Four Keys to Happiness

It is undeniable. Some people aren’t happy. In fact, I have heard that 6 out of 7 Dwarfs are not Happy. Sorry, sometimes I can’t help myself. 

All joking aside, are you happy? Do you feel content, satisfied, joyful and serene? Look, I get it. There are times we aren’t happy. Happiness is a complex and multifaceted concept that encompasses many psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social factors. It is a complex gradient that varies over time. That intricacy means it can be as hard to predict as weather in the Midwest and often, even more difficult to change. But don’t lose hope, it can be changed!

I’m not an expert on this subject, but I am a perpetual practitioner of happiness. I can’t help it. There is so much good to experience. Life is an incredible gift. It is packed with so many things to savor and enjoy. Every season of life opens a new chapter of surprises. These are meant to be enjoyed, not just survived. In my experience and studies, I have run across several keys to happiness. Here are four that I’m thinking about this week:

  • Hope – Something amazing is coming! I’m convinced that practicing optimism, focusing on positive aspects of our current and coming situations will help breathe life into those future realities. There is something magical and even transforming about faith. It changes us and begins to radiate out from us to others. It can even change the world. Be hopeful. Be optimistic.
  • Gratitude – There are few things in life that will provide an immediate return on investment. Thankfulness is one of them. With all your heart, express sincere gratitude to someone else, and watch what happens. You will feel it. Your brain will release neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, propelling you towards feelings of happiness and well-being. Wired into us is the need to be thankful. We are optimized for gratitude, yet we often fail to express it. Please, if you are reading this, stop right now and find someone you can appreciate. Express your gratitude. Notice how that changes things. And if you did that, thank you. And I mean that, with all my heart.
  • Engagement – Setting goals and pursuing activities that align with your values, interests, and talents will unlock overall well-being and happiness. You have a purpose. Your life will make an impact. Every human life is immensely valuable and precious. You are holding yours in your hands. What will you do with it? One of life’s greatest joys is being who you were made to be. You are unique and you are needed. You were made to be the part you play in this grand composition of the universe. Play your role and engage in the activities made for you, the hard work and fun work, with all your heart and mind. Are you engaged? If not, let’s talk!
  • Focus – Practice mindfulness. Be present and absorbed in the current moment. Each day is full of everlasting moments. Like Easter eggs, they are hidden all around us. We can walk right by them and miss some of life’s greatest joys. Pause, stoop down and pick up each moment. Focus on it, examine it, and savor it. Isn’t it wonderful? Let the detail and intricacy wash over you. Meditate on this moment and practice all the above. Be optimistic, thankful, and engaged. Don’t let this moment pass you by.

Happiness is a gradual, ongoing process. Setbacks will come. Don’t give up. Plant the seeds of hope, gratitude, engagement, and focus. The harvest of happiness will come soon enough.

Be Redemptive

I’m sore. In addition to hunting for eggs this weekend, I needed to do a bunch of work around the house. A week ago, we received the news that our kitchen sewer line under our house had ceased to exist. I wish that was an April fools day joke. Unfortunately, it was true. The half-a-century old cast iron line that runs from the kitchen to the center of our house had completely corroded and collapsed. The solution? Saw and blast away the foundation in the middle of the house and replace the line. I remember feeling lightheaded and slightly dizzy before I hit the floor. Maybe I exaggerate, but it was a shock. Thankfully after some measurements, the plumber was able to plot a new path that would route it outside the house without invading the foundation. It would require cutting through the patio, brick walkways and the driveway, but it was 10 billion percent better than cutting up our tile floor and main foundation. 

Construction started. The contractor even promised to “put it back, exactly like they found it.” Workers wielding saws, jackhammers, grinders, shovels, trowels, and mixers showed up and started working their magic. I drove into our driveway on Thursday and noticed the holes in the front of the house had been closed. The concrete was in place. But then I saw it, the repaired brick sidewalk that the pipe had to pass looked more like a rumble strip more than a flat sidewalk. Edges of bricks were sticking up a good half inch above the rest. Oh no! It would definitely trip anyone walking up to our house. At first, I thought it must have been just roughed in, but no, the mortar was in place. After discovering that the contractor would not return to fix it for many days, I knew I had to act. First, because the mortar was still wet but drying quickly, and second, because I’m massively impatient and obsessive about things being out of place. 

