Face on Mars

Face on MarsSo, the Mars Global Surveyor found another face on Mars. Either the Martians have a particularly well developed sense of humour, or this is a very funny coincidence of impacts, time and lighting.

On a similar note, the European Space Agency will be luanching their Mars Express in the next few days. I didn’t know this, but the ESA have opened a ground tracking station at New Norcia for the Mars Express and Rosetta missions.

House sold

So, three weeks after our house has sold, we have a ‘Sold’ sticker on the front sign. We now have about 4 weeks to pack our stuff and move out. I have my doubts that all of our stuff is going to fit in to the place we have been given at Suzanne’s parents place. I guess if it doesn’t fit, I’ll sell it on ebay.

Peter Hollingsworth has resigned. He’s getting paid $160,000 a year to not be the Governor General of Australia. I wish I wasn’t the GG. Oh, wait. I’m not.

Not quite sold

So, we sold our house once already but the buyers finance fell through. We kinda thought it was a dodgey deal though, because we suspected that the buyer was a friend of the real estate agent and was trying to get the best deal for her friend instead of working for us. When the sale fell through, which is in itself suspicious, we were left back at square one because the real estate agent had not advertised the house, and had not kept the names and numbers of any interested partys. We had no sale and no prospects, and a looming settlement date where we need to pay for the new land we bought.

But, we have a second buyer now, and it looks ok. We got what we wanted, more than the first offer. Here’s hoping that this sale does not fall through because we need to sell this damn house.

I want to do something cool with this new house. I want to move up a step on the convenience / prestige ladder. Two ideas I have are to either add home automation and networking, or to add solar power cells to the roof which will generate electricity. I don’t know the costs associated with home automation yet, but even if we were just to add the infrastructure it would add resale value to the house. You can get quite carried away with automation… eg alarms which email and SMS you wen they go off, kettles, toasters and radios which start up magically in the morning to cook you breakfast, grouping light switches via relay so that you can have complete central control of lighting… The list goes on. The cost depends on how wild we want to get.

solar

Solar cells, on the other hand, are a much more expensive proposition. Sure, they are good for the environment and all that, but the economics mean that they will take almost 20 years to pay for themselves. I can get two 150W solar cells, plus all the inverters etc which will be enough to power the fridge and a few lights installed for $5500, which is after generous manufacturers rebates. At 14c per kiloWatt Hour, it would take about 5 years to pay for itself if it were shining strongly 24 hours a day. So, I figure with degradation of quality of the solar cells and taking into account that it is no shining strongly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it might take closer to 15 years to pay for itself, after which time it will be close to the end of it’s useful life. This is very expensive.