Tuesday, August 29, 2006

my house is hot and cold

Seattle is certainly more temperate than most places in the world. Most of the winter the high is 45F, and rarely drops below 30F at night. The last few summers have been mostly highs around 80F. I can't think of a time when it went over 100F in the 10 years I've lived here, but it has probably happened at least once.

On hot days, my house gets pretty uncomfortable, and takes a long, long time to cool off. Part of the problem is that the upstairs only has 2 small windows, and they're on the north & south sides of the house, but the window mostly blows from the west.

There is a pretty good collection of tall pines around the house, and this summer I noticed something interesting. The pines keep the house in shade until about noon, and the house is quite comfortable until then. By 1pm, the house is hot. The sun stays steadily on the house until sunset. The room we tend to hang out in is on the south-west corner of the house, so we feel the heat.

When I can, I try to open the house in the evening, and close it up again the morning. Unforunately, the house gets very cold around 3-4am.

It seems like there should be some opportunities to make the house more comfortable in the summer, without turning on the heater in night, and without adding an air conditioner. If I plan carefully, I should be able to do it for very little money or other resources.

I could probably benefit by adding thermal mass and low awnings and improving insulation and airflow.

So now I need some information on how to improve these things in an existing house, for cheap.

Any favorites?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bad reporting

I was just reading this article on Yahoo news: U of Texas-Austin tops party school list, and found this text:

Tests showed Phanta "Jack" Phoummarath's blood alcohol level was 0.50 percent,
more than six times the legal limit.

Six times the legal limit of what? In many states 0.8% is the limit of blood/alcohol content for driving. Not for sitting on a sofa with a plastic cup in your hand.

Last time I checked, there is no law limiting how much you can drink, only where you can do it, and some rules about what you can't do while drunk.

Writing it this way makes it sound like the poor kid (who died of alcohol poisoning) was doing something illegal, and that some kind of additional law enforcement would make the world a better place.

That's just bad reporting.

It's that time of year

I have had a bunch of ferments going over the last couple months. About a week ago, mold started growing on everything, at about the same time. Beet kvass, sauerkraut, sourdough starter, and lemonade all got it.

This is because it's late summer, and there are lots of mold spores in the air.

As the weather cools, the mold will back off.
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