Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Much Rain?

As many of my readers know, California is in the midst of a three year long drought. Between that and recent economics and politics, it appears to me that everyone is about to die of a massive heart attack. So I thought I'd keep this post light.

This morning we clawed our way to 33" of rainfall so far for the rainy season, which runs from July 1 through June 30 out here. 33" may sound like a lot to some of you, but it's not. If we have no more rain it would be our fourth lowest rain year on record since we moved in back in 1992.

Anyway, as I was writing the numbers down this morning I realized that the only place we have a record of them is on a beat up 3x5 card held to the fridge door with a magnet. That seemed kind of silly. So I put them into a spreadsheet, and actually figured out what the average rainfall in our area has been for 1992 - 2008: 49.59" at our home rain gauge.

So, as you can see, 33" is still well below average, and given we're near the end of February already it's going to be hard to get back to average before the season ends.

Anyway, here are the actual numbers:
  • 1992-1993: 45.75"
  • 1993-1994: 28.80"
  • 1994-1995: 74.50"
  • 1995-1996: 53.55"
  • 1996-1997: 54.70"
  • 1997-1998: 74.70"
  • 1998-1999: 40.85"
  • 1999-2000: 52.70"
  • 2000-2001: 38.85"
  • 2001-2002: 48.95"
  • 2002-2003: 50.80"
  • 2003-2004: 38.80"
  • 2004-2005: 63.00"
  • 2005-2006: 67.80"
  • 2006-2007: 25.35"
  • 2007-2008: 34.35"
May you stay out of drought wherever you live.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mountain Living - Water Part XI

Another in the ongoing saga of our water woes...

Now we have a 5000 gallon tank full of mud.

Well, that's a bit hyperbolic, but still somewhat factual. The other day I noted that the water in the dog's dish was slightly brown. Wondering about that I did some research and discovered that all the water in the house was that color except what comes from the RO unit.

So I wandered out to the water tanks to see if anything was up out there. Oh yeah. Suspended silt in the water. Probably the result of two years of drought and then finally getting some water into the water table this year. Cruft is getting dislodged and washed out into our well. Fun!

Eventually I think it will settle out, but it will take time. And in the meantime it's ugly. I backwashed the filters and things are better now, but it's not pretty out there.

Once again I repeat for those who hate city water: you have no idea how good you've got it. Just pay your bill and quit complaining.

At the moment I am waiting for referral information on how to build my own sand based turbidity filter that might help with this (and other) water quality problems. We'll see if that ever shows up or not. And in the meantime I'll keep asking the oracle.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I hate computers...

Yes, it's true, I despise computers, despite having programmed them for nearly 20 years and continuing to earn a living from the silly things.

I have a nice big rant building up inside me about how Linux is only the lesser evil among a selection of evils ranging all over the map in power and degree of vileness (is that even a word?), but for now, let's just say I hate computers in general. Every beeping one of them.

Why, you ask?

I've been trying to setup a new computer for 2 days now. Not much luck.

Oh, it runs, sort of. But I can't get the device driver for my graphics card to work, and the sound drivers completely fail too. But my OS is from April of 2008, so clearly it's just too old. The proprietary video driver is only supported by the latest version, and it appears that version may have better support for the open source driver too.

So far today the only thing that has gone right on the computer is this: I managed to replace the busted keyboard in my laptop with one that works. The stupid little trackpoint thing was causing the mouse cursor to move whenever I typed on the keyboard, and since I use focus-follows-mouse, that was a bit of a problem. Plus, once it started moving it was sometimes 30 seconds or so before it stopped being wedged in a corner of the display. Very irritating.

So at least that's working again, which is an improvement. It's actually possible to use it as a laptop again.

So, while I continue waiting for Surfnet's lousy network (don't get started... don't get started...) to download an ISO image of the latest Linux version - in the desperate hope it will deal with the video and sound options in my new computer a bit better, even though it will have bugs too, some of which I am already familiar with from other installations - I am going to go do something much less painful: tax preparation.

That should give you some idea of just how screwed up my weekend has been thanks to these infernal "labor saving" devices.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mountain Living - Water Part X

This isn't the water related post I expected it would be.

As those following the water saga know, we've been buying water lately as the production from the well has tapered off. Not fun, but necessary.

Well, sometime in the last week or two, that changed. The tanks are now full. On their own. I just talked to my wife who told me that they are "full, full", not just "full". Interesting.

This sort of thing has happened in the past thanks to minor earthquakes which - I think - break up the silt and calcification that clog up the paths the water takes to get into the well. But we haven't had any quakes I know of in our area recently. A few 4.x sized things down near Hollister and Gilroy, maybe, but nothing in our neck of the woods.

Perhaps some of our highly limited rain has finally made its way into the water table, and thus is now available as water in our well. Who knows.

In any event it appears we won't have to buy more water for a while. Go figure.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

On The Nature Of Commitments

I've been pondering commitments lately. I haven't had an epiphany, but I thought I might ramble about them a bit and see if anything interesting falls out.

My thinking about commitments is caused by the fact that I find myself shedding them right and left since I went back to work. There aren't enough hours in any given day to let me do now what I did when I wasn't working. Of course, I didn't manage to keep all my commitments then, either. I did better, though.

Commitments seem to come in a few forms, for me at least. This list may not be exhaustive, but it includes:
  • Unbreakable commitments made to others. These are rare: wedding vows, deathbed promises and the like. And clearly what is unbreakable for some isn't inviolate for others.
  • 'Breakable' commitments made to others. These are more common. We make them all the time in work and personal life.
  • Commitments made to oneself. I chose not to split this into two categories out of personal experience. For me, at least, commitments to myself are pretty slippery. if I tell someone else about them, though, they become much harder to break than if I keep them inside.
As my available time has dropped and my workload has increased, I find that the nature of the commitments I make (and keep) is changing. More and more are related to the office, while those that were made before I went back to work are being set aside.

That's perfectly normal and understandable, of course, but it still frustrates me. Planning on doing something and then not doing it is not my style. Particularly if I told someone else I'd do it. It happens to us all, of course. We all bite off more than we can chew at times, but it feels like a weakness in me that should be overcome, if only I could figure out how.

I suspect I'll be in this state for quite a while. As I recall, when I quit working nearly four years ago, one of the hardest things about doing so was all the commitments I'd made to my coworkers at the office. Letting those go was not a simple task, and now I am setting myself up for that again someday.

But for now I suffer the opposite, sort of. I'm having to let go of the commitments I made when I wasn't working. There's less time for the fire department and friends. There's less time for me, to do things like go to the gym. There's less time to walk the dogs, even.

Still, it has to be done, and it was a choice. My choice.

Something tells me I need to go think about something else for a while.