I dug it up. I took out the bricks and the mortar. My wife, bless her for putting up with my “engineer everything” OCD, even helped me level the bed. After a trip to the hardware store, which by the way always results in me buying more toys, I mean tools than I need, we went to work placing the bricks back in the proper herringbone pattern. We used a level to ensure every brick was plumb and the grade was consistent for stormwater runoff. I mixed and added the mortar to set the pattern. As with any project, we couldn’t help but expand the scope a little and ended up cleaning up the brick edge next to the adjacent flower bed. All too soon it was nighttime. Thankfully, we had completed the task. We had our sidewalk restored and a little bit more. And yes, in case you are wondering, we informed the contractor. I wasn’t going to let them touch the back patio that needed similar treatment. I would be doing that myself and completed it this weekend as well.

I am exhausted. It is a lot of work carrying 60-pound bags of mortar around and floating concrete into place. But I am so glad I did. It looks so good. I spent the whole time wondering how someone could do the work that sloppy and think it was done. 

I know I’m high maintenance. But to be fair, I come by it honest. My dad was the same. He always insisted that anything we did needed to be engineered well. We had to leave things better than we found them. If he borrowed something, he would spend half the time cleaning or otherwise making whatever he borrowed better than what it was when he got it. As a kid, I hated that. We would get lists of things to do if we rented a car, boat, or house. My sister and I would spend all day doing that work instead of playing. But I also recall how incredible it felt looking at the work we did and realizing we made something better for someone else. Life is full of opportunities like that. Yes, they require hard work and effort, but they are so rewarding.

Be redemptive. That word refers to something that has the power to make amends, restore something that has been lost or damaged. It is about something that has the power to bring about a positive change to improve any situation. I often used that phrase with my kids. Don’t leave this world without somehow making a positive difference. Be redemptive. Make things a bit better for yourself and those who come behind you. We have that choice. We have that power. And with some Advil, you can even redeem your sidewalk.


“Your life will be a story. It will be your story, with its highs and lows, its heroes and villains, its forks in the road that mean everything.” – Steve Jobs

It was a hot summer afternoon. The sun was starting to make its journey to the horizon. I was riding home on my bicycle after school. It was muggy but I was enjoying the cool breeze as I coasted down the neighborhood street. As I passed under a canopy of trees, I noticed how the branches were casting interesting patterns of light on the pavement below. It seemed to dance back and forth across the narrow road as if it were swaying to the music. My tires hummed along, wading through the light and dark patches. In the distance, I could hear cicadas. Their loud evening ballad of electrical buzzing sounds seemed to reach a crescendo as I drove deeper into the woods.

Click, click, click. My pedaling and the chain of my bicycle added a soothing rhythm section to the ambient song. I saw birds swooping from tree to tree and gently landing on neighboring power lines. They chirped and chattered, comparing notes from the day’s adventures. It was refreshing. I let my mind soak in everything around me. It was so peaceful. I was almost home.

I often think of moments like that and love to relive those times. My mind is full of stories, recollections, and feelings. Each passing year, I add more to my collection. They are like magical golden blessings that grow more valuable the more you remember them, tell them, and use them. Few things in life are like that! Stories are powerful.

We are storytellers. We craft and crave narratives that inspire, inform, and entertain us. Since the beginning of our human family we have passed down our experiences and knowledge through stories. They connect us. They bridge our human experience. They transcend time and space. They are deeply part of what it means to be human.

As we approach World Storyteller Day this Wednesday, think about your story. How is your story going? What can you tell or teach us? Don’t be afraid. Tap into your memory and find one of those gems. Relive that moment and maybe even consider telling it to someone else. That’s what it means to be human, after all. We are storytellers.

Excuse me for a few minutes… I need to get back on my bicycle…

A Slice of Pi

Archimedes poised to measure a circle behind him in the distance.

Circles. Those fascinating geometric shapes have perplexed us for millennia. The Babylonians began poking at these mysterious objects 4,000 years ago and discovered that the distance around a circle was slightly greater than 3 times its width, specifically 3 1/8 or 3.125, which they recorded on a stone tablet. About the same time, Egyptians, seeking the area of a circle, estimated the ratio to be 3.1605 and recorded their estimation in the Rhind Papyrus (1650 BC).

