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Zcl website topics

  1. 1. Topics to Explore Topics to Explore front end alignment Next Book Solar Farm in a small space Minimum area needed to grow food Body heated space Illustrations Heating Systems Cheap and simple solar house Cheapest food ever my new heat pump -personal experience Extreme Garage sale jaunt The Theory of avoided costs New Sources - recently discovered ZCL last cuts from Book ZCL Cuts Medicaid eligiblity and ZCL Topics to Explore ZCL topics-to-explore: Here is a list of topics that the book did not, could not adequately consider due to space limitations that I intend, in the future, to expand on here: Extreme Thrift: chapter 2: Fine points of foraging and dumpster diving. especially more on legal ramifications and safety considerations. Homeless: chapter 3: More detail on safe places and methods to set up an urban camp. Homesteading: chapter 5: Detailed design ideas for hydroponic solar greenhouses using recycled materials. For example: use of recycled plastic containers for plants in arrangements that assure adequate water-nutrient flow through these containers. (A 'Mittlieder' style fill and flush system may work - rather than the continuous flow method of many hydroponic systems). More designs for 'short log cabins' incuding attached solar greenhouses and storage rooms. Detailed plans for 'body heated spaces'. (This has been added to the new edition of my book). More precise calculations for area needed to grow food for one person for one year. (This has been added to the new edition of my book). Comfortable Living: chapter 6: Framing and floor plans for a ZCL suitable house. Frame design - and design details for a tandem rider - safe small car. Society Practicing ZCL: chapter 7: Design for a universal factory.
  2. 2. front end alignment front end alignment - zero cost Here is a do-it-yourself, zero cost front end alignment paraphrased from How to Repair Your Car by Paul Brand: called a racetrack alignment or ‘stringing the car’ because during car races when the expensive alignment equipment is not available and an alignment is needed, string is used to perform the alignment. The procedure is detailed on page 154 of his book obtainable at libraries. Here I’ll summarize it: Start on a flat level surface like a garage floor. Point the steering wheel of the car straight ahead and roll the vehicle back and forth a few times to make sure the front wheels point straight ahead. Wrap fishing line once around the car at the level of the center of the tires. Pull it tight and tie it off. Pull the line away from each wheel and slip a 2 inch diameter pvc pipe up against each tire in vertical position centered on the tire. The pvc pipe must be long enough to rest on both bulges of each tire. Use a 6 inch ruler to measure the distance between the fishing line and the tire sidewall bulge of each tire at the front bulge of each rear tire and the back bulge of each front tire. The front pair of measurements should be the same. Also, the rear pair should be the same. If so, you know the vehicle is square and the front-end wheel alignment setting or toe in are the same. Now you must check the toe-in. Chalk or tape mark the exact center groove or block on the front of each front tire just below the chassis. Then with a tape measure, measure across between them. Then roll the car until the marks you made are on the back side of the front tire just below the chassis. Measure again. For most cars, the difference should be 1/16 of an inch wider on the back measurement if the alignment is correct. If not correct, you must loosen clamp bolts or jam nuts on the steering tie rod and adjust their lengths until they are correct. You must re-measure with each adjustment to assure the distance is the same from string to tire bulge for each front tire. If not, you must continue to adjust the tie rods until correct toe-in and tire-to-string distances are attained. Next Book Next Book I am outlining a new book expanding on one part of ZERO COST LIVING to be called: SOLAR FARM ON A HALF ACRE OR LESS (Or possibly 'Solar Homestead') I believe this concept, outlined in ZCL, deserved an entire book. In this new book I intend to provide more detailed plans for a farm no bigger than a suburban or even a city lot. Believe me it can be done. As described in the book, the Solar Farm is an example of a fully realized 'Personal Economy' or 'P.E.' equivalent in the economic world to the Personal Computer or 'P,C,' in the computer world.
