Category Archives: Electricity issues

Energy Adaptation

Now that we have upped our overall power potential, we’ve been trying to figure out how to use it most appropriately. Each of us has different thoughts on appropriate use so we’ve had a few arguments along the way.

My priority is having enough energy to teach classes, sometimes up to 6 hours a day. Since I start in the afternoon and work until several hours after dark, I want to make sure that there is enough charge in the batteries that I can complete my shifts. We now have 5 batteries, with the plan of purchasing yet another one with my next paycheck, so mostly this hasn’t been an issue.

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Music to my ears!

Of secondary importance to me is power for the washer.  We’ve established a routine whereby wash is done only on days when I don’t have classes because classes are of course of higher importance than clean chonies. Besides, if worse comes to worst, we can still handwash using the lavadero (washboard).

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“Doing classwork Mom!”

My son has different priorities. He is working on completing prepa (high school) online, so theoretically classwork comes first. However, he’s having trouble motivating himself to complete the current algebra course, so playing video games absorbs most of his time. Of course, since we are sharing his computer so that I can teach classes, he’s somewhat frustrated with his gaming time allotment. Furthermore, his desktop computer uses more energy than any other item we use. And since I’m already using it 6 hours a day, he is even further limited.

My husband has gone through a strange transformation since the purchase of the most recent battery. He’s become Defender of the Power. Any unauthorized energy use by either my son or me is up for debate. This includes a light left off by accident when a room is empty and charging my kindle. He monitors the voltage as obsessively as my son checks the internet ping, which fluctuates wildly throughout the day.

He’s even gone back to using a flashlight after dark, although for months we’ve been able to turn on a light in the bathroom or kitchen to illuminate our lives. He’s also begun setting up booby traps using our motion activated solar lights. So any nighttime potty trips are apt to become blinded, fumbling experiences, all in the name of saving power.

We have learned that 2 solid days of rain, unseasonable for this time of year, sends us all into panic mode. Not only does the internet give us fits, but the batteries are not able to fully charge for obvious reasons. Therefore, we’ll have to learn to budget our energy use better before the rainy season.

Otherwise, we are enjoying our solar setup immensely.

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Filed under Construction, Electricity issues

A room of her own– the guest room office

Just because I have stopped renting the Little House in Sunflower Valley, doesn’t mean I don’t need my own office space. Of course, I’ve had to be adaptable. Or rather, we all have had to adapt.

A few weeks before we moved, my laptop started giving me issues with the Zoom program that my online classes are taught through. I know the moment it happened, since the class prior to the Zoom update was fine and the class immediately after was not. I tried contacting Zoom who said it was either my computer or my internet.

So I decided to order a new computer. I bought a refurbished all-in-one computer at Amazon and I had it a few days later. The problem with Zoom persisted. Plus the computer would randomly turn off. So I shipped the computer back to Amazon.

Instead of buying yet another computer, I ordered a camera and started using my son’s custom built computer for classes. I was still having problems, but now I was sure it was the internet. This issue led to the quest for the internet. Then with the purchase of another battery, making the current number 4 batteries for our solar setup, we made the move to La Yacata. 

The room that was our bedroom prior to the upstairs remodel became the office and guest room. My son’s computer and a desk are in the corner of the room. The huge blue screen that the company I work for requires as the background is suspended from the ceiling. We have a twin bed set up in case of a guest. There is also another smaller desk that holds all La Yacata community paperwork because I am still called on at times to take care of that business. I hung a blanket on the wall to help with the microphone echo. I had my husband move the fan light from upstairs to into this room. The lighting still wasn’t very good for the video I need to teach classes, so I bought a floor lamp as well, which seems to help keep me from looking so washed out. My husband ran the cable from the modem perched in the second-floor window to the office area.   

After all the work, here I am sitting at the upstairs table on my laptop writing instead of the office. It’s just too dark to be in there all the time, although it works wonderfully for my classes since most of them are scheduled after the sun goes down anyhow.

My son and I are sharing his computer. I use it to teach classes, sometimes up to 6 hours a day.  I know he’s a bit frustrated with that. My laptop is over 2 years old and just hasn’t adapted well to the Zoom updates. It still works for everything else I need it for though.

My son’s computer time has also been limited because of our off-grid setup. With just 4 batteries, we aren’t sure of our electric budgeting yet. Yesterday we did two loads of wash and filled the tinaco on the roof using the pump and used some power tools so by the time evening came around, the charge indicator was orange and my son wasn’t permitted any computer time.

In case you missed it, we did two loads of wash yesterday! With the pure sine wave converter, our washer works just dandy. Our other small appliances also work better, the blender, popcorn maker, and fan. So while we still have hopes of a few more batteries, we are delighted with our current creature comforts here in La Yacata.

That hasn’t stopped my husband’s drive for change though. He’s got a few more projects underway.

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A room of her own–leaving the Little House in Sunflower Valley

Where I’ve been working for the past 2 years

Once we finally got the internet up and running at our house in La Yacata, there really was no reason to keep renting the Little House in Sunflower Valley. The problems the house had with internet, electricity, and leaks, far outweighed any benefits it might have had in the past.

So, since the rent for the month was already paid, we started gearing up for the move at the end of the month. First, we needed to make arrangements to cancel the internet through Telmex.

This was a two-step process. I had to call the company and receive a “folio” number in order to return the modem to the company. The first time I called, I was disconnected. The second time I explained that I wished to cancel the service because of the numerous fallas (outages) and was given the folio number.

The next day we took the modem to Telmex. We couldn’t just turn it in at the desk with the number. We had to tromp up 4 flights of stairs to the “internet” office. Just like when we contracted the service I wondered about the lack of handicap accessible offices. So there, even though we were the ONLY people in the office, we were instructed to take a number from the number machine. We did. We were number 2.

