Maya Baby Carriers: A How To

WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CARY AN INFANT OR CHILD BASED ON THESE DIRECTIONS.

So, this post is for theoretical use only. Please do not try this at home with real children.

I posted earlier on my fascination with woven baby carriers, or cargadores de bebes, used by the modern Maya and wanted to post a step by step post on how to fold the baby carriers.

I am no expert and at this point would NOT carry any child in a baby carrier that I folded. I learned how to fold them in Guatemala, but by no means am an expert.

And That’s A Post specifically states that you should not mistake this post for training on how to fold a cargador de bebé for real use. Please, get trained by an expert if you ever intend to use this method to transport a child. DO NOT jeopardize the safety and well-being of any child by placing them in a baby carrier based on this post. If not used correctly, an infant or young child could potentially fall out or suffocate in a misused carrier.

Now, most woven textiles in Guatemala used for carrying babies are two long textiles woven on a back-strap loom. Both textiles are stitched together along a side to form a large square textile. The textile is opened into a square and then one corner is taken diagonally across the cloth to meet is opposite corner–forming a large triangle.

The baby is placed in the center of the triangle with its head facing out on the hypotenuse. The two ends to each side of the baby are then pulled to meet over the baby. They are tied in a square knot.

Right over left and left over right.

The knot is then pulled tight.

Now, the right angle part of the triangle, is pulled up and folded over the baby’s feet. This secures the baby in the blanket.

Lift the sling up supporting the baby with one arm. Slide your left arm through the sling. This will enable your right arm to be free for other tasks while you are carrying the baby. Place the knot over your right shoulder. This is for carrying the baby in front. This is particularly useful for breast feeding or holding the baby while sitting down.

If you would like to carry the baby on your back, de la espalda, then grab the knot with one hand and place your other arm under the baby. While rotating the knot forward over your breast, rotate the baby backward over your back.

You may then want to untie your earlier knot and pull the baby tight against your back. Then retie your knot very securely.

Right over left, and left over right. Tighten securely.

And here you have it. My happy, secure baby. Or, well pillow.

WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CARY AN INFANT OR CHILD BASED ON THESE DIRECTIONS.

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Canaries in the Mine: Get Away from Louisiana Fracking

So, September 22, 2012, was a global day of protest against hydraulic fracturing also known as horizontal drilling or fracking. I took today as an invitation to finally my experience of living less than a mile from the hydraulic fracturing Rig# 2 that Devon Energy drilled last summer in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.

First some background for those unfamiliar: hydraulic fracturing is the natural gas and oil extraction method of pumping millions of gallons of water, sand, benzene, hydrochloric acid, radioactive tracer isotopes and other chemicals under incredible pressing into underground shale rock formations to fracture the rock and release the stored fossil fuels. Two major problems arise from the process. One is that released methane can contaminate nearby drinking water wells. The other is that fresh water is a limited resource and this process destroys trillions of gallons of fresh water. Moreover, there is no way to contain the millions of gallons of polluted water used for fracking once it is pumped into the ground. Half of the water stays under ground where it has contaminated aquifers and the the other half returns to the surface where safe disposal becomes problematic.

This process is so destructive that it was not economically viable until US Vice President Dick Cheney worked behind closed doors with oil and gas companies to write and pass the 2005 Energy Policy Act which exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Superfund Act. This effectively meant that companies could pollute both the air and surface and ground water in any manner without any liability under any US law.

Since 2005, hydraulic fracturing expanded exponentially across the country. The complete lack of environmental safeguards and the emerging commodities bubble that began in 2008 had suddenly made it profitable. Everyday Americans had no idea companies were fracking nor that it had been exempted from federal environmental laws. Only now, with the growing publication of newspaper investigations and the 2010 documentary Gasland are we beginning to learn the public health and environmental costs of horizontal drilling. Only now–seven years behind industry–is the public poised to influence how and if drilling proceeds.

The NY Times reported that the millions of gallons of waste water come back to the surface containing high levels of radioactive elements and other carcinogens. Although water treatment plants cannot remove the radioactive particles from the water, it is often returned to rivers.

