Let’s See What This Sphygmomanometer Can Do!

Song: “Mr Blue Sky” by ELO

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

I bet that’s not a title that you see every day, eh?

I got to bed a little later than usual last night. I know I woke up three or four times worrying about things – twice was because of the dishwasher, which I was able to deal with just by looking at my normal nightly picture on my phone. Another time is a little foggier, but I think it was because of the front door and I was able to get back to sleep pretty quick. The worst one was me worrying about whether I’d left the soldering iron on, and despite not using the soldering iron at all yesterday and knowing I’d been in the room quite a few times and hadn’t noticed anything, AND knowing there’s a smoke detector in the room, I stewed and ground my teeth in the dark until I got out of bed and accidentally woke J up (I’m very sorry sweetie), and went downstairs to check in on it.

Of course it was off, both at the switch and at the power bar.

So I didn’t have the greatest sleep, but there were no nightmares or panic attacks so I still count it as a decent night.

Unfortunately, it took me a while to build up enough steam to do anything this morning. I did a mental triage on the things that I wanted/needed to get done before FA arrived, and got my priorities in order. Proud of my success in coaxing 30 or 40 brain cells to make a three-item list, I sat down on the chesterfield and promptly zoned out.

Even when I’m still half in the bag from my nighttime meds (I hate using that word but I also hate using “medications” or “pills”), a little jolt of adrenaline can get me going. Wondering why my watch was wrong… and why the clock on the shelf was wrong… and why my phone was – OHCRAP IT’S NOT THEM IT’S ME, gave me a nice kick that got me off the couch and into the shower to de-stink and get all pretty. That zap of adrenaline doesn’t last forever, though, and it certainly doesn’t make me any smarter, so I stared, mouth agape, at the kitchen and dining room for a while, before I unloaded the dishwasher, stuffed it full of dirty dishes, and went around tidying up and finding spots I could sweep crumbs under.

It wasn’t long after that that I got a text from FA saying she was going to be about half an hour late, which actually worked out pretty well for me today.

Anyway, by the time she arrived, I had the various tools and electronics and computers and wires and all kinds of stuff ready to go. FA, as always, brought delicious, delicious burritos (thank you again!!!) which we devoured after a short chat about the differences we have seen between Server/Network management and Platform Development/Support. Interestingly, had FA and I worked in the same place, we would’ve probably been the ones butting heads. Or not. Who knows!

After lunch, we talked some more about quite a few things. She brought her project device over; while it couldn’t get on the $@^&^!* network at the conference room, it did get quite a bit of attention and conversations started because of it, which is exactly what FA had hoped for. So no, it was not the utter failure I had feared, which made me feel pretty good.

The we did a little geek swap – she gave me one of her spare Arduino Leonardos and showed me how to connect it and upload programs to it (I’ve used PICs for two decades now and thought they were the bee’s knees) and I was gobsmacked at how easy it was. No dedicated programmer, tons of examples come with the software, and there are approximately eleven billion people on Earth who use Arduinos. I don’t think they’ll entirely replace PICs for me, but Arduinos are getting a drawer in a parts drawer on the workbench. As for me, I offered her two Olimex boards, which she wisely declined, and some older Raspberry Pi kit, which she took. I’m also going to replace the Pi 2 in the project device with a B+ because it doesn’t need to be fast and I don’t have a lot of the faster stuff. So that went well!

We also had a conversation about how much we had both enjoyed working on her project. I mentioned that I would be tickled if she would be interested in having me tag along on some of her other projects and I think she seemed receptive to that. It’s nice to open up my brain and geek out with FA on this stuff. And even if we’re working on our own stuff and not talking much, it’s still much more enjoyable to be in the same room where we can interrupt each other with brain farts, bad jokes, questions, or any number of other things. I do really enjoy working with FA, our brains are similar in some ways and very, VERY different in others, but I think we complement each other pretty well when it comes to generating a problem statement and coming up with a solution to satisfy that statement.

Due to my inadvertent muscle flex and subsequent blood pressure cuff explosion, J and I had a spare sphygmomanometer (minus the cuff, of course). It was eight or nine years old so we decided to get a new unit instead of just replacing the cuff. I’d never taken one apart, and I was wondering if FA hadn’t either. Plus, I had an idea last night about another project that she was hoping to do that needed a way to pump air into (and let it out of) something. We bolted downstairs to grab a bunch of tools and then went to town on the poor little Omron. Eventually, we had it broken down to the motor and valve, which we tested on the bench in the basement and they worked like a charm!

Despite the numbers on the chips being wrong/useless, FA found the datasheet for the pressure sensors that are in the meter; based on the application notes, I think we will be able to desolder one from the board, build a little circuit around it, and use it to check the pressures. Pretty cool stuff.

J got home at around 4:30PM and the three of us talked for quite a while.

Okay, I’m crashing really bad right now, I need to get to bed. Bottom line – day was good, evening was good, I enjoyed hanging out with FA, I enjoyed hanging out with J, and I rebuilt one of the RPis this evening. Not sure what’s going on tomorro yet but my parents are still coming out on Sunday. Will keep you posted.

Stay safe.

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