1-24  The First Twenty-Four
25-48  The Second Twenty-Four
49-72  The Third Twenty-Four
73-96  The Fourth Twenty-Four
97-120  The Fifth Twenty-Four
121-144  The Sixth Twenty-Four
145-168  The Seventh Twenty-Four
169-on  The Eighth Twenty-Four

97  A Family Visit, part 2
98  Wunderkammer XI
99  Wunderkammer XII
100  Ponogram Index
101  Michigan Outlines
102  Hawaiiana 9
103  Kids of Maine - 1
104  Kids of Maine - 2
105  Clarence Sandin
106  Tech House
107  Hawksbill Hatching
108  Facial Recognition
109  Hawaiiana 10
110  Spring in Maine - 1
111  Spring in Maine - 2
112  Wunderkammer XIII
113  Wunderkammer XIV
114  Wunderkammer XV
115  JOVIAL Programming Language
116  "Big Like a Soldier Officer"
117  TV Shows That Never Were - 1
118  Gecko Rejects Moth
119  TV Shows That Never Were - 2
120  The Story of Four




In my work career I’ve had occasion to spend time in lots of varied tech environments.  In Wisconsin I worked in a paper mill that took logs in from one end and sent business paper products out the other end.  In working on software to support the Space Shuttle, I was fortunate to see some of the sites dedicated to its hardware development.  In Maui I helped test the computers and software that control telescopes and their protective domes.

These and other projects prepared me to feel comfortable in the tech world, but I was still surprised when my son JR gave me a tour through his home in Maine soon after he purchased it.  I’d like to give you a text and pictorial tour of what I saw there.

The previous owner was a house builder contractor.  He lived in an old, smallish home and designed and built a large addition to it.  One can imagine that he used downtime, excess materials, and of course the knowledge he gained over the years building other houses.  All of the usual and some unusual systems were incorporated into the building, but nothing was built on the cheap.

The systems included heating, electricity, water, security, telephone, cable and sewage.  JR added WiFi and did his best to understand all the other “systems on steroids”.


The heating system is the most complex.  There is a geothermal system consisting of one large ground bed with two parallel ground source heat pumps (GSHP).  Not sure why the contractor chose redundancy, but the Shuttle had lots of parallel systems as well.  JR was instructed to alternate systems yearly to equalize wear.

An oil boiler provides an alternate to the geothermal.  Both the geothermal and the oil sides use the same water system to distribute the resulting heat through the house via pipes in the floor, making for an enormous quantity of pumps, pipes, thermostats and other hardware.

 Geothermal heat system   Oil boiler system

The picture on the left shows the brown accumulator tank which stores warm water for the home circulation loops and the gray stack of two parallel GSHPs for transfer of heat from the ground bed and augmentation for the home loop.

The picture on the right shows the typical oil boiler.  In the rear corner is a domestic water heater that is connected to the geothermal, while to the right of the furnace is a typical electric water heater.

 Heated water distribution system   Pipes for one house zone

The left pic shows the distribution system of heated water to the seven zones of the house.  The green cylinders are separate pumps to control circulation to each zone.

The right pic shows a manifold for one zone of the house.

 Pellet burning stove   Typical pellet fuel

Now, you can’t be too safe about having heat in the Northern parts of the USA, so there is also a smallish pellet-burning stove in the great room that can be used for an efficient warm zone or if the rest fail.  The pellet stove also warms a significant area and limits the running of the other more expensive systems when everyone is in the great room.

Pics show the stove and the protective fence to keep kids and animals away from it, and the typical fuel pellets.



 Main circuit boxes   Typical multiple switches

Left pic shows two of the main circuit boxes in Tech House.  There are 80 circuits represented in these two panels.  Close examination of labels shows that a large number of these circuits supply electricity to sub-panels that are further divided.  The technology itself is unremarkable, but the sheer volume is enormous!

Right pic is just one of the multiple switch and receptacle areas in the house.  When the twins were infants, JR bought a bunch of safety plugs for receptacles.  He used them and bought another bunch, repeat, repeat!  I don’t know that anyone ever counted the switches and/or receptacles on the property, but I’d estimate a couple hundred of each!



Tech House is several miles from an urban area so the water system consists of a private well, with individual softening and distribution.  Likewise the sewage system consists of large outgoing pipes to a septic tank with drainage field.

 Water system   Sewer system, more electrical

From front to back the left pic shows the water softener, filter and storage tank.  The water pump is in the bottom of the well.  Large white pipes in this and other pics are parts of the sewage system.

Right pic shows more of the sewage system and an idea of the hyper-busy nature of electrical connectivity.


 Cable, WiFi, telephone   Security system

Left pic shows coax cable distribution, WiFi support, and landline telephone distribution.

Right pic is the security system control box.

Not shown but vital are two uninterruptible power systems (UPS) and an outdoor propane powered generator.  The UPSs provide short term power to the pellet stove and JR’s office equipment for graceful shutdown and/or cutover to generator supplied power.  The generator can run the entire household with the exception of the GSHPs.


 Tech House

To the left of this picture is the original house including a watch tower and one dormer.  The two-story, three-dormer section and the single-story mud room connecting to the two-stall garage and the garage itself are all part of the addition.

The house is on a six acre wooded lot and has several out-buildings in various stages of condition.  The pics below are two free-standing garages.  With only five garage stalls available, you can see the vehicles must be left outdoors.


 Garage with bell & traffic light   Garage with upper floor

The left two-stall garage is equipped with a large bell.  It faces the road and sports a working red, yellow, green traffic light to signal availability for party time.

The right one-stall garage is in pretty good shape and is a candidate for improvement to form an elder care facility (if such thing might ever be needed).



Tech House is my name for JR and Courtney’s super house.  They are toying with other names for the property and we’ll see what they come up with.  The previous owners had a penchant for dogs illustrated by several elements of decoration, but JR & Co objected to the name Dog House.

In the meantime it is fortunate that JR has an engineering degree, the better to maintain, or at least control Tech House.  His impressive office on the second floor has windows overlooking the yard and driveway from the road.  It seems appropriate to his position as Chief Controller.