Thursday, April 29, 2010

Great News! Home Energy Usage Update.

Great news, my home now consumes two thirds of the electricity of the average American home.

As you can see above, my usage over the last year shows that I have dropped below the two thirds of the average mark.  I'd have to do some statistical analysis to see how many households are using more or less than me, but I'm not even sure that data exists.

Just a reminder as to how I am able to do this, and how I am able to steadily continue lowering my consumption rate, I have made some improvements to the house.  I removed a window, replaced a window, and replaced a door.  I added radiant barrier insulation to the attic as well as adding eight or so inches of cellulose insulation.  I use an on demand electric water heater with a one gallon per minute shower head.  We wash clothes in only cold water, we use all CFL or LED light bulbs.  We have a programmable thermostat that automatically drops the temperature in the house by ten degrees at 9:30 PM in the winter time, and we open the windows at night in the summer time.  We use ceiling fans and usually keep the air conditioning at 78 degrees.

Other than the insulation, we haven't really done anything out of turn to increase efficiency, though at times we'd like to.  We have simply replaced things as they have burned out or broken.  As you get the chance, just do things the best way possible, it will add up in the end.

Ultimately, we'd like to build our superinsulated dream house.  It doesn't even have to be all that big, I just want it to be really efficient and really utilitarian.  It is my goal to build a home wherein I can keep the temperature around 75 year 'round and have virtually no heating or cooling bill.  That's not to say that it won't have to be heated or cooled at all, just very little and in ways that are cheap or free like wood heat and solar hot water and hydronic heating.  Making a good investment in home efficiency will hopefully produce a house that pays off in the long run and lasts for generations.  As you can see on my spreadsheet, I make a comparison to the Passivhaus standard in Germany.  Though I use two thirds the electricity, the Passivhaus standard calls for one fourth of what I use, and that's all energy included.  I still use a few gallons of propane every year.

Here's to goals,

Friday, April 9, 2010


I have like 184 Facebook friends.  I used to have 200, but I deleted some of them.

Who does that?


You see, I take the word "friend" very seriously.


Because I'm the kind of kid who prays that God will send someone to be my friend.  Only I didn't pray that as a kid, maybe I didn't think about it.  Maybe I did and don't remember, but in either case, I didn't have many friends.  I still don't have many people who I call friends.

I have acquaintances.  I have people I know.

But for some reason I hesitate to use the word friend.

Kids picked on me.  I was "the dirty kid."  I was poor, my clothes were stained, we didn't have a shower and you can't take a full bath every day when there's five people in the house.  And I went to a private school, which as you know is for kids who can afford to go to a private school.  So I was the dirty kid.

The playground was on two levels, they used to think it was fun to push me down the hill and keep me from getting up to the top, you know, where the equipment was, the swings, the merry-go-round, the monkey bars.

I had a "best friend" in first grade, his name was Jonathan Fox.  He had a lisp or an accent, I don't remember which.  But second grade came along, and he moved away.  Never had a best friend since.  No one my age, or in a similar place in the world.  I know one guy with similar political leanings as me, but he's an atheist.  It's hard to connect on a spiritual level with an atheist.  Great guy though, I couldn't say enough good things about him, he's a lot of fun to hang out with, but he's like eight years younger than me, going through totally different stuff.

I'm different.  I guess.

I'm a non traditional student at school, which means I'm old or married or live off campus.  I don't get dorm life.  I don't really have any engineer friends.  I don't do my homework with anyone.  It's kinda hard to get caught cheating if you always do your homework by yourself.

I like being alone.

A lot.

I don't like "worship music," it's boring.  All the church people like to "worship," with the "music" (acoustic guitar and vocals) but it's really boring.

I'm the sound guy at church.  I like doing that because I control the volume.

It's an interesting phenomenon that I have tested on many occasions, there's a certain threshold in volume where people will stand up and/or raise their hands.  It's around 93 decibels depending on the device used to measure.  It's fun to control people without them knowing it.  Somebody will be standing next to me in the sound booth and I'll say "hey, watch this" and I'll turn the volume up and people will stand up and raise their hands.

My recent Facebook escapade was kinda related to that.  I said it was an experiment.  It was.  It was kinda like practicing controlling people, though it's hard to get them to do stuff, it's really easy to get them to stay in a conversation, you just ratchet up the rhetoric.  Throw in a few key phrases.  Appeal to ego, or ideology.

On a relational level, I hate Facebook.  It makes miles and miles of relationships, but an inch deep.  I have met new friends on Facebook which is great.  People I will probably know for years and maybe even work with.  Anybody can snipe your stuff, and I know because I'm a Facebook sniper.  Or maybe a Facebook flasher.  I just wander around waiting to say something funny like "that's what she said" or maybe someday "bow chicka bow wow!"

I want to try "radical honesty."

That's when you say everything that's on your mind, never even veil the truth.  You cuss when you want to cuss.  Burp and fart out loud and not say excuse me if  you don't want to.  Tell people their baby is ugly if  you think it is.  The whole point is to say exactly what you mean at all times and always tell the truth.

But I can't.

I can be really really really mean.  I'm afraid I would have even fewer friends than I have now.  I'm afraid I'm too harsh on the inside for most people.  I'd probably die alone.

Now, it's my thing, properly filtered, that kind of thing makes people think you are open and honest, and sometimes even say that you don't have a filter.  But I do.  You don't even know what's going on in the inside.

And I'm angry.

So angry.

