There’s a solar farm just north of Winfield Village, with ranks of solar arrays that turn from pointing east to pointing straight up to pointing west. (Oddly, they’re not arranged to point south. I assume the people who built it knew what they were doing, but I’ve been puzzling over it for a couple of years.)

The directions they point (and the timing of the changes) seem odd, and I’ve been trying to characterize the whole thing.

I initially assumed that they’d be programmed to point a particular direction based on ephemeris data about where the sun will be, but that seems not to be the case.

Here’s one piece of data: At dawn they do not turn to point east. Rather, they turn to point straight up:

Array of solar panels pointing pretty much straight up

It is only after the sun is well up that the panels turn to face east.

Last night, perhaps an hour before sunset, they were pointed about halfway between west and straight up. Which kind of makes sense, as there were clouds to the west, so they clear sky straight up was probably as bright as the sun behind the cloudy sky.

My current working theory is that the panels turn to face whatever direction produces the most power, regardless of where the sun is in the sky.

Array of solar panels pointing mostly west.

I’ll continue to watch, and try to characterize their behavior further.

Maybe I’ll even get in touch with the University and see if they can provide a link to a description!

Ashley and I have been figuring out how the dog should be walked, in order to get her enough exercise that she isn’t a pest, and to make sure that she doesn’t have “accidents” in the house. Here’s how things seem to be shaping up:

  • First walk: As soon as we get up we go out for a peeing and pooping walk. This walk is usually very short, as the dog is happy to come right back in again when it’s cold and dark outside.
  • Second walk: After I’ve had a cup or two of coffee, Ashley is ready to go out again to Check All the Things. At first she just needed to check the patio. Then she needed to check the courtyard outside the patio. Now she wants to check the nearby courtyards and sidewalks as well.
  • Third walk: After breakfast (for her and us), and after it’s light outside, we go for our Long Walk of the Morning. This walk is often three miles or more, and often involves leaving Winfield Village and walking in nearby neighborhoods. Its goal is to give the dog enough exercise that she’s happy to doze for an hour or two after we get in.
  • Fourth walk: If our main meal of the day is late, I want to take the dog out for another short walk before we sit down to eat, so she can pee again.
  • Fifth walk: After our main meal of the day, we go out for another walk. Again, this walk is for peeing and pooping if necessary.
  • Sixth walk: Ashley’s main meal of the comes at 3:00 PM, so I can take her for another walk ahead of cocktail hour. The intention is for this to be her Long Walk of the Afternoon, although there’s not really enough time for as long a walk as would be necessary to get her to be calm during cocktail hour. So this is still a work in progress.
  • Seventh walk: Just before bedtime, I take Ashley out for another walk so she can pee, so she doesn’t need to pee during the night. This walk tends to be quite short, as Ashley is as ready to go to bed as we are.

The Fourth Walk doesn’t always happen, if she doesn’t seem to need to go out before our main meal of the day, so some days we’re already down to six walks per day. (We were doing about eight walks per day for the first several weeks, as anything less led to peeing or pooping in the house.)

Photo of Ashley
Ashley during today’s Long Walk of the Afternoon

Longer term, I’m hoping to get down to about four walks: First walk, Long walk of the morning, Long walk of the afternoon, and Just before bedtime.

Wish me luck.

Although we’re doing slightly fewer walks, we’re probably walking longer distances—I’m averaging a full 8 miles per day last week and this week.