The “Experts” Are Wrong, Part Infinity: Cleaning Solar Panels Improves Performance

I’ll pass this along as a public service, since EVERY website I visited asking this question got it wrong. Nearly every website I visited on whether or not it’s worthwhile to have solar panels professionally cleaned said it wasn’t necessary.

WRONG.

The solar panels on my roof would get dirty over time – dust, pollen and the like. Usually I’d just wait for a rainstorm to clean ’em off and return them to their shiny dark blue reflective look, instead of a dusty car finish look. Sometimes I’d hose them off early in the morning after morning dew had loosened the dust and they weren’t heated up yet. After I’d clean them, I’d notice an uptick in performance when reading the numbers on the inverter.

Recently, I noticed my system had dipped in performance, and the panels were pretty dirty – and hosing them myself didn’t really make much difference. Never mind that my hose added hard water marks.

So I hired a local dude to climb up on my roof and clean them with ionized water and a soft mop. Not very expensive, and it only took him an hour or so. He also tightened the clamps and zip ties on the panels, as well as the added bonus of replacing a cracked roof tile for me I had NO idea about, all gratis!

That’d be enough for me to recommend the guy to locals, but the big news is that cleaning the panels did the trick – they’re back to producing the amount of energy they’re supposed to.

The weather has been identical, and the cleaning made a 15+% difference in the efficiency of the system.

So THE WEBSITES TELLING YOU OTHERWISE ARE CRAP. Your mileage may vary, but cleaning the panels will definitely restore the normal efficiency of your system if you see it significantly dipping due to the dirt.

For real numbers – the total kwh/day varies with time of year, but peak production @noontime- 1pm or so is a good metric. My system, on a clear day, will peak anywhere from 3 to 3.2 kwh. It had dipped to 2.6 – 2.7 with the dirt. Now it’s back to 3 to 3.2 with the cleaning.

Not bad!

Battery backup is also on the way. I do not enjoy sweating whether or not those scumbuckets at the electric utility will turn off my power during wind events to cover their ass for fire starting lawsuits.

I’ll practically be off the grid! Here’s a recent picture, too!

My New Favorite Mafia Boss

I’ll read anything that’s all about Rhode Island mafia. Hell, I’ll write one of my novels about Rhode Island mafia.

I just finished getting through My Life In The Mafia, a 1973 confession by Vincent Teresa, who’d been a major player in the Patriarca organization before turning government witness. Spotting it in some thrift store one day reminded me how my parents had a copy of it for years and I’d neglected to pack it up with whatever I wanted to save from the widdle house I grew up in when I moved out west and everything got packed up, sold or trashed.

Teresa, through writer Thomas Renner, recounts his life in the mob and the various scams and crimes he’d committed over the years. Mostly stolen goods, bookmaking, loansharking and some stock and bond scams. A lot of the crimes he committed are truly dated – the various forms of check cashing and bank fraud would be nearly impossible now.

But in a story about his time in prison before turning informant, he relates a tale involving Carmine “Lillo” Galante. Lillo, a Bonnano family capo, basically ran the mafia section of the Lewisberg federal prison they dropped Teresa in for his securities fraud activities. And much like we saw in Goodfellas, mob guys have different prison lives than the rest of the population, to a degree. Lillo’s prison job was to run the greenhouse, where he grew his own vegetables and set up a nice grill for cooking the steaks and such regularly smuggled in for him.

And don’t put too many onions in the sauce, etc.

Teresa tells a story where Lillo kept 3 cats as pets inside the greenhouse and in his general realm. Evidently some strays had gotten into the prison yards somehow, and Lillo decided to adopt them.

From page 302:

“Lillo had three cats, and they ate better than most of the prisoners. Every morning they had pure cream for their breakfast with an egg beaten in it. The cats were sort of a symbol of freedom to Lillo. He used to say ‘At least they can get outside – they go outside the wall.’

