Wednesday, February 25, 2015
"Turn down you heat one degree C." When we average out our heating costs over the course of the year, this tiny change can save about a dollar each day, and it can reduce carbon emissions by over six hundred pounds per year (300 Kilos). This savings, from just one degree, can amount to hundreds of dollars each year. The claim, as I have heard it is that the "comfort range" is between 68 and 72 degrees F (20-22 C). Oddly enough, the healthiest temperature for sleeping is closer to 61 degrees F. (16 C). I know that people don't like to be cold, but the cost of a sweater is far less than the fuel to keep us cozy. There are professionals who will utilize blower door technology and heat imaging cameras to identify heat loss and air leaks in your home or office, but they come with a commensurate cost. Technology, and the skills to utilize it are rarely cheap. Luckily, there is an option for those trying to live better for less. If you buy some incense, or a punk (sawdust compressed onto a stick) even a cigarette will work, you can use the smoke as a tell tale for where leaks in your home's envelope are located. First, especially if you have forced air heat, turn your furnace off while doing this experiment. Walk SLOWLY around your home, moving the smoke generating device up and down all of the exterior walls. watch for where the smoke gets disturbed and fill in cracks and crevices with caulk. you will be surprised at how many places are either being infiltrated by cold air or leaking warmth out. There is a very chap flexible rope caulk that is a bit like child's modelling clay, but pre-formed into long tubular strings and coiled one on another to make a sort of hockey puck looking thing. This works great and for larger gaps, you can use expanding foam. Take your time and go slow enough so that the smoke rises straight up when there are no leaks. Minute disturbances in the air will become visible using this technique and sealing any cracks will stop heat loss and cold infiltration economically. Next, do the inside walls. you may be shocked at how many voids in the walls are acting like chimneys for heat to escape into the attic, or out the roof. Another thing that is cheap and easy is to wait for frost, or a light dusting of snow and visually inspect the roof. This is best done right at dawn. Wherever the snow melts first if from heat leaking up and out of the house. The places that need better air sealing or insulation will be plainly evident because they will melt first. Also make sure to inspect the place where the ceiling of the basement meets the outer wall. This is called the sill box and by insulating and air sealing this space, not only will your floors feel warmer, but cold dense air will be prevented from getting in. The less air you have to heat the better and these three things, air sealing, insulation and making sure the sill box is sealed and insulated can reduce your heat bill and the carbon footprint of your home by 30%. Just one year of doing these three things would allow you to save enough to send ECO-Tours a few hundred dollars.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
The reason I have written this as an acronym, is because I want to take a different approach to several issues that you may have seen popularized by the 24-7 news cycle. Carnage, Heinousness, Ignorance, Lubriciousness, (1.offensively displaying or intended to arouse sexual desire. 2.smooth and slippery with oil or a similar substance.)& Incompleteness. These five elements are present to varying degrees in each and every "event" you will witness in the current world of "news". To jump on this particular bandwagon of momentary but rapt attention, (given willingly by tens of millions) the story has to jerk the viewer, much like a hook in the jaw of a catfish, amaze, or violently assault the viewer, flooding them with strong emotion. Nothing else will do. The weather cast has seen the increase in extreme weather events as tailor made for capturing more air time. Hover, don't expect them to say anything about the root cause of climate change, they have an oil spill to cover. "How might the 24-7 news cycle relate to chili?" Well, my approach in my writing is the polar opposite, The time that I put into my stories began when I was a child. Salient crosscurrents that most people might never find have articulated waves in my memory, and like the Polynesian boat people, I use them to help navigate the vast ocean of experience that has taken place during my first half-century. On the trail, in the old west and they probably learned from native people, dry meat was pounded with onion and herbs, then boiled to make chili. So many people forget that not that long ago, there were no refrigerators or prepackaged food, this early chili would have been watered down to make broth when times got tougher and had a few more scraps of meat when the goin' was good. It could be, with a few corn biscuits, a tasty treat after a long day in the saddle, but you wouldn't want to live on it exclusively for long. So, I'll tell ya',chilli's got a lot to do with it. I have a book, about as thick as two thumbs. Called 365 Ways To Save The Earth. I am going to attempt to eventually write commentary on each one, but I would like my readers to step up and pledge a dollar a piece so that I might raise money for planting trees, seeds, and protecting property that has come under the heavy hand of humnan-unkind. I pledge to offset some of the contamination of mind that comes from trying to wrap your head around global issues, I will try to redouble my efforts to focus locally and restore and renew the feeling that the ecological train wreck that humans are on course for is not only survivable, but worth undertaking. The January first idea is to pledge to be a conscious shopper. This plays right into the message at hand. When you "buy-in" to my "product", you can rest assured that trees will be