Tuesday, December 11, 2012

boy genius

I’m not positive but I think I might be starting the next book soon, and if I do that ( I just need an inspirational header list to keep the thoughts coming ) you will be getting more than the usual bit of doom and gloom on a weekly basis.  So enjoy this article which isn’t much more than a bit of whimsy.  When it comes to electronics, specifically 12 volt type, I am a danger to myself.  I know just enough, which is about half as much as I need, which I taught myself, to muddle through in a comical fashion.  A month or so ago we start having troubles with our TV reception.  I just figure it is nothing more than the typical corporate harmful addiction to obscene profits and they let maintenance go or buy substandard equipment and so whenever a raindrop falls or the wind blows too strong you get their new and wonderful digital signal scrambled.  Of course I was wrong, and it was all my fault for trusting another company which sold me a piece of Chinese crap.  I had bought an L connector for a coaxial cable, hoping to place less stress on the TV connector ( as much as I like my little 12 watt digital TV which runs directly on 12v, the damn thing has an almost impossible to use recessed cable connector ).  I don’t know how long ago I bought that in relation to all the signal problems I had, but in the end I was losing a channel every couple of days until I was down to two or four out of 19. 
At the time I didn’t know it was the L connector, so I’m up on the roof moving the antenna, I’m replacing coaxial splitters, I’m replacing cigarette lighter connectors, plug ins, everything I can think of over the course of two hours.  Until I finally out of desperation I remove the L connector and just slip in the cable loosely ( the way it is recessed, it is nearly impossible to screw in a cable.  I got lucky and found a length of cable that had a longer than usual middle wire ) on the TV and everything comes in just fine.  But wait!  That is a mere prelude to my boneheadness.  I pulled a much bigger doosey last night.  It’s dark-ish when I pull in, barely enough light left to bike in without flashers without worrying about getting run over.  And I figure, hey, with just enough light left I can unhook half the solar panels from the trailer and set them up at the pit.  I’m all excited because they have just enough wire to reach all the way down to the door were I put the battery.  I already had a spare charge controller but I have limited spare wires.  Now it is completely dark so I move inside to hook up a 12v light.  I took a light connector ( the doohickey that you plug the 12v LED into and wire it up and have an on-off switch ) out of the trailer and rigged it up. 
The battery has one main wire going from it to the inside, and it is a nice fat substantial wire.  It cost a buck a foot way back in the day before oil was dear and metal was scarce.  So when I plugged in both a cigarette plug and ONE friggin light pulling 4 watts, and I had problems with both the TV and light ( the TV wouldn’t turn on, the light was extremely dim ), I was confused.  Surely 15 watts can’t be overburdening the system?  So I’m going bat crap crazy with this thing.  I’m changing out light doohickeys, I’m changing bulbs, I’m changing wires and plugs and plug-ins.  I’m unplugging one and trying to run just the other.  Everything I can think of.  Then, as I’m going topside from the B-POD ( I know, Hobbit Hole is gay, I was just using that in the comments section to try to make a brother feel better about all the chicks dissing on him.  Believe me, I can relate ) I don’t even give it much thought but as I pass the battery I absent mindedly twist the wing nuts on the batteries to make sure they are tight.  Yep, sure enough.  When I had attached the solar panels I hadn’t given one nut that last one sixteenth of an inch turn and it wasn’t tight enough ( I’m talking you could barely feel it turn it was so close already ).  Problem solved, everything worked wonderfully.  Sometimes I astonish myself at my moronic behavior.
One good thing though, in spite of wasting the evening, as I was crawling around we couldn’t run the heater.  And the pit was still 50 waking up this morning.  A bit colder outside the hovel but still inside the pit.  46 rather than 48 or 50.  But not a huge difference and hours of propane saved.  I won’t do that everynight, we went to bed at 54 degrees.  But it is nice to know we can skip a night if needed, unlike up in the trailer.  It was cloudy all day yesterday, so the wife stayed the day in the pit.  And just heating water for coffee kept the inside above fifty all day.  I’m loving the pit even more today than I was yesterday.  Suck it, envious non-underground dwellers!
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  1. Every year in the spring Jim comes out of his hole and if he sees his shadow it is another 2 months of apocalypse. -SemperFido

  2. Nightshift....Lot to be said for thermal mass. Just think, if you had a couple more ladies down there it would be real cozy.

