September 1, 2012

Gas leases fading?

It's still mostly rumor, but it sounds like Anschutz and other gas companies aren't putting up resistance to lease expirations any longer. People who signed leases long enough ago for the initial expiration date to have passed can file for termination and (at least according to the folks I've heard), the gas companies are letting local leases go.

I'm hoping that the Marcellus Accountability Project map (which seems to be down right now) will show fewer and fewer leased areas over time.

It's not just local leases - there's a broader decline in drilling Pennsylvania as well. My guess is that it's a combination of local and state resistance to drilling and (probably most importantly) the crashing price of natural gas. Our "dry" gas is worth a lot less to the drillers than the "wet" gas available in formations further west.

On a slightly different note, it sounds like the concerns over getting a mortgage on a house in a drilling area are real, at least for some lenders.

If you know more about lease expirations, definitely please leave a comment!

Posted by simon at 4:06 PM Comment

Woodstove, Part III, water jacket

The last work actually done on the woodstove installation was back in June. What happened?

Well, two things. We're still waiting to have the hearth installed, which is behind - but I hadn't been pressing them because we were missing a key part. The stainless steel water jacket, which allows the stove to create hot running water, was a central reason we'd chosen this stove. Unfortunately, it was backordered when we ordered, and it turned into a three-month delay. At one point it was supposed to arrive July 26th, but no. I called Ireland last week to see if there was some easy-ish way to get ahold of one there, but there wasn't really, at least until much later in September. There was also no documentation about what it looked like, how to install it, and so on.

We were about to give up on the water jacket and install the stove, hoping to add it later. Without plans or directions giving a clear picture of it, we weren't sure how difficult that would be.

This past Monday, though, Lehman's called to say they had arrived and would be shipped. Galen Lehman, President of the company, called Tuesday to apologize for the delay and explain the complications of inventory. Most important, however, the part itself arrived Thursday:

Waterford Stanley Errigal woodstove water jacket.
Waterford Stanley Errigal woodstove water jacket.

There are still some challenges ahead. In particular, the plastic caps indicate that the connections have a BSP thread, which may be a recipe for leaking if we use standard American NPT connectors with it. However, this is a major step forward, and will let us get this done right.

If you're considering going this route, I think I have to suggest ordering the water jacket well in advance. It costs about 1/18th the price of the stove, and while having an unused water jacket around might feel weird, it feels much less weird than having an unused wood stove.

I've posted a small set of pictures if you need to know more about this water jacket. I'm guessing very few people will be interested in those, but the ones who are will be very very interested.

Update: here's a letter describing how to use this, though sadly lacking figures.

Posted by simon at 4:25 PM Comment

Freeville Earthship

It has its own amazing blog - you really just need to see it.

(It's on Ed Hill Road near the Cornell Organic farm if you want to see it from the road, in the area where Angelika's orchard was. I'm glad to see they fixed at least the entryway on the driveway, which was a huge problem.)

Posted by simon at 4:34 PM Comment

September 6, 2012

Wireless broadband spreading across Dryden

Congratulations to Claire Perez, whose long struggle to get high-speed Internet from Time-Warner Cable finally led to a victory - with another provider:

This is the end of my personal high-speed internet journey. I'd like to thank everyone who has read my blog, especially my friend and very dedicated blog reader, Rima Shamieh, who ironically and poignantly was over for a visit when the Clarity Connect technicians were installing last Saturday. It was funny the feeling, sitting outside with our coffee and me thinking, wow, we are going to be part of the rest of the world. I felt different.

She may finally have what she was seeking, but isn't done with the conversation:

The answer, I believe, is for each person living in the broadband ghetto, to connect with your neighbors. You have little political voice now and if you want some of the diminishing pot of government resources , you need to be heard by politicians in a real way. Go to town board meetings, tell your story, and keep your presence active. My internet blog and research led me to my backyard, literally, and I learned that while I was busy perusing the internet and calling potential services, the Tompkins County Broadband Committee was doing very good research to devise some real solutions for all of us. I also learned that my Dryden Representative, Jason Leifer, had a great deal of information and was working on the issue. Finally, Clarity Connect, recipient of government stimulus money, built a tower for fixed wireless connection directly south of our home. Lucky us!!

I do believe that in the current political and economic climate, the solution to highspeed Broadband internet will come from the voice of local individuals coming together in unison. This takes work in our already harried lives but it also may put some of the government back in the hands of those being governed.

She's starting a new blog, so you can see where the conversation leads.

