Johnmark Hatfield

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since Jan 26, 2015
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Recent posts by Johnmark Hatfield

Now i’m thinking i might pair that solar dehydrator idea thing with something else. I could put one on every “stack” of upward air flow to a suped up solar chimney.

I was thinking how my anvil picks up condensation when it stays cold and the air heats up.

If it had a low air intake and high out.  i could have a large piece of metal ( I beam cut off or something) that would sweat and and then mostly drain off, but wick up a few cloths or something that would sit infront of the intake. I would be evaporative cooling. The hotter the day, the harder the draft from the chimneys, the more air getting pulled into the chamber. The cooler the i beam, the more condensation, more evaporation, more cooling. I guess when it cools off and just sits wet, that may be a problem, and you would need a tight house and well thought out air flow. I think the chamber would need to be primed with water, and then the cloth would need to be replaced or removed when weather cools down or you would have damp cloths just waiting to get musty.


This would only work in humid climates (like mine)

Any thoughts?
5 months ago
Im in Wisconsin and have hopes to do earth tube things. A few ideas come to mind. Ive wanted to use these to heat a house. The tubes we be coming into a walipini then through some large compost piles, then to the house.  

For cooling, perhaps it would be beneficial to have a cooling chamber (like a root cellar), where air slows down considerably to allow time for the temperature to be exchanged. It would have gravel and im trying to think how it could purposefully be condensating and draining.


Galv pipe into the chamber, pvc into the house to insulate.

Ive also been thinking about installing a passive solar vent (like the ones for dehydrating food). It would be roof mounted and the intake would be from the house. The air would be heated up behind the glass covered black cabinet, and then out a vent. So instead of pushing air (like the dehydrator) its just pulling air.

Hmm...now im just trying to think through purposeful condensation. Toilet tank esque with a condensate collector. Like...pump up a bunch of cistern water and put them into a tank in every room to condensate. Then pour all the water right back into the cistern once they stop condensating.

5 months ago
How high is the ceiling? Is it possible to make a subfloor of treated wood and  shim it up level? Less dust i for sure. Then just put down a vapor barrier and ply wood and then tile it up.
7 months ago
sometimes i think that we have to mimic nature in our social communities as well as our gardens.

if you have read the 'secret life of trees' you've heard of all the health benefits of an old growth forest that even keeps the dead trees roots alive to continue in sharing and communicating. the book makes many comparisons with humans and trees - but the sad part is many of our human communities don't act as humanely as the tree communities are. Sometimes i think i wish elderly homes didn't exist and that death could be embraced sooner and surrounded by people that were close knit. but without a close knit community, an example of that is rare and when existent it comes off cult-ish. Elderly homes don't keep people from dying -  but they almost always keep family from being close knit. My great grandmother was visited by her family every few months for a few hours, but i don't really call that a close relationship. it's also hard to have a close relationship with people so unresponsive.

i don't remember the exact wendell berry quote but it's something like -...death used to be seen as a sort of healing, and now it's a disease with an overly complicated cure. -

even more complicating a difficult time is that the typical lucidness of the elderly is diminished by our sedentary lifestyle with poor diet and the only engaging activities are watching tv or a computerized crossword puzzle.

a co-worker from ecuador of mine says its not like that at home. people eat fresh from their gardens and the older people are more responsive and active.

anyways...i think rebuilding the extended family needs to focus on what it means to be a nuclear family, what it means to have neighbors, neighbors as friends, have older people as neighbors, have older people as friends and mentors, and how everyone from seedlings and those long gone can populate the same physical soil.
i'm a (progressive) mennonite and live in a place with lots of amish. i think about my identity within a larger community a lot, and sometimes i wonder what % of an aesthetic is affectation or just the -comfort- of being judged. If you know the enneagram, I'm a 4 that likes being different. That first impression judgement, (which is evolutionary by the way), is welcoming among your own and can be abrasive with the rest of the world.

