Tag Archives: Phone Charger

Streak Day #32 Sucks: A Values Checklist

Sunday, the last day of the WordPress week, and what do I write? I’m feeling some pressure now; I need about 25 more views today (in the remaining eight hours…) to have another record week. I don’t think it’ll happen. And if I pull off about 45 or 50 a day I can crack that 1,000 views in a month goal I’ve had. I don’t think that’ll happen either. I didn’t even have much hope for it the past week but the past few days has (once again somehow and I don’t know why) had quite a bit more views than usual, giving me just enough hope to have it totally crushed by Wednesday.

I’m tempted to try to write another “masterpiece” blog post but don’t have it in me. I haven’t made any progress on the Morrowind story this week and finally got around to a rough draft about two hours ago. That must be edited and posted and has priority over any bullshit I want to write here.

So what to write? I don’t know. Let me sit here and think about it. I’ve already talked plenty about this stupid coronavirus and don’t want to do it anymore. Work? Work sucks. I hate being at work but I hate being anywhere else. You trade work for boredom mostly. Any projects at home? Well, I bought a massive 100 Watt solar panel from Amazon that arrived today; not that I can do anything with it because it’s been perpetually cloudy. I think I’ll rig up some extension cords to make the system “plug-and-play” or something like that. I’m just sick of soldering shit, using alligator clips, or whatever else I can conjure up to connect wires. My last panel was a tiny 10 Watt panel; this boi is ten times the power! I can’t wait to get started.

But the Morrowind story hangs over me like these damn clouds in the sky. That’s the goal for today and as much as I want to fuck with this blog, Dark Souls, or my new big boi solar panel, I can’t until that is finished. Or at least finished enough that I can put it together before midnight or before I’m too drunk to edit, whichever comes first. That’s why I’m doing this now, to get it out of the way.

Drinking today means a trip to the store. I need extension cords for my project. I can’t believe I bought a 2 x 4 foot solar panel for $100 so I can charge my phone with solar power. It’s such a simple goal but one that is taking on a life of its own. I’m dreading a trip to the store. Last week was pretty comfy — Meijer was all but deserted — but I’m starting to have anxiety about being around people in public. Who is infected and who isn’t? Has this box of tomatoes been handled by someone with The Disease and by picking up the box I’m going to get myself and my family killed? Every person that drives by or walks by, I wonder if they’re infected or not. Everyone is a hazard, every object outside of the house is a hazard, and if you let yourself think too much about it in a careless way it’s nearly impossible not to feel frightened by the world. Remember I think I’m doing well with the COVID anxiety too. How is everyone else doing if I’m becoming this way?

I suppose there is that paper the therapist gave me from Thursday, something about discovering your values that I haven’t even looked at yet, so maybe I can check that out. Fuck, let’s do it together. I’ll type it out here and if that takes too much effort I’ll take a picture of it.

Exercise: A Values Checklist

Below are some common values. (They are not ‘the right one’; merely common ones.) Please read through the list and write a letter next to each value based on how important it is to you. Of course, some values will be more important in one area of life (e.g. parenting) than in another area (e.g. work) — so this is just to get a general sense of the values that tend to matter to you the most.

  • Acceptance/self-acceptance: to be accepting of myself, others, life, etc.
  • Adventure: to be adventurous; to actively explore novel or stimulating experiences
  • Assertiveness: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want
  • Authenticity: to be authentic, genuine, and real; to be true to myself
  • Caring/self-care: to be caring towards myself, others, the environment, etc.
  • Compassion/self-compassion: to act kindly toward myself and others in pain
  • Connection: to engage fully in whatever I’m doing and be fully present with others
  • Contribution and generosity: to contribute, give, help, assist, or share
  • Cooperation: to be cooperative and collaborative with others
  • Courage: to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty
  • Creativity: to be creative or innovative
  • Curiosity: to be curious, open-minded, and interested; to explore and discover

Okay well this list is forty items long, so I’ll just put the values and omit the explanation. If you need them defined: Google them.

  • Encouragement
  • Engagement
  • Fairness and justice
  • Fitness
  • Flexibility
  • Freedom and independence
  • Friendliness
  • Forgiveness/self-forgiveness
  • Fun and humor
  • Gratitude
  • Honesty
  • Industry
  • Intimacy
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Mindfulness
  • Order
  • Persistence
  • Respect/self-respect
  • Responsibility
  • Safety and protection
  • Sexuality
  • Skillfulness
  • Supportiveness
  • Trust
  • Other:________
  • Other:________

Apparently the list is from Russ Harris at this website right here. So I didn’t steal it, okay?

