Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Three Metrics

Referring back to the post about Hizzoner's and the NYCHA: I am pondering what three metrics are most appropriate for the ERJ household economy.

Credit Card Balances

The one no-brainer is to drive credit card balances down to zero.  That is our normal state but the recent changes to our medical insurance are pounding us.

I recently read that more than half of US households have subprime credit.  One of our medical providers advised us to not pay the balance...nobody does.  It is part of their business model.

Part of the ERJ household economy model is to protect our integrity.  That means paying our bills or doing without.  It is a very quaint concept in certain quarters.

That means we are currently carrying a credit card balance....for now.  But we will beat that back down.

Eliminate Production Bottlenecks

Ten acres of farmland in the United States corn belt, albeit the northern fringe, has enormous production potential.  We ripened 10,000 pounds of fruit on our property in 2013.  And we harvested almost none of it.

One of the bottlenecks we ran into was being able to physically get to the fruit.  Eliminating that bottleneck entails opening up our orchards to get to the trees, and thinning out the trees so we can maneuver around to get to the fruit.  It also means getting appropriate baskets and bags and to have a way to cool them after picking.  Finally, it may mean having a phone tree to alert potential pickers that they will have a gleaning opportunity.

The third metric

This one is still up in the air.  I am leaning toward an alternative/backup energy project.  We are vulnerable to power interruptions.  The sump pump does not work without electricity.  Items stored in the basement are damaged when they get soaked.

The plug-and-play move would be to get an inverter with enough cajones to run our current sump pump.

A competing project would be to excavate a "daylight drain" to eliminate the need for power to drain the sump.

Picture from otherpower.com

Another project that is bumping around in my head is to create 100 Watts of generation capacity.  100 Watts does not sound like much but it will charge rechargeable batteries, cell phones, lap tops and wireless router. These are "command-and-control" functions.  It can also run a couple of compact fluorescent lights.  100 Watts will not run the refrigerator and freezers, the furnace and water pump, not even with aggressive load management.

I am leaning toward one or more wind turbines.  The events that typically cause grid-down (storms) are usually cloudy (bad for solar), and windy (good for wind power, in moderation).  Also, the wind blows well into the night.  Another factor tipping me toward wind power are my capital constraints.  I can buy 3, 10 foot 2-by-8s and whittle them into blade pretty inexpensively.  Solar panels....they are a lot more money out of pocket.  And yes, I know there are a bunch of extra pieces-parts between the primary collector and the wall plug.

One of my advantages is that I have an awesome brother-in-law who flies sail planes (gliders).  One of his projects involved re-profiling his glider's wings. I think he enjoys having somebody to talk aeronautical gack with.  He is schooling me on the relative advantages of Clark-Y and USA-35b airfoil profiles.

Picture from HERE

A final, capital intensive project is to set up half the upstairs for wood heat.  That entails stripping the paper-products faux-planking off the ceiling and replacing with plasterboard, relining the chimney, dropping the hearth to floor level, drilling a hole and thimbling the brick facing inside the house.  Oh, and buying a wood stove that meets Mrs ERJ's requirements for aesthetics.

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