We're installing a rain garden system (including a pair of above-ground cisterns) to help manage the runoff from our land. I'll post a more complete description as I develop it.
Here's a slideshow of the project as it is constructed:
To see individual photos (and Jake, feel free to copy them to your portfolio!) see here:
Do something about the water that falls on our land.
Most of it is wasted and, worse, flows almost directly into the stormwater control system which is frequently overloaded, resulting in untreated water going into Puget Sound. By managing the water properly, we can earn the private benefit of inexpensive water for our plant while accomplishing the public purpose of reducing excess runoff. Everyone wins!
Figuring out how to do this involves creating a plan for the physical labor to be done, plus financing (a good idea that you can't afford is no good!) We had been working on some ad hoc efforts in our front yard, but for the major effort of dealing with our thousand-square-foot roof and the equally large backyard, we needed some help. Luckily, our area has a runoff problem and the water utility has decided one approach is to help homeowners do something about it. Through the Seattle Rainwise program, if we install approved combination of cisterns and raingardening, we'll get a large chunk of the cost covered; it's as if we're building a tiny water treatment plant for the city! Think about how sensible this is; instead of building one 500,000 holding tank and a HUGE bioremediation garden or other treatment plant, a thousand homes could install 500 gallons of cisterns a raingarden and accomplish much the same result! Only it'd be better because homeowners and neighborhoods also reap the benefit of the garden!
The major difficulty in the financing comes from the utility requiring that we front the money to build the system; only after it's constructed and approved do they cut a check. This is reasonable of course, but it meant we needed to shop around credit unions to find the best deal on up-front money.
We want to be as environmentally and economically smart as possible. In particular, we wanted to minimize the amount of waste hauled away as the back yard was reformatted. I'd had good luck re-using the sod from other projects, and was eager to apply the re-use principle where practical.
For this project, we were going to have to do something about an aging concrete patio laced with cracks. We ultimately chosen to bust up most of it, converting its impermiable surface into additional garden space, and use the "urbanite" (broken concrete) for walls in a raised garden. We (and by "we" I mostly mean the guys who did the actual work) also re-used most of the left-over tree limbs from the snag we took down early this year; they were integrated into the walls in a form of hugelkultur, holding the dirt in place until plants establish roots sufficient to carry on the job.
For a contractor, we checked Rainwise's list of approved contractors and picked Stone Soup Gardens. Besides the threshold qualification of being on the approved list, we wanted a contractor who was relatively close geographically speaking (it just didn't make sense to have environmental work done by someone with a long commute!) and whose web presence seemed in harmony with out values and intents. Contracting is an intimate relationship that can be very expensive if it goes wrong!
...I'll write more later ....
There comes a time when you have to admit that you cannot help an addict; you have to let him go sink on his own. What is today called "American Conservativism" has abandoned whatever principles drove Eisenhower and even Goldwater, and abandoned basic fidelity to physical facts. Global warming, evolution, WMDs in Iraq, basic facts of female human biology, Obama's birthplace, the fact that one of our casualties in Benghazi was a member of the rescue team flown in from Tripoli ... on these and so many other matters, "conservatives" simply deny simple matters of physical reality because fidelity to their team and the fear of admitting error trumps all else. Liberals have many faults but chief of them, today, is having compromised so much than any further movement toward agreeing with conservatives means abandoning reality itself. I'm sorry if this hurts anyone's feelings, but it's really time that some of you grow a pair of balls and admit you were wrong. http://www.salon.com/2012/11/17/game_over_conservative_friend/
Servicemembers, veterans and their families can have legal needs arising out of their service, or strongly affected by that service. You can help them! Some of their issues are addressed in the first two FREE, CLE-earning webcasts listed below; you can find other topical recordings on the 4freeCLE Veterans Page.
Earn and learn anywhere you can access the internet; share these free events with your colleagues and clients!
Foodshopping in White Center (Motto: "Not So White, Not So Centered!") gives many opportunities to meet this week's Change The World Wednesday challenge:
This week shop local by making at least one purchase from a local independent business. In other words, pass right by the big chain stores and search out a local merchant. Need some ideas? Have your hair cut by an independent salon ... buy food from a farmer's market or a local grocer ... get your car maintenanced by the neighborhood mechanic ... buy lunch from a "mom & pop" restaurant ... get your cup of coffee from the neighborhood barista. As always, we'd like to know all about it ... where you shopped, any problems with shopping local, etc.