  3. 3. Just as the P.C. took the computer out of the hands of the mainframe computers of the big corporations and put the computer into the hands of everyone, the P.E. will put the economic system into the hands of everyone, thus freeing folks from dependence on big business and corporations, whether for jobs or products. A Solar farm able to provide the residents with all of their food and energy needs could be created on less than a half acre and I will devote a part of the book to discussing just how small an area may work for a solar farm. Here is a peek at that discussion: Theoretically, with photvoltaic cells now able to operate at a (claimed) 18% efficiency maybe 1,200 square feet of solar cells could provide enough electricty for home and car and a small surplus to sell to the utility if efficent appliances are installed in the home. Also a thousand square feet of solar hydroponic greenhouse could provide enough food to eat and sell and a surplus for extra income. For example such a greenhouse might grow 10 pounds of tomatoes or lettuce per sqaure foot per year, saleable at $1 or more per pound. So 1,000 sqaure feet may yield you $10,000 per year - a decent income if yo are practicing the other techniques of extreme frugality. So a 2000 square foot lot (with your house under the photovoltaic cells and your hydroponic solar greenhouse attached to the south side) could be large enough to live on in comfort. Zoning may have building setbacks of 10 feet on the sides and back and 40 feet in front - but still a lot of 60 x 100 feet or 6,000 square feet would accomodate these requirements. And, if setbacks are less - 5 feet in some locations (and even 0 in some places) you could live on a very small parcel of land. Solar Farm in a small space Solar Farm in a small space SOLAR FARM - Minimum Land Area An interesting question, to me and possibly others considering a solar farm is, what is the smallest area possible that can support a family (in this case a family of 4 people). After thought and calculations here is my estimate. From my book, 550 square feet is needed to support one person with enough food for one year give 2 pounds of food grown per square foot and and about 1,100 pounds of food needed oper person per year (3
  4. 4. pounds per day). So 2,200 square feet of land area is needed for food. A lot of only 50 x 50 feet would be enough. Now what about a house and accessory buildings? Possibly, put the house and any accessory buildings up in the air over the garden along the north side of the lot so the house does not shade the garden. The house would necessarily have to be narrow, perhaps 12 or 14 feet wide. But wait! The roof of the house could be a garden area also if built strongly enough and designed to be walked on. (I must admit however I don't like flat roofs. I like simple gable roofs. The roof should at least be, I believe, gently sloped, so it can be walked on but still drains adequately. Maybe a 5 or 10 degree pitch or perhaps 10 to 1 pitch). If you have a bike and no car then virtually no parking space is needed. Or possibly a car could be parked under the house using a 10 x 20 or 200 square foot space. With a garden is growing on the roof of the house no space need be lost to parking. So 2,200 square feet is the minimum, right? Wait a minute! (again). What about solar greenhouses. A solar greenhouse, using hydroponic growing methods; could produce 5 times the produce of a garden, or maybe 10 pounds of food per square foot over a year. So 1,100 pounds of food per person per year times 4 people would require, for 4,400 square feet, only 440 square feet of growing area. Add some area for produce to sell to pay property taxes and other expenses - maybe another 440 square feet growing 4,400 pounds of produce worth $1 per pound (for beans or more for other crops - much more for some crops) so $4,400 would be earned by this method. Enough for most other living costs in a 'Zero Cost Living' lifestyle including seed, fertilizer, electricity (unless you have photovoltaic panels). A small simple basic car, easy to repair, getting high miles-per-gallon might almost be affordable with this greenhouse area. At a minimum such a car would require $1,500 per year for insurance, repair, legal fees, and fuel. However, possibly the car could be fueled by rooftop photovoltaic panels and (if a hybrid) fuel from biomass (biofuel) perhaps methanol produced from plant wastes. You may want to get your plant wastes off site, saving your onsite wastes as mulch and compost (if you use some organic farming methods). But won't your photovoltaic panels shade your greenhouse? And how much area would be needed for these panels? That is a question I will consider in later. It would still be much simpler to live where you can get everwhere on a bike, avoiding the costs, complexities and headaches of a car. The $1,500 (minimum) you need for the car could be used for vacations or saved for emergencies or ? In conclusion (for now), excluding area for photovoltaic panels: If the house was entirely beneath the garden, and the greenhouse covered the entire roof. possibly under 1000 square feet of area could support a family of 4 living with extreme
  5. 5. thrift. Minimum area needed to grow food Minimum area needed to grow food: How much space is needed to provide one person with food for one year? The short answer to this question is surprising. In a solar greenhouse: 110 square feet How did I come up with this area: From my book, a person needs about 3 pounds of food per day and about 1100 pounds per year. In a garden growing 2 pound sper square foot, 550 square feet of area is needed to feed one person for one year. But wait. A hydroponic solar heated green house could produce 5 times as much food per square foot or about 10 pounds per square foot per year. Therefore, 1100 pounds of produce could be grown in an area of 110 square feet or 11 x 10 feet. This is a theoretical estimate. Actual production will depend on the design, efficiency, operation, management etc. of a solar greenhouse. I will expand on this in the future. J.R.D Expansion: After further consideration I realized this is wrong. The weight of food eaten is not the key factor. The ENERGY CONTENT of the food you eat determines the food needed per year. 110 square feet would work if you grew and sold most of your 1100 pounds of food at $1 or $2 per pound - perhaps growing lettuce and then using that money to buy food with a higher energy content. If you earned $1100 or more that could be sufficient to buy all of your food for a year: using the $1100 to buy grain or beans or rice or other high energy (but low cost per pound) content food. To actually provide all of your own food yourself , growing beans I estimate you would need 670 square feet of greenhouse space - based on the energy content of beans and the solar energy conversion efficiency of beans to edible food. How do I come up with this number. I will convert calories to Btu or British thermal units because it is easier for me to use this unit of energy for all calculations. One food calorie is actually 1000 ordinary calories or one kilocalorie (the dirty secret of the food industry).
