energy


Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)


Tonight I will give you a month-old photo of some Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) that grows in my backyard.

While we were eating dinner tonight the power went out. It was raining, so I presume that might have had something to do with it. I had downloaded a couple of blog pages and some email to read, so I went ahead and read that. Then I took Penny outside in the rain and threw sticks for a bit. Then I came in and realized it was the perfect time to do something I had been meaning to do for some time – untangle all the power cords in the “IT” corner. It was a mess!

That kind of work does require light though, so I fished out my camping lantern. This is a solar/crank charged LED lantern, so there are no carbon monoxide fumes to worry about. When it gets dim I just crank it for another minute and we’re good to go for a while.

I found five cords that were plugged in only on one end. I don’t know what they used to power, but I’m guessing two of them were for the old desktop, two were for charging hand-held gaming systems, and one must have powered the old wireless router that we no longer use. I freed an entire surge protector and put the unused cables in a box of old computer parts down in the basement. I also disconnected our old very reliable HP LaserJet 5. That printer was a workhorse, and it still works perfectly. I think we got it in 1995. Unfortunately, we no longer run a computer with a parallel port, so it just sits there gathering dust. I ought to buy a USB-to-parallel converter. That thing is a tank.

About the time it got dark, we all loaded into my car and went to DQ for dessert. While we were out we noticed that the outage is pretty limited. They have power over on the next road.

When we got home, I rounded up a 60 watt inverter and an extension cord. I plugged them into Va’s car and routed the cord through the kitchen into the family room. We now have enough juice to run the essentials. And by “essentials” I mean the cable modem and wireless router. Forget the fridge and well pump! We must have Internet!

Actually, 60 watts doesn’t come close to running either the fridge or the well pump, but it does run the Internet OK. So we do what we can.

Ah! Power’s back!

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There’s methane hydrate crystals
In the tube
On the “dome”
On the BOP
On the pipe
In the hole in the bottom of the sea.

This woulda been better if I had thought of it three weeks ago.

I enjoyed my day today. Enjoyment started by me not getting out of bed until nearly 9:00am. That’s a leisurely wake-up time for me. I got dressed, checked the Internets, and then drove to Lowes to buy a face mask and price insulation. Insulation is quite a bit more expensive than I had remembered. Before going, I did some quick math to figure out how much more I’d need. The answer was… a lot. Luckily, it looks like an insulation purchase is a tax credit this year, so I’ll get all that back. But I didn’t buy any yet. I need to decide if I want to continue with tripled-up rolls of R13, single rolls of R38, or maybe go with blown-in. An equal length of R38 costs five times more than R13, so even after tripling the R13, it still only costs 60% of what R38 would. I haven’t done the math on the blown-in stuff yet, but it looked roughly equivalent to R13. I guess a lot of people wouldn’t even bother with R13 vs R38 since there’s a tax credit involved, but it would bug me to know that I could have done it for so much less, even if “the government” is paying for it. Newsflash – the taxpayer is the government, and I’m a taxpayer. Anyhow – no decision yet.

When I got home I donned a face mask and hung another four rolls of insulation. By then it was time for lunch, so Va, Beth, and I went into Concord. After we ate, we went to the church and changed the Cradle Roll room over to the Christmas program. Then we came home again.

Tonight I have to get ready to teach my Sabbath School class, plus I have to polish up a sermon (I have the pulpit during the worship service).

Today was the first day of Market Days, when the city of Concord closes Main Street off to vehicular traffic and vendors (et al) set up on the street. Va and Beth came into town, and we walked the length of Main Street checking it all out.

Some guy is opening a “green” energy store on Pleasant Street “soon” and I stopped and spoke with him for a bit. I would really like to get some solar water heating going on at my house. The other thing I’m interested in is getting a photo-voltaic panel on the roof of the Pathfinder trailer so we can keep a car battery in there, and keep it charged. Then we could run the lights and have an AC inverter to charge our laptops with. I wouldn’t want to try to run anything off the PV panel, because that is cost prohibitive. But for about $200 or so, we could trickle charge a car battery no problem. The thought of being able to charge cell phones and camera batteries on PF campouts is very appealing to me.

Beth wanted to ride the train, so I bought her a ticket.

Market Days Fun

Market Days Fun


She appears to have enjoyed herself, so I guess that was $2.00 not totally wasted.