Fast forward to ancient Greece, Antiphon and Bryson of Heraclea developed the innovative idea of inscribing a polygon inside a circle, finding its area, and doubling the sides over and over. Unfortunately, their approach meant finding the areas of hundreds of tiny triangles, which was complicated and yielded very little results. Then came Archimedes. Instead of computing area, he focused on estimating the circumference based on the sum of the perimeter edges of the polygons. Imagine iteratively doubling the sides of these polygons, slicing them into many tiny triangles, each subdividing the former and pushing closer to the circle’s edge. Using a theorem from Pythagoras, Archimedes was able to compute the length of the sides of these right triangles. As he progressed, dividing the former triangles into smaller ones, an ever more accurate estimation of the circumference emerged. He started with a hexagon, then doubled the sides four times to finish with a 96-sided polygon. Through this method, he narrowed down the value to between 3 10/71 and 3 1/7 (3.141 and 3.143).

Using right triangle geometry and Pythagorean theorem, a2 + b2 = c2, you can compute the length of the edges to approximate the circumference of the circle.

Over the centuries, mathematicians across cultures and continents refined these approximations, each contributing a piece to the puzzle of this magical number. However, it wasn’t until the 17th century when mathematicians like Ludolph van Ceulen calculated this golden number to an unprecedented 35 decimal places. Humanity’s relentless pursuit of mathematical precision didn’t stop there. Our fascination with this mysterious golden ratio continued to motivate mathematicians, engineers, and enthusiasts alike. In 2022, researchers at Google announced computing it to 100 trillion decimal digits.  We still haven’t found the end. Its digits extend infinitely, never repeating in a discernible pattern, yet holding the key to understanding the fundamental property of circles. 

Of course, this fascinating ratio is the number we call Pi, represented by the Greek letter π. As we approach Archimedes estimate of 3.14 on our calendars as March 14, Pi Day, let’s celebrate the enduring curiosity and perseverance of our human family that led to the discovery of this remarkable number. It reminds us that even the most complex mysteries can be unraveled with dedication and ingenuity.

Here is a slice of Pi you can take with you this week. This simple python script will compute Pi to 100 places using Archimedes’ approach:

from decimal import Decimal, getcontext

def pi_archimedes(n):
    Calculate Pi using Archimedes method with n iterations to estimate Pi.
    This method approximates Pi by calculating the perimeter of a polygon 
    inscribed within a unit circle.

    Polygon edge lengths are computed using the Pythagorean theorem and 
    the geometry of the polygons. The number of sides of the polygon is
    also doubled in each iteration, as each side of the polygon is 
    bisected to form a new polygon with twice as many sides.

    The formula is:
        sides = 2 * 2^n
        length^2 = 2 - 2 * sqrt(1 - length^2 / 4))

    After n iterations, the function returns the approximate value of 
    Pi using the formula:
        perimeter = sides * sqrt(length^2)
    polygon_edge_length_sq = Decimal(2)
    polygon_sides = 2
    # Start with a line, then a square, then a octagon, etc.
    for _ in range(n):
        polygon_edge_length_sq = 2 - 2 * (1 - polygon_edge_length_sq / 4).sqrt()
        polygon_sides = polygon_sides * 2
    return polygon_sides * polygon_edge_length_sq.sqrt()

# Set the number of decimal places to calculate
PLACES = 100

# Calculate Pi with increasing iterations until the result converges at
# the desired number of decimal places
old_result = None
for n in range(10*PLACES):
    getcontext().prec = 2 * PLACES  # Do calculations with double precision
    result = pi_archimedes(n)
    getcontext().prec = PLACES      # Print the result with single precision
    result = +result                # Rounding
    print("%3d: %s" % (n, result))
    if result == old_result:        # Did it converge?
    old_result = result



Office with clutter and bookshelves full of books.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I confess, I’m a hoarder. I have boxes full of junk that haven’t been visited in over 10 years. There are ancient RCA, S-Video, Coaxial, and even Apple 30-pin iPhone 4 cables, just in case I ever need them again. I have broken electronics and computer parts for the same reason. My nostalgic tendency means I also collect piles of mementos from trips, photos, and even birthday cards. I love physical books and have shelves packed full of them. My digital life is just as bad. In fact, I don’t think I have ever really deleted an app. I collect them like souvenirs. Are any of you like that too?

Clutter. I’m sitting at my desk today in awe of the piles of things around me. Books, magazines, post-it notes, half-completed forms, empty boxes, and some left-over décor from the holidays. I was about to comment on the several coffee mugs sitting on the desk, but that isn’t clutter, that is essential equipment for survival. But still, so much clutter.

My mind is full too. I have to-do lists, incomplete thoughts, spurious worries about implausible events, un-actionable regrets, doubts, and a collection of unhelpful grudges in the corner. My mind is full. Time to relive that embarrassing moment? Worry about something? Think about something you can’t take any action on right now? You might have forgotten it or left something behind, time to worry about it. My mind keeps sorting the useless junk, going back and forth, wondering if it can collect more. It’s like trains of thoughts going in circles. Stop! 

