Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category

Happy New Year from the SLO Polar Bear Club

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

California Polar Bear Club

Organizing the Rat’s Nest

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

In a previous post I mentioned that I needed OSX Mountain Lion for development and that I moved from using a laptop to a Mac mini. After using the setup for a while, I moved the rat’s nest of cables out of sight behind the desk.

I picked up a shelf that is close to the color of the desk and bolted it to the back. Then I drilled a few holes in it for cables mounted all of the dongles and cables on the board. This is what used to be on the top of the desk. There are two power strips, one that is visible in the picture and another under the drawer.

Desk Rat’s Nest

And this is what the desk looks like now.


There is only one cable that the bird can chew and no power cords, so we’re both happy—he’s happy that he can help me type and I’m happy that he can’t electrocute us.

Reason #42 why you don’t want to pay me by the hour.

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

My mother-in-law is coming to stay for a while and she has trouble with steps. We put grab bars by all the places she has trouble with—the tub, the two steps up into the living room, the steps up from the garage, and on the stairs. We’re getting quite good at installing them securely.

Deck Stair Rail

So I figured, how hard could it be to install a rail up to the deck? It wasn’t particularly hard, but it took 11 hours. Though to be fair, about an hour of that time was googling, talking to people about how to do it, and seeing how they installed a rail at the nearby hardware store.

In the end, it is very secure—no wobble at all. The posts are just about perfectly plumb in both directions and the top rail doesn’t wobble.

I think I could do the other side in a couple of hours. The first problem I ran into was that I couldn’t get the top post to sit on the step. Then it occurred to me that they had sloped the step just a tad to let the water flow off. Several iterations on the chop saw and I had it sitting flush on the step.

The next problem was tacking the rails up so that I could cut the tops. I ended up getting some 5 inch nails so that I could keep the posts in place while I marked the angle for the top rail. I had pre-drilled the holes, but none of my drill bits were 4″ long so they wouldn’t go all the way through the post. I ended up using the lag bolts to go through the post, then drilling a pilot hole where they dimpled the wood.

The angle for the rail ended up being 40° so it was easy to cut on the chop saw. There is an anchor piece under the rail that also has the same angle for each end.

I made the anchor piece and the top rail out of scrap redwood from an old deck. The surface was pitted and cracked, so I used the table saw to plane the edges. I tried to plane the top of the rail but the riv knife in the saw kept the board from going through the saw. A belt sander worked to smooth off the top and bottom. The edges were rounded for better grip with a router.

Accidental Stereogram

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

I was thinking about how to solve a programming problem and just sort of staring at the monitor when the code on the page turned into a stereogram. Can you see the rows of letters going off into the distance?

Accidental Stereogram

Donating Platelets

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

I’ve been giving blood for a while now and it’s a pretty easy and painless thing to do. The blood bank used to be on the way to Taco Bell and the bank, so I’d stop by every eight weeks on my lunch hour. The giving blood part only takes about 15 minutes but the questionnaire and waiting after giving means that about an hour total is used up. I switched to doing an R2 donation a few years ago because it meant that I only had to go every 16 weeks and the amount of time actually donating is only about 45 minutes, so I saved a half hour of time. A few months ago they were desperately short of platelets and asked if I could give. I didn’t have anything else to do that day so I went home and got my laptop and donated.

It’s a little bit uncomfortable, but mostly because you have to stay in one place for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. When the blood leaves your body and goes to the machine, it feels just like when you are giving blood. In other words, no sensations at all. But when they put the red blood cells back in you get a weird sensation, almost like having a couple glasses of wine. Not unpleasant but weird. You can donate every two weeks, but that’s a bit too often for me, so I go once a month unless they have a critical shortage.

If you haven’t given blood before or haven’t done an R2, I’d recommend starting slow and working up. If you have given blood before, go for it. The platelets are used in patients undergoing chemotherapy or who have had organ transplants.

Here’s Flat Stanley and me donating.

Flat Stanley and me donating platelets

Well Golly

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