Friday, December 30, 2005

well well

the well head

snowy meadow

rye grass

plowed road!

december sun at 3:30pm

the well is drilled. this came as a surprise. we received a bill for a drilled well. so i went down to destiny a couple days ago to see what it looked like. here it is. a simple pipe with a blue cap. a three hour pump test produced an average 16 gallons per minute flow, which is acceptable for our purposes. we have water!

so just in the nick of time, we've accomplished our goals for 2005: clearing, grading and well drilling. the rye we seeded in october is doing well under snow cover. a picture shows how nice and green it is depsite the chilly environs. water was flowing copiously along the road trenches and down the hill during my visit and while it wasn't always visible the sound of water moving was everpresent. the chip pile was melted off and still warm inside. i dug in a few inches to warm my hands.

the walk up the drive was invigorating and pleasant, though the rain the night before had made is slippery. to my surprise the road was plowed. it must have been the well drillers that did that.

i got a chance to see where the sun sat at 3:30pm pretty close to solstice. you can see in the kitchen shot how low it is. for most of december i imagine there will be little direct sunlight hitting the new lodge.

Friday, December 23, 2005

cool design books

lately i've been reading a lot of design books in anticipation of the final leg of design for destiny. i've been most interested in the question of "what makes a place lovable?" what makes places that people adore and take care of and what makes places people disregard, disrespect and ignore? we want to avoid the latter!

the old way of seeing by jonathan hale describes a transition beginning in the 1830s from designs that related to the human body through underlying geometries to a machine-based aesthetic that, over the decades, loses all relation to humans and has precipitated the impression in laypeople that experts are required to make good buildings. prior to 1830 laymen, tradespeople and architects all understood the need of buildings to relate back to humans and even non-designed buildings often achieved human harmonies. hale argues that buildings that don't relate to humans are rarely cherished. excellent book, very well written and researched.

places of the soul: architecture and environmental design as a healing art by christopher day describes the elements of design that engage people and bring a sense of wellness to their lives. he discusses what fails in modern architecture and how to remedy it. he builds on many of the concepts discussed in hale's book namely the imperfect execution of geometries.

the timeless way of building by christopher alexander is an excellent book, volume one of a three volume series, a pattern language being the second and most well known of the three. in the timeless way he lays out a methodology for evaluating architecture and communicating it via "patterns." patterns are clear and communicable rules of a sort that can be used by architect and layperson alike that are based on the real use of buildings, not on theory. he focuses on feeling as the preeminent mechanism by which patterns are tested, describing the pitfals of idealism, rationality and value-based systems. intuition is the metric and, according to alexander, a consistent one.

pesky pathogens

i've done a bit of research, aka googled, human pathogen life-cycles. i'm surpised to find that most don't live more than 1/2 a year at room temperature. so, what's the fuss about compost that's sat for two years?

from this site:

Typical Pathogen Survival Rates at 20° to 30°C in Various Environments*

Freshwater and Wastewater
Survival Time in Days**


Fecal coliforms***
<60 but usually <30
<30 but usually <15
<120 but usually <50
Salmonella (spp.)***
<60 but usually <30
<30 but usually <15
<120 but usually <50
<30 but usually <10
<10 but usually <5
<120 but usually <50
Vibrio cholerae****
<30 but usually <10
<5 but usually <2
<120 but usually <50


E. histolytica cysts
<120 but usually <15
<10 but usually <2
<20 but usually <10


A. lumbricoides eggs
Many months
<60 but usually <30
<Many months


<120 but usually <50
<60 but usually <15
<100 but usually <20
* Adapted from Feachem et al. (1983).
** Includes polio, echo, and Coxsackie Viruses
*** In seawater, viral survival is less, and bacterial survival is very much less than in fresh water.
**** V. Cholerae survival in aqueous environments is a subject of current uncertainty.


at the more than annual meeting it was decided by consensus that we will install a flush toilet in the kitchen. concerns about maintenance, smell, and what i would call the "icky factor" overrode the savings. because destiny's wastewater is processed on-site and the water is not treated, merely pumped from below or perhaps collected from above, the ecological impact of flush on the land is less severe than, for instance, a suburban house. furthermore, the wastewater treatment system we're installing outputs much cleaner water than a traditional septic system or mound.

it was also agreed the privys will be composting toilets. i have received a note from the state's residuals waste department that says destiny will have to apply for a solid waste management permit in order to dispose of the composting toilet compost on-site. it remains to be seen how much of an ordeal this will be or how much it will cost. the note also says the state is considering changing the rules (doesn't say how).

i'm going to do my part to encourage them to make onsite management a viable option, especially for places like destiny, which do have the potential and manpower to thoughtfully and carefully manage humanure. the current regulations do little to distinquish compost from sewage, though the two could not be more different. consumers in the united states pour a frightening volume of toxic chemicals down drains each day. you simply can't do this to a compost stream if you want it to work. the state forbids using humanure to grow food, but what could be a better incentive not to despoil one's waste stream than knowing you will be eating it some day? the nature of compost demands responsibility and consciousness. sewers encourage the opposite behavior because once down the drain or flushed waste is out of sight and mind. it encourages the belief that an expert down the line will know how to deal with the paint you just washed from your brush, or the cup of bleach you whited your whites with. most of this kind of thing isn't processed at all, simply passed downstream. though destiny is going to have a flush toilet, we will need to discourage using our drains and toilets as most americans are accustomed—as a universal trash stream.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More rainwater details

Here are some regs from Food Service Establishments from the state which includes details for using non-potable water for toilets and urinals. For some reason they make you paint non-potable pipe YELLOW. HEALTH REGULATIONS for FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Low flow toilets / Rainwater Harvesting Manual

I've been looking at low flow toilets. The best ones are pressurized and have dual flush (3 or 6 liter/.8 or 1.6 gal) I figure if we were to use a rainwater collection system we'd need the following. 1.6 gpf x 60 users x 3 uses per day x 3 days (length of most gatherings) = 864 gallons of water needed. Hopefully, we could reduce that number by getting folks to use the composting toilets as often as possible and use a half flush when possible. And I see these numbers on the high end. It assumes no one uses the other toilets on the land. None of the pressurized toilets I've seen need electricity. It's a small pressurized tank within the toilet itself. I've been looking online for descriptions of how to design a rainwater collection system. The best I've found so far is from Texas. The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting by the Texas Water Board. It has examples of many simple systems which we could use as well as tables for figuring use needs.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rainwater Filters

This website gives details of using a filter on a downspout to use rainwater for water storage. We should look into it as a potential for the flush toilet (if decide to go that route) and for the garden water storage. The fitler removes leaves and other sediments from the roof before they enter the storage tank.