Wednesday, October 17, 2007

micro update

Not dead here, just buried.  Partly with visitors; first family, then by a long-time friend who traveled a very long way to be here- to help.  Thanks, Jerry.  :-)  

You were a huge help- got lots of stuff done that had been dangling, waiting for the extra hands.  The side effect though, was some brain fog- re-focus here, re-focus there.  Now I've gotta re-focus again, on coping with just us.  And, for extra fun, I sneezed this morning.

Ha ha.  If you've had your back go out, you know a sneeze is not amusing, and indeed it put my partially recovered back back into spasm.  Hopefully minor, it doesn't feel like going back to square one- but it's definitely a problem.

Meanwhile- the weather is apparently Augember.  Late August temperatures, but November rain patterns; day after day of gray drizzle.   Nov/Dec is when we need our backup generators the most, usually- it's common to have weeks of no effective sun; Jan/Feb are VERY sunny, usually, and though the hours are short, the power is good- something few people know is that photovoltaic panels are more effective- the colder it is.

This is not a minor effect- you get around 1% more power for each 3°C colder than "rated" temperature.  Usually panels are rated at 25°C (which is pretty fakey- in full sun, in summer, they're probably running more like 50°C- which means a lot less power).  In winter though; it's pretty common to have bright sun- often bouncing off snow; very cold temps; and wind- so the panels may be running at a temp of -30°C; which should mean around 20% MORE than "rated" power output.  I learned this the hard way; by boiling my batteries one nice February.

See?  Brain fog.  Starting to ramble.  Today we've got 12 hours of sun and wind- before the rain starts again.  Have to get some firewood in before the rain comes back; we ARE needing the stove now.  The Little House has big windows, by design, and in 50°F weather it will heat nicely, if it's sunny- but if it's drizzling day after day, it gets miserable without the stove.

Off to the woodpile.


Crunchy Chicken said...

Sneezing + Low back injury = PAIN!

I was told to brace yourself somehow if you need to sneeze or cough in order to protect your lower back. Unfortunately, it takes quite a bit of control to maneuver into position while holding back a sneeze.

But, if you can muster it, either brace your lower back up against a wall. If there are no walls around, put both hands on your knees to minimize movement.

Unfortunately, you can't cover your sneeze whilst doing this, but most likely you're outside anyway and the squirrels don't mind so much.

I can't believe you're carrying firewood. My back hurts just thinking about it.

BTW, my son and I collected a few pounds of horse chestnuts from a neighbor's tree yesterday (after a windstorm) and I thought of you and all your nuts. I guess that kinda sums up things right now - NUTS!

Greenpa said...

Crunchita- yup; plus there are stealth sneezes- not much warning.

What are you going to do with a couple pounds of horse chestnuts!? Put on a Conkers tournament? You do realize they're rather toxic, I'd assume? Every year a few folks wind up in the hospital after stuffing their turkey with horse chestnuts... nobody dies, usually; just get a whopping bellyache.

Christy said...

Glad to hear an update and that things are sounding a little more upbeat there.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Yeah, I figured out the toxic horse chestnut problem before I started cooking them :)

Right now they are in a bowl, which makes for quite a nice display. They are a beautiful shade of - chestnut. Since I'm not eating them, I may put them back where I found them so that the critters can enjoy them.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Oh, BTW, Conkers? How do you know these things? Like I said... NUTS!


Anonymous said...

Greenpa, when I'm not obsessing on enviroblogs, I'm a dancer. Which means I have a long and intimate relationship with back pain. I've tried lots and lots of things, and I'm going to tell you the thing that has worked best: ice, 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, for a minimum of an hour. Several hours is better. Repeat as often as possible. Plus 2 ibuprofin every four hours. I know ice takes energy, but this seems a reasonable carbon investment. No back=much larger carbon footprint. Also, I know it will kill you to sit still for two hours like this, but I swear to god, it really does work.

Chile said...

Hope your back recovers soon!

Another warning on sneezing. When you sneeze, keep your head pointing straight forward no matter what. If you are prepping food and don't want to sneeze on it, then turn your whole body and sneeze straight.

