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.

MPPT vs PWM in cold weather

This post is inspired by a comment from Jeremy.

I plotted MPPT+mono panels, MPPT+poly panels, PWM+mono, and PWM+poly against ambient temperature to see how the combinations fare.

The guinea pigs were the Renogy 100w mono (Vmp 18.9v, Imp 5.29A) and 100w poly (Vmp 17.8v, Imp 5.62A) panels.

We assume full overhead sun, Vabs 14.8v, and 50% Depth of Discharge 12.1v.  Note that the graph starts at 50w so we can see some detail.


Continue reading “MPPT vs PWM in cold weather”

I hate humidity / oil change

oilf927736ae7b558a61be70b427ff5225a.mediaLast night I was under the Promaster draining the motor oil and installing a Fumoto F106N quick drain valve. I chose the valve:

  1. to simplify future oil changes
  2. to make future oil changes less likely to spill (a hose is attached to the nipple and run into the container)
  3. to make oil analysis samples easier to take
  4. to make small reductions in oil level easier to make, in case of overfill.

I was wearing eye protection and it was so humid out that the glasses were immediately filled with fog.  I couldn’t see.  That was ok because the oil pan and drain plug were simple enough to feel for.

I will not miss the humidity in this part of Texas.  Right now it is 6am, 77F and 94% humidity.  Seriously?  Humidity in Dallas is within 3 percentage points of Portland, OR, fer pete’s sake.

Several years back the [now ex-]wife and I made a road trip to New Mexico in July.  Highs each day were around 100F but it felt delightful, even effervescent.  We were giggly;  it was like a blanked of oppression had been lifted.  Yes, we got nosebleeds after a week of it but a little saline and vaseline in the nose took care of that.