To Outer Space and Back Again

These are the installation guys from Rackley Technologies in Pulaski, TN.

They were here to set us up with HughesNet service which connects us to the internet. The dish that is being adjusted in the photo will send data to and receive data from a satellite way up in space.

We are thrilled to be connected again (dial-up service hardly counts).

Today I learned: Most people we meet have lived on Stella Road at one time in their lives.
When I looked outside this morning, I saw some very interesting ice crystals that had grown out of the earth last night. I now know that the crystals grow by adding to the bottom of the structure. You can see dirt and pebbles perched on the tops of the ice spikes after taking the ride upward through the night:

Here's a funny plumbing story. We noticed that the kitchen faucet flow rate was quite slow. The weird thing about it was that the hose sprayer - which feeds from the same main 1/2-inch line - had plenty of power. So, I unscrewed the aerator from the end of the faucet nozzle and found a small piece of some kind of gasket thing blocking the tiny hole that allows a limited amount of water through. Where this piece of junk came from, I don't know. It doesn't really matter, and now we have decided to leave the aerator off for faster water flow. Problem solved. Fast and free!


The other day, a man and woman drove up to the house in a big black pick-up. He introduced himself as Bill something, and I don't remember her name. He said they were from the tax assessor's office, and they needed to measure the size of the house. In the time it took him to walk up to our door and knock, the great Dominecker hen had jumped up into their truck and was poking around the cab. The woman did not want to get too close to the bird, so Bill opened the other door and shooed her out. Crazy chicken. I was told to expect a notice regarding the assessment soon, but it would be October before we receive a new tax bill. I have no idea what the new amount will be, but the last amount was only $168.

It seems the worst of winter is in the past now, with high temperatures hovering near 45F on a daily basis. People say this was the coldest winter in a long time - which I am glad to hear, because maybe that means next year won't be so bad. Currently, our only source of heat is the heat pump system which is 100% electric. On extra cold days, it switches from the efficient technique of extracting the warmth from outside air, to plain old electrical heat. It's no different than running a whole lot of space heaters around the house. This is a very costly method of heating a house, so I had been considering the alternatives.

One option is to get a woodstove and burn firewood - which we have plenty of on the property. The drawbacks are that it requires frequent feeding and it would raise our homeowners insurance a bit. It would also add smoke to our inside air which would be smelly, too. And we would have to buy one and have it installed. $1000 minimum.

Another option is to have an outdoor wood-burning furnace installed, but that costs $7600 - enough said.

So, I decided that for this first winter, we'd see how costly it is to leave the heat pump to do the work alone. Our electric (light) bill for the past 38 days is $155, and approximately $40 of that is general non-heat use. So $115 for automatic, unattended, low fire-risk heat amounts to $3.03/day. I can live with that.