Reading Your Own Meter

Most power companies provide “read your own meter” instructions along with every bill. Never thought much of it until we got a really high estimated bill this month. Now our Aeon Labs energy meters give us nice digital integers (well, probably floats but still) … and that number was significantly lower than the power company’s estimate. So we read our meter.

Their dials do not move a uniform amount as they increment — is this 60,### or 59,###? Since the third digit is certainly an 8 … there’s no way it is 60,8## (otherwise the 0 would need to move almost an entire tenth of the circle by the time our 8 rolls to 0). But it seems very odd that the 9 on the second dial literally won’t move while the 8 rolls to a 0 either. Why wouldn’t each needle move constantly over the interval?!?

Motion Activated Faucets

We got motion activated faucets for the kitchens on one of Home Depot’s daily deals. I find myself trying to use my elbow to turn the valve when my hands are covered in whatever we’re cooking, and not needing to touch anything to rinse my hands would be awesome. Until it was installed, though, I never really thought about the mechanism behind the motion sensing valve. There’s still a manual handle that controls temperature and flow rate. The motion-activated valve does not have a separate control for these functions — you essentially leave your faucet turned on all the time to whatever temperature and flow rate you want. Then the motion-activated valve allows water to flow and stops water flow. Obvious, in retrospect, but not something I realized before owning one.

There is a timer that automatically shuts off water flow – but that timer is around three minutes. This seemed like a terrible idea until we accidentally discovered that activating the motion sensor a second time stops water flow. Now that I know how to turn the water off without waiting three minutes … it’s a cool feature, and one I’ll appreciate more after I make something really messy like fish and chips.

Hobbies And Parenting

I lost myself a bit when I had a kid. Reading a “for me” book was the only hobby I managed when she was a baby (i.e. without much opinion of content). I read text books, historical analysis, and crime/mystery novels out loud while I held her. But now ‘reading’ means her books, and sitting quietly to read something on my own … more stress than it’s worth.

About two years ago we got few new hires at work, and my boss sent out a quick intro for everyone. He has known me for a long time, so included a list of things that … yeah, I used to do all of those. It was, frankly, a depressing read. I decided to pick one thing I used to enjoy and start doing it again. To my surprise, the tiny person wanted to do it with me.

Well, she wants to be with me all the time so the wanting wasn’t really surprising. But she actually does my hobbies too – like pays attention when I show her what to do, respects the equipment and uses it properly, accepts there are some things she’s not old enough to use yet, and enjoys doing the projects. I was really worried the first time she wanted to make jewelry with me, and yeah she made a big mess with the beads. But she also re-sorted the beads back into their containers and was super proud of the bracelet she made. She’s got her own box of beads that is sorted her way,  and she’ll ask me if she can have some of something from one of my boxes. My beads aren’t a haphazard mess, my tools are where they belong, and she leaves the not-for-Anya tools alone.

Now she’s got a sewing machine and sews while I sew. She’s got paints and stamps and scissors — which isn’t really my thing but she’ll paint while I sew or paint en plein air while I garden. She’s getting interested in gardening beyond picking veggies, so this year she’ll be starting her own little garden. She cooks with me – although she’s not old enough to use a sharp knife or handle hot pans, she gets ingredients / chops softer things with a dinner knife / measures and mixes ingredients. And has a lot of fun “thieving” little veggie bits from the cutting board as I cook.

Hiking and biking aren’t as aerobic with a tiny person (unless you’ve got that bike that bolts onto the back of your bike and lets the kid peddle too. That thing looks awesome), but it’s more exercise than sitting at home. Running on paved trails – she doesn’t have the endurance I do, but she can do about a mile and a half at a pace that’s pushing it for me.

Hobbies might be a little different when done with a tiny person, but when someone says I have a hobby homestead, enjoy crocheting, sewing, and bicycling … I don’t feel like they’re talking about five years ago me anymore.

Git Pull Requests

I have finally run through the process of submitting a pull request to suggest changes to a Git repository. Do the normal ‘stuff’ either to make a new project or to clone an existing project to your computer. Create a new branch and check out that branch.

C:\ljr\git>git clone https://github.com/ljr55555/SampleProject

Cloning into ‘SampleProject’…

remote: Counting objects: 4, done.

remote: Compressing objects: 100% (3/3), done.

remote: Total 4 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0

Unpacking objects: 100% (4/4), done.

C:\ljr\git>cd SampleProject

C:\ljr\git\SampleProject>git branch newEdits

C:\ljr\git\SampleProject>git checkout newEdits

Switched to branch ‘newEdits’

Make some changes and commit them to your branch

C:\ljr\git\SampleProject>git add helloworld.pl

C:\ljr\git\SampleProject>git commit -m “Added hello world script”

C:\ljr\git\SampleProject>git push origin newEdits

Counting objects: 3, done.

Delta compression using up to 4 threads.

Compressing objects: 100% (3/3), done.

Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 408 bytes | 408.00 KiB/s, done.

Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)

To https://github.com/ljr55555/SampleProject

 * [new branch]      newEdits -> newEdits

On the GitHub site, click the “new pull request” button. Since you select the two branches within the pull request, it doesn’t seem to matter which branch’s “Pull request” tab you select.

