randomdreams: riding up mini slickrock (Default)
Water temp meter part II:
I left the project half-finished last night, intending to fill the radiator with the water that had been lost in pulling out the water temperature sensor. This morning I got up, intending to drive the Spitfire over to the Annual Little British Car Show, poured a bunch of water in, and watched it cascade out of the sensor recess. Tightening the nutbolt (a bolt with a hole through the center that the sensor lives in) down didn't help. I drove my normal car over, checked out some pretty cars, and drove back, and then removed the sensor and started poking at it. Halfway up the bulb that lives in the water, there's a tapered ring of metal. I thought it was a precision tapered ring, that sealed against the matching taper inside the water pump. But this is automotive: there is nothing precision outside of the innards of the engine and transmission. Instead there was secretly a rubber gasket that, when I removed the old sensor, had stayed inside the water pump housing. It was totally shot, and no amount of trying to carefully put it back in was going to save it. I ended up getting an o-ring from my collection of high temperature water-resistant o-rings and using that instead, but because it was smaller, the nutbolt no longer managed to press the sensor down well enough to seal. I had to cut a little collet on the lathe, like a thick washer but sawed in half so it could be put in two pieces around the sensor line. With that, everything sealed correctly, as far as I can tell, and the car is ready to go again. A quick jaunt around the block shows the water temperature gauge indicating roughly the right numbers. I'll check tonight to see if the radiator is full of water.
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The water temperature gauge on the Spitfire has slowly been dying. It was reading 120F when the car had been off for two days, and got up to 160F when the car was running. It was a really cheap unit. I bought another really cheap unit off ebay and replaced it last night, which was way more of a pain than it should have been, because the previous owner ran a LOT of extra wires through the grommet in the firewall and there was no longer room for the sensor to fit through. I also forgot that the first step is putting the gauge in the dash, because you can't remove the sensor from the gauge, so after routing the sensor through the grommet and along the engine and installing it in the water pump, I had to undo it, feed it through the dash, and redo it. But now it works, at least.

Yesterday I spent about five hours painting the house, getting a layer or two of exterior paint on all the sun-facing wood on the first floor, and getting a good start on the non-sun-facing wood. Today I'll get the small amount of wood on the second floor. Man this is sore work, all above my head, a lot of it from a ladder, but it should last several years and more importantly prevent the wood being damaged by being exposed, as it was. Looks a lot better, too, than all the flaking and peeling paint that had been there since we moved in.
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We rode at lunch, on a nice 35k route, and while it wasn't by any means the fastest we've ever done it, or any section of it, it was extremely consistent for having a lot of climbs/descents and traffic. Here's my heart rate.
There are two low blips where we stopped for stoplights, and a high point where my heart got up to 185 or so, but the rest is a nice solid consistent 160-ish, the rate I can maintain for an hour without throwing up.
It was also quite warm today, just about body temp.
The result was that when we got back, everyone showered and ate and then we had a staff meeting and at the end of the staff meeting, when the department manager stood up and said "thanks, everyone", and the rest of us all stood up, I promptly put my back against a wall and slid down it to a seated position, my manager fell over and landed halfway in a chair, and the other manager, who had been drafting me, just had to sit right back down and put his head down on the table.

So it's not just me.

Department manager was all "what are you guys DOING out there?"
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I was just standing at the gas station a few minutes ago, waiting for the pump to finish, and someone talking on the phone made a wide turn and smashed into the adjacent gas pump. Boy did that make an amazing sound. No major damage or fires, though.
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Rabbit cage available, free.

