Pat Kearns Solo Tour in September
I'm excited to announce solo shows for this September on the East Coast and in the Southwest. I'll be going to quite a few spots I've never played before. Help me spread the word! I'm thrilled to be ending the run in Tucson with a show with my old pal, and contributor to a couple of songs on So Long City, Gerald Collier. More details here.
Learning to Live Off the Grid
I try not to complain much. You know the old saying, "There's always someone worse off than you." It's true.
I just came back from Portland, OR, my old hometown. The place that I lived for nearly my entire life. And, man, do those people like to complain about the weather. Too hot, too rainy, too dry, too anything. Living in the Mojave, people consider you an idiot if you complain about the heat....for obvious reasons. If you can't take it, maybe you should be somewhere else? Ken Layne, the editor and voice of The Desert Oracle magazine and radio show (which you can listen to on podcast), called summer in the Mojave "the price of admission" to live here. I think it's worth the ticket.
But I can say this....we moved here full time this past May after living here part time for a few years. And now that we were exercising our wimpy, 12 volt, off-grid solar power set up, we realized it wasn't up to snuff to make day to day living work out here (or anywhere else). That 12 volt set up wasn't powerful enough to run the most efficient standard refrigerator we could find. If I wasn't working in the studio, we could afford to run the swamp cooler for no more than 90 minutes a day. And sometimes even less than 90 minutes would cause our inverter or controller to shut the whole system down. If I was working, we couldn't use the swamp cooler at all. The studio often drew too much power causing a voltage drop, which took our power off line sometimes for the remainder of the day. I worked a string of days in June above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes only in my underwear. Thankfully, the band I was mixing is in Canada.
Susan and I lived out of a cooler that you might take with you for camping. We got ice every day or sometimes every other day if we could stretch it from early May until August. I tried not to complain about the heat....I had gotten us into this situation in the first place. And so we began the process of upgrading our solar power set up from 12 volts to 48 volts beginning in late May. We ended up calling Ameresco, a company that specializes in selling off-grid power equipment. We settled on new panels, new batteries and a device called Radian by Out Back Power, which combines controller and inverter into an all in one, wall-mounted unit. This thing is robust. It took three of us to lift it onto the wall when we mounted it. (Thank you Joe Garcia!) We ordered the parts on June 10. They arrived just before 4th of July weekend. We picked them up from the warehouse in Temecula and realized we made a mistake in the order. We forgot to order mounting brackets for attaching the panels to our roof. It took another 10 days to get those to us in Landers. Susan and I started tearing our the old panels, batteries, conduit, inverter and controller on July 20. We finished mounting everything the morning of July 22. We couldn't schedule the off-grid electrician to come and help us finish the type of work only a licensed electrician should do until August 10. By the evening of August 11, we had power.
Our refrigerator is running. It was over 100 the last few days. We ran the swamp cooler as long as we wanted. The studio is running better and quieter than before....and even the lights work better in our cabin. A summer in the Mojave, with no air-conditioning or evaporative cooling is hard. But I'm still glad we stuck it out.....but I'm so thankful to have stable power now.
If you're thinking about making a go of it out somewhere in the wilds, I have some advice you might want to take into consideration. Doing anything takes two to three times as long as it might if you live in a developed area.