Good Day Sunshine…

January 3, 2016 by

It’s been a heck of a while since I’ve written here. In case you haven’t been following, shortly after I promised Jordan I’d recap our Jamaica travels, something not so awesome happened to my car. Then some other things happened. And well, here we are. And the topic I have for you? Solar panels.

If you don’t have a south-facing, unshaded roof, I’ll save you the trouble. You can probably stop reading.

But if you have at least that, there’s a good chance solar may be for you if you act in the next year. It worked out for us – even economically – and this post will tell you exactly why. I got really excited about it and chances are if you’re still reading, you may be in the same boat.


Bottom line: given our assumptions, after twenty five years, we should have roughly $34,766 more after having installed solar panels than if we hadn’t.


Overview

We were on schedule to pay AEP $86k for electricity over the next twenty five years. By buying $27k worth of solar panels, we are on schedule to only pay AEP $24.5k for extra electricity over the next twenty five years.

Key Numbers

  • All our solar equipment is warrantied for 25 years.
  • There is a 30% tax credit through 2016.
  • Columbus, OH averages about 4.2 hours of sun per day throughout the year (check your city here).

Major Unknown

There is one major thing that is out of our control: electric prices. In past 10 years, the cost in Ohio has gone up an average of 4.5% a year, so we used that as a baseline for our financial predictions. Obviously, this could swing a lot of ways so it has the potential to be a huge factor.  But it’s about the only unknown we felt like we had to decide if we were comfortable with.

Time Horizon

Now if we suddenly move out of our house tomorrow, there’s a good chance we won’t recoup the full amount we paid. So given our inclination that we’ll live in the house for decades, that sure helps.

It’s still a little early to tell but if our calculations are exactly correct, we’ll end up paying about $49 extra a month in year 1.  By year 5, we’ll be paying approximately $28 extra a month.  And by year 10, we should be cash flow positive.  By year 13 we should break even.  After that, we should be in the black for good.

This is definitely a long-haul “investment.”  Though I hate calling it that because we’re going to use the energy whether we own the generation equipment or not…

Roof Condition

Another thing we had to consider was our roof. Given it’s still fairly young, it’s unlikely we should have to re-roof in the next 25 years. Panels can be removed and re-installed (ours were done in a day) but there’s obviously a cost associated with doing that. So roof condition is something important to consider though shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

Closing the Deal

After all the spreadsheets were calculated and the proposals submitted, we ended up with a pretty clear-cut winner. They were knowledgeable, extremely customer-centric, and super timely.

If you’re interested in running some numbers, let me know and I’ll give you the contact info for the company we used.  I’d highly recommend them.  For us it ended up being a no brainer and perhaps it will be for you too!  I’ll be completely transparent: if you use our name as a referral, we’ll get a referral bonus.  But that’d just be icing for us.

Hugging Trees and Ongoing Monitoring…

You’ve probably concluded that we approached this mainly from an economic perspective.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t majorly important.  But there’s also that thing about going green.  About making a socially conscientious choice.  About explaining to your kid that, much like that old calculator that is powered by light that she pretends is a cell phone, in the same way, your roof is generating power for your house – just a million times magnified.

And don’t forget about the app!  There’s even a handy app that shows you what your current production level is as well as some historicals.  And the online dashboard is pretty cool too.  After three days, here’s what ours looks like:

Solar Dash

 

That’s about the longest post you’ll read on here.  If it’s been worthwhile, drop me a note!

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50 Shades of Spanking

February 11, 2015 by

In just a couple of days, the world will be graced by the on-screen appearance of Mr. Grey.  And though many of us will never be the rich, powerful, good looking guy in a suit nor the submissive reporter who politely wears an adult version of the catholic schoolgirl outfit (that’s what I took away from the trailer and yes I know it’s probably all wrong), we all need to know more about discipline.  About pleasure.  About pain.  About spanking.  And about our kids’ lizard brains.