randomdreams: riding up mini slickrock (Default)
I got a demo of my hardware/software/firmware project running reliably and, thankfully, did a soft-launch of it at our weekly tech meeting, which consists of my manager, my coworker, and I. Because I knew some aspects of it are fussy (we want to move away from our 1960's gpib interface towards lan, but setting up networking on these instruments is a slow, painful process, and if you let them use dhcp everything goes to hell in a handbasket every time any component gets power-cycled) I started the setup and testing forty minutes before our weekly meeting is supposed to start. The start time came and went, and I was still in there fighting with it, and nobody else had shown up. I got it working about ten minutes behind schedule, just as my coworker walked past and stopped and said "oh, I totally forgot about the meeting." He went off to find our manager, who is under a huge amount of stress and was dealing with it by taking his bike apart in his office and was surrounded by sprockets and grommets. They both showed up, and I talked them through the hardware and what I've got working so far, and we spent some time reviewing the software, as it's the basis for about 80% of the next year's worth of work we're going to do. It went pretty well.
Afterwards my coworker came in and nearly melted down, because he is unusually averse to change, and I'm putting vast quantities of change on the table: new software, new hardware interface, new instrumentation, new system for extracting data and manipulating it, I'm using parallel processing and calling modules I've precompiled in a different language. A lot of that I'm doing A: to see if it works and B: to see if it's worth the bother, not because I have to, but he sees this as an onslaught.
Aside: labview is a whackadoodle language. To call a subroutine, you drag the subroutine icon into your work window. There is a C-style header, with C-style parameters, that you can go find in a header file if you want to, but the way you actually handle that is you draw lines from the main program's output terminals on the main program box to the input terminals on your subroutine. If you're passing an array, it's a dotted green line. If you're passing a double, it's a pink line. If you're passing a signed/unsigned 8 or 16 bit integer it's a blue line. Terminals have to match lines, have to match terminals on the other end. You can t them, as well. Some parts are really obscure. A while loop is a box, with a terminal into which you feed an unsigned integer, to determine the number of iterations, and another terminal into which you feed whatever it is that the while loop is supposed to do. But you can also click on the point at which that line enters the while box, and hey presto suddenly it's a shift register instead of a while loop. ??!? Coz that makes sense, and is really easy to debug when you're looking at the program later.
And, excitingly, everything is pass-by-reference, so it's really easy to completely muck up a datastream if you're trying to just, say, increment a value every time you get a good reading, and inject a bunch of trash into your data. But it does let you return an arbitrary number of values from a function call without having to use pointers to structs, so that's kinda nice, I guess.
So today we went on a bike ride at lunch and when we got back my manager sent out a meeting invite to pretty much everyone in the building, with ten minutes of notice, to look at my project.
Luckily I hadn't broken it down.
But man that's not a lot of time to prepare for a raft of technical questions. It's a good thing I'm a loudmouth.
It went really well. I managed to field all the questions successfully. One coworker wanted to know if he could integrate what I was doing into matlab. Another had a bunch of questions about hardware parallelizing. I could see my poor coworker, the one averse to change, winding himself up into enough tension that he was bouncing both legs up and down uncontrollably, his stress tell. Afterwards he had *pages* of questions about the questions other people were asking. He really needs a more deterministic job.
Everybody liked it.
They're going to like it a lot more when I have a demo system ready to talk to new silicon the moment it comes through the door, while our applications software guy gets called off on other emergencies and won't have even a cursory interface ready for two weeks after we get new silicon, as happened the last two times. I'm trying to get our digital designer to give me a (FPGA-based) hardware simulator for the chip, so I can actually try out some more complex stuff before the new chip's anywhere close to coming back, but apparently his hardware simulation doesn't actually work like that.