The hacks almost never came to the hothouse, and when they did, it was just to be sociable. None dared tread on Lillo. I remember one problem came up with a hack because of Lillo’s cats. It was a Friday, and we were having fish in the prison dining room. Lillo sidled up to me and said “You’re not eating your fish, are you Fats?”

I shook my head. “I wouldn’t eat that crap.”

“Well, I want to take it for the cats,” he said. He walked up the row to the hacks and announced “I’m taking Vinnie’s fish.” Then he put it in a plastic bag with his own fish. The hack didn’t seem to mind, so Lillo sort of added insult to injury. “Those cats are pretty hungry. I’ll take two pieces.”

The hack was standing behind the row where the prisoners went through the food lines to eat at the tables. “Hey!” he shouted at Lillo. “You can’t take two, only one to a man.”

Lillo turned around. He gave him a look that froze him in his tracks. “Hey, I said I’m taking two or three pieces for my cat.” His voice was low and soft, but he had ice at the end of his tongue.

The hack stared back at him. “I said you can’t take them,” he snapped.

Lillo’s eyes narrowed, and that sneer of his looked worse than ever. His voice was soft, but it was menacing, It made my blood run cold the way the words came out. “You got kids at home?” he asked.

The hack looked startled. “What?”

“I said, you got any kids at home?” Lillo said again. “You want to see them?” He sort of paused for effect, letting the words sink in. The hack seemed to nod. “Good… then shut your mouth.” Then Lillo took five pieces of fish slowly, one by one while the hack looked, and he put them in the plastic bag. What he said he meant. He wouldn’t have hurt the kids, but the hack would have an accident one day in prison. He wouldn’t have lived to see his kids, just because of a couple of lousy cats. But that was Lillo. No one defied him.

Continue reading “My New Favorite Mafia Boss”

Tech Support For Scrabble On Facebook = Being Told To Stick A Fork In An Electric Outlet To Make The Lights Come On

I realize that the people on the other end of the tech support line follow script books designed for morons having easily fixable problems. “Try restarting your modem! Did you try clearing cookies and cache?” and so on…

So whenever anyone like me who actually KNOWS how computers friggin work calls in to report a clear problem on THEIR end, I get to sit through some pinhead giving me ridiculous and useless suggestions.

I like playing Scrabble on Facebook. It’s probably the only thing left on Facebook that I actually do, since Facebook, like the vast majority of social media, is a garbage fire. For the past couple of weeks, Scrabble has not worked on Facebook if I used Firefox as my browser. It worked fine while using Chrome. I prefer using Firefox as my browser since I am convinced that since Chrome is from Google, the damn thing is probably spying on every damn thing I do online and manages to spy on me outside the computer and in my sleep and also manages to READ MY THOUGHTS VIA THE GOOGLE BLACK HELICOPTERS FOLLOWING ME and…

Whatever. I just prefer Firefox. So since Firefox hasn’t updated since this issue arose, and since Scrabble on Facebook has a long history of bugs like this, I figured it was on their end.

I tried leaving a message on the EA forums, but there is no way to do that without creating an EA account. There’s also no way of sending an email or web based message reporting the bug without an EA account. But I could leave a message for them to call me.

So, I’m sitting around this afternoon with the holiday weekend starting, I figure “Why not?”

Oy.

Schmuck calls me after maybe twenty minutes, I tell him the problem just to report it. Schmuck starts to ask me if I’ve cleared cache and cookies, I basically tell him this is happening on any computer I try using Firefox, it’s happening with the other people I’m playing Scrabble games with on their computers… it’s not MY issue.

He puts me on hold for ten minutes of simply LOVELY muzak, then returns to tell me I should delete Firefox and reinstall it.

