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This is a so-you-know-I’m-alive post

I don’t expect my daily doings to be interesting to anyone. I mean, c’mon. Who wants to read ordinary? But since I haven’t posted in forever, I’ll post what I’ve got, which is this.I’m getting a lawnmower today. That’s good because I can’t get anyone to mow my itsy-bitsy yard for less than $25. For that kind of money, I’ll do it myself.

A friend is coming over this afternoon to help me install a programmable thermostat. That’s good because my utility bills are out of control. If I’d done it in December, I’d be about $400 richer right now. I’m also looking at some other creative ways to knock utility costs down, like compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use about 1/5 the wattage of a standard bulb and have about 10 times the life expectancy. They claim to save you about $30 in energy costs over their life expectancy. Multiply that by the 20 or so bulbs around the house that they’d be suitable replacements for, and you’re talking some real money.

My DSL connection has been sporadic the last couple of days. It seems to finally be stable. I’d get better reliability by upgrading to a static IP, but that won’t happen before summer. I’m still dealing with those unexpected expenses that creep up on new homeowners, and, well, I’m young. I don’t have the kind of resources someone 10 years older than me would have.

If I can find a steady writing gig, that’ll help.

I’ve got a couple of tape backup issues to look at for work. And that’s pretty much my day.

I wrote what I thought was a decent piece on bleeding-edge hardware. But somehow I managed not to save it. I may get time to rewrite it tomorrow, depending on how productive I am today.

Oh, and, tee hee hee, my Royals are 8-0. The last team that started the season 8-0 won the World Series. It was the 1990 Cincinnati Reds, who beat an awfully good Oakland Athletics team. And there’s reason for hope: The Royals have been doing it without Carlos Beltran (leg injury), and yesterday they won in spite of half the team battling the flu. Beltran and Mike Sweeney are the Royals’ only star players.

But the 1990 Reds only had two bona fide stars too, in Eric Davis and Barry Larkin.

Do I really think my Royals will win the World Series? Not yet. But I think this is going to be a fun year.

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14 thoughts on “This is a so-you-know-I’m-alive post”

  1. The only “energy efficient” benefit I have ever noticed that had tangible (read $$$) was insulation and the front loader washing machine. With the washing machine I actually “seen” a yearly $40 decrease in the water bill.
    When I did the florescent light, restricted water flow, etc, I never seen the tangible (read $$$) benefits.

  2. If you are using an old refrigerater, I would consider investing in a new one. Our new energy efficient fridge literally paid for itself in six months just from the savings in our power bill.

  3. I’d be careful about those mini-fluorescent lights. One of the major factors in the lifetime of lights is turning them on and off (others, of course, are the length of time they’re on, and their construction). What that says is that there are a lot of lights where you’re better off staying with the old cheap-to-buy expensive-to-run incandescent globes. Those are the ones you turn on-and-off often, and have on for short periods of time – for instance, bathrooms and hallways. For those, they’re going to burn out quickly, no matter what their construction – better if they’re cheap to replace.

    Now, living room and study – that’s a different matter – the mini-fluorescents really earn their keep there.

  4. Fluourescent Lights: You should also take into consideration lighting quality. Cost savings in lighting design is important but so is the energy and ambience of your house. Compact fluorescents typically look like sh*t for indoor applications. You sure wouldn’t want to read by one.

    Chris Sabo was a star, at least in my mind. The goggles alone!


  5. Mike, I sort of disagree – a bit. I think the mini-fluorescents work fine for straight interior lighting – although you have to up the “equivalent wattage” they mention. That is, if you’re working with a 75watt incandescent – I’d say you’d need to step to at least the 100watt-equivalent (22 watts or whatever it is) fluorescent.

    That’s fine. The difference is so little (say 12 watts versus 22 is only 10 watts per hour) that you might as well just go with the big guns on everything. In fact, I’d say must. However, I’d also say it’s a somewhat cold, soulless light. Now, with ordinary stick-light flourescents you can get a “warm orange”. I don’t know whether they offer such in the mini-fluorescents. However, I’d take a while looking into the question, and in the meantime just use one major-wattage (for a mini-f.), and assess how you react, and how your girlfriend thinks you’re reacting. It’s amazing how bad the effect of a “cold, glacial, soulless” light can be on some folks, and how little it worries others.

  6. Don, I work for a lightbulb distribution company. We sell hundred of compact fluorescents everyday. I am saying the same thing that you are in your second paragraph: the light is cold and soulless. Energetically I don’t think it would keep anyone as comfortable as a lamp capable of producing light with an optimal color index (CRI).

    Fluorescent light is not capable of producing as much of the visible light color spectrum as ordinary incandescents and this has a very visceral effect on the body and one’s consciousness. A nice illustrative analogy is with digital and analog sound recording mediums. High quality analog tape is much more capable of rendering the complete sound medium during recording than a recorder with poor digital audio converters which ‘represent’ the sound rather than physically mirror the sound. And when you listen to a recording made in high quality analog, your sound is massaged by the warmth and you physically feel good (and so much more so when the composition is good) whereas a bad digital recording can make sensitive people feel nauseous and less sensitive people feel that there is just something missing from the recording; and there is! A large part of the sound spectrum is missing from the digital recording.

