31 October 2008

On Hallowe'en, and...

You'd think I might have more time to blog when work is so excruciatingly slow that I actually become exhausted from the lack of things to do. A bit crazy, that. I'm overjoyed that I'm still getting a paycheck, at least...that's better than what a lot of people have going on. I'm pretty damn lucky as far as that goes.

So, tonight's Hallowe'en. I use that name when specifically referring to the disgusting greedy holiday that America--and the world--has fallen in love with. I never got into trick-or-treating as a kid...I think I did it twice, once when I was 10 and another time when I was 12 or so. While I can definitely see the potential cute-factor of infants in a costume (I think of Ayla's son, being a squash this year), I don't understand parents dragging them all over for hours, house to house, to get enough candy to strike a diabetic coma into a 300-lb man when everyone knows the kid isn't even old enough to eat it. By the time the kids are old enough to eat candy, and therefore trick-or-treat, they really prolly shouldn't have it...or at least, they shouldn't have as much as they're given. (An entire pillowcase full? Really?) Then they hit about 12 and seriously, at that point it's just about sugar binges and dressing up. I reiterate: I don't think the dressing up is all that bad. I just don't like the greed I see, so I've avoided the entire holiday for most of my life. Commercialisation kills it.

Now, in the religious sense of the time of year, I see purpose: Samhain, Allerseelen, Día de los Muertos, Obon...those names connote a sacred time of year to honour departed loved ones, and I truly enjoy that aspect of it. I think if I had kids, I might somehow incorporate the costumes, perhaps; I'd probably even bake some kind of Pan de Muerto (Dead Bread) or other treat with at least some nutritional value. But taking a day, or a few days, to reflect on the cycle of life and death is very important. Many of us live just from moment to moment without any thought toward what life really means or what it's supposed to be. I like the idea of slowing down, meditating, and lighting a candle for those I've lost. I like the idea of remembering my loved ones who have passed on with flowers, even foods or other tangible offerings. It keeps death close, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. We face it daily. It also gives me a time to set aside to dedicate my thoughts to those who passed on before me.

Tonight and this weekend I'll keep, firstly, the little children in my thoughts: my own son Gabriel, plus Raven and Elektra-Marie, daughters of friends of mine. Then I'll remember adults who made impacts in my life: Uncle Bill, from Wales; Pat, who took her own life on Independence Day weekend; my husband's grandmother from Ohio. And of course, my ancestors who came and went before I knew them, or who were lost in years past. My intent is to meditate on the delicate and fragile thread of life, that can be severed at any time, which reminds me to live my life as fully and with as much purpose as I'm able; I must remember that this is my life and while my action and inaction both affect others, at the end of the day it's still mine to live.

(And by the way, before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, you can think honouring the dead for Hallowe'en is stupid cos it's all about the costume parties and haunted houses and sugar highs better than any street drug can give you, that's fine by me. You can also think I need a history lesson in what the "real Hallowe'en" is all about, that's great too. But no bitching about it, please.)

28 October 2008

It's done.

Finally! Some time for a real update.

Yesterday and today were a whirlwind of near-OHMYGOD moments. Our cable didn't come in until after our shift was supposed to end yesterday, even though it was ordered on the 20th, promised to be overnighted on the 22nd to be delivered on the 23rd...instead, it was sent by 2nd Day on the afternoon of the 23rd, so yeah. Extra late. We had to go into overdrive yesterday late afternoon in getting those homeruns pulled, and Snow and I put in a 12-hour shift before deciding to pick it back up today. Today he pulled the rest while I went behind him and did crimping and last-minute make up, and at about 07h30 he casually said, "Hurry every chance you get, they're firing up the inverter at 09h00." So of course I panicked and tried to finish crimping with my trembling fingers. Snow had to tell me to be calm at least twice. And it's not that I was afraid of him yelling at me or anything, but the guy turning on the inverter was coming in from California and I didn't want to be the sole reason for the hold up.

