It was a cool clammy morning and it looked like it would remain that way for the rest of the day and that at some point I'd need to be burning a fire in the woodstove to keep the indoor temperatures comfortable. First, though, I thought it prudent to remove all the ashes from the stove's firebox. There had been almost no burning of wood (any wood that was burned came to less than 20 pounds) but there was nevertheless 10.35 pounds of ash, which could be the residue from as much as 1000 pounds of burned paper. (However, since paper tends to burn incompletely, leaving unburned scraps mixed in the ashes, it's likely that the amount of paper and cardboard actually burnt was less than half that much.) I disposed of these ashes (which, due to contamination from inks and plastics, is probably significantly more toxic than wood ash) in a little lowland between the main garden plot and the cabbage patch. By the time I get around to growing things there, the ashes will hopefully have been leached of toxins.
As always when I dispose of ashes, I added the data to my ash data table:
Number of days
Est. firewood burnt
Nov 14-Dec 19 2013
Dec 20 2013-Jan 22 2014
Jan 23-Feb 19 2014
Feb 20-Mar 20 2014
Apr 21 2014-Aug 16 2014
Aug 17-Dec 12 2014
Dec 13-Dec 26 2014
Dec 27 2014-Feb 2 2015
27.96 lbs (34.27 lbs)
Feb 3-Mar 5 2015
0.245 cords (actual firewood burned closer to 0.75 cords)
Mar 6-Mar 31 2015
0.168 cords (actual firewood burned closer to 0.25 cords)
Apr 1-Jul 25 2015
0.236 cords (much of which was paper ash)
July 26-Oct 1 2015
0.207 cords (nearly all of which was paper/cardboard ash)
[REDACTED] Figures in red limit the calculations to days of actual firewood heating.
With the firebox clear of ashes, I could now undertake some data gathering I've long wanted to do but could never figure out how to pull off. I could weigh wood as I burned it and learn conclusively the weight of the wood that produces a given weight of ashes. It would be too much trouble to weigh wood as I add it to the firebox, so instead I have decided to weigh wood as I bring it into the house. This means that any wood inside has already been weighed and added to the tally of burned wood. The next time I clear out the ashes, I can weigh any wood remaining in the house, subtract it from the tally of wood that has been weighed coming in, and finally compute the ash to wood ratio. (I've decided not to even bother weighing paper and cardboard, since, in burning season, it doesn't add up to much more than a rounding error.) With that in mind, I went into the forest to gather firewood that would be coming straight into the house, bypassing the woodshed entirely. I didn't want to wade through the Chamomile, so I gathered all today's wood from near the bottom of the mountain goat path behind the woodshed (maybe 100 feet away). There, I found a smallish dead White Oak and an even smaller dead Red Maple (acceptable firewood species that I rarely encounter in this form). Despite the dampness of the conditions, these were dry enough for immediate burning. Today's load coame to 127.25 pounds, to which I added 21.4 pounds of wood near the stove leftover from last heating season. This means the first batch of wood already weighed for burning somes to 148.65 pounds. Given earlier calculations and estimates, this should last for at least three days at a moderate burning rate.
I had trouble doing anything today but procrastinate from doing the various things I should be doing. Part of the problem is how compelling my clock project has been. This morning, I found that some mail delivery service had dropped off a package I'd ordered containing a Vaultz 5.5 by 8.25 inch personal lockbox, the very same model of pencil case that Ahmed Mohamed selected when he famously rehoused the guts of a Radio Shack clock from the late 1970s. It didn't take much effort to rest my clock guts in that case in the manner of the budding 14 year old engineer, especially given that Ahmed never bothered to route out holes for the buttons and display. I shot a little video of it showing time and me paging through its various configuration "pages."
Later, I posted a description of the project to the Arduino forum where people do show and tell about their various projects. By this point, I was drinking kratom tea and feeling mildly euphoric.
By this evening, though the kratom had worn off and I was feeling kind of crappy. It helped to get some food in my stomach (Gretchen made pappardelle noodles with creamy red sauce), but alcohol was what my body really seemed to want. Still, today was not a drinking day, and I was able to abstain. (Had the clock been closer to completion, I could have celebrated using the "art completion rule," but that would probably require some routing out of holes in that pencil case.)
This evening I was thinking about implementing sound output on the clock. Sound would be a great accompaniment for the tairist explosion, and being able to play sound files also allows me to implement hourly chimes, among other things). I knew I had a bunch of tiny boards that can play music files from an SD card, but when I looked for them, I couldn't find them anywhere. This sent me on a deep search throughout the laboratory, an undertaking that always leaves me depressed and overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of stuff I have, some of which is poorly organized and covered with cobwebs and dead insects. Recent shipments of small cheap electronics from China, for example, have all been ending up in a pile. I need to impose some order on that pile, and with that in mind, I sorted various types of things into compartments of that Really Useful Box I'd bought the other day at Staples (and which I won't be using as a case for my weather station). Eventually I found those tiny music players (four WTV020SDs); they'd been under that pile of cheap electronic components, too small and densely-packed to find.