Archive for August, 2009

A Positive Pledge

Life is too short to focus on imperfections, or even joke about them.  In our journey, there is too much to celebrate and learn from one another, especially from our differences.

People will never meet all of your expectations.  This can be inconvenient.  Some friends don’t like keeping in touch on the internet.  Some people are aroused by the same gender.  Some people think practicing yoga implies you are aroused by the same gender.   Some friends have different political views.  People worship differently.  Your friends and peers honor assets, money, and experiences differently.  Some value traveling; others would rather stay home.  Some value balance; others are extremists.  And, some friends are calmer than you are.

Deal with it.

It’s harder to see these as learning potentials than as imperfections.  Everyone can learn from someone.

One of my inspirations of this outlook I recently met, Bobby.  On the weekdays, he rides the 6:30am Bus 178 eastbound from Costa Mesa and the 3:45pm Bus 178 westbound from Irvine.  He genuinely asks us riders how we are doing.  He’ll let you know he’s very glad you’re good or wish you his condolences if you are not good.  Additionally, he’ll report, “I am doing very well today.  Thank you very much.”  He’s a very big fan of the adverb very.

I want to recharge my batteries in my ability to stay positive, especially by resisting negativity.  I think energizing lemons into lemonade allows you to get the most from life, by means of a safe and nurturing environment.  I want to be like that unsung hero — the mentally handicapped cafeteria worker, Bobby.  I imagine he gets mocked routinely because he’s not normal, but he is still doing very well today.  Thank you very much.


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Open-Source Water Filter Housing Thoughts

For aquaponics, I decided that I want to filter the water between the plants and the fishez.  After two failed designs, I ended with a simple design that I like (so far).

This was a fun project to transition from how-to into design into redesign and a finished project.  My first filter failed miserably, in both function and aesthetics.  Then, I designed (and redesigned) a filter emulating a common inline water filter.

I think that placing the inlet and outlet ports above the access threads causes unneeded strain on those threads.  That probably makes no sense to you.  So, I present this diagram of my filter design.

In my design the water inlets and outlets are below the cap cover.  So, the water does not place any pressure on the cap.  This eliminates the need for a strong seal. In the current off-the-shelf models, the manufacturers place an o-ring in the threads to keep the seal strong.  The end-user will eventually need to maintain and replace these o-rings.  (My design doesn’t need an o-ring.)

. . . and my filter is $15 using PVC parts, compared to about $30 for the same size off-the-shelf models (plus dependence on “them” for replacement filter cartridges).  For actually filtering the water, I’m planning on using lava rocks.  The media costs $1 to replace.  I don’t know how this filter changing frequency compares relative to off-the-shelf models.  I assume they are roughly equal.

I’ve passed a measly 15 gallons through this filter.  So far, so good. . .

UPDATE: I understand where the man is coming from now: unknown inlet water pressures.  For me, I know I am going to be at a trickle, ~2 gpm; however, if you have to design for possibly high flowrates, you might as well design for a more streaming inlet and outlet configuration with a bomb-resistant seal.  To quote the poet Ali G, “Booyakasha.”

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“My friend Harry and I are saving up to open our own pet store . . .  ‘I Got Worms!’  We’re gonna specialize in selling worm farms. You know, like ant farms.” Lloyd Christmas

I built the structure, and my newest roommate, Harry, ordered some red wiggler worms (eisendia fetida).  The purpose is to compost food scraps, in an urban setting, termed vermicomposting.  Here we are in Day 1:

This is easy to build:

  • find or fabricate one to three ~2ft by ~2ft bins.
  • drill 1/8″ holes near the top (not shown), for air
  • drill 1/4″ holes in the base so the worms can go to another layer (not shown), for harvesting the compost, called [worm] castings. The castings are solid fertilizer for plants.
  • initially, and possibly periodically, place dry or damp (depending on the food scrap moisture and pest conditions) newspaper as filler for the worms to play in.
  • place a lid or some type of liquid trapping device on the base to collect worm tea, Ma Nature’s form of Miracle-Gro (I’ve heard worm tea can kick Miracle-Gro’s ass).

I found the instructions on this website and from the’s book Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-It-Ourselves Guide.  I’m pumped to see these worms eat!

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Financial Tracking

I try to spend as little time thinking about investments, but some times it gets the better part of my brainz.  The metric I focus on most is passive income: how much I earn by just being.

I update my Google Document a couple of times a month.  In the document, I have:

  • individual data: the points above are a sum of dividends, interests, and the like
  • a 10 period rolling average
  • a regression
  • and, a 95% confidence interval.

I know focusing on one metric is not a good idea; however, as an advocate for sustainable designs and graphs with dense and easy to understand material, this is my favorite metric.  I usually see people track net worth.  To me, that is a more complex way to imagine retirement/laycation cashflows.

I have only seen one retiree’s cashflow, the Canadian Dream’s.  I’m interested in non-conventional, home-made trackings. To me, conventional is a brokerage statement.

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Delightful Disappointment

Lately, my PRs come when I least expect it.

I didn’t feel like I tapered well.  Busier with cycling this summer, I felt like I didn’t have enough long runs in.  I didn’t really care about what I ate before the race.

Even though the Mt Disappointment 50k didn’t fall into my calendar well, I wanted revenge from my experience with it last summer.

