The global shutter camera arrived

The camera for the project Gene and I are working on arrived. It is pretty amazing. It cost literally 20% of the cost of what a camera with similar features would have cost only five years ago. I am dying to try it out, but in my normal bonehead manner of operation, I did not get the USB 3.0 cable I need to make it work. I was highly confident I had the right cable. It turns out I have a gazillion cables that are rapidly in the process of becoming obsolete and a gazillion more that ARE obsolete.

Fogged in (but with no rain!)

After a week of crisp, clear, late fall days with beautiful territorial views from my office of the town belows, the foothills behind it and the mountain behind that, today I can barely see to the edge of the property. Still, it is not raining and any day in this part of the world at this time of year without rain is a day to be enjoyed. I walked to the mailbox twice yesterday in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I hope to do it again today even if the fog does not burn off. If we get a drought this summer, I suppose I will lament all this, but right now I am enjoying it immensely. I can see that I am now one of those guy who talks about the weather and the birds in the backyard. I have turned into my grandparents.

Fireworks again!

We did not get a picture that really did these fireworks. We certainly were not expecting a professional fireworks display off our back balcony. This part of the world is very enthusiastic about their fireworks in a way that exceeds any place I have ever been including Mexico. They were very nicely done and very colorful. We hope they do it every year at Christmas time.

Reading the Kindle at the treadmill

After a few days of experimentation (and actual usage), I finally have the treadmill set up in a way that works for me. Bob helped me move the treadmill downstairs, then I futzed with a way to read my Kindle for three days before I got something that actually works. I used a suction pad from the base of a cell phone holder to hold the Kindle in exactly the right place to read when I walk. Now all I need is some decent new books to read. I am about a quarter of the way through a good one and I have another good one coming in January, but I am going to need a lot more if I stick to this. It is helping my weight-loss plan quite a lot, too. This combined with the Fitbit allows me to keep my calorie output well above my calorie intake by quite a bit.

The sun is shining in Western Washington

They say it is unusual for the sun to shine during the rainy season in Western Washington. It may be unusual, but it is not that unusual. For instance: today. The air is crisp, clean, and clear. You can see forever. It is a great day to be alive. It would even be better if I were not chained to a desk although I have to admit that I do not mind that.

Lots of people have asked us, incredulously, why we moved to Centralia, Washington. We tell them, besides the really nice people and a worldview (relatively speaking) common to our own, why would anyone not want to live in a temperate climate with a view like this. There are lots of other reasons, but these, by themselves, are enough.

We hope that it will even get better. Our gardener came to the house today to talk about some intermediate term plans to clean up the yard and to prune the fruit trees. If we have all of the above and home grown apples from the Apple State, people should really stop asking us that question. Next I will have to get one of those apple picker poles like Bob has. It is really hard to keep up with Bob and Gena.

(Another) healthy living kick

I got my new Fitbit a week or so ago. Now that I am six months into my new job and have time to breath again, I have engaged again in an effort to lead a more healthy life. Bob and Gena lent me an industrial strength treadmill. Lorena is helping me eat healthier food in lower quantities. I have no more excuses. I have set my self a long term goal to get down sixty pounds and have posted (as is my wont) a graph of my weight progress. This time, though, I have also posted a graph of my daily step count and calorie deficit (calories out – calories in). Everyone tells me I should not way every day, but I am keeping track of everything else every day so I cannot help myself.

Here is the link to the permanent page for the 2017-2018 Weight Chart.

 

But is it as good as Hannah’s?

It is about as good as you gets if you are living in Seattle, but just happen to plan a weekend trip to San Francisco, the sun is shining , AND you decide to make pie, all the while it is raining and dismal in Seattle. The sad, sad part about this sorry saga is that we will not even get to try any of the pie.

