Thursday, August 31, 2017

Early Morning Solar Musings

So I was laying in bed yesterday morning watching the sun come up and thinking how nice it was to have solar panels charging the motorhome batteries. And then I thought, "Wait a minute, it is plugged into the 30 amp outlet on the workshop. Does that mean the solar charging is bypassed by the 110 volt converter? Am I getting any benefit at all from the solar while I am plugged into shore power?".

I didn't know. So I went onto the Facebook RV Solar page and asked the experts and as usual, the answer is "It depends". It depends on how good a solar controller I have - mine is a lower end Pulse Width Modulated model and if it is programmable - no it is not. The consensus from the experts was that I was getting very little (if any) charging from the panels while I was plugged in. Well, that's not why I invested several hundred dollars into the 325 watt system of three panels, four batteries and a controller.

I was advised to turn off the breaker powering the converter. This would turn the charging duties over to the solar converter while still leaving the rig plugged in and the wall outlets powered. The best of both worlds.

I opened up the breaker panel and there it was, breaker #2 clearly labeled, "Converter". I turned it off and watched my battery voltage drop from 13.7 volts to 13.6 as the solar accepted the load. A few minutes it was at 13.8! It was working even in the overcast condition we then had. Now I just have to monitor the voltage to make sure it keeps up.

Thursday morning EDIT: This morning under a bright sky it was equalizing at 14.8 volts! I am a happy camper!!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

45 Years Ago Today

It was 45 years ago today (in 1972) that the New Democratic Party, led by Dave Barrett, first swept into power in BC. "The Socialists Are At The Gates" was the cry from the right. Dave responded by cracking a joke and wearing a button saying, "I wear red shorts".

That was the day I decided I would never be left standing on the sidelines of BC politics again. We worked in some capacity on every election since then for the NDP, Federal and Provincial. My favorite gig was Official Agent, handling the campaign finances, Norma's thing was Campaign Manager. We have only gotten out of it since we retired because we are out of the country so much. It was quite a ride and I do miss it. We have many friends from those days, Dave and Shirley Barrett among them.

Definition Of An "Asshat"

Trump appears in Houston to supposedly reassure hurricane victims but really is using the occasion to sell his stupid $40 hats that are conveniently available from the Trump/Pence website. He had many other choices, like maybe a Red Cross hat? Like my Blogging friend Margaret of Margaret and Helen's Blog says, "I would pay $45 just to shove it up his ass". And don't get me started on Melania's FM pumps she wore in the storm! You wanted a businessman for President? Well, suck it up. That's exactly what you got. These people are completely out of touch.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fridge Fan

A couple of weeks ago I checked the condition of the RV fridge vent fan that helps keep the fridge cooler by moving hot air from the rear of the fridge up the vent. I discovered that it was not working. I ordered a new one from Ebay for a whole $2 shipping included and installed it today.

It has some cool blue LED lights that will show through the outside door. I will take photos after dark.

This is looking up the vent at the fan with it's blue LEDs

I found a convenient place on the back of the fridge to pick up battery and ground

Then I mounted this tiny switch so I can turn it on and off

Two or three dollars worth of parts and an hour or so and it is done.

These are cheap fans, intended for use in desktop computer cases, and wear out quickly in outside weather. I get between one and three years out of them but they are easy to replace. I also use one to replace the very noisy bathroom vent fan where the blue LEDs provide a nice night light.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Why I Am Supporting Charlie Angus For NDP Leadership

I'm with Charlie because he is a gutsy fighter for NDP values and the needs of the millions of Canadian women and men who are not, and will never be, in "the 1%" or even "the 10%".
He has a track record of "doing" not just talking - that's meant effective action for First Nations, for working class needs, for the environment, and for social justice.
Leadership is more than just planning tactics and organizing. Now, more than ever, our party and our country need a leader who is tough, principled and lives our values. That's Charlie Angus and I know that with Charlie as leader we will be back in the thick of it.
Charlie has the vision and the plan to grow our party and to bring us success. And he has the experience to turn NDP values into government policy. He's our best hope to become the next Prime Minister. 

Charlie and I share a concern for Canada's treatment of it's indigenous people, especially children and I know he will be a strong advocate for these marginalized people.

Friday, August 25, 2017


Norma's roses just love the sprinkle of rain we got yesterday!

And going back a couple of days, here is the Camera Obscura (pinhole camera) I made out of a cereal box to view the eclipse. It worked great, we would have seen nothing without it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Where I Worked Map

I had a lot of fun working (35 years total) for Canadian Telephones and Supplies (a BC Tel subsidiary) and later for BC Tel. As you can see on the map, I got around, even to Alberta where I was on loan to Alberta Government Telephones for a few months. I had some great jobs and never really had a boss as I never worked in one spot for long. My periodic evaluations called me a "Self Starter" and they just sort of let me figure out what needed to be done and let me do it. I had it made. They paid me to have fun and to work with some really great people.

I did everything from the boring (installing an Ericsson Crossbar switch in Edmonton) to hanging off the side of a helicopter refueling a VHF radio site on the BC coast to digging a SnoCat out of the side of a mountain in the middle of the night (more than once). Probably the most interesting was watching the first data (ones and zeros) being received after working to install the first Earth Station on Vancouver Island for Telsat Canada back in the early 70's. The most satisfying was the work I did as a representative for the Telecommunications Workers Union and as an instructor for the Canadian Labour Congress giving workers the tools to make things better for their members. Oh yes, and working full time on many elections for the New Democratic Party.

