Some Housekeeping

Of a personal nature. OK. Remember the “emergency car” thing, having to replace the MIMA enhanced Honda Insight (typical mileage 70/85 when the temp was above 50). Well, I got used Nissan Versa 6 speed manual. It gets somewhat crappy mileage, i.e., about 30 city and 38 highway (it’s listed as 24/29 ┬ábut that’s what I get). Our family will be receiving a hand-me-down VW Jetta TDI from my parents later this year … both are likely destined to be passed to my girls who are both in High School. Someday, somewhere regulatory barriers keeping out that 2 seater that gets 150-200 mpg highway will drop and it will be on the market, and then I’ll be able to drive the car I want. And on the car subject, if you drive a car without real-time MPG readout (average and instant) and you think conservation is important … there is a word for people like that, we call that being a hypocrite. You can get a inexpensive gauge like the ScanGauge or EcoGauge for about $150/100 respectively … which means the price of the gadget is not an excuse.

Also, I haven’t been biking so much. I want to get back into it but other time constraints make this difficult. Right now I’ve gotten back into lifting weights as an interim sport for the last 9 months or so … in part because the time constraints are more flexible. My bench-press (one metric … and fun lift) has gone up from 145 or so at the beginning to a one rep max about two weeks ago of 215. Back in college I lifted weights semi-seriously for a few years. My lifetime one rep bench max is 230. I’m getting close … and should be able to eclipse that by the end of the summer.

And while I’m not a fan of CFLs, as I don’t think they last very long and their mercury content is problematic. LED tech is more promising. However, my family on the other hand, doesn’t like the four Phillips 10W 800 (60W incandescent equiv) lumen dimmable LEDs I just put in the kitchen chandelier. Allegedly they will last 22 years … although judging by the CFL lifetime claims that means 5 … but we shall see. If they do last that long, I’ll be replacing them when I’m somewhat over 70.

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  1. Boonton says:

    1. I would have no idea how to hook up such a gage.
    2. I can’t keep light bulbs straight but I like the squiggly ones, but you have to keep a sharp eye out on them as they can be expensive but there’s often sales.
    3. LED based lights look cool as well, I can tell my wife’s new car’s headlights work off of them. No idea if either type of bulb lasts for decades but I have had squiggly light bulbs burn out on me!
    4. Have you completed Battlestar Galactica yet? You must move onto Walking Dead if you haven’t started that series yet. Times a wasting!

  2. Mark says:

    On #1 … you’re kidding right? You can connect a keyboard to a computer. It’s about that difficult. The advantage of the “Scan gauge” over the other is that it can read/and clear engine codes while the other just shows gas mileage. All cars since 1996 have and OBD-II port (on board diagnostic). There’s a connector/cable that comes with the device. You look under the steering wheel or on the passenger side and find the connector that fits the one on the cable. Connect it and you’re done. If you have a diesel (I didn’t, my dad did) you have to figure out whether you have “diesel A” or “diesel B” … and instructions shipped with the device tell you how to tell and how to configure. That’s it.

    This morning my wife admitted the LED bulbs look OK when they on, but may have “to get used to it” when they are not.

  3. Boonton says:

    AHHH OBD-II port ok now I got it. That’s what I used to connect the Progressive Snapshot module to the new car. (Pretty cool BTW if you want to go with it, you can see times the car was driven, a graph of speed and ‘hard stops’ which they define as braking more than 7 mph in a second). I thought this was something that had to connect somewhere between the gas guage and the odometer….

  4. Mark says:

    The scan gauge has an RJ (phone/network like connector) as well for daisy/chaining attaching other to monitor that port. Does it have anything like that … otherwise, you might be able to find a cable that let’s you carry on the connection to the Progressive device.

  5. Boonton says:

    The trick will be getting my wife to use it. I’ve been knocked down for wanting to consider solar panels on the roof. The guy next door tells me he is raking in $6K a year from his array…..the dashboard on her car does have some type of fuel economy readouts, it might include average mpg and instant. Since progressive is watching us, we are keeping the miles off the car for now, using the old 91 Crown Vic. for work commutes for maybe 1/2 of the week.

  6. Mark says:

    Well, if you hook it up, there’s nothing to use. It just displays numbers … you double sticky hook and loop tape to the dash or console and put the display there. The benefit is coming where you have constant feedback on your mileage, which in turn tends to adjust your driving habits.

  7. Mark says:

    My brother installed solar panels on his roof … and my father spearheaded a campaign putting a large array on the lawn of his church.

  8. Boonton says:

    Wish I could find an estimate of what would be the implications if, say, 40% of the roofs in the US had solar panels on them….as the cost of solar panels continues to drop they should get more and more affordable. Also I would imagine they would have some cost savings on the roof itself as the panels would give the shingles some shielding and extend the life of the roof no?

  9. Mark says:

    Oh, the point of mentioning the above, is that if you’re interested I can get you their email address if you want to contact them to ask about putting in solar panels in more detail from some guys who’ve done it recently.

  10. Mark says:

    There’d be a cost savings on the shingles, but that’s not likely the only actuarial impact. You might check with your insurance, actuarial calcs are their lifeblood. Hail/wind damage will likely affect the panels as well and repair/replacement will be more costly.

  11. Boonton says:

    True the value of the house will go up….my brother-in-law insists on the opposite in regards to shingles. He claims that the panels trap moisture underneath them thereby causing shingles to decay faster. I’m thinking the opposite. My neighbor has his array on the ground next to his house as his roof doesn’t have any really flat areas that would accomodate panels.

    I’m more interested in theory as there’s no way I can sell the panels. I suppose if someday their cost is equal to shingles it may work but right now my better half simply doesn’t care for the way they look.

    As far as hail/wind damage goes, I’m not so sure…..wouldn’t normal hail just damage individual panels making them less effective? A windstorm that would destroy the entire array would probably also give a regular roof serious damage….I would imagine swapping out an individual panel that had become damaged would not be too great an expense and would be less complicated than installing the entire thing from scratch.

    So let’s just say something like 40%-50% of all roofs had panels….which would not be too amazing if their cost came down to being only a few times shingles. What portion of power would that generate in your estimation? I notice that many businesses with solar arrays tend to be ones that use a lot of power (like car washes). This perplexes me since you can sell surplus power back to the grid wouldn’t one expect the businesses most likely to have large solar arrays be the ones with large, flat roofs in unshaded areas (thinking of certain gas stations, Sonics which seem like they were built to be solar panel banks and others)?

  12. Mark says:

    I don’t think the panels trap moisture. I’ll ask my brother, but I think they are a bit off the roof, and not flush with it.

    I notice that many businesses with solar arrays tend to be ones that use a lot of power (like car washes).

    I haven’t seen that. What I have seen in some cases is that warehouses with those very large area flat roofs are occasionally putting them in. When we met up the other year, the job I was on for a swimsuit distributor/mfg had a project going on line putting a set of arrays on their warehouse roof. I think the arrays on warehouse roofs … are really hard to see. If they are up, you probably wouldn’t notice or know.