Ma Blog‎ > ‎2008‎ > ‎

April

April 30th I couldn't sleep because my ribs hurt from my bicycle crash, so I got up and played World of Warcraft, surfed for porn and so on until it was time to start work. Tilly wasn't happy about being up so early, so she sloped off into the family room and went to sleep on the sofa.

Another sunny day and the solar panels generated almost 20KWh today. I could even break even for the month :o) That's cool, as next month, I'm going to fill the hot tub and restart that. I figure that puppy uses about 10KWh a day all by itself.



April 29th A sunny day and a working inverter meant that the solar panels generated 17KWh today. I used a fair bit less than that, so there's a chance that if tomorrow's a good day, I might be able to hit my 0KWh for the month target... we'll see.

Surewest finally came out and set me up with a VOIP phone - hopefully this'll save me money while giving me add-ons like caller-id. At least it works with the TiVos.

After Tilly destroyed my glasses, I went and got my eyes tested (they passed) and ordered new lenses for a couple of old frames I have. They'll be a couple of weeks, so I'm using my closest prescription until then.



April 28th The solar panel guys came out and looked at everything. The first concern was that the inverter was fried, as the internal fan wasn't running. It seems that the efficiency drop due to the recent heat means that it's not getting a high enough voltage to start everything - it needs around 230 volts, and was getting around 2 x 215 volts. As the panels were configured as 2 strings of 8 panels, it was a fairly simple task to configure them at the inverter as a single string of 16 panels for now. There are apparently a bunch of calculations that need to be done, and it might end up with me selling one panel back, or buying 2 more, so that the voltage is low enough in the winter and high enough in the summer.

After all that excitement, we borrowed Jim's longassed ladder and finished mounting the hose to the eaves of the house, to wash the things off.



April 27th Finally, it's warm. I spent a lot of the day resting, and looking with concern at the solar panel inverter, which showed that I wasn't generating any power at all. That sucks, as I'd wanted a month of no power usage before I refilled the tub, but that's not going to happen now :o(

I made a start at running a hose up the side of the house so I can wash off the solar panels regularly to keep them running at peak efficiency. I've made up a couple of strips to hold the hose to the eaves of the house, but I didn't feel like hanging over the edge of the roof to drill and screw them in.

We went to Jeff's 50th birthday party - amazing, he doesn't look a day over 49.5. I got to listen to various armchair doctors suggest that I have everything from a bruised rib to a cracked rib to me being a pussy. The general feeling is that if it hurts for 3 or 4 months, it was a cracked rib. Joy.



April 27th My ribs are still hurting from my get off last week, so I'm taking things easy. This involves playing some World of Warcraft and watching TV. Battlestar Galactica gets weirder and weirder.

I took the Subaru and went to look at a new, but 2007 Suzuki DRZ400SM at a local dealer. I spoke to the sales guy who said that they could let it go for $6200, then found an advert on Craigslist for the exact bike I was looking at for $6000, out the door. Hmmm.



April 25th We got up at some ungodly hour and headed to the hang gliding tow site for the Good Day Sacramento news thing. I left them all doing their thing getting the reporter airborne, and took Tilly for a series of long walks around the field.
After the news crew were done, Vic got in 2 circuits, bringing her total to 3, then we headed to lunch and spent the rest of the late afternoon resting up.


April 24th I had the day off work, as Vic was supposed to be doing a hang gliding thing at George's for the local TV news, but that's been pushed off until tomorrow for the weather. After yesterday's spill, I decided to just take it easy, try and recover from yesterday's Tilly attack (ordering a new cheque book and suchlike), and play a little World of Warcraft - I'm still tending to focus on using my level 70 warrior and warlock to make gold.


April 23rd I cycled to meet Vince for dinner (the van being in the shop, and Vic having the Subaru), and managed to crash over a fist sized rock on the way home... it's mostly bruises and scrapes, but I think I managed to catch a handlebar in the chest, which is a lot less fun than it sounds. When I got home, I found that Tilly had torn apart a fair amount of stuff in the office - from my wristrest for my keyboards to my cheque book and glasses.
/sigh.


April 22nd Today was Earth Day, which I celebrated by generating more electricty than I used with the solar panels. It's starting to look like I might actually generate slightly more power than I use for the whole month... not bad!


April 21st In the evening, we went out to dinner with Scott and Becky, only to discover that it was Becky's annual 29th birthday, and there were about 8 other people there. A fun time was had by all :o)


April 20th We just pottered around, tidying up in the garden and suchlike. I was pretty tired from a couple of hours pressure washing yesterday, so it was nice to do not very much for a while.

