A week and a nest

I don’t think 9am will ever stop feeling early. I realize this is rather pathetic, and that many traditional jobs require one to start at 8am or earlier. Perhaps my strong aversion to mornings will dissipate as I get older, but at the moment, I stand by John Scalzi’s motto from his 20s and 30s: “AM is what happens to other people.”

It doesn’t help that, this semester, I am carpooling with a fellow grad student who has the irritating preference of not only being on time for an 8:55am class, but actually being early.
Some day I will live in an urban utopia where I can open my door and walk someplace useful within ten minutes. But I will probably still find a way to be late.

Mornings aside, though, after the first full week of class, this semester looks to be a good one. Two interesting classes, diving into some semi-serious research, and TAing for a class called “life in the universe.”

Mike is ready for dune sledding

Mike and I had an awesome if full weekend, too. His parents came to visit, so we used this as an excuse to eat at a number of tasty restaurants. We also visited White Sands National Monument on Saturday. We enjoyed a picnic lunch with croissants that traveled all the way from Seattle, went sledding on the dunes, and walked all around. It is an otherworldly “must see” place for anyone in the area!

Mike's parents on a hike

Today, we went on a somewhat less novel hike in Soledad Canyon, a bit east of town. This is the perfect time of year to go hiking around Las Cruces, because the temperatures are in the mid 50s to 60s and the sun is out. Mike and I are going to try to take advantage of this more before it gets hot. The trail we took was about a 3 or 4 mile loop with gorgeous rock formations and great views of town. We ended the day with a wine tasting at St. Clair’s Winery and Bistro and a pizza back at home.

The other adventure this weekend was completely unrelated to our visitors. A few months ago, I heard about a cool thing called a nest. It’s a thermostat – a really shiny thermostat; one that learns your daily patterns and programs itself to save energy. Of course, this was a brand new product and you couldn’t just order one online. So, I entered my email address to be notified when I could order one, and in early January, I did! (Mike supported this purchase because it’s an energy saving gadget, and in particular an apartment-friendly one we can take with us when we move.)

Our new lopsided nest

Our new nest arrived on Friday. I convinced Mike to help me install it on Saturday evening. When we removed our old thermostat from the wall, we discovered a gaping hole nearly large enough for a light switch or electrical outlet… and much larger than the nest’s sleek footprint. Thankfully, it comes with an optional mounting kit, but even the wall plate’s screw locations were too close together to work. We came up with a temporary solution: one screw in the mounting plate, and one screw through the nest into the wall. But it is basically hanging from the wall at this point. Mike is going to mount a piece of wood in the wall hole this week so we have something to drill the nest into.

All this was well and good. We told the nest how to find our wifi, and we created an account to access the thermostat remotely in a browser or iPhone app. I went so far as to set up a rough weekly schedule, even though you don’t have to. And we went to sleep.

The next morning, just as directed, the nest kicked on to warm our apartment up to 68. But the heat kept running. After a bit, I checked it on my phone. Target temp: 68. Current temp: 63. I nudged the target down to 65 since we’d be leaving for church soon anyway. After Mike got out of the shower, the heat was still on. I finally got out of bed and was surprised to find the house very cold. Target temp: 65. Current temp: 59. Wait a second… the darn thing was trying its hardest to heat our apartment with the A/C! So much for saving energy.

We flipped the breakers off and went to church. We had a great afternoon and evening with Mike’s parents, and tonight I set down to fix things. It turns out that heat pumps can either heat or cool via the settings O and B (for “obnoxious” and “buttcats” respectively). Our old thermostat had a wire going to O, but the nest has a single “O/B” terminal. The default heat pump setting for the nest is supposed to be O, but for some reason it was B. As a result, it cooled when it was supposed to heat, and vice versa. The More You Know.

Anyway, I changed the setting within the nest software, and all is well with the world. Except, well, the darn thing is still falling off the wall. One day at a time.