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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
There's stuff you know, stuff you know you don't know, stuff you don't know you don't know, stuff you know for sure that just ain't true... ... And then there's stuff you learned once, haven't used again, and forgot that you knew. Like, if you attempt to dispense 4.8 gallons of Diesel into a 5-gallon container at full speed, the result will be a frothy mess. I actually learned this (without the mess) maybe 25 years ago, which is the only time prior to today that I had occasion to dispense Diesel. I guess real country boys learn this early, and get regular practice. Oh, well. The mess wasn't that bad, and it was on the gas station's concrete slab, not in my barn or anything. Hm. I really ought to buy a steam tray or two, to put under the various fuel (and oil, etc.) containers out in the barn. Just in case of leaks. And spray the tin... Continue reading
Posted 6 hours ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
The family trooped into the metropolis yesterday afternoon to make introductions with the new primary-care doctors. Things went reasonably smoothly (and the docs aren't all rushed here like they are in, say, Silicon Valley). A perky, upbeat young doctor taking time to get to know the new patient? What a concept! I got the flu vaccine for the first time in many years, and also the pneumococcus vaccine. The latter is leaving me with a very sore muscle. Apparently this is a routine side effect. Sometime soon, I'm supposed to report to the lab for fasting blood work. Couldn't very well do that in the afternoon; a 12 hour overnight fast would have become a 20+ hour fast, and I would have been thoroughly miserable. And there's various followup stuff to be scheduled. Have I ever mentioned that I don't like being around medical facilities? Continue reading
Posted 14 hours ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Oh, yes indeed: roll bar and seat belt. Most of the yard isn't steep, but part of the front lawn is mildly alarming and may become seriously alarming once I approach it with intent to mow. There's a great big "safety" section in the manual, which I intend to study in detail as it applies to things I'm just learning. Then there's the big rotating machinery, but at this point I don't have anything that's supposed to be rotating when I'm not in the driver's seat, so my appendages and clothing should remain safely clear of the spinny bits, as long as I don't start wearing a Fourth Doctor scarf or anything silly like that.
Somebody - maybe you? - had mentioned that quite some time ago. Maybe not here, but somewhere that I saw it and then, in the intervening time, forgot about it. Certainly worth a look, though for hauling bulk stuff I'll probably want a utility trailer of some sort - and surely the load handler could be adapted to such a context.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on A trio of recent scenes at Silicon Valley Redneck
Back in Sunnyvale, in the less-busy years, I had a vegetable patch in the couple of hundred square feet of appallingly bad soil I had available in the back yard. Generally got way more than I could keep up with. While I'm tooling up for a couple of acres, I think this summer's victory garden will be only a few hundred square feet, with an absurd variety of crops in smallish quantities. (And then there are nitrogen-fixing cover crops to be figured in, and....) Anyway, some micro-farming experience, but very little experience with outdoor power tools, and none with tractors. Got a lot to learn. Plus, the seasons here are different - hence, sprouting seeds in the dungeon under grow lights while it's still sometimes frosty outside.
Neither pro nor con: But just a tractor. A Kubota B2601, specifically. It seemed like the best choice for my particular purposes and situation: a small compact, not a subcompact - so, more than a hopped-up lawnmower, and it has a proper Cat 1 three-point hitch, but, like the little guys, it has a mid PTO for that belly mower. On the other hand, it's physically small compared to a typical compact tractor, so it'll fit in the places it needs to go. Actual price was intermediate between the RK24 and RK37 I'd been considering earlier (though this is without extra hydraulic features: no rear remotes, and no front third function; I don't anticipate needing such things). And the height, with the rollbar up, is... just a little too tall for that doorway. Oh, well. That's why the rollbar folds. Shown: tractor, loader with quick-attach bucket, 60" belly mower, and 50" rotary tiller. Not shown: pallet forks and box blade.... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Southmoon is still confined to the flatroom, except when she escapes and leads us a merry chase around the house. The vet suggests another three weeks to see if her ACL will heal properly, before we consider surgery. The pile of broken-down shipping boxes in the garage was taking up way too much space. This wasn't all of it, but it was all I felt like crawling over to put the cargo net in place. And this one, you'll want to click-to-embiggenate. It's the view out my office window yesterday morning, just after the morning's freezing fog cleared. I kind of regret using my phone to capture this instead of digging out the Real Camera. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Yup, Bernie is running away with the Democrats' primary, despite not being a Democrat. How will the Party Establishment stop him? Invoke some arcane rule at the convention? Change the rules? Arkancide? I know! Send the old guy to campaign in Wuhan! Meanwhile, the Publicans are chanting something... what's that? Sounds like... Pour... More... Beers? Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
