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There is a motion from the floor to participate in the Mongol Rally 2018. I think it was the "participating in this event may lead to serious injury or death" that clinched it. Or maybe the part where a camel was pulling a Yugo out of a stream.
[personal profile] juli & [personal profile] corvi: if this starts looking likely I'm going to have some questions!
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We went to a place called Extras!, which is a surplus building supplies warehouse, so I could get a door for the mad scientist hut.
They had a lot of doors. They even had a weird corridor down between stacks of doors.

They had the kitchen sink.

And cool signage.

I installed the door, meaning the old door, with the Tyra Banks 1998 calendar on the back, now goes in the trash.
Then I did something I should have done years ago and added a deadbolt so I can lock it without just padlocking a junky eyebolt.

Columbine are hiding under the canopy of carrots in the front yard.

I'm remachining a friend's mountain bike pedals, adding a bunch more cleats to them. The first step is a fixture to hold the pedals in place while I drill and tap them.

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I bought a new front door for the Mad Scientist Hut yesterday, so now I get to install it.
An RV just burned to the ground in front of the porn store down the street.
We've been to an Ace Hardware a couple km away twice now to get a chipkey duplicated for N's new car. Both times they've said they'd have the blank in next time we came in. Both times we've bought other things while we were there.
Clever plan.
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If all goes as planned, I'm meeting up tomorrow with a friend so I can stick a geiger counter in his crotch.
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I was stalled at work, waiting on an administrator of our technical documentation group to set up a top-level directory for me to work in. My manager walked by and mentioned that he had to ride his bike home (no car) to meet a sprinkler repair person. It's about 20km to his house, and he ran a half marathon yesterday, so I volunteered to come along. It's way easier to take turns leading on a long ride.
What actually happened was that he got in behind me and mostly stayed there the whole time, as I pushed at about my max sustainable power output all the way down and all the way back.
It was a nice ride, though I'm a bit sore now. When we got back we both uploaded our gps tracks. Every section we'd done is the fastest he's ever ridden that section, and this is his daily commute to work.
I walked by his office later and he had his head down on his desk, asleep.
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Due to stress I ache all over, particularly my back, in the vicinity of one of the discs I damaged in the big car crash, and the adjacent bit where ligaments attach to a vertebral process that got broken off the vertebra. It's my stress meter.
Usually I deal with this by stretching and bike riding.
So at lunch today I went cycling with my coworker.
I had TWO heart rate monitors on. Sometimes they fight, but today they appeared to work well together. (One is recording for the cardiologist, the other is recording for my geek love of instrumentation, so I can post my pulse histogram online.)
The sky was vaguely threatening as we were starting, and got crabbier as we rode. As we were about halfway down a long twisting dirt path, it started drizzling, and just as we got to an intersection where we'd been planning on going straight and doing a long climb, lightning struck quite near us, so we bailed and rode home. Shortly thereafter the clouds dabbled briefly in hail, but then gave up as we outpaced them. We returned covered in mud and glory, only not very much glory.
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The hailstorm cut the top off one of the tomato seedlings, literally just sliced right through the stem. I stuck it in a glass of water along with a similarly abused tomatillo, and am watching new roots form along the stem.

Kind of creepy.

I was following this person down the road after work and suddenly noticed the bumpersticker, which I love.
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A lot of stuff has happened.
I remain wired up to a heart monitor, and its sympathetic magic is working perfectly: I have not had a single dizzy episode and only one possible missed heartbeat since I started wearing it.

[personal profile] threemeninaboat's car was declared officially totaled and irreparable because of water getting into the electronics and hybrid batteries. She feels that most or all modern cars are enormous unwieldy beached whales and was angry at everything so we went out and found her a ten year old Subaru STI, basically a road-legal racecar, and that, she's happy with.

My company, specifically my department, won a contract to develop an extremely complex custom chip for another company, that'll keep us very busy and very profitable for at least six years, so I'm less worried about my job vanishing for quite a while.