Hopefully you guys got something out of that. It sure does seem like something you really need to sit down and think about that’s for sure.

So as I was typing that, I realized all sound really good and I think I hold nearly everything as a value somewhat. There aren’t any that I noped away from: everything sounds great! Maybe fairness and justice can get the axe: life simply isn’t fair. I think we should strive for fairness but claiming something is unfair doesn’t mean shit. Anyways, this only complicates the matter. I think it’d be easier to ask what values you don’t hold than to ask what values you do hold. Trim the paper until you’re left with a shape that is actually you, in a way.

Basically on Thursday the therapist said that maybe if I had a clear value system it might be easier to define my actions, to uphold my values in a way that gives my life some integrity and meaning. Not that I don’t have integrity or am a total heathen, I’m just lost and confused to where I’m aimless. She said to give myself some goals to give myself direction, and when asking about what goals I should set because I don’t know what the fuck I want to do she said to figure out my values. What I hold dear in life. The shit that I think is important. So basically values -> goals -> direction, something like that. More layers to the onion, I suppose.

Now my issue is I’m not sure how to live according to values exactly. An obvious one I have is curiosity; I’m always surprised that some people, maybe most people, simply don’t seem to give a shit about anything around them. Is anyone curious? Given the COVID-19 example you’d think maybe a large chunk of the population are reading about viruses, immunity, ventilators, exponential growth, RNA sequences, the flu, or vaccines, but most are probably reading questionable articles from Facebook (and spam-sharing them) about how maybe shoving some herbal supplements up your ass might make you immune to the disease. I don’t know this for a fact — luckily most of my friends don’t seem to be raging dumbfucks — but in the 2020 post-information/disinformation age curiosity and critical thinking in general appear to not be a huge priority to people.

Rant aside, how do I live according to having curiosity as a value? Just be curious? That’s it? I think another value I have is “helping people” or “spreading knowledge” but how the fuck do you help people be curious if they aren’t already? How do I leave by example? And even if I figure this out, how does it apply to a life goal? What job can I get that values curiosity and teaching people? A teacher? Is that what I’m supposed to do? What about that minor dream of being a flight instructor? Well, shit, maybe all of this therapy bullshit does make some sense if you think about it enough.

And that’s enough thinking about it for now. Onto the store, a six/twelve-pack of Claws, and editing that damn Morrowind story. Maybe perseverance is one of my values as well…

Solar Phone Chargers Suck

A few nights ago, in bed and unable to sleep (like always) I had a drunken idea. I wasn’t drunk at the time but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a classic drunken idea. You might know exactly what I’m talking about; it’s one of those ideas that sounds amazingly amazing at the time but upon waking up and mulling over the idea ten hours later you realize it sounds kinda silly, undoable, and stupid.

I want to go live in the woods for a week.

I don’t want to get too much into my reasoning here, but I think I need a break from life in general. Just to get away. Being poor means I can’t hop in an airplane and fly away for a vacation, and I don’t have any scheduled vacations until July, so living in the woods seems great because it’s cheap and doable. And I can’t think of a better way to escape life than to live in the woods like a bum.

My main issue is this: I don’t want to totally abandon society. Writing is part of the introspection process for me, and there is no goddamn way I’m going to write in a notebook. I want to make some progress with my stories and continue blogging and transferring notebook writings to a computer is a time consuming mess. Most of the time I can’t even read my writing, especially the hastily written scrawl that appears when I’m in the zone. To live in the woods I need my phone and preferably my computer. Sounds easy enough, right?

I’m going to ignore all the other logistical problems here like where I’m going to sleep, what I’m going to eat, where I’m going to park my car so I can still get to work, etc. and focus on the phone and computer problem here. It’s a pain in the ass to solve.

The main problem is going to be charging the damn things. I’m totally ignoring the WiFi needed for my computer here by the way. A phone is easy enough to charge given a power source (the obvious one here is a car) but the computer is different. It requires a 120 volt AC source to charge. The easiest solution would be to use a car inverter (which I have) to charge it, but these options involve the car again. I want to live in the woods far enough away that if I am doing this project illegally in the park that I’m well hidden. Camping too close to a parking lot might get me booted from the park straight away.