So it was awesome that he showed up late. :)

I got done in time, however, and I told Snow that even though he was prolly trying to test how well I can handle stress, it was totally not-awesome to throw that on me. He effectively told me to man up and deal with it. Which, logically, makes sense and I'm learning to be calmer every day but still. I look back to even a few months ago and I'm far better at dealing with things that used to make me freak out but that doesn't mean I need help in finding extra stuff to freak out over. Luckily I recovered fully and we spent the rest of our day checking all the strings in each combiner box for correct polarity and voltage before adding zip-ties to keep the make up neat. That kept us busy til lunch.

Soon after the final combiner box was checked, I did some minor housekeeping on site and got all our tools and material ready to be transported out by the end of today. Snow, meanwhile, met with all the big-name people to get the inverter started up. (It was a group of the casino's in-house electricians and some people who came in from California under our general contractor. I'm glad he handles all that stuff, he knows all the right things to say and do.) So anyway, they all did their thing to get the inverter going and then Snow accompanied the big-name guys while the amperage was checked on each string compared to the irradiance and module temperature.

There were 3 issues, all of which basically were discovered right at the end of the day:

First, one module had no voltage whatsoever. At first it was seriously disheartening, because we had no extra modules. But some investigation showed that the negative cable had simply lost connection the the j-box on the back of the module. We cleared the fault by tucking the cable back in, all snug and tight, and it was fine after that. Second, the inverter voltage was wildly fluctuating. Granted, I wasn't right there when it was tested, so I don't know to what extent, but the changes were "not good". The voltage issue was handled by calling the manufacturer of the inverter who walked Snow through in changing some of the factory settings. Lastly, we had no amperage whatsoever in 12 strings: an entire combiner box. That took some troubleshooting. I went with Snow from area to area, cradling the ammeter, voltage meter, Dr. Pepper (very important) and our troubleshooting sheets. Once we checked all the connections and crimps to everything coming into the 5th combiner box, we traced the problem back to the DC disconnect, and there it was: the fuse was bad.

THANKS FOR THE FUSE, BILLY! (Hahahahahahahaha...no really, we're gonna chuck that fuse at you tomorrow morning so you better duck.)

Fuse was replaced, though not without injury: someone got bit with 300+ vDC. After "oh shit" was uttered, and the new fuse was properly in place, we went back to check our sad little amp-free combiner box...and lo and behold! We had amperage. :D At that moment, all was just awesome, everything was as it was supposed to be, everyone was happy. I didn't get to watch a meter go backwards like I did at the install at Snow's house, but for a project of this magnitude, I was overjoyed that it all worked, and our issues were minimal.

And so that's it. Done. The network isn't in yet for the Fat Spaniel station, so maybe I'll get to be in on that, but as far as the photovoltaic array, we've finished it. It was an awesome job. I loved it; it was fun and exciting and I must say, I love PV more now than I did before. So glad I'm in on this. Which means, of course, that I need more...I'm a solar whore after all...so I think I'm going to make plans to take my NABCEP exam by the end of the year. Maybe early next year, but still, in the next few months. I just have to figure out where and when.

Yay for PV!! :D

26 October 2008

Need to sit for a moment and BREATHE.

Yeah, it's been about a week. I'm not usually this bad about updating. I'd blame it on all the shit I have going on but I think I still managed to get in 2 posts a week during the final month of my apprenticeship and there was way more going on at that time. I don't know what the issue is, really.

Sadly, the awesome photovoltaic project on the Strip is nearing completion. We're likely to hand it over Tuesday, as our final inspection is tomorrow. There are only a few minor things left to do; I have to pull 7 homeruns to the combiner box, connect them, then do the polarity and voltage checks for each string...then I guess it's just all on the inverter. I'm so sad that's it's already over. I had so much fun.

I'm not sure where I'm going or what I'm doing after this job. Construction is incredibly slow right now; I might go back to the condo tower under Papa G but I really have no say in it. Who knows, I might stay under Snow also. I won't find out til it happens. I just hope the other solar projects are green-lighted and we can get our panels to start on those. I'm truly a solar whore now, can't get enough. :)