I also bought a couple of books. The Worst-case Scenario Almanac (which depicts a brown bear exiting a tent), and True North which recounts the race to the North Pole. I have long been fascinated with the polar expeditions of the early 20th century (Shackleton’s story is quite gripping). Hopefully, I will find (or make) some time to read these soon.

When I got home I hunted around the yard for flowers, when I happened to notice one with the most excellent name I have ever heard for a plant of any type: the Square-stemmed Monkey Flower. Yay!

Square-stemmed Monkey Flower (mimulus ringens)

Square-stemmed Monkey Flower (mimulus ringens)

A friend of mine breeds poodles and had been naming them after flowers. She knew I was well-versed in the flora of New England, so she asked me for a suggestion. So I suggested Square-stemmed Monkey Flower. Surprisingly, she choose some other name. I work with a guy whose wife had a baby about two weeks ago, and they are using the flower theme too (Lily and Poppy). He did not ask me for a suggestion, but if he had…

There have been lots of new blooms in these parts lately. I noticed three yesterday and two today. The two I saw today were Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), and Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens). I took some photos:

Mitchella repens

Mitchella repens


Monotropa uniflora

Monotropa uniflora


There are cool things about both of these plants. As you can see from the photo of the Partridge Berry, it produces flowers in pairs, joined at the base. These flowers eventually become a single berry, and the berry has two little eyes – remnants of the two flowers that formed it. The berry stays on the vine all winter long, and persist until the new flowers come in. So I guess the berries ought to be dropping off pretty soon.

The cool thing about Indian Pipe is that it is a plant, not a fungus. The first time I ever saw one was on a hike with Beth and David to Sandogardy Pond about four years ago. We thought it was a fungus then, and it sure does look like a fungus. But fungi do not make seeds, and this plant most certainly does. However, it does have one thing in common with fungi besides its looks – it’s a parasite. It feeds off other plants. It is white because it does not produce chlorophyll.

Yesterday I went for a walk at lunchtime. My mission was two-fold: walk to LL Bean to buy some new shoes, and take a long walk to help the wool in my sock to felt up some more. Also, I kept an eye out for flowers.

While I was at Bean, I saw a solar phone charger. And I’ve been wanting one of these for about a year. The price looked pretty OK to me, so I bought it. Usually when we go camping, it’s in some place where there is no cell phone signal. The phone responds by boosting its own signal, and that drains the battery in short order. So unless I remember to turn off the phone, I need to recharge it. Plus when we go to the Camporee in Oskosh in August, I will need to recharge it then too. I think this is just the ticket. It has an internal battery, so I can leave it on the dashboard of the car during the day, while I have my phone in my pocket. Then at night I can retrieve the solar charger from the car and use it to charge my phone while I sleep.

Now back to plants. On the way to Bean, or on the way back to the office, I found a new-to-me variety of Cinquefoil. Silvery Cinquefoil, or Potentilla argentea. I usually just group all the Cinquefoils together, or divide them into two groups – tall and short. But there are several species of this stuff around here, and some of them are pretty difficult to distinguish. So I will try learning to do that.

I also noted that the Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), Bitter Nightshade (Solanum dulcimara, White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba), Hawthorn (Crataegus spp), and Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) were all in bloom. I’m guess they did that while I was sick and didn’t feel much like walking about.

I logged them at the Bloom Clock. First time I had done that for a couple of weeks too. Don’t know if I mentioned it, but the Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris) bloomed a couple of days ago too (Wednesday?)

So now I’m pretty much all caught up on the Bloom Clock. I’ll keep a sharp eye out for blooms over the next couple of days. I’m always on the lookout for new blooms at the end of the month, and old blooms that are still just barely going at the beginning of the month. We don’t have anything planned for after church tomorrow, so maybe I’ll take a walk down to Sandogardy. I hope to find some Floating Heart (Nymphoides cordata) in bloom, and maybe some White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata) too. And maybe some Swamp Candles (Lysimachia terestris) and some Water Lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna). Lotsa stuff to look for anyhow! It’ll prolly rain, but I do have a rain coat and some rain pants, and I know how to use them!

We did not lose power last night other than for a few milliseconds here and there (thus the flickering). Just so you know.

Our lights flickered a little while ago, and then Va showed me a really cool website that shows the status of our local grid in real time. It’s snowing heavily right now, so I expect that might have a wee bit to do with it. As of this writing, there are 168 customers offline in Northfield. Oop! 174!

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