Except for grandparents (who know everything about how a child should be raised), parenting is a confusing mindf*k that flitters between extreme bliss and utter confusion as to why your 9-month old keeps throwing their toy on the ground after you’ve picked it back up and given it to them for the twentieth time.  And so often I’ve personally found it to be struggle to choose between that path of instant gratification (I’ll just hide the stupid toy, it’s probably dirty now anyways) and that of the teacher (he’s learning that if he drops the toy, it falls.  round 21 here we go!).

So back to the discipline thing — for parents or even those interested in psychology, mirror neurons or spanking in general (that just seems silly to say) — this is definitely worth the read: http://qz.com/310622/the-scientific-evidence-against-spanking-timeouts-and-sleep-training/

Sure, parents will probably approach interactions with their kids differently but by reading this, you may change how you interact with anybody over the age of 3 and yourself to boot.  Instead of choosing the instant gratification of txting someone a “happy bday!” message and being done with it, maybe next time you’ll call them or even have a robot handwrite a letter for you (in your own handwriting!).

Ok, that was kind of heavy, especially after 7 months away.  Here are pictures of our toy-dropping, gray hair-inducing cute kids:

what we convinced Blair were "hugs" and not tackles

what we convinced Blair were “hugs” and not tackles

The tie lets you know he means business.

The tie lets you know he means business.

yoga time is bonding time.

yoga time is bonding time.

The Thing That’s Mattered Most

July 26, 2014 by

About a year ago, this happened:

Biking

 

Perhaps more accurately, this happened:

Bike aftermath

 

Which resulted in this:

ELLT Mountain Bike 2013

no, that’s not a unicycle.

But what happened shortly after, at least to me, was one of the proudest moments of my life (ok, not like “hey, we have a new child!” proud but let’s say sporting competition proud).

For the past 6 years, and after next weekend, 7 years, I’ll have traveled to Newbury, Massachusetts for the East Luray Liars Triathlon. Not really a true triathlon but more of a sport-filled weekend. I fare pretty well against the other guys in basketball and rock climbing (surprisingly). I have absolutely no chance at golf, so the wildcard for me has always been mountain biking.

We don’t have a ton of singletrack trails here in Cbus so last year, I trained really hard on the road. Really, really hard.  Hard to the point where it was hard.  Get the point?

The “warmup” ride before the time trial was going pretty well and then all of a sudden my tire slipped from under me and, well, a tree attacked me.

My bike literally split in two (see above) and I had to do a walk of shame holding the shattered pieces. Although I had nothing more than a couple scrapes (which in itself is amazing), I still had the time trial to go.  Fortunately the time trial is the only part that matters.

The time trial starts with a ridiculous uphill followed by a pretty fast downhill that’s narrow, was a bit slick, and filled with rocks. The year before, this happened to one of the guys on the time trial:

ellt-2012-otto-crash-helmet

nice helmet!

 

To say the least, I was scared of what might happen.

I charged up the hill to start. It was physically exhausting, to the point where it was faster to run alongside the bike than actually try pedaling. I crested and began the descent. And the whole way I was thinking “crap, crap, crap, crap.”

You feel like you’re going too fast as it is but if you’re crazy enough, you can sneak in a few rotations of the pedals.  I don’t think I’ve ever pedaled downhill on such rough terrain.  I definitely wasn’t qualified to, that’s for sure.

But I did.  And somehow came out upright on the bottom and pedaled like crazy up the last two-tenths of a mile. I crossed the line, got off my bike and collapsed like an Olympic cross country skier.

For the next ten minutes, I couldn’t move anything below my waist (read that again, I’m not exaggerating.) and my thighs felt like they had been fitted with thousand pound rubber bands.  I could lift them just barely off the grass but basically I rolled on the ground or just sat there.  I was generally just trying to stay calm and assure myself I wasn’t paralyzed.  But it created a perverse sense of accomplishment that at that point it didn’t care what my time was or how it compared to others.  More than any other athletic endeavor in my life, I had literally given everything I had.

