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Messages - ergophobe

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Fiberglass composite... not great, but not terrible

The probability that a house of a given roof type and with brush clearance will be burned can be estimated from records compiled by the Los Angeles City Fire Department for the 1961 Bel Air Fire, in southern California. These records cover a sampling of 1,850 homes. For the probabilities shown it is assumed that houses are exposed to the rate of wildfire destruction observed in the Bel Air Fire. Values have been interpolated to match the brush clearance categories of insurance industry (Howard and others 1973):

  Brush                  Roof type
clearance     Approved by        Unapproved by
(ft):      insurance industry  insurance industry

  0 to  30      0.243                0.495
 30 to  60       .054                 .286
 60 to 100       .016                 .144
100+             .007                 .148
The most cost-effective means of protecting homes from destruction by fire in or near the wildlands is a combination of approved fire-resistive roofing and clearance of 100 feet or more from the native brush for each home

100 feet is required by CA law. That's thinned though. It is supposed to cleared of brush at least 30 feet out.

I saw a chart once that showed survival rate for different roof types. Basically, at 15' every house is screwed. At 60 feet, the survival is very high for tile or metal roofs and still attrocious for shake roofs... which are illegal... but still common

Doubt he would hitch his wagon to that woman.

Meanwhile, she would be nuts to take Yang as VP. Yang speaks his mind, which is a terrible quality in a VP. Imagine President Pence and VP Trump. That's sort of how I imagine Warren/Yang (though Yang has more self-control than Trump, he says what's on his mind)

Water Cooler / Re: For the lolz.
« on: Today at 04:43:28 PM »
I remember a list of rules for women on Usenet before the WWW. One of them was:

"There are four piles:
 - looks clean, smells clean
 - looks clean, smells dirty
 - looks dirty, smells clean
 - looks dirty, smells dirty

Do not mix up these piles unless you plan to do the laundry."

Yes, but Amazon had only about 2 years of big losses

And some of the lower profits in recent years have, essentially, been tax dodges. Uber is different. They are burning through an underpaid labor force and they can't afford to give them raises. I think they were betting on self-driving cars coming online earlier and saving them. And Blue Apron? I mean seriously?

Caspar and Peloton I could see scaling. WeWork could have worked as a real estate play, much like a modern ski area is mostly about real estate plays, not about making money off actual skiing.

Many years ago I saw a news item about a spray foam that would protect a Cal house from wildfires.  It worked like the blanket.  It was supposed to revolutionize home defense.  Never heard of it again.

It still exists, but suffers from an even more acute version of the problem RC points to. Our clueless neighbors who are second-home owners, asked one of the full-timers during our evac to swing by the house and put the pails of said product on the driveway so the firefighters could apply it to their house. Meanwhile, they had not even done basic prep and had trees touching the house on three sides and backed up to a dense, overgrown forest. Their house would have been in the last 20% they would have tried to save. Like I say, utter cluelessness and cognitive dissonance.


Well, that's the thing... I was pondering a system where it would be on rolls/racks like carpet racks and you could pull a few ropes on your way out like drawing the curtains. Upon reflection, it seemed completely absurd.

But it does work super well for protecting a small handful of very important structures that can't be defended in other ways. Our well head, for example, is deep into the forest where it is way, way too dangerous to leave a crew, but it has a nice 100 feet of clearance. That's the perfect situation for the blanket. Firefighters, if they have enough lead time, can get there, wrap it, clear a bit of brush and get out in a couple of hours and then be safe as the fire sweeps by. We had some damage to the subsurface drip system, which does not go as deep and is not as robust as the leech lines, but can handle more and lets the leech field rest. But the buildings even in the hot zone were unscathed due to this wrap.

Water Cooler / Re: Fire blankets can protect buildings from wildfires
« on: October 15, 2019, 11:10:50 PM »
They have been using these for quite a while to protect infrastructure that can't be defended directly. During the Rough Fire in Kings Canyon, they wrapped a bunch of buildings before they evacced. Same last year with out sewer plant and well head.

I looked into what it would entail to get one for the house. It's neither cheap nor light and there's the question of how you would actually deploy it quickly.

Plus, there's another issue. The worst case in a wildfire is not that your house burns down, it's that all your friends' and neighbors' houses, your water supply system, sewage treatment system, power and phone lines all burn down and your house DOES NOT.

That was actually our biggest worry last year - to lose everything *except* the house and be stuck with no insurance settlement and a house that has no water, power, sewer or phone. So in the end, I decided the better thing to do is to work to harden the general area and just take reasonable precautions on your own house.

Maybe if I had 50 acres, no neighbors and was off the grid anyway, I would go for a fire blanket.

Water Cooler / Re: The Cities Where Emissions Are Dropping
« on: October 15, 2019, 08:04:18 AM »
The rise was most dramatic in Asia, where China’s emissions rose by 2.5 percent and India’s by 2.5 percent. The U.S.’s rose by 1.2 percent, while Europe’s continues to fall.

This is a fairly ridiculous statistic. The important number is not total emissions, but per capita emissions. Of course per capita emissions in India and China are going to rise before they fall.

If you look at per capita emissions, though...