The mental clutter is a bit noisy at times, isn’t it? It can be overwhelming. Do you ever have that? If so, it’s time to clean house. Yes, it’s time for some Marie Kondo magic of tidying up. Go through the clutter… Start with what is around you. What can be tossed. What needs to be kept? Start with what is in reach in front of you. As the haze clears, expand to the office area or room you are in. Be careful, it may get away from you! Don’t try to do it all. After all, we still need to visit the most important place of all. The mind palace. Those trains in your mind that are doing circles around each other, tell them to stop. Look around. Can you do anything about that thought? If not, cast it aside. Wrap up those worries, regrets, and grudges. Pack them in tight, thank them for their better days and ship them off to the garbage. Sweep out the useless fears and self-doubt. Is it getting better? 

Distill, reduce, minimize, and simplify. Clutter happens. In fact, it seems to collect around us like dust with little or no effort. It takes energy to remove it, but happiness awaits! I encourage you to join me in spending a few minutes this week purging the clutter, taming the thoughts, and sweeping out the mess that saps our energy. Find that clarity. Enjoy it and appreciate it! Oh, and set a reminder to do this again next week.

Have a great week!

Turn up the Temperature of your Thinking!

How to Approach Problems with a Creative Twist

The kitchen sink wasn’t draining. The Super Bowl was about to start, and a pile of dishes and pre-game food prep was queued up on the counter. “Well, this is great,” I said to myself. I could hear SpongeBob commenting about the pre-game show. Yes, that’s right, we tuned in to Nickelodeon, as all sports enthusiasts would do.

Several years ago, I bought a drain cleaning machine to help clear roots out of our side yard area drain. It’s one of those drum type with a motor and a 75’ auger cable. It has paid for itself ten times over for things like this. I went to the garage and wheeled it to the super small clean out drain opening. I fed the cable into the drain and watched the sink start to slowly drain. As I have done in the past, I added a garden hose to increase the water pressure and ensure the line was clear. The sink was draining. The crisis was over. Well, or so I thought. As I began to pull the cable back out, something happened. It locked up. I tried pushing it back in, but it wouldn’t budge. I wanted to get a look, so I needed to pull the water hose out to see. Oh no! It was stuck too! I pushed, pulled, and even switched the auger direction. Nothing. Then it happened, water started backing up too and was spraying all over me. I felt like I was in one of those cartoon sitcoms where everything goes wrong. I started imagining if I just cut the hose if that would help, but then that would likely permanently clog the drain. I sat there on the back patio, staring at the problem, covered in drain goo.

Large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT are complex systems that use artificial intelligence to predict answers based on context. You provide a statement or question prompt, and it will attempt to answer it. It is like an elaborate function call. The input is the prompt. To derive the output, the model feeds the input into its neural net. The network produces a set of possibilities as to the “next word” (token). Some of those next word options can be equal or similar in probability. It randomly picks one of them. A model parameter that you can use to influence that randomness is called “temperature”. The higher the temperature, the more diverse and unpredictable the output. Using 0.7, as is the default for ChatGPT, provides the model with some creative freedom (including some hallucination). A setting of 0.0 will create nearly identical responses. Turning it up to 0.9 or even as high as 2.0 will produce pure creative output, possibly with little technical relevance.

I’m not a large language model, and even my intelligence may be suspect. At least that is what I was thinking, sitting there in the pile of goo. But maybe I just need to turn up the “temperature” on my thinking. I stopped for a minute and thought about those math problems that you just couldn’t solve. After 5 pages in, you were still unable to reach the conclusion. You were stuck. The only way to proceed was to reframe the problem itself. Start over. Pick a more improbable path and see where it takes you. That’s what I needed to do. I looked at my “stuck drain” problem and decided to turn it over. Literally. I twisted the hose and the cable together. Pop! I heard the cable unwind deep in the wall. It was unstuck and began draining again. And all in time to see the Super Bowl kickoff at Bikini Bottom. I mean, that is, after a shower.

Do you ever get stuck? Does that frustrating problem seem to have no solution? Well, turn up the “temperature” of your thinking! Reframe the problem and approach it from a completely new angle. Explore the less probable path and see if it unwinds the knot and sets the problem free.

Keep Growing

Keep Growing - Green plant growing in the glow of technological advancement.

