little balls of sleet
Sunday, January 20 2019
Overnight we'd had the biggest winter storm yet of this winter season (the only other of note being the one that had happened back on November 15th). The precipitation had come in just about every variety, though much of it had been in the form of little balls of sleet that had tended to bounce around until they found a depression they couldn't roll out of. This meant that there hadn't been much accumulation on the tops of posts or even on the roof, though in the yard it was five or six inches deep. It was heavy material and there was also a crust on top. Due to the bad driving conditions, Gretchen didn't have to report for her customary Sunday shift at the bookstore in Woodstock. So we treated it like a coffee Saturday, though we only had enough coffee beans to make a single french press of half-decaf for us to share.
Gretchen had arranged it so that the housesitter during our upcoming vacation would have access to the services of the guy who has plowed out our driveway a few times through the years. Today that guy called and asked if we needed it done after last night's snowfall. There'd been a miscommunication and he'd thought our housesitter was already here. But, what the hell, the snow was heavy and hard and we needed it removed somehow, so Gretchen agreed to have it done. The trickiest part in this procedure was removing our cars from the driveway. Just getting their doors open was difficult due to the glazing of ice covering them. And then driving them out into the Dug Hill Road was a bit sketchy due to lack of visibility. I couldn't get the ice off the side windows, so I was forced to open the car doors in order to see cars weren't approaching.
Yesterday I'd been amazed by how easy it had been to get pan/tilt servos working on my EyeSpy monitoring robot. (I think my expectations on how difficult computer engineering tasks will be to complete have been made more pessimistic by my recent struggles migrating that Python app to Electron.) I already had a pan/tilt mechanism containing two servos and various hardware and an Arduino servo shield connected to the Raspberry Pi via I2C. To get the Raspberry Pi to serve a video stream from its camera and to control those servos using arrow buttons on a web page, all I had to do was follow the instructions on this handy page at Sparkfun.com. Most of the mentioned steps were already completed; all I had to do was install a couple libraries and edit /etc/rc.local. When I was done, the only thing that was wrong was that the pan and tilt servos were swapped, an easy error to correct. Today I finalized this setup using special extra-long camera ribbon cables I'd ordered. With the robot positioned on a collar tie above the woodstove, I could use the pan/tilt mechanism to look at any part of the south end of the living room I wanted to. Setting this up was so easy (and confers so many advantages) that it's doubtful I will ever get another pre-built pan/tilt IP camera. Using the example of the existing Python scripts, I can add other servo-controllable features to create an elaborate telepresence machine.
By the mid-afternoon, I was feeling unusually sleepy, as if I'd taken a bunch of diphenhydramine. So I climbed into bed and slept for something like three hours.
For dinner, I had a package of prepared Indian food from that health food store in New Paltz. The brand was Kitchens of India and the dish was Rajma Masala, the one featuring kidney beans. With a little hot sauce and blanched broccoli and eaten with middle eastern flatbread, it was excellent.
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