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Eric Wilner
An eclectical engineer, attempting to find Slack in Silicon Valley.
Interests: Electronics, computers, Linux, science fiction, gadgeteering, costuming, creative absurdity, hiking
Recent Activity
It would appear that Gaston has discovered our corn patch. Oh, well. Most of each ear remains salvageable. Some ears are entirely unmunched. Also, I definitely need to leave more space between varieties to avoid cross-pollination. Update: I'd planted two kinds of sweet corn (plus some not-sweet varieties). First and most, because I found the packet of seeds first, was something that was supposed to be purple sweet corn; I'd bought that because I just can't resist interesting varieties. The second, slightly later and rather smaller patch, is basic yellow sweet corn. I harvested a few of each today, and boiled them up come dinnertime. The yellow stuff is indeed basic yellow sweet corn, only fresh. Yum. The purple... I think I'll relegate that to the "meal corn" category. It's kind of tough, and doesn't really have that (modern) corn-on-the-cob taste. Another note for next spring. (Last year, the corn harvest was zero; some varmint managed to eat all the... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Silicon Valley Redneck
So, the middle-back yard is all tore up, there are guys operating serious heavy machinery (not at this time on a Saturday morning, but when work is progressing), and in general it looks like a big construction site.... ... Yeah, there'll be pics eventually, all concentrated into one big report, with followups as things evolve.... There's no construction-zone rent-a-fence. Also, nary a hard hat in sight. And, yes, these guys are licensed contractors. (Hard hats wouldn't make much sense; there's nothing overhead to fall on people. A fence would add expense and inconvenience. It seems that, outside of the urban zones, people are assumed not to be idiots, and kids are taught from an early age to mind where they're going and not to get in the way of cars, trucks, trains, combine harvesters, and the like.) Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Silicon Valley Redneck
So I decided I might as well fix the mini-tiller.... The drag bar* had fallen off near the end of my last use of the thing. Supposed to be held on by, if I was reading the manual correctly, a 6x25mm clevis pin. So I ordered some of those from Amazon, and they came, and I put them in the barn, and today I picked up the pieces and, oops. A 25mm long pin fits the frame nicely. With the drag bar in place, it's decidedly too short. Maybe it's supposed to be 6x35mm? I have some longer pins in ¼" diameter, which is more than 6mm, but let's have a look... well, it actually does fit the hole in the frame, but not the hole in the drag bar. If I needed it today, I suppose I could drill out the drag bar to ¼​", but I don't, so I guess it's time to order a more suitable length.... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Back in 2008, JCM had its little venture into the world of agri-tech. The slaughterhouse project went nowhere, but I did get a tour. There was another one... ... Well, no details here, but it was one of those things where we looked at the problem, had some brainstorming sessions, wrote up an initial proposal, and it went nowhere. Was talking to someone today, and he's been having the same problems we were aiming to solve back then. I wrote up some notes, and think I've found my notes from back in the day. Maybe it's something I can dust off and do something about. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
So! We've all heard that Hunter Biden is launching a new career as a world-famous artist, selling his paintings for fabulous sums. And we've heard that there'll totally be no conflict of interest, because all sales will be made through his agent, so he and his father won't have the slightest clue who the buyers are. I mean, not even if one of them just happens to post a photo of his new acquisition to Instagram or anything. Or have a party, and invite someone Important. It'll all be perfectly anonymous, yup. Well, seems that Hunter will be personally meeting with prospective buyers. But the actual transaction will be handled by a middleman, so there's no possible opportunity for any influence-peddling, nope. All perfectly ethical. It's not at all like that scandal we had when Ivanka was selling sensible clothes at sensible prices to the general public through ordinary retail channels. There was just no way of telling how much... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
There's more to be done, as always, but I did accomplish the goal of clearing all the wooden trellis supports out of the former raspberry patch. (There had been black raspberry plants, but they and their patch hadn't been maintained in some years; also, they seemed to need watering in early summer, and there's no water available in that corner of the yard. We'd already cut them down, along with various weeds - including smallish trees - that had been trying to take over, and removed the wires from the trellises.) The trellis supports, consisting of two-each 2x4 crossbars on pressure-treated 4x4 uprights, made that corner of the yard look like some sort of plant graveyard*, besides which they got in the way of mowing, so tall weeds were growing up around them. It was definitely time for them to go, even if there was no easy way to get the site deconsecrated. I don't think there's even a Fruititarian... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