I've fallen behind on most of my fun projects because there's so much stuff that Just Has To Be Done. I'm going to work on the life/fun balance thing. But the hailstorm and following mid-May freeze meant some issues keeping the garden viable.
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I think there should be a word for the skill of being really good at being really terrible at something. Like, extraordinarily talented at screwing up.
We were out playing Ingress tonight, and were sitting at the library, when we heard a sort of distant noise that sounded like someone dialing a phone and then answering a 911 emergency call.
Well, it wasn't MY phone. It wasn't [personal profile] threemeninaboat's phone.
I have a heart rate monitor. It talks to a dedicated cellphone. If I push the power button on the cellphone, it'll turn on and present me with a screen where I can ask it to log information, by pushing an active area in the bottom 1/10 of the screen. In the screen after that, if I push in the top 1/40 of the screen, it'll call 911.
It did that in my pocket. Three sequential button pushes in the right places within about 30 seconds of each other.

BUT! I did learn, through playing with it, that the only way to start the sequence is to push the power button on the top. Tomorrow I'm folding up a little metal cover to go over that button, that I will duct-tape securely onto the phone such that it is physically impossible to push the power button without removing the duct tape.
Until such time as I somehow manage to figure out how to defeat that through devious pocket karate.
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Since [personal profile] threemeninaboat's car is on indefinite hiatus, what with its bashed-in windows and smashed-up exterior, she drove the Spitfire to work today. Hooray! I texted her to find out how it was going, and she said it was great. I came home and was out walking the dog when she called: she couldn't get the seatbelt to come out. It was retracted and refused to extend.
I forced Monty into actual rapid walking, got home, and drove over, by which time she had half the seatbelt assembly out. (On this car, it's pretty exposed, since I replaced the original circa 1975 seatbelts, that were half rotted and only lap belts, with three-point shoulder belts that hook into the roll bar mounting points with massive bolts.) The point was to trade the seat belts side-to-side, since the passenger one worked. I helped her finish that up... and the passenger one, that has always worked perfectly, didn't work either. ARRRGH. I took it back out and played with it until it did work, we stretched it all the way out, installed it, she sat down, and we stuck the other end in the receptacle and she drove home.
While I was sitting at home playing with the one that failed, it started working again.
These are set up very carefully so that the latching mechanism that engages in a crash cancels out gravity: if it's tilted (like the car's in the process of turning over) it automatically engages fully to prevent the person falling out.
She was parked on a steep angle.
The seatbelts were just doing what they were designed to do. Turns out if you park on an angle that is the sort you regularly encounter, they decide you're crashing and lock up.
I think I'm getting non-retractable three-point seatbelts to replace them.
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I found a mystery pokemon player disguised as a pine tree.
And my next car.
I went for a mountain bike ride, with the usual results.
Today we had a hailstorm.
N's car did not fare well.
Windshield is a mass of cracks, rear window is completely gone, every body panel has major dents.

Our tomatoes didn't do well either.
But they are Russian Tomatoes and should be used to this. We'll see.
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Doc says my heart appears to be fine and he has no idea why I fainted, so I'm going to a cardiologist and in the meantime am under instructions to drink even more water.
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This was a super busy weekend. It snowed hard yesterday so mostly we stayed inside. Today I took Pirate the rabbit outside to jump around in the grass, as all the snow from yesterday had melted off by the time we got up, and he seemed a lot happier. He's like 190 years old in human years so it's no surprise he's acting like he feels lousy a lot of the time. I gently washed him because he's sort of become incontinent, and that may be part of why he's doing better at moving.


Apr. 27th, 2017 07:48 pm
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I've been driving through a place called Lake Arbor Park to blow up my frenemies' Ingress portals, and ran across cormorants.
And herons.
But today I came home and walked Monty around the block and while I was down by the church to the south of our house I heard an utterly familiar (to me) "breet!" sound that is unlike any native bird. I managed a passable "breet!" response and got an extremely enthusiastic response, so we played Marco Polo until this old grey lady tried to fly towards me.
Her wings are clipped so it didn't work very well, but she's quite well-trained and civilized, so I got her to step up on my hand and walk up to my shoulder while monty had a complete emotional breakdown about not being allowed to eat the little bird, and brought her home. She's now sitting in the downstairs bathroom.
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This morning I got up, hopped in the shower, and fainted.
I faint a lot, but usually what that means is I stand up, get dizzy, grab the wall, and have to sit down for several seconds.
This was a complete blackout, fall through the shower curtain, and stay on the floor for quite a while until N had pulled the curtain off me and started checking for a pulse.
It may be the same low blood pressure problems I've had for years: standing in a really hot shower is the sort of thing that leads to fainting.
Nevertheless I'm going back to the doctor.