Yeah, sure. I think I’ll just trash all my passwords and bookmarks and everything because YOU MORONS TWEAKED YOUR AD-LOADING CODE or whatever the hell you did that makes the game reload its starting screen in an endless loop on Firefox while loading just fine on Chrome. But yeah, sure, I should trash all the actual real stuff on Firefox I do regularly, like email, banking, blogging, writing, multiple billable accounts, you name it – all to take a 1,000-1 chance on it loading a free Scrabble game on Facebook when WHAT YOU’RE TELLING ME TO DO WON’T FIX THE PROBLEM ANYWAY.

Stupid brainless robot tech support pencil neck schmucks.

I’M TELLING YOU YOUR CODE SUCKS AND NEEDS TO BE FIXED, JUST THANK ME AND GO DO IT. Jeez.

After some arguing back and forth and him asking me if all my software is up to date (as if that were the problem, as if I wouldn’t have already thought of that if it were…. ARRRGGGGHHH I HATE THESE PEOPLE) he finally settled on “reporting the problem to our tech team” which sounded to me about as promising as leaving a newborn in a wood chipper.

Yeah, I know. I can play the stupid game using Chrome. I play continuous multiple Scrabble games with my mom on this thing. She can’t get anyone to play against her among her yenta friends because she’d destroy them all in every game. When she manages to beat me every so often, it’s a thrill for her. I’d set up my mom’s computer with Firefox and made everything she does on it one-click easy. So now my mom will need me to schlep over there and set up her computer for Chrome and not Firefox. There’s no way I’m walking her through those steps over the phone, it’d be worse for her than it was for me talking to the crap-for-brains robot moron in whatever Bangalore boiler room EA is underpaying him in. And it’s an excuse to go out to lunch, I suppose.

And now the Google black helicopters will start following my mom around. It’s the price you pay for a working Scrabble game.

Schmucks.

Now I need a drink.

My Natural Musky Manliness

So I’m at the grocery store just now, at the checkout counter. The kid loads everything into the bag, I’m getting my receipt and am ready to go.

Then the kid says “Hey, I like your cologne.”

I’m not wearing cologne. I don’t think I’ve ever worn cologne in my life, actually. Wasn’t sure I heard him right.

“Huh?” I say.

“I like your cologne,” the kid repeats.

“I’m not wearing cologne,” I say.

“Oh?” He says, surprised.

“I guess I just smell good,” I say.

I thought of this:

Although, maybe it wasn’t my hair. Maybe it was the groceries I bought. In which case, it’s time for Cris Shapan:

New Baseball Cards For My Collection

Let’s have some fun with Topps’ Customized Baseball cards, shall we?

That’s right, you can upload any photo, set it within a few choices of Topps classic baseball card designs, and have them custom printed.

OR, if you’re a troll moron like me, you can have fun just taking some screenshots of imagined cards for FREE! So I think I’d like a 1986 Ro-Man. I think he’ll make all the difference for the Dodgers this year when he cranks up that bubble machine and kills everyone on Earth except for a small group of morons near Bronson Canyon in Los Angeles.

Unless, of course, he’s stopped by my 1973 Big Jim Slade

Yeah, yeah, I know… Big Jim really played for the Kansas City Chiefs (and the capital of Nebraska is LINCOLN!), but only baseball card designs were available.

Continue reading “New Baseball Cards For My Collection”

A Full Rich Wednesday

A lost dog wasn’t really lost, I guess that was the highlight, really.

I got up early like the good boy I’ve been all summer, did some work and then did my daily 3-4 mile walk before it gets too hot out. After some more work, shave and a shower, I figured I could run my afternoon errands.

Had a nice bean & cheese burrito for lunch in front of the bar screens covering the baseball trade deadline. The Yankees stood pat, which I guess I can admire given their pitching and strength of the prospects they did not give up… but at the last minute Zach Greinke waved his no-trade clause and got dealt to the Astros, joining a starting rotation already sporting Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. I really don’t see anyone in the AL beating them in post season series now.

I mean, you never know… but deep down, I think I do know.

Did some grocery shopping and got yelled at by some dumbass in weird pants who walked in front of my foot-on-the-brake but not totally stopped car and thought I was gonna run them over. I probably should have. Suffice to say it’s a good thing my windows were closed since my commentary on them and their wardrobe would not have been taken as constructive criticism.

