Get a Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor From Your Local Public Library!

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I’ve always wanted to geek out with a Kill A Watt electricity usage monitor and see how much power our household devices eat up. But I didn’t want to spend $22 on a gadget I’d only use for a week.

Thankfully, public libraries around the U.S., including our local Los Angeles Public Library, have Kill A Watts you can check out just like a book. I’ve got one right now and I’ve been running around the house checking out our gadgets. Some appliances, such as the refrigerator, that cycle on and off need to be left plugged into the Kill A Watt for at least a day or longer to get an accurate result.

I found the instructions for the Kill A Watt a bit confusing. Naturally, I looked up a YouTube video for a clearer explanation.

I’ll share my findings in a few days but leave you with this unsurprising spoiler alert: looks like LED light bulbs save power and it costs $33 a year to run a water fountain for our privileged indoor cats.

The Call to Create: Marguerite Knutzen 1925-2017

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My mom passed peacefully in her home last week. She was a loving, kind and patient mom. To her I owe my life’s calling: the joys of making, doing and teaching.

My mom taught junior high art, crafts and ceramics before I was born. She took a break to raise me and then went back to teaching as an elementary school aide.

Teaching at the junior high level is no easy task. Schools dump students with academic and home problems into the arts classes just to keep them busy. My mom’s call to be a teacher wasn’t really about how to turn a pot on a wheel.

I’ll let my mom explain. In a stack of her papers I found this note:

As a former teacher of 30 years working with junior high (now called middle school) and elementary students I was always challenged to keep the art activities of crafts, ceramics, drawing and painting “on the move.” This age student is very active and has a spontaneous ability to create and be uninhibited. That is how God created the teenager.

In later years I had the opportunity to work with adults who tend to toss creating aside by saying, “I can’t draw a straight line.” Inhibition sets in. The truth is God created us to be creative and we all have it within us. Our lives are enriched by the activities involved in creativity around us. Not just in the art of drawing but in dance, theater, writing, reading a story to a child, entertaining in our homes, gardening, workshops, singing, playing an instrument and on and on.

People are stimulated when encouraged and often find new abilities they never thought they had.

I will miss my dear mom. But it gives me great comfort to know that she touched so many lives.

We’re taking a little break

cowboy erik baby 2Apologies for the lack of posts on here lately, but as our regular readers know, Erik’s mom, Marguerite, has been ill for some time and as of this week she has moved into hospice care. As a result, we’re taking a break from posting for a little while. These are sad times but they are full of good memories and lots of love. And speaking of good memories –I’ve been sifting through the Knutzen family albums and thought you might like to see one of Erik’s–or should I say the Sheriff’s?– baby pictures.

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City Nature Challenge 2017

Fence lizard, photo by Calibas - own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2967183

Western fence lizard (photo by Calibas)

Attention Citizen Scientists!

There’s a inter-city challenge taking place over April 14-18 which asks you to go out and document as much nature as you can over those days using smart phones and the iNaturalist app.

Participating cities include: Los Angeles (County) and San Francisco (and surrounding counties) include Austin, Boston, Chicago (Cook County), Dallas/Fort Worth, Duluth/Twin Ports, Houston, Miami (Miami-Dade County), Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New York, Raleigh, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and the Washington, D.C., Metro Area. 

Which city has the best nature sleuths? Which will record the most species?

If your city isn’t on the list, tell them to get on it next year! Last year’s challenge was only between LA County and the Bay Area (LA won), so the competition is growing fast. And heck, even if your city isn’t participating this year, there’s nothing to stop you from getting together with your friends and doing an iNaturalist survey a bit of your hometown and see what you find.

Some linkages for more explanation:

What’s in the Dirt? by the Daily Breeze

City Nature Challenge via the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum website

Last year’s competition results via The California Academy of Sciences website

iNaturalist

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Saturday Tweets: Dutch Bicycles, Landscaping and a Ski Sled