The new-to-us Not-A-Prius has the Entune audio system. Which is kind of cool; got the built-in speakerphone, and can play music from my phone (though some aspects of the integration seem a bit iffy), from a USB thumb drive (seems to work well), etc. Yesterday, Joy poked a button or two on the steering wheel in search of something unrelated to audio, and we started seeing pop-up messages to the effect that my Slacker account was not properly linked. Eh? Slacker is some kind of Internet radio thing, right? Eventually, I got the idea that Slacker had somehow gotten selected as the audio source, and, what with me not having an account, it wasn't working. But here's where the problem comes in: I couldn't get back to the audio source menu to switch it to something that would work - AM, FM, Bluetooth, USB, whatever. I'd just get the Slacker-account error popup, then a higher-level menu. Growf! Guys - when... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
His Imperiousness Gavin I has decreed: Doctors should be able to write prescriptions for housing the same way they do for insulin or antibiotics. The Highly Esteemed Goon Show, right? "The £50 Cure", it was. MORIARTY: Now little hairy Kennie, here is a National Health Prescription on hair. KEN: I see. (reads) '£50 to be taken once a week until better'.... money? Ha, ha, ha.... so that's the cure for poverty. Those who forget The Goon Show are doomed to repeat it. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Rain was supposed to start around 0700, turning to snow around 1400, with snow continuing well into the evening. As things turned out, I got pretty well drizzled on fetching the paper about, I dunno, 0545 or thereabouts. And by 1100 it was definitely snowing out there. The FedEx guy turned up just after the snow started, with an item I wasn't expecting until next week. His next stop: over one of those hills with the little mountain roads. Fun! I'd planned on running a couple of errands before the rain turned to snow, but with the early arrival of the snow, that didn't happen. Have to be tomorrow. (Some other errands, incompatible with rain, were already on the "tomorrow" plan.) Ah, well. Ordered some seeds on line, to supplement what I already have on hand. I found one of my stashes of previously-acquired seeds (but not the California Bay Tree seeds, which I think are in a box in... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
By the end of the month, the collection of power tools will include (excluding wimpy things with cords or batteries) things that run on, variously, regular gas (preferably Baptist gas, sans ethanol), gas/oil mix, and Diesel. Ergo, color-coded cans, but they should be properly labeled, too. So I ordered a selection of labels. I may end up hand-labeling the Diesel container(s), though. It's supposed to be Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, so obviously the container should be marked ULTRA LSD in proper 60s psychedelic style, preferably using glitter paint, right? Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Sorry, we don't have camels to report on, so it's cats. The new arrivals have checked out the master suite and found it good, and would explore the rest of the house, except that the living room is full of Huckleberries and Top Hats, who aren't at all sure about the newcomers. Curious, yes, but up close they get all defensive. Introductions will take time. Southmoon escaped from the flatroom (the one with nothing to jump on) yesterday evening, and went on patrol, trying to re-assert her dominance. All around the living room, a peek at the new intruders, reacting aggressively, a scamper upstairs to check out the bonus room, and I finally managed to pick her up and carry her back to her restricted-duty quarters (she's still limping a bit, so she must need more healing time). Oh, and I'd misunderstood the medical situation with the Bengals. They both have issues, but one is a lot worse than the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Silicon Valley Redneck
Gotta understand what's behind the numbers. When the official Nineteenth Raven of Ragnarok Tracker jumps abruptly from 15 confirmed case of Yngvi Crapolavirus in the U.S. to 29 confirmed cases, it's not the result of the disease suddenly spreading here. (If the next updated number is greater than 29, that's another matter.) No, we're importing 14 existing cases from the Plague Princess and putting them in quarantine. So the number for the cruise ship formerly known as "Other" will go down by 14 (and probably up by a bunch of new cases), and the number for the U.S. will go up correspondingly. Don't Panic. Also, Yngvi is a louse. Update: Sure enough, exactly 14 new cases, all in one day, all in Grover's Mill, NJ Omaha NE. Update 2: And then there were 15 again. I presume somebody changed the rules. Are the numbers now based on where the case was diagnosed, rather than where the patient currently is? The... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Seems Mikey "Napoleon Complex" Bloomberg thinks farmers are dumb. Compared, I suppose, to politicians. Yeah... yer basic farmer (one who's doing it for a living, not a hobbyist) not only has to put seeds in the ground (at the right time, with the soil suitably prepared for the crop in question), and to maintain quite a range of equipment, but to manage a very complex business in the face of a daunting variety of uncertainties (weather, future demand, and factors I don't even know I don't know). And, he has to live with the consequences of his decisions. Notably unlike a politician. Have I mentioned that this year's Democrat rhetoric is none too far from calling for liquidation of the Kulaks? 'Cause assuming that "anybody could do that" is one of the prerequisites. Update: So G*d made a Bloomberg. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Joy got back last night from a cross-country road trip. Her junior daughter and son in law had two Bengal cats, one with some of the medical problems to which Bengals turn out to be especially prone, and a brand-new daughter, and they were swamped. So now, in addition to the three once-feral Maine Coon mix critters, we have two once-expensive Bengal cats currently sequestered in the master suite (while Southmoon remains, for the moment, cooped up in the middle bedroom, which we're using as a minimalist bedroom). Eventually, they'll all have to be introduced to each other.... Funny thing: I'd met these particular Bengals several years ago, and they were, at the time, great big cats. Now... with our three little kittens all growed up... the Bengals look almost dainty. All a matter of perspective, like a couple of days ago, at a stoplight, when I realized I was looking down at a Chevy Subdivision. Photos later, I suppose. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Apparently Bad Orange Man put in an appearance at the Daytona 500, thereby totally ruining it for people who wouldn't be caught dead watching that sort of thing anyway. Coming soon to your child's school: NASCAR Queen Story Hour! Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
Busy in the kitchen. The Internet radio in the living room is playing something... familiar... Elgar? Got to be. Something borrowed by an old-school tech megacorp for its advertising many years ago - was that AT&T or IBM? Ah, Enigma Variations. There should be how many, 265 or something? Guess it depends what model. Anyway, it doesn't seem that long; probably not even 263. Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
If Google thinks it's a church, does that make it tax-exempt?
Alas, it's a little too early to figure the mortality rate... globally, yes, 2.4% of those officially diagnosed so far have officially died so far, but both of those numbers are sketchy, and also they're heavily dominated by the province where it started. Elsewhere is looking more like 1%... so far. In any case, very much Not Good, but not (so far) in end-of-civilization territory.
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2020 on Name that disease! at Silicon Valley Redneck
Google Maps seems to be under the impression that Smoky Mountain Trailer Outlet, over in Sevierville, is a church. Is the assumption that, statistically speaking, any small non-residential building around here is more likely to be a church than anything else? Or is it that trailers are a religion, like football and deer hunting? If it's a church, does that mean it's open on Sunday morning? Update: Google also thinks the Sevierville Public Works Department is a paving contractor. Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
ESR muses on the lizardoid-alien conspiracy theory as metaphor. Or something. Yeah, it makes sense. I noticed a couple of decades back that, in practice, we (for California values of "we") have government of the sociopaths, by the sociopaths, for the sociopaths. Oh, there may be normal people employed at low levels, but those who make the policies clearly inhabit a different reality, and the policies are structured for the benefit of Them, not Us. Or... hm. One might suspect that the makers of policy assume that everyone is a lizard/sociopath, and that the intent of the policies is to protect the interests of the Right Lizards while keeping the Wrong Lizards in their place* - and that Humans aren't even in the picture, and any Human caught up in the system is collateral damage of no consequence. * In this view, there are two kinds of people: crooks who are in power, and crooks who are not in power.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
While I've been referring to the Wingwang Cosairvirus by a variety of silly names, the name by which Health Officials refer to it has been varying, too. And now it's, get this, COVID-19. Really, can anyone look at that name and not interpolate an R? Let's see, CORVID-1 is Hugin; CORVID-2, Munin; my knowledge of ravenical nomenclature runs out there. But surely the appearance of CORVID-19 must be an ill omen. I guess it's important to work on finding its true name, because if you know the true name of a virus, you have power over it, right? Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
What sissy decided that large lawn & leaf bags need to be perfumed? And it's not like they bear the scent of lawn clippings and 2-stroke exhaust, oh no. It's... well... perfume. The box didn't mention this. Maybe they're not meant to be perfumed? Maybe they were riding in a truck next to some appallingly perfumed laundry product? Update: Not secondhand perfume; they must have been made that way. On purpose, like. They're seriously stinking up the garage. Guess I'll banish them to the barn, For Outdoor Use Only. Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck
So the lab furniture showed up today... ... Aboard an 18-wheeler. That isn't allowed up residential driveways, even if they're not long gravel ones. Great. So, once again, down to the road with the pickup truck to transfer cargo. Then up to the garage to unload. Prop the folding tables against the wall. Unpack and assemble one of the two storage cabinets... ... Which involves a bit of creativity and some unscheduled drilling, as it seems that the supplier is changing the design and not all the parts are for the same pattern (the instructions don't quite match, either). Eventually it comes together. Leave the second one for later, and make a Home Depot run. I find several of the things I was looking for, plus a few I wasn't, but there's a complete lack of a particular style of shovel. Alas, I don't know what it's called. It's basically a digging shovel, but with a narrower (and perhaps slightly... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2020 at Silicon Valley Redneck