    Jim your Genius will not be fully appreciated till we are long and gone. Do you have a way to insulate the opening yet still provide some ventilation. How about natural lighting with some type of light tube. How thick is your ceiling/roof. A 2 liter bottle? Even a piece of big PVC with a piece of plexiglass glued to it. Line it with a piece of mylar for reflectivity? If you steal the idea I want a commission. LOL Love the hair!

  3. Thank you very much. You inspire me, and help convince the spouse of the concepts.
    I too now have the peice of 'junk' property (actually 2 of them) a lot bigger than yours (at 40acres each) but close to the nearby tiny town I have a job at. What makes the land 'junk' is the facts that -
    1) all the rural landowners are monocrop farmers and these tracts are too small and hilly for their combines and
    2) this place has tempatures that compete with the artic for cold during the winter and texas for heat during the summer.
    But with a quick pit shelter like yours, a source of H20 and food, I should be able to find a way to have my family survive most anything (the spouse thinks the pit is just going to be a 'root cellar'....)


  4. O great haired one and all that bullshit. Have you thought about lining the inside of pit of doom with reflective insulation just to help retain what heat you two produce. Of Course, I don't know what the hell I am talking about, but it has been awhile so I thought I would say something.

  5. As soon as I get a sunny weekend I'll take some more pictures to give you'all a better idea of the entrance/windows, etc. I would have loved bigger, and a bit more interior insulation ( most likely in time ), but the budget was what it was. In case you forgot, if I haven't stressed it enough times, I do expect WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!! NOW!!! Okay, soon anyway. I always figure its best to have half best in place rather than wait for perfect sometime down the road and it never gets done. If I had the energy left, I could expand the pit. I just don't think I have it in me anymore. Work is getting to be a real Red Queen, sucking up more and more for less and less. Boo-hoo, right? All is good in the Bison universe, even if the road is a bit rocky. Cheers!

  6. A question for you Mr. Dakin. Given the experience you are having with living underground (mostly), do you think a pre-fab septic tank would make for a decent sleep chamber for outdoor living? Small enough in size as a pup tent that can be warmed with a candle, along with body heat. Yes, vented (be embarrassing if it became your mausoleum, lol). Thick foam pad for floor, just for sleeping. Similar to that 'cube' you propose a few months back.

    If it didn't work, could work as a place to stash stuff.

    1. Of course its a good idea, but I don't know if condensation forms on the inside walls or not. Which would screw that idea all up.

  7. Does not take much fuel to heat an eskimo house.

    My life with the Eskimo Stefansson

    Eskimo houses were constructed with a hole in the roof to allow in light. The hole which was most often left open was covered with Bear intestine. The base of the house was five to six foot thick made of earth and sod and tapered and thinned out towards the top which was about six foot square. The top had about six inches of earth on it. The center of the house was about nine feet high and the walls at the edge were about five feet high. The opening on the roof was about three foot square. 3 or 4 lamps burned continuously and one of the most important duties of the wife was to make sure they didn’t smoke or go out. The entrance to the house was a twenty to forty foot shed-covered tunnel about four feet lower than the floor of the house.

    The cold air in the tunnel would not rise into the house which was kept warm by the four lamps at a temperature of sixty to seventy degrees fahrenheit even when the outside temperature was fifty below zero! They would sit with only shorts on in the house. So they would be bare below the knees and above the waist. After five months Stefansson began to enjoy the boiled fish they would eat for supper. The entryway and the hole in the roof were kept open most of the time, but especially during cooking. The only time the entryway would be covered would be to prevent a baby from falling into it or puppies coming in from outside and this was only rarely. Stefansson would usually sleep next to the tunnel entryway to get more fresh air. Each corner of the room had an elevation for sleeping that was covered by skins as was the floor. The houses at first smelled bad but soon you realized that it was the cooking of food that gave the smell to the house. The lamp is a halfmoon soapstone about two or three inches deep kept almost full and the wick is a powdered ivory (walrus), sawdust, dried moss ground in the fingers, manila rope from the whalers with a strand taken and chopped into tiny pieces. The wick is made from the powder laid in a strip which the oil soaks. A piece of fat is suspended over the flame and when the wick dries the flame gets brighter and hence hotter and more fat drips into the halfmoon lampbowl which then fills and wets the wick more which cuts down the height of the flame and this works by itself for about six or eight hours.