relo to east of Flagstaff, lobster mushrooms, death of the laptop

It’s a bit of a struggle at the moment.

East side of Flagstaff

There is BLM and NF land SE of Flagstaff that should allow easy jumping back and forth until the end of the summer season. It’s ~1000ft lower so a few degrees warmer than the west side. About half the distance to town, and the Planet Fitness and related amenities are on the east side anyhow. I am able to pick a couple OTA channels here to feed the DVR.

The land is radically different on this side of town. West side was heavily forested with medium-sized Ponderosa pines. This side has much more open field, and the relatively few trees are much lower junipers and cedars (guessing). Tons of birds over here.

monsoon is over

The monsoon season is over, which means less mud and more flexibility in site choice. It also means clear skies for solar. Unfortunately, temps spiked about 15deg F and it’s going to be uncomfortably near 90F for the next week. Ugh. I’m timeshifting to get more done in early morning and taking a siesta in the afternoon.

lobster mushrooms

russula lobster peeking out freshly sliced spore print dried

By the end of monsoon the west side was positively overrun with fungi. One of the common late arrivals was Russula brevipes, an edible but nondescript mushroom in both appearance and flavor. Not enough value there to risk misidentification, IMO.

Fortunately for us, the russula can be mutated into a lobster mushroom, by Hypomyces lactifluorum, a parasitic fungus. The resulting entity is a dramatic, easily identifiable mushroom with no look-alikes, greatly improved flavor, density, and texture.

The red-orange shroom is easy to spot on the drab forest floor, even when partially covered with pine needles and dirt. I walked about a half-hour and picked a plastic grocery bag full. These things are very heavy and I would guess the bag weighed at least 3lbs. In the hand the fruits had about the same density as a damp dirt clod.

I used the sun to dehydrate them for later use. After a few days in the sun they are bone dry and weigh ~100g total. The harvest fits in a single quart freezer back.

When I was rearranging the sliced fruits I noticed “spore prints” on the red paper plate holders. I was aware spore printing was something mushroom people did but had never seen the results.

I smoked my laptop

While I was searching for something in the “basement”1 a few weeks ago I found an old Scrypt mining rig. Since there was so much sun I decided to see if I could get it running again. I vaguely remembered there had been something weird about about it when I had put it away so long ago.

The miner is powered by 12v and connects to the controller (my laptop) by usb. I was having trouble powering it up and kept trying. I noticed the laptop screen was off so I reached over to wake it. Nothing.

After a few days of playing with it I have deduced the motherboard was smoked by a voltage transient coming over through the USB connection from the malfunctioning miner. :-(

I didn’t really have the spare cash to buy this new-to-me laptop in the first place, and now I’ve destroyed it after about a month of use. I am trying to stay positive but the heat and dead laptop are wearing on me.


  1. replace the motherboard. I am bad with hardware and don’t want to do this.
  2. hire someone to fix it. My reading suggests this would cost more than another used laptop.
  3. buy a used one (same model) without RAM, SSD, or power adapter and move those easy bits over.

I think I am going with #3. I will troll eBay looking for a donor. In the meantime I will limp along on this chromebook. If the chromebook dies I’ll use the phone with a BT keyboard. Luckily most of the stuff I do is hosted on the linux virtual server in Europe.

effect of heat on solar harvest

Perhaps counterintuitively, solar panel harvest goes down as the panels warm up.

My array is rated 750w @ Vmp 90.9v. Right now the MPPT finds Vmp at 78.2v, which means heat has derated Vmp (and therefore panel max power) by 14%.

I have enough panel that it doesn’t really matter, but folks cutting it close might take note. After temperature derating and solar angle the system is actually making ~510w.


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  1. storage beneath the bed platform