Friday, September 27 2013
On the dog walk this morning, I took the girls through that other biological desert where I rarely see wildlife, the flat scrubby forests west of the Farm Road (41.929709N, 74.111323W}, which is probably all that remains after decades of unsustainable sheep farming. Towards the southwest of that region, the terrain becomes woodier and there is a line of wetlands west of the place where Canary Creek, coming in from the lowlands to the east via a series of gorges and waterfalls, eventually captures the poor drainage. It seems like the kind of place where scary creatures like bears, porcupines, and fishers might live, though it gets such regular human visits from Gretchen's dog hiking schedule and any who couldn't deal with dogs would know to steer clear of it in the mornings. Somewhere back in there this morning, I came upon a dead Blue Jay lying on its back. There was nothing that I could see that was wrong with it. But I didn't touch it; some fraction of dead birds have been killed by avian flu, which remains quite lethal in humans and is best spread by direct bird-to-human contact.
Dead Blue Jay with blue bottle fly.
Down at the greenhouse, I spent considerable time organizing the three CAT-5 cables going to the new radio pod described in yesterday's entry. Unlike the situation on the solar deck, I wanted everything to be nice and tidy. The three cables are for ethernet, for DC power, and for whatever sensors I might end up placing inside the greenhouse downstairs. The CAT-5 cable had conductors of 24 AWG each, which has a resistance of 2.6 ohms per 100 feet. Since my equipment would be drawing something close to two amps across 15 feet of that cable, I was looking at a voltage drop of potentially as much as a single volt. To limit this, I used both pairs in each twisted pair to carry my two voltages (12 and five volts) and four wires (two pairs) to carry the grounds. I could probably lose a half volt without problems.
Once everything I was tidy, I painted it all the same olive green I've used for all the other parts of the greenhouse. It was particularly important to paint the upside-down plastic trash can shielding the electronics from the weather; it's made of polypropylene, which doesn't handle ultraviolet light very well. I'll probably replace it with something better if I manage to find something better soon.
This evening I downloaded and watched several of episodes of Catfish: the TV Show. It's a low-budget MTV reality show where our two hosts (Nev and Max) investigate mysterious online personalities that real people claim to be "dating." The Catfish people don't get involved unless there is a strong suspicion that the mysterious personality is not who he or she is claiming to be. A good indication that something is fishy, if you will, is if the personality finds dubious excuses not to meet in person or avoids video chat. ("Catfish" seems like it might be a variant on the term "phish," which usually refers to some sort of internet swindle involving the casting of a wide net to snare the gullible.)
The person who creates a fake identity for use in catfishing is usually only in it for romance, connection, and affirmation. Evidently it's possible to get enough out of an internet-only relationship to keep catfish happy. Meanwhile, the gullible people who fall for catfishing have their own reasons to be satisfied with an internet-only relationship. They don't have to deal with aspects of their love interest (particularly physical aspects) that are less than ideal. Part of the delight of watching Catfish is witnessing the peeling away of the layers of denial that have been erected. Given how easy it is to uncover the fraudulent nature of the catfish identities, it's clear that a prerequisite to being catfished is the willing suspension of disbelief. These people, on some level, just don't want to know the truth. Most of the sleuthing involves simple Google searches as well as the occasional call to a supposed employer under the ruse of checking a reference. But there are other search tools I wasn't even aware of. It turns out that, since 2011, it has been possible to do Google image searches using, as a search "term," an uploaded image. Google can then search the web for all others like it. That's a great way to find out whether or not a portfolio of gorgeous pictures has simply been mined from some long-forgotten MySpace profile. It's not perfect, though. I photoshopped a reddish-brown wig onto a picture of Chelsea Manning and Google Image Search had no idea who it was.
The new radio pod on the greenhouse.
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