I feel like i have a lot of expectations placed on me in a lot of settings. i'm a white male that's college educated and i come from a midwestern US upper middle class evangelical christian home. when i go to my parents church, i dress accordingly and my mennonite-ness or permie-ness is suppressed because the difference is overwhelming, but it's something else to take on when any sort of discussion or opinions arise, and they have to be given in love and with tact. a step back always has to be taken to look at myself and the other.

for some reason the amish are highly respected. Perhaps somehow the permies could embrace a new look that reflected their ideologies. I do have holes in a lot of my clothing, but i have been in the maintenance and construction work for 10 years where i'm on my knees a lot. I understand the waste not want not idea, but would it be even more ecological/energy efficient of me to use an old pair of jeans and patch holes as soon as they appear? (insert old idiom) I used to sew a lot more many years ago, but somehow i've become too busy lately. too busy is a misnomer. time is the best distributed thing in the world. perhaps we don't budget our time or stick to our budgets well. re-think our time constraints, re-think our ideologies, perhaps change clothes just a tad when we are going to socialize. these aren't terribly life changing things.

sometimes i think the dirty-hippy look is partially meant to be abrasive to mess with people. perhaps that's a good thing, but when it's accompanied by abrasive personalities, it's not very empathy inducing for the people its abrasing.
1 year ago
So I've lived in a few different "community" settings. I've lived in community households that divided the labor by certain jobs in a very egalitarian - we all cook, we all clean, we all have some separate tasks. Cleaning dishes was more of a volunteer thing. it wasnt on a schedule. we had house meals 4 times a week, there were 8 people in the house. you cleaned dishes once every 2 weeks for a household meal. People picked up dishes, swept the kitchen and dining floor, wiped up counters and tables, others put away the left overs, napkins, etc. The thing is - we all had a relationship that went beyond utilitarian housemates. we actually looked out for each other and listened to each others lives.

i've also lived in household where it was very very ...governmental? meetings were cold. division of chores was by the book and gave no lee-way for people that just had a baby or anything like that. when you didn't get a chore done the question wasn't "hey..i noticed __ got forgotten. is there a reason it wasn't done?" it was "chore x was not done and you have accrued a demerit, and will pay a fine". There was no move towards personal relationships, and the feel of the house was sucky and judgemental.

With my wife and child, i feel like without an official structure, we can place expectations on the other and on ourselves that may have come from our separate families, from watching TV shows, or just our own idealism. I would say first, you have to remember that you are with your spouse because you have a friendship. whatever internal or external stress is happening - these should be shared. not in an "oh crap, this is what we have to do because our lives are falling apart" way. It's just a part of friendship. not for fixing the problems. to share and to know. have a date night, but only after having intentional sharing.

a marriage is a marriage. life is life. you don't do it perfect all the time. those aren't hinderances or reasons to give up. they're reasons to remember our imperfections are here to bind us together as humans.

talk about the tasks or roles you do around the house. perhaps write out a list. you may be surprised about what they other writes down. don't make the list completely utilitarian. family isn't an assembly line of efficiency. if the social burden or organization burden or task burden is too heavily put on one person. even the load. if the load is unrealistic, change your expectations. have real conversations with other people in families.  

remember that difficulty isn't some rare form of torture that you've been tossed by some short straw of a spouse. difficulty welcomes you in to the rest of humanity.

these things are all un-structured, un-exampled, un-supported, and we have no frame of reference for what is normative. our modern lives are strange. you have to swim against modernity's current of miscommunication, poor management of time, stress, etc and let go of any image of suburbia's super-spouse magazine.
1 year ago
baldosa is the spanish word for tile, perhaps it is a company, but it may just be a generic label on the product.


could the rocks be used like a brick? what happens if you take whatever you can get from the ground and put it in a bunch of water for a week or two? i've been to haiti, but not your region. can you get a shovel in the ground at all to do a soil test for a sand/silt/clay ratio?
1 year ago
So I have thoughts of a passive solar system, but I have some ideas that might be worthless, and some bad. I've read a serpentine system of the pipe inside the glass with 1/2" copper is a bad idea? Does that make air bubbles more common? Would a bleeder like the one below be of use?

I have ideas of the tank having sand/clay cob surrounding it in nesting tank sizes to hold thermal mass, but perhaps that would take heat off. Also, would a wall of bricks underneath the heat element be beneficial to hold mass and continue circulation past sundown?

The heat element will be 1/2" copper on a copper sheet, painted black, underneath tempered glass, and all on a backing of bricks (if advantageous)

I'm thinking a day's dishes would be done after lunch, and an occasional shower would be after a work day, but not after sundown.

