Category Archives: Domicile

Turning on the Heat 2017

Every year I track when I turn the heat on, like a good little nerd.

This year is pretty average. It was still relatively warm inside, but with cloudy days and low temps on the horizon, it wasn’t going to get any better.

Plus I kept sitting here shivering. The older I get, the sillier that seems.

Turning on the Heat 2016

Every year I note when I turn the heat on (yes, I’m a nerd).

This year was pretty average. We’ve got some highs in the low 70s coming up, so maybe we could have lasted longer, but today barely breaks 60 and I’m tired of being cold.

Plus, my daughter was complaining. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a frugal furnace monster.

Turning on the Heat 2015

I caved and turned on the heat today. It’s cold and drizzly outside, 43 degrees right now and dropping, with no hope of sun. It’s been a really nice fall and we’ve had lots of sunny days that have kept it warm enough, but the dark and drizzly really does you in.

On the upside, this is the longest we’ve ever gone before turning on the heat. New record! So that’s something.

Turned on the Heat 2014

Finally caved in and turned on the heat this afternoon. After a couple days in the 70s and 80s, temps have sunk below 60 consistently. The cold, overcast days haven’t allowed anything to warm up in the afternoon, so it’s been a high of 60 in our living room.

That’s probably ridiculous.

The forecast has temps dipping into the 30s at night and never getting above the high 50s. So it’s time.

We had a very cool summer this year, rarely getting those hot and humid days when we hit 90. Now the fall seems to be following suit, going cold pretty quickly.

Here’s my annual breakdown:

Turned on the Heat 2013

It’s been a warm fall in Minnesota, at least until this last week. I never even thought about turning on the heat until this week when it suddenly got cold. Those beautiful weekends in the 70s seem to be long gone and there’s even talk of snow today.

Make Your Own Antenna

Antenna built from cardboard and tin foil
I built my own antenna!

This week we upgraded to the flat panel, digital age and got a new TV with some Christmas money (yes, our family celebrates multiple Christmases between Thanksgiving and New Year; one down, at least two to go). We finally replaced the old school 21″ TV we got as a wedding present and got a fancy LED HD 720 something or other.

As fancy as the new TV was, it didn’t get actual TV.

This wasn’t really a problem. When we rearranged, the TV was on the opposite wall as the cable outlet and we never  cared. That’s how little we watch regular TV.

But with a fancy new TV it seemed like we should be able to watch regular TV (without draping a cable across the room). Apparently you need an antenna to get regular TV, even with a fancy new TV. As I started researching antennas online I stumbled across some instructions for a DIY antenna. The site claims it works as good as the fancy ones you can buy in the store, so I figured why not.

A cardboard and tinfoil antenna? That sounds cool.

And it totally works. I bought the required $1.78 part this morning and slapped it together this afternoon. And we’ve got regular TV! Not just regular TV, but HDTV with all kinds of weird extra channels. Cool. It comes in great. I’d wager just as good as anything we bought at the store.

Gotta love the juxtaposition of the high tech TV and a piece of cardboard junk. Sometimes spending more money isn’t always better. Now I just need to find a place to hide the cardboard antenna so it doesn’t look as ridiculous as a cable strung across the room.

My last cardboard project worked pretty good, too (until somebody threw up on it). For my next cardboard project, I’m thinking of tackling this.

Turned on the Heat 2012

We finally turned on the heat this morning. We’ve had a pretty erratic fall, going from high 70s and shorts weather to 50s fall weather and then back up to 80s and then down to the 40s. Seems like every weekend has been a different season (so far the pattern has been summer, fall, summer, winter). We went through one morning of it being only 59 degrees in the house, but when it happened again this morning it was time to cave. Plus Lexi, the impervious to the cold child, was complaining. And that’s when the whole ‘how long can we wait before turning on the heat’ game turns into guilt.

In terms of how long we waited, this year was pretty average. Though the internal temp was the lowest in seven years, so that’s something. I guess. (Assuming tracking when you turn on the heat is something.)

Here’s how this year stands up:

Grow More Stuff to Help the Environment

IMG_2330.JPGI’ve got a theory: We should grow more stuff.

The other day I was reading an article from a conservative Republican meteorologist concerned about climate change. His impassioned arguments made me want to do more to be environmentally friendly. I started thinking of things I could do and I was coming up blank. I already do a lot—recycling as much as possible, using re-usable containers and bags, trying to minimize water and electricity use, etc.—and something like getting a more fuel efficient car or furnace isn’t a choice you get to make every day.

