Saturday, July 18, 2009

Migraine - The Result of Rainbow-Induced Sensory Overload?

The San Diego County Young Democrats marched in the San Diego Pride parade today with the Gavin Newsom campaign. It was a sizzlin' hot day, and for a girl who doesn't like to be east of the 5 on summer weekends, this was quite a feat. We were outside walking around for about five hours, and despite my attempts to hydrate with lots of water and consume lean proteins in regular intervals, I still managed to end up with a migraine. So I spent the afternoon in my steamy hot apartment, in bed, being unimpressed with my situation. Oh, and in the middle of my migraine stupor, I somehow managed to go into my fridge, pull out an egg and smash it on myself - all down my legs, on my stomach, on my arms, everywhere. This is what happens when your brain is fried, your vision is compromised and it is wicked hot outside. I have no other explanation, but I do still have a lingering stinky egg smell.

Anyway, here are some photos from the parade. I think everyone had an awesome day. After Californians' equality taking a pretty hard hit this year, it was really great to see the entire community out rallying!

Oh, and for those of you wondering about the phrase most often uttered by parade-goers as Gavin walked by? "He is HOT!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fourth of July

I am committing blog plagiarism and simply referring you to my cousin Cassandra's "Fourth of July" post for a re-cap of Independence Day festivities in Washington state. All I can say is that there is pretty self-depricating video of dancing and sparklers.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Underground House

I recently returned from a fabulous vacation to the Pacific Northwest with my bff, Meghan. We had a ton of adventures, which I will definitely include in upcoming blog entries. However, my first vacation-related entry will focus on an amazing earth-friendly home that I saw in Woodland, Washington. (As those of you who read the Haylapa post know, I am totally jazzed about alternative building.)

My cousin, James, is helping his friends Sterling and Crystal construct an earth-friendly, underground home. When James initially began telling me about the underground home, I pictured the dirt home Pa dug into the side of a hill in the Little House on the Prairie books. This image somewhat concerned me - why would James' friends want to live like moles? I understand that it gets rainy and dreary in Washington state, so why compound the issue by living in a dirt cave?! James must have sensed my confusion because he kindly offered to take me out to the home for a tour. James, along with his wife, Cassandra, and their daughter Madison, climbed into the glamorous Subaru that Meghan and I had rented for our trip and we all headed off to the underground house.

This photo demonstrates what the house looks like from the main road. As you can see , the house itself is barely visible. Eventually, the roof will be covered with soil and native seeds (probably grasses and clover) will be planted. This is called a living roof or a green roof. The goal of the living roof is to manage storm water run-off, reduce energy costs, improve air quality and have the home blend into the landscape.

The front of the home does not face the street, but instead looks out over the pastures. The entire front portion the home will be glass (either windows or French doors), which allows an incredible amount of light to enter the home. The house has been positioned so that it receives optimum sunlight during the darker winter months. The patio roof provides shade which prevents the home from getting too warm during hot summer months.

This is a shot of the interior of the home. You may notice that the walls look like a bunch of white blocks. These blocks are called Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF) and are Styrofoam blocks that have been stacked and filled with concrete. As you can imagine, this provides a solid framework in addition to stellar insulation against both heat and cold.

The floors have underfloor heating -a system of coiled water pipes in the floor. The pipes will carry hot water and will warm the floors (and thus the home, as we all know that heat rises) in the colder months. This is an extremely energy efficient way to heat a home. (My Uncle David installed a similar system in his garage in Connecticut so that he stay warm whenever my Aunt Divinna kicks him out of the house. Hehehe. Just kidding, Uncle Dave. We know you want to stay warm while working on the El Camino.)

There are other aspects to the home which are earth-friendly, such as the plan to install solar panels over the garage and the gravity water system which allows water to flow from the well above the house to the home without the use of electricity. If you haven't already guessed, I am very jealous of Sterling and Crystal's innovative and beautiful home. It has certainly inspired me to be more conscious of the plethora of green building options and I hope that it inspires you as well!

P.S. I am sure that I have neglected to mention numerous components of this underground home, and it is entirely possible that I have mis-quoted bits of information. If this is the case, I hope that James or Cassandra will correct me in the "comments" section!!