4 Minute Road Trip around America by Charlie Daniels

The pictures reflect a 4 Minute Road Trip around America by Charlie Daniels.

Monologue begins about 30 seconds in.

Worth the time. Goes by too fast. I hope you enjoy it. An American's view of our country...



Google Programs

Google provides and impressive number of useful Programs. And all of them are tied to Gmail.  Once you create an account you have access to all those other programs.

To start log into Gmail.com and create you account. All the other programs are tied to your gmail account.

On A Laptop

After you log into your account, on a laptop you will see nine small boxes in the upper right corner. Click on this to access other programs.  And there are more programs than show here, you can scroll down to get to them.

After you click the nine boxes you will see a list of programs. You can rearrange them with the most used on the top.  Calendar is useful.

Google Photos is very useful.  When logged into your gmail program it will automatically upload all the photos you take into the cloud. You can see them by clicking the photos symbol. You can also organize them into albums and share them to friends.

Blogger is another great program.  This allows you to multiple blogs where you can post your photos or the great American novel.  This article is written on one of my blogs, cityplanningnews.com. Other examples with different looks include perpignansarasota.blogspot.com and sarasotasistercities.com

The blogs have a blogspot.com address - you can buy a .com address which forwards to your blog.

Google Voice lets you get an additional phone number which can be used when you have internet access. Calls are free or very low cost. 

Contacts is useful.  You keep all your phone and email addresses here. It is synced with your laptop, pad, and phone sore you list of contacts is always current.

Drive is a useful program. You can keep all of your files on drive. It also provides for free word processing, spreadsheet, and slides, which are all compatible with and similar to Microsoft Word programs.

Cell Phone

On your cell phone the programs are free standing apps, which may already be on the phone if it is an Android, or can be downloaded to your iPhone. They work the same way on your phone. You can have them set up so they sync with your phone.

Like any program, they take time to learn.  You can search on line for any questions that you have.

Have fun.

More info:

How to set up Google Apps in 5 simple steps - TechRepublic



How to Access Gmail in iPhone Mail - Lifewire



Small Solar Systems

Solar and Wind Power on Steve Kuo's Home

Happy to help and answer any EV or PV questions I can.  I have a friend coming over to do some drone shots of the house and possible video too.

On to solar. We have installed solar on my home in Washington State.  We have a 10.4 kW array that consists of 32 panels.  They are I think they are all 285W panels, but some could be 280W.  We had two separate installs, a month apart - Dec and Jan, due to local PUD incentives at the time.  They are installed south facing and flat on our 4:12 pitch roof that has no solar obstructions.  Pretty much optimal placement and coverage for our latitude. Those 32 panels produce, roughly, 10.2-10.6MW per year for us.  

When we did our electric use analysis, based on our previous 3 years electric bills, we came up with us using about 10.8 MW per year.  We opted to target 10MW/year production for a couple of reasons. 

1.     We thought that we'd be able to trim our electrical usage down a little (maybe by eliminating our electric water heater and converting to gas)

2.     At the time the state incentives capped out at 10MW.  We could have added more panels, but we don't use more and the ROI for any beyond 10MW is 15-25 years, not single digits.  

We are not off the grid, have no direct use and no batteries for a number of reasons. 

1.     Direct feed to the house means that you have to install some separate hardware between your house, panels, and grid with some smart switching inside that hardware, thus an increased cost for the installs. 

2.     Any conversion of energy into any other form like a battery incurs the wrath and penalty of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which is about 15-20%. 

3.     In order for us to have received the full benefit of the local solar incentives at the time, which were quite substantial, we needed to give energy to the grid, not just cut our home usage.  Electricity costs us $0.11/kW and the PUD if we bought state manufactured panels and inverters would pay us $0.54/kW.  So if we used the energy from our panels and only pushed to the grid what we didn't use we'd only be making $0.11/kW (for the energy we used) instead of producing to the grid at $0.54 and then turning right around and sucking from the grid at $0.11.  Our state incentive programs pay us $5,000/year on top of our electric bill dropping from $125/month to $15 for line maintenance fees.  If that makes sense at all.  

Batteries.  I'm so conflicted on batteries it hurts.  We don't have them, but I want them.  I can't, however, justify them enough to convince my frugality to do them.  We considered batteries for 2.5 reasons:

1.     Off the grid:  We considered getting off the grid, but for the reasons mentioned above, we didn't want to do that at the time.  Now that state incentives are coming to an end, I'm re-considering it, but am torn and asking myself am I doing it just to be tech geeky or when the big one/zombie apocalypse/WWIII comes do I have enough guns and ammo in the house to defend my beacon lights and hot water of comfort from the masses.  Would I want to...I'd be the person that opens up the house to everyone and then some conservative with a big truck and more guns then me would just take it.  