We’d been living pretty-happily in rural Louisiana an hour northeast of Baton Rouge for two years. Paradise lay a mile outside of our little town in a little shotgun house we were renting on fourteen acres surrounded by forest and pastures. At the end of last summer, we returned home from taking summer classes in Berkeley, to find a little sign like the one  at the top of this post, that read Rig# 2. It pointed down the narrow road leading to our house. Though it looked inconspicuous enough, the words were ominous.

Soon gigantic semi after gigantic semi were barreling down our narrow road with a Sheriff’s escort first to deliver the drilling equipment and then the fracking fluid. I learned we were on the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale and companies had begun drilling exploratory wells to determine if hydraulic fracturing would make large scale exploitation feasible.

Since January 2011, energy company representatives had been quietly getting every landowner in East & West Feliciana, St. Helena and Tangipahoa Parishes in Louisiana and Wilkinson County, Mississippi to lease their mineral rights for $75-$200 an acre. By the time the first wells were going in, everyone we talked to had already signed over their rights.

It took from June to October for Devon Energy to put the well in a mile from our shotgun house. Our landlord said that a company wanted to put a pipeline in across his 14 acres running along our shotgun house to get the gas from the rig where it was being drilled to a nearby regional pipeline. State law requires gas pipelines to be 500 feet from any house but the company was not going to consider our shotgun house a house since it wasn’t the main house on the property. Our landlord told them they could run it at the edge of his property or they could forget his property all together.

At the beginning of last November, we had the first quantifiable evidence the fracking was affecting us. My tropical fish were my canaries. Suddenly their bodies became bloated and their scales turned out perpendicular to their bodies. They became sorrowful pine cones with three or so dying a day. My big discus fish started panicking, they darted around the tank and jumped up only to hit the glass lid. It was as if they were trying to escape for their lives. I got the message.

I tested the fish tank water and the water coming from our well to find that our stable ph of 7 had suddenly dropped to below 6–the lower limit on my test kit. A low ph shouldn’t hurt these fish as they’re naturally accustomed to a low ph. Whatever else was in the water that caused such a sudden, dramatic drop in ph, was killing my fish, and they knew it. My wife and I drove to Baton Rouge and hauled back  filtered water to change out the fish tanks and stave off crisis. It worked, buying us time.

My wife developed a terrible, deep cough that persisted anytime we were home and disappeared away from home. With her asthma, she is terribly sensitive to air quality. Now I can’t say we weren’t somewhat prepared for all of this to happen. Over the previous months, we had watched  over-sized tanker after tanker bring in the water, sand, benzene, surfactants, and other fracking fluids. While we thought things might get bad eventually, we had been hoping the fracking wouldn’t affect us so immediately. We asked around and found out the well had gone live on Oct. 30th. We were floored at how fast it affected our water, our fish, and our breathing.

I felt like I had an opportunity to stand up and fight for what was right. To work with the citizens of the Felicians to preserve the land and water and beauty of the area for both their and future generations’ enjoyment. My conscious tore at me. I had the opportunity to be an Abraham Lincoln, a Martin Luther King Jr., or an Erin Brockovich. I wanted to stand up to contest the abuse of power and destruction of the earth’s most precious resource.

My wife gave me one week. She said we could move to West Feliciana where there wasn’t any drilling yet, we could move back to Illinois, but come the next weekend we were moving.  My angst and stress built. I talked to people I knew to try to gain a sense of whether there would be popular support to protect the area’s beauty. There was not. Save a few passionate exceptions, people supported getting money for their mineral rights and largely welcomed the oil and gas industries with open arms.

So we moved. I let go of the hope of standing up for the beauty of the area and the rights of future generations. The movie Promised Land set to hit theaters in January 2013 paints an empowering story of a struggling town rallying to preserve their land and way of life in spite of the possible fortunes promised by the fracking companies. Even if that wasn’t me, I’m going to sleep a little easier knowing that it happened in the movie, it happened in my heart, and maybe it will happen more and more in the future.