The drawing doesn't have a frame support obviously, and I have imagined the tank could go above a soffit above a shower area or something.

I'm in southwest wisconsin so this would be drained for winter, but i'm hoping the tank would be used and routed from my home's heat source instead.

I guess tank size depends on my family's usage, but i guess we'll see how fast it can heat up 30 gallons or so. Perhaps small batches of 10 would be better if we can take short showers spread through the day.

anyhoo....thoughts? concerns?



1 year ago
I know this post will go no where, but i read this book years ago and love it so much.

BUT. Why do so many articles i read or people (geoff lawton, paul wheaton) create alternatives to this? like the overly complicated toilet designs that have very specific instructions. and many articles i read are afraid of using it in their gardens. jenkin's book specifically recommends this. it clearly lays out some of the big diseases and plagues through out history and how they were caused mostly by bad poop management. but when done well, his method is very very safe. our humanure makes everything at our place grow beautifully and we've never been sick, or even smelled anything off in our compost or hummus.

jenkins design mimics nature. lawton's quasi septic on wheels and wheaton's willy wonka etc are attempts at creating a human engineered do-hickey that as a permie, i am readily skeptical of. i readily trust nature's designs.

the only think about jenkins i would as is - twigs and branches should be put in the mix to help with leaves sticking together.

anyhoo...what's the deal with complicating and re-inventing the wheel?
1 year ago
so i have zero experience with rmh's, but i would think that as your house is currently, it would do a pretty poor job. but it does make you wonder where does all the heat go? it goes somewhere.

on the original wood stove or coal burner in the basement, it worked by heating the chimney mass, and you got radiant heat off of it. you will be putting out (in comparison) fairly cool air into the chimney. on a traditional gas furnace, it heats up an exchanger that heats the air quickly and blows it all around. Some people that have wood stoves put high returns above the stove to their furnace and use only the electricity of the furnace's fan,

in old lathe and plaster buildings you sometimes see old school vents that were simply large, fancy, and decorated holes in the floor that let the hot air rise from the room with the hearth. Your house seems to be a modern one with drywall and mudded up joints etc. getting the heat to raise would be easy in a 1600's cabin where the flooring was optional (probably non existent) and subflooring wasn't tongue and grooved, but just boards nailed down with gaps in between.

The question is, could one or many of these ideas be utilized in your basement rmh? Perhaps designing the mass to be like a gas furnace and taking the hot air off of it. essentially having an intake return to your furnace and letting it blow through your forced air. if it wasn't through some kind of heat exchanger within the cob, i don't think directly venting to a furnace intake would be a good idea unless it was only while it was burning efficiently. sounds like a big no no to me without a heat exchanger. In my mind this would be a bunch of vent pipes that were long enough to gather heat through your mass, possibly also from around the riser, and then routed to your furnace. heated air doesn't passively go downwards, but with a fan sucking it, it would.

the heat that would radiate and keep your basement cozy would be lost to your basement walls and the earth or air outside of them, and since they are not cob connected to the other floors, you would not get much if any heat to the upstairs. But if you could get the heat to directly raise to various areas above by finding open joists and cutting holes in your floor, it might be possible. Since the layout of your house isn't just one big room upstairs, and the basement ceiling isn't angled to let the hot air focus anywhere, this would also be a limited idea. in my old house, it was designed for a coal burner in the basement, and it now has a gas furnace. When we moved in, there was one vent to heat 3 (2 when we moved in) bedrooms upstairs and it was in the hallway. we were cold even with the door open and most of the vents closed on the first floor. At first i installed vent holes in a few areas on the first floor and installed inline fans that were controlled by a thermostat to the second floor bedroom vents. Menards has 6 in and 8 in inlines, but you have to replace the wires on them to be hardwired from an outlet. anyways, it wasn't passive, but it worked. i eventually removed the hallway vent and re-routed it to hook up with the pipes i installed and removed this system, but it worked. i wanted the house to make sense for the next owner and for the vent to be more efficient.


Anyways, you could do all of these, but your best bet would still be having it in the same space. That would involved building a platform all the way from your basement to the first floor. not a simple or cheap endeavor.
1 year ago