Tuesday, June 08, 2010


A year ago I sent sibling email saying

I had had no idea that groundhogs climbed trees. In fact I believe this to be a juvenile groundhog, much smaller than the one that waddles around all year though its body is still more than a foot long plus tail, and there were two of them in two different small trees around the den at the base of our yard and the other one startled me -- and Rosie -- considerably by zooming down the tree and safe into the hole as we trotted by. But this one stayed put while I took a fair number of really bad pictures and a few only moderately bad pictures, of which this is, umm, of which this is one. Note tail color. Did you know groundhogs climbed trees?

So brother Phil, who had left the picture in his email for a year, has posted it at the UMich AnimalDiversity web site:

Date Taken: June 7, 2009
Location: Hamilton, New York
Caption: groundhog in tree
Contributors: Dr. Tom Myers (photographer, copyright holder)

This is mildly amusing, and interesting in a this-is-how-Web-content-happens sort of way. My daughter comments "Daddy, it's a groundhog in a tree. Why do you want a copyright for that?" Well, it's a creative commons copyright, and I approve of them. Besides, Phil suggested it. Hmm....

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Pumping Heat -- Back and Forth

In January, I wrote about pumping heat from well-water to house which was finally in place, after I'd been talking about it for about twenty years. I did note one problem: the pumps for the compressors were less than 70 feet down in a 208-foot well, which meant that the water level dropped below the upper one when both pumps were running. After the weather moderated, Bagnall Electric came back and reinstalled their pumps on longer hoses, supposedly 10% up from the bottom. After that there was no problem running both compressors at once, and I test-run the oil burner one night per month through heating season, with PRI-D Complete Diesel Treatment supposedly increasing the life of the fuel oil in the tank because a tank will last several years that way. Maybe it will be okay; the idea is that if there's a long power outage in winter, then the (propane) backup generator can make enough electricity to run the oil burner and keep us from freezing for a few weeks.

It so happens that for more than twenty years I've been cooling this house, for part of each summer, by running whole-house fans in the night and closing up during the day, amusing my wife by opening and shutting doors and windows to make air-paths so that everything gets cooled off. Last year that didn't work quite as well because one of the fans went away and the attic into which they had vented was sealed with foam insulation, but it still sort of worked: even last night with a series of thunderstorms, I could open some windows so that air flowed, well, mainly into the east porch, through the sitting room and living room to the kitchen and then dining room and up the back stairs and into the remaining fan and up into the attic and down the new pull-down ladder and out through the window of an unused bedroom. And that worked, except when the bedroom was not unused, or when the night wasn't cool enough, or simply because my thirteen-year-old insists on her right to take a shower in the afternoon and often a bath as well, which heated things up.

Now it doesn't matter. One compressor gets heat from the well-water and does almost all of the work of providing her hot water. Part of the heat naturally goes into the air. The other compressor receives the heat from the air and puts it back into the well-water. It's not free, but it is less electricity (water-heating plus that part of the air-cooling) than the water-heating alone would have been in previous years. Recycling!

Or maybe not.

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