The Scarfolk Council! Posting news items and public-service announcements from the 1970s*! Some of those seem remarkably relevant to the present day, somehow. Kinda eerie. * May not be the 1970s you experienced. This appears to be from some alternative, dystopian 1970s. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Spotted here: “The Select Committee on the January 6th Insurrection will investigate and report upon the facts and causes of the terrorist mob attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021,” Pelosi said. Well, then. I'm sure, with language like that in the name and stated purpose of the committee, that the investigation will be impeccably fair and unbiased. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Trying to catch up on all manner of things, and continuing to fall behind. Today, there's been a bobcat on the back lawn. Sorry, a Bobcat™. Spreading dirt from the pond excavation, to level and extend the back lawn area and create a tidy slope down from lawn to pond (I asked for no more than a 15° slope, so's I can mow it safely). Did some overdue mowing of walking paths. Now I need to ponder a spec for ToasterCo. Soon, time to commence roasting a chicken. Update: Chicken was tasty. Side dish of the day was fresh corn on the cob. Fresh corn on the cob, unlike penguins, comes from next door. (Soon, it'll come from the Annex. Today, the next-door neighbor was giving away a surfeit of produce.) Update 2: Prospects for unearthing an old spring that might once have fed an anecdotal livestock pond are not looking so great; now we're starting to discuss a well,... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
In odd bits of time, I've been watching some vids analyzing the available information on the Champlain Towers collapse down in Surfside. There's much effort expended in trying to identify the culprit. (Not so much in the vids I'm paying attention to, but more in general: there must be a cause, and a villain!) So, was it caused by flaws in the original design, by design changes made during construction, by faulty construction, by poor maintenance, by ground subsidence, by salty ground water, by pooling rain water, or by alterations to the building made over the decades? Yes. Yes to all, or at least most. As with so many disasters, this appears to have many causes. Any one of them could have caused a significant inconvenience or even a minor disaster. With enough of them creating vulnerabilities, the initial failure can spread and cause a massive tragedy. Whodunnit? All of 'em. Of course, there are also stock villains being put... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Up and about earlyish. Pack recyclables and a hand truck into the truck. Putting the hand truck inside turns out to be a Bad Idea, with great potential for seat damage, so I toss it in back, where it takes up a bunch of space I'd meant to use for cardboard. Whatever. Head into town. There are slight sprinkles about. Just as I reach the edge of town, the slight sprinkles turn into rain. Serious rain. Have to slow down because I can't see very far ahead sort of rain. By the time I reach the recycling center, the rain is back to slight sprinkles, but the cardboard has gotten mildly soggy. Oh, well. Plenty of space, as usual, in the big bins for cardboard. Not a lot of space in the mixed-recyclables bins, but I manage to dispose of the couple of boxes of mixed paper I'd brought. Then, off to the post office for my Rural Free Non-Delivery.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Coupla evenings ago, I hastened to mow the former berry patch before a bunch of tree seedlings could get too big. As usual, I had some tunes on the Bluetooth earmuffs. Except, the playlist from the previous use was just about at its end. Oh, well. Put the mower on pause, select another directory/album, and hit play. Oh, wait. I forgot to add the contents of the directory to the playlist. Musicolet briefly flashes a message about an empty playlist, and then starts playing anyway. Seems that in such a situation it creates a random playlist from the files it can find, with cheerful disregard for their proper grouping or sequence. So, something by the Duras Sisters. Something by Heather Alexander. Something by the Brobdingnagian Bards. A traditional Irish folk song. "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana. "Brünnhild'! Ein Freier kam" from Götterdämmerung. And then it was time to head back to the barn. I assume it would eventually have played... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Sumatra seems to be doing better; yesterday morning's presumed blood clot appears to have cleared up. The excavating crew is busy in and around the pond area, still clearing brush and vegetation-infested topsoil (the former to be burned, and the latter to be used for vaguely leveling an area that could stand to have some eventually-good topsoil, but that doesn't need to be smooth). I guess the next phase will be removal and redistribution of good topsoil, and after that they start digging into the underlying clay. What with the Sumatra situation, I found it necessary to cancel the Venerable Prius's repair appointment; have to reschedule some time when, once it's fixed, Joy will be in a position to drive me down to the shop to retrieve it. And... yesterday afternoon, a question came in from ToasterCo. I've come up with a partial answer (possibly related to the power system's dynamic response to sesame seeds), but still need to dig... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Pond work is progressing. Looks like the deep section ends up being 14 feet or so. There are signs of maybe-possibly an underlying spring, we hope. Sumatra had another episode today. Left front foot was having some problem, and he was breathing heavily and seemed to be in pain. It seemed to be getting worse (and might be a blood clot, again), so we rushed him to the vet... where he proceeded to walk around the exam room normally and insist that he was totally fine. Back home, he developed symptoms again. Argh. Well, an extra dose of Xarelto and a painkiller/sedative, and he seems to be doing somewhat better, maybe. The Venerable Prius has stopped dribbling fuel. Maybe the tank is empty. Guess we'll find out tomorrow. Still have to arrange transportation for it. And, we've had another Amazon vs. USPS event. I had two small parcels due today, and it seems Joy must have had two others, and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
It's probably just your house being knocked down. We got word this morning that the Vogon Constructor Fleet would be arriving sometime around the latter half of this week, once they finished up another job in the galactic neighborhood. Well... they haven't in fact started yet, but there's a big yellow bulldozer in the front yard. Well, a medium-sized white Bobcat sort of thing, anyway. The big excavator isn't here yet. Seems the other job ran into a delay with some needed major item not having arrived yet, so they'll be making an early start on our pond. Gotta go snap some "before" pictures, once my camera battery is charged up. Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Actually, I seem to recall having seen the story somewhere, but didn't make the connection at the time. Some silly person has named a new species of ant Strumigenys ayersthey, with the "they" suffix being a grotesquely antigrammatical attempt at nonbinariness, because activists gotta activist. The missed connection? Suddenly obvious. Silly entomologist, ants aren't they; they're Them! Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
So yesterday evening, Joy thought she smelled gas. Outdoors. Hm...? Well, I did catch a whiff of something flammable-smelling. Gas, gasoline, or something else? It was fairly breezy, so trying to find the source was a challenge. It certainly didn't seem to be the gas meter nor the back-of-the-house gas tap. No sign of it indoors. Perhaps in the morning calm I'll be able to track it down. Comes the morning, and I trudge down to the road to fetch the paper. There's quite a strong smell in the breeze off the front hayfield; most likely a large dead rat. That might possibly have been the offensive smell? Maybe? Later this morning, I head down to the garden. Strong odor of something that's not a dead rat. No, this has been dead for much longer than the rat, and subsequently refined. Gasoline, most likely. Go sniff around the Venerable Prius. Whoof! Yup, it's coming from there. The ground under the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
A sensation of having ants crawling all over one's body. This can be a symptom of any number of diseases, as well as of withdrawal from various sorts of drugs, or of an impending lightning strike. It can also - stop me if this is getting too crazy - be a symptom of walking through a cloud of wingèd ants. Yeah, happened again. Out to fetch the morning paper in warm weather after rain without first deploying the thermobaric driveway-clearer. Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
So I got out while there wasn't too much wind, and applied a goodly sprinkling of clover seed to the area that's meant to be a sunflower patch (it needs ground cover that doesn't require mowing, for obvious reasons). Then I used the hose-end sprayer to moisten down the dust a bit, trusting that the promised rain would soon give it a good watering. Then, as I watched the forecast change from "100% chance of heavy thunderstorms! At least half an inch of rain! Fear! Fire! Foes!" in the morning to "maybe a 10% chance of some rain" by early afternoon, I decided maybe I'd better run the sprinklers. So, sprinklers in place, hose connected, water run to each of the two sprinklers for half an hour or so. Gets at least the top layer of soil reasonably damp. An hour or so after I turned the sprinklers off, the rain arrived. Figures. Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