I yielded to local self-determination, and mourned for the high long-term costs of the short-term benefits the area may reap. Mentally, we tried to push it all to the back of our consciousness and enjoy the rest of the year in Louisiana. But we were out. Immediately, we started working on plans to move back north.

We knew the fracking would consume that part of the state as it has so much of the country. Unfortunately,  it’s the direction a large portion of the nation and other countries have already gone or are going. As I flew back to Louisiana last April from a conference in Atlanta, I noticed the peppered landscape typical of hydraulic fracturing. It’s noticeable from an airplane, and it’s noticeable by satellite. The pot-marked landscape wrought by fracking is visible on Google Earth along with the accompanying gigantic unearthly man-made teal lakes of flo-back waste water.

Perhaps, the commodities bubble will pop and fracking will come to a dramatic halt. Maybe as a nation of clean water dependent beings, we will err on the side of future prosperity rather than cheap energy and continued climate change. Perhaps, the government will pass the FRAC Act to make energy companies liable for any pollution caused by the process of hydraulic fracturing. It would, at a minimum, put an end to easy profits and impunity. And perhaps, after a year of trying to find the words and the courage to write what I know, I can be a part of the movement toward social, environmental, and inter-generational responsibility. And perhaps you can, too.

Also see: Solutions from the Gas Fields by Vanessa Lamers, recipient of the 2012 Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy Research Prize Fellowship for her summer research proposal to study the impacts of shale gas development on water quality in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.

Our Savvy New Natural Latex Mattress & Wool Topper

So we did it. Everything came together amazingly. The day after we got home from trying out our first natural latex mattress in the store, we did a nationwide craigslist google and found one for sale two and a half hours from home. It was quite serendipitous. Usually there are only a couple for sale at any given time across the whole United States, so it was awesome to find one so close to home.

It had been listed for a month. We sent out the email on Sunday, got a reply later that day, and agreed to make the drive back up to a half-hour past Madison to pick it up the next day.

The lady we bought it from was particular. A stage ahead of my wife and I in life, she had two young children. She seemed to be in her early to mid thirties. She told us over the phone she was selling the mattress because had been looking for a new set of night stands to go in her bedroom and ended up buying a complete bedroom set that included a new king mattress.

She said she hadn’t been to impressed with her latex mattress. Her major complaints were that it was an inch too wide for the cover which made it bulge at the edges and that she wanted it to be firmer. After buying this king Savvy Rest, she’d gotten a natural latex twin Flobed for her son. She highly recommended buying from Flobed saying that the design of the mattress was seamless and that the company would do anything to make their customers happy. We definitely took note for the future but were happy to buy her Savvy Rest to do a little less damage on our savings.

Since we’d never slept on a latex mattress, we also hated to spend too much money in case we didn’t like it. Seeing as latex mattresses last decades and resist dust mites, we didn’t mind buying a used one from a meticulous person.

We lucked out again because the firmness levels were the exact same configuration we determined to satisfy us the most at the store the day before. It had firm and medium dunlop topped by a three inch layer of soft talalay. Too crazy lucky. By waiting a day and striking an incredible vein of luck our natural latex mattress set us back $780, counting the gas it cost to go get it, opposed to the $2500 it would have cost for a new queen. We were pleased. 

Online, a lot of people mention the sweet-latex smell that natural latex mattresses give off can be quite bothersome. Unfortunately, I have to agree. Three and a half hours in the car with the latex made me nauseous. Now that the bed’s been together for a couple of weeks, the smell seems to be a little more subdued but still ever-present. The smell is definitely one ironic downside to going natural.

The first week we had it home, we had to have it on the floor. We lacked a proper platform bed. I prowled craigslist again. I didn’t have too much hope and came close to just buying a simple wood platform bed from Bedworks of Maine. I couldn’t quite justify the $699.95 for such a simple bed, especially when I wasn’t crazy about the look. The fact that it was going to take a few weeks to get the bed from them, gave me the necessary faith to find one quicker and cheaper on craigslist.

Four days later, bingo! I found one in Milwaukee. My baby and I hit the road and headed east. We picked up an interlocking platform bed frame for $300, including the gas and Mexican food it took to pick it up. It’s got a pretty neat design. It doesn’t require any tools to put together and is pretty solid.