What are your skills? I recently saw some research by IBM that suggests that general skills typically have a “shelf-life” of about 5 years. More critically, technical skills expire in about 2.5 years! Fundamentally that means that for us to stay relevant, we are always re-skilling, learning new things and mutating our skills to meet the fast-evolving landscape of technology. How does that feel to you? Exciting, exhilarating and well, maybe even a bit exhausting? I agree!

Constant change is the very nature of life and all of creation. Life and creative energy strive to grow against the gravity of the status-quo, branching and evolving to become more than it was before. Each generation breaks through the bedrock of normalcy and sends roots into the unknown and absorbs it, learns from it, and flourishes. Our generation is no different. Even today, we are on the verge of a vast shift in terms of technological change and disruption.

But there is a danger. Life yearns to become greater, yet our rival, death is in the shadows, lurking to devour us. Progress demands energy and determination, but it is difficult, and the burden can become heavy, sapping away our enthusiasm. There will be the temptation to stop, to stand still, or to give up. That negative propulsion tugs on us every day. But we have a choice. We can defy gravity. We can send our roots into the unchartered unknown, learn from it and grow. How do we do that?

Stay curious! Move forward, do new things, try new ideas, open new doors. What is current in tech? Explore it and learn about it. A world of endless possibilities lies ahead. We are made for this! To grow, to explore, to experiment, and to enjoy life and all creation. And yes, I know, we are but imperfect dust, stardust to be exact. But that stardust was reborn with a glorious purpose to shine and make a difference, to help each other, to learn, to build, and to grow into what has never been before.

The frontier awaits! Technology doesn’t stand still, it keeps moving, powered by human imagination and energy. Embrace the challenge and keep learning, keep growing.

Imagine 2029

Imagine it is 2029. Describe it to me. What is going on in your life, your family, your job and in the world? What were those amazing things you dreamed about in 2024 and did those dreams come true?

Five years ago, Gene Kim, a good friend and mentor of mine, challenged me to do a thought experiment. He asked me about my goals for 2024. I started off giving general aspirational goals around making a positive impact in the world, at work, supporting my team and my family. He dared me to get specific. He told me to imagine my future self 5 years from now. What would I be proud to have accomplished if it could be anything in the world? Write it down, he said, so you can pull them out in 2024 and compare your dreams to reality. It was so clarifying, so motivating and so powerful.

When I started this exercise in 2019, I confess, I thought some of my goals were audacious if not ridiculous. But as my friend challenged me, I wrote them down anyway.  Here is what I imagined in 2019 about my 2024 future:

  1. My team and I helped Disney deliver a large new guest delighting product that wouldn’t happen without our SRE efforts.
  2. I became an author of a book and several papers on leadership and using DevOps practices to accelerate business.
  3. My team and I partnered with our businesses to expand the impact of SRE and our SRE approach to toil reduction.
  4. I’m an inventor listed on a published patent and have several patents pending.
  5. My family and I enjoyed several vacations together, managed to stay out of debt and were able to fund college.
  6. I’m the maintainer for at least one Open-Source project with over 100 stars and an active community on GitHub.
  7. We updated our home with energy efficient windows, solar panels, and built a domestic robot to help our family at home.

Not all my dreams have come true. But many of them have. In fact, all but one! My robot is still a bunch of lines on a paper, a 3D printed arm and a pile of wires in the garage. Still, I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t have accomplished even half of those things if I hadn’t listened to my wise friend and made note of my goals.

We hunger for a mission and objectives that we believe in. We prioritize time for what we think is important. State your mission. Define your objectives. Make those dreams come true, one step at a time. But it requires that first step… Imagine.

Are you ready? Let’s dream into 2029. Take a breath. Close your eyes and push out all other distractions. What will make you happy? What do you want your world to be like? After imagining that, open Notes or your favorite note taking tool with the title, “Goals for 2029” and write down 7 things. Do you believe in them? If so, save your dreams, revisit them every year or so and make them happen!

12 Days of Christmas

Christmas living room with a Cocker Spaniel sleeping on a blanket in front of a warm fire. Photo by Adobe Firefly.

Last week ended the 12th day of Christmas and Epiphany on Saturday. I sat by the fire this weekend, in the frigid 40 degree Southern California weather, contemplating my plans for our holiday decoration removal. Unintentionally poetic, we have ended up with 12 large bins that store our lights, trees, ornaments, greenery and candles. It’s beyond ridiculous. We don’t have any lords a leaping, but we do have some ladies dancing and if you will listen closely to our Scottish background music, there might be some pipers piping. I tripped over a few turtle doves on my way to get some coffee by the maids a milking, all in an attempt to amplify my motivation. 

