elhoff: (Default)
- Backdoor alarm sensor reinstalled after many months. This is important given recent rash of burglaries in the neighborhood.
- Homemade service stand for the trike was less than successful. I made it out of PVC pipe from a published design but it is just too flimsy for my taste. More work is needed on this.

Not going

Jul. 23rd, 2009 09:52 pm
elhoff: (Default)
Today I had decided on my own that I would not be attending my uncle's memorial service. Subjecting my ankle to a 4 1/2 drive just did not seem like a good idea. Tonight I spoke with my mother to let her know. She said that they were expecting 400-500 people at the service. OMG! My uncle was very active in the Masonic Lodge all his life. He has held every office available in each region he has lived in (northern Oregon, northern California, southern Oregon) plus all state offices for both states and most national offices. Apparently the three lodges in the Medford area are working together (an unheard of thing) to put on this memorial service. Now I am relieved that I am not going. I would not do well sitting through a three hour service like that.
elhoff: (Default)
That was alot of lightning last night.  I know we Californians are easily impressed with lightning, but still. 

Around 1:15am we were getting multiple strikes per second for about 10 minutes!  Then it tapered off to one strike every 2-3 seconds for another 15 minutes.  Heavy cold wind, but no rain with that.  In Davis the thunder rolled quietly but continuously for about 25 minutes.

Then around 4:00am it started up again..  This time only about one strike every 5-10 seconds, with much bigger thunder and heavy rain.


Apr. 12th, 2009 10:22 pm
elhoff: (Default)
12 mile bike ride today.  I knew I was pushing it since I have only had one other significant ride in the last 18 months.  At the 5 mile point was not sure I was going to make it...pathetic.  Numb hands for much of the way.  Now my legs are stiff, my butt is sore, and my shoulder hurts.  My doctor keeps telling me "You can't bike seriously with that shoulder!"  I am starting to believe him.  Starting to have thoughts of a recumbent to take the load off my shoulders.
elhoff: (windmill)
I was introduced to this video in a Voluntary Simplicity discussion group at work.  I know it is a bit simplified, but I thought it was a good way of illustrating some of what we are doing to our world and how we got here.  It also gives a few very thought provoking statistics.

The video runs about 20 minutes, but is worth the time.


Sorry for the duplicate for the few of you who saw my similar post the the Green Homes community.
elhoff: (Default)
Why do you suppose that I got buzzed by a pair of Japanese Zeros while driving down Road 102 south of Woodland today?
elhoff: (Rover)
It has been a long time since I have done any real work on any of my cars.  My vehicle work has been limited to oil changes, etc.  But the Rover has been needing suspension work for a while, so I finally decided it was time.  I decided that while I was replacing the springs and shocks I would go ahead and upgrade to some higher performance aftermarket parts (which actually cost less).  A side benefit to this is a 2" lift.

The front took all of last Sunday, and I ran out of light and energy, so the back had to wait a few days but could not be driven until it was finished.  I started on the back on Wednesday afternoon, but ran into trouble (broke a bolt) and could not finish until Friday.  Now it is done!  The new suspension seems to have fixed the issues I was having, improved the ride, and gave me a 2.5" lift.  Overall a very satisfying job.
elhoff: (windmill)
Studying my water usage, and doing various reading, has led me to a method of determining a water usage goal for my household.  I had not thought about this previously, but it makes sense and feels "right".  Only use the amount of water that falls on your property!  This is a serious simplification of a truly complex problem, but seems like a reasonable place to start.

I have a 10,000sqft lot.  Davis gets 17" of rain a year.  So 105,000 gallons of rainwater falls out of the sky onto my property each year.  In a previous post I disclosed that my household used 168,000 gallons last year.  So I imported 63,000 gallons of water. 

This has to stop! 

The lawns are history!

It's not really that simple, but my lawns do use alot of water.  A rough guess is that a lawn in Davis uses 2" of water per week for 3 months of the year.  Assuming that I have 4000sqft of lawn, that means that I use 60,000 gallons of water just to keep my lawns green.  This seems like the easiest place to start on reducing water usage.  Now to figure out how to do it without letting my yard turn into a soggy mud pit every winter.

new toy

Nov. 3rd, 2008 10:12 pm
elhoff: (Default)
I couldn't resist any longer...


elhoff: (windmill)
So in the spirit of conservation, you have to know how much you use before you can reduce, right?

Real electricity usage:
So on the electricity front, from Oct 06 to Sept 07 I used 16,336 KWH of electricity.  From Oct 07 to Sept 08 I used 15,108 KWH.  That is a 1,200 KWH reduction in actual usage.  I attribute most of that to using a clothes line for most of our clothes drying this summer.  I need to figure out how to get that much reduction again this year.