I sat and soldered together 4 LEDs for one of the side marker lights on the van - they're almost pink now, due to the sun fading, so I thought LEDs would be better. They don't pass out much light, so I think this might have been a waste of time, but I did manage to burn my finger quite badly with the soldering iron :o(



April 19th I started the day watching Battlestar Galactica , and I think I'm getting more disappointed every episode. No real space battles this week, either.

I fixed (hopefully) a leaking sprinkler, then Fred came over and lent me his hosepipe, so I could use the pressure washer that he lent me last weekend to clean the driveway. Today was the local celebration of Earth Day, so I used a couple of gallons of gas and several hundred gallons of water to get some concrete clean. It's an interesting task - sort of like using a Magic Marker to paint your house. Still, it cleaned the driveway really well, removing the car polish and rubber marks from bump starting the YSR. Talking of the YSR, the pressure washer is more powerful :o)



April 18th I looked into the sprinklers, that don't seem to have been working. A little investigation led me to understand that despite the clock being correct, the programming being correct and it testing out just fine, they weren't running when the timer went off. That's like setting the alarm clock correctly, then having it not go off and wake you up to go to work. What use is that? I tried the standard Windows troubleshooting method of a complete power off for a few hours, and now it seems to work. Hopefully the grass'll eventually recover - I'd increased the run times a couple of times because it was all going brown, without realising that it still wasn't getting any water... doh.

In the evening, we went out to dinner with Heather, who used to work at the SPCA. We stayed out a lot later than we had intended to, so Tilly obviously thought we'd moved house without her.



April 17th I spoke to Tim at Stephan's Autohaus about the van. Apparently when they took the oil pan off the gearbox, it was full of metal. So it sounds like it's toast, basically. More, as it happens, but I don't need to worry about camping this weekend... Tilly keeps rushing out into the garage, and sniffing the floor where the Van's usually parked. It's quite sad, really.

I finished cleaning the hot tub, now I just need to replace the filters.



April 16th I spoke to Tim at Stephan's Autohaus about the van - it was the wheel bearing. That's OK now, but they're going to have to drop the transmission, as it looks like there's a problem with the valve according to the guy they send their gearboxes to. I pointed out that the gearbox was reconditioned by the same guy not that many miles ago, so they're going to see what they can work out.

The solar panels passed 1MWh generated today, and after a weekend where they didn't generate much more than 6KWh, they're back up to 14KWh a day... we're approaching getting the month's usage back to 0 again. Now, if I just leave the hot tub off...



April 15th I made a start on cleaning the hot tub after draining it. Tilly spent a lot of her time either getting grubby footprints around inside it, or dropping toys into it. She's a great help, and I'm so proud of her. The filters are completely filthy, so I'll need to replace them, and I don't see me getting around to that until the weekend. Hopefully I can get the rest of it all cleaned up and ready to go by then.


April 14th We sat down and watched the MotoGP race from Estoril. Congratulations to Gorgeous Jorge on his first MotoGP win - anything to stop the poison dwarf :o) Once again, despite being 3rd, Rossi was the top Bridgestone rider all weekend.
Hmmm... it'll be interesting to see what he can do at a Bridgestone track... it's China next month, and that should be interesting.


April 13th We boxed up Tilly and headed West to Kelly Towers to eat dead flesh and let the kids exercise the dog. Outstanding. We got back pretty late, and Tilly was totally knackered - score :o)


April 12th I managed to get some time to watch Battlestar Galactica . Hmmm... it's getting a little mystical for my liking, and where are the space battles? If you're struggling to remember what it's all about, here's an 8 minute recap.

I took a look at the YSR's electrical problems - basically the battery's completely flat, and the lighting coil isn't working to charge it. Great. So, I'll have to find another stator / lighting coil to try - not such a big deal, as I had it running for a while, and there's an oil leak in there, too. /sigh.



April 11th After Vic's trip, the van's got greasey goo on the passenger front wheel. I jacked it up and cleaned everything, but it's doing it again. the wheel's also very hard to spin, so I think the bearing's had it, which is annoying, seeing as it was recently replaced. We dropped the van off at Stephan's Autohaus for them to check it out. The thing is, it was holding gears too long on the way there, so I've asked them to look at that while it's there, too. I'm hoping it's just from pushing a bad wheel bearing.

We bought Tilly a frisbee, and spent a little while wearing her out in the garden... if it lasts, it looks like being a top toy, but she has a habit of running off with it.

After the excitement, I spent a little time on the YSR. I cleaned the carb up, then noticed that the new spark plug cap wasn't on the wire properly. Having fixed that, I bump started it on the driveway and it started right up. I can even kick start it, now it's getting fuel and a spark, but none of the electrics seem to work - I guess I'll have to look into that one :o(



April 10th I've been playing a little World of Warcraft, and have got my warrior and warlock to Quel'Danas, where I can spent 10 minutes doing an aerial bombing run and get paid 9 gold before going on to play my hunter. No levels yet, but have I said how hard it is to level post 60?


