Doing Lots Of Figuring

Song: “Song Sung Blue” by Hot Butter

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 1

Ghosts: Lots

So I was batchin’ it this weekend. J was out with her mom and had a great time. Plus, where they were staying has a cat and they’re both fans of the little four-legged monsters. She got back in the late afternoon and we had supper, hung out, and watched another episode of iZombie.

While she was away I kept myself busy, mostly with brain-intensive stuff. I worked on and made progress with the thing FA and I were working on on Friday – not a huge amount of progress but it was fun poking around at stuff and finally being rewarded with a screen full of information. I think I mentioned this in a different post, but I haven’t really done stuff like this for years now; electronics has been a hobby of mine since I was five years old and I’ve played with computer programming and hardware since my parents bought a Commodore 128D for Christmas in 1986. If you ever meet my dad, ask him about the ‘security system’ I made with the C128.

I’ve made all kinds of things – lots of them temporary experiments, but I did a made a lot of useful things, too. DA still uses the controller that I made for his Axis cameras 16 or 17 years ago, and the interface and troubleshooter between his cabin alarm system and satellite communication system is a circuit build around a PIC that I designed, programmed, and built. I think WG still has a guitar pedal or two that I made for him (they sounded terrible, which is how he liked them), and I can turn the 3D printer on and off remotely through OctoPrint, which is much more useful than it sounds.

Unfortunately, well before I got sick (or perhaps I should say well before I got too sick to work), I would get home from work and the last thing I wanted to do was work on a broken computer or write a program in PIC16 assembler to drive a stepper motor. As time went on, my oscilloscope collected more and more dust and the chips and components in the various drawers got older and older. When I ended up in the hospital, that was pretty much it. Just thinking about computers and electronics draped me with a thick blanket of dread and guilt; I couldn’t even go in the room where that stuff sits.

Not long ago, I started puttering around with electronics again. I guess electronics and programming is just like anything else – use it or lose it – and I’ve forgotten so much. I like to think some of it’s still in there somewhere, but I suspect that it’s gone forever and I’ll need to relearn stuff. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since things have changed a lot in the last five or ten years.

Anyway, where I was going with this is that over the last year or so I’ve been puttering with things again, but now I’m actually enjoying and looking forward to wading through Python and making lights blink on a Raspberry Pi. This project of FA’s is interesting and it’s giving me something to focus on, instead of me just looking at a huge wall of ideas and information and not having a clue where to start. Plus, working with her on things is a hoot, and if we don’t get it working in time or it’s not perfect, it’s not the end of the world. Just the act of focusing on a project and discovering things along the way is a big reward in itself.

In a similar vein, I’ve been really enjoying working with the 3D printer. Have I made a lot of garbage? Absolutely – it can be measured in kilograms. But this weekend I’ve been printing up the permanent jet tub parts for my in-laws, and today I designed version 2 of one of the pieces. Barring any weird stuff, everything should be printed up by tomorrow evening and I will give the parts to my mother-in-law when she heads for home in a couple of days. I enjoy finding neat designs and printing them up (like dinosaurs for my nephews or hooks for the kitchen), but I really enjoy designing parts and seeing how they turn out, like J’s hairband holder or those jet tub parts.

I think what it comes down to is that I like doing things, and it makes me feel good when those things help someone in some way, even if it’s just for fun.

I spent waaay too much time writing that. Moving on…

I watched the movie Life this weekend. I had high hopes for it because of the cast, and I planned to buy it on Blu-Ray. Fortunately, I saw it on Netflix before I dropped the $15 on it because it’s another movie that should’ve been so great but I just couldn’t get past how people who were smart enough to get themselves selected for a special ISS mission could be so… dumb. It was like the scientists in Prometheus – “heyyy there’s a weird snake thing on this planet we’ve never been to before and it’s dark and scary in here but I have like three PhDs in different kinds of biology so I’m going to talk to it and try to pet it.” Come on, man… if you were wandering around in the Amazon and you saw a snake, would you talk to it and try to pet it? Lucky you didn’t study in Australia – try to pet anything there and it will probably try to kill you right then and there.

Then I re-watched a couple of parts of Annihilation was glad I did, because I found some more links that I suspected were there. Jeebus, though – that bear thing. And the guts. And the giant fungus and overgrowth… the movie does a great job of making the shimmer look beautiful and very wrong at the same time.

I also listened to some records, which I haven’t done for a while. I still need to keep the sound level up and records are a great way to do that. I must’ve listened to the Baja Marimba Band three or four times. So bad it’s great.

So yes, lots of thinking and figuring out stuff this weekend. Lots of squeaky gears, spider webs, and burned-out bulbs in my brain, but I think I can get it to work.

So far this coming week I have a Dr C appointment and FA may be coming over on Friday. There’s a bunch of stuff I’m hoping to do and/or get done this week too. I will probably regret typing this, but I think we are going to be moving out of the frigid nights and into the slush/ice/slush part of the year soon.

Stay safe.

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