Electricity purchased:
From Oct 06 to Sept 07 I bought 16,336 KWH of electricity from PG&E (100%).  From Oct 07 to Sept 08 I only bought 9,273 KWH of electricity from PG&E.  The balance of my usage this year was generated from my solar panels, 5,835 KWH.  That generation saved me $1,716 on my utility bills.  That level of savings will give me a 12.8 year return on investment.  This just gets better as electricity rates go up.

I suspect that my biggest energy user is my hot tub.  Since I'm not willing to get rid of it, I think I need to design a solar hot water system to heat it.  That would be a huge savings, but also a huge project.  We'll see...

elhoff: (windmill)
Having done the solar power thing, I've been thinking about my water usage a lot lately. I thought about installing some rain barrels recently, but I'm not really sure how helpful that is. Here are my thoughts so far:

Details cut for size... )

Honestly, I think my money is better spent on conservation for now. Maybe rainwater collection next year after some relandscaping and plumbing updates.
elhoff: (windmill)
Today was one year since they first powered up my rooftop photovoltaic system. In that year I have generated 5906KWH of energy. 38% of my electric usage. The system has been reliable and trouble free, requiring only one panel rinsing mid-summer (tonight's rain should avoid the need for a fall rinsing.)

While my generation system has met all my expectations, I feel like I have fallen down a bit on conservation. We did use a clothes line alot this summer, which saves lots of energy, but I think that is about all I accomplished in the way of reduced usage. I did not get motion detectors installed as planned (the detectors are on backorder) to reduce leaving lights on. I did not get the second refrigerator replaced because I can't find an efficient one that I like for a price I'm willing to pay. I am not convinced that my experiment with a misting system on my AC condensor had any significant effect.

I think my winter project will be rain barrels. Try to capture enough water for a mid-winter spa water change.
elhoff: (photography)
From my second trip to the White Mountains:

Bristlecone Pine

© 2006 Elliot Hoffmann
elhoff: (photography)
Here is the next photo that I have ready. Enjoy

Cosumnes River Preserve Footbridge

© 2006 Elliot Hoffmann
elhoff: (photography)
I have done a lot of photography over the past few months, in an intentional effort to hone my skills a bit and do something that I find mentally relaxing. I have spent some days out capturing images, and some in my office, scanning and processing. I am starting to get a few images to the point that I am ready to show them to others. Here is the first...there will be more to follow as I complete them.  Click for a larger image.

South Davis Fence

© 2008 Elliot Hoffmann

elhoff: (photography)
I had a rude shock last week when I went to get film developed for the first time in about a year.  My old photo lab was gone...defunct...out of business.  With a little asking around, I found a new lab...Cox B&W...the last B&W photo lab in the greater Sacramento area!  Looks like this is going to be a great lab for me, but it is scary that there is only one left.

The very next day I got an email from Camera Arts (the same folks that referred me to Cox B&W)...they are going out of business.  They were the last camera store in Sacramento catering to photographers still using film and to those using large and medium format cameras, as well as developing supplies, etc.

These two events were a strong reminder to me that these local businesses are a valuable resource for information, supplies and community, and that if we do not support them, they will not be here when we need them.
elhoff: (windmill)
I have been really happy with my photovoltaic system so far.

Last Oct and Nov it generated really well.  It suffered more than I had hoped during the Dec and Jan, but March has been awesome.  Today it generated 70% of the electricity I used.  Cumulative since installation it has generated 30% of my electricity.  This should increase until I turn on the AC in June.  It should be interesting to see how the summer months fair.

I did notice a couple days ago that the panels were looking a bit dusty...maybe need to rinse them.  Was hoping that was only going to be a once a year activity, but I am starting to think it will be more often.
elhoff: (Default)
I knew there was going to be an eclipse tonight, but seeing the moon rising while it is partially eclipsed is really cool.  For those in Sac, look east...now!
elhoff: (windmill)
It seems silly to me to put all my leaves out on the curb for the city to collect and compost, then have to buy mulch for my planters.  So I have been looking at buying a leaf shredder lately. I would love to have something to both shred leaves and chip small branches, but those cost a lot of money for one that actually works.  I also hate having a dedicated piece of equipment around that I only use a couple times a year. 

It turns out that the commercially available leaf shredders are just a string trimmer mounted upside-down in a tube/funnel.  I found some plans online for making one from an old string trimmer and a trash can.  Saves the money, but still has the storage problem.

So I had the idea to try putting a bunch of leaves in a tub (muck bucket), and stick my string trimmer in there and whir them around a bit.  Like a giant blender.  It actually works quite well.  It flings a few leaves around your patio (wear a face shield) and can't handle any sticks, rocks, etc.  I wouldn't try it near any windows either.  It takes 3-4 minutes to mulch up a muck bucket full of leaves, which I assume is not fast as these things go, but I already have everything necessary, and don't have to store any dedicated equipment!

So now I have a new solution for my annual leaf piles.  Back to the raking I guess!
elhoff: (Default)
As of yesterday a 1PM, the stump is no more!

And there was much rejoycing!

Now to figure out how to dry it without cracking so I can make something cool from it.
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