We played 3v3 basketball later that afternoon and our team slogged through to a first place finish. It’d been a good overall weekend, enough to land the big overall trophy, but the piece of hardware I’ve kept prominent in my office, the one that matters most to me, the one that represents what may be my greatest physical and mentally tenacious achievement ever, is this one:

ELLT Mountain Biking Trophy

And next weekend I’ll take it back to Newbury because someone will have earned it more than me…it’ll be hard to say goodbye.

Don’t ever give up.

How the Crawl for Cancer can be better – an open response

May 27, 2014 by

After being prodded on Facebook to describe what could make Crawl for Cancer better, I quickly realized there was no way to give a sincere, thorough reply via Facebook.

So this is a sucky way to start but although I wish it weren’t true, the Facebook post wasn’t the first time I’ve been berated by CFC in a public forum.  Admittedly, claiming I’ve intentionally hurt good people and am vindictive this time around doesn’t sting as much as being yelled (yes, literally yelled) at in front of my family and in front of my fellow volunteers for “failing” to do a job when I’d previously been told such dealings were above my pay grade (so to speak of course (it was the morning of 2012 for not delivering money to Complex if you don’t recall)).  I guess character has a tendency to repeat itself. But in the big scheme, that’s small potatoes.

Just please don’t ever yell at a volunteer, they’ll remember every detail and be resentful for a really long time.

Now that that’s said…As to your question of how the Crawl could do better, I can think of three recommendations: Source locally, be timely, and be transparent.

  1. Source locally.  Shirts (thousands and thousands of shirts!) are shipped in for each Crawl and as most everyone knows, not always with the greatest of accuracy.  Be hip, be socially responsible, heck, be financially responsible.  Start sourcing as much as you can in your host cities.  In case there are any shirt errors, you have the added bonus of yelling at the t-shirt vendors in person!  I keed, I keed.
  2. Be timely.  I don’t know all the details behind this latest “happy” to respond/didn’t respond ordeal with a “biased” Dispatch journalist but the way it’s coming off, someone dropped the ball on CFC’s end by not responding in a timely fashion even after committing to respond.

    I’m predisposed to believe the Dispatch reporter (and not just cause she’s a journalist by trade) because judging from some of the “Why we Crawl” photos on the CFC website, this issue of timeliness appears to be true with getting the money to charities as well.  Holding charity proceeds in your bank account for upwards of three months seems way too long.

    So be timely.

  3. Be transparent.  Good gravy, you guys have taken it on the nose a couple times from the media.  But hey, it’s caused a lot of people to ask questions – and that can be a good thing.  You’re by no means required to disclose anything, your filing status grants you that.  But for a company whose sole business is inherently prone to question, if anyone ever asks how much is given to charity in a specific city, don’t be cryptic.

Now of those three suggestions, I can confidently say I’ve already recommended three of them to you many, many years ago.  But each one was shot down.

So I guess I have a fourth:

4) Let the Crawl be bigger than yourselves.  I thought there were going to be mushroom clouds rising from Kansas City when I suggested there be multiple after-party locations or that we sell mugs to raise extra money or we even do the t-shirt designs locally because that wasn’t “the way we’ve done things.”  But by golly, they all kind of worked out. 

Trust your people, hear them out, and loosen the reigns a little bit.  It’s not a math equation, it’s an experience that will be different in each city.

You asked for my recommendations, so there they are.

Ok, just one more.

5) Don’t.  I know you’ll probably want to fire back at me but from a guy who worked in the CEO Communications department of a $32 billion dollar firm, don’t.  This is a PR battle that won’t get any better with bickering.  I’m just some guy who writes overly long responses on a stupid blog but you’re the face of the company.  I don’t matter enough to lose face.

 

Nor does it matter that the Dispatch story has already been shared 1,789 times on Facebook – any dissenters probably aren’t the kind who’ll be out daydrinking with you anyways.  Your true believers already think you walk on water and will be back next year and the year after that.  Those who haven’t made up their mind will have questions.  You need to focus on responding to them, not me, because the facts speak for themselves.