2.     Power Backup: For the vast majority of electricity outages we have are winter storm-related in Seattle.  Winter is our area's worst time of the year for even seeing the sun.  The whole northern latitude winter sunlight hours are at their worst.  There's also the fact that our power went out because of a severe winter storm, so ya storm + winter = clouds + clouds + clouds + rain + clouds + wind + clouds + clowns.  Also, with one exception, we've never lost power in this house for more than 5 minutes ever, going back to the whole time Doug and Cheryl owned it.  Aside from a natural disaster (earthquake and volcano) happening in the summer months, power backup won't help us.  We don't have variable power pricing either, so our time of use doesn't affect our billing.  
When looking at power backup we looked at a comparison between Solar + Batteries, gas/propane generator and using our one (now two) electric vehicles as battery sources to run our hose.  A good quiet generator to run our refrigerator and freezer would cost us roughly $1,000-2,500 depending on noise and quality, batteries $15,000-30,000 and a Auto->Home inverter $500-1,500.  Battery on wheels…I already own two, easy choice.

3.     The other half...the benefit if we did get batteries, we would be off the grid, it provides that switch so we can use the power we generate and we could use.  Adding batteries gives that smart switch that I talked about earlier...but at a cost of 15-20% from entropy.

Overall our cost in 2013 was $40,000 for our system, with a 33% federal tax rebate, state incentives (one time and production) we paid off our system in 3.5 years.  A friend got the same array installed with the same company's panels and inverters (but the newer ones, 24 total panels) for $28,000 in 2015.  

Our panels are awesome and everyone should have them.  They power our now TWO cars and our complete house, except for heating.  

What else do you want to know?  I have friends in the industry and can get you help.  You can get solar path analysis for free in most cases with an assessment.  Want me to check on local installers?



Very interesting, Steve. It is amazing how fare small system solar and wind clean energy have come.

My mother's twin brother, Luverne Liffengren, lived south of Draper, South Dakota on a ranch that was off the grid, not by choice. This was in the 1930's up to about 1960.  They had an old wind charger that no longer worked and Luverne generated his power with a very loud old car engine.  He stored power in car batteries that filled the top floor of his old garage.  The power system was 32 volts, I think, though I am not sure - he got rid of the system when I was about 12 in 1960+-, when they extended commercial power to the ranch.

I think the power was used for lights, to pump water, fans, drills, and not sure what else. The appliances all had to be low voltage.

They used an outhouse, and propane for heating. Wish I had some pictures. 

I would like to put your story on a couple of blogs, if that is ok.  And if it is ok I would like a few photos.


Craig Hullinger


The Teenage Mind

The Workings of the 17 Year Old Mind – Excerpts From a Letter

I came across an old letter of mine written to my parents. I have no idea where it came from – it was just there. My mother must have saved it and put it into a book and it fell out. At any rate I found it amusing to see what I wrote and how it compared with the way I remembered it. One of the snakes is much longer in my memory then what I wrote in the letter. I was working on my Uncle Luverne’s ranch in western South Dakota in the summer before my senior year in high school.  


Cow Fighting Craig

One of Luverne’s cows broke her leg when we were chasing them. It was dark and they were on the road. Luverne was in the pickup and I got out on foot to move them along. The cow fell and I think she thought I was responsible. She almost got me then and several times afterwards when we were feeding her on the prairie. Two days ago Luverne decided to get her in the barn. He tried to drive her by horse and I on foot but she ran me out of the country and she butted the horse out of the creek.

At last I took off my shirt and bull (cow) fought her up to the barn (1 mile).  I would wave my shirt and she would charge. I could just barely outrun her, but always managed to do so. When she gave up I would jump around her head, and twist and waive until she charged again. She almost got me several times when I was careless. It was really good cross-country practice.

Snake Charming

Last week we finished putting up the hay. I rode the sled behind the bailer stacking hay bales into small piles  before pushing them off the sled.  A rattlesnake came out of the bailer partially in the bailer, with the business end of the snake sticking out.  The snake was unhappy and he made me nervous.

The next day I was stacking hay. I was on the top of the very tall stack and Luverne was using the stacker tracker to lift hay up to me. As he lifted the small stack up to me I could see a very large rattler hanging below the small stack. The thick tines of the stacker had ran through the snake. The snake was striking at everything that moved. Luverne could not see the snake. I kept yelling for him not to give me the snake. I was preparing to bail out and jump when Luverne spotted the snake. It was over three feet long (6 feet long in my memory) and had 7 big rattles with probably that many more broken off.  Luverne told me I did not have to stack any more if I was nervous but of course I said no problem. But every stick I saw in the hay for the next couple of days made me jump.

Model A

Craig and Neal in the Rumble Seat, Luverne and Herman the Dog in Front

I bought a 1930 Model A Cabrolet Coupe (Roadster with convertible top and rumble seat. Ray Boe and I rebuilt the engine and put it back in the car. I still haven’t got to do much body work on it but hope to have it painted by the time you arrive. I plan to run it back in perfect exterior and running condition. (as you can see from the photo she was not exactly in perfect condition, but I still loved her)                                                                                                 

The Model A and I back in Chicago

More about the Model A Trip at:



Chicago River May 30, 2019

The City of Chicago and the region have done a great job with the Chicago River and riverfront. For many years the river was an open sewer. We cleaned up the sewer discharges and created the deep tunnel underneath the region, with sewer and storm water captured in the deep tunnel, and then cleaned up an released.

Once the river was clean the city did an extensive effort to increase the ambiance of the riverfront.  It is now a great place to visit.

The crews were busy planting near the river.

Click for more photos: