three gallons of accumulated clay and earthworms
Monday, August 25 2014
It's turning out that a PogoPlug 4 is like a RaspberryPi with a SATA port, gigabit ethernet, USB 3.0, but 30% cheaper. There were uses I had in mind for my RaspberryPis that weren't going to require any video output, and now it's looking like I can use PogoPlugs instead. One thing RaspberryPis have that PogoPlugs lack is a set of hardware pins, but I don't have any experience programming RaspberryPi pins and would prefer to work with an Arduino, which can be attached to a PogoPlug via the USB port. So this morning, I worked at trying to install the Arduino IDE on the PogoPlug. Since the PogoPlug is always headless and has no video hardware, the graphical elements of the Arduino IDE would be useless, but once the Arduino IDE is installed, suppposedly much of what can be done in the GUI can also be done from the command line. I wanted the PogoPlug to have complete control over the Arduino so that it could replace its software (termed a "sketch" in Arduino parlance) and also interact with a running sketch through the USB port. Uses for such a setup would be a customizable weather station or a webcam that can be remotely tilted, panned, and zoomed. Unfortunately, getting the Arduino IDE to work on the PogoPlug proved impossible, at least initially. It's rare that I seek help with my technology problems on a web forum, but this was a hard nut to crack, and I posted on the Arduino forum (amusingly, having registered there in 2006, my user ID is 875, while recently-registered users have user IDs of as high as 281000).
Though the weather has been cooler than usual, the amount of rain we've been getting is typical for late summer, which is not all that much. It's enough to keep the grass from turning brown, but not enough to maintain a high water table, especially given the demands of thirsty, fully-foliated trees. Not only is the Chamomile completely dry where it crosses the Stick Trail; it's also dry in its poorly-drained section at the bottom of the Chamomile Headwaters trail. The excavation in the greenhouse basement is also empty of water (though I wouldn't exactly call it dry). Today I took advantage of this situation by jackhammering away at the hard bluestone at the bottom, exploiting any cracks I could and generating clouds of pulverized stone in the process (it's a white powder as fine as flour that is comprised almost entirely of abrasive silicon dioxide). Jackhammering is a loud activity, though the thick concrete walls of the greenhouse probably contain most of it. But if any sound leaks out into the neighborhood, it would probably be blamed on the continued well drilling operation still ongoing across the street at the residence of the Fussies.
Later this evening after dark, I returned to the greenhouse basement and did some quieter activities. One of these was the removal of as much clay as I could from the east end of the floor excavation, which has been mostly undisturbed since I quit digging it back in 2011. The excavation has flooded many times since then, and every time it does, a small amount of clay washes out of small cracks in the bedrock. Over time, this clay accumulates in the lowest part of the hole, where (despite frequent long-duration flooding) it somehow becomes habitat for hundreds of tiny earthworms. The tool I used for gathering the clay was a conventional stainless steel tablespoon, though in the end there was less than five gallons of clay to be removed, of which I was able to remove about three.
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