Smart flora

Michael Giberson

Via Reuters:

Researchers at New York University’s interactive telecommunications program have come up with a device that allows plants to tell owners when they need water or if they’ve had too much via the social network blogging service Twitter.

If only I had had such a device last August, maybe I wouldn’t have overwatered two large pots of Prairie Blazing Stars. Even at $99, the Botanicalls device might save me money over a year or so.

But really, why not cut out the middleman and just teach the plants to call for a drip or two of water when they get thirsty? That would be some smart flora.

Prairie Blazing Star

Responding to higher energy costs, the home building version

Michael Giberson

An article in the Washington Post discusses what you can do when building a new home to help keep energy costs low. Here Michael McKechnie of Mountain View Builders in Berkeley Springs, WV, provides a summary:

McKechnie outlined the major steps to building a house with the lowest possible energy costs and perhaps an eye to going off the grid at some point: “Design your house so it uses the sun’s passive energy to its fullest potential, make sure the envelope around your house is tight, invest in renewable energy systems that use the sun and the wind to make free energy, and buy heating and cooling systems that use energy more efficiently.”

Just like it is complicated and less effective to retrofit a ten-year old SUV to be more efficient, it is complicated and less effective to retrofit old homes. (Which doesn’t mean some steps are not cost effective, of course.) The Post article provides a survey.

And what about that ten-year old SUV? Have you considered taking a rickshaw?

House renovation: Have we got concrete?

Lynne Kiesling

Over the past several years, some kind readers have inquired after the state of our home. Here’s the backstory: three years ago we bought a neglected 1924 Craftsman home in Chicago. We did some preliminary work (air conditioning, plaster, refinished wood), but then spent three years living in the place and working with architects to decide how we wanted to renovate it.

Construction started in mid-September, and should end by mid-March. Here’s what the back of the house looked like about a month ago:


More below the fold … and bonus points if you can name the song that inspired this post’s title!

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A Little Fun Frivolity

Lynne Kiesling

Through my various wanderings in the past week I have come across two fun little shopping-oriented sites that I like: Little Splurge, which highlights little (and no-so-little) finds for fashion, home, travel, work, etc; and Paperclippy, focusing on office-friendly fashion finds.

These two cute sites are great examples of Internet filtering; there’s so much great stuff out there, and I wouldn’t know about most of it if it weren’t for filters and seekers like these!

Spring in the KP garden

Lynne Kiesling

Today is chock full of interesting stuff in the day jobs, so I leave you all heading in to the weekend with this lovely shot from the KP garden:


I planted three peony bushes last summer, and they are just bloomin’ gorgeous now! Finally. I feel like I’ve been waiting for them to bloom for weeks.