Gas station without pumps

2022 January 11

Christmas tree-topper aftermath

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:35
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In Christmas tree 2021, I showed the use of a Buddha’s-hand fruit as a tree topper for our Christmas tree:

Buddhas-hand-2

The tree topper is a Buddha’s hand fruit from the New Leaf grocery store.

Buddhas-hand-1

Here is the tree topper from the other side.

When we started undecorating the tree, we found that the fruit had grown mold in an interesting pattern:

Buddhas-hand-2

The parts exposed to light remained orange, but the parts nestled into the tree grew a green mold (Penicillium?) surrounded by a white mold.

Buddhas-hand-1

The borders between the moldy and unmoldy parts are particularly striking.

2021 December 26

Christmas tree 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:27
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We have used live Christmas trees for a long time (see the 2015 version), but in 2018 the one we were using was getting too big for its pot and was as heavy as we could get up the stairs, 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, which we have used ever since (see the 2019 decoration of the tiny tree).

The tree has grown a bit, and the pot and tree now weighs something like 60 pounds—I can still lift it by myself onto the table, but if I have to repot it, it will get too heavy for that.  We used a somewhat unusual tree topper this year.

whole-tree-2021

Here is the whole tree, in a much larger pot than in 2019.

Buddhas-hand-2

The tree topper is a Buddha’s hand fruit from the New Leaf grocery store.

Buddhas-hand-1

Here is the tree topper from the other side.

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.

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