Drought here since August. The small cistern ran dry a month ago, which has never happened before. The large cistern was down to some 900 gallons. I don't use anywhere near the national average of 400 gallons per day. More like 10 gallons. So could have managed for a few more months. Still, this was worrying, especially as the area moved from severe to extreme drought according to the US Drought Monitor.
Two days of solid rain fixed it, yay! The small cistern has already refilled, and the large will probably be full by tomorrow.
The winds preceeding that same rain storm fanned the flames that destroyed Gatlinburg. Earlier, fire got within 10 miles of here, although that may have been some kind of controlled burn.
Climate change is leading to longer duration weather events in this area. What tended to be a couple of dry weeks in the fall, has become multiple months of drought and weeks of fire. What might have been a few days of winter weather and a few inches of snow before the front moved through has turned into multiple weeks of arctic air, with multiple 1 ft snowfalls. What might have been a few scorching summer days has become a week of 100-110 degree temperatures. I've seen all that over the past several years.
After this, I'm adding "additional, larger cistern" to my todo list. Also "larger fire break around house".
Five years ago I built this, and it's worked well, but is old and falling down now.
The replacement is more minimalist and like any second system tries to improve on the design of the first. No wood to rot away, fully adjustable height. It's basically a shower swing, suspended from a tree branch.
Probably will turn out to have its own new problems, as second systems do.
Having a wonderful summer, full of simple sweet pleasures. Mom visited today, and I made her this blackberry chocolate tart. Picking berries, swimming in the river, perfect summer day.
Earlier this summer, camped at in the dunes on Ocracoke island with many family and friends. Thunderstorms away across the sound flashed and grumbled long in the night, but mostly missed us. Jupiter and Venus in conjunction overhead, and the arch of the milky way completed the show.
Had an afternoon of steak and science fiction. Elysium is only so-so, but look what we found in a bookstore that was half religious materials and half SF, local books, and carefully hidden romance novels:
Best part was at the end, when I finally found one of the local asian markets Tomoko tells us about when she casually pulls out the good stuff at family gatherings. I will be back for whole ducks, fresh fish, squid, 50 lb bags of rice, tamarind paste, fresh ginger that has not sat on the shelf for 2 months because only I buy it, etc. Only an hour from home in the woods! Between the garlic scapes, bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms, etc that I got for $10 today and this week's CSA surprise of 18 inch snake beans and smoked pork knuckles, I have the epic stir fry potential..
Today, map in hand, I explored the "long valley, narrower than the great dale in the South where the Gates of the river stood, and walled with lower spurs of the Mountain".
This leap day saw me driving along the river on a rainy, with 4 chickens in the car's trunk, and 3 terabytes of disk (and a half a bale of straw) in the back seat. I may have not been blogging much lately about life, because these situations can be hard to explain. (Or because "joined the Debian haskell team and spent two days working on rebuilds for the ghc 7.4 transition" is not thrilling reading.)
The Light Sussex chickens are my sister's spare flock, which are "too tame". They're now cozily installed into a coop we built last weekend. In return I gave her a 6 foot long APC power strip, which had been mounted on the wall of my office. I'm preparing my house in town to be rented, and have little need for two dozen power outlets here in solar power land.
Indeed, today is a gift economy day all around -- when I arrived at the cabin, there on the porch was an unexpected package from Google. Particularly surprising since I never get deliveries here, since the driveway is a mile long and often seems like it could dead-end into the woods at any moment.
The combination of technological wackiness (I also debugged a laptop whose USB hub hangs when a particular trackball is plugged in) and in your face country texture (including coal trains, being stuck behind a tractor, and miles of amazing tree-height mist) made this a memorable day.
Last year, my new year's resolution was to write in my journal every day. That actually stuck, I wrote 262 journal entries in 2011. While I've been keeping a journal intermittently since 1998, last year I doubled the number of entries in it. And wrote a novel's worth of entries -- 53 thousand words!
Most of it is of course banal and mundane stuff. Not good compared with Lars, who does something with his journal where he goes into some detail about code he's working on, and other work. The excerpts I've seen are quite nice. But after I've written code, written a commit message, documentation, perhaps bug reports etc, I often can't find much to say about it in my journal, beyond the bare bones that I worked on $foo today or faced a particularly hard bug. I also worry that the journal, and my reluctance to repeat myself, often tips the balance away from me blogging, if I write down something in the journal first.
Here's my journal for today:
Compare what jokes are funny now with those in 1982. The 1982 ones from net.jokes on olduse.net seem juvenile. Now compare what Unix joke man pages are funny now with those I'm reading from 1982. They seem basically the same. What would Biella make of this?
Liw noticed ikiwiki OOM on pell. Tracked down to a perl markdown bug with long lines. Had quite enough of perl markdown; ikiwiki will be moving to a different engine. Added discount support to it today, still needs Debian package tho.
Really gorgeous sunset, with a high wind, moon, puffy low, fast moving clouds. Enjoyed it ecstaticly. It's going to get cold soon. Very rainy early, but then got intermittently sunny; power is holding out ok.
Was going to roast a chicken today, but got distracted and had a large lunch besides. Need to find some quick food for supper.
I need to start a new book, should it be the River Cottage book about meat that I stole from Anna, or some SF?
Blogged about journaling, and put this journal entry in it, so also journaled about blogging. Wrote it somewhat self-conciously.
The benefits for me have ranged from being able to go back and work out dates of events, to forwarding the odd excerpts to others. The best thing though is certianly having a regular time of introspection, to look back over my the day.
If you've not got a new year's resolution yet, I recommend this one. (Learning Haskell would be another good one, if you haven't yet.)
Just write something, anything, down in your journal every day.
I've been at the cabin, on solar power, for a year now. I have a year of data!
Everything went pretty well until last month. There was an April rainy spell where power felt slightly tight. Then over the summer, plenty of power, no need to conserve. The last month though had what seemed like weeks of continual grey clouds, where I never saw the sun.
Of course, even on a sunny day in winter, it does not get far above the hills, and the peak production window is only a few hours. This bad combination had my battery power dipping below the 10 volts that I consider low, down to 9, and even to 8 volts.
I use kerosine lamps in the winter. (I prefer the light anway.) I've also started unplugging my Thecus server at night to conserve power, meaning no internet late or early. For four or so nights, I had no power to run even my laptop after sunset. On one notable day, there was no power even in the daytime.
Even when it turned sunny again, I found that the batteries would seem to charge to 12 volts during the day, but then precipitously drop to 10 and 9 volts at night. I think the problem was not damaged batteries, but that these Nicads charge most efficiently above 12 volts (14 volts is best), and there was never enough power saved up to get them full enough that they could charge really efficiently.
So, I reluctantly spent three days away this week, to let the batteries soak up sun and recover. It seems to have worked; they've been holding a 12 volt charge overnight again.