Special to the Forks Forum
The Stupidest Person on Earth, Can …
For those of you who have followed my sojourn from Brazil to a rundown farmhouse in Maryland, thank you for your audience. For that rare reader that wants to see a missed installment, or stranger still, the ENTIRE story, visit www.chiggersstokes.com/Chiggers__Writing.html
I asked Christi Baron for the privilege of writing 12 articles of how I struggled to a degree of independence from public utilities. I promised Christi, that after this preamble, I would begin imparting advice on the How To … of energy and water systems.
For 40 years, I have been on a trail of tears that makes me somewhat of an authority on what can go wrong. I want to impart this sage wisdom and go on bragging about how I have tamed water and sunshine to light my house and compose these words.
But before I close the chapter on my East Coast attempts at modern pioneering, I want to impress upon you that ANYONE can achieve a level of independence if they have to or if they keep trying.
Let me illustrate my point. Imagine that you are the stupidest person on earth. Your idea of using old whiskey barrels for a cistern hasn’t been all you had hoped. A nasty, smelly black algae has taken over the system in summer.
The smell coming of out of that possessed plumbing physically knocks down a couple of your guests, but you persist with the idea that you can kill algae with chlorine. Eventually, due to the system freezing over, a truce is reached in the chemical warfare between yourself and this demonic algal life form. You are the dumbest person on earth, so it never entered your mind that freezing weather would interfere with outdoor plumbing!
A light goes off in your dumb head that you will have to establish a reservoir/cistern system indoors like the pressure tanks in most homes. You head off to a junkyard in hopes of finding some suitable containers and somehow not aware that human civilization has been containerizing water for quite some time. Someone has told you that plastic doesn’t remember hazardous chemical stored therein.
When you ask the junkyard boss about plastic lined containers, you’re told that the only such containers held highly egregious chemicals. Being the dumbest person in the world, you say, “Let’s see ’em.” The barrels are on the other side of the dump, inside another locked yard with placards of many color and every international symbol of hazard including a skull and crossbones!
The junk boss points to a pile of empty 20-gallon barrels. You immediately fall in love with them. “May I ask what you intend to use these barrels for?” asks the junk man. He laughs when you say, “Home water system.”
You’re so dumb you ignore your bride who reads the Hazmat warning on the drums. “I swear to you, if you hook those drums into our plumbing, not only will I not drink of it, it will touch no part of my body.” You take this statement as negotiable and proceed to search for a place in the attic to receive the new cistern.
Now you’re not the dumbest person on earth. But that is me installing the barrels over the pantry between the kitchen and bathroom. That’s my bride, removing her toothbrush and every other shred of toiletry from the bathroom.
It’s me on the ladder filling four toxic waste barrels with 80 gallons of spring water. In the next few seconds catastrophe would intervene to save me and my household from myself.
Please join me, the next time Christi Baron chooses to fill white space with my writing.
I have promised Christi, and, now you my readers, to offer a practical nugget, along with the telling of these horror stories. I leave you with zero point four three.
0.43 multiplied by the height of a column of water expressed in feet yields pressure expressed as PSI or pounds per square inch. If I tell you that my whiskey barrel system was 10 feet above my spigot, then you know that the PSI at the tap with the valve closed is no more than 4.3 PSI and considerably less with the valve open. Low pressure is a one of many downsides of a roof collecting, low-gravity cistern.