Welding Class, Day One
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:26 am)

Last night I attended my first welding class at Gizmo Cd'A, our local makerspace. We started out with safety discussion and an overview of what we were going to do, then we jumped in to plasma cutting practice on some scrap steel. I quickly realized how difficult it can be to cut a straight line, but started to get the hang of it after a while. I also practiced plunge cuts (as opposed to starting at the edge of the material). It amazed me how fast a plasma cutter can cut through steel.

We had a short break and got answers to several questions (there were six of us in the class). Then the instructor taught us more about different types of welding and the pros and cons of each. We went back into the shop, watched some demonstrations, learned the parts of the welders, and got started practicing with a MIG wire feed welder. That's where I learned how much welding is a skill as much as an art, neither of which I'm very good at yet. But it was great to practice, and get the feel for how fast or slow to go. Practice took up the rest of the class.

I had a great time, and learned a bunch of new things. I can hardly wait for the next class!

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Learning a New Skill
Afternoon watch, 3 bells (1:32 pm)

Tomorrow night I start taking a welding class. Because I don't have enough hobbies.

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Concert Season
Forenoon watch, 7 bells (11:47 am)

There are several concerts coming up that I plan on seeing. In a couple of weeks the Dropkick Murphys are playing the Knitting Factory in Spokane. About a week or so after that Carbon Leaf will be playing at the Bing Crosby Theater. Then in December (hopefully not interfering with my company Christmas party but it probably will) Flogging Molly will be at the Knitting Factory. It's going to be fun, I've never seen the Murphys or Molly live before. Carbon Leaf I've seen at least six times and they always deliver.

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Too Much Too Soon
Posted in Hobbies
First dog watch, 2 bells (5:08 pm)

I decided on a whim this morning (since my foot was feeling real good) that I would attend the Ingress Recursion Event in downtown Spokane. I knew there would be some walking but felt up to it. Aaaaaand I overdid it. I had to cut short my time since I had to be in Coeur d'Alene by 4pm, but even so it was too much. My feet are killing me. This was the most time walking and generally being on my feet since my Achilles tendon surgery. I hope I can walk tomorrow…

I did get a patch and a virtual badge, though. I also used up at least a third of my inventory. Which means I have room for more stuff later.

Update: I really did overdo it. I just endured a solid five-minute charley horse in my calf. My leg just would not relax.

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I Fixed the Oven
Posted in Baking
Last dog watch, 1 bell (6:31 pm)

Despite my singular lack of formal training in anything electrical, it appears that I have fixed my broken oven. For those that don't know me, I bake all the time. Not having an oven is an inconvenience (I could switch to my

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    Apr 20 2013
    Arduino Ingress Hack Timer
    Posted in Code, Hobbies, Tech
    Forenoon watch, 7 bells (11:58 am)

    I've been enjoying playing Ingress lately, but found myself in need of a 5-minute cool-down timer whilst hacking portals. Not wanting to exit the app and launch a separate timer on my Nexus 4, I went to my Arduino for an answer and came up with this solution: a 5-minute timer with a bare Arduino.

    That's it, no extra parts necessary.

    Using the Arduino's built-in LED on pin 13, After 3 minutes I start turning the LED off and on about once per second. At 4 minutes the blinking speeds up. At 4:30 it speeds up again. At 5 minutes the LED is on steady. Hit the reset button when you hack the portal and start over!

    Plug the Arduino in and compile/upload the following code:

    const int ledPin = 13;
    int ledState = LOW;
    
    unsigned long lastBlink = 0;
    
    void toggleLEDState() {
      if(ledState == LOW) {
        ledState = HIGH;
      } else {
        ledState = LOW;
      }
    }
    
    void setup() {
      pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);
    }
    
    void loop() {
      unsigned long nowMillis = millis();
      
      if(nowMillis > 300000) {
        ledState = HIGH;
      } else if(nowMillis > 270000) {
        if(nowMillis - lastBlink > 200) {
          toggleLEDState();
          lastBlink = nowMillis;
        }
      } else if(nowMillis > 240000) {
        if(nowMillis - lastBlink > 500) {
          toggleLEDState();
          lastBlink = nowMillis;
        }
      } else if(nowMillis > 180000) {
        if(nowMillis - lastBlink > 1000) {
          toggleLEDState();
          lastBlink = nowMillis;
        }
      }
      
      digitalWrite(ledPin, ledState);
    }
    

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    Jun 12 2012
    Secret Project, Part Yi
    Posted in Hobbies, Too Much Spare Time
    Forenoon watch, 8 bells (12:15 pm)

    The first picture of my new secret project:

    armbox

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    Dec 14 2011
    Fully Licensed
    Posted in Amateur Radio
    Afternoon watch, 8 bells (4:20 pm)

    If you follow me on any social media, you probably already know this, but on Monday I passed my Amateur Extra (Element 4) exam for Amateur Radio. This is the highest license for ham radio in the US, and it was a lot of studying for me. I am excited to accomplish this in my life, and am currently researching a computer interface circuit for my radio that will allow me to work with digital modes like PSK31. Be looking for me on 20m PSK31 soon!