United States: 16.5 metric tons per year
China: 7.5 kt/yr
India: 1.7 kt/yr

So an American uses 2.2x what a Chinese uses and 9.7x what an Indian uses. This number is merely "Carbon dioxide emissions are those stemming from the burning of fossil fuels and the manufacture of cement. They include carbon dioxide produced during consumption of solid, liquid, and gas fuels and gas flaring."

It does not include CO2 and methane emissions from animal husbandry. Since Americans eat way, way more beef than Chinese or Indians, you have to add that in too.

Obviously, we need everybody to cut their carbon emissions, but to focus on increases in China and India when their per capita carbon footprint is so much lower than ours seems like a rather unfair way to look at it.

If I had a kid away at college who was spending $16,500/year on stupid stuff, but had managed to only raise his spending by 1.2% and my other two kids were spending $7,500 and $1,700 and raised their spending by 2.5%, I wouldn't be slapping the first kid on the back and saying good job.

There was a stat in the article that in the 80s 50% of the chicken sold was whole chickens and today that is down to about 15% so Costco was having trouble getting enough whole chickens.

That struck me too. More and more consumers probably don't even know what a chicken looks like. That's why a guy near here started a "pizza farm." He was talking to some kids and found out they didn't know which parts of a pizza came from animals and which came from plants. So he started a farm with wheat, dairy cows, hogs, tomatoes, etc and tours kids around and then feeds them pepperoni pizza.

Water Cooler / Re: PG&E shutdowns....
« on: October 15, 2019, 04:16:44 AM »
There are two variables that jump to mind.

1. Do people have the means. I feel like there is more and more conversation about getting out among people who can afford to get out.

2. Distortions in the market. As long as insurance is underpriced relative to risk in flood and fire zones, people will continue to rebuild. The situation with fire insurance is not completely insane like it is with flood/hurricane insurance. There's no subsidy YET. But as insurance companies start pricing in the current level of risk and policies get canceled, that is going to push lower income people out of the market.

The retired couple up the street got canceled by State Farm with a policy that was under $2000/year and had to replace it with a policy that is $7900/year (and this is for $500K home value). Bob told me they are planning to get the house ready and put it on the market.

So on the one hand, people with means can afford to move. On the other hand, people of means can afford to stay.

I think we'll also see more and more people go uninsured because they don't have $7000 or $8000 per year to insure their home. So when their homes burn down, there will be no more funds to replace them.

Eventually, I think people will get real about what it means to live in these areas. I heard an interview last year with a wildfire expert who pointed out that it was not all that long ago that entire cities would burn to the ground: Chicago, 1871; San Fran in 1851 and again in 1906; London 1666. It's estimated 90% of homes burned in the SF fire of 1906 following the earthquake.

What changed were building codes more than anything. More fire resistant buildings and landscapes explain why cities do not burn to the ground anymore.

So he was saying that if people want to live in the forest, they're going to have to get real about the risks and about how to mitigate those risks and that is going to take some serious code updates. A few years ago, PG&E provided us with FREE money to cut any tree that would impinge on a PG&E easement. We have a neighbor with a second home who lives in a large city. He said "All I ahve around me at home is concrete. I built this house here for the trees. I would rather see the neighborhood burn down than cut those trees" (which were in violation of CA fire code, but there are no teeth to back up that code).

When people find they can't get insurance, we'll either see some code reform or emigration. Being Americans and being poor at forethought, it might take many people without insurance losing their homes before that happens though.

The resistance to hardening one's house against fire is still stunning

Water Cooler / Re: PG&E shutdowns....
« on: October 14, 2019, 03:29:23 AM »
Basically, we are moving to a society in California where those who can afford it install backup power (generators, batteries), whole house water purifiers and, for the very wealthy, hire their own firefighters and security. And those who can't afford it, are stuck with what they can afford, now that the wealthy bit by bit opt out of the public system.

Personally, I'm not wealthy enough to hire my own firefighters and polices, but we have been giving a lot of thought to the backup power. Of course, it has gotten harder to do - wait times are long for a lot of the equipment. The Powerwall is a joke - one electrician told me his customer paid the deposit two years ago and is still waiting for delivery. Now it's probably even longer.

The scale of our food system always blows me away. 100 million chickens per year to supply a single chain of stores. It's hard to wrap your mind around sometimes.

Water Cooler / Re: Inundation.
« on: October 14, 2019, 02:59:15 AM »
ha ha... you're on a roll

This can lead to massive social instability and unrest in society.

I've been listening to some episodes of Nick Hanauer's Pitchfork Economics. Hanauer became a billionaire, which he thought was pretty great, but then started looking around and worry that if things continued the way they were going, people were going to start coming after the Nick Hanauers of the world with pitchforks, thus the name of the podcast.

He's no socialist - his vision of the world is one in which he would have three billion dollars instead of seven billion because, you know, if you tighten your belt, you can live pretty well on three billion dollars.

But he's quite worried about the instability and unrest problem. Some interesting stuff that has changed my mind on a number of issues.

And at the behest of a friend, listening in alteration to the Schiff Report, which basically believes government = oppression and taxes = theft.

Interesting combo for a weekly headspin.

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