Archive for category Meta-Fyngyrz

Cat Watering System

cdishSo. Watering cats is always an issue. They go to the dish with food still in their mouths which inevitably falls in, they clean themselves with their tongues, then drink with them, cat hair gets in there, and when you have several, as we do… well, it just gets worse. Then they can — and do — get sick. Mouth infections, general degradation of immune systems, passing bacteria and viruses from one to another… it’s not good at all.

This is my final solution. I cut an adequate hole in the floor to install a drain plus some extra room, then built a drain into a watering dish and “plumbed” it with some adapters and a garden hose that drains into a utility sink in the basement almost directly below.

Then I drilled the side of the dish, dropped the assembly into/over the hole in the floor, routed the hose to the sink, and inserted a small diameter pipe/hose into the bowl that connects back to our reverse osmosis system. The water flow from that pipe to the dish is gated by a 12 volt DC valve.

To control the valve, I bought a commercial infrared proximity sensor that has an AC outlet on it, plugged the 12 VDC power supply — just a run of the mill linear wall-wart — I use to activate the valve into it, and set the IR sensor for a one minute recycle.

So the way it works is, cat walks up, IR sensor sees them, AC turns on, 12 VDC power supply comes up, valve triggers, fresh water comes out of the pipe, they drink from the arc of water — almost never from the dish — which runs for one minute, and the dish drains immediately.

This way, the water doesn’t stand. Doubly important with an R/O system, as there is almost no chlorine left in the R/O water, so the water is less able to sit around in the first place without “things” growing in it.

The IR sensor, and therefore the valve power supply, is powered from a UPS in the basement. This was done so power outages, quite common in the summer here, won’t deny them the opportunity to drink. As the UPS only has this one load on it, and the power demand is extremely low as well as intermittent, the up time, that is, the amount of time the UPS can power the system without the AC returning is many, many hours, almost the same amount of time the UPS can run without any load at all other than its own internal workings. Due to the massive explosion of UPS designs for computers, the UPS itself was surprisingly inexpensive. It cost about what the dish, drain, valve, hoses and IR sensor driven AC outlet did all taken together, which let the entire project cost come in under $150.00 USD. I consider that a bargain.

This system works extremely well. The cats figured it out within just a few minutes, there was no significant adaptation period. This, or something like it, is something that can really benefit your cats health and well-being, which in turn will extend their lives, while saving you a ton of effort, time and attention that you can put into working so you can buy better quality cat food and more cat toys. That’s why we all work, after all!

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NewBurgersOk, here’s the deal. I was sitting around one day recently, contemplating having some hamburgers for dinner, and feeling kind of “meh” about it, because I never get them right. They’re too big, they’re too small, they aren’t cooked right in the center, or if they are, they’re overcooked on the outside, they’re too thick, too thin, they shrink too much (some burger is made by mixing shaved ice in during the grind down process in order to increase volume; if that’s been done, the burger will shrink quite a bit when cooked as the water evaporates out.) Anyway, it just never works out. Burgers have been my cooking downfall forever. And I really don’t like those frozen patties much, either. So I thinks to meself, see, “can this be gotten around?” Well, as it turns out, yes, I figured out a way.

The result is fabulous.
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What’s that Smell?

As they train to become a doctor, new interns are taught about many different diseases that produce various sets of otherwise similar symptoms. In conjunction with this new and complex knowledge, they are also taught this truism: “When you hear hoofprints, you must not initially assume a zebra is in the vicinity.” This pithy remark is meant to impart that, for instance, if a patient comes in bleeding from an orifice, one must not immediately assume that Ebola is in the building; more likely something much more common is in play, such as hemorrhoids or perhaps an unfortunate excess of enthusiasm coupled with a new, ahem, toy.

