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Maintaining stuff and software

When you are working on your ‘stuff’ – be it a computer, water heater, stove, lawn mower, etc. you generally need to be with that equipment to work on it. A cell phone or tablet is best to use to collect data on repairs for such equipment.

I have installed Google ‘Keep’  v4.0.411 on my Android. It’s a simple app for organizing notes.

When I worked on the gas water heater this am (dirty flame sensor), I added a note for the water heater with tools needed (t20 and 3/4″ wrench).

Kicked in the butt

The CIO of my company called me today to ask how things were going. I said they were going much better now. We discussed some of the recent events in our division. He went on to thank me for ‘kicking him in the butt’ on Saturday,  February 17th. I was taken a bit aback, but he insisted that he was grateful.

I guess somebody has to say what’s on their mind to the top of the management chain, to make things better.

Some Common Misconceptions

Here in the United States in the year 2018, there are a number of common, widespread misconceptions that seem to prevail with masses of the public. These misconceptions do not seem to be based on any particular evidence, but are rather cultural beliefs. I’m going to start by simply listing what I see as the major misconceptions, later I will discuss the evidence to back up these statements, and list relevant references.

  1. The United States is, will soon be, or could easily become, energy independent.
    1. Here is a good starting article: GOP Tax Law Bails Out Fracking Companies Buried in Debt
  2. All issues and problems of our time, not matter how large or small, have a technological fix.
  3. The stock market is like going to the casino, and only those ‘in the know’ can make money.

Motion/Occupancy Sensor switches – install

I purchased a Lutron Maestro MS-OPS2H-WHB sensor switch from Low’s to test and evaluate.

I tried it first for the stairwell, no luck. There is no proper grounding there since it is legacy wiring, circa 1947. Then I tried it in breezeway which has grounding, but realized it not a replacement for a two pole switch. This switch is model is single pole only.

Then I tried it in the guest room and it still did not work. That room I re-wired myself, so I know the wiring and grounding is good, and the switch is single pole. The issue is that I was switching through the neutral instead of hot. The switch requires some power for the sensor to operate, so hot must be going to it. When I switched the switching from neutral to hot, and wired it, it starting working properly.


Marvin McGraw

On December 4th, 2017, the world lost a great man. Marvin, or ‘Mac’, grew up in rural Alabama, to an Irish Father and Native American Mother.  He had 5 brothers and 3 sisters. It was a tough childhood with just the bare necessities. At an early age he quit school to help support the family.

What a privilege to have Mac as a father-in-law. He taught me that you can fix just about anything with whatever resources you have around you. He made me into a quite competent carpenter. He was generous to a fault, and almost always the optimist. Ornery is how he was often described, how he would chide  those that he loved. The outdoors was his place of comfort and beauty. It was rare that he was not familiar with a plant, tree, or animal in the wilds.

He will be greatly missed, his memories will live on.

Driverless Uber – Economic freedom for the masses?

We have seen in the last few years Uber and Uber style services take off. These services decentralize taxi; there is no dedicated taxi driver, nor taxi itself. Anyone (almost) can join up with Uber, working as much or as little as they want. One important innovation is the app on your smart phone. You can be walking down the street, and hail an Uber electronically. In urban areas, an Uber may pick you up within minutes.

Now imagine driverless, electric Ubers. Low maintenance, no range concerns (the Uber always comes fully charged), no driver needed. Plus the normal uber benefit of maximizing seat usage. This could really keep costs down and be extremely convenient. The stigma of the bus would be gone, as well as the high cost of the taxi.

In this environment, many that own cars in urban areas may desire to be car free. After housing, the cost of owning a car is typically the highest costs that a person typically endures. Without that cost, people would have much less stress, financially.

And this is not mentioning all the other benefits: Less traffic. Less noise. Less air pollution. Much less dependence on fossil fuels, with a pathway to fully renewable transportation systems. Roads would have less cars, and those care would share the road more efficiently, so much less roadways would be needed, which would greatly lower the costs to society, typically in the form of taxes. It would also have significant environmental benefits.

Improving weather forecasts and efficiency

I’ve been thinking lately about how much weather forecasts have improved in the last decade or so. It is not unusual for forecast daily highs and lows to be nearly spot on (+- 1 Deg F) up to two or three days forward.

We just had a major front pass here, and the temps went from the 40s and 50s F suddenly to the upper 80s F today. Now, if I did not have good forecasting available, the instinct would have been to open up the house when it hit the 70s. But since I knew it would get real hot, and stay hot for several days, we kept the windows closed, so the temperature in the house has stayed 5 to 10 Deg F lower than outside, keeping it comfortable for today, with no need for A/C.

It makes me think that smarter integrated HVAC systems, that have access to the forecast, could automatically make such decisions and save a great deal of energy, with no compromise to comfort. Well, sure, one issue is that windows would have to be mechanically controlled, which would be a large outlay of capital. But in general, there are great opportunities to increase conservation without loss of comfort, due to the steadily improving art of weather forecast.


Farewell to two

Today I had to unexpectedly say goodbye to two: Ron Eureka and Willie Oden.

I have worked with Ron for nearly twenty years. When we both worked in the office, I used to see him frequently and we got to know each other quite well. Over the last few years, we became a bit distanced, as I saw him very rarely.

Below is a link to a Jim Morrison song that he put in the last email he ever sent me.

Peace Frog


Willie and Dorothy have been our neighbors for 20 years. They have been wonderful neighbors. In the summer we would often have conversations over the chain link fence. His yard is adjacent to ours and about the same size. He was suddenly diagnosed with level 4 lung cancer, too late to be treated.

May they both rest in peace.

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