Select the source branch and the one with your changes. Verify you can merge the branches (otherwise you’ve got a problem and need to resolve conflicts). Review the changes, then click “Create pull request”

Here’s another place for comments – comments on the pull request, not the commit comments. Click “Create pull request”.

Click “Create pull request” and you’ve got one! Now what do we do with it (i.e. if you’re the repository owner and receive a pull request). If you check the “Pull request” tab on your project, you should see one now.

Click on it to explore the changes that have been made – the “Commits” tab will have the commits, and the “Files changed” tab will show you the specific changes that have been made.

You could just comment and close the pull request (if, for instance, there was a reason you had not implemented the project that way and do not wish to incorporate the changes into your master branch). Assuming you do wish to incorporate the code, there are a couple of ways you can merge the new code into your base branch. The default is generally a good, or read the doc at https://help.github.com/articles/about-pull-request-merges/

Select the appropriate merge type and click the big green button. You have an opportunity to edit the commit message at this point, or just click “Confirm merge”

Voila, it is merged in. You can write some comment to close out the pull request.

There is a notification that the request was completed and the branch can be deleted.

And the project no longer has any open pull requests (you can remove the “is open” filter and see the request again).

And finally, someone should delete the branch. Is that the person who created the branch? Is that the person who maintains the repository? No idea! I’d delete my own, to keep things tidy … but I wouldn’t be offended if the maintainer deleted it either.

 

Parenting Books

When my girl was < 1 year, I bought a LOT of parenting books because the advertising promised me some sleep. Quickly formed a hypothesis that a large percentage of parenting book sales are completely desperate and sleep deprived moms for whom the content isn’t as important as the fact they’re trying SOMETHING. Because as a how-to guide? Absolute useless. Which makes sense since human being aren’t automatons, thus it’s pretty much impossible to predict the result of any set of inputs.

I haven’t found the toddler-themed books to be any better. “I hear that you are angry because I won’t let you go outside without a coat when it is 3 degrees” or the toddlereze version “Bean angry, don’t want coat” never once had my kid perk up and say “I’m glad you understand my frustration here. Now that you validate my point of view, sure I’ll do what you’ve asked of me”. My daughter seems to get angrier — “ok, you know I want ice cream for breakfast so why aren’t you doing it?!?”.

Choices are completely ineffective for us too. Presented two equally awesome choices (do you want to go to the zoo or the aquarium), sure she’ll pick one. Otherwise she’ll make up a third option that she does like. Or go with “C: None of the above”. Which, stepping outside of the immediate situation … props to a 3 year old kid for the thought process. But it certainly didn’t help me navigate the day.

That being said, I did like “Time-Out for Parents” (ISBN-13 978-0971030930) which didn’t so much focus on how to parent a child but asking yourself why you get stressed out over some scenarios (i.e. Why do I care if she goes without a coat when it’s 45 degrees outside? No clue, let it go and bring a jacket in case she gets cold. Why do I care when it’s 3 degrees? Health and safety, wear the coat!) and how to re-center yourself now that you’ve got massive amount of conflict in your life.

Mud Puddle

Robert Munsch’s book Mud Puddle is a really cute book, until the end. Neither Anya nor I like that she hurts the playful mud monster. So we take turns making up new endings – the mud puddle runs away, and finds an Anya. And jumps on her head. Her mom washes her off then dresses her in dingy old clothes and sends her back outside. The mud puddle jumps on her head, she jumps on the mud puddle’s head, her dog jumps on both of their heads. Then Anya picks up her dog and the mud puddle wraps himself around them both in a BIG hug.

Not Oprah!

I didn’t realize people were seriously hoping Oprah Winfrey would run for president. I don’t believe an inexperienced individual instantaneously makes a bad president – they could know their limitations and rely heavily on experts, then use their judgement to decide. I’d probably have inexperienced people with trusted judgement as cabinet heads with dual second-in-commands – a guy from Exxon and a guy from the Sierra Club can explain why we should / shouldn’t be drilling in the ANWR, then the department head decides.

The problem I have with Oprah is her judgement of an ‘expert’ – the source of wisdom used to determine policy. Maybe all of the Dr Oz miracle supplements and Dr Phil moments are just to make money. Maybe she’s totally aware that whatever the miracle anti-aging eye cream of the week is a scam and that injecting mass doses of plant-sourced estrogen doesn’t do anything to keep you young. But she’s either hawking snake oil or she actually believes this stuff. Neither is a particularly desirable attribute of a president.

What Isn’t Sexual Assault

There’s a rather graphic write-up from a woman who went on a date with Aziz Ansari. I don’t know if something got lost in translation, but I was put off by the claim of a “rushed” dinner – the only bit that the writing conveyed as rushed was between getting the cheque and leaving. I generally take out my card when I request the cheque, glance at the bill when it is delivered and have the server take the card immediately. That’s not to force my dining partner into anything – we’ve already decided we are done and want to leave. If you wanted to finish your glass of wine (or wanted to drink another glass from the not-yet-empty bottle), then you don’t agree to leave yet. You say “I really like this wine, let’s talk for a few minutes while I finish my glass”. Or “I’d like to have a cup of coffee before we leave”.

