Archive for August, 2008


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Solar Power, Tech, Treehugger Stuff

Well, not completely. I’ve got it set up in the front yard (it wont be there when its done) and its lacking wire, but its proof I could build one myself.  If it looks giant, it is.Its 7 foot by 9 foot, and will weigh about 300 pounds, not counting its cement shoes…  Stop by to see it in real life, if you’re in the neighborhood.




   Posted by: RobPatton   in Solar Power, Treehugger Stuff


So what does this mean?  This means that my solar power system was creating 11amps of 120V power, sending it to my house to be used.  What does it really show?  What it shows is that I have more than enough power to run my Freezer, Fridge, computers, and lights.  Sadly, no A/C.

Still its taken a lot of tweaks, tree trimming and watching to get to this new record.

Today was a terrible weather day, lots of clouds, and RAIN!  so the real numbers were weak.  We’ll file them and see how the new overall record does in the coming weeks.


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Life Stuff


The Jim Henson-created characters may be on their way back thanks to a new Disney Film.

In the movie, written by Forgetting Sarah Marshall star and writer Jason Segel, the Muppets reunite to save their studio with one last variety show.

Should the film go well, it opens up the possibility of a television programme, also written by 28-year-old Segel.

A source said: “Jason is a massive Muppets fan and is seen as the man to finally bring The Muppet Show back to TV.

“It will obviously have all its old fans but Jason’s comedy is hugely popular with youngsters so it will open it up to a whole new audience.”

The source added: “If the movie script is popular Jason will write the TV series too. He is already coming up with ideas for it.”

Although there have been a number of spin-offs, including Muppets Tonight in 1996, The Muppet Show originally ran from 1976 to 1981, and made famous characters such as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo – the show won an Emmy in 1978 for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series.

In the original series, Kermit, arguably the world’s most famous frog, was the show’s stage manager, attempting to keep order amidst the chaos, while being pursued by Miss Piggy.

The Muppet characters went on to star in a number of movies including The Muppets Take Manhatten, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppets from Space.


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Life Stuff, Money, Solar Power, Tech, Treehugger Stuff

So now that the rains have stopped, and my ark has come to rest, I am able to finally get this solar hot water heater project complete.  Enter Brad from Zon Solar.

Having now completed the job, I can whole heartedly recommend Zon Solar as an installer. They are very pleasant to work with, and have a great attention to detail not found often in contractors.  They can be found at

I opted for one step larger than the basic model with a larger panel and larger tank to the support the new jacuzzi tub.

So this is what we started with…


This is the panel before it gets mounted.  4foot x 10foot.


This is the panel mounted on the roof, just below the first 12 PV panels.   For those that will notice, the panel seems crooked.  Thats by design.  At time you need to be able to drain the water from the panel, so it needs to be tilted to facilitate that.


And this is the new tank and controller assembly. It works partly as a conventional hot water heater, for days when the sun is not out, but as soon as the sun comes out, it starts saving me money! There is an upgrade for the controller, that lets me have a digital display to show status of the system. Its on the way, as well as a method to interface to this data for logging/etc.  Coming soon.



   Posted by: RobPatton   in Humor, Just plain weird, Life Stuff

POINT MARION, Pa. — An 85-year-old woman boldly went for her gun and busted a would-be burglar inside her home, then forced him to call police while she kept him in her sights, police said.

“I just walked right on past him to the bedroom and got my gun,” Leda Smith said.

Smith heard someone break into her home Monday afternoon and grabbed the .22-caliber revolver she had been keeping by her bed since a neighbor’s home was burglarized a few weeks ago.

“I said ‘What are you doing in my house?’ He just kept saying he didn’t do it,” Smith said.

After the 17-year-old boy called 911, Smith kept holding the gun on him until state police arrived at her home in Springhill Township, about 45 miles south of Pittsburgh.

The boy will be charged with attempted burglary and related offenses in juvenile court, Trooper Christian Lieberum said. He was not identified because of his age.

“It was exciting,” Smith said. “I just hope I broke up the (burglary) ring because they have been hitting a lot of places around here.”


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Food!, Life Stuff, Treehugger Stuff

Top 10 Most Sustainable Fish To Eat

Arctic Char (farmed)
Yeah! Good salmon and rainbow trout substitute here kids. And the land-based, closed system farming methods don’t strain the marine environment or promote infections to wild species. Yum!

Catfish (US farmed)
US catfish farms are sustainable, closed system, grain fed wonders. Their farming has been monitored and uses low-pollution methods, recycled resources and even humane killing practices. I wouldn’t try it literally, but it’s a feel good fish for the most part. There is some worry about predatory birds attracted to these farms and being (how shall we say) “discouraged” illegally. But for now, eat up. Fried is nice.

Clams, Mussels, Oysters (farmed)
Now this is pretty cool. These shellfish farms are actually beneficial to the environment! Because they filter water, they remove nitrogen (the cause of massive plankton blooms from runoff). They provide essential habitat for other marine plants and animals. And they taste good. That last one is pretty key to my ideas of conservation.

Halibut: Pacific
Two good things about Pacific Halibut. There’s a lot of’m. There should continue to be because the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), a joint United States-Canada organization, regulates fishing. There is some mercury concern, but hey- nobody’s perfect.

Lobster: Spiny (US)
It’s a rock… rock lobster! You know where it never rains? In Southern California, that’s right. And that’s where these are being raised under good management overseen and approved by The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Get me one. Oh god, butter!!

