Off-Grid building and nergy efficiency website

THis is the homepage: http://www.rmi.org /
What prompted me to post this was Don's recent discussion about his plans to try greenhouse vegetable gardening. I saw a blurb on THC during brunch about Amory Lovins and the off-grid house he built. Part of the design of the house is that, at the center, ther eis a large Solarium which not only functions as a collector of light and heat (heated water), but also, is used as a greenhouse for growing vegetables and fruits year-round.
Not too much of the house was shown, but my sense from what I saw is that it's a courtyard-type desing, except that the courtyard was not paved and was roofed with glazing (they didn't specify whether it was glass or polycarbonate or what).
His family harvests tomatoes and so on year-round, even tho' they're in COlorado and get blzzards in the WInter.
THere are two separate solar-electrical systems (I missed the reason fo rthe redundancy), and banks of batteries ("Chinese NiFe batteries") for energy storage.
Anyway, what's running through my head right now (well, along with a bunch of other stuff of course...) is whether cluster-housing could be built in a similar way. My thought would be to have separated "yard" space, because I don't treust human nature, but if the people are cooperative, ti could all be open, and people could harvest the vegetables, fruits, nuts, and so on.
No real point/conclusion, just though that the info/idea might be of some interest.
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[edited for bandwidth]

I've seen a few similar older neighborhoods during my "adventures in moving". One of the nicest was an old neighborhood in the town of Monrovia, CA - one of my personal all-time favorite places I've lived. It only started to go downhill when Yuppies came in and started "snootifying" it, which is about when we moved.
((Tangentially, what I call "snootifying" is when you get people coming in who aren't interested in being in and/or part of the neighborhhod and trying to make the neighborhhod better, but ratehr, move in becasu ethey see nothing more than an "investment opportunity", and do things which turn the houses "inward" so to speak, and end up ruining whatever it is that make s a neighborhood a neighborhood, as opposed to a collection of overpriced houses. THere is probably a more correct term for the process, but I don't know what it is...))
ANyway, it often has seemed to me that the bigger (or at least mroe expensive) the houses are in an area, th eless likely you are to ever see people *outside*. As misanthropic, interoverted, and ns around peopel as I am, I neverthelsee find it disturbing and depressing to be in an area where the only people you ever seem to see outside are "hired help" (usu. the people mowing the lawn).
It's bizarre to me, the extent to which people have "gone inside and shut the doors". And, considering that I tend to be very bnervous around poeple and am an introvert and often somewhat misanthropic, for me to say it's bizarre, it has to be *exceedingly* bizarre.
I don't know whetehr it's just car-centrism, or computer-ficus, or what; it just has seemed so weird to be in areas where you never say anyone outside, even when the weather was great - no adults, no kids, nobody. Gives me the creeps, to be honest.

That's one of the things that has been lost - soudn insulation. The better it is, the better people can tolerate high-density living, for obvious reasons.
One of the big problem with shoddy cluster-housing is that it does in fact ddrive epole into detatched housing (as detatched as they can afford), because that cuts down on the noise from the neighbors. But doesn't necessarily eliminate it, if the detatched housing is shoddy.
IMO, what makes people crazy isn't so much high-denisity living, but the noise, lacking a refuge.
THe problem is that North American builders/developers don't give a shit about that because they only want to wring out as much profit as they can.

Yup, the secret of tolerable high density living is the existence of choice. I include noise reduction in taht, because in a sense, if you are constanyl subjected to noise, it's a form of forced interaction.

