Bottomless Water

Bottomless Water

I’d like to share this brief thought process, that I’ve heard referred to as:

Fundamentally transforming the way the world uses water

That’s actually being used as the advertising slogan for a new product. I’ve changed a few minor details to make it a little less painful for the true believers.

Let’s assume that an amazingly clever innovator and self-promoter has come up with a new way of providing water to the masses. It’s going to provide for a smooth flow of water over the course of every 24 hour day, and usher in a new era of total independence from “The Man” or powers that currently be. Great advertising copy.

People are ready to lay down their cash just based on that alone, heck with the math or science or engineering, because this promoter dude did all that for them.

Here are some specifics.

Each unit is capable of holding 10 gallons of water. Due to current plumbing restrictions, the absolute most you can get out of a unit is between 1 and 3 gallons of water per hour, but a typical household application is default at 1 gallon per hour.

There are no elves in waterwheels hidden in the bottom of the receptacle, so you have to refill the unit, and again, the default is at 1 gallon per hour. Ironically, that comes from “The Man” for the most part. It’s theoretically possible to install a relatively expensive roof mounted water collection system, with local government restrictions. In all fairness, a 4′ square section of roof could fill the tank with only 1″ of rain, assuming 100% efficiency, though there will be some losses for evaporation, etc.and the current plumbing system restrictions state that the absolute most you could transfer into the unit at any given time is 1 gallon per hour. But future “scientist self-promoters” will get that straightened out, presumably with the help of the elves.

Those are some simple scientific, er, engineering restrictions on the actual unit. Now to transform the way we use water. Let’s select an imaginary couple with no children. Let’s say that they are typical users of water and use 2 gallons for brushing teeth 3x a day, and hey, we’ve already exceeded the capacity of the tank.

We’d have to cut down to a 1 gallon shower, taken over the course of that trickling 1 gallon per hour default flow rate. We’d be limited to 3 x 1/3 gallon tooth brushings, lasting approximately 20 minutes each, at the default flow rate. Twenty minutes to fill the coffee pot. Now when it comes to drinking, we’re at a much more balanced equation. 10 x 1/10 gallon cups, at a 6 minute fill isn’t too bad.

So this is laughable when you consider the average current usage of water, wouldn’t you say? Yes, you could set a bucket in the tub, and after an hour of filling dump it on your head for your bathing. Yes, this is a fundamental transformation of the way we use water.

When you consider the irrational belief in how this new water system will free us from “The Man” it’s completely hysterical that normal rational people who passed 5th grade math could buy into such a fantasy.

But what if I were talking about some other utility? Like gas or electric? What if the numbers converted gallons to KWh, or CFM straight across? Your flow rates for all are controlled by the length and diameter of your pipes and wires, and current building codes. Every faucet, every appliance, is rated for the flow rate they require. The numbers have to add up using very simple 5th grade math. This isn’t an Einsteinian thought experiment with fairy dust filling in the gaps.

Featured image credit: Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay

Kindle How To: sync updated ebook

What do you do if Amazon sends an email alerting you to an updated ebook on your Kindle? This kindle how to will help explain. First of all, log in to Amazon and go to your Account Page. Then click on the link under Orders -> View Your Kindle Orders.

Kindle How To: View Your Kindle Orders
Kindle How To: View Your Kindle Orders

Kindle How To: automatic update

Next in this Kindle How To I suggest if you just want to trust Amazon to take care of all your books automatically whenever your wireless is on, look for the yellow bar “Automatic Book Update…” and click Learn More. You will get a warning notice about backing up your saved locations and highlights.

Kindle How To: automatic book update
Kindle How To: automatic book update

Near the bottom of the page you will see the section for “Automatic Book Update” – in this Kindle How To I recommend that unless you know a good reason why you do not want automatic updates, click the link for Turn On. This function is automatic and doesn’t reload the page. Just watch the little red OFF change.

Kindle How To: activate automatic updates
Kindle How To: activate automatic updates

If you do take this step shown in this Kindle How To and turn on automatic updates, please check your Kindle to make sure that you have automatic backup enabled to protect your highlights notes and saved locations.

Kindle How To: check your Kindle to enable automatic backup
Kindle How To: check your Kindle to enable automatic backup

Kindle How To: manual update

Now in this Kindle How To, I’ll show how to update manually. If you’d rather not take your chances or trust Amazon find the “View:” drop down to filter out your books. Select “Available for Update” from the list and watch the list change. If you don’t have any books that are updated it will let you know.

Kindle How To: select books that need to be updated
Kindle How To: select books that need to be updated

From the list of books to update, see the link for update available. Click for the balloon, then for Update this title now.

Kindle How To: multiple clicks to get to the update dialog
Kindle How To: multiple clicks to get to the update dialog

Finally this Kindle How To gets to the part where you actually manually update the book. You’ll get the really big scary warning dialog, and a button to Update. After you read that, assuming you do, click to Update your book. It’s about that simple. Yes. That’s why I recommend just turning on Auto Updating. Unless, like I said, you have a reason not to update.