We put the cotton/wool shell on the platform frame and added our latex layers. We waffled each layer into place as shown on the Savvy Rest website and low and behold they fit perfect. They definitely need to be waffled into place. It seems to compress the latex into place over the whole surface area of the bed. If you don’t waffle the layers, you end up trying to push in the sides, forcing the edges to bulge. Add the top of the shell, zip it up all around and you have yourself a diy mattress.

When we woke up each morning for the first week, we felt like someone had snuck in our room and beat us all over. Every last muscle in our backs and legs were sore. My back, however, didn’t hurt like it did with the old mattress, which was a plus. But we sure were sore. I think the latex supports the body differently, so our bodies had to do some muscle rearranging. It got better and we were sleeping pretty good, but needed a softer top to the mattress. I don’t know how it wasn’t firm enough for the lady we bought it from but it sure is firm to us.

It was back to craigslist, for a wool topper. We tried a wool mattress topper at the store when we tried out the latex mattress, and thought it felt damn good. I found a very nice one a guy was selling along with his wool comforter out in Portland. I shot him and email and then called and asked him if he could ship it to me in Illinois if I paid him in advance via Paypal. He said he didn’t see why not if I didn’t mind the cost of shipping.

He’d had it less than a year and was moving back to Florida where he was from and said he wouldn’t be needing them there. He didn’t have any pets, so it seemed like a go for us. A week later, we got our new wool topper in the mail.

We got it on the bed and my wife laid sprawled out in bliss. The wool really does feel nice. New that sucker is $830 and the wool comforter is $420. We got both for $515. Definitely not cheap, but we figured we were still under budget.

We added a thick Suite Sleep organic cotton mattress protector to cover the wool topper and latex mattress below. It and some simple white sheets were the only things we bought new. I’m surprised we bought it, seeing as it was $190, but thought it’d be our mental insurance guarding the money already spent.

So that’s it. We have our natural latex bed and wool topper that’d been in the mental works since Young House Love put the idea in our heads back in ’09. So far so good. We like it, it’s different, but we’ll see how it goes over time. Here’s to a good night’s rest, no matter the mattress.

My Wife’s Glass Art Birthday Vase and Potted Iris

My wife’s brother had gotten married this summer, and their godmother had gotten him and his wife a big purple glass vase with two big glass lilies to go in it. Though I wasn’t impressed, my wife was jealous. When we’d gotten married three years ago, it was right before we drove off to Louisiana. Everything we owned that we thought we’d need we fit into our little prizm. Everyone knew we were hitting the road light, so we received money in thoughtful cards to cover the cost of our diy wedding and backyard reception.

My wife’s godmother said that she’d wanted to get my wife a keepsake for our wedding but wanted to wait until we we’d be in one place for a while. Apparently it looks like that time is now, because they went out for dinner and snazzy glass shopping for her birthday.

My wife said a lot of the glass was pretty. Outside of the context of the glass store, however, she said one would be apt to not think much of them as underwhelming pieces from the 60’s and 70’s.

She found three pieces she really liked and two of those, she loved. The first, was a small, deep cobalt blue vase, but she said it’s solid color made it loose its self.  The final two were a contemporary large green vase with black swirling and an artsy little glass iris growing out of a dreamy Van Gogh glass pot with sky blue pebbled glass soil. Her godmother graciously bought my love the both of them against her protests.

My wife said she thought her godmother was a little surprised my wife was drawn to the contemporary vase. She imagined her godmother thought she’d pick one of the more traditionally feminine pastel vases. My wife was as proud as a peacock with her artsy glassware. Her face was radiant and she was banking I’d approve of her taste.

They’re both awesome pieces we’re pleased to enjoy and both fit her well. I never would have known she’d have chosen the vase she did. But she’s a surprising, feisty lady and that draws me to her.

She appointed the flower her writing muse. During the day the sun gives it life through the old farmhouse window. At night, it quietly inspires our efforts while basking in the warm light of our little desk reading lamp.