Oh, don't get me started on Yuppification. It's odd, because *technically*, I was a "yuppie" in a sense, but I had/have very different attitudes about most things. One of which is that I have a disliek of monoculture. In agriculture, monocultures are always susceptable to disease aqnd tend to be very high-maintenance, i.e. require a lot of active work/input (of chemicals and so on) to maintain them, and any "stray" plant is seen as a weed, i.e. as a threat to the entire field, precisely becasue monocultures are less robust. From what I've seen, sociological monoculture isn't all that different.
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We still go back to the old neighborhood (our doctors and wife's hairdresser are there and it's only 15 minutes from us). None of our old neighbors remain. Our old house, 3200 sf on 4 stories, with 11' ceilings on the main floor, that we bought for 11G in 1965 with every thing old, but working, is now assessed for over $850,000. Now the local Yuppies are trying to keep mothers with kids and strollers out of the coffee shops because they "get in the way". Who are these spoiled snots? Even my wife's very gay hairdresser is upset. These people with their fixed ideas about how a neighborhood should look and run are destroying all that was right in neighborhoods so they can make a buck. EDS
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[edited for bandwidth]

*WTF*?!?!
That is just warped and IMO disgusting. Makes me want to spit =>:-(
What a stupid dumbassed attitude. Talk about people who have a pathologically over-inflated sense of self-aimportance and self- aggrandizement! Ptui...

Remember the recent thread discussing greed...? Well, there ya go. YOu had it right - "snots". It's a combination of immaturity, self- aggrandizement, disconnect from Humanity, and a few other things that sued to be considered "sociopathology" and/or "narcissism". IOW, a form of mental illness.
I guess that's what happens when one begins to consider one far too above other mere mortals to even fart, and all the gas backs up into the brain - I call the syndrome IOTE: "Inflatus Of The Ego", which results in conversation that consists primarily of oral flatulance.
What the dooflollies are incapable of comprehending is the simple fact that the *appearance* of wealth is not the same thing as wealth, especially when that appearance only exists because of ever-increasing debt - ya ain't wealthy when the bank owns all yer stuff (and all yer income for the next 78 years...).
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Ugh. Sorry about your window, that sux. In cities, it's idiotic to claim ownership of the street. Especially for a paltry $200K, given what most urban real estate goes for these days. THe guy sounds like a total jerk - IOW, typical.
That the worst part of people being jerks is that they all seem to share the delusion that the law, and even simple decency, are for everyone else - every a-hole thinks he or she is "above" all of that (while, of course, everyoen else is "supposed" to suck up to their supposed superiority).
That used to be considered a mental illness - now, it seems to me at least, society tends to *reward* that sort of garbage...
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Saw it done just as you describe on a job in Vermont a while back. Also saw it used to locate very old unmapped utility lines (including wood water lines) in Boston at one time. I think they use ground radar or something now as it doesn't upset the people that don't believe in water witching. EDS
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Well of course you may! ;)
I made it up, but it just does seem to sum up a lot of a certain sort of attitude.

Suggestions are one thing, but one also has to be open to the idea that what one thinks of as community imporvement, might actually be (and probably is) just a matter of personal taste. What people call "improvement" is usually nothing more than appearances.
IMO, community improvement focuses upon teh *community*, i.e. what is good first and formost for kids (since miserable kids too often turn into destructive teens), and what is beneficial to everyone. Crap like whether your lawn constantly looks like it was edged with a razor is BS.

I don't even see it as being that deep - it's a matter of conformity being given more value than creativity, more value than even mental health. Ever read "Beaneath the Wheel" by Hermann Hesse?

A lot of teen rebellion IMO starts as an attempt to assert individuality, but without guidance as to what does and does not constitute individulaity, a lot fo teens get lost in the idea that being "different" means being exactly like their friends/"peers" in dress, deportment, deed, and worst of all, thought.
THat's where a ot of debt problems arise, tho' - gotta have that big ol' gas-guzzling (i.e. expensive to run) SUV and a house big enough for 10, and why?, well, because "everyone else does". Poeple want to be respected, but have been indoctrinated to think that social desireability is a matter of having what TV sez is bought by "successful" people and/or "other people"/"everyone else".
ANd it ends up becomeing true, and people who don't have X, Y, and Z are disregarded, because posessions, and conformity, become more hihgly valued than are things like ethics, character, and other intangeables.

You mean Dowsing...? Yup...

