Sunday, June 2 2019
Gretchen wasn't feeling too great, but she went to work at the bookstore anyway. She didn't have it in her to police Neville the Dog, who stayed home with me and Ramona the Dog. I took them for their morning walk in the forest, making a loop out of the Gullies Trail and then over to the Stick Trail after they started digging for a chipmunk. (There's no sense in my going for a big walk without them if they're just going to spend the next couple hours digging a hole.) An interesting thing I found in the forest while I was out was old bear feces full of what looked like the wrappers for butterscotch candies.
I felt like I too was coming down with an illness, and this wasn't me mistaking a hangover for something else. (I'd drunk with surprising moderation at the wedding.) I felt run down and a bit dysphoric. It seemed best to just lie in bed. Happily, both dogs and Diane the Cat were happy to snuggle with me (though Diane recently has taken to trying to suckle on the supernumerary nipple in my right armpit, and that is something I am just too ticklish to tolerate.)
I was able to undertake some basic cleanup chores, including cleaning the kitchen, doing a load of laundry, and even hanging it up on a line.
Later this afternoon, after I'd recovered from my nap, I was still feeling pretty shitty, but I forced myself to complete a project all the same. I wanted to make a Raspberry-Pi-based surveillance robot for watching the pileated woodpecker nest remotely. But for it to work, the camera would need a telephoto lens. I have several of those cheap Chinese telephoto lenses from the early years of smartphones that are designed to be temporarily clipped over the phone's camera, so I thought I'd use one of those. It's tricky to line up such a lens with a webcam or even the little cameras designed to be attached to a Raspberry Pi, so I put real work into building a long, narrow wooden base for all the components, starting with the smarphone telephoto lens. I used my table router to cut a length-wise grove down the middle of the wooden base. Into this I strapped the lens using loops of copper wire. Then I cut a crosswise notch behind the lens in the place where the camera's tiny board needed to be for the image to show up on the web page I was using to monitor its video feed. Confirming the notch was in the correct location, I glued a block of wood to the base at that position to give the camera solid support and attached the camera with two tiny nails (I couldn't fit a screwdriver into the cramped space between the camera and the lens, and installed the nails not by hammering them but by forcing them in with the pressure of the jaws of a pair of pliers.) The Raspberry Pi Zero itself was almost an afterthought, requiring only a couple screws to secure it to the base.
Initially I thought I'd have to install this system outside, and this had me exploring various PVC options and re-examining a little sheltering unit I'd made from wood and portland cement for an earlier iteration of this idea that never came to fruition. But then it turned out that the east window of the shop looked directly out at the hole in the woodpecker tree. All I had to do was attach my little camera device to the bottom of a shelf and point it accurately. To make this as easy as possible, I used two pieces of copper wire stuck into tight holes in both the camera's wooden base and the shop shelf. With this set up like this, I managed to get a picture of the male pileated woodpecker contemplating leaving the nest at a little after 8:00pm.
Meanwhile, Gretchen had met her friend Sarah B (an activist poet from Washington DC) in Woodstock after work. They'd both gone to The Garden Café for dinner and then come back here. Sarah was about to begin a residency at Yaddo (must be nice!), and she was staying here for the night along the way. The three of us stayed up perhaps a bit longer than Gretchen and I should've in front of a roaring cardboard fire while chatting about various things, particularly the end of Sarah's marriage some six years ago and the love she and her former husband had shared for Appalachian music. Sarah also had some stories of extremely-hospitable country folks she'd met in the far southwest of Virginia. The morale of one such story was that shunning a BBQ joint just because it flies a confederate flag might just be self-defeating. After it came up that all three of us had roots in Chicago (Gretchen's parents and my parents both met there, though we were both born in Maryland), Gretchen had me tell an abridged version of my origin story.
I should mention that for this entire conversation, Sarah was drinking a martini she'd made from some of my bottom-shelf plastic-bottle gin and the dregs of an ancient bottle of vermouth. Sarah agreed with me when I said that there's little to be gained by spending a lot on expensive gin.
The surviellance camera I built today. That's a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a camera jigged on to the sort of telephoto lens you can attach to a smartphone. It claims to have 12X magnification.
A picture I was able to snap with the new surveillance camera this evening. That's the male.
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