morning with June
Sunday, November 23 2014
Through Gretchen's Facebook network, Gretchen had managed to find someone to buy our old Honda Civic Hybrid. Her named is June, and Gretchen had decided that she is perhaps the most (or at least one of the most) irritating people she had ever had cause to interact with. Unfortunately, Gretchen had to work today, so it fell on me to deal with June, starting this morning just as Gretchen was preparing to leave for her shift at the bookstore in Woodstock. Our dogs ran out to see who this person was who had rolled into our driveway in a big black rental car. June is a small, thin woman in her 60s and was walking a tiny elderly dog on a leash. Before we could do anything to stop it, Ramona had jumped up on her, partially knocking her over. Then, for absolutely no reason, Eleanor attacked her little dog. So that wasn't a great start for the day, and it wasn't like June is the kind of woman who politely dismisses such things. Initially she freaked out that her dog might have been injured, but she was fine. (And it's a real mystery why Eleanor is becoming increasingly violent as she gets older.)
Though Gretchen had already detailed all the problems with the car, June immediately started talking about how rumpled the hood was. Oh well, as I soon learned, she tended to talk endlessly without really thinking, and the things she said didn't really matter so much except for the fact that they served to delay the end of our interaction. I rode with her as she drove the car north on Dug Hill Road, over to the Reservoir Inn, back to 28A, and then home via Hurley Mountain Road. June, who is used to driving a big American car from the early 1990s, found the engine noise from the Civic Hybrid disconcerting and she also didn't like how the car "pulled," her description for a slight delay that comes between stepping on the accelerator and the car's acting upon it. Overall, though, she actually seemed excited about the car, particularly its fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, though, it was looking like today was not going to be the end of my interactions with her. She started talking about wanting to have a mechanic look at it, so I lied and said we had a lot of people interested in the car in hopes of hurrying things along. Somewhere along the line June said she's a poet who teaches poetry in graduate school, and I wondered if I would find her as irritating if she was my professor. And though it's true she was irritating and even momentarily infuriating at times, I didn't find her quite as dreadful as Gretchen had led me to believe. The worst thing about her was that she was occupying my time. Eventually, though, she provisionally wrote me a check for our $4800 asking price (contingent on a cleanish bill of health at a mechanic) and then left.
This afternoon and evening, I decided to go through all the Arduino boards I've bought cheap from China over the years and see which of them actually work or are compatible with what. Most of the crap I buy on eBay from China costs $8 or less, and it's always at least partially counterfeit, an undocumented mystery to get working, wildly non-compliant with American electronics rules (often to my benefit, particularly when those are FCC rules), or some combination of all three. While all my knock-off Arduino boards seem to work well enough to run, say, the firmware for the master processing core of my solar panel controller, some work with some shield boards and others do not. Most of my questionable shields are TFT video displays. There is a lot that can go wrong with such a display, and of the five I've bought from China on eBay, so far I've only managed to get a predictable display of computer-generated graphics out of one of them. It's possible more of them work than just the one, but finding documentation and drivers for these items isn't easy, and the guys who sell them are no help at all. And of course, sending them back to China is not an option; while it costs them trivial amounts to ship this direction, the one time I looked into shipping the other way, the price was at least $20.
For the first time in two years, I dusted off my Makerbot Thingomatic (very literally), installed ReplicatorG software on my computer (this particular incarnation of my computer was built after I last used my Makerbot), and then tried to install Makerbot firmware on my two Arduino Mega boards (at least one of which is a Chinese counterfeit) to see how useful they really are. For whatever reason, the firmware would not install, but, as I said earlier, at least the firmware for the master core of my solar controller seems to install and operate on them correctly.
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