Kindle How To: after reading big scary warning click Update
Kindle How To: after reading big scary warning click Update

From an author’s perspective I’d like to alleviate anyone’s fears about updating. When an author or publisher updates a book, they have to resubmit it to the approval process. When it’s complete it goes into the download folders with all the rest. Amazon will not alert any previous customers to a new edition, or let authors or publishers alert them individually. If an author or publisher feels the book has changed enough, they can contact Amazon and let them know, and they’ll review it and decide if they should alert the previous customers or not. If you get the notice from Amazon, it means the book has passed multiple levels of approval. Like any system it’s possible to “game” it, but in general, I recommend getting the update automatically and save having to remember or think about it. YMMV.

Carstensz Full Strength Controversy

I normally carry Full Strength protein powder mixes when I travel. Carstensz was no exception. I really relied on it for this trip. I mixed and drank it at the airports, in hotels, and even on the trail in the muddy rain forest equatorial jungle, and in my tent in the evening.

Hotel before Carstensz
Full Strength in Hotel before Carstensz

Our meals were pretty bland, third world fair. Lots of rice drenched in a thin soup of corn and onion shoots. Sometimes a chicken wing. Local chicken isn’t fed like in the USA with corn subsidies. You get really scrawny chicken parts here.

Carstensz Trail Food
Carstensz Trail Food

One of my all time favorite meals:

We had a breakfast of eggs and oatmeal and “chicken pork” as the guides called it. Some kind of seasoned overcooked noodles. — Carstensz: Stone Age to Iron Age

Carstensz Chicken-Pork Breakfast
Carstensz Chicken-Pork Breakfast

One of the gear lists put together by a Brit who had done the trek recommended taking some protein with. I figured at 300 calories and 40 grams of protein, Full Strength would be the perfect complement to balance out the temporary malnutrition on the trail. I had experienced this in Africa when I did Kilimanjaro, and assumed it would be as bad here. I assumed correctly.

Carstensz Trail Meal
Carstensz trail meal of Full Strength

Carstensz Celebration Breakfast

The morning after Summit Day, to celebrate our great success in climbing Carstensz, one of the most difficult of the Seven Summits, we were treated to the most wondrous of breakfasts:

I have no idea who dreamed up breakfast. Rice and red bean balls. Little, inch diameter, sticky, slightly sweet. A bowl of them. Maybe it’s the traditional morning-after breakfast. We managed to get Charlie to give us some oatmeal. — Carstensz: Stone Age to Iron Age

Carstensz Breakfast
Carstensz style celebration breakfast

Later, on the way out, while having our gear searched by local authorities I was witness to this fun:

There were two officers there looking a lot like Eastern Block secret police. They were introduced as being from the government and being in charge of illegal drugs and smuggling.

…they were excited about my Full Strength protein powder envelopes. Bart tried to explain that it was protein powder. They read and reread the labels, pretending to read English when it was obvious they couldn’t. I wanted so badly to say that anything with a Nutrition Facts label isn’t going to have any narcotics in it. At the beginning of the search Bart had informed us that in Indonesia any form of narcotic, including some that are legal prescriptions in the USA are punishable by death, or life in prison, much the same thing. — Carstensz: Stone Age to Iron Age

How to Insulate a Garage Door

To insulate a garage door is one of the steps I mentioned in my booklet about Home Cardio Theater. After a really pleasant Summer in Utah I decided it was time to insulate my garage door before the Winter chill set in.


First of all I measured my door panels and found there are ten panels in two rows of five. The left column is 50″ wide, and the right is 53″ wide. The top and bottom rows are 22″ tall, and all the others are 18″ tall. I decided to use Reflectix Bubble Pack Insulation to insulate the garage door for simplicity, as you can simply glue it in place using a caulking tube application adhesive. I chose PL375 Multi Purpose Adhesive since it’s rated for interior/exterior use, and this totally qualifies for that, as it’s exposed to both. I also like the easy soap and water hand cleaning.

How to Insulate a Garage Door

Glue to insulate the garage door panels
Glue on the garage door panels

cutting the Reflectix sheet with a utility knife
Cut the Reflectix sheet to insulate the garage door with a utility knife on a waferboard scrap and a furring strip guide

I cut the Reflectix with an inch overlapping all around and notched the corners, then put lines of glue on the garage door panels and around the aluminum flanges all around the panels. I carefully started at the upper right corner, lining up the bottom flange, and put the bottom edge of the silvery bubble sheet lined up along the bottom flange of the door, pressing into the glue lines. I then poked the middle of the top of the sheet under and into the folded top flange of the door panel, and going outward from there, lined up the top as I pressed it into place.

Reflectix sheet to insulate a garage door panel
Reflectix sheet insulation on the top garage door panel

I then lined up the right side of the bubble sheet against the exposed foam core of the door panel, and then swept the surface with moderate palm pressure to make sure it was in contact with the adhesive beads, and finally poked the left edge of the sheet under the left flange of the door panel. Now I have one insulated garage door panel. I then did the lower right corner, upper left and lower left, and began to fill in the center panels.

