Episode-1729- Listener Calls for 2-11-16 — 27 Comments

  1. Thanks, Jack, great answer. I first saw the info on facebook, of course, so that’s where I got the “go-completely-off-grid” idea… should of researched it further. Buying stock in Tesla, lithium and battery tech companies, asap 😀

  2. Have been wanting to join. discount sold me today!
    Otherwise was waiting for ebay payments! so even better!

  3. This is in response to Todd’s call:

    I wanted to chime in on the staying home to raise your kid vs daycare. Our son was born in Sep 2015. He will be 5 months soon. I am 35. My wife has a better paying job with upward mobility and she actually likes it. I hate my cubicle jungle accounting job so when we started crunching the daycare numbers and realized we would only be up around $600 a month with me staying at the job, my decision to leave was easy.

    That being said, I agreed to stay on at my job working a second-third shift while they trained up my replacement. This has been pretty weird because I work in an office building where everyone works the normal 9-5, I work 7pm-2/3am now. This has been extremely hard with my wife and I seeing each other for an hour a day during the week and basically handing over the baby on the way out the door. Not to mention, 8 chickens, 5 ducks, 2 dogs and 2 cats and a 1/2 acre homestead to take care of. I am in my last two weeks of work right now, so our income will take a large hit soon. Basically I need to bring in $1000 a month to keep us even. I already do about half of that with a part time Craigslist business and I will be working weekends at the local Ag store, basically for the employee discount on feed and gear and the pay check of course. I think we will be okay.

    I just wanted to tell you that it is possible, at least so far it has been. I understand your reluctance to put your child in daycare. Our decision was based more on us not wanting strangers raising our baby. I will be homeschooling our children as well.

    Jack is completely right about the time you have to give an infant. Luckily he sleeps most of the day with me, but I am up every other hour taking care of him until he goes back to sleep. I don’t think I have had more than 3 hours straight sleep since he was born. Even with a Bjorn carrier there are some things you can’t do with an infant strapped to your chest. My side business involves lifting heavy awkward objects so I have to do everything while he sleeps listening to the baby monitor. Luckily I can drop what I am doing to take care of him whenever the need arises.

    I will be going on my wife’s insurance as soon as I leave my job. Our insurance cost is going up with the baby so you need to factor that in as well. I have multiple income streams going and have already had them established while I worked in corporate America, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Make sure you have a plan and really go for it. I am starting up a micro greens operation, mostly because I most of the equipment already and we want the greens to eat at the house. When I get good at it I plan on trying to sell to local foodie restaurants. Even if that doesn’t work out, we will always have high quality greens for us to consume.

    Not sure if this helps or not, but I am in the middle of the scenario you will face soon and while it is hard, I have no regrets with the decisions we have made. Being around to raise my son is the best thing I have ever done.

    Good luck, you will need it.


    My blog

    • This may seem a bit random, but cohousing was originally started as a way to deal with the cost of childcare, and at the same time reduce living costs and increase community for all of the residents:

      May not work for you, but an interesting community model to look at and consider.

      There’s also the possibility of creating a ‘tiny community’ of your own which might be a ‘family compound’ or something as simple as an in-law unit.

      This is the only cohousing book I’ve read (I was thinking about it a while back, more books have come out since):

      I was interested in the design aspects, and I found the book to be pretty useful for that. If you do a google search there are lists of communities by area. If they have openings (they’re very in demand) you can visit the community and see if it might work for you.

  4. Hi Jack / all

    On the question how would you generate power for your home batteries I a happy to share some numbers of my hybrid solar/grid/battery system
    Disclaimer these are my personal numbers yours can be way better or worse
    Location: Sydney Australia
    We use on average 15kWh an day
    In summer our 4.75kW system generates 20 to 28 kWh
    In winter? I have no real numbers as we only installed this system 3 months ago, happy to keep sharing the numbers as they come in
    Useable battery storage is 9kWh
    So in summer we do not need to buy electricity
    Note!! This is on average you need the grid or an generator for an cloudy week
    As for what do we have in the house
    1 double door fridge
    1 bar fridge
    1 freezer
    Led lights
    Tv 30 inch flat panel
    iMac + 2 laptops
    2.5kW split system AC
    Some small stuf normal people have

    Anyway just wanted to agree and disagree with Jack, yes is no light saber or super power, that said it is possible to be LESS reliant on the grid (and if you are in Australia save long term in costs)

    This is far from all numbers and info I have, happy to share my information and experiences if people are intrested


    • My response is in relation to the typical American home and the way the typical American lives.

      Solar has a LONG way to go before it is really viable for the average person.

      Building codes are a HUGE part of the problem by the way.

    • Average person? Typical American? I thought this was the TSP comment section!


      If you’re above average or atypical, there’s quite a lot you can do to reduce your energy usage below the ‘average’. Heating is obviously easier to reduce than cooling. But there are tons of online resources if you want to tinker. Steve obviously sells lots of useful books, and then there are things like:

      Solar in particular is very area specific (how much sun, how often clouds etc.) but if you’re in a good area for it, one of my favorite panel sellers is: they sell a lot of small lot stuff they pickup at a discount.