Why the big deal about this? Well, if you turn your head to sneeze, the force of the sneeze can screw up your neck. Take it from someone who actually gave herself whiplash by sneezing. Wearing a neckbrace for several days and having to explain that no, you were not in an auto accident is quite embarrassing!

Theresa said...

Thanks for the solar panel/temperature info Greenpa - this kind of thing really helps out newbies like me as I seriously look into solar power for the first time.

Wishing you more healing and less sneezing!

Hank Roberts said...

> % more power for each 3°C
> colder than "rated" temperature

I've wondered for years why I can't buy panels that are water-cooled, and get out both electricity and supplemental hot water. Any panel built on a metal backing could have fins for a heat exchanger on the back.

Greenpa said...

Crunch- I know this stuff for two reasons; I do my homework, and I have a flypaper brain- just born with it. Conkers hits another point for me, I have a long standing interest in "children's culture". Kids used to have a world of their own- with games, language, and traditions passed from one child to another, and largely forgotten in adulthood. It's mostly disappeared, which worries me. Conkers used to be universal childhood game in the UK, I think it never got to the New World. "Stampsies", however has me stumped, and intrigued. Is that a marbles call, allowing you to stamp on your opponents marbles? Or are toes the target?

Hank- solar panels like that have been made, but I've never seen any available for sale; I think it's a matter of markets and economics; the dual purpose heat/electric panels cost considerably more than single purpose units- and too few customers exist, as yet, who want/need both at the same time. It makes excellent sense- which as we both know, counts for very little in this weird world. :-)

Greenpa said...

jen- ice! yah, I remember. Ages ago I was a competitive fencer, event taught it for a while. And in spite of lots of emphasis on avoiding injury, it's not that uncommon. There used to be an argument about ice versus heat. Last I knew, they were recommending ice for the first 24 hours following an injury, and then heat Are you saying ice forever? Did you see the recent news that acupuncture, even inaccurate acupunture, is better for back pain than anything else? I've been thinking about that... alas, in the summer, getting ice here may mean a trip into town, miles away.

Anonymous said...

The latest research on the ice/heat thing is that heat is almost never recommended anymore, unless it's with contrast therapy - ie, ice then heat then ice. You always want to end with ice. The reason my chiropractor gave me is that the issue with most of these injuries is swelling. Even a very small amount of swelling will cause pain in a back. Heat exacerbates it. Ice heals it, unless you go for more than 15 or 20 minutes, or use something really really cold right next to the skin - that triggers a frostbite response, and blood rushes to the area, exacerbating the swelling. The ibuprofin is good for the swelling too. The exception is that a hot bath is always a good thing.

I've heard good things about acupuncture, but don't always have the $$ for it :). I try to be preventative as well - lots of yoga, careful warming up and down, etc - but yah, if you use your body at a high level, you're gonna get hurt every once in a while.

I have this fabulous machine that is great for my back - it's a cooler with a pump that pumps ice water through a pad on my back. If you fill it up with ice and water, it will stay cold all day. Maybe worth the trip to town if you're in a lot of pain (I don't think it draws much current). While technology has gotten us into an out-of-control situation in terms of consuming resources, I think that healing is the very most justifiable use of what the earth has to offer.

Susan Och said...

There were lots of horse chestnuts around when I was growing up. I thought everyone knew that you didn't eat them.

One of the ongoing sagas in our small town is the village grocery. A few years ago, after four generations in the same family, it was sold to a family from India. They were quite "fresh off the boat" and expected to run the store on the beer-cigarettes-lottry ticket-slurpies model. Our community had to get used to these newcomers, with a language barrier, and no former expertise in the grocery business (he is a civil engineer and she has a master's in political science), while trying to keep the store afloat and trying to convince them that we wanted a grocery, not a convenience store.

Which brings me to the afternoon that I found a display of horse chestnuts, $1 a pound, with the very funny label "Horse Nuts". I had to insist that they add "for decoration" or "not for eating" to the display.

Lately our grocery is thriving, and they are doing a decent side business in Indian Food take-out.