But then I started thinking about my yard. I have a pretty low impact yard (i.e., I’m lazy). I don’t use any gas-powered tools or harsh chemicals. So my yard isn’t doing much harm. But is it doing any good?

I started thinking about all the good that plants do. They replenish oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, clean the air, reduce heat in the summer and block wind in the winter, reduce noise, stop erosion and create habitats for wildlife (never mind the less tangible benefits, like the aesthetics and enjoyment we get). So more plants seems like an all around good thing. Grow more plants and you’re doing more good for the environment, theoretically.

I also theorized that the more you grow, the better. The larger the surface area of the leaf the more it can do to clean the air. So a tree is going to have a bigger impact than a patch of grass. A shrubbery might have less impact than a tree, but it’s going to do more than the grass it replaces. And a pot of flowers is doing more than bare concrete. We may be talking about minute amounts, but it’s still something.

So I’ve decided I want to start growing more stuff. Which is kind of funny for anyone who knows me. I have the opposite of a green thumb. Thankfully I’m approaching this with the idea that anything is better than nothing. So even if I plant a few pots and they die off in a month or two, that’s better than nothing. I don’t know if we’ll actually plant a tree (my yard is pretty small), but there are plenty of spaces where a small bush or even a small plant might do more good than some grass (or creeping charlie, as it is). We have plenty of concrete and deck space that we can reclaim with a potted plant, adding more green area and doing more good.

To start this little experiment I got a rain barrel and started a compost bin. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while, but it always seemed silly when we didn’t do any gardening of any kind. Now we’ll have a purpose for the compost and stored rain water, and hopefully that will encourage more planting and green growth.

I don’t know what will come of this little experiment. Maybe it’s silly. Maybe I’ll get bored with it. But I kind of like the idea that my yard could be doing more to help the environment. It’s one thing to minimize impact by recycling or using less. But it’s another thing to be actively improving things.

Turned on the Heat

Thanks to a warm fall, we made it pretty far this year before having to turn on the heat. This morning I finally caved. I was hoping to make it through the weekend (it’s supposed to warm up), but no such luck.

We did endure the lowest inside temperature we have in five years, so that’s something.

Here’s how this year stacked up:

Antiques: Society’s Detritus

IMG_0811.JPGAfter four years in our house Abby and I finally got around to decorating our bedroom. This included buying real bedroom furniture, instead of just using whatever random furniture we had leftover as nightstands. And no bed frame—we’ve been married for over 10 years and we’re just now getting a headboard. We feel so grown up.

Anyway, the space we have for nightstands is very limited so we were coming up empty looking at our usual haunts. So we started shopping at antique stores trying to find furniture with just the right character.

Going back to antique stores is kind of like going home for me. My parents were big on antiques. Half the furniture in our house was antique—kitchen table and chairs, coffee table, TV stand, you name it. At one point we had our library of VHS tapes in an old chicken coop. Half the stuff on the walls was older than my grandparents. Speaking of them, their house was no different. It was like stepping back in time and then taking everyday stuff and hanging it on the wall or using it to store magazines. It’d be like taking a case of beer to store your magazines today. Come to think of it, decorating with antiques is kind of like a college dorm room in time warp.

As a child I accompanied my mom to many antique stores and weekend shows. There was usually the vague promise of baseball cards and later old yo-yo’s that kept me vaguely interested. So lately as we’ve been wondering around antique stores looking for bedroom furniture it’s been like going back.

Aside from all that personal history, antique stores just fascinate me. They’re the repositories of our societal detritus. Forget the museum, they’ve got the valuable stuff. Antique stores have the everyday stuff. They’ve got old bottles and boxes and side tables and postcards and photos. It’s such a random and weird assortment of stuff. I find myself picking up a box and wondering what it was used for and how it got so scratched up and what the original owner would think to see it sitting in antique shop 100 years later priced at $64 and ending up as someone’s nightstand.

Makes me wonder what crap of ours will hang on someone’s wall in the year 2111.

“Wow, what’s that?”

“It’s called a mouse. That’s how they used computers before they were surgically implanted at birth.”

Even now that we have our bedroom furniture mostly taken care of, I feel myself pulled back to these repositories of stuff from another era. I want to sift through the layers like some kind of geologist and put together the pieces. Who is the couple in that faded photograph? What was this box used for? Who thought to save this jar of hair tonic? Why are there so many bad reproductions of Jesus paintings? (my favorite so far is sacred heart Jesus on a bright yellow and blue clock face with the words “Jesus is my dad.”)