How To

Why I fixed my wheelbarrow instead of chucking it to the scrap heap

This video explains why I chose to fix my wheelbarrow instead of throwing it away. (It has to do with conserving resources and reducing waste.)

Its inner chamber couldn’t be patched after too many punctures, and when I went to Home Depot and Lowe’s, I discovered I couldn’t buy a new inner chamber, because they’re no longer stocked. I’d have had to buy an entire new wheel and tire assembly, for almost the same price as a new wheelbarrow. What I did instead was to buy a new tubeless tire, which is made of solid rubber and never needs replacing, thus saving my wheelbarrow from the scrap heap and eliminating the need for new wheels in the future.

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Thoughts

A look at what’s ahead in terms of resources and the economy

The TED channel published two interesting videos recently which present two points of view about the Earth, in terms of its resources and economy. The first is from Paul Gilding, entitled “The Earth is full“, and the second is from Peter Diamandis, entitled “Abundance is our future“.

I invite you to watch both points of view, which are at first in seeming opposition but after some consideration, are both saying pretty much the same thing, namely this:

Our current economic models, based on carbon forms of energy, will soon reach their lifespan, and we have some choices to make ahead as we transition to other economic models and other ways of generating our energy and making our stuff.

We can have a smooth transition or we can have a rocky one, with elements of anarchy and possible energy and water wars.

What’s clear on both sides is that we need to something about it and we need to start doing it now.

The wonderful thing is there are solutions to our energy and pollution problems emerging now and if they’re implemented correctly, we will not only avert any potential crises but we will come out ahead of the curve.

What are we waiting for? Let’s do it!

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Thoughts

Oh, the paperwork…

You can get buried in paperwork in this modern, electronic, paperless society of ours. Bank statements, tax records, property tax statements, mortgage statements, credit card statements, store receipts, business expenses, insurance records, car records, the receipt for last Tuesday’s gadget purchase that you have to keep for two years because you also got an extended care plan, the restaurant receipt from last August’s meal with a client that you have to keep for the IRS since you’re deducting it from your taxes, etc., ad nauseam.

Can’t we have it simpler? Can’t it all be truly electronic? Can’t everyone just send us email receipts and statements instead of giving us paper ones? I like the way the Apple store does it. You buy something, you have the option of getting an email receipt. They have these neat credit card swipe machines they carry with them (they’re wireless), they check you out where you are in the store, and you get an instant receipt listing your purchase. It’s beautiful! Why can’t restaurants do this too? Why can’t the vehicle emissions and inspection stations do this? Why can’t all stores do this? Why can’t all banks and credit card companies handle everything electronically? My bank (USAA) has been doing it for years, and it works beautifully. Why can’t city and county governments do this? Why can’t mortgage companies do this?

On a larger and more important scale, why don’t hospitals and insurance companies handle EVERYTHING electronically, without any paper of any sort? If you’re a doctor and you have to file claims, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, then your secretary or claims specialist does… You have paper records for everything. Everyone has electronic systems, but very few talk to each other, and paper is still the only way to transfer information. This is pathetic. Hospital information systems ought to be able to send an electronic record of a patient consultation filed by a doctor to that doctor’s medical records system, which in turn ought to be able to process that information and send it to insurance companies electronically, who in turn ought to be able to process that claim and send an electronic notification to the doctor’s medical records system to update the claim status, then issue an electronic funds transfer to that doctor’s bank account. There should be no paper involved whatsoever, but those of us who deal with this stuff know it’s a far cry from it.

If there’s overpopulation, and we’ve got dwindling resources, and forests are being cut down at alarming rates all over the world, why do we have this constant avalanche of paper rolling toward us every month of the year, burying us under? If you’ve got multiple credit cards and bank accounts, a mortgage, a couple of cars, and a business on the side — and it’s your misfortune that the business is a medical one — you’re likely suffocating under paperwork. It’s nuts.

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How To

The cat house – part 8

This is part eight of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this post, you’ll see the finished cat house, hear a bit more about the thinking behind the project, and find out my final opinion about what I’ve built. At this point, the cat house is pretty much complete, although a couple of small touches — like a frame around the window and a rubber door at the entrance — still need to be done. This means there will be a part 9 at some point in the near future, likely within the next 1-2 months.

As mentioned in the videos and in one of the first parts, the cat house was built using both leftover and reclaimed wood and thermal insulation. Pretty much everything I used in its construction I already had lying around my yard from ongoing renovations to our home. The only things I bought specifically for it were the two casters, the asphalt roof tiles, and the wood screws, which added up to a cost of 100 RON or about $33.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 7

This is part seven of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, I’ve already completed all of the carpentry work and the cat house is assembled. It’s also been stained and it’s about to be treated with wood wax. Lots of details about what’s been done and what’s about to be done are offered in the video, such as what I’m going to do about the entrance and how the roof has been mounted and how it seals against heat loss.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 6

This is part six of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, you can see the three layers of insulation in the side walls: the 2 cm boards at the exterior, the polystyrene layer, and the 1 cm boards nailed over the polystyrene and secured to the 2cm exterior boards with wood screws. Most of the interior joints have already been caulked. Next up is finishing the interior, then sanding and treating the exterior.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug and YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 5

This is part five of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, you can see the almost-finished bottom, where the 3 cm thermal insulation has been laid against the bottom part of the floor and secured to it by wooden planks and wood screws. The bottom beams (the ones belonging to the frame) have already been treated with base (against mildew and rot), and the interior has also been treated with base at this point. The bottom still needs to be caulked properly at the edges of the thermal insulation, then stained and treated with wood wax/varnish.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 4

This is part four of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, you can see the finished exterior, with the 2 cm wood planks cut to size and nailed in place. The floor is also completed. You’ll see the wood has stains and other marks on it, since it’s left over from the renovation job. By the time the cat house is completed, all of that is going to be sanded away and any holes or dents are going to be repaired with wood filler.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 3

This is part three of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, I show the finished frame and talk about the next steps in the project. You’ll have to excuse me as you watch the video, because there are two places where I can’t remember the English words for what I wanted to say. Living in a foreign country and speaking another language all day long has one obvious downside — I tend to forget some English lexicon, and I don’t like it. Fortunately, these are just momentary lapses. When I sit at my laptop and write, I have no problems (yet).

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 2

This is part two of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, I show the basic frame of the cat house after it’s been put together, and talk about the wood used in its construction.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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