I have been readjusting to being a working stiff again (though that doesn’t explain why I was so quiet when I was on the dole) and haven’t been keeping up with news very much. I read an interesting (older) article at Salon (I don’t visit there as much now that Greenwald has left; they seem to be largely the opposite of Fox: many articles (at least their titles) read like hysterical left-wing versions of the hysterical right-wing nonsense at Fox) that thoughtfully discusses several aspects of Snowden’s leaks and interestingly weaves in McVeigh and his bombing:
The empire strikes back: How Brandeis foreshadowed Snowden and Greenwald
So-called liberals attack the whistle-blower duo — and a brilliant Supreme Court justice saw it all coming
I figured I would use this as an excuse to write an update, though I encourage my reader(s) to check the article out.
The job is pretty much a bait-and-switch, I am to program in Ruby and use something called RSpec for testing instead of the C++ we talked almost exclusively about during the interview. I am not in a very good position to be upset about this, so am working through the learning curve now. Supposedly there exists the chance for me to switch to the development team where the work is done in either C or C++ (I am fine with either) in 6-ish months when the testing framework has been completed, we will see what happens. Naturally I can’t talk much about what I do, though it is nice sometimes to be able to talk freely inside the scif with my co-workers about things, though with some stuff being ECI (Exceptionally Controlled Information) even some of our inside conversations get neutered. The wonderful world of working in the IC.
All next week will be devoted to preping for our big party on July 4th. Lots of landscaping I need to get caught up on, and of course work on the greenhouse/pool (or rather the pavilion of said project). We almost completed the half bath last weekend, but when I went to turn the water on it turns out that I didn’t completely insulate the pipes as I had thought and there is a 3/4 inch gash in the side of a 1 inch pipe that spewed lots of water until I turned it off. I will fix that this weekend. I feel pretty confident that everything in the pavilion will be functional (but not to my wife’s desired state, meaning lacking trim, etc. in places) for the party, though there are at least a couple of day’s worth of work to do.
We got the carpenters (Danny and Danny) back on the job, they are working on the siding now so hopefully it will look finished when people drive up. Still many months of work to go before it is complete, but I think having it ready for aquaponics early this Fall is very feasible. We still have the insulation inspection for the greenhouse/pool area, then the final inspection, so we are still looking at a whole lot of work yet to be officially done.
A few days ago I learned about Nickel-Iron batteries (NiFe). Also called ‘Edison batteries’ they were very profitable for the Edison company, but that division was bought by a lead-acid battery company and discontinued. The main problem with them? Believe it or not, the main problem is that the damn things seem to last forever (some are still going after 80+ years!). They are very tolerant of abuse (over charging, complete discharging), though have some technical aspects that put them at a slight disadvantage to lead-acid. The big problem today: they are several times more expensive than lead-acid and are only made in China and India. What interests me so much is that it seems entirely feasible to fabricate them DIY, so I am thinking about doing some research into fabricating them. If I can make them cheap enough myself (and thus, can maintain/repair them if needed) then I believe they might become a viable way to go off-grid. Lead-acid batteries, at least as built today, can’t be fabricated (or repaired) by a regular DIY-er, not to mention they are quite toxic. I am not too excited about the sodium-sulfur batteries because they have to operate so hot, the elements (sodium) can catch fire when exposed to air and, oh yes, I recently learned that sometimes they explode! Super capacitors are still not ready for prime time. I haven’t done any work on my osmotic energy because I have been too damn tired after all the construction (sometimes it takes me until Wednesday to recover from the weekend’s efforts). Hopefully this winter.
I am suddenly quite interested in growing hickory trees. Of course it takes so very long for them to produce (from seedlings it is not out of the question to take 40 years to start producing), but I think I can get grafted versions that might bear in ‘only’ 5-7 years. I sort of accidentally learned that my chestnuts might be growing so damn slow because they like acid soil and since we are in an area of plenty of limestone, they might not be happy. I use sulfur to acidify the soil for my blueberries (and azaleas and rhododendrons), it is simple to sprinkle some around the chestnuts to see if that will get them on the ball. Though I have been having problems getting my bare-root fruit trees to bear fruit (no pun intended), they have grown _very_ nicely and in many cases are 12+ feet tall and several inches in diameter in the trunk, yet the chestnuts are basically the exact same size as when I planted the damn things.
I have pretty much recovered from my sprained ankle now, but haven’t been able to keep jogging for longer than about 2.5 miles for some reason. Besides, of course, being fat and out of shape. I had reason to actually _look_ at myself in the mirror the other day, man am I a fat blob. Stuff hanging out all over the place! Pretty embarrassing, good thing stuff like that doesn’t mortify me or I might never get out of the house.
Yall have a most excellent day now, yahea?