The value of a vision system

Yesterday I bought a machine vision camera for the project my buddy Gene and I are doing to build a (semi-)cheap little machine to inspect coffee beans. We need something called a global shutter camera because the beans will be in motion when we capture their images. In the past a camera like this would have cost in the $1000 range. Over the years they dropped to $300-$400. Yesterday, I paid $135 for this camera–quantity 1–and that included shipping. If this is coupled with a Raspberry Pi and OpenCV (~$200 with a power supply, heat sink, and other necessary stuff), it is possible to build a vision system that is faster (by a lot) and smarter (by a lot) than the vision systems we used to sell when I started at Intelledex in 1983 for $30k (~$74k in today’s dollars). The upshot is that it is now possible to do tasks for cheap that no one would have ever thought possible. There are large categories of machine vision problems that companies are accustomed to paying through the nose to solve. That is truly not necessary anymore if one is smart enough to put the pieces together. I hope we are smart enough.

A Christmas Gift from LMI

Lorena will never let me retire if my company keeps doing stuff like this. They sent a huge Christmas package with multiple boxes from Harry and David down in Medford. We LOVE this. I am beginning to see LMI’s strategy. They actively push for Lorena to travel with me to the corporate headquarters and put us in an incredibly nice hotel close to the largest mall in all of Canada whenever I go there. The do a gazillion additional nice things all the time. Some of the projects are difficult and the hours are often long, but it is truly one of the best places I have ever worked.

Camera copy stand

A very cool new toy arrived at our door a couple of days ago. It is a camera copy stand that will hold a cellphone or other arbitrary item that fits a certain form factor. It will be invaluable in the bean sorting project, but I will be able to use it for a lot of other machine vision image capture testing tasks. We have made a lot of progress on the project and expect to start buying the actual cameras and lighting we hope to use within the next few weeks. The next difficult task is to drop the beans past a camera while we synchronize the capture and lighting of the scene so the bean is not blurry and we can see the surface of both sides very well. There are more tricky little things we need to do after that, but we cannot move forward until we know that is possible. As soon as that is figured out, I will see if Gene can help me set up a more permanent test fixture to systematically drop beans past the cameras so we can gather a test set from which to build a classifier.

Kiwi after Thanksgiving

All the guests are gone, Kelly has driven back up to Washington and Christian is set to fly out tomorrow. Thanksgiving was a great success. We had different groups over for meals and dessert on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It was really nice. I got to cook the turkey and make the turkey soup. Both of those are a 50/50 proposition for me, but we hit the lottery this year so we had a moist turkey that was cooked enough and soup that was neither too greasy nor too bland. I guess the stars were aligned. Even Kiwi got hit with that tryptophan snooze button this year. Here are a few more photos of the weekend (sorry we had none from Friday night).

Lorena makes the Thanksgiving quiche

People will start arriving in an hour or so, Lorena has started in on the Thanksgiving Quiche–the holiday has officially started for the Chapman household. We are having a little bit of a topsy-turvy weekend and will be out as much as we are in, but this is the first time in three years the whole family has been together and we actually have a house instead of an apartment to celebrate Thanksgiving. We even have two turkeys!

Fitbit Blaze

I keep breaking my “I have never weighed this much before” record and have decided to try to do something about it. I used the Fitbit Charge Kelly and Christian got for me quite successfully when I we lived in both Wilsonville and Lewisville so I decided to get another one. The problem was that it had a pretty lousy band that was not replaceable. My buddy, Dan in Texas used his Fitbit successfully, but ran into the same kinds of problems.

I ordered a Fitbit Blaze this afternoon to kickstart my new health and fitness plan. The other thing I am going to do when Christian is here is move the treadmill Bob lent us down to the bottom floor of the house from the garage where it is now getting too cold to use.

Finishing the library on the landing

Lorena only has a little bit of touch up and some ceiling left before she completes the painting of the library on the upstairs landing. She did a great job and it looks a lot better. She plans to paint my upstairs office next so we will be ready for the new floor to go in sometime in mid January.The picture above shows what the landing looked like when she started.  The vision for what we want to do before we call the remodel “complete” (scare quotes because these things are never really complete) is now starting to form. God willing and I stay gainfully employed, we hope to put in new flooring on the first and third floors and in the master bedroom on the first floor, paint the first floor, paint the exterior, put a kitchen in the first floor, put on a new roof,  and rework the landscape (not extensively). Lots to do, but nothing crazy and, especially, nothing crazy expensive.

