An old house, theoretically empty, but still filled with the cruft of its history. Here an old classroom-style pencil sharpener mounted on a wall. In a kitchen cabinet, a plastic bag of dried fish of unknown provenance. Old books. Somewhere, a moldering, out of tune piano. How does this make you feel? Maybe depressed, or urgently needing to wipe it all clean and repaint?

Myself, as long as the previous inhabitants are people whose heads I don't mind getting into, I like this environment. I will carve out my own part of it, clean and reorganise that, but generally leave the rest as-is.

It's weird that, if we were talking not about houses, but software, I'd probably bulldoze it down, compost it, grow trees from it, and start over.

This house has the added complication of a solar power system that has accreted broken parts and workarounds over the years. So far I don't understand the original design, let alone what it developed into!

I'm spending a few days here now just to try to learn how it behaves -- how long can I run my laptop and forgetfully leave lights on before the battery bank reaches unsafe levels? Am I even measuring the level of the right battery bank? (Why does this incoming solar power display still read 21, in the middle of the night?)

I haven't been in this situation since spring of 2001. And then I only had to contend with no running water, and dialup. Now I also have to deal with limited power. Interesting times.