Electric Candles

I walked in to Pottery Barn the other day and saw a bunch of candles around the store. I thought to myself “great my kids will burn the store down when they knock these over”. 

Eventually I wondered over to play with some fire and realized these are fake. A flameless candle that tricked me from 6 feet away! So what makes this candle look so realistic?

Take a look. 



A yellowish light is cast onto a piece of plastic that is flame shaped. The plastic piece can move around because it is supported by a thin wire. There is a weight at it’s bottome, under the support wire. The flame piece is translucent so the light can be seen from both sides. It is also slightly cupped to make it more 3D and so you can see it from all sides. 

Good job Pottery Barn, and who ever is developing next generation electric candles. 

Shop Rags

I have this bucket full of dirty shop rags. Some of these rags are really saturated in grease and oil. I was trying to decide, throw them out or try to wash them. The whole point of a rag is that you launder them and use them again. So I decided to try and see if I could soak them to remove a majority of the grease and oil. I put the rags in a small bucket and filled it with hot water and a concentrated Oil Eater. I let it sit over night and the next day I dumped off some really nasty water. The rags where already looking much better so I tossed them in the washing machine and they came out looking pretty good. I would have to say that the pre-soak in Oil Eater was pretty impressive. I normally use Oil Eater around my stove and to clean the exhaust hood over the stove. Check it out, I got mine at Costco: Oil Eater

Since that worked so well I decided to purchase more rags. I found them bulk on ebay for cheap, 100 for $20 including shipping. I will give these a try instead of switching to paper towels. I love the toughness and feel of the rag over a paper towel. Here is the ebay link 100 INDUSTRIAL SHOP CLEANUP RAGS

I got solar!

OK, I really got solar one year ago. I just finished my one year period and according to PGE over the course of 1 year net I generated more than I consumed! That is right my total usage for one complete year was negative on electricity.

This is kind of bad actually, here is why. PGE doesn’t compensate you for generating electricity and they don’t roll over your net. That is right at the end of the year the counter resets to zero and I start over again.

Here is what is surprising, I tried to undersize my system so this wouldn’t happen. I have a family of 4, two adults and two kids. I also own an electric vehicle that consumers 14kWhr every day typically. All the lights, air conditioning, car charging, plasma TVs, computers and I still came out negative. It looks like I need to use more electricity.

This next year I am going to keep the house a little cooler and I switched my clothes dryer from gas to electric. The price of natural gas should be really low but PG&E doesn’t agree. Since I am apparently giving electricity away I might as well use it. The electric dryer should help with energy consumption.

I believe everything that Elon Musk is saying about solar, if we wanted to convert to 100% solar we can. Humanity can do this, it is very possible. Should we?