April 25, 2005
Earth Day Hybrid Celebration
This past Friday was Earth Day and thanks to Chris Schneider at Honda Motorwerks of La Crosse, it was quite a fun day. Chris is quite an advocate for hybrid vehicles and every Earth Day he invites hybrid owners to join a "road rally" of sorts, promoting the use of hybrid vehicles.
This year he asked if I would like to be part of his Earth Day event and I gladly accepted his invitation. The plan was to drive up to the Winona area in the morning, have lunch and then travel to our house in the afternoon for a tour.
Prior to Earth Day, I had received a phone call from one of the local TV stations wanting to do a segment on our house. I'm always a little reluctant to "Meet the Press". Not because I don't like them, but most of the time you have no chance to edit what it is they write or say about you. But I figured, if it helps pique someone's interest regarding renewable energy or green living, then I guess it's worth it.
As it ended up, the local TV crew changed the date/time twice. (Can you believe I got bumped for an interview with a congressman?) They wanted to shoot the segment earlier in the week, but instead postponed the interview until Friday afternoon, just before the parade of hybrid cars were scheduled to show up.
Then there was the other surprise...Chris mentioned to me Friday morning that another TV crew was scheduled to arrive at the house in the afternoon. (Hmmm....this could lead to an interesting afternoon.) When I arrived at the house at 1:20 there were 11 messages on my answering machine—most of which from the second TV station wanting to know when I would be available for an interview. I called them up and we arranged for an interview around 2:30.
Well...the first TV crew arrived at 2:00, followed by the second TV crew at 2:20 and the parade of hybrid cars at 2:30 (along with a news reporter). It was rather interesting being pulled in multiple directions at the same time.
One of the more "intriguing" parts of my afternoon was when one of the TV reporters asked to see the bathroom. They heard that I had some interesting plumbing fixtures to talk about. So...into the bathroom we went: the news reporter, cameraman and myself. I showed them our dual-flush toilet (1/2 flush for a No. 1, and a full flush for a No. 2.—the reporter seemed somewhat intrigued. I then explained that the source of our water was a cistern filled with rainwater. Now the reporter was really intrigued. Rainwater? She turned the faucet on and had the cameraman shoot the water coming out of the faucet. The reporter remarked "Look! The water is clear!" ...Like what should the water be? Green?
All things considered, the afternoon frenzy turned out okay and it was nice to see so many people interested in our house.
It has been a very busy Spring with the editing of the papers and planning for the conference. The good news is that the Continental Cordwood Conference papers are done as well as the guide: Cordwood and the Code. Cordwood in the Code will be a godsend for those who are in need of help obtaining their building permit. The guide is broken into two parts: technical papers and a sample document. The sample document is based on a booklet that I provided to our local code official. It came in handy while explaining cordwood to the official and an updated version will be included with the guide as a MS Word document. This will allow prospective builders the opportunity to edit it to their hearts content, tailoring it to their own needs. I'm quite excited about this new guide. It will be introduced, along with the CoCoCo 05 papers at the conference and available for sale immediately afterwards.
Cats, Cats and More Cats
I think I might have my mouse problem under control now thanks to a neighbor that abandoned their cats. Cats started appearing a couple of weeks ago. The first cat appeared wandering around our house, looking extremely hungry. Being the nice guy that I am, a gave the poor kitty some "food" and we quickly became friends. Little did I know that feeding this cat was like putting a big sign up over the house saying "EAT at AL'S".
Word got around quickly and it wasn't too many days after the appearance of cat #1, than cat #2 appeared. Cat #2 was just as skinny as cat #1. It is such a shame that someone would let these animals go like this. I decided to name the cats Solar and Hydro for the lack of something more creative. I even took out the old cat house that I once built for Sundae. Sundae was a Calico cat that had her kittens in our pole shed a few years back. Having two cats around is okay.
Then about a week ago a third cat showed up that was at first quite afraid of me. I couldn't get close without him bolting off into the woods, but after putting out some food, we quickly became good friends. He's blind in one eye, so I named him Jack. (As in a one-eyed Jack.)
Jack follows me around wherever I go and he was the center of attention during Friday's tour. Jack is quite affectionate and he loves to rub up against everyone's legs including the news reporter's who was wearing a pair of dark dress pants. He's quite a character but a good companion too. I've never known a cat as affectionate as Jack.
Jack isn't allowed in the house. What you see here is not a real picture, but rather a fabricated digital picture. (At least, that's what I told Jo.)