issues & thoughts

Photos

June 7, 2015We're making, on average, 384 kWH of clean energy, monthly. 

Since installing our solar array in February 2012 we've generated over 21.8 MWh of electricity reducing our utility bills by over $3,710.  The system is connected to the Consumer's Energy grid which means our meter actually runs backwards on bright sunny days.  It's called "net-metering".   Overall, we generate more than one-third of our household electricity consumption, and we offset our carbon footprint.  

see the data!You can check the data for yourself:  click the sunny icon (left) to see the web-based data tracking.   You'll find we established our single best day:  29.745 KWh on Wednesday 4/23/14.   Ironically our previous record was set on the same day two years previously, 4/23/12:  29.724 KWh.   April, it turns out, is a very good month for solar generation.  

As the chart below illustrates, our solar array is most productive from March through October.  December and January are the least productive months for generating electricity in Michigan.   

Our daily energy production since 2012

Our installation photostory > 
Links to cool developments and growing potential for solar power:
    solar roadways and parking lots >
    hype-version "solar-freaking-roadways" >
frugal is what frugal does? What sweet delight a quiet life affords. 
       ~ William Drummond

We tend to get our money's worth out of things we buy, and we find joy in being rather frugal.  Pictured here are a pair of Mike's blue jeans that have been mended multiple times...just because they are so darned comfy.  The jeans are amazingly well-made and it seems worth the effort to hang on to 'em.  You see, Louise found a source for great blue jeans that are actually made right here in the USA. They are a bit more expensive than the disposable variety found in Big Box stores - but we think they're worth it.  We think our economy is better served when we make stuff right here in the USA.  Here's a link:  http://bit.ly/1Jksv4S

mowing-mama!
ZOOM!  Louise was saying "sure could use some rain" as she kicks up some dust mowing the backyard.  Actually, I'm kinda' proud of the way Louise tackles some chores like cutting the grass.  99% of the time I tackle the job but it's nice knowing that she is more than capable if she ever needs to....like this winter when I messed up my shoulder.  Louise pitched-in and helped keep the solar panels free of snow.  BTW: our landscaping projects geared to improve drainage around the house are coming along nicely...new baby grasses sprouting everywhere!  

She's a picker, he's a picker....wouldn't you like to be a picker, too?College Football Bowl Season - The college football bowl extravaganza continued this past winter here at HighPointe. Forty-one freaking college football games plus a handful of high school championship games...whew!  Not that we watch 'em all.  We enjoyed watching some sports for years but got serious about our Bowl Picking in 2011.  You may have read about it here "He Lacked" - Louise won big.   This year Mike prevailed, picking the winner of 25 games. 

2015-16:  Mike won 25 to 20
2014-15:  Mike won 19 to 16
2013-14:  Louise won 22 to 16
2012-13:  Mike won 24 to 17
2011-12:  Louise won 18 to 14.

Congrats to college national champs: Alabama. 

 

turkey-time at High PointTurkey time - a few years ago we began seeing a couple wild turkeys on a regular basis.  Then a dozen.  Then 2 dozen.  Today we've got upwards of 50 crazed turkeys roam around High Point...making a mess of our new deck (below).  They swarm our roof, our yard - and get quite vocal when they think it's "feeding time".  The gang obviously enjoys cleaning up seed debris under our bird feeders and the flock has grown to the point we're finally beginning to question our sanity.  It's gotten out of hand.   So the plan now is to feed further away from the house and gradually reduce the volume of corn and bird seed available to 'em. 

Above/Left:  turkeys feed on seed ribbon Mike spread out the new section of driveway.

Parade of Projects - 2012 was filled with 'em!  Landscaping around solar panels, painting lower lever, replacing carpet, fixing bathroom tile floor, and now: replacing deck surface with new cedar boards.  The original deck was built 24 yrs ago...and always had a bit of wobble - but less so now that Mike shored up the structure. a guy and his deck
It took longer than planned - but the new deck surface and benches turned out pretty nice. 

enlarged view >

finally completed
ground source loop - one of five lines buried 5 ft down in our backyardGoing Geo (As in ground source Geothermal)
2011 was also a big year for projects here at High Point! First we had to deal with minor flooding twice this year...I say minor 'cuz there was only an inch or two of water - but enough to damage carpet and prompt us to find a solution!  Mike got to use a jack hammer for the first time to dig up a chunk of the basement floor and explore. The result? A new foundation drain system and a new sump-pump.

Next up on the project hit parade: installing a new Geothermal heating and cooling system.  Some trees in backyard (stumps and all) had to get cleared, then we had the nice folks from Michigan Energy Services dig five trenches roughly five feet deep and 150 feet long....to accommodate 750 feet of  "GeoThermal loop".   These series of pipes contain fluid that is capturing the earth's energy - in this case a fairly constant temperature (50-55 degrees), which is piped into the basement, connected to our new WaterFurnace to heat and cool our home and supplement hot water heating.  The WaterFurnace is connected to our existing duct-work and operates much, like the natural gas forced air system we had previously, and was installed by the talented folks at Porter & Heckman from Lapeer, MI.   And yes, the Water Furnace was made right here in the USA.  Cool huh? See more: photo-album & video clips >  

Meanwhile, Louise and I walk about the house repeating: "we're heating our home with water!"  No fuel oil, no natural gas....just improved technology capturing the power from the sun, stored right here in the soil.  We're loving it so far!   The jury is still out but in the first year using geothermal system our natural gas consumption dropped by 90%.

inside: a new Geo Thermal "furnace"

hammock lovers....head to toe (times 2)...the rest of the story.best friends
while in college Mike had a roommate who nixed the standard issue dormitory bed in favor of a hammock. Yep, he strung it up with lag bolts secured in concrete walls. Quirky guy that boy we called "2-shirt Tanis" (because he always employed the layered look: shirt on shirt).

Anyway, this isn't a shirt-tale, but rather, a hammock story. Louise has bought a couple of 'em for our little utopia in the woods - strung between two sturdy oaks with the bolts slowly being absorbed by the growing trees. It's a peaceful way to spend some quality time with a good friend: swinging in a hammock. We made a design note to ourselves recently that when it comes time to build a Superior home we'd be wise to incorporate a hammock to be placed indoors so that we could use it year-round (ala' 2-shirt)! See? There was some linkage after all, to these tales. 

 

that's my Mom on her 77th birthdayMom is now residing in a nursing home - in decent health but her short term memory is pretty bad.  Ten minutes after lunch she's unable to tell you what she just ate....but, interestingly enough, can ramble through several verses of Oh! Susanna  ("...a banjo on my knee..."). Recent pictures of her can be found on my photos page >

She's had plenty of changes in her life the past few years: in '07 she moved to Grand Blanc...in '04 her second husband, Howard, passed away. My brothers and I have helped Mom with assorted issues mentioned above. Since I'm the lone son residing in Michigan my brothers have much greater challenges to find time to travel and visit (from MN, GA, and FL). Their significant acts of kindness are appreciated!

 

 
a little bomb - see Mike's latest comment >

If some foreign country had dropped 20,000 bombs on the USA do you think we'd notice?
see Mike's latest comment >

What happened to the "blog"?  Too much spam.  Given the political landscape in this country, one more ranting voice is certainly not going to make a difference.  I'll continue to write an occasional piece under the heading above: "issues & thoughts". 
home | primary web site: JJCardinal.com
revised 11.09.16