Happy 2009 from Ben and Jessie!

I traditionally call my holiday letter a "newyearsletter" because I rarely have it in the mail before Christmas, and this year is no exception.  However, if you don't mind viewing it online, you have that option!  See Jessie's beautiful photo collage and read about our 2008!  Note that our street address and phone numbers have been removed from the online version.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

Conservation (is how green living) begins at home

A friend of mine was looking at this site a few days ago and commented that while the back yard is torn up, it would be an ideal time to install "geothermal" -- a ground-source heat pump.  I see where he's coming from: he's had his house for years and has probably already done all he can with insulation and so forth.  But we're not there yet... we're still at the efficiency stage.

Carbon Offsets - another view

There are a lot of competing views about whether or not carbon offsets are worthwhile, or just a distraction from the real business of reducing our carbon footprints.  The best article I've found on the subject is from Co-op America: http://www.coopamerica.org/pubs/realmoney/articles/carbonoffsets.cfm

Sleep Number beds -- half price for 5 more days

If you're reading this before December 27, and you aren't sleeping on a Select Comfort Sleep Number bed, you may want to visit this link: http://www.selectcomfort.com/specialty_beds/special_edition_bed.cfm

I found this deal while looking for the support phone number so I can get a replacement air bladder for half of our bed... my half is leaking air -- when I sleep on it.  When Jessie sleeps on it, it seems to gain air.  Which is odd, but in any case we need some help.

Attractive Nuisance

When we put a thick layer of leaves on the front yard (sheet mulch for next year's gardens), we knew there was a risk that kids might play in them.  When we got a big pile of dirt in our back yard, the neighbor kids delighted in walking up and down on it.  But it wasn't until we got a 5-foot-deep trench in the side yard for days on end (and an equivalent amount of dirt piled 2 feet high all over the back yard) that we started to have problems.

The life of the new university professor

So the first semester is quickly winding down. Graduate classes are over in just over 4 weeks and I will spend almost all of next week at a conference (with the company of Ben--I am so glad your work is flexible my love!). So I have spent much of my time grading the last two weeks and I find that I feel I am either being too hard or too soft--have not yet figured out the balance!

Electricity Consumption

Here is the electricity consumption of each of our appliances, measured by Kill A Watt unless otherwise noted.  "Typical usage" indicates how much power a device uses when we use it the way we usually do; cost per year assumes we use the device that way every day.  In reality, of course, we don't run any of these devices in any of these modes all day, every day, or even all year.  Costs are estimated based on $0.124 / kWh, which includes all our utility's fees and charges.

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We have curtains up!

When the previous owners of our house moved out, they took more stuff with them than we expected.  Our contract specified that window treatments were included in the sale, but they took all the curtains and curtain rods with them, leaving only tacky roller blinds.  They also took the face plates from many of the outlets and lightswitches, for reasons we cannot fathom.  We asked our Realtor about the curtains, and he passed the message to theirs, who passed it to them, and the word came back that they had put the curtains into storage along with the rest of their stuff while they looked for

belated birthday report

Lest I forget, here's how we celebrated my 33rd birthday...
October 26 fell on a Sunday this year.  On Saturday, Jessie put herself "at my pleasure" for yardwork.  We did a number of things we'd been meaning to do for some time, including cleaning the garage so we could put the car in, checking out the attic and getting the plants put to bed for the winter.

Yes we did!

Jessie and I watched the election results come in at our local Democratic headquarters, and we were extra glad for the national victory because we had none on the local level. We were both a little homesick for our former homes. But we couldn't be happier. I did a little volunteering for the Obama campaign and made a half dozen donations, but I'm very glad I don't have to kick myself for not doing more!

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