Month: April 2020

Energy Usage – Update

We’ve been tracking the energy draw of our various appliances since getting our geothermal system a few years ago. It was great to see the diminished usage with the geothermal system, but I’d like to reduce our usage farther. Not just to save money on our bill and reduce our impact, but reducing our draw will reduce the number of solar panels we’ll need to support our home.

The items we’ve audited so far account for 88.46% of our energy usage in the past year — the oven, cook-top, microwave, bathroom exhaust fan/heater, lighting (we installed LED bulbs several years ago), and misc small plug-in devices (tools, small appliances, laptops/tablets, phones) are 11.54% of our usage. While I’ll certainly make improvements wherever possible … I’ll see a bigger savings cutting the septic aerator usage in half than completely eliminating the untracked draw. The biggest savings comes from investigating the top of the list.

HVAC is still our biggest draw. We’ve dropped the temperature rather significantly in winter without seeing much decrease in usage, so just changing the thermostat isn’t a big win. I’ll be building a thermal imaging camera with a MLX90640 IR sensor — it’s a cool toy, and I’d be able to identify thermal leaks. Unfortunately, I picked a really bad time to look for thermal imaging bits. All of the temp checks we’re seeing to identify coronavirus infections? Thermal imaging everything is on backorder. I put my order in, so I’ve got a place in the queue.

The water heater … I’m going to spend more time investigating why our desuperheater doesn’t seem to do much. We’ve seen savings in the winter — when I’d expect to see the least benefit from the desuperheater — and nothing in the summer. I want to research insulating some of the water pipes and installing heat traps. And we’ll finally purchase the “smart” controller that hooks up to the WiFi and lets you drop the set-point on a schedule.

Next largest draw is an old refrigerator — that’s an easy change. We’ve got a newer unit that needs some repair. One year of energy savings will just about pay for the part, so it makes sense to retire the old fridge and bring the broken one back into service.

Those changes, plus fully shutting down the old server, should reduce our power consumption by about 4,500 kWh/year — a 450$ savings, and a significant reduction in solar system sizing.

Item kWh/year
HVAC 4932
Septic 4668
Water heater 2676
White refrigerator (1989) 2250
Car charging 1164
Black refrigerator 1134
New server 1103
Dryer 245
Family Room TV 144
Dishwasher 118
Bedroom air filter 61
Water pump 53
Washing Machine 30
Downstairs bedroom TV 12
Raven charging 7

And, hopefully, we’ll finally hit the ‘efficient neighbors’ line 🙂


So … Gov DeWine dropped the requirement that customers wear masks when going into retail stores because people didn’t like it. Does that mean we can get rid of speed limits?

Also, how do people not get the irony of traveling to a mass gathering where people are not wearing masks to protest … not being allowed to travel, congregate, and avoid wearing masks!? I get that a lot of the protest centers around the “back to work” part of congregating … but on the face, protesters are doing exactly what they claim to not be permitted to do.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe by LisaCourse: Breakfast, DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time




Cooking time



Sweet rolls with cinnamon, brown sugar, and currants.


  • Dough
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

  • 1 cup warm water

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 3 tbsp softened butter

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 cup warm water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 egg

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • Cinnamon Filling
  • 1/4 cup softened butter

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup currants


  • Combine yeast and 1 tsp sugar in 1 cup warm water. Let set 5-10 minutes until frothy.
  • Put additional 1 cup warm water into stand mixer. Add 3 tbsp butter, 1/2 c sugar, and salt. Mix to combine.
  • Add eggs and yeast mixture to bowl.
  • Slowly add in flour and knead with bread hook for about five minutes. Add additional water or flour to make a slightly sticky dough.
  • Allow dough to rise for 30-60 minutes.
  • Flour a silicone mat and roll dough into a rectangle.
  • Spread 1/4 cup butter over dough.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over dough.
  • Sprinkle brown sugar over dough, then dot with currants
  • Using the long side of the rectangle, begin rolling the dough into a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into slices.
  • Butter your pan(s). Place rolls into pans, leaving an inch or two between rolls
  • Allow to rise for 60 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • Drizzle with topping — I used maple glaze, but a caramel sauce or maple syrup is good.

