hot shower, hot laptop

hot shower


  1.  I have copious amounts of water here, and
  2. the weekenders left

I decided to take a hot shower.   I put a couple gallons in the solar shower bag and left in the sun for a few hours.  The water was actually a little too hot for comfort, but there was a brisk breeze that was a bit chilly.

The actual shower took about 3/4gal;  after I finished the formal showering I just stood there and let the rest run over me.  Small pleasures!

hot laptop

My daily driver laptop is a previous-generation refurb Chromebook, which I use because its power consumption is laughably low at 16w.  But I also have a real laptop (debian linux) for heavy lifting, compiling, media editing and playing Minecraft.  It’s an old business-class Dell Latitude which apparently cost $4,000 when new.  I bought it off eBay for $120 shipped, IIRC, and doubled RAM to 16BG.  Also slipped in a half-gig SSD drive a couple year ago.

It’s a beast, but tends to overheat and shut down when used hard at ambient temps above 77F.  I did some reading and it appears the thermal paste between the CPU and cooling gear was substandard and/or poorly applied.  Since it’s not my main PC I basically just avoided the issue, but I did order some well-reviewed thermal paste off Amazon.

Today I finally pulled the cover off, removed the old paste and applied the new.  I stress-tested with Minecraft at 78F and it didn’t get squirrelly, so hopefully it’s fixed.   I have some CBSRMT tapes I want to digitize and edit, which will push the CPU around a bit.  We’ll see.

more about the water pump

Yesterday afternoon I was thinking about the best way to get, transport, and dispsense water from the pump.  Spigot bucket!

I took the bucket over and rinsed it out.  I paid a bit more attention to the process this time.  The dead-lift resistance on the piston is maybe 40# and this stroke is about 12″.   Luckily the big nail/spike inserted though the lift bar is at bicep curl level – not easy, but at least at a convenient height.  A little handle leverage would be welcome. 🙂  The top of the existing structure (minus handle) comes up to my eye level, so probably 5′ 8″.

The spike is easier to see in this pic.  It’s pretty rough on the hands, even with gloves on.  I tried to make pool noodle pads, but it just ripped through. Continue reading “more about the water pump”

rainwater/freshwater bucket upgrade

Today’s goal:  add spigot to bucket

  1. find where I stored the spigots – half day
  2. drill 1″ hole – 5 mins
  3. install spigot – 60 seconds



I’d picked up the spigots off Amazon last month.  They are typically used for bottling homebrew – the [primary] fermented beer is racked into the priming bucket, priming sugars are added (whether reserved wort, dextrose, sucrose, etc), mixed gently, and bottles filled/capped.  In this case it will be used for rain- and freshwater handling.

By the time the spigots arrived I’d decided against installing them right away.    Probably because I was using the 5gal soft water bladder.   So I stored them (ie, hid them from myself).

So I ended up in an impromptu half-van organization today.  During the search/organization I was moving a gallon of distilled water and dropped the container;  it got a hairline crack.  Dangit!   It’s the water I use for my flooded lead-acid battery bank, so first off I topped off the battery waterer.  Then I topped off the windshield sprayer reservoir, and dumped the remainder into my fresh tank.  Normally I wouldn’t drink distilled but I figure diluted in 9gal of fresh should be no harm, no foul.

in praise of the spigot

There are a few ways the spigot makes the bucket more useful for water handling

  • rainwater adulterated with mud:  allows water flow to be controlled into filtering container
  • rainwater:  allows water to flow directly through tube into fresh tank
  • freshwater:  separates the water-collection container from the water-tank-filling container.   Previously the 5gal bladder took longer to drain into the tank than it took to fill itself.  Now the bladder’s cap can be removed and water dumped into the bucket.  The bucket can fill the fresh tank while I am sourcing more fresh water with the bladder.

rainwater catchment v3, Tangles, solar yield in the rain

Rainwater – some good news

Finally had a successful run of rainwater catchment, though it was rough at start.

I rejiggered the tarp when the clouds gathered again:

This method has more surface area but is less likely to funnel rain where i want it.   More experimentation needed.   It rained medium-heavy for a short while and I was feeling optimistic – before I went to bed there was a steady stream of water going into the bucket.  Rain let up and I got up in the night to check on it — the bucket had been spilled (knocked over and several feet away in the mud) when the tarp moved in high wind.  Argghhhhh!  The water from the brief period of good rain was  lost.

I fixed it so that wouldn’t happen again, getting cold, Continue reading “rainwater catchment v3, Tangles, solar yield in the rain”

new digs: west of Zion NP

Spent the morning in St. George, picking up the Amazon loot and reprovisioning.  The locals were taking a reasonable line on Covid, distancing but not losing their gourds.  Maybe 1/3rd of people were masked up.  I had made one out of a shirt I didn’t like and I did cover up.  No biggie.

The water kiosk outside was wrapped up with a sign saying it was unavailable.  Hmmmm.  Dunno if it was a tech problem or public health overreaction.  I still had about half my fresh water tank (half of the original 35gal) which should be enough for another two weeks, but that makes me nervous.