Lighting hooks, ladders, boxes… logistics were flooding into my mind like those drummers drumming. I knew I needed to get moving, but my head was swimming around like those seven swans a swimming. I took a stroll outside to survey the outdoor décor removal. It was dusk, so likely nothing would happen today but I was building my mental checkbox and dropping items into my packing list like those geese a laying.

At this point, I need to mention that we welcomed a new girl into our family this Christmas. Her name is Elizabeth and she is a Cocker Spaniel we adopted from the local animal rescue center in Santa Paula. She is a sweetheart and I can’t help but sometimes call her Ms. Lady, from Lady and the Tramp. Anyway, she was helping me with the survey mission but as the cold wind blew, she talked me into going back inside. As is her new custom, she drug her blanket over to our fireplace and began walking in fast and determined circles on it like those five golden rings, until it was “just right”. Off to sleep she went. I shut the door and wondered what she would think about missing those beautiful black birds that had landed on our lawn. Maybe she was dreaming about the French hens instead.

Oh no! Somehow Epiphany became Sunday and the runway was running out to get all the holiday goodness packed up and stored. Oddly, it didn’t seem quite right. I discussed with my family and my true love said to me, “I’m not quite ready to take it down.” I was elated! Looking at the cheerful twinkling lights, glowing candles and shimmering ornaments, I agreed completely. It was clear that the décor needed to be enjoyed and age a few more days before it was ripe for picking and packing. 

I know what you are thinking. You have neighbors like us. They keep the lights up way to long. Yes, to keep the season special, it must be put away to be enjoyed again next time. We normally do that sort of thing religiously, but sometimes it is good to give yourself some license, some kindness and grace to pause and enjoy the moment. We wanted to sip a little more on the beauty that is all around. Do you feel it too? It’s wonderful! 

We will pack tomorrow, but today, we will enjoy the wonder of the season for a bit more. I encourage you all to do the same. Even if your holiday wares are all packed up and tidy, spend a few minutes this week reflecting, meditating and appreciating the goodness and joy that every season brings. Life is glorious, precious and can easily be missed. Enjoy it!

Oh yeah, and I’m still looking for the partridge in the pear tree…

Have a great week!

Christmas lights on a house, tress ans bushes in the evening with a snow covered yard. Photo by Adobe Firefly.

23.5 Degrees

“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, ‘Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.’ Back on Earth we call this Christmas.” – Doctor Who

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of solar power and energy storage systems that extend the sun’s amazing power throughout the night. We installed our solar array and batteries in 2021 and I can’t help but watch and measure the incredible energy we see from our friendly thermonuclear fusion reactor in the sky.

23.5 degrees. That’s the tilt of the earth that pushes our daily spin more directly to the sun, or away from it. Ironically, due to the earths elliptical orbit, we are actually closer to the sun in the winter than the summer, 92 million miles instead of 95. But the tilt makes a huge difference. It causes the sun’s rays to hit us in the northern hemisphere at an oblique angle, bouncing off of our terrestrial globe instead of being absorbed. It’s hard for us to sense it, but the solar panels feel it! We saw a peak of 51 kWh of energy per day during this summer, now we barely get 13 kWh. That’s a quarter of what it was during peak production! The sun didn’t get lazy, we just stop getting its rays.

We have all been observing the growing blanket of darkness that pulls over us, stretching deeper into our mornings and evenings. Days get shorter and nights grow longer. As we tick inescapably towards our winter solstice on December 21, we feel the cold wind, the fading colors and the melancholy shadows that scrape against our souls. Darkness is here.

Light a candle. This isn’t our first trip around the sun. Our human family has witnessed this solar dance since our beginning. We measure the sky and plot the stars to know where we are. We embrace the rhythm of the year by decorating it with celebrations and traditions. In the darkness of the winter, we light our lights. We illuminate our winter journey. We adorn our homes with fragrant greens, twinkling lights, cheerful ornaments and glowing fires. All the while, we know, the light is coming again. The glory of the sun will return! But for now, we celebrate.

It’s almost here. The dead of winter has arrived. Cuddle up with a warm cup of coffee or tea, your loved ones and a glowing fire. The light will return. We are halfway out of the dark! Celebrate it. 

Merry Christmas!

Here is the solar energy year as seen by our solar panels via my Powerwall-Dashboard.