Gas station without pumps

2019 December 28

Holiday activities

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:28
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We celebrated several holidays over the past week: Festivus, Christmas, and Chanukah. We neglected Solstice this year (most years we make solstice cookies).

For Festivus, we put up a Festivus pole and ate meatloaf on iceberg lettuce (well, vegetarian meatloaf, since my son is a vegetarian).  We skipped the airing of grievances, though.

On Christmas Eve, we went out to eat, but almost all the restaurants downtown were closed (even the Chinese restaurant that we had considered as a backup), so we ended up at the Korean restaurant Sesame.  My wife and I enjoy the food there, but there is not a lot for our vegetarian son—he was ok with the japchae, but I could tell he was a little sad that both Saturn and Monster Hotpot were closed.

For Christmas we had a live Christmas tree (the same one as last year, but it is now 22 inches tall—plus a 12 inch pot), which my wife decorated with a small fraction of our Christmas ornaments. This tree has many years before it is the size of the live trees we used to use, but we can carry it into the house with needing a hand truck. (The big one that we gave away a couple of years ago was getting to be too heavy to haul up the 3 steps to the porch.)

We also opened presents from each other Christmas morning.  Most of the presents were books or consumables—we’re all hard to shop for as we don’t want much, and when we do want something, we generally just buy it for ourselves.

For Chanukah we lit the candles on the menorah each night and had homemade applesauce and latkes one night.

Over the winter break, I’ve been getting several things done:

  • I got the syllabus rewritten for my electronics course, got the assignments all entered into Canvas (which always takes forever—filling out the same form over and over is incredibly tedious), and hired my group tutors and graders.  Creating the Canvas entries for the due dates for the 12 homeworks, 6 prelabs, and 5 labs took a couple of hours, and I still have to enter the quizzes (which I’ll do after I’ve created and graded each quiz, as each will have a different number of points).
  • The cat fountain I created failed, and I spent some time trying to diagnose the problem.  The controller board is fine, but the pump won’t run.  The resistance of the pump is now about 100kΩ, which indicates that something in it failed.  I’m not sure of the reason for the failure, but most likely the impeller was jammed by a build-up of algae.  The cats were less interested in the fountain than I hoped, and keeping the cat fountain clean was more trouble than I expected (algae growth was fast, and clearing the hose with a pipe cleaner was a pain), so I decided to scrap the fountain, rather than buying another pump.
  • The mesh seat that I sewed for my recumbent bicycle five years ago had the stitching fail on one strap. I tried resewing it with my wife’s sewing machine, but it just jammed, so I ended up resewing the strap by hand.  I expect that some of the other stitching will fail in the next year, and that I’ll be doing more resewing, but there is enough redundancy in the straps that I can ride home even with one of the straps broken.
  • My son visited Monday–Friday, so we spent a couple of days installing the new range hood that I had promised my wife six months ago.  I bought a 2-part range hood (https://www.amazon.com/Awoco-Stainless-Cabinet-Speeds-800CFM/dp/B076XBQSMK) with the blower unit to be installed in the attic, even though this is more expensive than one-piece units.  There were two reasons: to make the range hood itself lighter and so easier to install, and to reduce the noise of the blower in the kitchen.  Holding up even the motor-less range hood while we got the screws in place was tiring (for my son), but installing the blower in the attic was also somewhat difficult, so that was pretty much a wash.  The new range hood is much quieter than the old one, but I think it moves as much air.  At any rate, my wife is pleased with the new range hood, which is all that really matters.

Mostly, though I’ve been reading and sleeping—things I’ll have much less time for once the quarter starts. I do still have to write the quiz for the first week of class, but I still have a week to do that.

2019 January 1

8th day of Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:43
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Because today is already the 8th day of Christmas, I guess it is time to do a Christmas blog post. For the past several years we’ve used a live Christmas tree (see the 2015 decoration of it), but last year it was getting too big for its pot, and it was already as heavy as we could get up the steps (maybe 200–300 lbs), so we didn’t want to repot it into anything bigger.  So we put a free sign on it and left it by the sidewalk—it was gone within a week.

