[nSLUG] Career Change - Part 4

Daniel MacKay daniel at bonmot.ca
Sat Dec 1 11:42:09 AST 2012

The result: it's too early to draw any conclusions, but I like it!  I was imagining renewable energy to be a lot about electrical and plumbing, and was not prepared for the amount of time I'd be spending on ladders and roofs but, after a couple of days and a Fall Arrest Course, I was comfortable working up there.

Also there's a little IT work; the big wind turbines are all monitored via IP (the Southwest Windpower one has its own built-in WAP) and on the photovoltaic panels I'm installing, each one is addressable so e.g. if one gets damaged or a tree casts a shadow on it, it can report low output compared to its neighbours and you can correct the problem.  The IP for those panels is laid on top of the 240VAC they're sending into the house, so there's no extra wiring.

I'm delighted by how my body has responded to this challenge - going directly from a desk job to being on my feet eight hours a day, and climbing ladders, more often than not with a solar panel or a box of evacutated tubes on my shoulder twenty times a day.   My legs and butt have substantially beefed up from the daily work, but I'm still waiting for a dramatic weight loss as it will make squeezing through the attic access hatches a little easier :-)

I've taken up a daily very simple yoga routine ("Sun Salutation") which seems to take all the kinks of the physical work out of my body; I sleep like a log and wake up refreshed. And I haven't fallen off a roof yet :-)  

I'm slowly acclimatizing to the brutally early mornings.  I was unaccustomed to being at work before the crack of noon, and my bosses like to be at the job site around 9 so that means being in my tradesman's truck an hour before.

I've been using Waze, ( https://www.waze.com/ ) navigation / trap tool on my iPhone, to get to the job sites (runs on Android too.) It routes based on traffic, will route you around accidents, and is kind of fun too! And it speaks directions.

It also alerts you to (crowdsourced) "traps" - all kinds of hazards including traffic jams, speed traps, accidents, road hazards etc, and has a gas prices feature which would be handy almost anywhere else :-)

I was using Trapster, but the latest version worked so poorly on my previous iPhone that I got to hate it. Plus, it only did traps - no navigation.  Waze's navigation system is not as good as MotionX-Drive, but it does so much more stuff the compromise is worth it.

From days on the roof I come home glowing with a farmer's tan, and Gabe says that I come home from a day at work in the photon mines serene and happy which is a big change from when I was pushing bits around.

And, I'm gradually learning when to wear gloves on the job site (The answer, in case you hadn't guessed, is "almost always.") and the lacerations, from the first couple of weeks are healing nicely.  I don't actually mind cuts and blood; I consider my body's ability to heal from those something miraculous, and watching that miracle a couple of times in the last month has been kind of fun.  And I haven't required any stitches.

Finally, thanks to a former co worker who was brave enough last summer to say, "Screw this IT stuff, I hate it" and being brave enough to make the leap to follow his dream to become a professional dog groomer.  I figured, if he can make that much of a change, I can too.

I'll still be around on NSLUG, but I won't bue geekin' it up nine-to-five any more.  It's a good change.

If you have any questions about solar or renewable energy - get me on IRC - EFNet or Freenode as CapnDan, or FB as https://www.facebook.com/DanielMacKay1961 or Skype as... ahh.. frig Skype :-)

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