Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

April 2018 was an exceptionally warm month in Belgium, according to the local meteorological services. But “warm” does not equal “sunny”. In fact, April 2018 was almost the April with the least sunlight in the history of our panels – only April 2012 was a bit darker. And 82% of the average is nothing to boast about…

The good news: today is a fine, sunny day – much better than yesterday!


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March 2018 was the darkest month of March since 2009, measured by the solar energy production of our panels. It was the darkest March by far, by the way, since a production of 133 KWh is far below the previous minimum of March 2013. It’s just 87% of that minimum, and more than 20% less than last year – those numbers cannot be explained by the diminishing efficiency of the panels.

We don’t need a blue sky from dusk till dawn; we don’t mind a few clouds or a bit of rain. But more sun would be welcome, and not just for our panels (I’m not too good making photos with artificial light).

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Why Do We Blog, Jason?

Last week, Jason Kottke’s blog celebrated its twentieth birthday. Yes, that’s less than Johann S.Bach, but nevertheless quite a feat: I don’t know many blogs that go back so long (Dave Winer’s Scripting.com is probably the most prominent one).

His first post, March 14, 1998

I can’t say that I have read every one of Jason’s posts, but at least I knew – and appreciated – his writings many years ago; I even referred to his blog in 2003. Some of his latest words resonate clearly with my own experience:

I had a personal realization recently: kottke.org isn’t so much a thing I’m making but a process I’m going through. A journey. A journey towards knowledge, discovery, empathy, connection, and a better way of seeing the world.

In December 2014, I mentioned a similar realisation on the one but last slide of a presentation on blogging. Check it out on “My Life As A Blogger In A Few Images“.

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For those of you who still don’t know it: “weather” is what happens today (and changes sometimes multiple times on a single day), “climate” is what happens over a very long time and is best left to scientists to determine.

Anyway: what is really interesting is that February was a very sunny month here, while December 2017 and January 2018 were pretty dark months.

E-production numbers for our installation during the month of February 2018

Complaining about dark and grey days may be fashionable and helpful to get frustration out of your mind, but in the end the real conclusion is that the Belgian winter was pretty average when it comes to the sun. Just have a look at the numbers at the bottom of the Solar Energy Production statistics: you’ll see that the Winter of 2017-2018 as a whole was neither extremely dark nor exceptionally sunny.

Of course, that’s just Belgium. The weather in the Arctic region as a whole is a completely different story: temperatures are up to 15 degrees Celsius higher than average, rising above zero and thus contributing to the melting of the sea and land ice in the region. As CNN writes:

But one thing is clear: What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. It is Earth’s air conditioner, helping to regulate temperature and weather patterns in the middle latitudes. When that balance is compromised, only one thing is certain — strange weather.

Be prepared!

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I like this post from Signal vs. Noise, especially today (yup, it’s my birthday, and I’m… older than 25, let’s say).

The Bedroom, by Vincent van Gogh, 1888.
Get more details by clicking on the picture.

I think the world puts too much focus on the Picassos and the young phenoms. We overlook the Cézannes. The folks who took a while to experiment on getting better and better and who never stopped.

The thing I take from this is that if you find yourself still experimenting in life. If you don’t have it all figured out. If you’re 30, 40, 50, 60 and still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up…

There’s still plenty of room and time to get better. Your peak is still ahead.

Thank you for the encouragement, Nathan Kontny!

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Where’s The Sun?

Here in Belgium, we know a lot about “bad weather” (meaning wind and rain and sleet and hail and an occasional storm). But the last few months are worse than anything most of us have seen – and certainly worse, at least in terms of hours of sunshine, than anything our solar panels have seen!

During January 2018, the solar electricity production of our panels was only 75% of the average of all the previous years… We know the low numbers are not just the result of the ageing of our panels, nor dirt, nor failing panels in the batch, because our friends tell us the same story.

But there’s hope: last Monday was a wonderful, sunny day. Too bad most of us had to spend the day at a desk in the office.

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Just Another One-Liner…

I have added a new line to an page that has been living on this site for many years: the One-liners page is part of my attempt to salvage a bit of good humour.

This one is worth more than a chuckle, at least for IT nerds (thanks, BoingBoing):

What does a Jedi use to open a PDF file? Adobe-Wan Kenobi

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