. But for $90 or so it wouldn't be a huge deal (for most people) to replace it every year.
1 month ago
I have no idea what is wrong with yours, but we have a duck we named Gimpy that has had a broken leg for at least two years. She's doing fine, even if she limps a lot and doesn't explore as much as the rest of the duck collective. (I miss Evan's duck tales.)
1 month ago
You used to need a good surface for the old kind with a ball, but with the ones that use an LED (which you should be using since the ball type ones are so old they are like dinosaurs) then all you should need is a surface with enough of a pattern.

The folding plastic table I used to use as a desk has a surface that isn't quite good enough, but even a sheet of white copy paper had enough texture for the sensor. But with my new hanging wall desk, the surface has a wood-like finish so that has enough texture.

I do dislike using a mouse pad because it takes up more space than needed.
1 month ago

wayne fajkus wrote:
I'd rather see a group stock market club. People pull dollars and buy stocks. Its still gambling but history proves it exceeds inflation over time. Its hard to buy one $20 stock when it costs $7 to buy it and another $7 to sell it. With a club you are spreading the $7 over $1,000 or more.

There are apps now where it doesn't cost that much.

Stockpile allows you to buy fractional shares

Many top stocks are pricey, which makes it hard to get started. Take Amazon, at $1000 a share. At Stockpile, you can buy fractional shares. Buy $50 of Amazon and get 0.05 shares.

Robinhood allows you to save up until you can afford a whole share, and I think might be a little cheaper than Stockpile; and also allows (some of) you to buy crypto-currencies.

We believe that the financial system should help the rest of us, not just the wealthy.

We’ve cut the fat that makes other brokerages costly, like manual account management and hundreds of storefront locations, so we can offer zero commission trading.

I haven't yet used either of these, but I am going to pick one soon.
1 month ago

Kendall Norman wrote:
Also as far as heating goes, any advice on a simple heating system for a tiny house and how to effectively insulate it for my harsher winters?

Definitely look into rocket mass heaters. (But be sure to also look into downsides, such as my recent post about burning perlite.) They are low money cost but somewhat high in time cost. This last winter I heated almost entirely with pallet slats (discarding the runners). I used a circular saw to cut the slats, then a hatchet to split them into better sized pieces for my 6" system. That saved a lot of time when compared to cutting and chopping regular firewood. By cutting the slats off the runners I didn't have to worry about trying to pull nails, which sped up the process significantly.

[I used the blue pallets I scrounged to make a boardwalk around my small house. A much better use than burning the nasty chemicals.]

I got almost all the pallets I needed from the same restaurant that we get daily kitchen scraps from. They get a lot of food and equipment delivered on pallets.
1 month ago

Mike Dinsmoor wrote:Thanks for sharing this. This could be important info for other builders. I'm wondering if some heat got past the fire bricks at one of the seems. Did you mortar your fire brick? If so, was there any signs of cracked mortar?

It think there is an important lesson here for those building over wood subfloors. You need to have a backup incase burn chamber containment is breached. Perlite is not going to be good enough.

It was mortared, but when I took it apart it came apart easily.

We were using firemuffins that we make, to get the fire started. They are mostly old candles melted and mixed with sawdust. Maybe the wax was melting and going into crevices, weakening the mortar over time and eventually making its way down.
1 month ago
I've been using this rocket mass heater in a 12'x24' cabin for three years now. It needed some maintenance so I took it apart. Got a surprise.

After taking out the layer of firebrick I noticed that the brick-deep layer of perlite was burned.

After taking out the perlite, I noticed the hardy board under it was cracked and falling apart.

After taking out the hardy board, I noticed the aluminum flashing was discolored and distorted.

After taking out the flashing, I noticed the OSB subfloor was burned.

And underneath the OSB subfloor, the insulation was also burned.

I think this RMH got pretty hot. Once we repair the floor we're replacing it with a pellet stove.

[Let's see if the pictures I attached show up.]
1 month ago
That's why doing it in an RMH is good. It burns it hot enough that you don't get that stuff.

It's also why I'm pissed that the town I'm in shut down their incinerator. So now instead of completely burning that stuff and getting rid of the bad stuff they're now putting it in the ground.
2 months ago