I think I've mentioned it in the past, but I attend a weekly class (and discussion group) on spiritual philosophy that I'm incredibly happy with. I like everyone there, I'm learning so much, and it gives me a feeling of happiness and of purpose. The only thing is, there's alot of volunteer work associated with this group, which I'm totally cool with, but I'm so wrapped up in everything else I'm not managing to make the other meetings. Aside from working overtime on occasion, doctor appointments, study groups, juggling my weekly obligations (grocery shopping, bank runs, pharmacy visits), union business...I'm finding it increasingly difficult to even maintain a schedule. Even during the end of my apprenticeship, my entire life still revolved around school and work, little (if nothing) else...and everyone I associated with was in the exact same situation. Now, as my life has branched out to include other varied obligations, it's still difficult to find time for anything. Tonight, in fact, was a volunteer meeting and by the time I got all my pre-Monday stuff taken care of, it was too late. There was a board meeting on Thursday that I missed...plus a Renewable Energy Task Force meeting I would have liked to attend. And you know, maybe I'd even like to see my parents and siblings, and their kids, once in awhile. Hell, the in-laws, too.

How did life get so complex?

20 October 2008

My day just started out great for a fucking Monday...

So first, I woke up about 10 minutes late, which isn't too bad, but then I fell asleep again and wound up waking up fully almost half an hour late. I got ready for work in record time, dashed to the Jeep and sped toward the jobsite. No one's ever on Flamingo Road before 06h00 so I was admittedly speeding...then I saw the sirens. I was hoping beyond hope that it was coincidence and he was going to drive past me to save someone from a break-in or something but he just kept following me as I slowed down and finally stopped. His scary cop spotlight reflected in my side mirror and came close to searing my retinas off, so I aimed my eyes downward as he approached.

My mom used to work for the Nevada Highway Patrol for years before my youngest sister was born, so I knew that rummaging in the glove compartment was a pretty stupid thing to do. I slowly turned off the radio, killed the headlights and engine, put my keys in the passenger seat and rolled down the window. I don't want to give any possible misconception that I was going to do anything bizarre. When he asked me for my license, registration and proof of insurance, it was then that I went rummaging through the glove compartment. He told me he'd clocked me going 65 in a 45...I guess it's possible but I didn't look at my speedometer. After that, he immediately asked me (to my total shock), "So where's the weed?"

It took me a moment to even respond. I told him I didn't have any. He went on and on about my eyes being red, my erratic driving, how the Jeep smelled like it and I was so confused my response was, "I'll do hair blood or urine right now. I'm not on anything. And you can feel free to search my vehicle." Of course after I said that, my mind flashed briefly to a horrorworld, written into existence by Dean Koontz or Stephen King, when the officer might plant the weed in my Jeep or compromise my drug test. It was a somewhat illogical thought, but anyway, I regretted saying it. However, that response seemed to calm him right down until he realised that my insurance card expired nearly 2 months ago, and I didn't have a newer one in the vehicle. I know I'm insured but it really doesn't matter if you can't prove it then and there. Finally, he asked if I'd ever been arrested or in any trouble with the law, and I answered no, so he excused himself to his cruiser so he could (I guess) look up my history on his squad car computer and write up my ticket.

I was pissed and scared, both: 20 miles over the speed limit is a big deal, and I couldn't remember how much over a driver could be before they got arrested and their vehicle impounded. I was pissed because here i am, speeding like an idiot to make it to work on time and I'm pulled over, so I'll be way later than I would have been otherwise. I honestly contemplated calling in this morning and just avoiding the day altogether but that means missed pay and it being a Monday, it just looks bad without a doctor's note or something. So I waited.

The officer returned with my ticket. He'd reduced it to 56 in a 45, which was nice of him...prolly had something to do with the fact that my record is pretty damn spotless and I didn't throw a fit. He also cited me for failure to provide proof of insurance and gave me a court date in January. The whole thing totally sucked.

What irritated me the most though is that after all that bullshit, I made it to work--doing the speed limit--only 4 minutes after the start of my shift. I would have totally made it, damn it.

19 October 2008

Cole Puffinburger found safe!!

All throughout the days he was missing, I couldn't help but to wonder how a parent could even function after a child is kidnapped. And things spiraled in such a bizarre fashion, so quickly: no Amber Alert initially, because there was no description of a vehicle or of the suspects. Then, the police arrested Cole's grandfather as a "person of interest" in the case...allegedly, he stole millions from the Mexican mob. I've heard that it was through methamphetamine sales, money laundering, and both, so I'm not certain, really. Then the Amber Alert was called off, just as police said they were looking for two more people of interest...and suddenly, little Cole was found wandering near Oakey and 17th, a rather unfriendly area of Vegas, just off-Strip. Apparently unharmed, apparently alert. I'm overjoyed that he's home, and safe, though there's no way to know yet the emotional and mental traumas he carries.