But then the drama – I get home, pull into the garage, shut the door… and hear a noise outside. Crying maybe? I light up suddenly and think it’s a cat meowing.

No cat. Just a little kid from down the street yelling for her dog. He’s gotten out before, and I’ve seen him run around the street before they corral him. I vaguely remember what he looks like. So I ask her if she saw where he went, and she says no and tells me about the last time he got out (which is SUCH help). Although the last time he got out, he walked too much on hot pavement and messed up his paw pads. I thought the same possibility existed today with the heat. The kid’s home alone with grandma, she says. I tell her I didn’t see the dog wandering around when driving home just then. Grandma comes out and seems able to walk around. I had images of grandma wheeled to the window wondering what a dog was, figuring she’d be no help, but she starts calling the dog loudly in the street.

I put my groceries in the fridge and go back outside to see if I can help them find the dog. They’re both still yelling “DUKE! DUKE!” Grandma assures me the dog comes when he’s called.

So I walk down the paths into the nearby woods, figuring if Duke felt like a smell odyssey, he’d take that route instead of wandering through peoples’ yards.

I go walking early in the morning before the temperature climbs past 80. Now it’s mid-afternoon high 90s time with the sun beating down. I really don’t want to walk 3-4 miles to find this dog or fight a coyote for him, but as I go further into the woods, I don’t see or hear anything.

Then I see a woman walking a dog who looks a lot like Duke. But a lot of people have brown bulldog mixes, don’t they? I ask her if she’s seen any other dogs running around. She says no.

Then she hears Grandma yelling “DUKE! DUKE!”

And we walk back out of the woods to Grandma. Evidently no one told her or the kid about the professional dog walker the parents hired to come get the dog out of the backyard. The walker thought someone had been yelling “DUDE! DUDE!” and wondered why the dog responded, pulling on the leash.

Duke certainly enjoyed all the attention. He was the only intelligent participant in the entire exercise, when you think about it. Glad he wasn’t lost, but how the hell do you not know/forget a professional dog walker has been hired?

Back inside, A/C on. Looking forward to cooking the salmon fillet I bought for dinner, along with a nice drink.

So Long, MAD Magazine

A post-war American institution, really… MAD taught the entire boomer generation irony & satire (along with Rocky & Bullwinkle, I guess) and became a regular staple of American popular culture.

And now it’s going away.

A few more issues of new material, then they’ll rerun old material until all existing subscriptions run out, then…. they are done. Over. Kaput.

Partly due to the declining readership of print magazines in general, partly due to over-dilution of their brand among far too many other outlets for their younger target audience, and saddest of all, partly due to the overall dearth of satire and cancer of hypersensitive offense and humorlessness pervading our zeitgeist.

Fancy words for NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO JUST LAUGH AT CRAP ANYMORE.

MAD started out strong in comic book form under Harvey Kurtzman – the throw-everything-at-the-wall style of satire from those early issues holds up beautifully today. While some of the genre parodies are dated, the comic art and execution of the jokes still hit their marks. When MAD transitioned post-Kurtzman’s fallout with William M. Gaines into the b/w magazine format, the types of pieces varied somewhat, though the direct parodies of movies and television shows remained. The “usual staff of idiots” each stood out in their regular pieces for the magazine in the days I grew up with it – the observational humor of Dave Berg, the weirdness of Don Martin, the offbeat dark humor of Al Jaffe, the distinctive comic art variances of Antonio Prohias’ Spy vs Spy juxtaposed against the boxiness of Paul Coker’s people… the magazine was always well designed and very rich visually.

Before the age of video and before they got bought out by Warners for even more access, they’d parody movies a few months after they hit theaters, with uncanny reproductions of specific scenes by brilliant artists like Mort Drucker.

Continue reading “So Long, MAD Magazine”

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