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My manager and I have been communicating poorly. He's under a lot of stress, and there are cultural differences that make for some issues. (He is not good at consistency: he'll lurch from pushy, temperamental boss to friendly discussing shared interests boss way faster than most of his employees can handle.) I was behind on a project, and he has in the past expressed his frustration that I'll focus on a problem for a lot longer than he thinks I should before asking for help. I'd focussed on a problem that was fairly complicated: I'm trying to use commodity hardware to interface with one of our chips, and write the driver to do that, and my diagnostics is pretty much does-it-talk? and the answer was no. One issue, that I worked out early on, was that I needed to power part of the chip that generally doesn't need to be powered because it's handled by external hardware, which I didn't know. Another part was that the interface I'm using assumes I'm typing in decimal and then converts that to hexadecimal for me, silently. Well, I was typing in hexadecimal that just happened to be numeric, so it wasn't clear that the result was hexa-hexadecimal. I'm not even sure what that is. (Aside: I realized this morning that we American English speakers count in base ten-base three: a thousand, a million, a billion. Japanese count in base ten-base four: they advance their counting word every four significant digits rather than every three. We were learning big numbers in japanese class today.) So, I asked my manager for help, he came in, we sat down with an oscilloscope and graph paper, and went through exactly what we were typing in and what was being transmitted and found the relationship between them and realized the hex/decimal weirdness, and thankfully it took him a long time to realize it, even as he worked through all the other things I'd done and found them all correct. When he did realize it, he was too busy being pleased at having figured it out to be frustrated, but then he left in a hurry, and having finished that I was actually at a decision point about where to go next, so I sent him a flurry of email saying should I do this? or that? or pursue this other line of development? and he didn't respond to any. I'm sitting around being nervous about this.
Lunchtime ride, and he came along. There are four of us who are quite fast, and another four people who are definitely junior varsity, including him. As I've written about before, I think he actually believes that people who work for him should wait for him, which two of the other fast guys think is bunk, but I'm willing to take the hit, for the simple reason that I get a serious workout any way this unfurls. The three fast guys take off, I get my manager and the other managerial person in behind me, and I try to catch the fast guys. I could have done it, too, but one or the other of them kept dropping off behind me, so I'd slow a bit, get them back into the draft behind me, crank it back up, and did that for 40km. It was fairly hot: above body temp, and nobody but me really excels when it's that warm, so I had an advantage.
However, the overall result was, after the other guy turned around at a reasonable point, that my manager and I were taking turns leading, with me taking about 65% of the lead, and we were able to keep the lead group in sight and even sometimes catch up a little, and that's a thrilling, if exhausting, feeling. When we got back to work he was simultaneously barely able to walk and completely filled with adrenaline and enthusiasm.
About ten minutes later he came into my office and basically said I was doing fine, my questions were great, we set out a list of goals and plans, and I think I have about two weeks of very low-stress development, that'll actually be fun, ahead of me. It's all in labview, which is kind of a silly programming language, but it's something to learn and could be of significant benefit to me if I end up heading to another job.
I was pretty knackered after that ride. Heart rate averaged 170 over the entire hour and change, and I was losing consciousness every time I stood up for part of the afternoon. (Not full-on fainting, just blacking out a bit and having to sit on the floor for a moment, before trying again.) But, yeah, it's definitely exhilarating.