  6. 6. One Btu equals about 250 ordinary calories. One person requires about 3000 food calories per day if eating for health and moderately active. 3000 food calories equals 3,000,000 energy calories per day divided by 250 equals about 12,000 Btu per day. 12,000 Btu x 365 equals about 4.4 million Btu per year. Field grown beans convert solar energy to food at an efficiency of 0.33% or 1/3 of 1 %. In a hydroponic solar greenouse assume 5 times field grown efficiency or 1.67% Solar energy gain in the midwest is averages about 450,000 Btu per square foot per year so a 1000 square foot greenhouse realizes 450 million Btu of solar energy. One percent of this amount is 4.5 million Btu. 1.67 percent equals 7.51 million Btu. But you only need 4.4 million Btu per year so the greenhouse can be smaller than 1000 square feet - about 1/3 less or about 670 square feet. Therefore a hydroponic greenhouse of 670 square feet growing beans might provide sufficient food for one person for one year. Doing these calculations for corn, which is only 0.25% efficient or one fourth of one percent you come up with about 880 square feet. Doing these calculations for wheat which is only about 0.1% efficient or one tenth of 1 percent you come up with about 2,200 square feet. For spirulina Algae at 25% efficiency in converting solar energy to food only 88 square feet of solar greenhouse would be needed. But consider, as described at the start of this discussion a greenhouse of only 110 square feet, producing 1,100 pounds of food or 10 pounds per square foot per year - produce that could be sold for $1 per pound could yield $1,100 - enough to buy low cost high energy foods for one person for one year: 25 pound sacks of grain at 50 cents a pound for example, or dry beans for $1 per pound. 110 square feet, the size of an average bedroom. Not much space really. Body heated space Body heated space After reconsideration I have realized that the body heated space calculations and
  7. 7. estimates used in the first printing of my book are not correct. Specifically, one person could produce 1,500 Btu per hour or 36,000 Btu per day only if he contuously did strenuous exercise for 24 hours. If this were possible, his food requirements and cost would tripple over a usual 3000 calorie a day diet. Trippling your food requirements (and exercising 24 hours a a day) are not the way to zero cost living. Correct would be 500 Btu per hour and 12,000 Btu per day, the energy output of a person at rest. (Exercising in your body heated space could provide a few more thousand Btu). TO achieve a body heated space with this energy amount is still entirely possible, but not with a 120 sqaure foot space insulated to R20 (U 0.5) and a temperature difference of 30 degrees (25 f to 65 f) In my reprint of my book I will include a corrected design for a body heated shed, or room in a house - with an illustration. Basically insulation must be increased - straw bale walls would provide enough at R 40 (U 0.25) and/or some heat energy must be tapped from the ground (always at 45 f to 55 f at several feet below grade) as in the 1980's designs for "double wall thermal envelope solar houses". As my design illustration will show - a pretty neat and practical structure about the size of an average bedroom could serve as a body heated space. Connect a group of these together with shared bathroom and living room/kitchen - and you could have a moderately sized house heated entirely by the bodies of the occupants. 4 people could body heat 480 square feet. A larger shared living room and kitchen with a very modest rocket stove (as Ianto Evans describes in his book) and you are well on your way to a very inexpensive comfortable zero energy house. (Zoning codes may require 900 or 1000 square feet minimum house size so the kitchen, living, and a bath might equal about 500 square feet - a 25 x 20 foot area). Windows oriented to gain solar energy (with insulating shuttters) and thermal mass to store collected solar energy could reduce the need to use the rocket stove to the coldest days of the year. Now attach hydroponic solar heated greenhouses to this structure - for food and more heat energy and you are well on your way to a very inexpensive homestead suuitable for zero cost living. Illustrations Illustrations Here are 3 illustrations from my book and the front and back covers. Note that the top two illustrations will be in the revised first edition coming out in about