My wife found a new live tree in a tiny pot that someone else had left out for free, so we repotted it and kept it for a year—here are pictures of this year’s tiny tree:

Here is the tree, seen from a low angle to make it look bigger.

The Festivus pole is visible just behind the tree and to the left (with a bow at the top).


We found a string of solar-powered LED lights on the sidewalk. After replacing the NiMH rechargeable battery and fiddling with the battery contacts, we got it working—it was just the right size for our tiny tree.

2016 December 25

Banana slug Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:50
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When my wife was decorating our Christmas tree last night (a Christmas Eve tradition for us), she was regretting that we did not have a good tree topper.  She did not want to repeat last year’s Christmas tree topper.

Today, we received from her sister a banana slug mask, which immediately became this year’s topper:

The mask as tree topper.

The mask as tree topper.

The whole tree—I think this is the 4th year we've used this live tree, getting it up the front steps using the hand truck visible in the background.  Note also the tiny Festivus pole in front of the tree.

The whole tree—I think this is the 4th year we’ve used this live tree, getting it up the front steps using the hand truck visible in the background. Note also the tiny Festivus pole in front of the tree.

2015 December 25

Christmas tree topper

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:26
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We celebrate a number of different holidays in our house around this time of year: Channukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Festivus, … .

For Channukah, we light the menorah with the traditional blessings, give trinket presents, eat latkes, and play dreidel. For Christmas, we decorate a tree, light up the porch, and give slightly larger presents. For Solstice, we eat round solstice cookies (basically shortbread). For Festivus, we have a tiny Fesitvus pole.

Channukah this year was a bit lower key than usual, as our son was still at UCSB for most of Channukah.  We saved the latkes until he got home and didn’t give presents or play dreidel.  We did light the menorah (except for 2 nights, when we forgot):

menorah-2015

Christmas was also fairly low key—we didn’t get around to the porch lights this year, because of the rain early in the week and my son being a bit ill on Christmas Eve, when we would normally have put the lights up. We did bring in our usual live tree, and my wife decorated it. One novelty this year—we stuck on a different tree topper than usual. The clear plastic head was made a few years ago out of packing tape, using my head as a pattern. (Google “packing tape sculpture” for information about how to make such sculptures.) We had it out, because we hadn’t put it away after Halloween, so I stuck it on top of the tree. I liked the effect—particularly the way one of the branches ended up at the level of the eyes:
Tree-with-topper-2015

Tree-topper-2015

2013 December 21

More trailer loads

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:25
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Last week I blogged about the light, but bulky load of boxes I took to the Museum of Art and History in my bike trailer:

There are more boxes here than it might appear, since I filled each box with smaller boxes.

There are more boxes here than it might appear, since I filled each box with smaller boxes.
The trailer was made (a long time ago) by John Welch.

Today, I had to replace our live Christmas tree, which died in the past month after being kept alive for about 4 years.  I used the heavy-duty trailer to bring the tree home from the garden center:

This Christmas tree is a little lighter than our old one (smaller pot), but still took 2 people to lift it into or out of the trailer.  I believe that John Welch also made some trailers with a hinged back, for unloading heavy items (like lawnmowers) more easily.

This Christmas tree is a little lighter than our old one (smaller pot), but still took 2 people to lift it into or out of the trailer. I believe that John Welch also made some trailers with a hinged back, for unloading heavy items (like lawnmowers) more easily.  There’s also a can of primer and a toilet plunger in the trailer—the garden center is right next to the hardware store (same company), so I combined errands.

After taking the pictures, I noticed that I had some old photos of another bulky load: a plywood dollhouse that my wife was going to fix up and decorate (we got the dollhouse in 2009, but still haven’t had time to do anything with it):

Bungee cords are important for keeping bulky loads from shifting around.

Bungee cords are important for keeping bulky loads from shifting around.

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