Curried Red Lentils

Curried Red Lentils

Recipe by LisaCourse: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Red lentils in a tomato and coconut milk curry sauce


  • Cooked Lentils
  • 1.5 cups split red lentils

  • 3 cups water

  • Curry Sauce
  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 Tbsp butter

  • 1 tsp garam masala

  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 Tbsp hot curry powder

  • 1 tsp sweet curry powder

  • 28 oz diced tomatoes, puréed

  • 14 oz can coconut milk, solids


  • Boil water. Add lentils and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté for a few minute, until onions become translucent.
  • Add spices and heat until fragrant.
  • Stir in tomato purée and simmer for 20 minutes to reduce.
  • Stir in coconut milk solids and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Add lentils and simmer for five minutes.
  • Serve over jasmine rice.

Air Popper

We got a air popper to make popcorn (we’d made some really good caramel corn a few night previously, and really want to make some more … plus it’s just easier to use an air popper than to pop the kernels on the stove). Picked Presto’s 04820 (which is cheaper and , evidently, the same as the 04821 but without the popcorn company’s logo on it) – a 1475 Watt air popper). It works well,  but there’s a strange design decision — no on/off switch. Obviously, we can unplug the thing and plug it in again when we’re ready to use it. I expect a majority of the use cases involve the popper being put into a cupboard somewhere when not in use anyway — so the machine is going to be unplugged after each use.

I expect this is a trend we’ll see in small appliances — it’s a component cost the company saved, reduced assembly time, and a point of failure is eliminated.

Oracle Password Expiry – Sandbox Server

Oracle 11g seems to ship with password expiry enabled — which is a very good thing for production systems. I’ve even written some code to maintain our system account password (scripts are grabbing the password from a not-clear-text storage facility anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal to add an n-1 password and move the current stashed password into the n-1 column, change the account password, and stash the updated password in the current password location … now my system ID password is updated by a monthly cron job, no one actually knows the password {although anyone could find it, so I would run the password cycle script when individuals leave the group}). But I’m a lot lazier about this stuff in my sandbox. Proof of concept code has clear text passwords. But the server is bound to localhost & there’s no real data in, well, anything.

I started seeing lines in my error log indicating the password would expire. Aaaand that’s how I learned that password expiry was enabled by default now.

[Sat Apr 18 07:42:59 2020] [error] [client] PHP Warning: oci_connect(): OCI_SUCCESS_WITH_INFO: ORA-28002: the password will expire within 7 days in /var/www/vhtml/…/file.php on line 191, referer: …

I’m going to disable password expiry because it’s a sandbox. For a real system, obviously, this may not be a stellar idea.

select USERNAME, ACCOUNT_STATUS, PROFILE from dba_users where USERNAME = 'SampleUser';




Note the account status “EXPIRED(GRACE)” — that’s why I am getting the error shown above. Grab the profile name — it’s a sandbox, so 99% sure it’s going to be ‘DEFAULT’ and alter that profile with an unlimited password expiration:

alter profile <profile_name> limit password_life_time UNLIMITED;

Except that didn’t actually stop the error. Turns out you’ve still got to change the password once the account has been flagged as expired (or let the password expire and then unlock the account … but I was looking at the log because I’m debugging something, and I wanted the error to stop *right now*).

alter user SampleUser identified by N3W_P@s5_w0rD;



Here are the chickens we want to order. I had put together a list based on research and talking to other people. Then I let Anya go through the hatchery’s website and pick the chickens she liked. Then I showed her where to find info about how many eggs they produce, if they are good in hot and cold weather, how friendly they are. We went through her list & eliminated birds that didn’t want to be in the cold, weren’t friendly, or only produce an egg a week. She really wants a white leghorn, but they say it’s not a good breed for cold weather. All but one of the ones I added were dropped because of lower egg production or less friendly personalities, so she was OK with removing some of her favorites from the list because sooooo many of mine got removed too.

