May 6th, 2015

Today's Activities Include: dentist, half day

The cleaning at the dentist was uneventful. About a month to a month and a half ago, I had a sinus infection. After that had been going on for a while (subsequent to a lingering cold), I noticed I had a lot of heat sensitivity above my right upper canine. This worried me, however, it was conspicuously NOT cold sensitive, and when I poked around, the pain seemed to be well above the root of the tooth, and therefore seemed likely to be related to the sinus problems I was having. Because bro-in-law Dr. J. is a big believer in no abx for sinus infections (and I hate arguing with doctors about why they shouldn't give me anything with a cillin in it, because while 3/4ths of the time, they decide my description of what happens sounds like a drug allergy, the other quarter of the time I get someone really contemptuous of people who think they are having unusually bad reactions to abx), I had not bothered to go get anything for the sinus infection. I figured it would resolve on its own, and it did, with the last symptom being the aforementioned tooth. I stalled another week, then scheduled the cleaning. As of a couple days ago, all the sensitivity was gone. Dentist took a good look, poked around, tapped on everything, and agreed that the sinus theory was probably right. Other than that, no issues with the cleaning.

Given I was freaking out about potentially having to get my very first root canal when the heat sensitivity first showed up, this is a _great_ outcome.

T.'s home from his half day and, so far, declining any proposed activities.

ETA: A. came home in a terrible mood because the bus mate she typically cons into giving her small items decided to give a small item to a different person on the bus today. Attempts to find the item online to buy her one have thus far failed (it looks like plastic clear aquarium tubing in a loop big enough to go over one's head -- sort of like one of those glow in the dark things, only instead of glow in the dark, it had rainbow sparkly beads or sand or something in it. I'm betting it is sold as a sensory chewy necklace but I haven't found it yet).

She eventually cheered up after she told me about some spin art thing she wanted. We couldn't find the exact one they used at school, but something acceptable from Alex Toys should be arriving in a couple days. Then when the sitter came by, A. wanted to talk to the sitter so much that she opted to go with T. and the sitter.

So while I did not get to walk with my walking partner (see, dentist, reluctant T.), I _did_ get to go for a walk by myself earlier today around the block and I went down to Great Hill after the kids left.

Edited again, one more time: R. and I went to Red Raven, where they changed the mussels frites enough to convince me to try ordering other things. They have a super yummy tomato soup which is listed on the menu as dairy free. R. got the fried bacon thing (chiccarones? sp?) with frijoles and the waldorf salad. I got the vietnamese beef lettuce wraps. Four small plates, two drinks (he got a flight of beer and I had the manhatten (sic). Very, very enjoyable.

As a result of discussion over drinks, we then looked around for some concert tickets. I have decided that Fenway Park is NOT an acceptable music venue, but Xfinity Center is, so we won't be seeing Zac Brown Band but we will be going to Brad Paisley. He picked up a ticket to something at Brighton Music Hall that I will skip because it is at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night. I haven't been to a big venue music event in ... I don't actually recall for sure any more. Probably something at Bumbershoot in the early 2000s. I'll have to remember to look at the BLO schedule later in the summer when the 2015-6 season is up.

Article about Tesla Powerwall

This piece at Bloomberg by Tom Randall doesn't seem to really understand what's involved in a winter power outage, at least here in the Northeast.

Link to the article.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-06/tesla-s-new-battery-doesn-t-work-that-well-with-solar

Summary: Tesla's Powerwall systems are not intended to get you off the grid. No one with solar _wants_ to get off the grid, because they are selling power to the grid at the same amount they pay to get power from the grid (retail rates, not spot market or some other wholesale price model). This is a Crazy Good Deal that Will Not Last. Take advantage while you can.

Instead, Powerwall is intended as a home battery backup, and should be thought of as a generator replacement. Anyone who has run a generator at a house generally has had to make a choice between (a) something hooked into a gas pipeline, if available, or (b) gas or oil tank, if available or (c) most likely, they have to get jerry cans of gas to put into it, which means trouble when the local gas stations run out (this happened post-Sandy). In Mayberry (<-- not its real name), we had a propane tank and the generator ran off of that, so we had a big generator. Flip a switch and, if everything goes the way it is supposed to, you go about your business as if nothing had gone wrong.

Here in Acton, however, we are on a natural gas line but we are not prone to the kind of week plus outages that Mayberry suffered from during ice storms. Also, we are on town water, so we don't need to run a well pump to get water. We _do_ have to run the furnace blower, so we got a generator after one of the Snowtober events. It is sized to run things like the fridge, a few lights, the furnace blowers. It is _not_ sized to run the clothes dryer, a hair dryer, etc.

Annoying quote:

"But if its sole purpose is to provide backup power to a home, the juice it offers is but a sip. The model puts out just 2 kilowatts of continuous power, which could be pretty much maxed out by a single vacuum cleaner, hair drier, microwave oven or a clothes iron. The battery isn’t powerful enough to operate a pair of space heaters; an entire home facing a winter power outage would need much more. In sunnier climes, meanwhile, it provides just enough energy to run one or two small window A/C units."

The power output of the Tesla Powerwall is not the issue for a generator replacement. The issue is that during a hypothetical winter storm outage, the short days, heavy cloud cover and possible snow covered panels = poor power generation. You'd need a fair amount of battery capacity to ensure you wouldn't run out before the grid came back online. The paragraph is written with an extremely Not Northeast perspective. We mostly heat (and cook) on gas or oil, so the crucial thing is enough electricity to run the blower motor on the furnace. If you have _that_, you can probably stay in your house. If you don't have that, you probably can't stay in your house. All this vacuuming, hair drying, and clothes ironing is NOT RELEVANT to people who are accustomed to reading about who died this year from carbon monoxide poisoning because they were sitting in the car with the engine running to keep warm because the power was out and they forgot to keep the tail pipe clear/dig the tail pipe out of the snow.

I've been thinking about battery replacement for the generator since before we got the panels. I'd _love_ to do this. It's not quite ready yet, but I feel optimistic that some time in the next decade, we'll be able to ditch the generator in favor of a battery backup scheme.

I don't really expect left coasters to Get It. Snow is weird. But if you are going to critique a product for not satisfying a need, it would be helpful to better understand the need in question.

Bass, of SolarCity, seems to grasp another issue in the generator vs. battery decision. From the article: ""There's a tremendous amount of interest in backup power that's odorless, not noisy and completely clean," he said." No doubt.