planted, acres protected and recovered with native plants. No waste will be created, only life will be fostered. Three-hundred and sixty five dollars can plant three dozen trees. Ten times that amount can buy an acre of land. Twenty times that amount can reforest that acre with native trees. There may be times that my writing feels like I'm beating a dead horse, but remember, it is only to tenderize it for your benefit. Even a chef needs to understand that it will all be shit tomorrow. We have the chance on the front side to make decisions about whether that shit is life giving and healthy, or filled with toxic residue and devoid of nutrients. Becoming a conscious shopper means the we are aware of life-cycle costs, from pre-production to disposal and at every step in-between. Regarding my approach to ecological restoration and intellectual discourse, it is my intent to open up areas that have been long beaten down, hammered flat, avoided completely, ignored, abused, neglected, papered over, glossed over or otherwise insulated from inspection. In my experience, when you open up the fertile landscape, or the mind, air and light get in and fertility blossoms where there had been nothing before. In my heart of hearts, I have always felt that the idea proposed, the admonition to, "Think globally, act locally.", was a bit over the top. It almost feels to me that it was instigated and popularized by those who oppose ecological change, like a mental shock treatment for the brain. (this should be reminding you of CHILI, the 24/7 news cycle I mentioned at the outset.) I do not challenge anyone to think globally, because it could render them unable to see the light of change, or even catch their breath under the weight of understanding it. During the time period when this idea was popular, China was increasing car ownership at an exponential rate, burning more and more coal, turning fossil into heat and atmospheric carbon at unparalleled rates. This, in turn, crushed the idea of recycling for many because the largest population on Earth seemed to be going at cross purposes to our will. Now, China is reigning in their wanton destruction of Mother Earth and the largest nation on the planet is building efficient transportation systems to eliminate legacy emissions from their auto fleet. I have always been of the opinion that only acting locally, independent of the global scale is the only way to remain sane. When I write about any global scale issue, my focus is on how we can solve problems by local action. The reference to phenomena such as the polar vortex, Fukushima, the various Gyrae, global desertification, and climate destabilization are tangential at best, just temporary hand holds to scramble across the difficult spots. The healing comes from taking local action. I feel a little bad that I had to bring up those mega-scale effects of our current collective action. My belief is that when we all finally act as one, our leaders will have to fall in line. On my two city lots, My wife and I produce as much food as possible, we do it because not wanting to buy any more foreign substances, imported to our property, than is absolutely necessary, guides all of our choices. I am still eating honey, gifted to me by a neighbor, so to import it from even a few miles away would require at least a bike trip if not a car ride. That could harm a lot of bees. In my town, we are called a "Tree City" and from early Spring to late fall there are nectar and pollen sources. This makes urban bees particularly productive and necessary. The reason I get so hopped up and inspired about bio-char is that in a single handful, there are fourteen acres of surface area! That is the microscopic level that I want others to think locally about. We have the technology, in fact there are several technologies for making char. What we lack is the will. Building the food pyramid from the bottom up, instead of assaulting it at every level is the best way to create the change we seek to see in the world. My additions, translations and stories relating to the entries in 365 Ways To Save The Earth, may be more easily remembered or understood if you purchase the book and read along, but I will try to make limited reference to it along the way. Each "day" I will use their ideas as a jumping off point. I will frequently distill down their two or three paragraphs to a few words, or expound upon their limited discussion with deeper truths that lie beyond their trendy approach. Like the char, I hope to build a structure upon which many forms of life might thrive. I believe that our consciousness is like a sponge and the ability of our minds to "soak up" information is nearly infinite. Once ideas take hold and are borne out by experience, they take up residence and thrive, much like the organisms that colonize bio-char, making the base of the food pyramid blossom. From this more stable place, more fertile ideas inspire more and more profound action.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Somehow our site got hijacked. Interestingly, it was by a domain name reseller.It looks like we have finally gotten to the bottom of the problem and our site is working again. To all of our readers who were unable to access our page, I apologize. We are using the next few weeks to focus our energies on fund raising so that we can plant more trees, do more bio-char workshops and provide more tours than ever this coming summer. Thank-you all for your patience, interest and support for our work.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
It seems that our site has been hijacked. If you are getting to read this I am happy, but for some, they get re-routed to a web domain resellers site. I did not authorize that or set it up, so I'm not sure what resolution will need to be made, but i am working diligently to recover the blog that you have come to know and love. Blessed Imbolc can be found at my other blogger site: theotherfishwrap.