Ideally I could charge my stuff via something that is usually present when living outdoors: the sun. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s in the sky for about half the day, and it’s the primary source of power for everything on earth. It’s an obvious choice. And I also have about three solar panels.

The one I want to use is a larger maybe 1.5 sq. ft. solar panel that puts out about 20 volts max. The other two are smaller 6 volt panels. It’s this guy right here:

AA battery pack for scale.

Any project that you attempt should start as simply as possible, only adding complexity to solve a problem. The most obvious way to charge my phone (and let’s worry about charging that piece of hardware before even worrying about the laptop) is to connect the solar panel directly to the phone. But seeing as the panel puts out like 20 volts in direct sunlight and the phone charges from a 5 volt USB supply I’m terrified to do this. It might not even work and in the worst case scenario I might blow my phone up or destroy it. Do I want to risk my Samsung S7 by hooking a panel directly to it? No way.

This is probably a good way to fry the circuits in your phone.

Luckily I also have an LM7805 integrated circuit (IC for short: this basically means there’s a bunch of shit in the chip to make it do what you need it to do without working out the details on your own) which takes some input voltage and outputs 5 volts: perfect for a USB charger. So now the plan is this: hook solar panel up to the LM7805 and hook that to my phone. Here’s a poorly-drawn example:

The LM7805 is not really this large.

And the phone did charge! But damn did it charge slowly. I started charging it (while off to save power) at 59%; about 45 minutes later it was at 62%. Jeez. This wasn’t going to work at all.

Back to the drawing board. Solar panels don’t put out a whole lot of current. They provide free electricity, but it takes a huge solar collection area to do anything useful with it and this is why the phone was charging so slowly. I was directly trying to capture energy into the phone, and it was slow indeed. If only I could store the energy into another battery passively to use later. Collect power all day in the sunlight and then charge quickly when I needed to. So here’s the plan now:

Another good question is how all of this shit is supposed to survive in the woods for a week.

I’m going to take eight rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries and charge them via the panel. (Note: These things are great. I use them in gaming remotes, TV remotes, and anything else that eats through batteries. When they die, you charge them, and you don’t need to constantly have a stack of alkaline AAs laying around the house.) Since each battery provides 1.4 volts, the entire pack should be around 11.2 volts; 12 volts from the panel (regulated by a charge controller. I know I said 20 volts earlier) should be perfect to charge them. And when I want to charge the phone, I use them along with the LM7805 circuit to give the USB line, and the phone, 5 volts. The batteries should store all the energy passively through the day, and I can charge (hopefully) quickly when I need to. I don’t know if this will work as well as I hope it should. I currently have the batteries charging and after the sun goes down I’ll see how charging the phone works.

The full setup so far. I would have my phone in the picture charging, but guess what I had to use to take the picture?

An easy work around here would be to grab a car battery and haul that around with me, but car batteries are heavy. I don’t want hauling a 50 pound battery around to be part of my living in the woods project.

I charged the 8 rechargeables with the panel for about two or three hours. I was then able to charge my phone with those from 43% to 49% in about a half-hour at a half-amp of current. This isn’t too bad even if it is slow for a phone. It’s doable at least. Obviously I need to start with freshly charged batteries so all the panel has to do is “top them off” periodically instead of doing all the heavy lifting of charging them in the first place. I’d like to stress again how little current a solar panel puts out. To do anything you need a large solar panel.

And to close this really boring post: let me bitch about solar powered cell phone chargers, like the kind you buy in a store. My mother-in-law kept talking about them today. Apparently there’s one that’s about the size of a cell phone and can charge a phone very quickly. It even works in the shade! she mentioned. I call bullshit on this. If it has a tiny, phone-sized solar panel, it won’t be able to do jack shit. The product probably has a big, fat, lithium-ion battery which can likely charge a phone multiple times before it dies. The solar panel is there to charge it in the meantime, just like my shitty setup detailed here. The problem: the panel is too small! To charge the internal battery I’m guessing this shitty, tiny device must be left in direct sunlight for at least three days, probably more. While it might work great if the internal battery is fully charged, the solar panel will be unable to top it off even under low use. This is simply physics and can’t be worked around. Charging your phone by solar power fucking sucks.