Here is the map. Some places were too small to find on the map but this gives you an idea.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cooling Down

It is cooling down in BC! I hope it is just temporary but I just barely managed to stay on the porch late enough to watch the end of the Blue Jars game this afternoon (they won!), I also see there was snow on the highway near 100 Mile House in central BC. Come on, give us a break! Snow? It's August!

I also saw a poll showing Trump still enjoys the support of 76% of Republican Voters. Tell me again that Republicans are not racists (at least the vast majority of them). His approval rating among all voters is at 45%. A Facebook reader sent me another poll that confirmed the 76% figure but gave him only 35% among all voters.

We have to remember that Trump was elected with the votes of only 31% of eligible voters  (62 million out of 200 million). By pretty well all polls, he is holding at least that number (35% by my reader's poll, 45% by mine). He just has to get them to the polls and apathetic voters will put him in again. Lets hope he gets impeached or resigns before my theory is put to the test.

Winter Expenses 2016 - 2017

I just noticed I never posted our expenses for the winter of 2016-17. I know many people are interested in this so here it is.

It cost us about $1000 more this year due to increased costs everywhere and a higher rate for our Travel Medical Insurance. "Entertainment" includes gambling and I am happy to report Norma actually made a profit of $20 even after paying for my failed slot machine efforts.

These figures are for just under six months. They do not include RV and car repairs or personal shopping. Also please remember some of these expenses (Fuel Honda, Groceries, Dining out) would have occurred even if we stayed at  home. Our groceries tend to be a lot higher when we travel because of the type of eating we do and the fact that we entertain a lot more often. Bottom line was just under $100 Canadian per day. Speaking of which, the exchange rate was not kind to us.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thinking, Maybe Too Much

I was talking to Norma over coffee this morning and told her I was having trouble getting into the travelling mood this year. She asked If I was having second thoughts and I said yes, I was.

We spent a few thousand on the porch, we are in need of a new roof on the rest of the house which is "sort of" scheduled for September and we are going on a trip to Ireland next July. Adding around $4000 for medical insurance for the winter plus all the gas and RV parks added to the equation is taking me a bit out of my financial comfort zone.

We could do it. We could take the money out of our savings but I don't really want to do that. It is a "Rainy Day" fund and it is not raining.

Norma says if I want to take a year off our winter travels this year it would be fine with her. I think Brooks and LindaLee want to fly back to Cabo San Lucas this winter for a couple of weeks and we could tag along with them to get some sunshine. Norma also says she would like to take a trip in BC before Fall.

Nothing is cast in stone, we are just thinking.

Plus there is this "Trump" thing going on and I hate supporting him in any way and keeping some of my money in my pocket would be one way to express my disgust with him and those who support him.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Yet Another New Router

Telus is coming out this morning to replace the router they just replaced with a "Fibre Ready" model. I don't know how close we are to getting fibre but this is a promising step.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Porch Improvements

I added a 750/1500 watt Infra Red heater. It will be on a thirty minute spring loaded countdown timer to keep power costs under control. 1.5 KWh @ $0.12 / KWh X 1/2 hour = nine cents per half hour. Manageable.

The other thing I added is simply self-indulgent! Morning news and afternoon Blue Jays games! This is the old TV from the bedroom of our first motorhome and has not been used in a decade. If it works out I may change it out for a larger flat screen and mount it up higher in the roof area. It is a work in progress.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Campbell River is under severe watering restrictions but Norma is still allowed to hand water her flowers. They are not doing as well as in previous years but not bad under the circumstances. Here is a lily bush (tree?) that she was particularly proud of this morning.

She has an alternate source of water. We have a 365 day a year stream on the back slope that we could easily use to fill buckets. It would be a little more work but her flowers will survive any drought. :)

Current restrictions:
Days permitted:
  • Even numbered address: Monday only
  • Odd numbered address: Thursday only
Times permitted:  5:00 a.m – 9:00 a.m and 7:00 p.m – 10:00 p.m
Watering gardens, trees, shrubs and community gardens by hand or spring-loaded type nozzles with automatic shut-off connected to hose is allowed at any time during the day in all stages of watering restrictions.

Friday, August 4, 2017

My Extension Ladder

I have very little use for an extension ladder. Maybe two or three times a year when I change the flag for a new one or have to adjust the satellite dish after a storm. Not often. I inherited Norma's dad's ladder several years ago and have been happy with it. It's not perfect. It won't extend because it is bent or something but I never have to extend it, nothing around here is that high. It has one bent step and one step missing. Well, not really "missing", it was just designed that way. There is a gap where the step should be. But I know it is missing and just remember, "the second step from the ground in missing". No problem.

Well, last year I had the lawn mowing guy, a former roofer, go up on the roof and install three vents. He did not like my ladder and it's missing and bent step (one of each) and made a fuss of it. "I won't climb that ladder again", he said. Fair enough.

Then Brooks and CJ came up to build the porch and CJ had to use the ladder to build the roof and he didn't like the ladder either. Same reason(s). One bent step and one missing step. But he used it anyway.

The lawn guys came by while the ladder was leaning against the house. "You still using that killer ladder?", he asked. As a matter of fact, yes I am.

He told me one of his customers had given him a new extension ladder and that he would bring it over for me. He would rather give it to me than see someone break something on the "Killer Ladder". Today he fulfilled his promise and brought the ladder over. Now I had two.

So I wrote a cardboard sign saying, "FREE LADDER" and put the ladder and the sign down at the end of the driveway on the highway. I knew it wouldn't last long and it didn't. Twenty minutes later a pickup stopped and made off with my ladder. I left no fine print about the minor defects.

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Through The Smoke!

This was the sun at about 6:30 this morning bravely trying to burn through the smoke from the forest fires!