I an certain it's either (1) the subconscious recognition of places where water is likely to collect, and/or (2) a high water table.
A lot of what gets called "paranormal" or "spooky" is actually jsut a matter of subconscious expression - it's similar to how "intuition" can be the subconscious accumulation, filtering, and analysis of data. Which is why it"works better" for poele who have experience doing it. IOW, not magic and not paranormal, but the often-amazing human subconscious;)

It *is* a hoot (hey, *any* reason for a party <L!>) - but as above, I think it's a human skill, not in itself an accurate technique.
The mind can be such an amazing thing, even (or maybe especially?) when we're not aware of what it's doing :)
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This superstition is still popular, but when *tested* it's no more effective than flipping a coin.
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Many might *think* they can find underground things, thanks to a little confirmation bias and so on, but the actual effectiveness is no better than a random method such as flipping a coin.
There's a nice example here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRxKnjn704Y
Lots of dowsers volunteered for this test (a real, scientific test; not one you can fudge). They all believed they could find the water. They all failed, and *then* they found excuses. Failure did not affect their belief.
There have been plenty of other tests. Dowsing is superstitious nonsense.
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Interesting, that. Lots of dowsers have anecdotes that it works. However, it mysteriously stops working when skeptics look closely. This happens over and over again.
Perhaps you could explain how dowsing works? Please don't spare any complexities. I may only have a degree in physics, but I'm prepared to learn how dowsers rewrite widely-accepted modern principles. I'm also curious how dowsing magically works in your anecdotes, but suddenly stops working when people look too closely.
Perhaps you could explain why the guy "making money with his skill" hasn't gone for Randi's million dollar offer. If what you say is true, he could easily become a millionaire - merely by a successful feat of dowsing before a skeptical audience. I wonder why he hasn't done that? Perhaps he's way too busy fleecing the credulous and gullible.
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[snip/edited]
Physics doesn't enter into it. Again, from what I've seen of, and read about, a variety of "psychic phenomena" over the decades, much of it is a subconscious expression of "intuition" - and by "intuition", what I mean is a subconscious/nonconscious analyses of events/environment, which mayb be non-verbal, non-linear, and non-deliberate, yet which is nevertheless a valid and common way of observing the world and acquiring knowledge. Humans learn to walk "intuitively", not by consciously creating and following a list of procedures; the same is true of learing to recognize which poeple are family members and which are strangers, and a host of other things. Learning doesn't have to be verbal/prodecural/conscious to be learning, and the same is true of informal analysis, such as teh infromal/subconscious analysis that allows a person to translate visual data int o perception and, for example, allows one to walk up a flight of stairs, as opposed to continually tripping and falling.
Similarly, the common "I had a feeling that so-and-so was trouble", for example, is not "psychic", but more typically, a subconscious awareness of things like body language and speech patterns, many of which can be taught (as in the "learn how to tell whether someone is lying" bits that were on TV/cable not too long ago).
Similarly, the "pendulum" method of divination, where one direction menas "yes" and the perpendicular direction means "no", is the above phenomenon translated very subtly to a physical medium. THat is well-documented.
I've read and heard that dowsing might be similar - a subconscious manner of indicating what is not a psychic sensing, but intuition/subconscious expression based upon a lot of experience with, and understanding of, conditions that usually indicate the presence of underground water or related structures.
THe error is not in acknowledging the method, but rather, in ascribing supernatuiral powers to that which is easily explainable via known psychological principles.

THe answer is obvious, using teh logical extension of the above-mentioned psychological principles: "butterflies", a.k.a. "nerves". Similar to hwo a significant number of poeple experience a blood pressure spike when they go to the physician, because they experience anxiety when in a medical (oftentimes meaning unfamiliar and poorly-understood) setting. Performance anxiety.
No big mystery, really.
ALso not mysterious is that, the more that superficial "science" rejects a phenomenon that people have seen "work", the more people will ascribe "magic" or "paranormal forces" to taht phenomenon. I deliberately put "sceince" in qoutes there, because true science doesn't simply reject - it investigates.
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