Three blocks from our house on 13th is a row of shops (on 16th, naturally!) starting with a family-run "International Market" that always has great deals on fruits and vegetables. What it lacks in shiny signs it makes up in decent stuff. I've observed that there seems to be two quality levels. Inside the building are large bins of the frieshest, high-quality stuff. Toward the outside are bagged items, which appears to be foods that are still good, but not as fresh; the prices reflect that. Roughly speaking, we buy the bagged items for meals prepared today or tomorrow, and the fresher stuff for later in the week. Across the street is a living-room size market ... you might call is a "SupraMarket" since it's the opposite of a SuperMarket". If you need a little something and you don't want to go all the way to Target, try this place first. Around the corner is Cafe Rozella, our favorite coffee shop. Her Mexican Mocha Coffee is always a delight, and made by hand ... we watch it being made! I haven't had better coffee at any chain! Just south of that is Mac's Triangle Tavern ... not really good for groceries, but important at other times ;-) Crossing Roxbury we go by the 3.14 Bakery (a tasty place to discuss business over coffee and pastry), Proletariat Pizza (best pizza in Seattle, and very family friendly), Full Tilt Ice Cream (best I ever ate), and then go east a block. On 15th as we head south, there are several ethnic markets .... we haven't visited them all, but like to get Cambodian grinder sandwiches (not their actual name) or deep-fried dinner pastries. Samway's is a large ethnic food market that would feel right at home at Pike Place Market, except the prices are lower. A few block south of that (farther than I've walked, but I suppose I should pick up the habit ...) is a Savemore, an inexpensive supermarket. It's not as fancy as QFC or even Albertson's but we're happy with the price and quality. Did I mention Big Al Brewing? Not only is it walkable, but once you get into the habit of taking a "growler" in to be filled, you'll never want to buy a six-pack again! The tap room is a very friendly place; we often hang out on a weekend evening swapping soup recipes or grilling when the weather's nice. You can't get THAT at any chain. We feel lucky to have all these choices within a short distance. Developing the shop-local habit can take a bit of work, because the habit of driving to a store is so deeply ingrained. Somehow it seems faster to drive five minutes to a chain store than to spend the same five minutes walking; hopefully a smart person will figure out how these perceptual differences work and how to combat them. There is a small problem in walking to local stores instead of driving, and that's that you are more limited in what you can carry. It's helpful for the two of us to go together, because we can carry a lot more, and otherwise we just have to be organized, especially in writing a list out first so that our trip is goal-oriented and we get the pleasure of success just in crossing items off the list. I'd be willing to bet that if we found a really great deal at a family-owned store, such that we would want to fill our car with it, that we could work out some deal involving buying or reserving as much as we would pay for, and then go get the car. So far, this has never been necessary, but the families seem interested in keeping customers happy.
This is a record of what I'm learning about free or low-cos web conferencing solutions, including the use of free offers to test these out.
http://www.gotomeeting.com by Citrix
http://www.webex.com by Cisco
Google Open Meetings
Less Well Known
Electoral losers are petitioning on Whitehouse.gov to allow secession. The rules are, if a petition gets 25k signatures in a month, the Whitehouse promises to respond.
Rather than curse the Endarkenment, I created a counter-petition which I ask you to sign and/or improve.Peacefully Keep The United States Of America As One Nation, A Union Of States Succeeding Not Seceding, E Pluribus Unum!
"E Pluribus Unum" - Out Of Many One! is the motto of our great nation.
We do not all agree on every issue but our disagreements make us stronger through the healthy process of rational criticism. To the minority who think that losing an election is a reason to destroy the Union, we say: grow up! think things over and come up with better ideas!
Our ancestors died to keep the Union strong, and we must pass on to our descendants a unified nation: full of noisy discord and the clash of ideas, but out of the free and peaceful exchange of ideas, an even greater Nation!" --- EDITTED: or you could just go with this petition: Sell the Republic of Texas to Mexico for the amount that would erase our national debt and rid ourselves from Texas.
Support for our military families, whether active duty, reserve, Guard and/or veterans, can be a very helpful and satisfying practice area. You can learn about this area of practice while gathering CLE credits; since much of this law is federal in nature, you may be able to use this information whereever you reside.
Persons eligible for Veterans Administration benefits sometimes require professional assistance in staking their claim. A well-structured claim can also assist the VA in efficient administration. Now you can pick up the basics while earning credit: