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Life in lockdown Weather

Houston Blizzard + Back Online

So much has happened in the last few weeks. Texas was hit with the worst snowstorm I think in recorded history. The snow in Houston didn’t look that bad via photographs but trust me. It was icy, heavy sleet and snow — not that fluffy stuff you ski on. Of course it cause havoc on our electrical grid and our water pipes. Thankfully all in my neighborhood are well and the weather is now in the 70’s! I’ll post a few more pictures when I have some time.

I lost power along with most Texans for large parts of early last week. Power has been stable since last Thursday. The last snow and ice melted last Saturday (so it was on the ground for a good 5 days). The worst days for me were Tuesday and Wednesday when we have the rolling power outages.

Ella enjoying a boogie board style toboggan at the nearby park.

Lastly, I needed to update my SSL cert for this website which I’ve now done. Silly me for taking so long to do that; I had a bit on my plate.

Categories
Animals Life in lockdown

Horse Riding Lessons

A new year of horse riding lessons for Ella. I decided to bring along the Canon DSLR’s with a standard lens and the telephoto and challenge myself to shoot in Manual (M) mode. The cameras were my EOD 50D and EOS 30D cameras that I purchased from Goodwill (secondhand). It was dark in the barn which is no problem for the human eye but quite a challenge for the budding photographer.

Canon EOD 30d, f/7.1, 1/100 shutter and 800 ISO, no flash.
Walking out to the parade grounds.
Ms. Amy on Joker; he wasn’t feeling very well.
Focused.
Waiting for her turn
Rode with bridle and a bit today
Trotting over some obstacles
Categories
Life in lockdown

The Last Day of 2020

As I type this, 2020 is approximately 11 hours from finishing (at least in my part of the world). My upstairs air conditioner decided to fail in the last few days of the year and guess what? It’s not under warranty. Effe you 2020! Ugh.

Here is hoping for a brighter 2021; I mean it’s always darkest before the dawn, right!?!

Categories
Life in lockdown

Messing Around with Digital Cameras

I setup a photo studio in my office. I have a green screen, Cameron’s recording lights and the Cannon 50d on a tripod tethered to my computer. It’s a complex setup. I’m using FOSS called entangle (to capture) and the Gimp with Darkroom plug-in to open the Canon RAW image files. I’m learning about f-stop and ISO speed. It’s all complex and I’m out of my depth a bit but it’s fun. It’s been a while since I’ve messed around with Adobe Photoshop. I’m trying to relearn a skill on Gimp and it’s a bit different. I’ll get the hang of it sooner or later.

With better lighting
future music star?
I was still, she moved fast
what a ham.
Categories
Hardware Life in lockdown

Bose Wave Radio vs Amazon Alexa

I recently purchased a Bose Wave Radio from Goodwill for $76 + shipping. It had no remote so add on $10 for a new remote (no battery included grumble, grumble). I’ve always wanted a Bose Wave Radio, but the price always kept me from them ($499 USD retail). Here is a legitimate review from cnet, so many reviews seem so fake or paid for.

https://www.cnet.com/reviews/bose-wave-music-system-review/2/

My review is simple — the Alexa doesn’t hold a candle to Bose in terms of sound quality. The base and drums are deep and rich on the Bose compared to my Mono Alexa. I did three experiments playing the same song Alexa and the Wave Radio. Two of the experiment use Plexamp connecting to my NAS to play an Apple Lossless (ALAC) rip of the physical CD — One via Alexa connected by Bluetooth, the Second the Wave Radio connected via AUX port and cable. The third experiment is using the physical CD as control. I wasn’t expecting Alexa to win, it’s Mono for gosh sake. I can configure an Alexa pair with both a left and right channel but it’s honestly a pain to setup and use so why bother.

Amazon Alexa Mono ALAC Rip Plexamp over Bluetooth

Conclusion is go out and buy yourself a good quality Bose Wave Radio at Goodwill and pickup some physical CD’s while you are there. Audio quality is much better than streaming IMHO but YMMV!

Categories
Life in lockdown

Are we human, or are we dancer?

Tomorrow marks the very gradual lifting of restrictions on daily life for England (Scotland and Wales having made different choices).

On reflection, so far the lockdown hasn’t been all bad. People have made sure to look at for one another and a sense of comaradrie is present.

That said, there still have been tough times. It feels very normal and yet not normal sometimes. Seeing the number of people who have died each day makes sobering reading and I find myself switching between seeing small troubles at home and work disappear into insignifance and at other times, those same annoyances loom large as they are ever present.

Anyway, for now, I hope tomorrow marks the path forward. I took a walk this evening and listened to music. The streets were deserted. I danced, let go of my self consciousness and reminded myself that life is indeed, very precious.

Categories
Life in lockdown

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

I’ve wanted a cast iron Dutch oven for a long time. I saw this Kelty Ridgeway on goodwill for a good price. It was in sad shape. Rust and crud really made this one a mess. I cleaned it using a method of lye and elbow grease and a steel wool pad. That for the piece to more or less bare metal but I still had to deal with the rust. I soaked her in a vinegar and water bath for 72 hours which returned her to bare metal. I quickly rinsed and dried and seasoned to restore her. Looks good if I do say so myself.

Categories
Life in lockdown Science

Stargazing

I read an article yesterday that there was to be a meteor shower for the next two nights that would be visible without the need for a telescope. Given I’d got myself all worked up about an issue at work, I thought a nice reminder of how unimportant it all is would be just the thing I needed. I went out after 10pm to have a look as the sky was clear, I couldn’t see any meteors, or indeed the satellites which everyone else seems to be spotting recently but I did see what I think is Venus shining brightly in the sky. I tried to capture it, but it’s a bit blurry:

Anyway, today is a new day. I’ve downloaded an app to my phone which helps you identify which stars/constellations you’re looking at & I’ll try again tonight.

UPDATE: Still couldn’t see the meteor shower but the app (Star Tracker) did at least show me where the Lyrid constellation was so I could be confident of looking in the right place. Rose and I had some fun using the app to try and find the names of the stars we could see.

Categories
Life in lockdown Weather

Arduino weather station

Happy Easter (on lockdown). Weather is beautiful today. A bit warm but the wind is blowing. The girls and I had a confetti egg fight earlier. I still have confetti in my hair.

I setup the weather station in the front garden. I’m sure I’ll get a note from the association. Ella is coloring the sidewalk with chalk now. Ham will go in oven soon. Happy Easter.

Categories
Life in lockdown

Morning run

I got up at 6am for a morning run having fallen asleep in my running gear the evening before. (Rest assured that I did wake up, change and go to bed). To my surprise, the restrictions have encouraged many other people out on to the street for an early morning run.

I did my normal hill route, but then extended my trip to the local shop to get some bread. The increased number of people out and about meant a lot of running on the road to keep at a safe distance – and there is still traffic!

Getting the bread was a task and a half. In a small shop, staying 2m apart from people is not easy. At one point I got trapped in the corner as both exits were blocked by people looking at items or queuing. It was like a human form of the game ‘Rush Hour’.

I had to lean to place the bread on the counter as lines clearly marked how close I could get. Money had to be placed on the counter–no handing it to the cashier. Not being terribly tall meant I ended up sort of throwing it. The cashier (also not tall) ended up sort of throwing my change back at me. I pondered that this was a bit ridiculous, but decided not to say anything as people are just trying to be safe.

On the way home I noticed the gate to the woods is permanently tied open. I assume so lots of people don’t touch it. I took a photo (above). It made me realise how crazy things are.

Miles run: Not enough. Too much starting and stopping.

New tracks added to running playlist: Highway Star, Deep Purple