      Yes, I totally agree with Steve that this is not the FIRST thing one does for energy preps, but working on reducing your usage IMO is. You can often reduce your kwh/therm requirements just by changing your behaviors ($0 cost). And in some cases there are also the mindset benefits (work on your stoicism). Sweaters in the house in the winter and/or localized heating (Paul Wheaton has a fun article on this). Fans in the summer or simply working early and napping somewhere in the shade when its hot (basement?).

      Obviously a big subject. Just don’t settle for ‘normal’ or ‘typical’. 😉

      I live very comfortably on FAR less energy than the ‘average’ house in my area (power company gives me comparison graphs). I like keeping the $ that saves me, rather than giving it to the energy company every month. (Another source of money to invest in your preps! 😉 )

      P.S. Average household income isn’t much compared to cost of solar. But there are lots of low cost non-PV energy projects you can indulge in very cheaply. low tech = cheap. growing a tree that keeps the sun from shining on your house during the hottest part of the day is a cheap, low-tech example.

      • Context of the question bro, will the Gen 2 Powerwall change the world, answer, nope, not yet.

    • Nope but I linked to that segment by harris and some feeds encoded it, you may have to refresh your feed on what ever service you are using. It was removed over 15 hours ago. The podcast ap on itunes is working just fine.

  5. Thanks for the straight talk on what it takes to actually start a business…the thought processes that MUST go into it before you leap.

  6. I wanted to chime in about the maple sap thing. People pay a lot of money for coconut water in plastic bottles at the store. Maple sap is basically the same thing. Good for electrolytes and trace minerals and it’s local. Why waste money on the coconut plastic water being shipped from Thailand?

    Also, to make maple sap water in reverse, just add a teaspoon of maple syrup to a glass of water. Add some salt too after a workout and you have a much more nourishing and healthy drink than Gatorade. I use that concoction whenever I have a hangover.

  7. Jack, thank you for your feedback regarding Aspergers. Hardly anyone else in or close to the family knows anything about it much less has personal experience with it, and I know my personal experiences color my perceptions and opinions quite a bit. Thankfully I was also able to ask one family member who’s fresh out of college who’s had schoolmates with Aspergers, and interestingly enough (despite a 20+ years age difference and vastly different background and upbringing) her assessment was exactly the same as yours. That says a lot IMO, and probably means we’re going in the right direction.
    (BTW, I also grew up (just) before Asperger’s was starting to be diagnosed. And despite the hell that was school and some other kids, I think I am still better off than if I were diagnosed and told how this would limit or define me. It is a mixed bag, but I still wouldn’t choose to be born any differently.)

  8. To the father with child who may have aspergers:

    Remember that it is a label, and with all labels simply a tool which people use to help them decide how best to understand and interact with someone who is different than them. As a parent you see which things fit for your specific circumstances and which don’t.

    My nephew was diagnosed with aspergers while in school, his step-dad did not believe there was such a thing and bullied his step-son. When my nephew graduated from high school his dad kicked him out of the house to sink or swim. His grandmother found out, she made sure he was found (he was wondering in the wild, half-starving, using survival skills to sort of support himself for a couple of weeks).

    This nephew is on disability, has his own set of challenges, able to drive, volunteer a few hours a day in a food bank, help his grandmother, obsessed with mafia stories.

    I’ve been told many times he gets along my my kids very well because they accept him, how he fits in with these cousins. Because several of them have aspergers tendencies. No, I did not have them tested.

    Things I have learned.

    Expect calls from teachers when, if they start public school on a regular basis. Yes the spider creeping down the hall is more interesting than whatever the teacher is saying, and they probably did hear the teacher too. Stand up for your child. One son would have never made it through public school without origami.

    Homework is nearly impossible without a quiet place and nothing else going on around them. And then only when the child learns that if he quickly completes that work he can move on to stuff that really matters to him.

    Structure and routines help.

    Telling an aspergers child to do this, this and then this chore and they may fall apart. One thing at a time. Some can work off lists, but in my nephew’s case even that is a challenge.

    They will take things very literally. If you tell a son who really wants to sell his chocolate bars for scouts right then while you are cooking supper, don’t be surprised to see him outside in the rain in his barefeet with his barefoot younger sister (about 3 or 4) and an umbrella selling chocolate. I said I can’t go with you right now, I don’t want you to go by yourself, I don’t want you or your shoes to get wet. It was a perfectly logical solution to him.

    Things they really want to do, they will find a way. Encourage and advise.

    With love and encouragement they often find their way. One daughter learned to make friends with people she called her secretaries. She would help them with math and science and they would proofread her english papers and help her keep track of stuff.

    It took her till her last 2 years of high school to learn to make her own friends. Finding her people as she calls it. From a child who would not look anyone in the eye nor talk to them unless she knew them very well, she turned into a college freshman who sits by random strangers in the cafeteria for lunch and introduces herself. Now she has lots of friends who look for her, invite her to do stuff and she realizes she is happier as an mild extrovert than extreme introvert.

