Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekend Gossip

I’m typing with a bulky bandage on the tip of my left forefinger. I cut it pretty badly, slicing a tomato yesterday. It hurt a lot, it was getting close to bedtime, and I had some Oxycodone left over from dental surgery (just like Rush Limbaugh).

The interesting thing was that the drug didn’t make much difference to my finger, and it upset my stomach. What made a difference was ice. We have three gadgets that you keep in the freezer for applying to injuries, one of them pretty massive, and long enough to wrap around my knee. Barbara got the inspiration about ten, and brought me one of the smaller ones. It took all three to buy me a night’s sleep, the big one taking the longest shift. I woke up hungover from the Oxycodone, the hangover’s worst feature being nausea. Another epiphany is that peppermint tea helps the tummy. I still feel like a kid after his first drunk, but I used to be pretty cavalier about dismissing home remedies. You can’t learn less.

Sam and I drove to Red Wing, Saturday. It’s about an hour south of here, on the Mississippi. We went to do some sampling for Barsy’s Almonds at Kiki’s Simple Abundance, a health food store. It reminded me of my time running a similar store, Middle Earth, back home in Macomb. Simple Abundance seems more comfortable with the intersection of nutrition and therapy than I was, which is probably more appropriate in a town of sixteen thousand. Sam is good at telling strangers about the product, charmingly explaining each flavor as completely and forthrightly as good catalog copy. On the trip home, Sam, who has built his personal computer, and designs websites professionally, told me that he believes that there will still be computers in a few years, but not as many. We were talking about energy and economics, and Sam was saying that a time will come soon when computers such as the one at which I write, and the one at which you read will be out of reach to most of us. Keep the libraries and post offices open. Red Wing is the home of Red Wing Shoes, but I could not find a brag on either company or city website, “Made in America,” or “Made right here in Red Wing.” My Red Wing boots say that they are made in the US, the UK, and Europe. Could we re-establish a shoe industry here if we had to?

We have a very efficient furnace. One way that it gets more heat to us from the gas we burn is by reclaiming the latent heat of evaporation. Water takes on heat as it evaporates, and releases it as it condenses. Our furnace condenses water from the exhaust to add heat to the house. The water has to go somewhere, and usually it drains out a plastic tube and into the drain in the basement floor. Our house was built without that drain. To compensate, and prevent puddles, our furnace installers bolted a small pump onto the furnace, and ran a tube from it to the laundry tub. The problem is that the pumps only last a season or two. Yesterday I noticed that the penultimate one had failed, temporarily putting the furnace out of business. Today, a tech put in a replacement for $272.00. Less gas, smaller carbon footprint (maybe: gotta think about manufacturing and shipping), but pump replacement adds $136.00 or more to the annual heating cost. Barbara suggested a tank on the floor, and a pump that would very occasionally distribute the water to the garden. The tech thought that would kill the plants. I knew the condensate was acidic, but figured I could buffer it with limestone gravel. The tech said there was other “gunk” in it. Any ideas?

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