Pollock (Wild Alaskan)
It’s mild, white flaky and lovely. It’s what they make that fake crabmeat out of and versatile as all get out. Mid-water trawling catches them and according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Alaskan Pollock is being managed sustainably!! In fact, here’s a stolen factoid from I really like “The Alaska Pollock fishery accounts for the largest supply of consumable fish in the world.” Oh yes, this is your fried fish sandwich at the drive through. Or whatever else you want to make.

Salmon (Wild Alaska)
The wild salmon of Alaska are babies. I don’t mean that literally, but they are being eyeballed, studied, managed with care and catered to – which is awesome. These Coho or Silver Salmon are considered sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and very good for you. Go Omega!!

Scallops: Bay (farmed)
Scallops are kinky – they grow on suspensions. Which is good, because wild harvesting brutally dredged the ocean floor. New England and Canada have the best. Avoid Calico scallops – those are disappearing fast and not just from dinner tables.

Sturgeon, Caviar (farmed)
It’s been called an “environmentally friendly alternative to eating the eggs of an endangered species.” I speak of the Beluga. Who could kill such a thing? Which reminds me, snobs who know – some PREFER this caviar. They just had to try it first.

Tilapia (US farmed)
Smart folks. These are environmentally secure farms that manage water and waste well, even incorporating other species to that end. Chinese and Taiwanese farms however – not so good. Ask the question.

Trout: Rainbow (farmed)
Well regulated and monitored these are good choices. With butter. Actually with onions, peppers and a bit of garlic then butter. Oh my god, I’m drooling!!

Tuna: Albacore (US), Skipjack (troll/pole)
Tuna is touchy for some people. I know. You luuuuuuuuv it. So the least you can do is pay attention to rescuing it. No bluefin. Just don’t be that person. Troll and pole caught skipjack is awesome. Yellowfin is nice. Do you want to be around when the last bluefin is gone?

Top 10 Fish to Avoid

Chilean Sea Bass
Just don’t do it. It’s a white fish that’s versatile, but so is halibut just stick to the Pacific kind. This poor ugly fellah is about to disappear.

Remember what I said about how scary the CDC site can be – recently 10 people died from tainted Grouper due to an algae toxin. Tilapia is similar, get that instead.

These sad, ugly bottom feeders are actually a range of fish that have been over fished. But on the bright side, you should avoid due to mercury levels as well. It’s also been mentioned that some dangerously inedible fish are being “passed off” as monkfish. Just steer clear!

Orange Roughy (Good Ol’ Slimehead)
If the name hasn’t turned you off, maybe this will. This deep-sea fish ages very slowly and reaches maturity (breeding) at 30 years of age. Due to trawling, we may not have deep-sea fish for long. There is NO SUSTAINABLE way to fish for deep-sea fish. Halibut will do nicely as a substitute – but remember, Pacific only!

Salmon (Farmed/Atlantic)
First of all, they’re fed god knows what and taste blander than their wild counterparts. Second, they boast 10X the PCBs. But that’s not all, because of the floating pens the spread parasites and diseases to the ocean and other fish. Meanwhile, the Atlantic wild salmon is almost gone – literally. Wild Pacific Salmon taste good. Eat those instead. You’re paying for a privilege of healthier oceans and food.

Sharks are magnificent. But if that isn’t enough to stop you. Consider this. The food chain. When you remove a top predator, it fails. These gorgeous toothy guys are being harvested for everything from cosmetics to virility myths. Humans kill over 100 million sharks worldwide each year.

Swordfish (Imported)
First off, longline fishing kills other species; they call it “bycatch.” So that’s bad. But when the FDA warns older, infirm and pregnant people about a mercury level in something – it kinda loses its appeal to me. You? At one point – in addition – President Clinton almost made it illegal to catch or import Swordfish. You want a steak fish? Have a nice Albacore Tuna instead.

Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico/South Atlantic)
Also sold as “golden bass” or “golden snapper” the Tilefish is also a top of the food chain predator. Which means it’s balancing the whole bio thing – and eats fish. Why does that matter –well, kid: those who eat the most other fish get the most mercury. And over fishing is a serious problem with government limitations attempting to aid in its recovery. Have a striped sea bass (farmed only) instead.

Tuna, Bigeye/Yellowfin (Imported/Longline)
US is okay* see above
Okay first off, longline fishing is a no-no for sustaining a number of endangered species. And mercury like you read about. Look for pole caught at the very least – but consider substitution with Albacore or Skipjack.

Tuna, Bluefin (US Albacore & Yellowfin is okay, though – don’t fret)
The money is here and the over fishing is rampant for bluefin. Longline fishing yet again, sigh. And a late maturing tuna. One of the worst mercury and PCB holders – plus bad karma. How about some good ol’ USA pole caught yellowtail instead?

Beyond just safe levels of carcinogens (and I do love the idea of a “safe” level of toxic things) there is the sustainable fishing scenario itself to encourage. So whenever you can, get the dirt on your fish before paying for it. Anywhere. Restaurants who care will tell you – because it’s costing them money. Ask if you’re unsure. Pull out your list and check. Don’t be shy.


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Solar Power, Tech, Treehugger Stuff

Well, its almost done, at least proto1 is almost done.  By this time next week I hope to have it set up to see if my drawings produced a usable thing.  If you don’t get it, don’t worry, most wont. Give me a week to set it up, it will make more sense.



   Posted by: RobPatton   in Humor, Life Stuff, Tech

I’m sure this is a clip of my life long ago.