First Profile: Captaineer AJ

April 17, 2014 by

We would like to introduce you to the newest addition to our family: AJ!

DSC_7977

 

 

DSC_7948

Named after his grandpas, AJ came out kicking, screaming, and peeing (which is fitting because his grandpa always says “the world is your bathroom if you’re a guy”).  Like his sister, he came out pretty much bald but what hair he did have came out wavy.  And like his sister, he came out at 6lbs 14oz.

DSC_7937

To say Blair didn’t exactly take to him would be pretty accurate.  In fact, she didn’t really acknowledge him at all.  She came in the room, gave him a long stare, and that was about it.  She was more interested in the plastic tubing cup the nurse gave her.

DSC_7917

We’re all healthy.  We’re all a bit exhausted from the day.  We all laughed.  We all cried (ok, that was just me).  And we all are looking forward to you meeting his sweet little face – even if it is all scrunched up =]

DSC_7996

The Doctor Prescribed me…Sweatpants?!!

March 2, 2014 by

Ok, so the doctor didn’t really prescribe that I wear sweatpants but I’ll tell you, as much as I don’t mind the snow, I’ve found that I really do mind the cold.  For the first time, my hands have started cracking and bleeding.  It sucks.  So instead of wearing jeans and ripping up my hands every time I put my hands in my pocket, I’m going to wear sweatpants.  I thought I was impervious to the whole snow/cold package but I can’t take the cold.  I surrender.

In Columbus, we’ve had quite a bit of snow this year (apparently we average ~30” a year).  But I always had it built up in my head that when I was at Mercyhurst in Erie, PA, things were always worse.  After spending way too much time trying to prove my point by finding some kind of yearly snowfall total, the Internet failed me.  So I gave up and put together the numbers myself based on monthly totals from the National Weather Service and Erie County.  So here you have it:

  • 1998-1999: 111.1”
  • 1999-2000: 72.5”
  • 2000-2001: 149.1”
  • 2001-2002: 105”
  • 2002-2003: 143”
  • 2003-2004: 112”

That’s ridiculous.  And get this: in January of 2004, we got 59.9” of snow.  In just January.

But now that info is all easily findable on the web thanks to yours truly.  Yippee.

Side note: After re-reading my title, I suppose sweatpants is a perfectly perfect prescription for some actual medical procedures, especially those heavily performed around March Madness.

In other news, this seems like a terrible, terrible idea.  Oh sure, I want some fresh honey so let me just blow a little smoke and then OPEN UP A BEEHIVE INSIDE MY HOUSE.  Yup.  Couldn’t think of anything that could go wrong there.

A happy walk.

You know when you swing your arms this high, it’s a happy walk.

What 25lbs of Pierogies, 4lbs of Butter, and 42 Bottles of Wine Does to Your House

February 16, 2014 by

I’d say Pinot and Pierogi 2 was a success!  Hard to believe it’d been three years since the last one…But with Uncle Pete and Jeff on the imported-from-Cleveland pierogi, the Biros’ and Rileys readying the chocolate fountain, and everyone else contributing the wine and laughter, we managed to have one heck of a good time!  Our house still smells of a sweet concoction of onions and firewood.

The balcony even made for an ideal place to store the empty wine bottles =]

Image

2013 Recap: Happy to look back, Excited to look forward

January 4, 2014 by

As much as I enjoy looking forward to things, I like being narcissistic and looking back on what’s been done.  And geez, in 2013 we had so many good times with friends and family. We saw the USA beat Mexico, we saw OSU beat Michigan, we saw the Crew beat a couple of teams (but not enough!).

We went to Church and we went to Chesney, we bought a house!, we BARFed, we took pictures, we photographed a wedding, we broke a bike, we won, we hosted parties, we (seemingly (yet gladly!)) ran a B&B, we passed 10,000 views.