April 9th Much to Tilly's amazement, I drained the hot tub. She tried to drink all the water, then paddled around in it as it slowly sunk into the ground. Top fun.

Since the hot tub's been turned off, the solar panels are more or less keeping up with the house - we've used 1KWh since Saturday, when I noticed the meter was only reading 511KWh.



April 8th We moved the last of the gravel into the back garden, so thankfully it's out of the way of kids with BMX bikes, who have parents who'll sue us for their stupidity.

Tilly's annexed the chair in the bedroom as a new bed, ignoring her bed in the bedroom. Vic thinks this is because her bed is covered with blankets and bits of toys. I pointed out that Tilly had put those there, but apparently it's my job to tidy that sort of thing up.



April 7th Vic got some gravel and compost delivered, and we then moved most of it into the back garden before it got dark. If I'd have known we were going to be doing that, I wouldn't have gone to the gym. Tilly spent most of the day rushing out into the garage and sitting in the driver's seat of the van - I think she's missed it :o)


April 6th Tilly was sick during the night, from all the chewtoy parts she's ingested. Stupid dog.

While Vic fiddled around in the garden, I fixed (we'll see) the sunroof in the van, got the YSR all back together, only to find that it won't start - I tried to drain the float bowl on the carb, and it looks to be full of goo, so maybe that's the problem, eh?
I fixed (we'll see) the puncture on Vic's pushbike, and put the road tyres on it - the offroad ones are toast, so they're gone.

We tried (and failed) to get the wheels out of the patio door, then spent some time trying (and succeeding) to get the damn thing back in.



April 5th I spent a little time on the YSR, getting the top fairing back on, and cut the grass in the garden. Tilly and I went to the Bear dog park for a while, until her little tennis ball was completely destroyed. She's in her second big chewing phase, and I'm having trouble keeping her in toys to destroy. I dropped her home and went out to get her some new balls and a tyre toy. When I got home, we watched the excellent season opener for Battlestar Galactica . OK, so she isn't dead - we think.

I spent a little time playing World of Warcraft, managing to get my hunter up to level 61. I'd forgotten how long it takes to level post-60.

Vic finally got home from her trip. Tilly was very very happy to see her :o)

The van basically behaved itself, but the sunroof's stuck. Also, she managed to drop the camera, and a quick look at it would suggest it's toast. This sucks, as, as anybody who knows me will testify, I hate shopping for new technology :o)

We had the tub open, so I could see if it's cold (it is), and Tilly got in and swam around a bit. I don't think she likes the cold water as much as the hot water.



April 4th I picked up some bullet connectors, and made up the leads for the headlights on the YSR.

I went to Scott and Becky's for dinner... that's nice, it sounds like Scott's as pissed off with his job as I am, and Becky's last day was today :o)



April 2nd I fiddled with the YSR a little, getting the instruments mounted. I started on the headlight wiring, only to find I need a couple of bullet connectors, so I'll work more on that some other time.

I laughed out loud watching The Colbert Report. He was interviewing R.E.M., and was talking about their new album. He said that a lot of people said it was a comeback album, and asked if when they hear that they want to tell them to go f*ck themselves.
Well, it made me laugh.

Oh, got the electrickery bill, and thanks to the solar panels, we netted 203KwH in March :o) I know I've been working on reducing our usage, but this is crazy good. Of course, this month, we'll be heating 450 gallons of water, and that'll make a large dent.



April 1st I've been asked why I've sold the Hawk and the KLX, and I figure now's a good a time as any to spill the beans. We're going Amish.

I've spent some more time working on my World of Warcraft problems, and installed a couple of Windows patches and a new nVidia driver. I was just logging in to see if that had helped, and downloaded a Warcraft patch as well - one of these changes seems to have fixed things, thankfully.

On the subject of Warcraft, I can't be the only person eagerly looking forward to this.

My Eee arrived from work... all I've done so far is charge it up and get rid of the Mickey Mouse desktop :o)

In the evening, Tilly and I went in the hot tub for the last time before I turned it off to cool down, so I can dump the water. She walked around the edge a few times, falling in, and swam around the middle a bit. She's not a very graceful swimmer - I have the scratches to prove it. When we were done, there was a load of dog hair floating on the surface of the water - I was going to replace the filters anyway :o) I literally wrung out her hair on her legs and tail - it's amazing how much water a dog's hair will hold. Add that to the "getting up 3 times in the night to pee", and I think this is possibly the last time she gets to go in the hot tub until next time I'm dumping the water - at the end of October, most likely.