Meeting Our First Dunlop/Talalay Latex Mattress and A Symphony of a Sunset

So my wife and I went up to Madison two weekends ago to do a little research on getting a new mattress. We’d been fantasizing about getting a natural latex mattress since my wife and I read a blog post three years ago of a young couple who wrote about, and then revisited, how much they loved their new natural dunlop latex mattress. We thought it was time to check one out for ourselves.

Natural latex is supposed to be really supportive, last a really long time, not release Volatile Organic Compounds–as petroleum based mattresses do–and not retain the body heat of synthetic latex mattresses. They are made from curing white milky liquid of the rubber tree into either dunlop latex or talalay latex.

I’d been researching them online and it seemed like a lot of people were pretty happy with them. The downsides I found were the cost and the odor. The cost for a queen starts around $2500 and apparently natural latex gives off a rather strong sweetish latex smell. Some say there is no odor, other say it goes away, and others say it doesn’t.

In Louisiana we’d been sleeping on a sketchy mattress that we bought of craigslist knowing we were most likely only going to be there a couple of years and didn’t have much money. Back here we’ve been sleeping on my wife’s double mattress from adolescence. It has a terrible permanent sink in the center of it. A good night’s rest is impossible.

So to Madison it was to try one out for ourselves. The sales people were kind and helpful. We took our time and tried out a number of different mattress firmness configurations. The most comfortable configuration was a layer of dunlop firm on the bottom, followed by a layer of dunlop medium, and then topped with a soft layer of the talalay latex. Online, they say to order the layers of the mattress softer than you’d think you’d like. I like a firm mattress, so I was surprised to find one of their softest combinations to be plenty firm for me. I can confirm: definitely err on the side of soft.

In fact, the softest possible layer topping the mattress left it even a bit too firm for me. When they added the 4″ think wool mattress topper to the bed, that’s when we were really talking. The wool made it the perfect supportive yet soft bed.

We were sold. On the mattress at least. We weren’t quite sold on spending the money, if there was any way around it. We decided to wait on making the purchase. Maybe we’d do some scouting on craigslist now that we knew it was something we wanted.

 

We drove the two hours back home right through a symphony of a sunset. We were surprised to see a wind farm had gone up in Stephenson Co., IL since we’d moved to Louisiana. I was offended to see the giant robotic force invading the landscape.

But as we got closer and the sun sunk into it’s magenta bath, the light silhouettes of the turbines worked in concert with the fields and sky. The sight was suddenly more beautiful than offensive. In that moment, I saw how they too might become a comforting symbol of land and home.

Radon Turned Me Back To Planted Tanks

So I’m consciously redirecting my current obsession from discus to planted tanks. A planted tank is a aquarium set up with all live plants and live fish. They’re amazing. Beautiful, peaceful, entertaining, and relaxing. And while I’d like to say I’m going back to planted tanks simply because my wife thinks they’re so pretty, the truth is, I found the prospect of not inhaling radioactive gas quite appealing.

Before I bought more discus, I agreed to test the basement for radon, since it’s known to be high in this part of the country and I’d be spending a considerable amount of time in the basement with my future discus fish. [My discus tank is in the basement because they need frequent water changes. For now, that can only happen there next to a drain and the stored clean water from the R.O. filter.] The results came back indicating we have we have 7.7 pCi/L in the basement, a level well above the recommended max. of 4 pCi/L. So, before more discus, I need to install a radon mitigation system.

Radon was the kicker. Discus are out and planted tanks are in. I drove out to Chicago a couple weekends back to look at some discus someone had for sale and also checked out a craigslist ad for a slightly used 14 gallon biocube. I bought the aquarium at a great price, brought it back, and cleaned it out.

The tank being in great shape, I started looking for plants. I had a hard time finding some nice plants, but between the Quad Cities and Madison, I found a few to get me started. I already had a glass CO2 diffuser to add carbon dioxide to the water to help the plants grow. I special ordered a dozen deep red Florida-raised cardinal tetras but only one survived. I was left to cobble together a small group of eight cardinals from local fish stores. Unfortunately, they are the more pale tank-raised cardinals. The good news is they made it a healthy ten days in quarantine. I don’t know whether they’ll get the deep red color this fish is known for. I imagine they will, but we shall see.