  8. 8. two weeks (Mid November 2009) - but are not in the current edition. The 5th illustration is in the current book along with 10 others. Heating Systems Heating Systems Two heating systems have come to my attention recently. SYSTEM #1: Mini split heat pumps selling for 600 to 1200 dollars. Heat pumps usually are used only in warmer climates where the temperature seldom gets below about 30 degrees F because they cannot extract much heat from colder air. However they might work in colder climates if the evaporator, usually place outside was place in a crawl space or other space protected from outside air and able to obtain some heat from the ground. Your crawl space would have to be insulated (perhaps with styrofoam over the perimeter foundation blocks on the outside and sealed against outside air (closed up - caulked and weatherstripped openings and vents). An unheated basement thermally separated from the main floor might also work - drawing heat from the basement walls and floors as the evaporator works (in effect cooling down your basement as it exracts heat for the heated main floor). Another option for evaporator placement - a large solar heated greenhouse on the south side of your house with insulating shutters closed at night - the floor of the greenhouse and solar heat stored in thermal mass in your greenhouse would serve as the heat source to the evaporator. The usual cold climate heat pump uses underground water pipes or well water as a source of ground (geothermal) heat to the heat pump. They cost $3,000 or more plus installation. A mini split system might not heat a large house or poorly insulated house except in mild weather. Smaller units provide 9,000 to 12,000 Btu per hour of heat. However some units can spit out 24,000 oto 36,000 Btu of energy per hour which would be enough for most of the heating season. However (again) these larger units may overburden the capacity of the crawl space floor to 'wick up' heat from the ground. I just don't know. This idea - of a crawl space installed evaporator is an idea only (which I am trying in my own home) that might not work. But in theory it should. A study of the concept was done by a national laboratory (I don't know which one off the top of my head -Argonne I think) and a google search typing in 'crawl space heat pump' should turn it up. The study as I recall concluded that heat was being extracted from the crawl space walls and floor by the crawl space installed heat pump
  9. 9. SYSTEM #2: Rocket stoves - here I mean rocket stoves of more high tech design than the stoves of Ianto Evans, and the Cob Cottage Company. Richard Hill of the University of Maine developed these in the late 1970s and a few were built and sold by a company called Jetstream and some immitators Look online for details. The Hill stove used a blower to provide air to the combustion chamber and a 'water jacket' around the upper half of the wood fuel supply chamber to keep the upper half of the wood from combusting, and thus control the speed of combustion going on in the lower half of the chamber - thus providing an even amount of fuel flow and heat - in effect a carburetor for a wood burning stove. This stove works at high efficiency with almost no pollution or creosote build up - but is high tech and therefore could be expensive and difficult to build (unlike the Evans rocket stove). Cheap and simple solar house Cheap and simple solar house: One method to create a cheap and simple solar house suitable for living Zero Cost, as described in detail in my new book to come out in 2010 is to build (essentially) two- 2 car garages next to each other - with modifications to make the resulting structure energy efficient to the point that the heating bill would be ZERO. Modify the house to incorporate a hydroponic solar greenhouse for food production to eat and/or sell. Two hundred square feet of greenhouse might provide 2,000 pounds of produce (at 10 pounds per square foot) worth $2,000 to $4,000 dollars or more per year. Your food requirements, property taxes (if you build in the right, low tax location and build a practical no frills house), and some other costs could be met by the income from the greenhouse. As described in my book and elsewhere in this web site, it is possible for one person to eat well for a few hundred dollars a year. Additional improvements to the house could reduce or eliminate other expenses such as the pesky and numerous 'miscellaneous costs' (as I call them) such as furniture, clothing, media, household, kitchen, bath, yard, and recreation costs. So you may be able to approach Zero Cost Living by building your house in a suitable location and in the proper way. You will still have some expenses and so may require a business, job (god forbid), investments, etc. But they can be modest.