Saying goodbye to a new friend

Lorena and I attended the funeral of a young (43) woman we had met as a healthy, engaged wife and mother only six months ago. We met her and her little family at our Wednesday night Bible study and knew here as an engaged, thoughtful person who enjoyed life and loved God. She was diagnosed with cancer only a couple of months ago. She was buried this afternoon. The service was uplifting and hopeful. The day was beautiful and sunny. Our mood is melancholic.

It is so sad to see a young life taken in such a way. It is also a timely reminder that life is short with no promises of even one more hour of life. At our stage in life–kids out of the house and successfully making their own way–these kinds of event are a catalyst for healthy reflection on what to do for these later stages of life. Material good do not seem so important. Connections to other people seem more important all the time.

Bible reading: Setting a new goal

A couple of years after we started our homeschool, I decided I needed to read my Bible more systematically. I had never read the Bible straight through. I decided the only way I would be able to do it was if I kept close track of what I was reading. On February 9, 2006, over eleven years ago, I started at Genesis with the idea that I would read one chapter every day (or a stanza when I got to Psalm 119) by reading through the New Testament two times, then reading through the whole Bible from cover to cover. The goal was to complete this sequence three times, then decide what to do next. I kept the record on the Dad’s Bible Reading page of this blog.

It seems kind of crazy that it took me so long, but it feels pretty good that I finally met my goal on November 15, 2017, just a couple of days ago. The other part that feels pretty good is that I started reading more the further I got. I know I still do not read so fast, but now, my minimum goal is to read two chapters per day. I have decided I want to read two or three other versions of the Bible next starting with the English Standard Version and probably finishing with the Reina Valera 1960 Version. I am not sure which one I will read in between. I plan to never quit keeping track. That helped a lot to keep me going.

Nexus interview

Lorena and I spent the night with Kelly in Seattle on Tuesday night so we could drive to the Birch Bay Enrollment Center of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security to be interviewed. We did not get much sleep because we talked with Kelly until very late in the evening, then got up at 4:00 to get to our appointment on time at 8:00 AM. It was really pretty uneventful. The arrogance of the first guy we met to turn in our papers was offset by interviews with very nice agents with both the U.S. and Canadian border services. We still have a couple more steps to get through the process, but when we are done we will get to go through the TSA Precheck at airports in the U.S. and global entry lines which are almost always a lot faster. There is another certification I can get to get through customs in participating Asian-Pacific countries. I think it will be worth it if I continue with the expected travel to China.

Sports devotion

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

I ran into an article about devotion to something the author called Athletica that very much resonated with me. It described a phenomena that is epidemic in our society. Our own little family was not immune to this and I am glad some articulated the problem so well. The article is definitely worth a read. Here is how the article starts out:

For decades, demographic studies have indicated the steady decline of religion in America, but new measures suggest that, on the contrary, at least one religion in America is alive and well, thriving in every community, and claiming devoted adherents in nearly every household.

This new religious revival has remained under the radar in large part because its adherents do not claim any religious attachment to this social institution, but by every measure of behaviors typically associated with religion, it is deceitful to label it as anything less. Although it shies away from adopting an overarching organization or name for itself, for the purposes of this study, it will be considered under the name Athletica.

What must first impress outsiders studying the life of Athletica is how wholehearted is the devotion of its followers. These disciples are willing to sacrifice almost limitlessly where their dedication to this faith is concerned. Money, time, health, and even family may all be expended for the sake of bettering oneself within Athletica, and it is no exaggeration to say its members orient their lives around the strictures of their religion’s demands.

We assiduously worked to avoid fanatical devotion to sports when the kids were young. The kids participated in organized swimming, tennis, soccer, gymnastics and other athletic endeavors four or five days per week for the entire course of their homeschool. We belonged to the YMCA or a sports club everywhere we lived and when they were not in an organized sport, they went to the gym to lift weights or work out. But we vigorously emphasized this activity as just exercise–like brushing one’s teeth every day–good for the health of the body, but not something on which to base your every waking moment or life goals. Even (if not particularly) the team and leadership aspects of sports rang hollow with us based on the attitudes manifested by the vast bulk of the kids and families who were so wholly devoted to such efforts.