So we have a start. Eight cardinal tetras, four rummy nose tetras, two siamese algae eaters, and one otocinclus catfish. Plants include narrow leaf and lace java fern, corkscrew jungle vallisneria, green cryptocoryne wendtii, cryptocoryne balansae, and two somewhat unknown swords. The maroon one might be a rubin sword and the smaller one might be a rosette sword. We’re enjoying the tank. I can’t wait to see how my planted aquarium tinkering evolves.

Madison’s Got It’s Thai

So my wife and I were up in Madison, WI last weekend for her to take some graduate tests. We got a chance to do a little hanging out and exploring. I got to check out about every tropical fish pet store the city had to offer and she got to thoroughly enjoy her massive, reasonably-priced Frugal Muse bookstore.

While we were in Madison we thought we’d scout the place to try our hand at finding a hidden gem in a pretty trendy town. I had my doubts but ended up hitting the jackpot. On urbanspoon I found Suwanasak Thai Cuisine, a place that’d only been open since March with 12/12 likes, no reviews, and one dollar sign indicating most entrees are under $10. This told me it was probably as authentic as it gets, and we wouldn’t be paying for any pretense, which is nice every now and again.

So this place is it. It’s mostly carry out with a couple of tables to wait at while the food’s being cooked or eat at when it’s ready. The wait’s twenty to thirty minutes, but it’s a nice wait. Between the gap in cloth curtain separating the dining area from the kitchen one can watch the whole family work feverishly together preparing the orders while speaking Thai.

I only know enough about Thai food to know that I love it. Though I hope to one day spend some time in Thailand letting my taste buds indulge me on a culinary orgy, I imagine this food’s about as close as it gets to approximating what I’ll find. My wife got the pad see ew gai and I got a squid stir fry. They were both awesome and both had some amazing spices I’d never seen before.

I was impressed. Anyone who checks out Suwanasak Thai Cuisine will not be disappointed. In fact, I imagine, just about everyone who tries it will be scheming to get back before they finish their meal.

Suwanasak Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Louisiana Style Employee Appreciation

So toward the end of spring my work had an employee appreciation crawfish boil one day after work. My pics kind of got lost and I forgot to post. It was a good time, yet  culturally distinct. Well, that is, in addition to the whole crawfish thing.

In the midwest, as in a lot of the country, I imagine, it’s common for every occasion, party, and get-together to have lots of food. Everyone could eat as much as they’d like and there’s plenty for everyone to take home.

In Louisiana, I was chuckled to find the reverse. When the cooked crawfish showed up, half’a everyone grabbed two or three styrofoam to-go containers, filled them to the brim, struggled to close ’em, and then hurried out to put them in their cars and get back to eat crawfish before the crawfish disappeared.

Not to suggest everyone did it. They didn’t. But a lot did and the rest were offended but said nothing. Everyone worked to secure enough for themselves and their friends and at the end of the afternoon everyone was able to eat and squirrel away as much as anyone could have wanted. The order was reversed, from what my experience had taught me to expect, but it didn’t make any difference.

My Discus Fish Massacre and Reverse Osmosis Repentance

So here we are a few months into our Illinois adventure. Three days after we moved here I killed my fish, the pretty big ones I’d been chronicling since January. I thought I’d researched the water conditions we’d face here well-enough, but I did not. And I have the empty tank to prove it.

They made the drive fine in five gallon buckets with aerators. I slowly added the new water so they would get acclimated and then plopped them in the tank.

Now the water comes out of the faucets out here at the hundred year old farm house with an unbelievable amount of fine bubbles that can take a while to dissipate. My fish swam and then immediately went horizontal up to the top, where they laid floating on their sides. I thought I’d killed them, but within an hour they came-to.

Two days later, it was time to change the water. I drained the old out and filled it back up. The fish seemed happy they schooled in circles, playing in the current of incoming water. But then suddenly stopped and floated to the top–like before.