Reflectix used to insulate a garage door
Reflectix sheet glued in place on the bottom garage door panel

bottom edge of sheet lined up top center tucked into flange
Line up the bottom of the Reflectix sheet and tuck the center top under the flange to insulate the garage door panel

The left side was considerably easier to manage. The panels were smaller, and the center flange was not inset at all. One by one I put the panels into place, being sure to set the sheet into the adhesive beads with firm hand pressure. I worked while the sun wasn’t directly hitting the outside of the door, and the outside temperature was around 60 degrees F.

starting to insulate the inside garage door panels
Outside panels done, inside panels started

Finally I had the garage door insulation in place and in about an hour the adhesive will be dry and ready for exposure to heat and cold. It will be several hours before the sun is fully on the exterior surface. This insulated garage door will be the first step in converting the shop area (single compact car) of the garage into my Home Cardio Theater for use in the Winter.

Insulate a Garage Door - finished product
The finished insulated garage door

UPDATE March 27 2014:

After 1-1/2 years and two Utah winters and one Utah summer I am impressed with the performance of this relatively inexpensive and simple solution. The door faces West and gets direct sun in the summer afternoons and used to burn my hand when I touched it in the late afternoon. Now it’s quite pleasant. In the winter a small space heater running overnight will keep the garage above 50F. Previous to the insulation job it would drop into the low 30’s. That’s quite an improvement.

This is from my Garage Home Cardio Theater Project

Be sure to check out Planning Your Home Cardio Theater, sadly no longer available on Amazon for $.99 in which I mention some of these issues with the garage.


Submit this form and I’ll let you have a free copy.

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Ikea Style Shower Curtain System How-to

We had guests coming to visit, and the previous owners had a Mother-in-law room tacked onto the house with a large bubble tub. It was an odd size – 75″ and standard size hardware is only 72″. We looked online and could find some really very expensive rods, on the order of $120 or more on special order and we didn’t have time to mess around with special orders.

Wandering around in Home Depot and Lowes I got a sudden inspiration to make my own Ikea Style shower curtain. Every time I go to Ikea I am fascinated by their fake track lighting using steel cable and clips and decided that would be a great unique shower curtain “rod”.

8′ 1/16″ steel cable
1 – pack 1/16″ aluminum cable clamps (pr)
2 – 1/4″ threaded closed eye hooks
2 – 1/4″ steel washers – wide flange
1 – pack 1/4″ threaded folding sheetrock nuts (pr)
8 – 3/32″ steel clip carabiners (though 12 was the right number)
1 – cloth shower curtain liner
1 – cloth shower curtain

I measured and drilled the rather large holes and inserted the folding wing nuts.

Hole drilled and insert backing toggle
Inserting sheetrock nut in drilled hole

I slid the retaining clip as far as it would go, then broke off the tabs used to insert the folding nut.

breaking tabs off sheetrock nut

I screwed in the eyebolts with wide flange washers.

eye bolt and washer
eye bolt and washer above shower enclosure

I put the aluminum cable clamp over the end of the cable, threaded the cable through the eyebolt, slid it through the clamp and slid the clamp tight to the eyebolt.

steel cable parts layed out
steel cable parts

I squeezed the clamp shut using a pair of dull wire cutters on a needlenose pliers, then did the other side.

loop steel cable through eye bolt and clamp
Steel Cable threaded through clamp, eye bolt, and back through clamp

I had to trim about a foot total off the ends of the steel cable, making sure I did the ends squarely with no sharp points hanging out.

steel cable tightened
Steel Cable threaded and tight

I put the shower curtain and liner together carefully lining up the holes (they were not exactly the same distance on either), then clipped the carabiners through the slots.

carabiner clipped through shower curtain and liner
Carabiner clipped through shower curtain and liner

I clipped the carabiners over the steel cable, making sure they were all in order and pointing the same way with the small end up over the cable.

hung shower curtain
Shower Curtain hung on Ikea Style Shower Hanger

To set to one side or the other, slide the end carabiner over the aluminum clamp where it will rest and keep it on the end. While open, the shower curtain will only be 72″ so the end away from the shower head will be the open gap.

shower curtain slid to end of hanger
Slide the last carabiner over the clamp to hold it to the end

The entire project took less than an hour to do and was pretty simple, requiring few tools. The most expensive item is the carabiners at a couple bucks each, but you could find something else like the larger round metal rings that clip (old fashioned shower rings) that are a lot less expensive.

Sharp Wire Cutters
Dull Wire Cutters
1/2″ or 5/8″ spade drill bit

Looks like a designer shower curtain system.

UPDATE: March 27 2014:

2 years and about 20 guest stays later this shower curtain system is still holding up and working great. I’m really glad I decided to install it rather than a larger heavier system. Simplicity is sometimes the best choice.