white vans and a blood moon
Sunday, September 27 2015
The day started out beautiful and sunny, and by the time I got out of bed, Mark had already ridden my bike down to Ray & Nancy's place, meaning I wouldn't have to take him home. After all the beers last night (somehow we'd missed the Shock Tops in the the refrigerator door), I had a moderate hangover that followed me around all day like psychic shadow.
In that condition, mostly all I wanted to do was watch YouTube videos. Yesterday I'd discovered (or, more accurately, rediscovered) the EEVBlog, an episode of which YouTube showed me after showing that first video I'd made of my nascent Ahmed Mohamed Memorial Clock. That first episode I watched today was for a digital clock built by Dave (the EEVBlog host) back when he was a teenager in the late 1980s, but soon after that I was watching his various teardowns, the best of which being of a craptastic stereo component sold in a "white van scam" under the "Marc Vincent" trademark (a concocted brand having a uniquely Australian resonance). Dave has a lot of energy and knowledge, though his exuberance gets a little repetitive and he goes a bit too far into the technical weeds even for me, but it's better television than most of what ends up on, say, the Discovery Channel.
I should mention that the first time I ever stumbled upon the EEVBlog was two or three years ago when researching the TRS-80 Model 100 (remember, Gretchen gave me a Tandy 102 for Christmas in 2012). Watching Dave's episode on the Model 100 taught me some interesting things about the clever layout of the components in that machine, particularly the way half the LCD drivers are soldered in upside down so as to simplify the routing of copper traces.
Today's firewood haul (again from just below the Stick Trail about a quarter mile away) came to 124.55 pounds, though a few pieces cut from small trunks were much more rotten than expected. But rotten wood isn't useless for burning; if it's dry, it makes great kindling.
I don't know if it was the hangover or what, but the coolness of the day (which wasn't that bad; temperatures were mostly in the 70s) had me feeling chilled, so this evening I started a cardboard fire in the woodstove. But even that wasn't enough, so at around 6:30pm I took a nice hot bath. Because of the way the solar panels are angled, we always have a surplus of hot water at this time of year.
This evening a couple posts on Facebook reminded me of the big "blood moon" lunar eclipse, so Gretchen and I went out and watched the moon as it went from a little less than a "quarter-moon" to a "new moon" in the course of about twenty minutes. It looked redder to me than it did to Gretchen, but the optics in our binoculars were so crappy that it looked kind of greenish through those (we were using two different sets). After "totality," we went inside and forgot about the moon for awhile. When I next thought about it and went outside, the sky was overcast and there weren't even any stars. We could have easily missed the whole thing had those clouds arrived a little earlier.
In Ahmed Mohamed Memorial Clock news, today I added some features allowing me to briefly display short messages on the clock screen by firing off a command in the serial terminal (the command is "stmMESSAGE_CONTENT," stm standing for "set temporary message".) I also added commands to switch military time on and off and to also disable the display of seconds. I have an idea of having the clock respond to noises (the way "the Clapper" does) so that I can briefly display such information as the outdoor temperature (which would be read from radio signals sent by one of the AmbientWeather probes). But my first experiments with a simple audio sensor were underwhelming; perhaps I can really only use them for creating random robot reactions to the sound of gunfire down at the bus turnaround (the intent for which I originally bought them).
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