Saturday, February 9 2013
Though the blizzard had brought as much as 38 inches of snow to parts of Connecticut (and I saw the pictures), we only got about 12 inches in our part of the Hudson Valley, which is a completely normal winter storm in this climate. I found the snow to be just slightly wet, making it easy to shovel but not too heavy. Over the course of the day, I managed to not only shovel out the entire driveway (all the parts covered with asphalt), but also a path to the Subaru, which has been sitting on the side of the lawn since Gretchen's birthday party. I also shoveled out two paths to the woodshed as well as a path to the greenhouse upstairs (which also made it easy for me to get to the brownhouse).
Because of the unusual circumstances of the day, Gretchen and I decided to make ourselves a pot of coffee even though it wasn't yet Coffee Sunday. While puttering around in the kitchen, Gretchen decided to put the container of dessicated hot peppers I'd grown this summer through the food processor so I could more easily use them. But then she made the mistake of opening the food processor container before a cloud of pulverized hot pepper inside it had settled out of the air. I saw this happen and told Gretchen to shut the container, but I was a little too slow and the cloud rose up into the room. Gretchen was its first victim. She ran outside coughing to the south deck and almost threw up. As for me, I got enough into my lungs to cause a cough that persisted for an hour or so. I had no idea that hot pepper in dust form could be such a powerful weapon; the pepper one buys in a grocery store seems to have a clumping agent that keeps it from producing such noxious dust. If I were building a doomsday bunker, I could imagine engineering a system to dump hot pepper dust into the airlock should an intruder breach my outer defenses.
We avoided the kitchen for an hour or so until the dust settled down and I put on a respirator before working further on the project. Being windless and atmospherically-isolated, the garage seemed like the best place to do the transfer from the food processor container to the jar where the hot pepper dust would ultimately live. Despite my carefully washing it, it's possible the next thing made with the food processor will have a little additional zing.
The sun had come out and made the snow dazzle. At some point in the early afternoon I carried Clarence the cat down to the greenhouse and found that the temperature was 91 degrees. It seems the snow was helping to concentrate the sunbeams and make it into a self-contained tropical paradise.
This evening I found myself researching various ways to measuring low value capacitance for my fuel measuring project. But there wasn't all that much material on the subject available online. So I finally posted a question on a Stackoverflow-type website for electrical engineers. Generally I avoid being anything other than a lurker on technical websites, since my question has almost always been asked before and it's easier to find an example of someone asking it and then being answered than it is to ask and wait. But in this case, a good answer came relatively quickly. It wasn't a perfect answer, but it pointed me to several possible solutions, though sadly none of them would allow me to use the mystery technique being employed by the Sparkfun capacitance meter.
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