From Netflix DVD to Letterboxd

So I was a diehard when it came to the Netflix DVDs.  I held on the bitter end, though do not appear to have been lucky enough to get the 10 extra DVD care package :-(. I had kept track of the movies I watch though rating them in the DVD system, but cracks were starting to show since you couldn’t add streaming only movies.  Of course, Netflix certainly was on longer an option once they killed the red envelops.  Luckily they made it easy to export a CSV of all of your data.

I looked at a few services.  Importing to IMDB seemed awful.  I eventually settled on Letterboxd.  Thankfully, after just a little formatting that maybe took ten minutes, I was able to import nearly all of the movies I rated in Netflix in moments.  Unfortunately, TV shows are not found on Letterboxd, but given that I was able to import almost all of the 1011 titles I had that seemed like a win.

I had relied on a wordpress plugin for displaying my goodreads books, and thought it would be nice to do the same thing with the movies I have seen on the blog too.  However, I couldn’t find any plugins within wordpress, so quickly scoured the web and found WordPress-Letterboxd-Activity on github.  It wasn’t quite as flexible, but I was able to make a few edits to the code to make it suit my needs.  It pretty much draws from an RSS feed on Letterboxd with your activity and displays it nicely (it is on the upper right of the table on this page).

Though this is when I discovered an issue.  Netflix didn’t have dates associated with movies I had had rated, so they weren’t properly showing up.  That was a lot of the movies, probably 3/5ths  of them.  I had two choices, one manually add dates, or two just mark them all with the same date to get them to show up.  Well I decided to go down the former route.  It has been a slog, but kind of fun.  As I was looking through movie release dates I was remembering where I saw movies (in the theater in the town I grew up in or the art theater in Baltimore called the Charles or on DVD at a friend’s house on New Years Eve), I was remembering who I saw the movies with and the conversations we had, or even how we used to see free pre-releases, boom mic problems at all, in the Psychology building at the University of Maryland.  I am still not done (currently through the 2024 release year), but think I will get enjoyment out of the rest (plus in all honesty, it will speed up greatly once I get to about 2014, because… reasons).

You can check out the most recent five movies I entered here.

Our Heat Pump Water Heater One Year In

When we moved in to our home in the early 2010’s we had three natural gas (methane) powered appliances, our boiler, our stove, and our water heater. We do have radiators for heating, and though we have augmented our heating with mini-splits so that our boiler acts as more of a base load allowing for adjustments to be made in individual rooms with the mini-splits, it will still be challenging to replace the boiler with an electric option at this point. I do regret not just jumping in with an induction stove when we needed to replace the very broken one the house came with, but the stove is definitely next up for replacement, especially if these this style with batteries takes off. But the water heater was recently nearing the end of its life and in October of 2021 we replaced it with a heat pump! I am very happy with this decision and will let you know why.

Well, of course, burning methane is bad for the climate.  While pipelines shouldn’t leak, the fact is that they do, and all of the methane that leaks warms the planet, 80 times more than carbon dioxide does. Besides that methane released into the atmosphere, especially ones home is being found to be more harmful to our health than previously realized.  And to top it off the expectation is that in our more turbulent, yet connected world, methane will become an increasingly expensive fuel to use.  We want to get off the gas.

One good thing is that even at the time there were programs to help offset the upfront cost of our new heat pump water heater.  In Maryland, through the Empower program, Pepco offered a $700 credit for our new, efficient, heat pump water heater.  Since then, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which will come with additional rebates that will be provided by the Maryland Energy Administration for Marylanders and there are also now federal tax incentives.  Of course, if you found this from another state, your state may have programs similar to Empower and definitely should have IRA funds coming through.  Rewiring America has a great national summary.

But the real question I was interested in addressing in this entry is, what is this change doing to my gas bill?  To start I logged into Washington Gas and downloaded all of my available bills and entered the information into a spreadsheet.  I definitely wish I had more bills available, but I was able to go back to December 2020.  From there I was able to load this data into R and take a look.  Here is what the gas usage looks like compared with average Temperature.

We can see that the average temperature between 2021 and 2022 was pretty consistent.  We also didn’t change any behavior of note in these two years (e.g., our work from home schedule was consistent, the number of household members did not change).  Of course, our heating usage stands out in the winter, but in the summer there really should be no difference between 2021 and 2022.  And there is clearly a reduction in our natural gas usage (and it is also clear that the natural gas usage in the summer is more for cooking than water heating).  Though I wanted to show this more thoroughly and ran a very simple pre/post linear regression.  Here are the results.

So, it appears that installation of our heat pump water heater did indeed have an impact on our gas bill (though certainly not as much as it not being cold).  Relying on the coefficient that means we likely would save about $240 on our gas bill because of our change, and that doesn’t even consider the positive externalities on our health (though the stove would have more of an impact than the water heater given that the water heater is hidden away in the basement).  I did start looking at our electric bill as well since there will be an increase electricity usage, but there are much more complexities given the much larger number of appliances that use electricity and that, due to the mini-splits, we cannot rely on temperature as clean of an explanatory variable for our electricity usage.  Maybe we will have to by a Sense to answer more questions.


E-deliver Digital Trash To The Source – Could There Be An App For That?

Litter is a problem of our throwaway culture and other negative societal forces. While it is obvious that litterers are partially responsible for polluting our communities and natural spaces, there are likely some natural instincts that are kicking in and overcoming them need resources, particularly in the realms of education, infrastructure, and community empowerment.

Beer bottles, soda cans, water bottles and other litter.
Beer bottles, soda cans, water bottles and other litter collected on a long dog walk.

On the other side of the equation though are the companies that create the cans, bottles, etc. that are thrown away in the first place and that fight efforts to implement policies that would be successful at reducing litter such as bottle deposits, extended producer responsibility (EPR), and single-use bans. Of course Coca-Cola, Dasani, Budweiser, etc. do not have to experience the harms to the community in terms of chemical leaching,  harm to animals, destruction of natural beauty, and even personal physical harms (e.g., from broken glass).

Imagine now if all of these materials could be easily returned to their creators.  Obviously EPR is designed to impose responsibility for the creators of waste, but the companies that don’t want to take responsibility fight such legislation tooth and nail.  Of course we could also rent a hop in a postal van like Kramer and Newman and drive those materials to Michigan (note it is illegal for you to do this, please don’t do that) or better yet return the bottles and cans directly to the companies that produce them.  Could you imagine that every Coke can got returned to Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta? If CEO James Quincy had to personally deal with the trash his company produces, they would be calling every Member of Congress asking for EPR (of course if you did drop off a bunch of Coke cans at their headquarters, they would probably have you arrested for littering).  Note that it probably is just fine to pick on Coca-Cola specifically:

Coca Cola HQ With Aluminum Can Piles
Coca Cola HQ (credit Hector Alejandro) and Aluminum Cans (credit Joe Loong)

But what if someone were to create the next best thing, an app for that. The concept is simple, instead of physically delivering the litter a picture of the litter is what is being delivered and of instead the litter being delivered to a company’s headquarters it gets directly delivered into their Twitter mentions and Instagram tags.  This, of course, is something you can do already as you can see from my twitter feed.  However, to make the barrier to entry easier the next step would be to make the connections automagically so snapping the picture uses image detection to find the brand and the social media handles for the company and then auto generates the text for your tweet and/or gram.  Another benefit of this approach is that it could allow for specific language on the ask for a campaign.

I personally would have loved to make this idea happen, but my coding skills are old, and while I know it is quite possible for this type of work to be done, how to do it might be above my skill level.  I hope this post finds its way to a coder in search of a good idea for how more effectively draw attention to the litter our planet faces.