2008 Race

Last summer, I came out of a technical part of the trail and snuck a view of the scenery. Y’OUCH!!! I twisted my ankle. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I walked so slow, initially hoping just to make it two more miles to the 10mi aid station so I could drop and get a ride from there. Walking a lot of downhills, I ended up finishing my first ultra-marathon (50k) in 7:11.

2009 Race

Toeing the line, I was cold. I had memories of heat, like real heat. I had expectations of hills, big ones with long climbs. And the last five miles. . that’s not a climb. That’s a 2300′ torture.  Why did I sign up for this? I just want this to be over.

Fortunately a “cold front” came through.  It was just regular old heat that I experience in the OC.  Making Dawn Patrol a regular Tuesday morning activity, those hills didn’t seem like anything!  I felt relatively full of energy, even getting to play around with e-rod on the course.  Thanks to dre, volunteering at an aid station, I dropped off a water bottle at mile 21.  I finished with a 50k PR of 6:32.

Taming the Course

Here are my notes, if you want to visualize the 50k.

Starting Line to Red Box (5mi)

This year, we didn’t get run up Mt Disappointment, in the first five miles.  Last year we did; it is a great part of the course. If the course has the Mt D section (with a tunnel!), jockey for position off the starting line so you don’t have to walk the gradual uphill section.

Red Box to Clear Creek (10mi, cumulative)

Get in a groove, and take it easy in this section.  It’s nice single track.  There’ll be some passing. Just yell, “TRACK!”  People love that.  If you’re feeling good after this section, eat lightly at this aid station so you can run the next uphill 3 miles.

Clear Creek to Josephine (13mi)

The climb isn’t too bad.  It’s similar to No Name Ridge in El Moro.  The view along this section includes Strawberry Hill, which is close to the Josephine Aid Station. Hang the eff out at this aid station.  Drink, drink, drink. Eat. Drink, drink, drink.  The next aid station is 8 miles away, after some exposed (hot) trail.

Josephine to Red Box (21mi)

This is a good section to cruise along.  After a slight ascent, you crest a pass.  From there it’s about 2 miles to Red Box, and also from there it’s about 7.5 miles until the next (and final) uphill.  Wooooo.

Red Box to Westfork (26mi)

Nothing really to note. Enjoy the downhill.

Westfork to Finish (THIS SECTION IS 4.75 MILES)

During the race, this is the most talked about section.  Many people say this section is a 5k; many say it is 4 miles; many say it’s 3 miles; many say it’s 5 miles.  On a 2300′ foot ascent after running a marathon, I want exact dimensions. It’s 4.75 miles!  I have data.  The first mile is runable.  From there, try to run as much as you can and just get it over with!

Advantage of finishing at 1:10pm:

. . . a high-five from Smokey the Bear at the finish line!  He’s there to chear on the kids run.  The race director is great; he likes to yell. It’s a fun type of yelling.  The aid stations are stocked really well.  The scenery is great. Do it!

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Television of the Revolution

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” – Albert Einstein

My TV aquarium is in it’s functioning form!

This is my first attempt at art (since mandatory art class, in middle school).  Now, I’m trying to learn about the Nitrogen Cycle to tell everyone, “It’s alive!”  The nitrogen cycle is the term of finding the aquarium’s chemical balance, namely ridding fish poop in the eco-system.

Fortunately, enough time passed between initially seeing this idea and constructing it so that I could use my own independent solutions (the best way to learn, which includes failures) and finish this project.  If you care, this is how I did it:

  • Found a free television on craigslist.
  • (Let it sit in the front room for over a year.)
  • Gutted all the internal components from the case.
  • Built a 1″ base that brings the tank flush to the plastic paneling.
  • Bought an aquarium with a curved front. I figured this would be cheaper than buying a custom built aquarium, as well as less complex (for a project that already stretches my limits) than building a glass aquarium with curved edges.  See * notes below.
  • *Hacked off the paneling so that the curved aquarium can bulge out a little bit.
  • Cut a section of the top off of the cabinet and hinged it for an access lid to the aquarium.
  • *Mounted two “ultra-slim” fluorescent lights on the lid to light the aquarium, due to limited top space between the cabinet and the aquarium.
  • *Installed an under-gravel filtering (as opposed to a more modernly conventional side mounted mechanical filter).
  • *For visual effect, I draped black landscaping material on the bottom and sides to disguise the wood on the inside of the cabinet, thereby helping to make the aquarium flush to the cabinet.
  • Mounted a 6″ fan — which isn’t my biggest fan — to the rear door to pull moisture out which keeps the wooden cabinet from warping, rotting, growing moss-like stuff, etc.
  • I stared and watched tv for multiple hours.

*A compromise of buying an off-the-shelf aquarium.

Future Explorations

I want to incorporate this fish tank into an eco-system with edible plants and possibly edible aquatic animals, termed aquaponics . .

. . . and take over the world!

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Domain Freedom

I have a new domain today.  Big day!

I set up the new domain primarily for learning.  In case you cared, I used:

  • GoDaddy for the domain directing.
  • (Beforehand, Google “GoDaddy coupon codes” to save 30%.)
  • I’m still slave to the WordPress server.

Thanks to jeff as well as Harry (from Harry Dingles and the Dingleberries) for the advice, tips, and how-to’s!

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