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Dave Smythe

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since Apr 18, 2015
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Recent posts by Dave Smythe

I know you said you didn't want to make big design changes but I wanted to at least make you aware of the Log Home Builders Association and their butt and pass method of building with whole trees/logs pinned together with 1/2 inch rebar spikes driven vertically into the logs.
They have a lot of experience with all aspects of this design and if you pay for their 2 day course (not sure if they are available now with Covid) you would have access to their collective online wisdom.
There are also several blogs online that go through whole builds. They recommend new builders build a small 20x20 or so structure first to learn the system before embarking on a 30x30 or 40x40 building.
I am not sure green building is their priority but they strike me as fairly green.

PS here is a direct link to their gallery page of homes they have built :
2 months ago

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:

Sometime when you have a few minutes, can any of you describe "pleasant temperature" a little more fully? would an elderly person with poor circulation feel comfortable?  Are you staying bundled up much of the time? are there certain pockets of time when you're cold until you've gotten the fire going?  Thanks!

I can provide a data point/opinion here as I am "over 65" and have been experimenting with the thermostat setting in the house I moved into recently.
At 62F I feel cold normally dressed and need two fleece jackets to feel comfortable. At 68F I am comfortable with one jacket which is my normal winter wear.
I'm not sure how far below 62F I could go and still feel comfortable by adding more clothing layers (long johns etc.).
7 months ago
There are videos on Youtube of a setup called Burrow Blocker that fills the holes with a water/sand slurry.

You could also do this on a small scale by the 5 gallon bucketful.
Wonder if ground squirrels make good avocado fertilizer?
1 year ago
One scheme for thermal mass water that I have not seen discussed on Permies is the Skytherm roof designed and built in the 1970s.
Idea is to have a roofpond that is covered/uncovered as appropriate to gain/lose heat depending on season.
Supposedly this maintains the otherwise normal house in the 70s year round in a hot summer/cool winter location in Atascadero CA.
Practically this means having some kind of water container from bottles or gallon milk jugs to larger ones like commercial bladders for liquid foodstuffs in/on your roofspace.
The roof is glazed with a transparent cover such as polycarbonate corrugated panels.
To gain heat in the winter you uncover the water containers during the day and cover at night with insulation to block radiating heat away.
To lose heat during the summer you do the reverse, cover during the day to prevent thermal gain, and uncover at night to allow heat to radiate away.
2 years ago
Just came across this thread now that I am 2 days post-op and minus one gall bladder. I see this is posted under medicinal herbs, but I thought I would post my experience with surgery.
Same day laparoscopic/keyhole surgery went well at Kaiser HMO - 4 small incisions near breastbone, belly button, and two more on the right side of my belly.
I am overweight and live a sedentary lifestyle and while I generally try to eat mostly vegetables I had had several cases of "bad indigestion" over the years, but then a streak of several over a two-week span brought on I think by an ice cream binge on vacation.
Ultrasound showed sludge and maybe stones in the gall bladder and my doctor never really gave me an alternative to removal.
Pain meds are working well and I just feel a bit sore/sensitive here and there. Just cost a $50 copay which is a very pleasant way of getting care.
A previous 2011 lung surgery on a different PPO plan, admittedly a more complex job with 8 days in the hospital was a $200k two-inch thick file of paperwork and I paid for about 1/3 of an inch of it.
Since the ice cream binge I have been eating more carefully and that helps, but I will have to see how things turn out over the long haul.
So far so good.

2 years ago
I wonder if enclosing the tank in glazing would trap even more heat next to the tank?
So a mini tank greenhouse within your main greenhouse. Same principle as double glazing.
2 years ago
All the one-container designs I've seen seem quite cramped although a 40x8 container is really a double or triple-length tiny house.
The best simple design I've seen is two 40 ft containers spaced about 6 or 8 ft apart  (like your 30x40 concept I guess) and offset by about 8 feet lengthways - see the following pin:

Two Container House

This is really open and airy. Note the cutout section of steel from the side of one of the containers could be used for the slanting shed roof.
Another problem with containers is insulation - most people seem to end up building a studwall with insulation inside the container wall which really defeats the purpose.
One cheap option might be to bolt pallets to the outside of the container and then fill them either with insulation and cover with siding, or (my favorite) fill with soil and plant a vertical garden:

If you need more insulation put some sheet insulation between the pallet and the steel container wall.
The container roof can be insulated by putting a layer of straw bales on top and covering the whole with a pitched roof.
Another idea for hot summer - mild winter areas would be a roof pond or swimming pool (!) that would moderate the daily temperature swings.
Temptation is to use the pond to grow tilapia or catfish and filter the pond water through a grow bed on another part of the roof.

3 years ago
I just came across a fascinating photo-essay about the WW2 Anderson bomb shelters Londoners built in their backyards during The Blitz:

Not sure if the J-shaped corrugated iron/steel sections are available anywhere these days but you could build a very livable house out of several of these grouped around a central courtyard, either open to the air or enclosed as a solarium for solar gain.
The covering for the shelter could be dirt or hugelkultur - check out the first photo in the essay of the woman watering her plants!
3 years ago
Well I tried this myself with a pedestal fan, various bottlenecks/constrictions and a couple of different thermometers and I saw no change other than my face is now a bit redder with embarassment.
There's a good video experiment at

that shows there is no measurable cooling effect. The original video at the top of the thread that shows a shot of before and after thermometers is fishy because it shows a difference of 10 deg C which is much larger than the claimed ~5C/10F cooling.
Now if instead they filled the coke bottles with water and stacked enough of them inside their tin shack, they might get some moderation of daily temperature swings, but the daily range between min and max temp in Bangladesh is only about 10 deg C in summer.
3 years ago
I'm surprised how much resistance there is to this. I'm going to try to rustle up a fan, a bottle, and a thermometer and run a test.
3 years ago