Now we just have to wait until August for them to arrive! There’s evidently been a run on both chickens and seeds as people encounter runs on, well, everything at the grocery store.

Name Breed Eggs-Low Eggs-High Climate Personality Egg Size Eggs Baby Adult
Astra Austra White 208 260 Heat and Cold Hardy Quite, tame and docile Large  Austra White Day Old Austra White Chicks For Sale at Meyer Hatchery, Your Premier Poultry Source
Sunshine Buff Orpington 200 280 Very Cold Hardy Docile, Quiet & Affectionate Large Buff Orpingtons lay large light brown eggs Day old baby Buff Orpington chicks Beautiful and fluffy Buff Orpington hen
Tilly Columbian Wyandotte 180 Very Robust, Cold Hardy Generally Docile Large Columbian Wyandottes lay lots of brown eggs every year. Shop Meyer Hatchery for your day old baby chicks! We ship nationwide year-round. Columbian Wyandotte Hens are a beautiful mix of mostly white with black accents.
Queenington Green Queen 208 260 extremely hearty in all climates Friendly, Docile, Good Pet Large  Green Queen  Green Queen
Soaring Eagle Black Jersey Giant 180 200 very cold hearty Calm & Easy Going Medium Black Jersey Giants are a sustainable heritage breed that lays brown eggs. Black Jersey Giant Hens have black feathers and willow or black legs and feet.


Protesting the Protests

There are some people protesting the stay at home orders – I see videos from outside of DeWine’s daily briefings, and several other states seem to have similar problems. Apart from the question of astroturfing, problem is that there’s very little opportunity for counter-protests. When you go to DC, there are PETA people counter-protesting the people looking to fund medical research (animal testing). There are vegans counter-protesting people looking to increase subsidies in the meat industry. I’ve never seen an abortion protest that didn’t have both sides represented.

These ‘liberate us’ protests? These are people who don’t think they should have to stay at home – they should allowed to hang out at bars, eat in restaurants, shop, party, and … oh yeah … crowd together at protests. The people who think the stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders are important to protect their health? Seems like a far smaller portion of them would be willing to hang out in Columbus in a protest. Even if they could find masks and whatnot.

Why drive somewhere nonessential? Your car breaks down, and you’re exposed to others (and exposing them to you). You get into an accident and you’re exposed to others (and exposing them to you). Get injured in the accident and you’re adding to the patient load at hospitals. We’re not just staying at home to avoid large congregations. We’re staying at home to create less load for emergency personnel.

Did you know … you can list the members of your MS Team?

Without any special Administrative rights, you can list the members of the Azure AD groups that are used in MS Teams. If you don’t already have the AzureAD module installed, install it. In Windows, this is:

Install-Module -Name AzureAD

In Linux,you’ll need the preview of Azure AD:

# To run on Linux, you need the preview mode of AzureAD
Register-PackageSource -Trusted -ProviderName 'PowerShellGet' -Name 'Posh Test Gallery' -Location
Install-Module -Name AzureAD.Standard.Preview

Connect to AzureAD. There is a separate command to list the group owners (Get-AzureADGroupOwner). I’ve always found the owner(s) in the member list as well, but it’s technically possible to have entries unique to the owner list.

Get-AzureADGroup -SearchString "Group Name Here" | Get-AzureADGroupOwner -All $True
Get-AzureADGroup -SearchString "Group Name Here" | Get-AzureADGroupMember -All $True

Redirect the output to a file if you wish to use the results elsewhere, or stash the returned member list in a variable and use Get-AzureADUser to get additional information for the user records.

$objMembers | ForEach-Object -Process {get-azureaduser -objectid $_.ObjectID}