Off-putting story aside, it’s seemed in a nebulous area between outright assault and a consensual encounter. It’s perfectly reasonable to consent to one particular act but not want to engage in another (they have oral sex that she doesn’t want to progress to intercourse). But what gets me is that throughout most of the story, they were not dressed. I get this from a paragraph *near the end* where the guy says let’s chill on the couch, but with our clothes on this time and she says they got dressed. OK, maybe they were still in their underwear or something … but still.

I totally support the idea that men can control themselves. Whatever a person wears isn’t an invitation to be assaulted. If someone comes back to your house after a date and takes off their blazer, that’s not an invitation to aggressive pursuit. But someone who comes back to your house after a date, gets undressed, engages in some sexual act, does not want to engage in another specific act, but continues to wander around your house without their clothes!?! How in the hell can that person claim to be sending non-verbal signal that you are not interested in continued sexual interactions?? If you aren’t interested, put your bloody clothes back on. *That* is a non-verbal signal that you are not interested. Or send a verbal signal. “I’m not interested in sexual intercourse with someone I’ve just met, and we’ve had as much oral sex as I am comfortable with tonight. If you want to chill out together or talk, that’s fine. Otherwise, I’ll see you later.” The most generous reading is that the woman was sending very mixed signals, and it would be better if men took anything other than an enthusiastic ‘yes’ as ‘no’. Maybe that’s the point she’s making??

I was in University when the ‘ask and receive verbal consent for each move’ was a policy (and a joke) – “I’m going to move my hand to your breast, is that OK?”, “Now I am going to put my other hand on your elbow, is that OK?”. The logical conclusion, as a legally minded individual, was that lawyers should draft and sell a few different written consent contracts. One agreeing to carte blanche access to the other person, one for oral sex, one for penetrative sex with condom, etc. Then both parties sign the agreement. If they want to move farther than originally planned, stop and sign a new agreement. Bonus side effect, you take a break from the heat of the moment and decide if you actually want to move farther than originally intended. Less apt to regret your actions after-the-fact. Obviously you’d need a on-the-spot blood test and breathalyzer reading to confirm that judgement wasn’t impaired. But we’ve all got cell phones with video cameras now, record the test, the results, and the signing. Doesn’t ensure you won’t feel grossly violated the next day, but there was no misunderstanding or “they got me drunk so I’d be down with it”.

I worry that a movement that started with power imbalance coercion and physical force coercion has transmogrified into the same “he misread my signals” from my University years.

Drone Army

Over the weekend, when it was negative five degrees, our neighbor’s power went out in the middle of the night. Some trees along the line grew into the power lines and had been abrading the line for some time, and a handful of arborists had to come out and try to trim the tree back. In the dark. At negative five degrees. Not the most fun job I could imagine, and the ironic this is it was the same team that had been out in the summer to clear trees along a stretch of the power lines a bit farther down.

The problem, it seems, is that it’s terribly time consuming to have arborists walking along the line to see where things actually need to be cut. Instead they just hit every section once per unit time. Sometimes that’s a quick couple branches snipped in a hardwood grove. Sometimes that’s serious maintenance in softwood groves. And sometimes delta-time is too long for, say, our line of pine trees. And sometimes the team doesn’t do a particularly good job of trimming the trees.

Made me wonder about having drones fly along the line – you’d still need someone to drive out, and I’d recharge the batteries in the van/truck so they’d be ready to go when I got to the next site. A single person flying a drone over a stretch of power lines could generate more realistic work orders for the arborists – skip the bits that didn’t grow much, realize these pine trees are endangering the lines before you had to call out a crew on Sunday night. They could also run through the same line post-maintenance and verify the work was done well.

Home Security Drone

We’ve conceptualized home security drones for some time with autonomous programming that instructs the drones to return to a charging station when their batteries become depleted. Feed the video back to a platform that knows what the area should look like and alert on abnormalities.

The idea of a drone patrol is interesting to me because optimizing the ‘random walk’ algorithm to best suit the implementation is challenging. The algorithm would need to be modified to account for areas that other drones recently visited and allow weighting for ease of ingress (i.e. it’s not likely someone will scale a cliff wall to infiltrate your property. A lot of ‘intrusions’ will come through the driveway). Bonus points for a speaker system that would have the drone direct visitors to the appropriate entrance (please follow me to the front door) — a personal desire because delivery people seem to believe both our garage and our kitchen patio are the front door.

This is a great security solution when it’s unique, but were the idea to be widely adopted … it would suck as a home security implementation. Why? Drones with video feeds sound like a great way to deter trespassing. But drones have practical limitations. Home break-ins would be performed during storms. Or heavy snowfall. Or …

What if the drone charging base has wheels – during adverse weather, the drone can convert itself into an autonomous land vehicle. I’d probably include an additional battery in the base as the wheeled vehicle traversing land would use more energy. And there would be places a wheeled vehicle could not travel. The converted drone would be able to cover some of the property, and generally the area closest to the structures could be traversed.