I got home and started picking tomatoes and immediately noticed that one of the tomato plants was missing a LOT of leaves. That means there's a tomato-and-or-tobacco hornworm chewing on it. I asked [personal profile] threemeninaboat if she'd use her superior visual discrimination skills to try to locate it, because I was not seeing anything.
She walked out of the house and from halfway across the yard said "it's right there."
Of course she was right.

Today I scraped the fascia, eaves, and soffits all around the house in preparation for repainting them. About 3/4 the way through, I ran across a wasp convention. They don't even have a nest. They're all just hanging out there together.

I found this building the other day, while we were having mango chelatas.
This is mostly for [personal profile] basefinder: it's on South Federal, maybe 9 blocks south of Alameda.
I was doing research for places to take [personal profile] rhiannonstone because she has a strong, new interest in mango chelatas.

What else. I did a bunch of work on the Triumph today. The brake master cylinder had worked itself loose. The speedometer cable had failed and was kinda thrashing around under the hood. Stuff like that.
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Usually when Monty sees an insect in the house she goes over and sniffs at it and pushes it around with her nose until it dies.
The other day I came into the room and saw her with her ears as upright as it's possible for them to get, very much like Gromit's ears. She was staring at something and then clawing at it the way a praying mantis hits something with its arms.
It was a wasp.
I'm guessing she's learned about shoving her nose into wasps.
Poor dog. She's gotten stung so many times that I know of.
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I will not eat all the Firework Oreos in one sitting.
I will not eat all the Firework Oreos in one sitting.
I will not eat all the Firework Oreos in one sitting.
I will not eat all the Firework Oreos in one sitting.
I will not eat all the Firework Oreos in one sitting.
I will not eat all the Firework Oreos in one sitting.
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[personal profile] ivy sent me a bag of Fireworks Oreos! I haven't tried them yet: will after dinner.
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I have not learned yet how to reshare stuff on DW, but: a short discussion from [personal profile] flwyd about the history and thoughts on the coiled rattlesnake with "don't tread on me": http://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/377566.html
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apologies for TMI but I keep injuring myself in ways that leave scabs like Lake Baikal and within a few days the edges are all ready to be done but the center is still very strongly attached.
Maybe I need body armor.
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So let me tell you...
No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Today was my grandmother's 100th birthday party.
N was feeling awful so I did some cleaning around the house, pulled fistfuls of hair out of the tub drain and grape-sized clots out of the sink drain, and then headed down to the middle of nowhere, where my aunt and uncle live in a very expensive house in a gated community, and my grandmother lives in their basement.
She was really together. She's been getting foggy the last couple of years, but she and I got to have a couple long conversations that stayed on topic. She gets a bit aphoristic if I don't lead the conversation, but I think that's because she hangs out with my aunt way too much.
My very conservative but pleasant uncle got into another long intense conversation with my very liberal aunt (from the other side), which seems to happen every time everyone gets together. He's conservative as in his brother made a half million dollars writing Left Behind imitations and his family disowned another brother who announced he was gay but going to spend his life celibate so as to not sin. Apparently celibacy wasn't good enough. My aunt is liberal as in got a degree in Chinese history in 1970 at UC Berkeley. Again: no idea why the two of them talk so much.
I got to see my cousin's ex-wife for the first time since the divorce four years ago, as she brought their kids over to drop them off. She's looking like a tired redhed-going-grey housewife, which is an improvement over last time I saw her, when she had jet-black hair, a very short skirt, and knee-high combat boots, as part of her effort to keep the marriage together. (Which must have driven her crazy: literally her entire immediate family works for James Dobson/Focus On The Family.) She took off pretty quickly when my cousin showed up with his new girlfriend, who has jet-black hair, a very short skirt, and knee-high bright green leather boots.
anyway. Grammy was okay. We talked. I talked a bunch to my cousin's kids, who are all really cool.
I drove home and went out to the shop to start working on machining a test fixture for a new product for Mad Scientist Hut. I set up the thousand-dollar sprinkler while I was doing that. (You know those old sprinklers like tractors that drive across the lawn, following the hose? I found one in an alley, brought it home, we used it, then we had one of those springs where it's 35C and the grass is all brown and dying so I water it and the next day we get a knee deep snowstorm and while walking the compost out to the pit I managed to step on the free trash sprinkler and break one of the arms off, so I went and bought a metal lathe and fixed the free trash sprinkler, so it's the thousand dollar sprinkler, yo.)
So the sprinkler's running and I stick my head out to make sure it hasn't gotten stuck and there are three kids half-running through the yard, sobbing, which means a dog has gotten away and they are trying to catch it. This is a regular event.
Of course I join in. These kids are really young. Well, everyone less than 18 looks like they should be wearing diapers, pretty much. But I think these kids were really young since they couldn't jump off the retaining wall between my house and Ray's, and it's only a meter and change high.
We all piled through that and headed towards the church, where I saw the dog.
It's a huge german shepard. Huge. I think I could have put two of these kids on it.
I can't outrun a german shepard.
I tried, though.
And I'm a lot more canny than it, because I've caught 30-something dogs over the last few years.
It of course ran straight to the main road where all the traffic is and started running down the side of the road. I crossed the road and started running along behind/beside it, because it was definitely scared of me. That way, it wasn't going to run INTO the road.
I paralleled it until it got distracted by a smell, then got ahead of it and started moving back towards it, so it reversed course. My thought was either I'd chase it back to its kids or up the hill away from the road. We did both at various points. Eventually the three kids, two joggers, and I managed to corral it in someone's yard and one kid got her hands on its collar and we all headed back to the church.
Where we found kid number four lying in the grass making horrible noises.
She claimed she was having an asthma attack.
As a long-term asthma person, I'm pretty sure what she was having was a panic attack.
But not the time to screw around.
So I chucked it back into high gear and ran home, got the car, and drove back, at which point other family members were there, but she couldn't walk and nobody in her family had the oomph to do much about it.
I picked her up and carried her to her mom's car, and they drove off.
About ten minutes later, the first three kids showed up again. One of them had lost her cellphone in the shenanigans and they were retracing their steps.
As we were looking around my yard, another kid said "what do you have in that weird little barn?"
I said "a bunch of broken bikes."
She said "huh. Can I have one?"
I had to explain they were all 40 year old bikes, too large for her, with no wheels or seats.