I knew it was a bad idea to go traipsing through the pond-adjacent undergrowth in sandals. Apart from most of said vegetation being of the thorny persuasion, I thought some of the non-thorny stuff had a certain poison-ivy vibe to it. (Poison oak is familiar; I never before lived in an area with poison ivy, so I'm not altogether clear on identifying it.) Yup. Itchy ankles. Argh. Good thing I had a tube of hydrocortisone cream handy. Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Starting out with: woke up way too early, and couldn't get back to sleep. Huckleberry has been looking for attention and/or mischief to get into, starting early. Around mid-morning, he figured out how to open the sliding screen door to the back deck. Uh-oh! While I was chasing him (I'd been out on the deck, reading), Southmoon came out too. Huckleberry having been rounded up, Southmoon decided to had back indoors where it was safe, except that by that time Sumatra was blocking the door, so another round of cat-herding bacame necessary. Later, when we took Sumatra and Huckleberry out for lawn time, Huckleberry got very cranky about coming back indoors and then about having his harness removed. After lunch, the excavator guy came around again, this time bringing his business partner and their lead equipment operator or whatever his title is. They took a more detailed look around, and found no obvious signs that the project would develop complications.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
No, not a dangling tail, tho' Huckleberry often exhibits such when he's up on a cabinet. Just finished reading An Unproven Concept (Kraken Edition), which... ... OK, quick digression. Don't buy Ride of the Late Rain. As a standalone storyline, it's rather unsatisfying. AUC(KE) includes RotLR in its proper context. Anyway, back to the Unproven Concept. It's gripping and well-written mil-SF, with some of the usual assumptions about starships and some plausible assumptions about the future of human society, including the assumption that various forms of stupidity are ineradicable. The author does have a penchant for making the reader care about characters and then killing them off, but that's more realistic than the usual dramatic conventions, isn't it? And, as well as various forms of villainy, we encounter good people doing terrible things out of Duty, Necessity, or sometimes Bravado. Or just because all the other options must have even more terrible consequences. Anyway, it seems like this should be... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
I'm sorry, I'll read that again: What is it with wasps and my pickup truck? Last time I used the truck, I found wasp nests in two or three of the door frames. Complete with live wasps. I sprayed them with insecticide, slammed the doors, and ran away. This morning, I found a wasp nest (with, again, live wasps) in one of the door frames. Maybe I didn't spray that one last time, because there weren't any wasps then? Then, when I stopped by a gas station and opened the gas flap... oopsie! Another nest (with wasps) right on the gas cap. Well, next time, I guess. Back home, I sprayed the nests. This is getting to be a nuisance. (Lesson from this morning: regardless of the weather, the first morning after a holiday weekend is not the right time to take a bunch of recyclables to the drop-off center. The bins hadn't been emptied in a while, and I... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Had an excavator guy here today to examine the pond situation. Turning it from a seasonal swamp into what should be a year-round pond (and expanding it to a full acre) won't be cheap - well, there's a heck of a lot of work involved, and many hours on the heavy equipment - but it's within the family budget, and he can get it done this summer. Apparently there's a fair chance there's a seasonal spring lurking at the bottom of the swamp, covered up by many feet of silt, and if it is there, waiting to be uncovered, then keeping the pond full shouldn't be a problem. If not, well... well. Seems a water well here would likely cost about half as much as the pond project, and the water might turn out to be sulfurous, but it's a fallback option. (Keeping the pond topped up with utility water would be outrageously expensive on an ongoing basis.) And! His... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck
No, I wasn't imbibing any fermented grain and/or fruit products. Stayed up too late, and woke up way too early with a case of "I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please." That, and either a case of latest-model coof (Indian / '617 / Dam Busters / Delta Variant) or I inhaled a lot of grass clippings and whatnot - apparently the typical symptoms of the latest deadly virus closely resemble those of mild respiratory allergies. Got a bunch of cleaning up to do: pack the remaining fireworks securely and stash them in the barn (after first measuring the launch tubes), clean up the trash from the front lawn (having hosed it down and left it there last night), and various other stuff. This is also supposed to be the day for taking the mower deck off the tractor, putting the loader and tiller back on, and making a start on tractor stuff that I've been... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2021 at Silicon Valley Redneck