It is an odd time

I really did not have a lot of bandwidth today to be reflecting on life, but due to and serendipitous juxtaposition of events it came to my mind that we live in peculiar times. Overnight, new things turn into institutions and just as quickly, fall into oblivion–Facebook, Barack Obama, Kombucha, and on and on. Everything is not like that. Degrees that have hard math in them will still get you a way better job than degrees with minimal math, Washington still grows the best apples, and Jesus is still the same and always will be. Still, it feels like stuff is moving really, really fast politically, morally, economically, and every other way I can imagine. Some of it is for the better (Obama is gone and Hillary is not president), some of it is for the worse (California in general), and some of is hard to tell (Trump).

All this might be because I am just getting older and time seems to be passing more quickly. In all this, the thing to which my reflection left me is that the need to do meaningful things with what time I have left and to not be absorbed by the Borg seems more urgent to me than ever. I wish I would have had this sense of urgency at a younger age. One thing for which I am very grateful is that I did have a strong sense of urgency with respect to the way we raised our kids. We did not get it all right and we failed at more than a few things, but it was not because we did not give it our best shot.

So, the upshot is that there are some opportunities coming up for me that will force me into some interesting decisions. I want to make sure I do the meaningful thing–something I have been given to do, rather than what is easy or even fun.

Spring deer sighting

We never get tired of this. There were a bunch right out the front door. Most of them left, but one of them decided to stick around, take a seat, rest a little, and watch Lorena as she walked around outside.

Relaxing and flowers

The tulips have been in bloom for awhile and the rhodies are now out in all their glory. In the meantime, I got absolutely nothing accomplished this weekend other than a great visit with friends on Saturday morning. During the traditional time for spring cleaning, I sat on my duff. I have always been a rebel that way. I broke my diet badly, too. I like to think it was all in the name of mental health. No excuses going forward though–I have three big new projects, my day job, and a week of vacation with Christian in Arizona coming up, so the busyness starts today.

Meeting old friends for

Lorena and I drove up to Lacey this morning to have breakfast with our dear, life-long friends, Brent and Susie this morning. It reminded us we are not doing nearly as much of that as we should. Had a breakfast that broke the diet pretty badly, but talked about life old times, and trials with our kids. We are so glad to have them close by. Susie came to our wedding in Mexico 25 years ago, but we have been close friends for a lot longer than that. We have common connections in Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon (of course), and many other places around the country.

Steak and dieting

We inaugurated the new grill last night. I must say I think it was a wild success. Lorena and I split the steak in the picture (3 oz. each) so I even stayed on track with the diet. Jon and I have both been in stasis on our diet for the last month due to (speaking for myself, not for Jon) a total lack of discipline in the face of ham dinners with scalloped potatoes and angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries for dessert. Nevertheless, we are both back in the saddle and ready to engage the battle one more time.

I am seventy percent of the way to where I need to be and it is actually getting easier because I have upped my calorie intake to something a little more reasonable (600/day to 1100/day) and I am still losing weight. The thing I have at the forefront of my mind is that when I actually get to a weight I want to sustain, I can kick my calories up a few hundred more per day.

I committed to Jon to stick out our tracking plan through at least the end of this year, but I think the thing to do might be to just start a new graph when we get to the end of the year.

A first for Christian

This is just a marker post so we will remember when this happened. Christian received notification yesterday that his first, first-author refereed journal article was accepted for publication by the journal Entropy. I am not sure when will be the actual publication date.

Not the grill I was expecting

After all the hullabaloo yesterday about getting the exact same grill as we had when we were in Albany, Lorena shows up with one that is half the size (and, thankfully, half the price)–the mind of a woman. Her thinking is that we need a smaller grill for the porch and if we need something bigger, we can run a gas line and put in an actual outdoor kitchen. And rightly so. It is a really nice grill by KitchenAid with only two burners. The reality is 99% of the time we are cooking for 6-7 people or less. Maybe we can talk Tio Lauro into building us one of those really nice mesquite asadores out of block when he come up to visit.

The new (old) grill

Lorena sent me this photo today. It is the same grill we had when we lived in Albany. Well, I am sure it has some revisions and upgrades. We loved that grill. We got one in North Carolina that was nice, but we did not like it nearly as much. This is kind of a big deal for us. We (and I am using the royal “we” in this case because I am really talking about just Lorena) LOVE to cook on the grill–even in the dead of winter when it is snowing. This is the grill that has five burners–four main burners and a side burner she used mostly to cook corn on the cob while grilling carne asada.

The back story is that she went to Costco because we are having company over on Sunday for lunch. The thing is on sale for around $200 off. I don’t know if I quite have the budget for it, but we will tighten our belts for a month or so to assure we have room. This will be great for future invites to the house. Hope we can get Bob, Gena, and Bonnie over to inaugurate the thing.

Spring is here and flowers are out — 2018

The Rhodies are going to be in full bloom within a week are so. The tulips are still fabulous. It truly feels like spring. For the first time in… ever… we are having people over for lunch on Sunday without Bob, Gena, and Bonnie. Don’t know if we can do it, but we will give it the old college try. We have been so busy with work and visiting kids and remodeling and travel, we are glad things are slowing down a bit before things take off again at the end of April.