    I think the ideal light to have in the home is light that best represents the light of the sun: full spectrum lighting. With the right full spectrum setup, homes feel very cheerful and fun to be in.

    Try these guys: I don’t know if these are sold at Home Depot but we sure have them:

    Not everyone at Candela shares my view on full spectrum lighting but most everyone would agree that there are many better options to interior lighting design in the home than a fluorescent solution in regard to quality of light.


  7. If you think you could have saved $400 with a programmable thermostat, you should replace your furnace! Unless you were in the very bad habit of not turning the thermostat down at night and during the day, it is quite likely that an older, or less efficient furnace, is the culprit.

  8. Bill, it’s really easy to get out of the habit of turning the furnace down at night. At least the programmable thermostat does that for you. However, the problem with a programmable thermostat is if you can’t plan ahead what your schedule will be like. It’s easier if you are single (at least you likely know your M-F schedule and can guess for night-time).

    But I would agree, $400 sounds like a marginal furnace over the course of a winter. Or else faulty insulation.

  9. Dave – Keep writing, even if only weekly!! I enjoy reading your descriptions of the Royals (and I’m not even a KC native or fan.) Have you considered writing a computer column for the local newspaper? Here in North Carolina, both the Raleigh and Charlotte papers (and their web sites) carry a weekly two-page computer/tech section with two or more regular local (not syndicated) columnists.

    The thermostat shouldn’t be a big deal to install, especially for a tech guy. The smarts are all in the unit itself, and you pretty much swap it for the older unit, reconnecting the same control wires. Changing your air filters several times yearly, and cleaning the fan and lubricating the blower motor annually help reduce the energy bill quite a bit, too.

    I’d have to agree with the others about the fluorescent lighting, though. I’ve had better luck purchasing higher quality incandescents. They cost more, but the quality of materials and manufacturing mean they hold up much longer, while still providing the warm light to which we’re accustomed. I’ve tried several different styles and shapes of fluorescents in the house (wanted to avoid having to change them so darned often) and they just didn’t do it for me and the spouse.

  10. Re: thermostats. The newer your furnace, the easier the install on these things. I planned to install a digital thermostat at my old house. But older require that the thermostats pump juice to the gas valves to open them. But digitals thermostats are glorified switches. So I’d have had to solder a relay into my furnace to pump up the thermostat “signal” and have things work. Too much hassle. And I’d say that *ideally* you can just hook a new ‘stat in wire for wire. Assuming the original installer used the correct color wires, which they didn’t in my case.

    So I returned the digital thermostat, and bought a new house that came with them. 😉

  11. So is the honeymoon with your new house over so soon? Ah, if I could, I’d rather live in a house than an apartment, although my apartment is pretty cheap, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Here’s another suggestion for you to help alleviate your utility pain: check your doors, windows, vents, and so on for leakage. Around the door frames, window frames, and so on. It’s amazing how much heat you let out or in around these areas, which of course costs you money. Don’t ask me what to do, though – I’m not a handyman. But go to Revy or Eagle and pester them; they’ll know what to do. My cousin suggests unplugging everything that you don’t use on a regular basis – from your TV, home stereo system, coffee maker & toaster, etc. She swears by it. She says that she was able to cut her mom’s electrical bill by a good third or something like that. Sure, you’ll never know what time it is when you look at your VCR, but that’s why you wear a watch. Hope that helps!

    P.S. Keep writing. It’s nice to hear how you’re doing.

  12. comment
    Must admit I arrived at this site somewhat by accident, but have enjoyed the musings.

    It started by a general search for help with my Northgate Omnikey Ultra keyboard that had recently developed a couple of stuck-key problems, the first since I bought it new in the late 1980’s.

    Eventually I ran across your article dated 2/8/2001. Meanwhile I found several websites letting me know that Northgate is now being remade under another name.

    I agree that for anyone who does more keying than mouse-clicking, there’s nothing like the Northgate.

    Meanwhile I searched on eBay hoping to find a new one that had been brought out of someone’s forgotten storage to make a buck, but no such luck. Only a couple of used ones, or the new replacement-brand, but not the model I was looking for (to be a backup for my Ultra).

    Well, yesterday the ebay notify-svc contacted me that a used/refurbed Northgate was up for sale for $99 plus a [hefty] s/h fee.

    I will have to pass for tough $ reasons but if anyone out there wants to check this out, then I’d rather someone get it who would appreciate it,even if I can’t have it!

    Thanks (and no, I have no connection with anyone from ebay, or whoever it was that had listed that used Northgate).

  13. Have you considered Solar for some applications? It’s possible to do heating and cooling for your home with a solar system. It’s not as ‘responsive’ to settings, but once you get it where you want it and keep things closed…

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