  10. 10. Cheapest food ever Cheapest food ever Recently I have discovered what may be the cheapest food ever. CORN. I suspect the Native Americans, Hispanics, and the poor of the southern United States have know this for a long time. Eating primarily corn bought by the bushel, I estimate you may be able to eat for about $44 a year. Corn bought by the bushel could be home processed into an array of products by preparing and grinding it to make various products including corn bread, hominy, porridge, jonnycake,tortillas,pancakes, fritters, hush puppies,muffins,biscuits,cornsticks, etc. etc. etc. Corm meal and 'masa harina' (used to make tortillas) can be made from field corn, rather than Sweet corn. All of these products can be made using field corn - avoiding too much sugar in the diet - corn can have a high 'glycemic index' or 'glycemic load' if too sweet. A 50 pound bushel of field corn can be bought for about $4 if bought direct from the farmer as of December 2009. Isn't field corn intended for animal food. Indeed it is and very good food for animals it is. And, in can be good for humans too - after processing for human consumption - processes such as 'nixtamalization' where the corn is soaked in lime or culinary ash to soften it. 11 bushels of corn costing only $44 will feed one person for a year based on the energy content of corn. As I determined in my book and on this web site (in the previous article) a person needs about 4.4 million Btu of energy per year. one bushel of field corn contains about 450,000 Btu so 11 bushels contains 4.5 million Btu of energy. The book 'The Cornbread Gospels' by Crescent Dragonwagon' goes into details on corn preparation. Of course, eating primarily corn would not be healthy. Best would be to eat it with beans and various whole grains and whole grain (brown) rice. Rice has this problem: it can be hight glycemic and so promote diabetes. Whole grains may have this problem: many folks, perhaps as much as 30 peercent of the population may be gluten sensitive. Therefore, I believe it is better to stick to beans and corn as the core of a minimal cost healthy diet. This was the core diet of the Native Americans. CORN, BEANS,GRAINS, RICE - these are the high energy content plant foods that sustain the poor people of the world. All other are not high in energy content and are important and vital for health but you would starve if your diet consisted primarily of these foods - without one of the '4 sisters'. Nuts, salads, tomatoes, berries, fruits, etc. are not practical as a core basic food for us poor folks (or really cheap when you calculate their energy content vs. cost).
  11. 11. (The potato to a lesser extent may serve as a 5th sister - as I am reminded by Van Gogh's painting of 'the potato eaters). -These other foods are great, healthy and valuable to suppliment your diet - especially when you can get them in season cheap or free if you forage (such as for wild apples for example in my region). But the 'four sisters' above are the queens of the human diet. Meat? It is for the wealthy and foolish. It will make you sick over time if you eat much of it - heart disease from fat and cholesteral. Wild meat is healthier and leaner and much better for you. Even 'free range' fed cattle are better with good amounts of omega 3 fatty acid - not found in feedlot fed cattle. Meat is expensive when energy content vs. cost is calculated. If you can get it 'free' by hunting (with efficiency - not by spending vast amoints of $ and time at it) it may be worth it. One final concern about corn. It contains primarily omega 6 fatty acids and to get the omega 3 you need, (in equal amounts to omega 6) you need to eat flaxseed or fish oil which are rich in omega 3. I mix ground flaxseed into many of the foods I eat. my new heat pump -personal experience my new heat pump -personal experience I installed a split mini heat pump a month ago (October 2009) putting the 'outside' unit in my crawl space where it can pick up heat from the ground through the crawl space floor. It is a 12,000 - Btu per hour unit theoretically able to provide 288,000 Btu of energy per day - enough to heat my house in all but the coldest weather. The heat pump can provide 3.5 times as much energy as it uses. so for 3,400 Btu of electricity (1 kWh) I get 12,000 Btu or 8,600 'free' Btu of energy per hour. It cost $700 to purchase on the web and I spent $90 for 3/4 hour of work by a pro to test and release the r410A fluid. It is a little noisier than I like but still not annoying and I am insulating the crawl space ceiling to reduce compressor noise from the crawl space. If I did it again I might buy a unit with a 'rotary' compressor which would cost a little more but be quieter. I can hear the piston type compressor a little as it runs. Also I need to build a plenum in the