Anyway, I took the day off because I had an awful headache. Apparently I hit my head pretty hard.
So I did a bunch of housework, got the new DSL modem FINALLY hooked up and functioning, cut down a bunch of stupid elm trees that keep coming back every year, watered all the plants, walked the dog several kilometers. Not much involving power tools.

Greyhound legs look particularly alien.

I went over to the junkyard to get steel for the deck railing and found some drillbits that were more than two meters long. I kind of want one.

Some newspaper blew into the yard. It's had a long journey.

I set up the foundry and did some more casting, just scrap processing.

In doing so I found the last bits of the Subaru engine block I broke up and mostly melted down years ago.

Whilst organizing the workshop I got out the old glass annealing oven. I recently bought a fancy PID controller for it, that'll replace the kind of scary triac-based control system I built for it many years ago. That's the last step I need for the 3d-print-to-aluminum-casting toolchain.
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We went to the Ingress cross-faction awards ceremony for the Colorado area on Saturday. They hold it in a kind of divey artist gallery on Santa Fe, but there are usually at least a couple of good sculptures.
Both these were basically 2 meters tall.

Two of my coworkers have bought the same model of 3d printer that I have. One printed a tiny crossbow, that is almost entirely a single print: all the moving parts (and there are several) were printed in one go, assembled, relying on flex to enable it to work.

I think it's funny that so far he has printed a fidgeter (a weighted spinny thing) and the plastic equivalent of brass knuckles and a crossbow and a skull. I have printed a testbed for one of my circuit boards, an enclosure for another circuit board, an intake manifold, and motor hold-down brackets. The other guy has printed a klein bottle and another mathematical oddity, related to a moebius strip. We all seem to be quite consistent in our choices, although they are all quite different.

I bought a pipe nipple and cap, intending to weld them together to make a small heavy-duty crucible for melting and casting brass, insofar as my aluminum one is intended for much larger volumes and much lower temperatures. The nipple and cap both claimed to be galvanized steel. I sat them in hydrochloric acid for about 20 minutes and then went to weld them. The HCl did not sufficiently strip off the zinc in 20 minutes: I should have left it in there for an hour.
This is what it looks like when you try to weld something galvanized.
Zinc fumes are bad for you. Avoid doing this.
As it turns out, even though they both claimed to be galvanized steel, the cap was in fact cast iron. I should have tested it before trying to weld it.
This is what happens when you use standard welding rod to try to attach steel to cast iron.
See that big old crack horizontally right down the center of the weld? The cast iron has melted and run up to that point, but because it is brittle, when it cools it contracts and cracks. (Steel is ductile enough to stretch just a little as it cools.)
This is definitely not going to hold liquid brass without leaking everywhere.
I'll fabricate another one later.
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[personal profile] threemeninaboat says there's this song that includes the words "Hakuna matata" that everyone in the world knows except me.
Is she right?
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Apparently my style of decapsulating integrated circuits is so different we don't know how to take pictures of the results that show what we want to see. We have damaged chips. When we etch the top off with nitric acid there are spots that won't etch because they're a mixture of metals, epoxy, and silicon. The way I remove the top doesn't leave those spots, so we have to compare the pictures to pictures of a good chip and even then the evidence for damage is subtle: lines that aren't quite straight, for instance. I may have to come up with some way of producing contrast. But, generally, it's extremely successful save for our lack of ability to electrically connect to the die anymore, and we can even manage that with our probe station.
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Tonight I learned how to reliably, repeatably remove the top of an integrated circuit package and expose the silicon without damaging it much, and without using acid. I'll do a writeup on @smellsofbikes later in the week, when I have a chip for which posting pictures online is permissible. I made a tiny vise to hold the chip, then I cut off 98.5% of the packaging material, then I hold it up to the bottom-side of a sideways flame so it's as cool as possible and gently bake the remaining epoxy until it's brittle, then oh so carefully scrub it off with a fiber brush and careful compression to fracture larger pieces using the tip of a pair of tweezers. That last bit, the careful compression, is by far the hardest, most nitpicky part. I'm using a 20x microscope and wish I had a 50x.
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Two police officers showed up at our front door at 2200 tonight, and said they wanted to look in my back yard for a guy who might be wandering around through it. I think there was more to the story, because a plainclothes policeman showed up a minute later and two other cars a minute after that, and there were a fairly large number of people out looking through my back yard and my neighbor Ray's back yard (which are largely conterminous, though separated by a rather tall retaining wall.) That shot my interest in doing a bunch of work in the workshop.


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