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Monday, March 17, 2008

FAR Future, Episode 25: So Far So Good

A weekend away from the intertubes might have done me some good. I’ll make up for the long delay on this episode by putting up the next one (mostly written already) later this week.

Monday, June 17, 2013
So Far So Good

The rolling blackouts of summer have started, but so far they only last for a couple hours as intended. That means my home-grown electricity is enough to run a fan or three plus the computer and network while I’m working at home. Now if I could get a wireless signal to the creek, and a waterproof laptop, I’d be set!

Speaking of laptops, I’m drooling over Apple’s new MacBook Sunlight. Nice commercial, naturally, with the guy using one in front of a window all day, then winding up the (optional) charger when evening comes. The entire lid is covered with solar cells — great move for anyone working at home. If my job continues to hold up, I’d love to get one for myself. But even if I can’t get a new laptop, I can be really happy. The chicken houses are, now and forever, past tense. They’re already becoming hay barns and storage for various junk that accumulates on a farm. Even better, Daughter Dearest is home for the summer. Her latest online beau is a little closer to home this time — he works on one of the new Auto-Sail freighters out of Savannah. She told us about their meetup, and how it went well, even if she didn’t get a chance to bring him here. She said he’ll be back in late July and maybe we’ll get to meet him then.

Plenty of sun so far this summer — good for solar panels, not so good for gardens (lack of rain). I sure hope we’re not going back into another drought cycle. We did pretty well rain-wise last year, but that doesn’t do much for us now. The really amazing thing is how this border dispute with Tennessee has gone on for so long… I figured it would die years ago. But the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last week(!) — so one way or another, that should be over with next month.

But I digress. The libraries have gone back to summer hours, of course — and the right people are making sure the lights (and A/C) stay on all day. The only complaint was from parents who wonder why they didn’t go to summer hours as soon as school let out.

The local library is presenting an “Energy Saving Tips for the Family” series that’s been well-attended. I had to slip away from work for a couple of hours to check out the presentation last week, on “comfortable outdoor summer spaces.” It was sponsored by Home Depot, which made sense, but the presenter did a pretty good job of keeping the “new stuff” pitch to a minimum. There was a lot of focus on selecting the site — shade, breeze, soft ground cover, furniture, view — all that stuff. They suggested getting a neighborhood together to plan either a community space or ways to connect individual spaces, and offered a break on delivery charges for group orders, yadda yadda. :-) She had to put in one plug, anyway!

I asked about creek sites, and she suggested that a neighborhood group might be the way to go there. There are special considerations, she said, for creekside sites: depending on the slope of the bank, you may need to do some earth-moving. Erosion control is a big deal, too, especially when you have people tromping around it all summer. There aren’t too many neighbors in the pasture, unless you count the cows, so I guess we’ll stick with the lawn chairs and plastic table. When it really starts getting hot (like next week), I have some ballast to hold down the table and we can sit in the creek and still have our magazines and lemonade.

Someone else brought up the idea of integrating a “space” with a garden. She laughed and asked if there were any kids involved — a kid taking a tumble in the wrong place could wipe out a lot of your crop! But there are ways to do it — waist-high beds (which reduce bending and squatting anyway) are one possibility.

I should have asked about moss… it’s soft and it likes shade, after all. And I have a bunch of it growing in half of the front yard. Maybe I should just put some furniture out there and call it good enough.

Nah. I’d rather have it down at the creek.



  1. Hey Far! What a neat idea, solar cells on the lap top! I'm all for that! Auto-Sail freighters?

    Sure like the idea of outside spaces..Without a doubt, people will spend more time picnicing, and spending their free time in the outdoors, especially, when those homes are like a heated oven. Perhaps, reversing this thought, us Northerners had better start thinking about public indoor spaces that people can come in and get warm. Which brings to mind some tribes had large community wigwams where dancing and feasts were held. Think the Silver Dome would accomadate those in Pontiac? ha!ha!

    Gee, your buddy Knustler almost sounded gleeful, eh? Without a doubt, he's turning it on for his readership. This is his trick, only expose a little at a time. He realized early on, people would not accept his message in full strenght. He's watered it down so it's plausible to the masses. For the life of me, I cannot find a letter he wrote, that I found on Die-Off awhile back. This just shocked me when I read it! We'll see more and more what he really thinks in coming months, that's for sure!

    Thanks, yooper

  2. Are you sure that this is the future, Far? Now that laptops are starting to have much less demanding flash drives rather than old-fashioned hard drives, solar power is probably not far off. Hmm, patent time?

  3. Hey guys!

    Boran, I'm not sure I can really claim the idea… calculators, after all, have had solar cells for years now. If you can see the display, there's usually enough light to power them. It seems like the logical next step. Those XO (OLPC) laptops, I hear, have wind-up generators already — so they could possibly run off a solar panel (the size of the lid) right now. Yeah, that "future" is here, or could be really quickly. I figure it will take some serious disruptions to push it into the mainstream though.

    Yooper, I'll explain Auto-Sail in the next episode. ;-) The thing I remember about living in Michigan is how much time we spent outdoors, and even now you see people with boats for the summer and snowmobiles for the winter. My brother, as a teenager, nailed it: if it's going to be cold, there should be snow to play in.

    I figure even in the UP, the summers would get people outside — but that's a good thought about the public indoor spaces too. They even do that here… the park/rec gym is often open for pickup b-ball games or just hanging out. A similar concept would be a curved wall against the prevailing fall winds, to give families or other small groups a place to be outside but still sheltered. As you may have noticed in this episode, the library is open in hot weather for people to come get some A/C (and get some pointers for coping with the situation).


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