tick squisher vs. Cory Booker
Monday, October 26 2015
Collecting wood from that tree I recently felled 100 feet southeast of the Stick Trail's Chamomile crossing, today's load came to 116.4 pounds, all of which went directly into the house. There is now so much wood inside that I need to prioritize building some sort of rack to hold it. (Due to moisture and insect content, I do not like to simply pile firewood on the floor.)
Today I made a push finally box up my Ahmed Mohamed tribute clock, which, as you'll remember, has been sitting loosely-assembled in the very same model of Vaultz pencil case that Ahmed used when he reboxed a vintage Radio Shack digital alarm clock. The fact that none of the circuit boards were secured anywhere tended to make my clock unreliable, either from random shorts between contacts on different boards, because of disconnected jumper wires (the clock uses dozens of them), or from poorly-soldered pins (mostly on the knock-off Chinese Arduino Nano that controls everything). I wanted my finished clock to generally resemble Ahmed's when open but (unlike Ahmed's clock) also to be usable when closed up. This meant the LED-matrix readout would have to be affixed face-up in one side of the case and fit a rectangular hole in the other side of the case when it closed down over it. First I attached all four of the readout sub-boards onto a piece of thin plywood, attached that to the case with standoffs made of inch-long wooden dowels, and then used a chisel to make a rough cut of the rectangular hole. As I enlarged it, the hole intruded somewhat on the 16-key membrane keypad (already in place), though evidently its traces aren't run along the edge, so cutting into it a little did not affect it negatively. I finished the rectangular hole with a Dremel, though admittedly it's still far from perfect. But it's now good enough for use as a Halloween prop, especially when combined with a grey NASA "meatball" teeshirt, a haircut, and a deep dark John Boehner suntan.
The clock runs well on a little battery designed for running an Android with a weak battery, and as I tinkered with it, I realized it would be fun to add a "countdown mode" to make the clock behave more bomblike if desired. The hardest part about getting that to work convincingly was padding numbers with spaces to their left as their number of digits declined. (A left-justified countdown clock just looks stupid.) Even after much searching, I couldn't find any good left-padding algorithms written in C on the web; posts on the subject tended to suggest that I use some recipe involving printf or sprintf, but not only did using those subtract a couple kilobytes from my available program storage (on an Atmega328 there is 32 kilobytes of that), but it also didn't work. So I brute-forced my own algorithm, which works fine and doesn't call on any big libraries that need to be included:
(It would have been so helpful just to find this on the web when I was searching, but now, there it is.)
The way the inside of the clock looks now.
This evening would be the first since Susan and David's house was rendered uninhabitable from being spray-foamed. So Gretchen invited them over for dinner. She made a vegan noodle bake containing cauliflower and artichokes and it was among the very best noodle bakes she has ever made. We ate it in front of a roaring hot fire while talking chiefly about two things. The first of these was Susan's idea for an invention: a device designed to kill ticks by squeezing them as if they were tiny lemons. But, Susan being Susan, the device would also laminate the ticks so they could be tagged and stored in the freezer should they be needed to help diagnose or treat a disease. Susan had first introduced this idea yesterday, and she wanted to talk much more about it tonight. But Gretchen and David mostly wanted to talk about the other of the two things we talked about at length tonight: New Jersey's wunderkind junior Senator Cory Booker, who had made an appearance the other night at the Farm Animal gala that Gretchen had attended (as had Jon Stewart). I won't go into the particulars of what was said, since they don't have much bearing on Senator Booker's political career or his public profile.
Later, we watched a couple more hilarious episodes of the third season of Strangers With Candy.
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