I have these dreams where people keep doing every thing that makes me mad.  It's like they're trying to do it.  And I just want to rip them limb from limb and I try, but I can't.  I can't reach them or they run away or they are incorporeal.  Some times it's people from my past, people who have done mean things to me.  Sometimes not.

I do want friends.  I want to be close to people, but I'm completely accustomed to not.

I kind of have this self image that I'm annoying.  I think I annoy people.  I don't know if I really do or not.  They still keep coming around, well not most of them, but I keep going around them, and they don't leave usually.

My hobbies are things people usually do alone.  I don't care for sports.  I keep bees, I play with model trains.  I try to annoy people on Facebook.

School is hard.

I mean it's not hard like lifting a car, I mean it's hard like getting up in the morning after sleeping for only one hour.  Some times I'll sit for hours berating myself because I won't start my homework.

Do I need depression medication?  Every late winter it's really hard.  Spring is here so it's better, but I get really depressed in February, every year.

But I really do want friends.  I want people who want to come over to my house even though it's small.  Do you know how often people come to visit uninvited?  Never.

Do you know how often they come invited?  Almost never.

I'm lonely.


Friday, April 2, 2010

The Great Facebook Experiment

A few months ago, I had grown tired of the environment Facebook was creating.  So I decided to have a little fun with it.  I decided to play the fool as it were, to play all the parts that people dislike the most on Facebook and to gauge people's reactions.  I called it a little "Social Experiment."  I could not however lower myself to the point where I actually posted song lyrics.  I just couldn't bring myself to do that.

So I did just that.  I made a nuisance of myself. 

I posted horribly mundane status updates.  I posted an update every few minutes for nearly an hour.  I got excessively political, starting fires in political threads, and who could resist with all the politically charged things that have happened lately.  I posted personal information.  I started my own fan club.  I made fun of Glenn Beck (got a great response there.)  I posted about bodily functions.  I posted links, videos, and pictures that had very little to do with me.  I carried on pointless arguments about things I don't really care about.  I picked fights with conservatives and libertarians.  I posted status updates which were descriptions of stereotypical status updates except that they contained no actual information.  I went so far as to impel someone to "unfriend" me.  I did all of this and more, and I made regular announcements about what I was doing, but I included the caveat that just in case someone took offense, it was actually directed toward them personally, which if you think about it, is completely ludicrous.

So, what did I learn?

I learned that many people are simply unable to control themselves when they see something that gets on their nerves.  Even though I made it clear that I was doing an experiment, there were still quite a few people who could not help but to take the bait.  Despite my repeated assertions that what I was saying was not serious, several people were simply unable to comprehend that there was no reason to debunk or politically correct what I was saying.  I found myself saying that there's no reason to agree to disagree or compromise or mature because the whole thing was an experiment.  And still people didn't seem to get it.  It seems to me that there is a distinct inability among a group of people today that is entirely unable to comprehend duplicity.  It seems to me, that is where guys like Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity reside.  They take up residence in a cohort that cannot tell when they are lying, or simply are unable to suspect it.

On the other hand, there are many who can get it and love to play along.  These people are the most fun, because it challenges you to come up with ever more creative and provocative statements, posts, and links to try and draw them in, and sometimes you can succeed when they forget that you are yanking their chain.  Some are quite entertained by it.  On the other hand, there are those who start calling names and eventually unfriend you because they just don't get it.

I also had a flameout involving global climate deterioration as well.  One of the posts immediately below is in regards to that one.  I was having a friendly (or not) discussion about the subject (which I happen to be neutral on) and people were getting pretty heated.  Then my friend's mom comes on and posts that bunch of nonsense you see below.  This is the kind of thing that really tells me what I have ahead of me as a progressive follower of Jesus, but this wasn't the forum for it, so I ignored it.  Now that the experiment is over, I may have to actually go back to working on the things that are important to me, like the environment and conservation and things like that.

As I mentioned before, I posted a lot of posts close to one another several times.  I posted a lot of statuses, most of which were very funny if I do say so myself, and I linked my Facebook account to my Discus account so that whenever I left comments on a blog or website with Discus, they would also show up on my Facebook account.  I heard from several people that they thought about ignoring me, but didn't.

I suggested nudism to a few women that I know, didn't get many reactions to that.  And don't misunderstand, it was not in a crude way, I am a proponent of Christian Naturism, I just haven't had the opportunity to practice it myself.

But it was those older people who couldn't understand what I was doing that made me decide to end the project.  I left a status update similar to the Onion News Network story about being sorry that it wasn't Glenn Beck who had died tragically in some accident.  Nobody got it.  My mentor, my wife's grandfather, they were not happy at all.  They thought I was inciting violence.  My wife's grandfather pulled the old "I'm older, so that means I know better than you" argument which is about the first thing that will make me lose all respect for anyone. 

So I had to quit it.

It was kinda cool though that several people expressed the sentiment that they enjoyed watching what I was doing because it was entertaining.  These were most of the same ones who had played along earlier, and even at times added to the project.

My conclusion is that Americans need much more to be critical (the good kind) of everything, especially the things they hold most dear.  Never accept any information without a challenge to the ruler of truth.  Understand that people can and do lie regularly.  Everyone, especially those who claim to believe in truth or have the truth or want to tell  you something they say is the truth.  Like Jack Sparrow said, "it's the honest ones you have to worry about mate."  You just did the voice in your head didn't you, so did I.  Don't accept something as fair and balanced just because the one who told you said it was.  Doubt everything.  Doubt motives, doubt unproven or unprovable facts, doubt everything someone who is paid to have an opinion says. 

The truth is out there, but you have to go find it yourself, don't trust ANYONE to bring it to you, even me.