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February 1, 2010 8:46 PM 2/1/10

This month from beginning to end has just been strange.

First - mundane things. Still no job. No jobs to be had really for a 40 year old I/T guy with no certifications but 20 years of experience in the field. *grump* But I _have_ been getting e-mailed links from headhunters. That’s a good sign and I’ll likely follow those up here this week.

To keep us from dying here I just have to have something that clears $1k/month really but I’d like to find something that pays more. Especially since there’s a ton of things to do around the house and that’s going to take cash.

Still trying to find things that I can do or make to make money online. I’ll probably come up with something in that arena this week hopefully.

Which brings us to cleaning the house...

We managed to get the library and living room clean in the house. There are a few more boxes in the third bedroom but they’re all labeled properly and we can go through them as time permits.

The workshop out in the garage is another thing entirely. I managed to get the space heater out there fixed and with a new fan motor it’s much more efficient and keeps that space at a proper 65 degrees no matter what the temp outside is. The next batch of money I’m going to be buying the 3/4“ styrofoam insulation sheets to close off the upper attic area of the garage to keep the heat from leaking out the uninsulated rafters. (I’m not insulating those until summer hits and I can get around up there without worrying about moisture issues.)

The bigger problem is that out there is my writing space. It’s the space for me to be separated from the rest of the world.

And right now it’s so disorganized thanks to the weather and the stuff in there that I can’t sit and write in there without being distracted by the mess.

This week though I should be able to at least attack it a little bit and get some of it done. I really need to get the shelves I need out there put up on the walls so I can get a bunch of stuff out from under foot.

The problem though is that my back has been killing me the last two days - mostly caused by the fact I have too big a gut. *ahem*

So that’s slowing me down quite a bit. I think I can overcome the inertia but sometimes it’s tough. I’m trying to cut down on the Advil as well. I don’t take it all that often but due to my weight it takes a certain amount before it has the desired effect. And that I have to be extra careful about.

In other news we’re going totally dedicated DSL this month and losing our home line. We don’t really use it and the incomings are mostly spammy robocalls so no great loss there. But it also means a savings of $85/month so that’s a good thing. And it will be significant after the end of February when we should be able to get our PMI removed finally.

Now...the creative front. I’m temporarily stalled on the writing front due to the lack of my writing space. I’m going to try and rectify that this week. I do have the start of a device invented by my adopted Torn World character so hopefully I can get that finished this week as well.

I counted them up and I have actually have four different writing things in progress. In no particular order:

The Unlicensed - up to chapter 5.
Dawson’s Christian - up to chapter 2.
Asleep - my Torn World story featuring Oranaan.
Minor Devotions - the webcomic script that I’ve been compiling for years until I can either find an artist or learn to draw people myself.

*whew!* I really need to get hustling on all those.

I’m actually managing to get through a beginning C programming book. The stuff is making far more sense than years ago when I first tried to learn it. This is a good thing as I can always use more computer skills and programming my own personal apps has always been something I’ve wanted for a long time. Now if I could only manage to fix my math...

Noodling about I’ve decided that I want to try and create some seebeck effect lanterns and maybe some other seebeck effect powered things. People have already done things like this but there are things I want to try first. And I have all the things I need to do those projects in both materials and equipment/tools. Which is good because I can’t afford to buy a damn thing.

Finally....the weather has been annoying. First soggy and melting then cold and windy. Thankfully I managed to get one thing done and opened the valve on the rain barrel that I couldn’t do before when it was full and frozen. It emptied quite nicely.

And to top it all off the icemaker has decided to stop producing ice all together. Bummer since I can’t afford to get it looked at right now. My fault - should have done that before when we had money. I think I might try something I heard many years ago and put a bowl of hot water underneath it and see if that thaws anything loose. See if that helps.

I can’t wait for spring. I did figure out something else I did wrong with the herbs in the house. When I put them in the pots I put them in pots that didn’t have any drainage or anywhere for the water to evaporate out of. So I’m probably going to put a little riser ”seat“ in the bottom of the square pots before putting dirt in them and re-planting the herb seeds.

All this of course depends on organizing and cleaning up the garage workshop...

So I better get to it then.

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 2nd, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
I remember a "small-is-beautiful" type of project for use in underdeveloped countries, involving making a Seebeck-effect generator out of two different kinds of wire and a coffee can (or similar-size can). Remove both ends of the can, punch some small holes around the top edge and some bigger holes around the bottom. Cut short pieces of wire, and twist one piece of each kind together with the other in pairs - twist about an inch or two, leaving a few more inches free. Insert the free ends of the wires through the holes around the top of the can, so that the twisted bits point towards the center, but don't touch. Twist the outer ends of the wires together so the whole shebang is in series, leaving the first and last wires free to connect to something. Build a small fire and set the device over it - burn dried animal dung, twigs, paper scraps, whatever you can find. Use the small amount of electricity it generates to power a radio or other low-draw item.

