Sunday, March 01, 2015

How hard is your water?

I've been trying to work out why there's so much calcium build up in the drain in my shower. I posted a question to Stack Exchange: How can I remove calcium from a drain? and that lead to the suggestion that I get a water softener which I already have so I questioned if it was working: How do I measure how hard my water is?

I found this YouTube video which seems to have a simple test of adding Castile soap to water samples:

It turned out that my industrious wife also had a sample of Castile soap - which I'd never heard of before.

 Using 3 sources for the water:
  • Kirkland (Costco) purified water
  • GE SmartWater filter
  • Tap water

The GE SmartWater filter and the tap water both go through our water softener.

The results:

Now according to the test in the YouTube video I would have expected the Kirkland purified drinking water to have the least concentration of minerals. However it turns out that it has the highest.

It looks like the water from the faucet isn't as soft as it should be so I now question if the water softener is working.

I've always been skeptical about how well these in-house water filters work and am pleasantly surprised that according to this test it's working extremely well.

Update #1: Just noticed that the Kirkland botteled water has "with minerals added for taste" on the label so I guess that it's intentionally not soft. When I initially read "purified drinking water" I missed that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Five Star Passenger

Uber have come up with a fantastic system to proactively use the star ratings we give to our service provider. If an Uber driver doesn’t maintain an average 4.6 star rating then they will be deactivated. As a passenger this means that you have a powerful responsibility to provide accurate feedback for your driver if you’re not going to give them 5 stars as their livelihood depends on your rating. To date I’ve given all my drivers 5 stars except for one who I gave 4 stars because he couldn’t find me or direct me to him and it took 15 minutes for us to connect.

Today I learned that customers also have a star rating and the driver assigns stars to how you were as a passenger. I have no idea what they base this on. Your conversation? There’s not that much to go on… My driver told me that when the ride popped up on his screen it showed him that I am a 5 star customer at Uber. I have arrived!

On an Alaska Airlines flight from Phoenix to Seattle today I sat between two delightful people. One is a Flight EMT for the DoD and the other is a mother of four. It occurred to me that after a flight the airline should send you the same request that Uber does which is to rate your fellow passengers on a scale of 1 to 5.

Using that information the airlines could seat all the 1 star problem passengers next to each other so that they can be miserable and unpleasant to each other together. The 5 star passengers (yes of course I’d be one of them) would then also be seated together to have polite, reserved conversation about the weather at your destination.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Arctic Star White Nectarine

This Arctic Star White Nectarine (height 67") went into the orchard on 7/Dec/2014. From the marketing blurb:

Harvest Dates: June 8 to June 25 (approximate for Hickman, CA)
Developed by Zaiger Genetics. U.S. Plant Patent No. 9332.

Earliest to ripen of the low acid, super-sweet white nectarines. Rave reviews in trial tastings. Beautiful dark red skin, snow white semi-freestone flesh.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


This is a pluot tree that I planted on 5 March 2014. It has three varieties of pluot on it:
  • Supreme
  • Queen
  • Dapple Dandy
It flowered and some fruit set. Only one of the pluots survived and it grew to the size of a ping pong ball and then one day mysteriously disappeared so I never got to try it.

A pluot is a hybrid between a plumb and an apricot. An aprium is also a hybrid between a plumb and an apricot. The difference is that a pluot has more plumb than apricot and an aprium more apricot than plumb.

Beaumont Pink Guava

This is a Beaumont Pink Guava that I planted on 5 March 2014. Since then it's flowered twice but no signs of any fruit.

I think that the reason that it's looking so healthy is that it's spent most of the summer in the shade of a lemon tree so hasn't suffered the direct harsh sunlight.

Sugar Cane Jujube

I planted this Sugar Can Jujube on 5 March 2014. At that time it was a bare root "stick" with nothing on it. It's done a remarkable job of growing branches and today (30 September 2014) has a single fruit on it.

It seems to be doing well even though it's been getting way more water than it should be because of its proximity to the grass that's getting watered.

Lamb Hass Avocado

On 26 October 2013 we planted this 15 gallon Lamb Hass Avocado.

I strategically selected a spot under the mesquite trees to provide it with morning sun and afternoon shade. This seems to have worked relatively well except that the Arizona sun still gave it a beating for a couple of months. A sunscreen would have probably been wise for those months. The leaves appeared to burn and died off. Luckily there's been new growth which seems to be keeping it healthy.

The tree flowered profusely and fruit set on it in the spring. Only one avocado survived and it grew to the size of a large grape before shrivelling and dying.

The desert cotton tails (I think it's them) appear to have nibbled at the trunk and one of the branches which isn't good.