Posted by simon at 5:05 PM Comment

September 7, 2012

Woodstove, Part IV, hearth

We took another big step toward the wood stove installation today with the laying of the hearth stone. This was complicated by the front door being right next to where is going, especially because we want to keep that door workable.

Making that possible required taking up part of the wooden floor, and inserting the stone neatly into a gap. I was very glad that Brian from Tile-Tec had come to take the measurements, because he was able to make everything line up with the existing floorboards. He and Jack came this morning to install the hearth, a big piece of Rainforest Brown stone. (Angelika loved it, especially when she realized it cost about the same or less than tile.)

Taking up the flooring.
Taking up the flooring.

(When I first looked at this house, there was a hearth stone in pretty much the same position. It was just resting on what is now, and should have been then, the sub-flooring. They had to cut through the flooring we'd put on top to reach the same position.)

One of the best things they did was build a much much lighter template to work from, letting them get the dimensions very very close to right before hauling the piece of stone into the house.

The template fits.
The template fits.

Of course, lugging the piece in was still a challenge, but it went well, especially with the help of a little cart that went underneath the stone.

Hauling the stone.
Hauling the stone.

The stone fit almost immediately, with just a few bit of trimming needed to make it all go.

The one minor headache isn't Tile-Tec's fault. It turns out that the bottom of the door is tilted, lowering at its outer corner and higher at the hinge. That pattern is reflected, once I looked carefully, in the threshold at the bottom, so trimming the door isn't attractive. It would let a lot of cold air in. We may fix this eventually, some day when we don't mind taking apart the door frame. For now, though, being able to open the door to 90 degrees seems fine.

Sungiva and Konrad dance on the finished hearth.
Sungiva and Konrad dance on the finished hearth.

As usual, I've posted a gallery of photos of the hearth installation.

Posted by simon at 5:17 PM Comment

September 8, 2012

Ellis Hollow Fair postponed to tomorrow

As there's a warning about high winds and rain, I think this was very smart.

We will go with safety first and postpone the 2012 Fair to tomorrow Sunday the 9th, set up to begin at 8:00am and run the event as planned from Noon to 5:00pm.

Please spread the word far and wide and we will make our own fun regardless of the day!

Update: When I drove by, it looked like the Freeville Harvest Festival, which is earlier in the day, is still happening.

Posted by simon at 9:02 AM Comment

September 10, 2012

Fracking decision delayed

I'm not really sure what this means for the long term, but the DEC seems to have put the brakes on their prior plans to release a new DSGEIS and regulations in August or September.

Posted by simon at 8:11 PM Comment

Woodstove, Part V, installation

Today was a huge day for the woodstove installation. It's not ready to use - it needs an inspection and the plumbing for the hot water jacket needs to be installed - but it's in the house now and the water jacket is in the stove.

I went over to Holy Smoke this morning, where Jared, Jesse, and Bob were getting the stove ready for delivery. They'd pulled it out of their warehouse, and were puzzling over the strange (and kind of duplicating) plumbing parts I'd left them last week.

Opening the stove was kind of like Christmas, or some kind of continuous Christmas where boxes hold more boxes. Everything was packed extremely well, and they put a lot into a tiny volume.

Opening the stove.
Opening the stove.

My biggest concern was the water jacket, which had only arrived the previous week. It had no instructions, but installation was supposed to be fairly obvious. The back of the stove had clear outlets for water, and there were knockouts going to the firebox. It was a bit tricky getting it in, as there were some pins that didn't want to let it pass, but with a little adjusting it sat in there just right.

Water jacket, installed at the back of the firebox.
Water jacket, installed at the back of the firebox.

I'd ordered some parts for converting from the 1" BSP (British Standard Pipe) connectors on the water jacket to American NPT fittings. That piece didn't really have to be installed before the stove went in, but I am very very very glad that we put the water jacket in at their shop rather than trying to do it in my livingroom later. We'll see what the plumbers think when we get there.

Once the water jacket was in, the next step was getting the stove to my house. That meant loading it on a cart, loading all that on a van, and then unloading it here.

Up the stairs.
Up the stairs.

I marvelled at their skill in getting the stove off the cart and into position, and then assembling the legs, warming cabinet, backsplash, and stovepipe. There were a few fit and finish issues. Bob cut his finger on a rough edge on one of the backsplash supports, and the towel rack didn't fit because the factory had mis-drilled a support. (Lehmans is sending a replacement - that's one tiny thing I can fix myself.)

