(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.

Bob’s spotting scope

Bob lends us his spotting scopeThe last time Bob and Gena were here, Bob dropped off his spotting scope for us to try for a little while. We knew we had pretty bad optics on all our cameras, but now we are beginning to understand how bad they really are. The scope he brought by is nothing short of amazing and WAY too addictive. We have all been taking turns. Now if I could only figure out how to take a picture through the thing. I can hardly wait until the eagle comes back.

Sorting coffee beans

A cheap ring lightSome good news and some good news arrived yesterday. The first is that my participation in the sickle cell disease diagnostic project is wrapping up. I will still be on call for the machine vision elements of the project, but I will not be tasked with the day to day programming any longer. The second is a good friend (Gene C.) I have known since I was a child has agreed to work with me on a side project. We are going to make a “cheap but good” coffee bean inspection machine. There are lots of machines that do that, but none of them are particularly cheap in the way we want our machine to be cheap. We hope to do this for another friend who lives in Dallas.

Cheap back lightI bought two lights I plan to use for the project. One of them is a back light and one of them is a ring light. I am pretty sure we will not be able to use these in our finished instrument, but they will certainly help me with development of lighting and optics. I still need to buy (at least) a few m12 mount lenses and a cheap USB microscope. I already have a camera with the wrong lens, but it has allowed me to start writing the program I will use to do image processing and classification algorithm development. I got it to take pictures before I went to bed last night.

Snowing in Centralia

Snowing in early November in  Centralia 2017We got some snow day before yesterday and it is snowing a lot harder now. Everyone says it is very early to be getting this kind of snow in Centralia. The temperature is not very low (37° F) so it is pretty sloppy stuff. It took me a long time to be able to take a picture out the window, but it kept snowing the whole time I tried and it is snowing even harder now. It is beautiful out there. Maybe I will not think it is so nice if we get two feet of the stuff, but right now we are enjoying us. I bet our Alaska friends are saying “Oh, brother, that is why we left Alaska.

Lorena painted the guest bedroom

Lorena finishes painting the guest bedroomLorena picked colors we really like, even after she did the painting in the upstairs. She did the preparation and painting all by herself. She is now an expert at taking doors from their hinges and hanging them back up again. We are quite pleased with how it came out. Here are the colors:

  • Ceiling: Ceiling White
  • Walls: Light Pewter
  • Windows: Chantilly Lace White

She did a good job on furnishing the place, too. We got the bed at Walmart.com. We like it so much we bought a second one for the downstairs bedroom. She got two side tables for the bed from Goodwill. She bought and refinished a desk that was really nasty for $8 and refinished that. She actually had a great time doing it all.

Next comes the “library” that is the upstairs landing between the guest bedroom and our office. She has already primed it all and has half of it painted so that should go pretty quick. After that, it is going to start getting painful because it will be time to move me out of my office so she can work there. The hard part is that we have to move downstairs because, when the paint is done, we hope to be able to tear out the carpet and put in some LVT flooring. We are feeling pretty ambitious right now, but will have to wait and see how far our resources take us before we have to start taking a breather.

New heaters for the second guest room

Lots of visitorsThe remodel continues at a good pace as we prepare for visitors, lots of visitors. To that end, we have to get the house in to a more operable state at the same time we need to continue work on the remodel. Easier said than done. People will understand a little bit of disorder, but we want to make sure the guest bedrooms work OK–the two goals often working at cross purposes with each other. We decided the number one goal is to have two working guest bedrooms by the weekend, After that, we can go back to painting.

The first guest bedroom is in pretty good shape. It is newly painted with all the furniture it needs. All it needs is a little organization. The bed for the second one is scheduled to arrive sometime today. It needs to be assembled, a couple of tables, a chair, a heater we got from Walmart.com (again, at a significant savings over Amazon), and a lamp or two need to be added. Then that room will be good to go (short term) as soon as the carpet needs to be cleaned.

Uncle Doug’s DNA kit results

Uncle Doug's ethnicity estimateMy brother (Uncle Doug) got one of those DNA kits as a Christmas gift last year. The results were completely unexpected. We had always assumed, based on word of mouth family history that we were a quarter Finnish (not to far off the mark) and the rest was Welsh/English. The thing that is surprising is the largest component, over a third, is from Scandinavia. We have really wondered what is the ancestry of Lorena. We think there is a big Spanish component, maybe some French, some native Mexican and maybe even some semitic component. We are definitely going to do this. I think Doug’s cost something like $99. Not a bad price for something so interesting.

Where to take the blog

My blog posting has fallen off quite a bit over the last month or so. Part of this is due to a lack of time with work on the sickle cell disease project and my day job and the travel required for that, getting Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s estate settled, remodeling the house (even though the new kitchen is in, we still have about a year to go at our current pace), etc., etc. Really, though, I have not been so inspired to write too much. It was nice to be able to put up pictures so friends and family in other places could see pictures of what was going on with the remodel, but there has not really been any greater goal in my posting. The early posting about homeschool, CLEP testing, and posting about skipping high school to go to college had a greater appeal and still draws a lot of traffic to the site and was well worth the effort. After some thought, I have to find something better about which to write or just turn this into a personal blog with pictures and posts suitable for friends and family. I am working through that now. I do not think it will be a short process and I plan to continue to write as I go, but my desire is to find better things about which to write.