online food purchases – running list

Food I've been getting online (can't get from the store):

I've been thinking about getting the following online:

Not sure what else we should buy online.

revisiting washlets

I lukewarmly wanted a washlet after trying to use one in Tokyo 10 years ago (?). I figured out how to use it but getting one wasn't top of mind. Recently I was able to use another washlet in a hotel in Suwon from Novita (a South Korean brand) and I was reminded that these washlets are actually really nice. Like mind-blowing nice and they've gotten way better since the last time I used one.

So I went and bought a Toto washlet and installed it (was very easy to do). This Toto washlet has a remote control, an automatic open and close toilet seat cover and seat, front and back wash with varying degrees of spray control, a booty dryer, a deodorizer, a night light, and a heated seat. All very sanitary and Apple engineers would be proud (in fact I think you should get a washlet instead of upgrading to an iPhone 11/Pro).

The other reason I was compelled to get one was because a house two doors down in our Bushrod neighborhood sold for $1MM dollars. It's a very nice craftsman style house but not exactly a mini mansion or on beach front property and *NO* washlets. I'm embarrassed to think our house is worth $1MM. BUT if you walk into our bathroom and enjoy the Toto washlet, you will walk out feeling like a million bucks. Guaranteed.

Anyway, I recommend this one -> Novita BH 90 or any of the Toto branded ones.

Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' aka Eastern Redbud

This is my third try at growing a Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' also known as the Eastern Redbud also known as the Judas tree. The story goes, this is the tree that Judas chose to hang himself. Fun!

It has really pretty pink buds when flowering. Then the leaves go from a glossy, deep red heart shaped leaf to a large matte red to eventually a matte green leaf. It's a slow grower though so I'm giving it a lot of worm compost to hopefully super charge its growth (maxes out at 20ft tall/25ft wide)

Here's a better set of images of the tree. Third time is hopefully the charm (since I've killed two redbuds and a manzanita in the same spot) and maybe this tree finally grows and delivers some shade. I amended the soil properly this time around removing and replacing a lot of the clay with better soil. Turns out it's hard to grow plants in clay soil.

I'm watching it a lot more closely this time around and hopefully it'll grow strong like our neighbor's tree (although unfair advantage since he's a professional landscaper).

Sometimes, you've just got to keep trying.

Ironman St. George 2020

I signed up for Ironman St. George May 2020. This will be my third St. George and ninth overall, I previously did the inaugural one in 2010 and again in 2011. Looks like IM St. George will also be the North American championship race and will rotate every three years as the designated NA championship race with other events.

I do have to say that St George in 2011 wasn't the best experience. I hit the "why am I doing this?" and "is this it?" walls pretty hard. I wasn't getting any faster, I wasn't competing (just participating), and it felt like a big waste of time and money.

So why sign up again? Being healthy and fit aren't exactly wastes of time and money. Being healthy is probably a good thing. These races are actually pretty fun and I'm locked in with this distance. I just can't get up for shorter distances, I prefer endurance vs. speed. And I miss it. Training is like active meditation for me, and the discipline and consistency it requires helps me with other parts of life that require discipline and consistency.

Anyway, wish me luck. IM St. George is no joke.

a better web

I'm ecstatic to join Brave software (as of last week). It's that same feeling of excitement after having joined Netscape and then mozilla, truly world changing teams. The energy and the mission at Brave are exactly right for this next generation web.

I also *love* the Web – all the good sites, all the bad sites, all the cutting edge sites, and especially all the older sites that may be designed challenged but still work pretty well. It's clear the web is broken for people now, it's more annoying than fun, the online ad industry needs a big shake-up, and people deserve a better web and a better browser that's a little more fresh for the times.

Privacy first. A better browser. A better web.

home energy checklist

energy history graph

In the US, the average household consumes 10,766 kilowatt hours or 897kWh a month. Louisiana is 14,881 kWh per year, Hawaii is the lowest at 6000 kWh per year.

With our 2 bed/1 bath house, we consumed 4748 kWh in 2008-2009 about 389 kWh per month. We're now at 2800 kWh for this year or 235 kWh per month, 154 kWh per month less.  Daily, we use about 3kWh to 10kWh a day. Can attribute the low usage mostly because of Oakland's temperate weather  and we made some energy efficient choices too over the years.