For the plants, an old, old gardening trick is to put a chunk of a broken clay pot, concave side down, over the drainage hole in a non-broken clay pot, thus assuring that there's room for excess water to drain out while keeping the potting soil from falling through the hole. The pot needs to be set on an appropriate "saucer", of course. (My hydroponic watercress is doing just fine, although the yield is still very low, and whatever seeds they sold me produce plants that don't have enough of a bitter/"peppery" flavor.)
Feb. 2nd, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
That's a very cool generator plan! Thanks for sharing it. :-)

I have several 25W peltier squares lying about so I intend to use those in reverse - thus the seebeck effect - to add some LEDs to existing tealight lanterns. I also am thinking of trying to make a "Wifi Lantern" which powers one of the small 5v Fonera routers via the peltier and a joule thief. My question is if the design will provide enough current to run the router. We'll see...

In regards to the plants the pots I'm using are the cheap rectangular metal ones and I want to hang them on the wall so a saucer is not an option. I did figure out that I could take some of the steel flashing I have lying around and make a kind of "bench shaped" insert that can be put in the pots that would allow moisture to evaporate out the back edge of the pot and keep the roots from becoming waterlogged. I think this will work without too much trouble.

Of course this is all dependent on getting the workshop tackled and I'm sitting here in the nice warm house not wanting to go out side at all. :-(
Feb. 4th, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
I think I saw the generator in a UNDP newsletter when I worked at the UN in 1970 ;-) The Peltier squares, used in a similar found-materials chimney, would give you a much more predictable output. And tea lights put out more heat than you might think - not surprising when you realize that they're often used to keep modest amounts of food or beverage warm. (In fact, I suspect they're called "tea" lights because they were once widely used in a warmer that kept tea, or coffee, drinkably hot without overcooking it.)

I've never had any luck with plants in pots without adequate drainage. I think the rectangular metal "window box" things are meant to hold three or four small pots, each with a hole in the bottom, arranged so that there's some space between the bottom of the pot and the bottom of the window box. At least, that's often the way I see them set up in "garden centers". Cheap plastic pots would be good enough for the purpose.

Oh, and Happy Birthday! ;-D
Feb. 4th, 2010 03:11 pm (UTC)
The design I'm basing this whole thing off of is this:


It's actually damn simple and the "joule thief" circuits are built from things I have in my parts bins so it all works out. I'm pretty sure I can fit this all in one of the cheap tea light glass+metal lanterns that they sell at cheapmart places and we have here at home.

As for the pots I'm pretty sure that as long as I make the "bench" style insert the liquid will have somewhere to go and then evaporate out if need be. The trick will be not to water them too much.
Feb. 5th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
I've got one of those emergency phone chargers - it takes a single AA battery, and when you use it to charge the phone, the battery (and the steel housing of the device) gets almost too hot to touch. It sucks that puppy dry in an hour or less, and gives you one to two bars of charge on the phone, which is enough to call a taxi, or 911, or your spouse. (If you have one, don't keep the battery inside the housing! Even when not in use, it'll slowly drain the battery, and then when you need it in a hurry, you've got nothing. At least put some tape over the ends of the battery.) Anyway, I never knew it was a "joule thief".

I somehow can't quite visualize what you're doing with the planters - how is the excess water going to evaporate from underneath the dirt?
Feb. 5th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
If you look closely the "joule thief" is not using anything but the peltier to power it thus no batteries. But yeah if it is used to drain batteries the batteries get pretty hot.

My goal is to see if I can get them to produce 5vdc/2a but that's a tough one. I'll settle for enough voltage to run low current LEDs to enhance the light output of the lantern.


Imagine a park bench made of sheet metal. The "legs" are bent down from the main "seat" of the bench.

The back has tabs bent directly back so that when pressed up against another flat surface they form a rectangle the length of the bench.

Now put this whole design into a rectangular box just big enough to fit.

What you get is a platform that has a vent behind it and will support dirt but let the water run down beneath it.

Feb. 6th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
Ah, now I get it. I didn't realize that the "bench" had a back, with standoffs.
Feb. 4th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday, asshole! :D
Feb. 4th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
What the?? How'd you get in here!? I swear they'll let anybody in here these days! ;-P

Thanks dude! :-)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )



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