Fat lady sings – Cowboy poet dies!

The CBC techies hard at work
Brent giving me an intro

Perhaps the title to this post is what I should have used as my six word entry in the final challenge of Canada Writes 2010. But I think it would have taken a lot more “perhaps’ ” and “what-ifs” to have had much of a chance against the other talent in the writing competition.

When all was said and done I think the whole exercise went much better than I had anticipated. My fixation with beer helped cover up and/or explained some of my lapses in writing and seemed to strike a chord with most of the judges and the audience. The irony of course is that my beer consumption rate is far below the average consumption rates for the typical Canadian male.

That is the beauty of being a writer though. You can create your own worlds, your own realities, and if you are good enough – you can invite others into those worlds.

I’m back in Kamloops now and I’m gearing up for some new projects: I have a pilot to prepare for a children’s nature show we are trying to pitch to the learning channel. I have a radio play that I am wanting to pitch to CBC. I am burning incense and offering up chickens in a bizarre voodoo ritual with the intent of securing an interview with the people at TRU for a job as a research assistant. On top of all of that I am getting my solar system up and running and am trying to figure out how to spread the gospel about the benefits of augmenting the grid.

The solar project is going to take some work as I want to design a system that will automatically collect data from the system and post it onto a website so others wishing to invest in solar can see what the potential rewards are. For now I have a very low tech solution – I have thermometers on the intake and outflow sides of the solar panels and can record the differential in temperature. This differential, when multiplied by the volume of water going through the system will tell how many calories the system produces – a calorie being the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water one degree celsius.

So with my plate overflowing with projects again, I must sign off and get to work.

Peace out – keep your cinch tight and enjoy!

On the road to Winnipeg

Let the sun shine!

 free heat – well almost free – probably a 3 year pay back where I live

I know I don’t strike many of my new acquaintances as being much of an environmentalist – especially since over half of my wardrobe is camo – but I do believe in doing what I can to make things a little easier on our planet.

I will have to, at some point, trade in that big diesel burner I drive – but it was a necessity in my past life and I can’t afford to part with it quite yet – the book value is about $12 and I doubt that I can buy a hybrid (even a used hybrid) in that price range yet.

So instead I make a difference in other ways. One of our vices is a swimming pool that came with the house we bought. One of the biggest costs of running the pool was getting it up to a temperature that everyone in the family thought was appropriate – somewhere between poaching eggs and boiling lobsters – and although I am more of the luke warm type of guy, I was overruled and we paid the piper in terms of a large gas bill.

A cursory exam of solar systems led me to believe that not only could we cut down on the greenhouse gases, we could also cut down on our expenses and I set about researching systems that would work for us. I shied away from plastic components as I knew they would not weather well in the sun and was worried about the freeze and thaw cycles of Kamloops. I settled on glass vacuum tubes that were relatively inexpensive and could be installed without a lot of fuss or muss.

I tracked down a dealer in Kelowna Okanagan Home Center – and was quickly a fan of the proprietors Dave and Cheryl Kelly (email: okanaganhomecenter@shaw.ca). Dave and Cheryl are good people to deal with and seem truly concerned about your satisfaction as a customer. They are committed to the solar industry and have tons of experience with pools and spas and had lots of good advice for a neophyte plumber such as myself.

It took me only two days to construct all of the panels (there is of course – some assembly required) and to plumb them into my water system. The system is incredibly efficient. I will post a video of how you can take water at about 10 degrees Celsius and raise it to the boiling point in about 35 minutes. Because ours is a large pool and we are high on the mountain where the nights get cool we need a fair number of solar panels to get the pool up to the temperature we want. Right now I have 5 panels and will probably add another 2 to get us into that slow boil range that is so soothing on old bones. Homes in the valley would probably get away with about 2/3rds of the panels that I need.

Check out the WSE Technologies website – that’s where the stuff comes from and then give Dave or Kelly a call and they can get it out here before you can say “Al Gore was right”.