Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Makers Fair

This past weekend was the Makers Fair at Georgia Tech.  Makers build stuff.

Battery powered go-cart from my alma mater Southern Polytechnic. Not really, I just went there, didn't graduate.
One of Tech's green buildings, Clough Commons, LEED Platinum.
1.4 Million Gallon Cistern
347 Solar Panels
Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water system
Radiant Floor Heating
Green Roof

Clough Commons

 3D Printer
Latest release from Apple...
Remote controlled robot
An air compressor cannon

Deck Second Half

After finally getting the stump down to a workable height we got to work on the second half of the deck. On the left you can see the framing. You can also still see the stump, just much lower.

Here is what it looks like now. We had to raise the upper level to clear the height of the stump so the deck has two levels by necessity.

Aggie helped a little.

Deckmate vs Grip Rite

The two screws on the right are Lowe's and Home Depot's version. The Grip Rite screws on the top are from Lowes and the Deckmate screws are from Home Depot.

There was a noticeable difference between the two.

The Deckmate screws were much better than the Grip Rite.

The Grip Rite screws seemed to have too much paint in some of the heads and the bits didn't seat correctly.

Never had any issues with the Deckmates.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Funny Money

I just returned from Mexico recently. While I was there it was an interesting exercise to calculate in your head how much something would cost in reference to dollars. The Mexican peso, at the time, was worth about 11 cents. I had lots of pesos with me because I exchanged one thousand dollars before I left.

After a few days of going through the trouble of keying in the price of something into the currency converter on my smartphone I quickly realized that if something cost 50 pesos it was about $5. A 100 peso item was close to $10. They just added a zero to everything. That's inflation. That is what we will do with the dollar too. They'll just add a zero to the money.

When I got back I still had quite a lot of Mexican currency with me. I was looking at and thinking how weird it looked. Why could I buy anything I wanted with this funny paper just a few miles south but it was worthless here? Why aren't these bits of paper accepted here? It's really no different at all from the bits of paper we do accept. It's a strange concept when it's staring you in the face.  It's all just pieces of paper.

And yet based solely on a mentality really, people are able to exchange pieces of paper for vast expanses of land and the resources that land holds. How long will it last that you can walk into an office with a suitcase full of pesos and get laughed out of the building, but if that suitcase contained dollars the mood would quickly become somber and serious?

I am old enough to remember when it was quite common to get a silver dollar as change. That will not happen to anyone again and hasn't for years. I am looking at a quarter on my desk right now that is made of silver from 1950. I recently found it in my change. How did I quickly separate it from the other change in my pocket? Why is it on my desk and not with the rest of the change that sits in a bowl in the kitchen?

One day when I got on the subway I received quite a few Sacajawea dollars in change from the machine. This was the first time I had ever had any of these in my possession. I looked at them very carefully the next day. They seemed like tokens from an arcade. I was almost positive that the cashier would laugh at me when I put them on the counter in exchange for a soft drink. I asked the cashier if they were acceptable, she didn't know. She had to ask her supervisor. I felt as if I had committed theft as I walked out. What I had given them was worthless and I had a beverage.

What is it that causes that mental facade to fall, to break down, to make people lose confidence in the paper they've been taking for their entire lives? It never had any real value at all. It was always only paper. The sooner you can change those slips of paper you hold into tangible goods while people will still accept them the better.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Energy Star Tax Free Holiday

This past weekend the State of Georgia had a little publicized tax free holiday on Energy Star and Water Sense products under $1500. This could include appliances, windows, light bulbs, faucets, etc. In the press release they included thermostats as well. I got pretty excited about that because I've been wanting to upgrade my thermostat for a while. So I went over to the web to check to see if the thermostat I've been looking at is in fact Energy Star rated.

Well, it turns out that the label wasn't there. So I checked some others, no label. So I browsed over to the Energy Star home page and searched for thermostats. It turns out that thermostats haven't been on the Energy Star program since 2009. I forwarded the information to the Georgia Environmental Finance Association. They are the ones who administer the environmental programs. They informed me that it was the legislature that ruled the thermostats part of the holiday and they were only passing along the information, which was true. However, they did issue the press release without vetting the information first.

I wasn't able to save any money on the thermostat, but I did buy some bulbs with the Energy Star label on Saturday and they were indeed tax free.