Busy as a bee

For Christmas last year, I got Alissa a starter beekeeping kit. Today her first set of bees arrived.

When she ordered the bees, I was expecting a queen and a few bees. When we arrived to pick up the box of bees, it was literally a box of bees. They buzzed together.

Literally you pour the bees into their hive. Fascinating. So exciting. And so looking forward to our own honey!

Refreshment

Last week for our middle school youth group, we looked at Psalm 23. A slightly famous passage that can easily look outdated or irrelevant if you have read it too often.

But last week was a hard week for several different reasons, and as I read it last week, it felt fresh. Relevant. Needed. Revitalizing.

I also read last week a blog post about how Christians just can’t stand seeing anyone enjoy their life. And while I think that charge is warranted and completely justified, I think it’s incongruent with the picture that Psalm 23 paints.

Meadows and streams. Tables and feasts. Peace and stillness.

What a balm for the soul this passage is. No matter what good or bad thing you’re going through in life right now, God’s nearness refreshes us, revitalizes us, renews us. And it’s not because of our religious duty (did I have my morning quiet time, did I read enough or pray enough, am I enough) but because God is enough. I hope no matter what we all are dealing with right now that we can take some time and enjoy the nearness of God and rest in God’s enough-ness.

Questions from Noah

A day in the life with Noah. These are all the questions Noah has asked us tonight, just since dinner. (dinner was about an hour ago)

Noah: What would happen if you pickled a person? What would they taste like?

Noah: Guys, do you want to meet Nicki Minaj?

Noah: How many nights until Kwanzaa?

Noah: Does air have a soul?

Noah: Guys, do you want to hear more things happening inside my head?

Acoustic Bikes

The weather in Colorado lately has been nothing short of spectacular. I got the mountain bike down and replaced the seat. Also got the road bike/acoustic bike out and took it for a quick 30 minute ride.

Being outside when the weather is gorgeous is really great for the soul. Get out there and ride, whether you’re riding an ebike, an acoustic bike, or a mountain bike.

Tristan

We saw Tristan last year wandering around the neighborhood, in our yard and neighbors’ yards. I didn’t know the neighborhood had named him, and we haven’t seen him since last fall. Good to see he’s back! Alissa saw him on a walk this morning, at someone’s front porch.

“I’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty.”

Scooting

We have recently invested in a suite of new e-vehicles. Not cars but scooters. Alissa has one and Noah has one too.

Now that the weather is warming up, I’ve been scooting more often. Sometimes to run a quick errand at King Soopers, or just to go outside and enjoy being alive.

Scooters are slowly replacing our cars for quick little trips. I love it.

Garage Wifi Done ✅

The single Ethernet cable makes this so sweet. Have a POE injector in the basement, and the cable goes through a conduit in the backyard into the garage and … magic internet fairy dust.

Crimped both ends of the cable and it all worked on the first try. 😯💪🏼

Energy Production and Use Monitoring

I’ve gotten into a metrics kick around our energy use. We have used a bit more energy in this house then I expected based on our Xcel bills, and with the solar system and time-of-use pricing coming soon, I wanted more data on what’s driving our energy consumption.

I looked at a couple options. The one I’ve seen most frequently advertised is the Sense monitor. It has built in machine learning to try to detect which devices are which when they flip on. Pretty neat. But the solar monitor is the most expensive, and for our setup I’m not completely sure if it will work quite right. (our solar is tied into a sub-panel on the garage, so there’s no breaker that exclusively has production)

I discovered the Emporia Vue 2 monitor and almost immediately purchased it. It’s a bit more bare bones and doesn’t have the fancy-smancy machine learning built in, but for only $150 it includes 16 sensors so you can see the power use broken out across 16 different breakers, and it has solar detection built in. The sensors you attach to your main power lines have directionality built in so it knows when you’re pulling power from the grid and when you’re sending power to the grid.

I found it fairly easy to install myself, and I’ll post more about the installation another time. I have had it running since the beginning of February and it’s helped me discover some interesting things. Like we have a breaker labeled “heat” that I thought our furnace runs off of, but so far has never drawn any power at all. 🤔 Instead, we have discovered that the upstairs bathroom and furnace live on the same circuit, which is fascinating to me. Old houses…

When I first set it up, we had to go without the mains power sensors because our model of electrical box is integrated with the meter and there isn’t enough space to get the included 200 amp sensors around the bus bars. And this is nerve wracking because you can’t turn those off, they have live power at all times. 😬

But Emporia sells different sensors, so I got the Thin Profile sensors for $40 and installed them about a week ago. They just fit. (Emporia also sells another option but I wanted to avoid having to wire them in if I could.)

I reset the Vue so it would properly detect the solar array but most of last week it was comically wrong, attributing all our solar generation as if we were pulling from the grid. I had gone through their set up calibration process where you turn off generation and run a big appliance, I think so it can properly detect the directionality of power. But it still incorrectly showed that we were pulling a comical amount of power from the grid when our solar array was awake and generating a lot of power.

Late last week I tried the calibration process again, this time in the evening when our dryer was running (the biggest power draw we have) and everything was dark so we weren’t producing any power. The 2nd calibration seems to have done the trick.

Look at how it shows you how much power you pull from/contribute to the grid! Super awesome to see this data.

The selector on the bottom can show you the data based on live (seconds), past minute, current hour, current day, current week, current month, and current year.

You can see as of right when I took this screen shot, “balance” is what isn’t detected by the sub-sensors, and it’s green which means we’re contributing to the grid instead of pulling power from the grid. Our solar array is on a 100+ amp breaker, so the 50 amp sensors that came with the Vue don’t detect this power, which is why it shows up as a “balance”. (“balance” shows power to/from the 200 amp sensors to the meter that’s not picked up by any of the individual 50 amp circuit sensors)

I think the only thing I’d improve is to change the selector at the bottom. For instance, I’d expect “day” to show me the past 24 hours of use, but it actually shows today’s use from midnight on. I’d expect week to show me the past 7 days of use, but it shows me all that I’ve used since Monday morning.

Other than that, a neat little product to help you optimize your energy use.