One of the clearer signs that I was becoming a competent programmer was that the problems in my code began, more and more often, to in fact, be zebras. Instead of a misplaced character or a missing clause or some kind of blatant conceptual error, the abject weirdnesses that were most often populating the realm of my final, demonstrably accurate diagnoses came to be things like operating system bugs, broken libraries, incomplete emulations and exotic compiler bugs. Zebras.
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Using the Pi as an aquarium pump controller

Just a short post to follow up on the how-to Raspberry Pi post. I went into detail on how to get one going, but I never really said what I was doing with the thing. So, in case anyone is curious:

First I installed all the software I wanted. I set the Pi up as a headless (no monitor, keyboard or mouse) network-controlled computer. I installed a wifi dongle so it became a headless, wireless network-controlled computer. And then…
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Cellphone Etiquette During Conversation

Wandering though life, I often encounter the occasional person who seems to have missed an etiquette class. Or several. In particular, I have noticed that a very large number of gaffes occur during face to face conversation. So as a gift, I provide the following guide to using your cellphone when in conversation with family, friends, co-workers, and friendly companions:

Rule #1: Don’t.

Rule #2: See Rule #1

If your phone rings, vibrates or plays an obnoxious ringtone (all ringtones are obnoxious) there is only one polite action: Turn it off or mute it, while apologizing: “I’m sorry, I forgot to turn my phone off. Fixed!” Slip it back in your pocket and deal with it later.

You may also benefit from my handy guide to Cellphone Etiquette at the Table.

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So… why “fyngyrz”? Pick, planchette, pluck.

The answer to that is pretty simple, really. Back in the day, I was all about guitar. I worked, dreamed, and struggled with guitar, and like many young men of my generation, I had some pretty high hopes. Alas, that career came to a screeching halt when I was offered payment in cocaine instead of money by an (otherwise) reputable studio you might very well recognize. studio-mg74 Both insulted and somewhat paranoid, I no longer made myself available to them as a studio musician, and that was the beginning of the end. It all worked out for the best, I think; turned out I was a pretty successful engineer, and on top of that, I actually enjoyed the work. From there, I began to focus on programming, and here we are today.

So anyway, here’s something from back in the day. It was recovered from 2nd-generation tape masters and consequently suffers from some sonic crud (not to mention the damage done by the mp3 encoding) but you’ll get the idea. It’s structured as a jam rather than a straight cover; a vague, building meditation upon a theme. Here you go:

Instrumental, Washburn MG-74 guitar, Gibson Les Paul studio bass.

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Buitoni Toaster Pizza

Buitoni Toaster Pizza.

Buitoni Toaster Pizza

Buitoni Toaster Pizza

Seriously? Yes, seriously. These were amazing frozen little za’s you put in, heated a bit, let sit so they’d defrost all through, then you subjected them to another heating, and finally let sit for a minute after that, and then you could eat them. Oh, man… these were amazingly good. A great sauce, excellent cheese, and the shell came out as a lightly browned, delicious crust.

You could do it wrong… over- or under-cook, not let it defrost completely, not wait that extra minute and burn the heck out of your mouth… all risks eminently worth taking.

Ever think you might like to do me a favor if it was easy? Then please go to Buitoni’s facebook page or their website and nudge them about this. Or go to the Buitoni Toaster Pizza page, join, “like” them, and say something nice to encourage them. I guarantee the odds are very high that if you love good pizza, you’d like these. It wasn’t fast food. It was something else entirely. Call it an accident, or a fortuitous event in frozen foods, but don’t write it off.

Buitoni Toaster Pizzas. Oh, man.

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Just a story from /dev/random

the-zaWhen I was a kid, we had a wonderful, wonderful pizza place about 9 miles away from home called Nedzip’s Pizza. It was on Front Street in the little town of Port Jervis, NY. This pizza was, and I am so, so serious here, just the best. Perfect every time.

So this one time, my mother and I were out in the car waiting for our order, across the street a little bit diagonal to the pizza place, right next to the Texas Hot Dog emporium. A roller grill, the usual range of hot dog goodness, but after all… hot dogs. We were not there for hot dogs. It was summer, and our windows were down.
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