We had a blast.

we I started new jobs, we wrote 19 posts.  We lost our bags in Belgium.  We watched our daughter grow.

And we traveled.  A lot.

  • Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Boston x2, Chicago x2, Cleveland x2, Europe (Germany and Italy!), Lexington, Minneapolis, NYC x3, Tampa x2, Toledo x2, Salt Fork

And in 2014, we’re looking forward to carting around another wee one.

It’ll be an exciting year.  Full of more changes.  Full of unexpected changes.  Full of hope.  Full of disappointments.  Full of growth.  Full of more of all of you.  And for that we couldn’t be happier =]

To 2014.

DSC_3903 - edited

Living in the Past, Making Traditions for the Future

December 8, 2013 by

I guess the big news is…It’s a boy!  But my guess is you probably read that on some other social media venue or have talked to us about it.  Very excited to say the least though!  And hopefully with that, the name of my forefathers will live on.

Which leads us nicely to the 80’s party for Jeannie’s birthday this weekend.  Beth and I didn’t quite get our costumes coordinated…

1880s vs. 1980s.  They never really specified which century...

1880s vs. 1980s. They never really specified which century…

Speaking of old men, Blair was a little bit hesitant to sit with Santa this year.  Quite a departure from last year!

apparently she has a habit of biting her fingernails when she's nervous...

we can always look back and say this is when she started biting her fingernails out of nervousness…

Somewhere in between there we tripped up to Chicago (including a pit stop in Merrillville!) and Ann Arbor.  The first to meet up with my sister.  The second to beat up on OSU’s little sister.

And today was really fun too.  We bought a Christmas tree (the Boy Scouts we bought it from were so Boy Scout-ish, when we told them we didn’t have cash or a check, the told us to take our tree and come back with the money later.  Definitely going back there again next year!), the ladies made cookies, and then we had some fun decorating them tonight with SIL + Y (SILy?).

I have the feeling this could be the start of a new tradition =]

I have the feeling this could be the start of a new tradition =]

WAPOW!  ...a very eccentric baker...

WAPOW! …a very eccentric baker… (notice the addition of flour to her outfit from the last picture)

enjoying some decorated goodness!

enjoying some decorated goodness!

And just in time for the holiday season, the 8 secrets to beating everyone in flipcup.

Crunching

November 17, 2013 by

Save dressing Blair up like a lamb for Halloween, the whole family contracting the flu, and running a ridiculously hard 10 and change mile trail race challenge, not much has been going on.

Crunching Leaves

Well, about that Halloween thing.  Just like Blair putting the guts back into the pumpkins, Blair didn’t really grasp the whole trick or treating thing.  May have had something to do with her not wanting anything in her pumpkin (aka “punky”) container but we got to the point where we would ring a doorbell, say trick or treat, Blair trying to give the people her candy, then leave.  Made for a short night.  She does love the candy now (especially milky ways and kit kats) so maybe she’d reconsider if she had to do it all over again.

She also loves crunching through leaves, has started learning her colors, and sings along with us when we sing – so all that is pretty fun.

Crunching Numbers

The trail run you ask?  The weather wasn’t exceptionally bad – the course was fairly dry – but running 10 miles of trails is a heck of a lot different than running 10 miles on the road.   Thought at least I didn’t have to carry a bike with me this time =]

Now for your regular does of metrics.

My watch may have been a little jumpy but I recorded 2,285 feet of elevation gain.  That’s pretty ridiculous (and a quantifiably, a 4.2% grade).  Someone from last year clocked in around 1,900′ so it’s probably just more likely I was flailing my arms a lot more.  As pictures get posted, I’m sure that will prove to be the case.

Happily, I think that will conclude all races for 2013.

And I’ll leave you with a couple things…the video below (ahh, to take joy in such simple things — we could all learn a lesson about being mindful there) and that Beth and I should find out whether #2 is going to be Hank or Hankette on Thursday…stay tuned!