30 July 2017

So, in the last eight days, we’ve had 6″ or so of rain in my part of the state. We’ve had a couple of intense pop-up storms that hovered and dumped huge amounts, along with the other storm lines that the whole state got. And miracle of miracles, it was 58 degrees outside when I woke up this morning. That’s unheard of in July in these parts – it was a truly gorgeous day today: low 80’s at the peak and but moderate humidity. Lexi was the beneficiary of that, with a couple of long walks to her credit. I say 6″ or so above because I noticed that the siting of my rain gauge is now in the wind shadow of a tree that’s grown and spread quite a bit in the last year or two.

I’m taking the upcoming week mostly off work (doing just a bit of email and ephemera each morning so that the return isn’t horrible) to burn up vacation hours that I’d otherwise lose at the end of the year. No real plans at this time, beyond roasting coffee and trying to relax a bit. Maybe planting a post in the middle of the yard for the rain gauge.

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Here’s Lexi being cute to warm up your day:

Lexi being cute with her stuffed toy cow

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. FSM be thanked. Ciao!

18 Dec 2016

‘Twas the week before Christmas,
And all through the town,The wind was a’blowin’,
And power was down.

Well, not for us, but lots of folks lost power around here today. Yesterday around noon, we finally emerged from an early cold blast that had us in the teens and twenties since Wednesday. This morning, it reached 62 degrees. Now it’s back down to freezing. All that atmospheric energy had to go somewhere, and wind was no surprise. We had perhaps a tenth of an inch of ice on Saturday morning:

Ice on the crepe myrtle seed pods

Ice on the crepe myrtle seed pods

Lexi seriously hates walking about on ice-crusted grass. She acts as if it’s much worse than snow. I’d guess so, it’s probably sharp and all of the smells are hidden.

I got some house cleaning done, roasted some coffee, and did a bit of remote work. All in all, a productive week and weekend.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Gratitude. Ciao!

20 March 2016

It must be Spring. We’ve been in the 30’s all weekend, and it’s currently dropping what’s quaintly called a “wintery mix” on us from low, leaden skies. Bah!

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We’ve lost a lot of the roadside trees in our neighborhood in the last couple of years. The HOA’s landscaping service took out a bunch this winter, and replaced them with … some other kind of tree, I’ll guess. They didn’t get all of the dead trees yet, and from the tracks on the barkless trunk, you can probably see the reason behind the death:

Bug 1, Tree 0

Bugs 1, Tree 0

Yup, some kind of insect really loves the trees we’ve got in the upper part of the neighborhood. The lower is full of bradford pears, which are lovely in the spring, and as fragile as a vase, on a candlestick table, in a windstorm, on a concrete patio, surrounded by disturbed bison. The trees that are dying are less physically prone to splitting in half at the drop of a hat, but they’ve apparently appeared on the menu for some bug.

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I got a variety of things done this weekend. After Marcia and I went up to Hobby Works this afternoon, I dug out the Hellcat model I’ve been working on for the last few years. Okay, I haven’t worked on it in a couple of years, but it’s still a fun project. I got the rest of the stringers laid onto the main part of the airframe today.

Hellcat model

Hellcat model in progress

Next up: wings.

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I did run into an interesting problem this weekend. Firefox was auto-updated to version 45.mumble, and when that was done, I could no longer browse to any site that wasn’t https. After a while trying to fix things with my existing profile, I threw in the towel and built a clean new profile, and migrated some of the key configurations from the old. All’s right with the world again, at least in Firefox, for the moment.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, of Temecula, California, who died on Mar. 19 in northern Iraq, from wounds suffered when the enemy attacked his unit with rocket fire.

Foxy

Fox at the roadside

Fox at the roadside

This gal was standing in the middle of the road on my back-road drive home today. I gave him a couple of blasts on the horn, which sent him scampering off the right side of the tarmac. But as I pulled up even with that spot, there she was, standing 15 or so feet off the roadway, staring up at me. I stopped, and brought my phone up, opening the camera app. I got the picture. Throughout, I expected the fox to bolt … but it didn’t. The area where I was is a blend of crop fields and woods – nice terrain for this animal. Fun to see, and to have been seen. Ciao!

Lexi at work

My work and week was relatively uneventful: just computers, patching, rebooting, yardwork, and shopping, so I’ll share Lexi’s work week with you instead.

Lexi helping me exercise

Lexi helping me exercise

Before I get onto the elliptical, I’ll generally do a repeating series of stretches, alternating with exercises like squats, sit ups, and push ups. Above, you can see how helpful and encouraging Lexi is during this phase of my workout. Her prone position, her near-perfect lack of motion is extraordinarily motivational. Frankly, I couldn’t do it all without her.

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Lexi on guard

Lexi on guard

When she’s not “helping” me exercise, or outright sleeping, Lexi likes to guard the house. Anything that she sees may be a threat, and she can warn us appropriately. Coming into Fall, she becomes a more effective guard beast. As the leaves drop from the trees, her detection range increases, and her blind spots drop to nearly nil. Soon, she’ll be able to warn us of automobiles driving on a nearby street, over a quarter of a mile away, on the other side of the community pool. She might also be able to spot a cat or dog or that most dangerously evil of animals – the hideous squirrel – as far off as the community playground, just this side of the afore-mentioned pool. We also sometimes refer to this as “Lexi TV.”

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Kyle E. Gilbert, 24, of Buford, Georgia, who died on Sept. 21, in Bagram, Afghanistan, in a non-combat related incident.

