Archive for February, 2011

Another annual Event?

When I got home from work Tuesday our water was out…we are on the city service but the main that runs down our street is buried way to shallow to be fully protected for our heavy cold.  Frost depth here can often reach 5 or 6 feet. It was a bit unexpected as the temps Tuesday were in the low to mid 40’s.

The main which is a 6″ line does not freeze but the individual “taps” that come off the main are quite vulnerable.   Our sub-division was built in the early 70’s and when they dug the main they were digging through some pretty expansive bands of rock..most likely they said…”F*#@ it….its deep enough”.  There are a few houses on my street that freeze many times each season.  In my near 20 years here this was the 3rd time in the last 3 years…its a trend I would like to avoid.

When it happened 3 years ago the city dug down to the main and installed a “Thaw Wire”  This is basically a fat cable that was bonded to the tap that can be used to supply an electric current for a pipe thawing machine.


Pipe Thawing Machine in use


It was Wednesday afternoon before the “machine” was hooked up to my place. We were thawed out in just a few minutes.  The neighbors up the road had been out for 5 days, and had a machine installed on their line for some time. Our friendly and helpful city guy tried hooking up 2 units in series at the neighbors to help break them free…the neighbors do not have a thaw wire installed on their tap so the “circuit” is less than ideal routed through their “buffalo box” ( the valve that supplies their tap). I’m not sure if their service has been restored yet.

Having no water is a hassle…especially when it strikes with no warning.  At the cabin we have no running water and survive just fine…even a week or more at a time.  Its the way the cabin was designed. A sawdust composting toilet, 10 gallons of drinking water via 2 large jugs…and a week is no trouble.

At home 10 gallons would be wasted in a few toilet flushes…If the water was going to be out for too long we could always pull water from the hot water tank, that’s 40 gallons and could get us through a spell. We keep a couple of gallons of drinking water in the pantry to supply our morning coffee if needed.

When I talked to the city guy, they said they plan to add more dirt to our road to put some more distance…between the cold and the pipe…but I have heard this line before…I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Another milestone in the blogging world.


I started blogging mostly to share some of my adventures with the building of our cabin, share thoughts about living simply and sustainably.  Here I am a 100 posts into it and I wanted to share some statistics…

Title Views
Home page More stats 6,245
Small Living vs. Sustainable Living More stats 1,157
Say “Good-Bye” to the 70’s Era Z-Brick More stats 807
Spring Road Trip Day #1 More stats 600
Nikon D90 Time-Lapse Photography More stats 597
To Build a Better Light Bulb More stats 540
Solar Generator Completed and For Sale (sold on 09-28-10) More stats 510
Campfire Dutch Oven Cooking – Cowboy Cobbler More stats 385
The Great Green-Washing of Bamboo Flooring More stats 383


My small living vs sustainable post has had the most traffic…which is not too surprising since I often link in from the tiny house blog (Thanks Kent) and some other similar resources.

The biggest surprise, at least to me, was the number of hits that My Z-brick post has received…I would have never thought that Z-brick was such a crowd pleaser…or mabye the thought of getting rid of Z-brick is the real crowd pleaser.

Just a quick thanks to my readers.

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The magic of Wifi




Its been about a month now since we canceled the Satellite TV service.  We were infrequent users and the $62 a month was a bit of a waste.  In its place we have a Roku box.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with a Roku box, it is a smallish device that allows you to stream internet content directly to your TV…Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Amazon Video, etc.  The box we got was the middle of the road unit and cost  about $80. So now instead of having to hook up the laptop or netbook to the TV, this little box is hooked up full time. It is pretty easy to use and even came with a little remote.  Tori signed up for Hulu plus at about 8 bucks a month (To watch her Desperate Housewives, and Grey’s anatomy) our Netflix account was being used in parallel with the Satelite service so that redundancy is now gone. The image quality is a bit lower, but plenty acceptable.  We still get DVD’s  from Netflix so we mix it up a bit.  Its nice to be able to stream what we want, when we want.  The only show that we watched that is not on Hulu,  is Survivor…but this is available streaming from CBS..and with less commercials…we just watch it the next day or when we feel like it.

In addition to the cost savings, It is part of the master plan to wean the girls off more TV.  They will still get plenty at their mom’s…As every time I have gone there to pick them up there is at least 1 TV on and often 2… in two adjoining rooms no less…..I just don’t get it…

Don’t get the wrong Idea…I still enjoy watching stuff on the screen…and love a good Western in rich DVD quality and surround sound with our Bose home theater.  After a long hard day an ice cold brew and a John Wayne classic can put the day’s efforts behind …It was just the mindless worthless crap that occupied 95% of the airwaves, annoying news broadcasts hawking “Shock Value” bullshit…and endless streams of commercials….Enough was enough.  If I’m interested in news…I can look it up online (I ditched the newspaper many years ago) For weather information I can go online…or simply look out the window!

When Tori first got into watching the Vampire dairies she downloaded them to the laptop…each episode was about 40 to 42  minutes long…When broadcast it filled an hour time slot…meaning 20 minutes of commercials…for 40 minutes programming…or 50%.

So many people are immune to the endless brainwashing, or addicted to a constant chatter that fills their empty lives.

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I’m getting closer to finishing up a custom desk for a client. This is a large “L” shaped unit made with Black Walnut.  The walnut was locally harvested, and air dried so on the “green” scale its pretty much at the top.  From a design perspective the natural edge of the 6/4 slabs looks very cool, adding some awesome crotch figure really makes it POP.

Balck Walnut Slab desk...in process

A couple weeks ago this creation was a hand full of raw wood slabs.  I initially started working with a #5 Lie Nielsen bench plane and made some great progress with that.  The quiet swoosh and the curly shavings a sign of simple hand working.  Near the end of the smoothing and flattening  process the  hand plane was starting to be less efficient, winding sticks and straight edges told me I needed to pull the edges down.  The hand plane was having a hard time pulling off this wood, in grain direction strokes…in that plane I was dead flat.  With the prospect of belt sanding a lot I instead picked up a new tool,  a Dewalt,  powered hand planner.  This tool has been on my “to get” list for a few years, and this proved to be a good time to need one.  A hand full of passes with this guy and the edges were brought down, some minor touch up work with the belt sander and presto..done and flat.  While I prefer the old time hand tools, I have to admit that the power plane did save a lot of time.

Hand work of the rough slab.

On the cabin front…I picked up another 300 lineal feet of  the Tongue and Groove paneling / boards and have started some more sanding.  After I get this desk out of the finishing area of my shop I can start oiling up the blue stain pine.  The plan is to get this 300 feet done, add it to the 120 feet or so I finished up a month or so ago, and take it all down to the cabin for the spring break trip…and If I can talk the girls into helping, get it installed.

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Earlier in the week we had a bit of cold snap.  The forecast called for an Arctic blast that would drop below zero…how far was anyone’s guess. Tuesday night I went to bed a bit after 10 pm. At that time it was -34 and dropping.  About 2 am I woke to add some wood to the fire, check the plumbing etc.  I grabbed the Digital IR temperature gun and took a reading…I was surprised to see -40.8.  I hit the Hold button on the temp gun just to be sure.

Cold Snap at 40 below Zero

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