Then I finished the test fixture, went grocery shopping, made dinner (Marcella Hazan's chicken breast sauteed in butter/lemon/parsley) and am just right now finishing it, sitting down while not driving for the first time since about 11AM.
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Our power was out all last night, so I didn't get a chance to update anything.
And I was just starting to make an adapter so I could stick a 12v DC motor intended for electric bikes onto a cycle trainer so I can generate pedal power. Unfortunately, it takes a lathe to make the adapter.
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We went over to Old Town to visit the library, played a bit of Pokemon, and had a bit of ice cream. My main phone has died so I'm using my backup phone, which became my backup phone when the screen burnt out so it's visible in dark conditions but I can't see anything on the screen in sunlight, so it was sort of guesswork Pokemon. When we were in the library, there was a girl in there on a plastic tricycle, racing her brother across the library. Aiee.
Anyway, then we drove the Spitfire over to the grocery store, because I'd run out of eggs, potatoes, and other sundry items making breakfast. When we came out of the store there was a very small, old man trying to do something with his Lexus, which he'd obviously just rammed into the back of someone else's car, and then pulled into the parking lot beside the Spitfire to try to repair enough to drive home. The bumper was on the ground, as were some of the electronics, like the headlight module. He was trying to put the bumper cover on the hood and then attach a bungee cord from the steel subframe that had supported the bumper, up over the cover, around it, and back down to the same subframe. Of course, the result is that the bumper wants to hang from beneath the highest point at which it's attached. He clearly wasn't going to make much progress. I finally walked over, helped him hold up the bumper so he could try to attach it, and then grabbed a dropped bungee and attached it to the shock tower, well back in the engine compartment, around the bumper cover, and to the bumper steel, so it was at least held in place. He looked at it, sighed, and handed me the other bungee cord, which I did the same thing with on the other side. I hope he made it home.
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My poor old samsung galaxy s4 is dying. It gets quite hot, quite quickly, and then the screen goes all sorts of interesting colors and blanks, and restarting means pulling the battery. I had a previous iteration of the same phone, in which the screen got burnt over time so it's impossible to read in sunlight, so I swapped the battery, with no change. Off to ebay to find another.

Awkward time at work, when my direct manager and the manager for whom I've been doing a bunch of work had a two hour closed-door meeting at which voices were raised high enough that I could hear my name come up several times. I think they're arguing about how to allocate personnel resources.
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Still here, but I have nothing interesting to report. Sorry.

Owait I did think of one thing. When I set up the CNC mill, usually I write an entire file for the mill to run, and it usually works perfectly. When I use a manual mill, I run it by hand and get something done that is reasonably close to what I intended.
But when I try to run the CNC mill by typing in numbers, I completely screw up, because I repeatedly make floating point errors. If I mean drill down 0.05 inches and instead type in 0.5 inches, boy does that make a mess. I shot a broken-off drillbit into a wall tonight from a mistake of that type. Which, by the way, is a very minor argument for operating in metric: all my mistakes are only 1/25 as big as operating in imperial. Unfortunately, the plans I'm working from right now are all imperial and sufficiently complicated I'm not up for converting them.
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[personal profile] threemeninaboat's brakes are squeaking a lot. I was going to take off the wheels and check the brake pads and see how they were doing, right up until I realized that her fancy racing car has fancy racing car wheels with fancy racing car theft-resistant lug nuts and I have nothing that can remove them.
Anyone have any ideas how to track down a lug wrench for custom-sized-and-contoured lug nuts?
Like this: Anyone know a lug wrench that fits these?
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Man, I have a lot of [really difficult question] "asking for a friend" going on in my reading list today.

This was a 200km of bicycling week (so far) and I'm kinda tired. Nobody do anything drastic, okay?

Also the space bar on my keyboard isn't working right. Bah.
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What's worse, when a person who has in the past acted like a normal human suddenly starts posting racist things, or when someone with an astoundingly racist user name posts normal and even informative things?
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