    K7AJC/AE

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    Dec 5 2011
    Identify the Language
    Posted in Amateur Radio
    First dog watch, 2 bells (5:27 pm)

    Time to do some crowdsourcing. If you can identify this language, please let me know! I was tuning stations around the 20m band and had no idea (apart from the bits of callsign in English) what this guy was saying: radio.mp3

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    Jun 13 2011
    A Month, Really?
    Posted in Hobbies
    First dog watch, 1 bell (4:40 pm)

    Wow has it been a month since I posted here? I guess not much has gone on lately. I've been super busy at work focusing on software development, and have spent a lot of my evenings studying for my Ham Radio license. Last Saturday, (June 11 2011) I passed the element 2 and element 3 tests (Technician and General level tests), and missed the Extra test by 10 questions. So late this week I expect to get my call sign from the FCC.

    Lorien's older sister is here with her kids for a good part of the summer, back from Indonesia. They brought us some pretty amazing stick cinnamon, I'll have to post a picture. Each stick is at least two feet long!

    I am thinking about helping out on a "field day" station answering CQs from all over the country next week, the station will be open for 24 hours so they need a lot of operators to listen and respond.

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    Apr 9 2011
    Some Writing
    Posted in Crap I've Written, Hobbies
    First watch, 2 bells (9:19 pm)

    I joined an online writer's group with some friends and strangers, so you may see some odd things come up here as I cross-post them.

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    Apr 9 2011
    Piggy Oinker and the Space Ship
    Posted in Crap I've Written
    Last dog watch, 1 bell (6:55 pm)

    Captain Oinker grunted as she ran through her ship's pre-launch procedures. The scene her hull-cam showed her of the landing area was awash with locals frantically waving their arms to get her attention. She already cut their apologies short by turning off the audio feed. The computer prepped the darkmatter bomb for her as she set the target for the center of their planet. One trotter-shaped button press later and she could set course for the next planet on her list: Earth. Perhaps they haven't mistaken the ambassadors sent to them by the Porkucouncil as a food source like these primitives did. Perhaps she won't have to destroy their world...

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    Mar 12 2011
    Stone-ground Wheat Bread
    Posted in Baking
    Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:38 am)

    Last night I used my new birthday present (a hand-powered wheat grinder) to grind flour. Three cups took me around 10 minutes. I made a biga (small amount of flour, water, and yeast) and a soaker (the remainder of the flour and some milk) last night, and mixed up the dough earlier this morning.

    I've been making my own bread for a long time now, but wheat bread has been a difficult one to tackle. Most homemade wheat breads come out too dense. I have a recipe I've adapted a little that I'm mostly happy with, but last night I decided to make another change and introduce the soaker, which I learned in a different recipe that didn't turn out the way I wanted but I think has something to contribute to this recipe. So my changes include: less white flour (original recipe was about half wheat and half white), non-fat milk instead of water, a little more honey (to sweeten the deal), and wheat germ added to the flour and milk soaker.

    The idea with the soaker is that the wheat flour absorbs moisture overnight and softens up more than it would normally. I think this will be important because the hand-ground flour texture isn't commercial-fine. Depending on how things work out (I'll know later today) I'll upload a picture or two. When I'm happy with the recipe I'll add it to my cookbook.

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    Mar 1 2011
    Why Dwarf Fortress is Awesome
    Posted in Hobbies
    First watch, 4 bells (10:01 pm)

    I've been playing Dwarf Fortress lately, and it has really sucked up my spare (ie, sleep time. Apologies for the width issues, and if your screen isn't big enough to see the whole thing as intended.

    I have a fortress that's going pretty good right now for being new to the game. As I was poking around looking at what my dwarves were doing, I ran across this wall engraving:
    Dwarf Fortress engraving explanation

    Now this was funny enough, but you don't know the whole story. Here's a description of the female dwarf in question:
    Dwarf Fortress dwarf description

    Stoney hates mussels! Hahahah! The only thing that would have been funnier is if the engraving had been done in Stoney's room. But I changed room assignments so now it is.

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    Feb 2 2011
    Vanilla Sleep
    Posted in Baking, Hobbies
    Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:26 am)

    Two words that really don't have much to do with each other. But they are two things that are on my mind lately. Well, aside from Dwarf Fortress (thanks a lot for the new addiction, Peppin).

    I'm pretty sure my degrading sleep is due to my mattress. Last night my wife and I went out mattress shopping and ended up buying a Tempurpedic. But since nobody keeps them stocked around here, we have to wait a couple of weeks for delivery. In the meantime, I decided to try out the bed in our guest bedroom last night. I slept better than I have in weeks. Hence the conclusion about my mattress being the problem. I'm sure it will take more than one night, but early indications are favorable.

    Now, vanilla! I have recently come in to possession of several hundred vanilla beans, and have decided to make my own vanilla extract. I started two small batches, 12 ounces each. That was almost two weeks ago. The Instructable recommends waiting 4-5 weeks before using, but by the smell I'd guess I could use it at any point. In any case, the experiment has been successful so it's time to go big, and this weekend I'll make a few much bigger batches with some wine bottles I got from a friend.

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