It was a long hard day, as you can see in the full gallery, but by the end of the day it was in. They may make it look easy in the pictures, but this is definitely not easy. Apart from the weight of the stove, which was a huge challenge in itself, I was extremely happy to have professionals with a ready shop, a detailed understanding of the insides of this particular stove, and the patience to deal with it. I do not recommend this as a do-it-yourself project.

The stove, in place.
The stove, in place.

There is still work to do before we can fire it up. Most critically, the water jacket needs to be connected to the plumbing. Given the uncertainty on whether the water jacket was even going to show up, I haven't yet gone around for estimates, but that's clearly our next task. Then, of course, we have a lot of learning how to use it.

Posted by simon at 9:11 PM Comment

September 13, 2012

Another Republican-only voting day

Update: Seward wins. In Tompkins County, Seward had 507 votes to Blake's 125.

There's a Republican primary today, Thursday, September 13th, for the New York State Senate seat. Incumbent Jim Seward is facing off against challenger Jim Blake.

Polls will be open today from noon to 9:00pm. Remember, as always, that you can't campaign inside of the polling places, and that this includes things like T-shirts, signs, and buttons in addition to trying to actively convert everyone around you.

Everyone is now on the new machines, paper with an electronic scanner.

Depending on which district you live in - see the district map (597KB PDF) - you can vote at:

  1. Etna Fire Station - 26 Wood Road, Etna (map).
  2. Freeville Fire Station - 21 Union Street, Freeville (map).
  3. Dryden Fire Station - 26 North Street, Dryden (map).
  4. Varna Community Center - 943 Dryden Road, Varna (map).
  5. Etna Fire Station - 26 Wood Road, Etna (map).
  6. Dryden Fire Station - 26 North Street, Dryden (map).
  7. Dryden Fire Station - 26 North Street, Dryden (map).
  8. Bethel Grove Church Activity Center - 1749 Slaterville Road, Bethel Grove (map).
  9. Varna Community Center - 943 Dryden Road, Varna (map).
  10. Reach Out for Christ Church - 318 Johnson Road, Freeville (map).
  11. Dryden Fire Station - 26 North Street, Dryden (map).

If you'd like to see a sample ballot before going in, the Board of Elections has them (PDF).

Posted by simon at 12:44 AM Comment

September 14, 2012

September 24, 2012

Tommy comes home, Thursday night

This is the kind of history I really love to see. There's great storytelling, but there's also something to do, a physical object people are (re)building. The event is actually at the shop where they're doing the work, making it even more real.


The Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation is working to restore a piece of local aviation history. The Scout, affectionately known throughout the world as the "Tommy," was originally built in 1917 - 18 by the Thomas-Morse Aeroplane Company of Ithaca, the 4th largest supplier of aircraft in the US during WWI. The "Tommy" was used to train U.S. pilots before being sent overseas. Paul Wilson of Dryden was one of the early test pilots so it is fitting that the restoration of the "Tommy" is now taking place in Dryden. The Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation is dedicated to restoring this aircraft to flying condition and bringing attention to the story of early aviation in the Finger Lakes Region.

On Thursday, September 27th, the Dryden Town Historical Society will host Donald Funke of the Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation who will share the story of this legendary aircraft and explain the work that has been accomplished to date.

The event will be held at the workshop on 97 Southworth Road in Dryden beginning at 7 PM; however, the doors will open at 6:30 PM to view the work in progress. Parking space is available and the event is free and open to all. For more information call Gina Prentiss (844-4691).

There's more on the project in this Ithaca Journal article and at their website.

Posted by simon at 10:29 AM Comment

September 26, 2012

Eight Square Schoolhouse NEXT Saturday

Another celebration of history I love to see!

Family Day at The Eight Square Schoolhouse
Saturday October 6th, 2012
1- 4pm
Open and Free to all

Our Family Day on September 28 was cancelled due to severe weather warnings, pouring rain and windy conditions, but hopefully the skies will be more clement on October 6!

Join us for our fun and free Family Day at the Eight Square Schoolhouse; activities will include live music (June Apple Band), spinning, natural brick making, Purity ice cream, historical games (hoops and sticks, stilts, sack race and graces) and a visit of the renovated building.

2012 marks the re-opening of the building after major preservation work, as well as the 20th anniversary of The History Center's Eight Square Schoolhouse Living History Program and the Schoolhouse's 185th year of existence in Tompkins County.

The Eight Square Schoolhouse is located on Upper Hanshaw Road, Dryden, approximately 1/4 mile East of the Tompkins County Regional Airport, opposite from the Cayuga Radio Group.

(An earlier version of this just said "Saturday", but it's NEXT Saturday.)

Posted by simon at 8:15 PM Comment