But, back to the thoughts that kept coming to me: Cole was abducted at 07h15 Wednesday morning. It was hours before an Amber Alert was activated...how his parents must have felt, just helpless. And how could they sleep that night, unaware of their son's whereabouts, if he was in pain, or terrified, or even alive? Then, even if they called in to work for those first few days, a parent must return at some point; how can they even keep their minds on the tasks at hand? I'll be honest, I know that you press forward simply because there's no choice. Staying home and fretting doesn't help, and being at work at least provides a paycheck. I was off work after Gabriel's death for a week, but that was more for physical reasons and blood monitoring than anything else. I started my first day of 3rd year a few days after he died, and my husband Tannah returned to work that same Monday. And I don't know, maybe a child's death is different than a child's abduction, because at least in death, it's final and there's nothing at all that can be done. You just make funeral arrangements and put the toys and clothes away, and that's it. With an abducted child, a parent must hold on to that chance, and...that's got to be unspeakably difficult.


I'm glad Cole's home.

17 October 2008

Work update.

All 682 modules are in, all jumpers are connected, it's going so well. I'm in the process of getting the home runs where they need to go (about halfway done) and then I'll get to make up the combiner boxes, which are already mounted. Then, the inverter, which is exciting to me. Every day I'm learning so much, my confidence is growing by leaps and bounds...I can honestly say that at this point, I could do this forever. (Watch me eat my words in the beginning of January or mid-July!)

I'm more or less comfortable in commercial installation, as far as I can be so far. I mean, of course every job is different but I see the steps that must be taken and it makes sense. Especially since the structure, being a massive carport, is open. What I think will intimidate me is a residential install. I've made mistakes in commercial construction, like using a holesaw through the wrong wall or crushing a framing stud so badly that it needs to be replaced. Not massive mistakes as far as commercial construction goes...but how do I tell a homeowner I've made such a mistake? That would kill me. Something I really need to think on, and a fear I need to get over if I intend to be involved in future photovoltaic projects.

One thing though...where to after this is turned over to the owner? It's only two weeks away, max, and no one has said anything to me yet. I'm not worried but I'm definitely curious. Some overtime would be nice, but as shaky as employment with construction is, I'll be happy just to remain working.

15 October 2008

A shitty day all together.

So Tannah and I got in a major fight over a silly "misunderstanding", which was ridiculous. The only thing more ridiculous is that this fight was conducted over e-mail. Granted, I started it...accidentally. I wrote an email as a note to myself, meaning for it to remind me something to tell Tannah later. Instead I sent it to him by mistake, which snowballed into just...hellishness. I won't get into it but it took a few hours to diffuse, and in the meantime some really shitty things were said. Didn't make for a good day.

On top of that, I stressed over whether or not I should attend my Wednesday night class, or the Solar NV meeting. I haven't been able to participate in Solar NV for months, literally, except for Crinis and the Solar Home Tour, so I knew I should go. But then canceling class, and I'd missed a few of those as well...so between the fight and freaking out over how to spend my Wednesday night, I made myself so ill I was unable to attend either. It seriously pissed me off. Like, seriously.

And, to really make life sweet tonight, I'm hearing about a little boy kidnapped at gunpoint only a mile from my in-laws house, about 20 minutes from where I live. There's currently an Amber Alert activated for Cole Puffinburger, please check it out when you can.

14 October 2008

(Not so) drunken fun!

Last night, Tannah and I spent the evening with Katelynn, who was in town from Alaska. We went to high school with her, but she's been living in Alaska for the past decade. (Now you see how old I am, haha.) But anyway, even though we only see each other every few years, we try to keep up via MySpace and Facebook. It works.