So when the Telmex internet woman was good and ready, she called us over to her desk. I gave her the folio number. Apparently, my cancelation request was entered as a “baja” instead of cancel, whatever that meant. She deleted the transaction and created another one. I had to explain again that we did NOT have phone service with Telmex, only internet service that we would no longer be using.

Then she said I still had one month’s outstanding balance that I needed to pay before she could process the request to cancel. I sent my husband down the four flights of stairs to pay that. When he came back, she made a copy of my permanent residency card and had me sign the form ending internet service in my name.

As both the electricity and water bills at the Little House were still in the name of the owner, I could not cancel those services. I did make sure I had the last bills I paid with the receipt as proof of payment to turn over with the key. Because the bills are bi-monthly, as a renter I would still be responsible for the next water and electric bills. However, since I had paid $1000 deposit, I didn’t see why the outstanding balance wouldn’t be deducted from that, and instead, I would receive about $700 from the deposit.

The owner of the house lives in Yuriria, which is about a 40-minute drive for us, so we went there one afternoon hoping to catch her at home. Of course, she wasn’t there, but her son was. We explained that we would no longer be renting, that these were the last paid bills, and that there was an outstanding balance from the deposit owed to us.

The son refused to take any of the papers and said that he would have the owner call us to “inspect” the house and we could ask about the deposit then.  He asked about this month’s rent. I showed him the bank receipt proving it had been paid. He asked about next month’s rent. As it was still 2 days until the beginning of the next month, I certainly wasn’t paying another month. Fine, then. We didn’t leave the key.

The owner has not yet contacted me. I believe her thought process is to keep the entire deposit. While I don’t enjoy being taken advantage of, in this case, by not receiving the remainder of the balance on the deposit, I am of the mind that karma will take care of the matter for me.

You see, several months ago, the lock on the front door broke, so we replaced it. She will need to break into her own house and have a new lock made unless she calls us for the key. All of which could have been avoided had she done things as they should be done.

The move back to La Yacata took longer than I thought it should. We accumulated quite a bit of junk in the 2 years we rented there. My husband and son are heading to the tianguis in Valle this weekend to turn some of this crap into billetes (money).

In the meantime, I’ve started setting up my home office in the spare room in La Yacata.

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Filed under Electricity issues, Employment

Quest for internet

internet mexico

See that tan spot in the center of the country that indicates less than 8% of the area has internet? That’s where I live!

September was a bummer month for me work-wise. Every other day the internet went out. And if it wasn’t the internet, it was the electricity. Even with the UPS, I missed a number of classes and my performance review for the quarter was deplorable. This caused me to exclaim in exasperation one day that we had more stable power with one solar panel in La Yacata than at the rental in town connected to CFE (the Mexican electric company).

So, with that being the case, I decided to see what I could do to set up my office from home rather than continue to rent the Little House in Sunflower Valley with its myriad of problems.

A chance remark had me thinking. One of the ladies that makes tortillas with my sister-in-law is from Los Amoles, which is way up the mountain. She said that they had internet through DishTV since Telmex didn’t have any lines up that way.

Therefore, we spent the day looking for the Dish TV office in Moroleon, which we couldn’t find. Apparently, there had been an office, but it had moved out.

We went to the main TelCel office to see about satellite internet and talked with a representative about 30 minutes. We weren’t entirely convinced on the whole deal. There were a number of requirements, payment upfront, and the fact that my cell phone is through Telcel and often does not have a signal out in La Yacata.

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Then we decided to check out a few other places. SkyTV also offered internet service called Blue Telecom which was comparable to what I have now with TelMex but uses the satellite setup like TelCel. Only, an agent would have to head to out La Yacata to see if there was a signal strong enough for internet reception. Okie Dokie.  But it wouldn’t be today.Captura de pantalla (7)

Next we headed to a place called Wi-Fi Moroleon. The name seemed promising. Unfortunately, their service only extended as far as Los Juzgados (2 km from La Yacata). They did have solar panels though and we bought two.

Then we tried Telecable. However, this company uses electric lines to provide internet. As La Yacata hasn’t any electric lines, it wouldn’t work.

On the way home, we came across a Dish TV car parked in the shade of the mesquite tree. We screeched to a stop and had a little chat with their representatives, who were on their way to a meeting in Morelia. They confirmed that Moroleon no longer had a DishTV office but that internet would soon be available in the area and that they were offering 20 megas which was double any other service in the area. It would just be a few weeks…..well, a few weeks in Mexico could be quite some time.

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DishTv internet service ON coming soon!

The next day the SkyTV representative came out with his stuff and lo and behold, we got a pretty good signal. So we signed up on the spot. We had to pay for the modem outright which was the same make and model that TelCel offers but at half the price. Then to sign up for the service we needed an IFE (Mexican voter’s identification card). My husband has one of those. And we needed a comprobante de domicilio (proof of residency like water or electric). Umm, well this was an issue. La Yacata doesn’t have either water or electric service, therefore, we have no bills to provide as proof. Fortunately, the representative said that the certificado de propiedad (owner’s certificate) that we had for our lots would work. Whew!

We picked up the modem the next day and plugged it in. Voila! Internet at the house. I’m not entirely convinced it will be adequate for teaching online, however. Cloudy days reduce signal strength and just like TelCel, there are periods when the signal drops altogether.

What this means is that I most likely will not continue teaching online once my contract expires in December. As it is, at the Little House in Sunflower Valley I have issues every single class with bandwidth on the lined internet provided by Telmex which theoretically is more stable than satellite internet. So I’m looking at other options for regular income.

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Filed under Electricity issues, Employment