Eating more calories and losing weight

Jon and I are blasting away at our health care kick and I am at a plateau while he is going down. I think we should call it the 1955 diet. I think I have something figured out though. My physician’s assistant told me that my metabolism will slow way down and I might quit losing weight, even at my intake of 600 or so calories per day. So, I went off my diet for a three day weekend, then upped my caloric intake to between 900 and 1000 calories per day and although I am not at my lowest weight, I have started down again. I need to start kicking up the exercise a little bit more now as I get close to my goal weight.

My first real tool chest

We have been looking for some place to store and manage all of the electronics, cables, and sundry junk I have sitting around. Today, she bought these three tool chests at our local Ace Hardware for less than $85 including tax. I would say it was a pretty good deal. It was on sale for $99, but had a ding, so she talked them down to $75 and was quite pleased with herself. I was pleased with her, too. Now all I have to do is untangle all those cables and figure out how to organize the stuff well enough in the draws so that I will be able to find it all again. Right now, I know where it all is even if it is in a big heap in those big plastic totes. It takes a half an hour to pull out the tote and get things untangled because the thing you want is always at the bottom of the bottom box in the stack.

A “for personal use” 3D/RGB camera

I bought a RealSense 3d/RGB camera today from Intel. I have wanted to get one for awhile and try it out, but now I have an actual reason. I am working with a friend from an old job on a small project and we are actually using them in my day job. The camera takes aligned 2d and 3d images. It is (relatively) cheap and has an SDK that will allow me to pull the images into some fun environments where I can use OpenCV and the PCL on them. Looking forward to it, but the sad part is they are so popular it is on backorder. I will have to be patient.

Bean sorter: The opto-rack for the raspberry pi arrives from China

This opt-output rack I bought from China cost less than $17. They used to cost an order of magnitude more than that. It is kind of sad we do not make them so much anymore in the US, but it is a very good thing they are available at so a low price and that we do not have to make them as low cost items with thin profit margins. This is the last piece of hardware I needed for hooking up the control to our coffee bean sorting project, but I have had two other projects take priority (involving clinical trials and compliance issues–that is a good thing because the trials and compliance issues would not be needed if the product did not work). So I am going to have to sit and just look at this fun new toy for a month or two before I can hook it up and make it do its thing.

Happy 24 to Kelly

Twenty four years ago on a beautiful Sunday morning, Lorena and I drove from Boynton Beach to the hospital in Loxahatchee through a light rain with the sun peaking through the clouds. Kelly was born in the early evening. She was a truly beautiful baby with long black (!) hair and bright blue eyes. It changed our already good lives to something dramatically better and more interesting. We are grateful she is our daughter.


Spent a great weekend with our friends Luis, Susan, Tom, Stacey, and a bunch of kids (using the term loosely) in Gearhart. After meeting we all went to eat in Astoria where this picture was taken. It is an amazing thing. We studied Astoria frequently in school (the oldest town in Oregon) and I even played sports against them in high school, but I had never really been there during the day. It is very, very beautiful with lots of quaint little shops and restaurants. It is less than a two hour drive from our house and we hope to go explore there some more during the summer.

Flowers coming out

The tulips and daffodils have been in bloom around here for a bit, but now other types of flowers are showing up. We love this time of year even though it is hard to tell from day to day whether or not we will need our winter coat.

Beansorter: Node.js and the first camera stand

Gene sent me the first camera stand and bracket today. I am actually to the point now where I have enough mechanical items to start doing some more bean testing, but as I feared, I have now become the bottleneck. I have decided Flask and Python are probably not the tools I want to use for the machine interface server, so I am switching over to Node.js. I am trying out the Visual Studio Code IDE to develop the app. So far (which is not very far), I am very impressed with it all and think it will make the whole enterprise easier to develop, deploy, maintain and extend. I might change my mind after I get a little deeper, but so far so good.

Thanks Gene!

A hard plateau

I am stuck.  Over the last week and a half, I have either stayed at the same place or actually even gained weight. I talked to the Physician’s Assistant at my annual checkup last week about it. She said that after losing this weight over an extended period my metabolism has slowed down and I am going to have to change things up to keep going down. She also said (and this was my original plan) that I have about twenty pounds to go. I have been averaging a good chunk under 700 calories per day for several months now so I really do not want to reduce the amount I eat any more. I think what I would like to do is actually increase my caloric intake up to 900-1000 calories and start exercising more. There are so many things on which I want to work that I use the idea that I don’t have enough time to get to the gym, but that is completely bogus. I have identified a program that looks like it might work for me and purchased the (e)book. We will see what happens.

Lorena brings Kelly home (Wisdom teeth)

Trisha rightly the, shall we say, more cavalier and less histrionic, mothering methods of my upbringing as related to health issues. The advice tended toward the “toughen up and quit whining” variety of sympathetic mothering (see here). Two days after the fact, Kelly is still being mothered to death and working it for everything she is worth. It is a good way to go if you have a Mexican mother and can manage it.

Beansorter: Camera mount and industry survey

Gene made the camera mount for our camera stand. This should drop write into our prototype. Progress continues. I know he is really busy, so I appreciated this a lot. We are moving forward on several fronts right now. I think I am going to be the bottle neck fairly quickly so I have decided to continue down that path of working out the UI so we can get an embedded  bean-drop controller setup for both Montana  and Texas before I continue on to any more control stuff. Kelly is going to help us by developing and implementing a market survey that, if this thing looks at all promising, we will continue each year while it is still interesting.