So anyway, we three went to Hofbräuhaus for dinner. I love going there whenever I can; I love the food, the beer (try the Dunkel!), the live music of mostly folk music and drinking songs. Snow went to the one in Munich and it's spot on with the one in Vegas. I guess, however, that it could be due to the fact that, BVT HBavaria L.P., the owners of Hofbräuhaus München, also own the one here. (Don't be fooled by other so-called HB biergartens elsewhere in America, they aren't owned or even endorsed by HB in Germany.) Either way, we had a great time.

Then, after we were sufficiently giddy and feeling infused with Bavarian culture, we drove to a small coffee shop around the corner from our house. It was open mic night and none of us are really into that kind of thing so we got our drinks and pastries, then sat outside. Weather was only about 80F, not at all bad. It was really laid back, we were comfortable with each other even after so long. No awkwardness. Very cool. :)

We finally went back to our house and spent the next hour bullshitting before we drove her to her brother's house, where she was staying while in Vegas. Katelynn is hoping to transfer to Oregon perhaps in the next three years, but I'd like to see her in Anchorage before then. She's got tons of photos that are just amazing. And after 10 years, it's time we see her for a change. Maybe next year...

12 October 2008

Erotic Heritage Museum!

So, on Friday night, my mom and I went to the Erotic Heritage Museum. It was a field trip with Mensa, and I was my mom's guest, which was funny since I was more interested in going than she was. In fact, I kinda guilted her into it. :)

I liked it alot. There were photographs, paintings, and sculptures by incredible artists; I liked the works of Todji Kurtzman, François Dubeau, and Bobby Logic. There was also a BDSM section with courtesy of The House of Gord which was fascinating. There were even film clips showing the machines in use, and I must admit that it was a little awkward with my mom there, but it was still cool. There was a hall of dildos (I had no idea there were so many sizes, shapes and materials used), fertility dolls, plaster molds of various body parts, and even Larry Flynt's gold wheelchair.

Upstairs was a bit different. The library was really interesting, with "nude landscape" books, how-to books, gay and tranny literature, BDSM comics...there was even a book on naughty limericks. I was a little shocked to see a recreated glory-hole (I told my mom not to look, LOL), and a recreated porn film set, plus a porn arcade and theatre. Perhaps 2 dozen porn star bios were against a wall next to a semi-closed room featuring short pornographic clips of films that "revolutionised" the sexual revolution in America; one that I found just...bizarre and amazing both was "The Operation"...it was filmed completely in infrared light. Crazy.

All in all, from the initial tour to the end, where I found some awesome coasters at the gift shop, I really enjoyed it. I'm told the displays will be rotated so that more of the donated artifacts from the Exodus Trust can be shown, and so I might actually make my way back in a few months. I have a two-for-one coupon, after all. :)

[Note: For Vegas locals--or anyone visiting Vegas--interested in upcoming events at the Erotic Heritage Museum, friend them on MySpace!]

09 October 2008

Quick update.

Quick, because I'm exhausted. I absolutely love working with solar power. I'm learning a ton every day, and it's getting easier to figure out the bigger picture. I know I've got a long way to go as far as really "getting it" but it's coming to me, at least. I've set up racking, installed modules, screwed the caps onto the rails, learned to walk on the array, and now I'm just getting to interconnection. In a few days, hopefully, I'll get to make up a combiner box.

Excited, happy...extremely sunburnt, I actually blistered! Someone at Wednesday night class suggested that I give my sunburned parts a sponge bath with condensed milk and I was so desperate I actually tried it. Lo and behold, it works. I've lost 2 full shades of red and no longer look radioactive, and it's starting to turn into a tan. (In October! Haha.)

The only thing is, being constantly in the elements wipes me out. Today, aside from the blazing sun, there was this incredible wind that kept knocking ladders over and scooting them into trucks and such. Tools, material, everything got caught up in the wind. On top of the array, screwing on caps, a particularly intense gust hit me and at 15 stories up, I really felt it. And really, I hate the wind anyway. It just annoys the fuck out of me.

Still love photovoltaics, though. :)

06 October 2008

My Monday was...


I took some melatonin early last night and managed to get in a little over 8 hours of sleep, which was good. Brought all my remedies to work, in case, and felt pretty good about today.

