Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Winning and Losing: Eating Well, Couch to 5k, Berkey Water Filter and Solar Power

We have been making some changes lately. We have started eating a lot better. More fresh fruit and veggies, lean protien and better carbs. Less eating out, just plain junk and carbtastic blah meals. Most of it is pretty intuitive. If there are not chips in the house you won't eat chips. Having some discipline and not going out to eat every time we feel like it and that sort of thing. The carb thing is kind of a grey area with lots of folks taking different views. We have both tried the super low/ no carb thing before and it doesn't work for us. She just hates it and I am tired and weak all the time. Instead we are trying to eat more reasonable portions of wheat bread or tortillas and brown rice. Just avoiding the huge bowl of white rice or plate of pasta kind of meals. We both feel a lot better and are getting healthier.
Wifey has been doing Couch to 5k. She is midway through week 6 right now. While she, like many people, does not currently and probably never will like running it is working for her. She noticed that dragging the kid up stairs has gotten easier. I would say this is a real good program for lots of people to seriously look at. If you are a fairly healthy person who is of a reasonable (like not morbidly obese) body weight but have not been very physically active this is a great way to get back to it. Toss in some sort of weight training program and you will be good to go. If you are seriously overweight or woefully out of shape it might be wise to do some sort of build up to this program, like eating reasonably and walking 1-2 times a day several days a week for a month or two to build up some conditioning and drop some fat. As always everybody should consult a general practice doctor, a dietitian, a cardiologist and a physical therapist before any sort of change to their diet or beginning any exercise program.

Personally I am cutting back to 2 times at the weight pile a week and upping my conditioning. Still doing the big lifts, just a bit more geared toward holding what I've got while conditioning gets tightened up. The human body only has so much work capacity and most of us only have so much time so there is a sort of push/ pull relationship. If you add or up the intensity in one thing you are going to almost inevitably lose ground in some other. Also inherantly between weight training and running/ cardio/ conditioning there is an inherant trade off. It isn't a bad thing really, especially for someone without many sport specific goals. Unless you plan to be a competitive marathoner or powerlifter it really isn't an issue.

On the downside our Berkey water filter is currently deadlined. I couldn't get it to seal and pass the dye test then (maybe while slightly frusterated;) I broke one of the white plastic nut/ bolt combo's that seal up the holes without an element in it while putting it back on. So I am not sure what exactly was wrong but now there is a new problem to deal with. Talk about not moving in the right direction!

This happened about three weeks ago and I put it away in frustration. I am going to get a replacement nut/ bolt and some more elements (either to replace the faulty ones or as spares) then go from there. On the bright side the good folks at Directive 21 have been great in helping me trouble shoot things and have just been a huge help with this. If I weren't such a slacking procrastinator this problem would likely already be fixed. Had I bought our Berkey from some no name fly by night folks who knows where I would be.  There are no problems that money (hopefully not very much, I really want it to be just the washer, not the element(s)!) and time can't fix. It hasn't been a huge concern because we have another water filter. Maybe there is a lesson there.

On a nice sunny day recently I busted out my little solar charger. I fiddled with it until I had a decent idea how it was supposed to work and then plugged in my kindle. After several hours in direct sunlight nothing happened and my dead kindle was still dead. This lead to a good amount of not very nice language.

 I realised a few things from this. First of all I do not know anywhere near enough about electricity. Second since we have added all sort of stuff, some pure entertainment and some useful since picking this charger up we may have already outgrown it. Third I need to test it at it's primary purpose which will be charging AA and AAA sized batteries. I am waiting for a sunny day when I have time to mess with it. Another more substantial (probably 15-26 watts) portable solar charger and maybe some sort of battery bank could be in order. However I have to do some more testing and become a more educated consumer before putting something else onto the wish list. If anybody has good resources to check out on this front I would be interested. Specifically good primers on electricity in general and a good breakdown of what watt/ size pannels can charge what sort of stuff and in how long would be great.

These two events were pretty frusterating for me. Nothing like having to go back to the drawing board or adding something else to the shopping list in an area where you thought things were good. Then again testing stuff is a good thing, even if you don't get the answers that you would like. Far better to have issues now, with the worst case being spending a little bit of money (water filter) or adjusting my expectations and maybe searching for a new piece of gear (solar charger), then some time down the road during an emergency when I need this stuff to work.

I guess the closing point is to look at eating healthier, getting into better shape plus alsp really start testing and retesting your equipment. Odds are something that should work might not.

4 comments:

tweell said...

You may want to get a cheap multimeter.
http://www.amazon.com/Sinometer-Pocket-size-13-Range-Digital-Multimeter/dp/B000JFNURG/ref=sr_1_5?s=lamps-light&ie=UTF8&qid=1334110129&sr=1-5

Me, I like to go with the water analogy for basic electricity stuff. Volts = pressure. Amps = pipe(wiring) size. Watts = cups of water. 1 volt at one amp equals one watt, 10 volts at 0.1 amps equals one watt (higher pressure through small pipe). Ohms = resistance = rocks and cloth in the pipe to slow down the flow.

Anonymous said...

Ugly's Electrical References, 2011 Edition
This is a good place to start for electrical references. make sure you check the date 2011 is the most current.

Anonymous said...

In regards to your solar charging issue, i saw a neat video for a thing called a powerpot that uses energy from a fire or heatsource to charge electronics while it boils water. Its stil in the dev stage iirc but it could be worth looking into.

Anonymous said...

Good article and its cool to see more people adopting portable solar power systems to get prepared for a grid down situation.

Ryan @ Portable Solar Power

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