hall ceiling to suck cold air from the floor level of my house (through the space between my studs and drywall) up to the air intake at the top of the 'inside' unit of the heat pump. Now the heat output comes from below the unit, not far from where the air input is on the top of the unit. Consequently the machines turns on for a few minutes, then off again for a couple minutes, then on - all day. These changes should let the system run longer on and stay off longer - not 'cycling' so often. So far I am getting plenty of heat in Late November from this unit - drawing on 55 degree crawl sapce air rather than cold 30 degree at night outside air which would make the system operate with less efficiency. I have learned that conventional heat pump systems for cold climates using water pumps
  12. 12. and pipes in the ground can cost around $20,000 - so the saving for the split mini air-to air system $790 total (with me doing all the work but the final vacuum pumping, testing and fluid release) is huge! More on this later. Update. March 2010: Having used the heat pump through one winter I can say it worked well, saving me money, time, effort and energy. I burned only 26 bushels of corn, using the corn stove for 3 weeks in January and 3 weeks in February - and the heat pump for the rest of the season. Last year burning corn only I used 86 bushels of corn. (My first year of burning corn I used 110 bushels but with better window and attic door insulation and weatherstripping I have been able to cut corn use). I miss a little (but not much) the exercise of moving and sifting so many bushels. I don't miss all the cleaning sessions required - three per season - to keep the corn stove operating. (I still must do one cleaning per season.) I used the corn stove only when the outside temperature was very cold and I thought the heat pump might not keep up with the heating demands and heat loss of the house. Every day that I use the heat pump I use more electricity that the corn stove requires, BUT NO CORN so I realize a savings per day of about $1 - and none of the work the corn stove requires. Here are the numbers: Average corn use: 2/3 bushel a day or 2/3 x $4 = $2.67 Electric used by corn stove about 12 kWh per day. Heat Pump electricty use: about 26 kWh per day or 14 more than the corn stove x 12 cents per kWh = $1.68 a savings of 99 cents per day. Over an entire heating season the heat pump will save the the cost (and trouble) of buying and handling 60 bushels of corn costing $4 x 60 = $240. The heat pump - running less as on warmer days will use about $140 more electricity (1,200 Kwh) than the corn stove requires. Savings = $100 per year. Adding homemade solar energy systems could cut or eliminate heat pump or corn stove use on sunny days. 300 or 400 square feet of solar collectors with heat storage might cut corn stove/ heat pump use in half. I expect to build this system using soup cans (painted black), black TV dinner trays, scrap lumber, a few small fans (bought new) such as bathroom ventialtion fans costing $15 each, scraps of vinyl siding, recycled window glass, and possibly 4 or 6 mill clear plastic costing a few cents per square foot. So I getting closer and closer to zero cost heating. I have considered a metal box type wood burning stove on my main floor, and even begin building a rocket stove in my crawl space. There are plenty of sources of free wood around, dead ash and elms, pallets, etc. However I am worried about the of the fire safety of wood burning systems, especially where the flue pipes pass through ceilings, walls or roofs. Heat pump and corn stoves seem to me to be very safe. (A corn stove burns at a very low temperature compared to a wood stove - 600 vs. 1500 degrees. The flue pipe of
  13. 13. a corn stove just is't all that hot by the time the smoke passes through the heat exchanger - in fact there is usually very little smoke). Then there is the issue of frequent attention required to keep the wood burner going, cutting wood, carrying wood, etc. The corn stove may run for a week almost without attention except to remove the clinker every 12 hours (a 2 minute job) and add 1 and 1/3 bushels of corn every other day. A masonry fireplace heating system with heat absorbing thermal mass might be ideal for true zero cost heat, requiring only one hot burn for an hour or two a day to stores heat for 24 hours. But this type of system can cost at least $10,000 and requires a skilled mason which I am not. The thick mass of fireplace and chimney would - I think assure the safety of the system. A rocket stove may be thought of as a kind of poor mans' masonry fireplace. The homemade system I have begun in my crawl space is an experiment only and I worry I will burn down my house with it so I may never complete it. If i do I will report on it on this web site.