the bigger picture

In this pic I am on the coast about midway down the image.  Air quality from PM2.5 here is 178 (unhealthy) but graded on a curve it seems great.  The other day the sensors were pinned at 501 (scale goes to 500) which means something like “you are probably already on fire”.

Solar harvest peaked today at 202w before settling down to 162w.  This was under heavy fog.  I have lots of open space overhead if I can just get some direct sunlight on the panels.

Tomorrow is supposed to be fog in the morning, then just cloudy thereafter.  Next week there are showers forecast on tues-wed-thurs, which could make a dent in the fire situation.   Even the fog probably helps.

Lincoln City, OR / historic wind event

Lincoln City is about 90mi down the coast from the Seaside area.   It would be the coolest spot in the area I could find for the next two weeks.

Fearing holiday return traffic, I waited until quite late to start heading south.  I noticed there were some leaves on the 101, the coastal highway.  I chalked it up to the recent hot spell, judging it had stressed the trees and they were starting to drop foilage.

As it turned out, this was the front (literally) of a historic wind event Continue reading “Lincoln City, OR / historic wind event”

solar yield in overcast conditions

Over the past few years I’d estimated that my system puts out about

  • 25-33% of normal max in bright overcast
  • 20% in overcast
  • 10% in dark overcast

It was guesswork, but then I saw this article that gave lux for various sky conditions.

I plugged the values into a spreadsheet to convert the lux into theoretical max yield for a 100w panel:

should be “lux” not “lumens”

That lines up pretty closely with my observations.



chilly morning

It got a little chilly last night, and I could tell it was cold this morning.   Muffin was sleeping close against me and I turned on the heating pad at some point when I woke up in the night.

This morning it was 32deg F inside the van, which puts it in the mid-to-high 20s outside.  Running the propane stove indoors to make coffee an malt-o-meal got temps up into the 50s, which is a good bit more comfortable.

The cattle outside still have their winter coats and didn’t seem to mind the cold.

cold in Nevada today

Coming to the end of my stay in Pahrump.  My mail (including last state paycheck) should show up at the USPS today.

It’s in the 30s today, quite chilly.   It’s a little warmer outside LV, and warmer still near the UT border.   I’ll need to stop on the outskirts of LV to deposit  my check but will probably head on to the border after that.  Might as well burn some miles while gas prices are low.

Since it rained a few days ago there is tiny green growth popping out of the ground everywhere.  The wild horses came down to nibble it:

doggie doggie says “what?”

Continue reading “cold in Nevada today”

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”

Zacate creek, good weather, and the Battle of Laredo

Today dog and I spent a lot of time on the Zacate Creek linear park (ie, park runs along a creekway).

Battle of Laredo

During the American Civil War, Laredo was a main route to export cotton to Mexico on behalf of the Confederate States. On March 18, 1864, Major Alfred Holt led a Union Army detachment of about 200 men from Brownsville, Texas to destroy 5,000 bales of cotton stacked at the San Agustín PlazaColonel Santos Benavides commanded 42 men and repelled three Union attacks at Zacate Creek in what is known as the Battle of Laredo.[3][4] — wikipedia

The concreted creek channel is visible on the right side:

The park is maybe 100yds wide, joined down the middle by the creek.


Laredo is down there on the western border of Texas about where the 60F line cuts across right now:

It was 72F and about 50% RH today.  Wore shorts all day though it’s starting to cool off now.