Here's a home energy checklist but for the most part this is what we did:

  • efficient properly sized central A/C and heater w/ Nest thermostat
    • double-pane windows (that we open when it's too hot instead of running A/C)
    • insulated attic (made a huge! difference) and subfloors, we could further insulate our walls but it would be expensive to do
    • strategic exterior landscaping provides shade to the house
  • energy star efficient appliances: refrigerator, dishwasher, front loading washing machine (spins out excess water)
  • efficient gas range and clothes dryer (gas dryer heats up and dries faster than electric, gas ranges technically aren't efficient but we have a super high btu range and convection stove so we do end up cooking a little faster)
  • LED light bulbs for every light (only a couple of CFLs in the bathroom) 3-20 watts per bulb down from 60-100 watts
  • efficient electronics, laptops e.g. Apple TV at .03 watts standby/5 watts on, down from DirecTV receiver's 18 watts standby/20 watts on
  • NOT buying high energy use/always on products and products we don't need

The only thing left to do is to update our gas tank hot water heater to a more efficient tankless water heater but that's not going to effect our energy usage that much. Not really that big a deal.

We also could install solar panels but as I had posted before, at 235 kWh a month, solar panel installation would need to be around $5k for us to breakeven.

What's great is that we aren't compromising convenience with being energy efficient nor are we overpaying to conserve energy. It's a bit of location luck and buying ready products that are thankfully environmentally sound.

porcupine roach – revisited

These porcupine roaches are absolutely gorgeous. The small one is actually a turkey beard roach made out of turkey beard and deer hair.

These headdresses are made by Dancer's Choice which is aptly named.

Porcupine roaches are hard to make. Sounds like the maker sources the porcupine hides and gathers the porcupine guard hair and quills himself. The hardest part of roach making is sorting the hair into the different lengths. Another hard part is the base. If it's a premade cotton base, obviously it's not hard. A traditional base though is made out of deer tail hair that's been tied to a cord and then trimmed short and then sewed to make the base.

The rest of the time consuming build is tying and then sewing. It's the shape — where it spreads and how it tapers —  is what really makes a well made porcupine roach stand out (although flat or upright is a style choice with flatter/spread roaches for grass and traditional dancers while straight and fancy dancers may prefer more upright roaches).

I would guess these porcupine roaches would run into the $500-$1000 range depending on length but probably best to ask the maker. Usual lengths are 15" – 24" depending on a dancer's style (e.g. Fancy vs Grass dance). Really beautiful work on these porcupine roaches.

HP M281fdw printer

HP 281fdw

We're liking this HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw printer. We're coming from a Canon Pixma MP530 that we've had since December of 2006. The Canon stopped printing well and we haven't been able to scan documents for a good 4 years or so. Anyway, it was time.

This new HP printer is nice at only $350 especially for a color laser printer which would've been $2000 in 1998. The build quality looks good, print quality is sharp and bright and not "inky" (feels baked). It takes a minute or two to start up but the printing is fast. Haven't played around with the rest of the features like fax or scan. The wireless printing was easy to set up and works with MacOS (High Sierra/Mojave) seamlessly.

The printer is actually a good size, it's a little tall but not too wide and good depth to fit on our credenza. Would totally recommend this printer. Wirecutter has some good printer reviews if you're looking for some more options.

charging stations > gas stations

charging station

The electric car charging station at Kirkwood Mountain resort has six Tesla chargers and two by Clipper Creek. This was put in two years ago, and during ski season it's pretty busy.

What's notable is that there isn't a gas station at Kirkwood. There's like a gas pump with one type of gas (which is usually out of order) a 1/2 -mile before you enter the resort and that's it. The next gas station is a good 13 miles away.

Feels like these electric charging stations are the future. Why go to a gas station when you can charge your car at home, at work, or at your destination (like at Target via Volvo). Do have to love the direction where all this is going ->  no more gas, no more gas station visits, and hopefully renewable energy to power your car. Bright future for sure.