First thing in, I got a quick rundown of the job, our tasks, what we need to get accomplished daily, where the material and tools were...things of that nature. Then we got going. It was nice, because we didn't need hardhats (awesome!) and we only really had to work with a few tools. Literally. All I used all day was a wrench, an impact driver with tips, a cordless drill with a 3/8" bit on it, and a pencil. Not bad.

We prefabbed some racking first, and once we got a pretty good amount up, we started sliding the modules in and then secured those. Part of me feels that we're really kicking ass in this, because OMG I've never worked so hard and fast in my life I don't think, and that was just trying to keep up with Snow. (He's my toolie in this right now, and because he's also a general foreman, he's pretty strict on company rules and such, like the no-phone-at-break thing.) But anyway, he's lightning quick, and it takes everything I've got to match him but I'm up for the challenge. It's good to work at this pace, the day's over super quick and I think we got a hell of alot done.

Three problems: One, the closest bathroom is down the elevator 14 floors, across a bridge, down some stairs, around the corner, and behind the fence. Not cool. Two, the parking garage quite literally takes 10 minutes to navigate. It's a really shitty design, in my opinion. But hey...it could always be worse. Three, I really miss my crew. Don't get me wrong, I love solar and I actually do like working with Snow, but I had a lot of fun with my old crew. And everyone under Papa G, actually. I don't know if it was more laid back or what, but I like them all and now...I dunno. I'm getting kinda girly about it, I guess.

Sunburnt (even with SPF 75), exhausted, mind swimming with all I learned today. And I still have my cold, so I'm going to sleep early tonight again so I can do all I need to do tomorrow. My hope is that today was great for the sake of it being great, and not just because I was excited for it.

05 October 2008


Officially transferred to the PV job as of Monday. Got all my tools gathered up Friday and then tomorrow we'll just see how it goes. I'm hoping it'll be seriously awesome, even if it is alot of work. I'm really really gonna miss my crew though. I mean really, like alot.

Solar Home tour was great. It flowed more smoothly this time, and we had fun even though it was windy. Nevada Senator Dina Titus showed up and talked to us all...I swear, I like her more and more each time I meet her. She's so personable. We also talked about the Bailout and what that means for renewable energy...30% write-off and no cap. That's good for us solar geeks.

Also learned quite a bit on selfishness. I feel like a little kid who's parents finally sat him down and told him that there's a reason why Santa has Daddy's handwriting. The revelation of it blew me away. It's a good thing though; I even got a Druid-style hug out of it.

I'm ill, I got this nasty cold on the eve of my first day working solar and it really is not cool at all, so I'm rambling and making very little sense because my damn blood disorder and medications for it don't allow me to have real cold medicines, so I'm gulping the homeopathic and natural shit, just hoping I'll be good tomorrow. I should sleep but I'm afraid I'll wake up like at midnight, fully awake. Sucky. :(

01 October 2008

PV-themed...of course.

Firstly, I went to the DMV first thing Saturday morning to pick up my über-luscious straight cherry photovoltaic-themed license plates! As for what it means, I'm going to keep quiet, cos I want to see if anyone understands it. :) The great thing is, I can't believe no one stole the idea, since it's so amazingly perfect. (It's just too bad they wouldn't let me have one that said "solar whore"...and yes, I know that's more than the alloted number allowed on a license plate but I could have made it work, if it weren't for the whole "you might offend someone's delicate sensibilites" part.)

...fuckin sexy yo!!

In other news, tonight I went to the Springs Preserve to get all info needed so I can volunteer for the National Solar Home Tour this Saturday. ASES holds the Tour annually on the first Saturday in October, but the Southern Nevada chapter, Solar NV, held an extra one earlier this year. That was my first experience, and I really enjoyed it. This one will likely be a slightly smaller turn-out since we already did a massive one a few months ago, but still, the Vegas tour will feature 7 stops for the day, plus the guide will give info on public places of business that can be seen during their normal operating business hours. And, the fact that a good 120K others will be participating in this nationwide is pretty kickass, as well. All in all, the entire thing is very cool.

If you live in Southern Nevada, definitely check us out. Tickets are pre-sale only, and can be bought via Solar NV online. If you're elsewhere in America, take a moment to search if any Solar Home Tours are happening in your neck of the woods. Give it a try, it's pretty impressive.