@$#*%! Fool me once…

I blamed the first time on the travel and change it water. Well, it was the change in water alright and it killed all of them. I was stupid and now sad ta boot.

So, some research let me to believe the dissolved bubbles could have been carbon dioxide and could have killed the fish. Otherwise, the salt from the softener and iron not removed by the softener could have done it. For repentance I decided to install a reverse osmosis [r.o.] system. Perhaps the good coming out of the terrible end these guys met would be clean water for my wife, me and our future fish. Now all I had to do was set it up.

After brain storming with my father and a family friend who happens to work for Culligan we thought the brine storage tank for a water softener would be the perfect size to hold 50 gallons of water. It even has a float to automatically shut-off incoming water when it fills up.

I picked up a Culligan r.o. system and storage tank on craigslist. To me it’s important to get a good r.o system. Reverse osmosis is an inefficient process. The particular system can make it more or less so. Cheap systems are incredibly inefficient and can waste three to seven gallons of water for every one gallon of water that comes out purified. This system throws away about two gallons for gallon produced. The waste water is still pretty clean and can be used for watering plants or washing clothes but I don’t have anything currently in place to harness this water for good. Future project.

I mounted the filter on the wall. Attached the blue tubing from the system to the storage tank and to the faucet for us to drink from. Attached the drain line from the system to drain the waste water. All I had left was to tap the cold water line to supply the system with water to purify. It’s important to tap a water line after it comes from the water softener. Had I sent our hard, hard water through the r.o. unit, I’d be replacing the filter cartridges every month.

I tapped the cold water line next to the feed to the automatic ice cube maker. I used the same style piercing valve as the one for the ice cube maker and it worked like a charm. It made the hole, I attached the tube, and we were in business. I let the system run overnight into the drain, as the directions recommend, to flush the carbon particles out and then let it start filling up the reservoir.

It takes about two days for me to get 50 gallons, which is a little longer than it’s supposed to but will work for my one tank. I threw a 300 watt fish tank heater in the bottom. With my r.o. redemption complete, I’m ready to think fish again.

I’ve been obsessing over what type of discus I’m going to replace mine with but don’t know. My wife has been a saint dealing with me and being the voice of reason. She suggests waiting for ones I really want and not rushing out to get some nice discus only to regret it a few months later when my dream discus become available.

Like always, she has a good point and I’m almost able to wait. Right now I’m leaning toward Piwowarski discus and maybe a couple of incredible wild discus sustainably imported from Brazil.

Summer Froyo In The Berg

So Galesburg, Illinois is one of currently struggling midwestern towns that had formerly been brought to glory by the railroads. What distinguishes it from other railroad towns is that in Galesburg you can set your clock to the many trains that still bisect the city day and night.

Though the town’s reinvention remains uncertain as it struggles to survive in a post-Maytag era, Galesburg has more than a couple things going for it.  In addition to being the birthplace of the American poet Carl Sandburg and home to Old Main, the only remaining structure from the Lincoln-Douglas debates, it also claims a handful of great fooderies. One of our favorite is the seasonal frozen yogurt stand we’ve been pinning for   for the last three years. Coming back from a wedding in southern Illinois a weekend or so ago, we had the lucky chance to nab a couple cones at our little Kastle Kreme.

Whatever the flavor, chunks are speckled throughout, giving the cone texture, body, and flavor. Though lighter and smoother than ice cream, you wouldn’t guess it’s yogurt. And a whole cone leaves you full.

My wife lights up for peppermint. And no peppermint makes her light up better than the beautiful little flakes of peppermint throughout the smooth, creamy, tasty peppermint froyo at Kastle Kreme. In the pic above it doesn’t look like much, but it is. Other places would add the artificial color necessary to signal to your eyes what your taste buds are in store for, but this place serves it it up as-is. And as-is is pretty amazing.

I love the berry. Be it the raspberry in the top picture or blackberry or pineapple, all boast beautiful chunks of fresh fruit mixed right in the machine and twisted into the cone. Whenever we have the rare pleasure of finding ourselves down in The Berg, we enjoy a little froyo at Kastle Kreme.

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