A Princess and her Pea

Lexi, protected from peas

Lexi, protected from peas

There’s better be a pea under there…

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Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Last night, when all was quiet, I finally got a around to putting together the Metal Earth Dragonfly model that I picked up from Amazon weeks ago on a whim, inspired by Jenny’s 1000 Ferris Wheels post. It’s good to have a focused distraction from time to time. The work took me away from myself for a double handful of minutes, and reminded me that I can focus when I make the effort. There’s been so much going on that I’m spending more time putting out fires than planning and tending what is needed, long term. But all will come right again.

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Yesterday: more plumbing – I replaced the last of the original faucets in the house. The master bathroom was the sole holdout with a builder-grade piece of crap. But now I’ve got a shiny new two-handle Kohler in its place, and I replaced the drain as well, since that was past due, too. Today: shopping, harvesting tomatoes, making salsa, and attending a birthday barbequeue for a friend was the fullness of the day.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

Dreaming of a White St. Paddy’s Day

Echoes of Bing Crosby chasing around my head as I look outside:

House in gray and white

House in gray and white

Very pretty, though

Very pretty, though

A downside is that there’s a couple more inches of the stuff headed our way, so I’ll be waiting to clear the driveway and sidewalks until mid-afternoon. And I’ll just have to assume that the snow peas are happy as clams in a snow-covered planting bed.

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Here’s the laptop pedestal I built and finished over the weekend. It’s designed to sit on top of a regular desk, to be a stylish standing desktop for laptop and mouse. It can also move down to floor level, and be a foot-rest or stool. But mostly it’s a standing desk. Someone I know needs this (not me!)…

Standing desk

Standing desk

 

Pi tricks

But first, 0630 EDT on Saturday the 26th day of October, 2013, was brought to you by the word “Fahrenheit” and the number ’28’. Brrrrrr!

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I got home from work yesterday evening, and found Marcia watching something that probably first appeared on an obtangular Philco Predicta television in the late 1940’s. I threw an ENOTINTERESTED exception, then I came upstairs and started mucking about with the Raspberry Pi.  The little credit-card sized computer, named Dortmunder (for REASONS), has languished in a corner for quite a while. I first discovered that my phone life-extension battery (acquired at VMworld, thanks VMUG) also happily powers the Pi:

Pi, fully mobile with battery pack

Pi, fully mobile with battery pack

It’s worth pointing out that the 2200 mAh pack will probably only run the Pi for around 3 hours, since a 10 Ah battery’s been tested out to 15 hours. So, not a LOT of value there, but certainly a momentarily fun test. You can also see the size of the wireless adapter from Edimax, lit blue out of the USB housing at the top of the Pi.

More about Dortmunder: I’d considered buying a case for it pretty much from the day it arrived. I was an early Pi adopter, and at the time of purchase there were only one-off prototype cases spun up on someone’s 3D printer. While that’s cool and all, I didn’t have THAT much of a need for a case. After all, for months Dortmunder hung on a hook in my wiring closet, wired to the switch there.

With the recent addition of that Edimax miniature wireless adapter (see last Sunday’s post), the Pi can now sit comfortably with just a power connection anywhere I want. But the camera, hanging out there at the end of a 14cm ribbon cable, is not trivially stable. Nor is it easy to handle the Pi without risking static damage. So instead of going to Element 14, or Adafruit, or one of the many other Raspberry Pi resources online, I headed down to the woodshop, and noodled for a couple of hours with hand tools and scraps. I came up with this:

Dortmunder's hobby horse

Dortmunder’s hobby horse

There’s a couple of tweaks to adjust the operation and positioning of the camera on the “head”. I’d like to be able to get a good angle up (or down) to aim the camera properly. I have to think about that. But the circuit board body is quite firmly stable in the hand-cut grooves in the three wooden uprights. Fun little project, and the inexpensive accessory camera takes really sharp pictures:

Brian snapped by Pi camera

Brian snapped by Pi camera

Let’s just assume that’s NOT a halo, mmm’kay? It’s almost certainly the light that sits on top of that cabinet over my right shoulder.

That’s MY spot!

Lexi in my spot

Lexi in my spot

I worked until about 2330 last night, remotely to the office. When I came to bed, there was Lexi, in my spot. You might say that she was keeping it warm, but frankly, she was resentful about having to move. Nice picture for the circumstances, too: A 6-watt night-light provided enough ambient light for the sensor in the D5100. I’m rather impressed.

Orchid in bloom

The orchid is blooming

The orchid is blooming

A few years back … three, I think, I got Marcia an orchid as part of my anniversary gift to her. It was in bloom at the time, and stayed that way for quite a while. Wonder of wonders, although the flowers eventually faded and the stalks withered away, the plant itself has been pretty hardy. I keep up with the watering, and it sits by a window in the library, so it gets some afternoon light. But it hasn’t bloomed since there.

Late this summer, I read someplace that orchids need some cooler overnights in order to stimulate flower blooming. Yeah, well, whatever. But as we rolled into Fall, I put the orchid outside, and left it there for a few weeks, with overnight temps between 45 and 60 fahrenheit. As the temps headed quickly towards freezing in early October, I brought the plant back in, and thought nothing further of it. By the middle of November, though, it was clear that what I read was right – the plant was blooming. Only one of the orchids actually threw up a stalk, but still a good thing.

And finally, in the last couple of days, the flower is starting to bloom. We’ll see how long this lasts…