    If you picture them a few years younger their social interactions make sense.

    Never assume they pick up on social cues. Things we would never do because of fear of how others perceive us never cross their mind. “I was hanging out in a tree between classes and heard a couple girls on the bench below talking about me, the ripstick kid. One girl thought I was a myth as she’d never seen me, so I dropped out of the tree and introduced myself. “ (He went every where on a ripstick as college freshman)

    Explain stuff to them, things you often don’t have to explain to others. One son was often a dog, he preferred to bark, pant, lick, etc rather than talk to people. His older sister was concerned before he started high school. It will be embarrassing for people to know he is my brother. Thus this discussion, it is ok to pretend to be a dog, it doesn’t hurt anything. But you are tall for your age and act several years younger. When people see you, they think something is wrong with you because of how you act. It would help your sister if you did not bark or have your tongue hang out at high school. Less apt to be teased or bullied. I only had to explain it once, he got it. Big sister’s friends loved to have him hang out with them.

    Now showing off your very cool animal noises in a talent show is fine.

    Even as a grown adult one son had a company he worked for tell him, you think too fast, maybe you should look into some medication which will slow that down so we can keep up with you.

    • The last sentence says it all, those of with this conditions are not the ones with a weakness.

    • Thanks for the tips and personal anecdotes. So far our son is doing fine at school, but he’s just started and I remember I didn’t have problems (for the most part) until later grades and especially junior high. With the occasional exception where a teacher would chew me out for reading ahead or doing tomorrow’s homework (so I could draw and doodle afterwards) while they were talking, most teachers left me alone and let me do my thing. But in those later grades some of the other kids were brutal and at the time I could not for the life of me understand why I was so often targeted…. I don’t want him to go through that, and I’m sure the social environment in most schools is worse now in the more than 2 decades since. His teacher describes him as a great student and other than mentioning he’s much more quiet than average and very focused on reading he hasn’t made mention of any unusual behaviors. But I suspect that will change as he gets older and the school environment gets more rigid, less forgiving, and less tolerant of different ways of thinking. So we’re trying to figure out a long-term transition plan to home-schooling full-time. As Jack hinted at, it’s hard to see what additional things a specialized school program could offer that we can’t offer at home. My goal is for him to adapt to it and have the opportunity to grow and pursue what interests him and seeing where it takes him, without being given a label and being told he has limits (in a way I feel fortunate the diagnosis wasn’t widely known when I was growing up, and didn’t find out it applied to me until well into adulthood). I’m probably biased, but I think the best way for him to find out he has Asperger’s traits is when he’s already in his 20’s pursuing something he enjoys, at which time he happens to read a description of it and goes “Oh, ok. Yeah that does explain the way I do some things”, and then continues on with his life kicking ass and taking names. 🙂

    • On a related note (mostly a cautionary note for those who have or might have a kid with Asperger’s traits)… as a young adult in college, for a brief time I was prescribed and taking Tegretol after having what was suspected to be a seizure (turned out to be a one time thing). It’s often used for preventing seizures, but I’ve later come to find out it’s sometimes used to treat certain symptoms of Asperger’s or autism. The only way I could describe it was having one’s brain in a perpetual fog; I could not concentrate or focus even remotely as well as I could, and my thinking often felt ‘fuzzy’. I couldn’t stand it. I told the doctor I couldn’t go on like that, and when he dismissed my concerns and said I NEEDED to take it (because of one blackout/seizure in 19 years… go figure) I decided to never see him again and tapered off slowly on my own. Thankfully all those effects subsided and I was able to get my focus back. So this is for anyone who might be told to put their kids on that or something similar… PLEASE make sure the severity of their symptoms warrant it before letting them be prescribed it or other similar medications. I have a suspicion that if I stayed on it like that doctor wanted, it would have driven my life down into a state of constant depression and I doubt I could have done some of the things I have done.

      Logically I know some such meds have legitimate uses in certain, more serious disorders/illnesses, but damn if it’s not hard for me to imagine what that might be sometimes. The only way I’m putting my kids on any meds like that are if it’s a matter of life or death.

      • Yea my wife was on it for years in dealing with trigeminal neuralgia she has entire blocks of time now she doesn’t recall.

  9. One thing about maple syrup: it is IMPOSSIBLE to make it without boiling. You can concentrate it as much as you as care to, if you don’t get it bubbling hot, you won’t get the characteristic maple flavor.

    That said, freezing is an excellent way to concentrate the sap before boiling. Maple sap flows best when daytime temperatures are above freezing and nighttime temperatures are below, so the conditions are good for repeatedly freezing and thawing the maple sap. The part that freezes first and thaws last is the closest to being pure water, so if you collect the liquid from a half-frozen container, it will be the more concentrated sap.

    If you have more money than time, they do sell reverse-osmosis type devices for maple sap that will allow you to squeeze out pure water. My understanding is that they can get you about halfway to the concentration you need for syrup.