I found a park on my way out of town and used a water bandit and short length of hose to hork 5 gallons;  that is enough of a buffer that I’m not [overly] worried about not filling up at the kiosk.  It was a low-flow faucet, maybe .3gal/min so I only took the one bladder full.

Other cities in arid areas have lots of standalone water kiosks where you can buy water for pretty cheap;  haven’t seen any in UT so far.  Weird.

Back to camp.  Here’s a view to the SE of camp:

It’s  a designated BLM camping area (on the little marker poles) so there are folks nearby.  There’s a Class A about  200′ to the west, and a couple Class Bs to the south:

Everyone is quiet.  I assume it will be crowded and loud on the weekend, but that’s part of the deal. It’s our public land.


The Verizon is 2-3 bars which is the best I’ve had on BLM land lately.


a trip to town to reprovision amidst the zombie apocalypse

Note:  when prepper people talk about “zombies”,  undead are a metaphor for any challenges one might meet.  It’s not about literal zombies.

As (I think) I mentioned earlier, I am camped outside Pahrump, NV on BLM land:

There is snow up there on the peaks though it’s a bit hard to see. Easier to see in this pic.

Anyhow, I went into town to reprovision food and water.  In general I make my WM runs on Sunday mornings or during sporting events;  both of those tend to reduce the density of shambling hordes in the aisles.   Continue reading “a trip to town to reprovision amidst the zombie apocalypse”

rain and water catchment

It’s been raining off and on for the 48hrs, keeping dog and I indoors and putting a damper on solar harvest.  Presently pulling in 91w .  That’s 16% of theoretical system maximum, typical for medium-brightness overcast conditions.  Dark overcast is usually 10% of max and bright overcast about 33%.

Yesterday I finally remembered to set out a container for water catchment;  I got a pint.  Made my normal 2c of coffee from that and decided to catch more aggressively when the opportunity presents.

So last night just before doggo and I went to bed I set out a bucket.  Around lunch today I harvested about 1.3gal of water from it.  I strained it through mesh and then coffee filter to remove debris the wind had blown in.

Given that identical buckets stack and therefore don’t take up much more room than a single bucket, I might pick up one or two more to increase water catchment.


My Verizon MVNO is crazy slow outside Pahrump right now.  Granted, I blew through my 12GB allotment and am now capped at 128kbps, but I’m


the joys of bureaucracy

My last day of work for the state was technically 12/31.  There were a few payments the agency would owe me.

  • salary for December – this was paid on Jan ~2nd.  No problems as it’s an automatic function
  • pay for standby duty – this was paid on 9th, as is typical.  It takes human intervention.
  • pay for comp time – just kidding, Texas state employees forfeit comp time at time of separation;  that would have been useful information beforehand.  Luckily I only lost 2 days pay on it
  • pay for accrued FLSA – this was paid on Feb ~9th
  • pay for unused vacation time – was quoted as being 40-70 days from separation.  The times might seem weird, but line up with that ~9th payday the state has for some things.

I had put a dated task on my calendar to watch for that vacation pay by day 70;  no joy.   So I called the agency’s local HR:  “yeah, that was direct deposited Continue reading “the joys of bureaucracy”

Lesson learned: water

The water situation went remarkably well, though I did have a few challenges.

Lesson:  my fresh water calculations were off

For those following the build thread, you will remember I salvaged a 35 gallon freshwater tank out of a class C that was being parted out.

I went into the trip thinking I’d use 2-3gal of fresh water a day for cooking, cleaning, hygiene, etc.

I didn’t waste any water but did use it when I needed it:

  • replaced the sink fauctets with a dish sprayer that I couldn’t leave on.  It is also easy to dispense short spritzes to rinse stuff off or wash hands
  • kept the water pump turned off most of the time
  • used a pressure cooker or lidded vessels for cooking to reduce water loss

As it turned out I used about 1.5gal/day of fresh water, in addition to my drinking water supply.  I may start filtering my fresh water for drinking purposes, which will reduce the space needed for drinking water.

Lesson:  gray water was no big deal


My original plan was to have a plumbed graywater tank that I could drain in grass or in an RV dump.  Since I ran out of time I caught my sink gray water in a blue salvaged 7gal water jug instead.

Worked great. I collected less than 3 gallons of graywater during the entire outing so I didn’t have to empty it until I got home.  I did dispose of non-sink (washbasin, etc) water and the like by flinging/dispersing it away from desert flora.

I do have a bulkhead kit and may install it later.

Lesson:  water pumps are loud

They don’t seem loud until you run them at daybreak at a crowded RTR.  I quickly learned to fill my washbasin and teapot the previous evening to preserve morning peace.

Lesson:  vinyl hoses taste like vinyl

I made my connecting hoses out of clear vinyl tubing.  The water has a faint plasticy taste.  Didn’t notice it when used for cooking but I did when rinsing my mouth after brushing teeth for example.

I might replumb with something else, or might use a Brita to remove the taste if that works.