A resource for residents of Encino, California—find out how you can contribute.

Tattling on water-wasting neighbors

October 03, 2014

I don’t believe in tattling on neighbors, but there are now apps whereby you can protest their water wasting activities if you want. The most popular is by VizSAFE. Others include H2O Tracker and EveryDrop.LA. All are free for iOS and Android.

In other words, take a photo of a house that is wasting water, upload the photo anonymously via one of these apps to a public online forum. At the moment this is all new but it may soon start seeing results. The VizSAFE map for Encino so far only shows people grumbling about the sprinklers at Balboa Park and those use recycled water!

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Dropping basic cable for an antenna

August 26, 2014

We opted to drop basic cable and discovered hordes of other people have done the same. After all, we can get most of what we want from the internet these days. But we decided to get an antenna to watch free TV and here is what we went through.

First, we tried two interior antennas from Best Buy – the first cost $20 and the second $80. They sat by the TV but coverage was very limited and if we moved the antenna slightly we would lose one channel and pick up another. To be fair, we did not have a clear line to Mt. Wilson where the signals come from. So we sprung for a rooftop antenna instead – and our roof does have a clear line to Mt. Wilson. We bought a Clearstream antenna for $150 and a coaxial cable for an additional $40. It was magic! Now we have plenty of high quality free TV channels and we don’t miss cable at all.

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Living near freeways and smog

July 21, 2014

Scientific studies seem pretty conclusive that smog causes higher asthma rates and reduced lung function, even heart disease, bronchitis and lung cancer. Particulates are the deadliest, because they penetrate deep into the lungs and blood streams unfiltered. Some organizations regard it as carcinogenic.

In other words, living within several hundred yards of a freeway is bad for your health, especially for children. Smog = hydrocarbons + nitrogen oxides from cars and factories. Along the 101 and 405 this means a toxic soup of ground level ozone, Nitrogen dioxide, fine particulate matter and Carbon monoxide with some Peroxyacetyl nitrate (from Ethanol fuels) mixed in. The EPA has a good summary (here) and they are actively pushing cleaner air:

Under EPA rules to be phased in over three years, starting in January (2014), the largest metropolitan areas must put four monitors within about 160 feet of major roadways to measure nitrogen oxides, fine particulates and carbon monoxide (source).

Weather forecasts also now routinely include the information. As I write this, Encino is rated Moderate for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and Good for Ozone.

Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter are called “fine” particles. These particles are so small they can be detected only with an electron microscope. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes.(source)

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What fruit and veggies should not go in the refrigerator?

July 07, 2014

Tomatoes, avocados, peaches, plums, nectarines, bananas, melons… These are all fruits that continue to ripen after they are picked and they should not go in the fridge right away.

They lose their flavor – indeed many never ripen – if you do chill them right away. Let them ripen together in a bowl and, when you worry they may rot, pop them in the fridge.

I put eggplants, cucumbers and peppers in the fridge.

Now, eggs? That’s a whole debate in itself.

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Encino411 is a website for residents of Encino, California, with information on recycling, edible gardening, environmentally friendly housekeeping, tips on volunteering in the community, disaster preparedness, elder care, markets and other green products.

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