Sunday, March 28, 2010

Trust me, I'm a professional...

Okay, as promised, new pictures of the reef tank.

Now, I realize that these look exactly like the old pictures of the reef tank, but you'll have to take my word for it -- it's much cooler with the new LEDs, especially when you get a disco strobe effect by turning all of the banks of lights up all the way. (In retrospect, perhaps we should have double-checked our assumptions about how much current these things draw before we decided on a power supply...)

I chose this picture because you can see that the little Xenia has moved off the plug and onto the rock. I might be sorry that I allowed it to do that someday, since everyone else considers these things weeds, but I still think it's cool. My coral are walking around!

This is the finished product. You can tell it's the finished product because I didn't bother to wipe off the water that condenses on the splashguard as it's sitting on top of the tank. I'd take a picture with the LEDs on, but I don't wish to blind myself.

Anyhow, so far, so good. The house hasn't burned down, the coral haven't been obviously damaged, and I'm happy with how it looks. It might be time to get some more coral...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

So Illuminating!

The theme of the day is lights.

But first, a tip: if you would like your already-high-profile project to become even more high profile, have it get stuck in a loop where it sends a few hundred people email every thirty minutes. That'll do it.

Anyhow Jeff and I (and by that, I mean Jeff) finally finished putting everything together for my reef tank LED lighting. I just switched the canopy in for the first time a few minutes ago, and it is sweet! The greens of the coral really pop out now. I'm hoping that everything will grow better. I'm also hoping I don't burn the coral before it acclimates, because even with all the LEDs turned down almost all the way, it still looks brighter to me than it did with the fluorescent lights.

Pictures will have to wait until this weekend when I will have a chance to clean the glass, but take my word for it -- it looks awesome!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Last week: Winter. This week: okay, it's feeling a lot like Summer, and I got a sunburn today, but we'll call it Spring for consistency's sake.

The bag of daffodils that I bought at Target in December, then found still sitting on my stoop three weeks ago and plopped randomly in the ground have now grown and bloomed. Seriously, daffodils are my kind of plant. Is it possible to kill these things?

In other gardening news, the green shrubby looking ground cover that was quickly taking over the front yard has been downgraded to "weed" status after I pulled a little of it out (to give the last remaining hibiscus some space) and it lacerated my arms. It looked all nice and innocent, but it turned out to be evil. I don't know what it is, but it is no longer welcome. Any day now I'm going to go get rid of the rest of it. But I'll be wearing long sleeves this time.

And finally, I'll leave you with this heartwarming story. (That's a lie. This is not for the faint of heart.)

Today I heard an odd noise and saw Reba (the useful farm dog -- you know, the one that doesn't pee on the hay) heading behind the shed with what looked like a tiny baby squirrel in her mouth. Thinking that I should probably take it away from her before she mothered it too much and accidentally did it damage, I followed her. Right when I got around the corner, she settled down on the grass with it and started crunching on the skull.

Deep breath. Cycle of life. Mother Nature's kind of a bitch.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Afterbirth

First of all, I'd like to welcome the two little Rvans to the world. Tough luck about the head size and flexibility, kids. At least your mom might have passed on the ability to touch your toes.

The still unnamed Aldous and Huxley made their appearance on Wednesday, and Rvan finally sent a picture this evening.

Everyone knows how I feel about baby primates, so don't expect any rapture here, but yeah, they're pretty darn cute as far as babies go. Not as cute as three week old kittens, of course, but pretty close.

Anyhow, in this picture (which I would post but I didn't ask permission) they're both wrapped up like burritos, but the one on the right has his neck extended, and he looks just like a turtle. (I happen to like turtles, so it's not like I'm calling him ugly or anything.) If you saw this picture you would totally agree with me. Anyhow, I told Rvan that. We'll see if he and Christina are still talking to me later.

At least I'm not as bad as Jeff. He saw a friend's baby and said "Look, it's waving its hind legs!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

All Hail King Ludd!

Okay, so I have a degree in electrical engineering, I've worked as a UNIX system administrator, I've coded professionally in java, C, and C++, and I'm one of the few remaining people who can cozy up with awk (which is a darned useful language for certain things), perl, and sed. I love my Kindle and my iPod.

All of this is to say that I'm not exactly uncomfortable with technology in general.

So what happens when Rvan selfishly decides to take some time off for the births of Romulus and Remus, leaving me in charge of figuring out who does what, and what is currently in testing, and what problems we still have?

Do I use the expensive project planning software that automatically figures everything out for you?

Of course not. I use a white board. And then I don't even use it as a white board, but as someplace to tape little bits of paper.

Really, this is the only way I can keep even marginally organized.

There's just something about physically moving pieces of paper around that lets things stick in my head. I wonder if the kids growing up today will be the same...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

These Kids Today

Okay, so here's my really important soul-searching question of the day:

What do kids make in art class these days?

Back when I was young, it was simple. You took your allotted chunk of grey clay, smashed it down, folded up the sides, splashed some glaze on it, put it in the kiln, and when it came out you had the perfect Christmas gift for your parents: an ashtray. My parents must have gotten at least twelve of those things between me and my older brothers.

Let's face it, an ashtray is about the limit of most kids' artistic ability with clay. The only step below ashtray on the artistic scale is paperweight, and I think we made a few of those too.

But somewhere in the eight years between me and Jojo the Enforcer, somebody realized that perhaps having young children making ashtrays at school was sending the wrong message. So what will Rvan's soon-to-be-born boys Jack and Daniel make in kindergarten? (Okay, I think Christina nixed that suggestion of mine along with Sam 'n Ella (back before we knew they were going to be boys), Benson and Hedges, and Tom and Jerry. For some strange reason Rvan refuses to tell us what they're going to name the children until they're born. Spoilsport.)

Other things my parents would be arrested for today:
  • Driving cross country with my three month old sister unrestrained in a bassinet placed on the floor between the driver and passenger seats.
  • Lawn darts (yep, we had a set)
  • Letting us ride around the neighborhood on our bikes, unsupervised, in the street, without helmets.
  • Buying my brothers pocket knives, which they took to school so they could play mumblety-peg during recess.
At least it wasn't as bad as a friend of mine who was allowed to ride in the open bed of his uncle's pickup truck. He said it wasn't too dangerous as long as you dodged the beer bottles that his uncle threw into the bed after he finished one.

Anyhow, poor Harley and Davidson won't know what they're missing...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

For K-poo, who complained about the negativity in the last post:

(Clicking on it will make it bigger.)

There you go, Karen. Happy now?

Friday, March 5, 2010

There's No Quality Without Metrics

This quality piece of art is hanging near the entrance to my cube:

In case you can't read it, it's titled "Daily Cumulative Stupidity Meter" and it goes from "Start" to "Irritation warning" to "Time to take a riding break" (Heeder's contribution) to "Time to go home" to "Danger! Head may explode".

A Post-it indicates the current level. It's sort of like those signs at the entrance to state parks indicating the fire warning level. Basically, it allows anyone coming to bother me a chance to think again about whether it's really important before they say anything.

My theory is that you should get to go home if the daily level of stupidity has reached a certain level. Sometimes it's your own stupidity, sometimes it's other people's. I've had days where I hit the limit fifteen minutes after walking through the door. (That usually involves conference calls.)

Anyhow, there it is, another piece of art.