improvements and observations


My food and clothing storage has never been great. I started out with a snap-together cube arrangement which was excellent for organization but not sturdy enough for vanfolk. It collapsed regularly and there may have been cussing.

I tired of that and bought four large stackable bins, two for food (pantry and backup) and two for clothes (in-season and out-of-season). This worked ok, except:

  1. I had to remove the top bins to access the bottom ones
  2. there was a lot of wasted vertical space
  3. and no room for appliances like crock pot, rice cooker, etc.

I picked up a low coffee table thing (?) to stack the bins on. This reduced wasted vertical space and allowed appliance storage underneath. This worked ok for a while then the stacking and unstacking started to aggravate me. Then the bottom bin lids started collapsing from the weight of the upper bins (my fault).

I’ve been threatening to buy wire kitchen racks since ~2018.

wire racks

I measured the space and found something that worked: two racks that are 54” x 36” x 14”. So the total space is 72” wide. I was looking shelves deeper than 14” but all the 16” and 18” were to tall too fit under my overhead shelving.

It took several hours to pull everything out of the driver’s side of the van, build the racks in place, strap them down, put everything back on the racks and make paracord or bungee retention. The result is very usable. It did not increase my actual storage area but there are substantial benefits:

  1. it made every container directly accessible
  2. since each container sits on a shelf the broken lids are now just dustcovers – I don’t have to buy any more containers.
  3. the narrower width increased “hallway” width by 6-10”, depending on the spot one is standing
  4. I haven’t started cleaning out each container in earnest yet, but direct access allowed me to shift stuff around and find stuff to jettison. The chaos and jumble was starting to weigh on my mental health.

Total cost was $113 with tax and the Home Depot 10% vet’s discount. Money well spent.

the pillowcase trick

I saw a vid once where a person put their off-seaon clothing in a pillowcase. OMG. I did that yesterday, freeing up an entire large bin. I moved the appliances and bulk staples (flour, cornmeal, rice, etc) into it. The bin, not the pillowcase.


bulking up

The 1TB SSD was hovering around 40% utilzation (~250GB of YT vids and ~150GB of OTA recordings). I decided to bulk up the OTA records to “bank” them for times I am not around OTA signals.

I increased the number of episodes to keep on shows I like, and added a few shows I wasn’t that excited about. It costs nothing and may pay off it I am way out in the sticks.

MPV is teh MVP

I really, really (really) wanted to get subtitles elegantly included with my YT vids. It seemed straightforward but I ended up have many forms of breakage when YT did weird things with the subs. Finally got that figured out.

Part of that journey involved testing an external player for .mkv and .mp4. I landed on MVP and HOLY CARP!! is it excellent. I remapped the key commands to mimic MythTV’s internal player controls. I would switch OTA playback to it, too, but I’d lose the progress icons.

video sorting

I have a script that auto-sorts YT vids based on title string matching but it’s not very precise. I think it gets about 85% correct. It would take a lot of work to make it 100% and it was time consuming to manually move mismatched vids to their rightful homes.

So I wrote a little script that presents each vid in a sorted subdir for categorization and allows one-key sorting to another subdir. Very fast.

My next microproject will be renaming downloaded .srt subtitles to match the movie file’s naming scheme so the players will recognize them. It’s starting to take rough shape in my noodle but I haven’t opened a text editor on it yet…

Insolation wars: Yuma vs El Paso

I usually think of Yuma as an example of good insolation in deep winter, and frequently use it as an example.

Last year I was doing some math and noticed that El Paso, TX actually has higher winter insolation – 3.34kWh/day in December vs 3.16kWh in Yuma. Forgot to mention it until now.