Gas station without pumps

2016 November 2

Halloween 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:47
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Halloween was a bit of an impromptu arrangement this year. I was at the iGEM Jamboree all weekend, and my wife and I only got home from Boston a little before 7 p.m. on Halloween, so we did not have time to carve a pumpkin this year.  Instead, I decided to improvise a very fast pumpkin surrogate:

First, I found a cardboard box large enough to hold the LED stroboscope that I had made for the mini Maker Faire.

First, I found a cardboard box large enough to hold the LED stroboscope that I had made for the mini Maker Faire.

Then I cut out a stencil pattern from a piece of heavy paper.

Then I cut out a stencil pattern from a piece of heavy paper.

I made one mistake when cutting the stencil, cutting away the opaque center for the lower part of the B. I just used blue painter’s tape on the back of the paper to stick the piece back on, and recut the B.

Initially, I tried taping the stencil over the opening in the box, but the light was not diffuse enough—the individual LEDs were visible and the stencil pattern unclear. I then tried taping the stencil to the cutting mat and taping the cutting mat to the front of the box. It wasn’t very secure (painter’s tape is not very sticky—by design), but it worked for the evening.

The final result looked much better in the window than a 20-minute project had any right to.

The final result looked much better in the window than a 20-minute project had any right to.

2015 November 1

Tenth weight progress report an Halloween

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:21
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This post continues the series of weight progress reports from the previous one.

My weight has recovered from the spike on Sept 18, thanks to my returning to my weight-loss diet.  I was hoping by now to be able to go off the diet, but my occasional excesses have left me hovering around 158 lbs—2 lbs more than where I want my weight to be before I go off the diet.

I'm back in my target range, but I want to have a solid week below 157 lbs before I discontinue the weight-loss diet.

I’m back in my target range, but I want to have a solid week below 157 lbs before I discontinue the weight-loss diet.

I’m still on my strict raw-fruits-and-vegetables-for-lunch diet. I’ve not been very good this month about reducing my portion sizes for whatever we are having in the evening, but my wife has been preparing fairly non-fattening foods, so I’ve been holding steady on my weight, not packing on pounds. The leftover Halloween candy I ate today is probably going to put another spike in my weight, which is one reason for posting this blog post today, rather than waiting for tomorrow.

My exercise for October was relatively high (5.1 miles/day of bicycling), up from 2.9 miles/day in September and higher than my normal year-round average of just over 4 miles/day.

One good thing—I was able to wear a Halloween costume that I last wore when my son was in kindergarten, 14 years ago, and it fit better now than it did then. The costume consisted of parti-colored hose and a houppelande with dagged sleeves.  The houppelande has always fit me (it is not a tightly fitted garment), but the hose were made to fit snugly with non-stretch material around 33 years ago, and I don’t expect to ever be that skinny again—my weight was less than optimal then.

Actually, I’m not sure I could get the hose on 14 years ago—though I did wear the houppelande that year, since my son was a snowy owl, and we went out as “the prince and the owl” from a series of bedtime/walking stories that we made up. By coincidence, my wife used the same snowy owl costume for Halloween at school this year (pinning the wings she’d made for his kindergarten costume to a white linen jacket from the thrift store, and making a new mask by printing one off the web, since his kindergarten mask was too small for her face).

We had about 50 trick-or-treaters this year—way down from the glory days around fifteen years ago, when we would have 140 trick-or-treaters, but better than the rainy night last year.  Still we were prepared for more, which means that we have two or three bags of candy left over—I’ll have to take them in to work and leave them for the grad students.

We didn’t have time to decorate for Halloween this year—I carved a pumpkin rather hastily and stuck an LED strobe light in it (using the same LED boards and controller that I designed for the desk lamps, but with different software in the controller, so that the potentiometer controlled the strobe rate rather than brightness).  I could have run the whole thing off a 9V battery, but I decided to run some long wires instead, and leave the control and 9V power supply inside the house.

2011 November 4

Mercury Halloween Costume

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 00:55
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Costume as Mercury

My son is getting a little old for trick-or-treating, but he still likes to put on a costume and go out on Halloween—this may be related to his love of acting, since he is not normally a big consumer of candy.

This year, he made his costume himself, rather than relying on his mother to make one for him. The costume was inspired by the silvery fabric that he ended up using to make the mask. He was originally going to use the duct-tape mask and cloak that he threw together last year (though he went out as Santa last year), but he had lost the duct-tape mask and didn’t feel like making another, since it had been made inside a plaster mask that he no longer had. The silver fabric was suggested as an alternative, and he was trying come up with a theme for the costume. I suggested Mercury, and he took off from there. It took him about a day to make the costume, spread over 2 or 3 days (including shopping for the space blankets to make the cloak and goodie bag).

Some construction details:

  • All fastening for the aluminized mylar is black duct tape. (It would have been better to have edged the entire cloak with duct tape, since it tore completely apart after only a block—repairs were made with black duct tape, and it lasted the rest of the evening.)
  • The mask consisted of the shiny, stretchy cloth with a couple of eye holes cut out, pulled over the inside of an embroidery hoop, which was held in place with a couple of tack stitches. The cloth was knotted at the back of the head to hold the mask on and make a shiny pony tail.
  • The goodie bag is a pillowcase (for strength) covered with aluminized mylar from a space blanket.  The handle for the goodie bag was a cord found on the sidewalk, apparently made by Canon, so probably originally part of some camera bag.
  • The socks were fabric painted silver, which made them rather scratchy—a thin pair of inner socks should have been added.
  • The belt was a leather belt from the thrift store (or perhaps a garage-sale free box), painted silver.
  • The Hg emblem was drawn on the computer and printed on paper, then the design was transferred to the long-sleeve t-shirt by pouncing: pricking holes in the paper and using chalk to get the outline onto the cloth.  The emblem was then painted with silver fabric paint.
  • The shiny silver gloves we already had in the costume box—they were probably a thrift store or garage sale find also.

The total cost of the costume was about $10, mostly for the 2 space blankets and the silver paints. If he had to do it again from scratch, there might be another $10–15 in thrift store acquisitions.

2010 November 2

Halloween costumes 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:15
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This year my son had two Halloween costumes: one which he just threw together from stuff we had around the house, and one which his mother spent 3 days sewing.

quick costume with duct-tape mask

This costume was thrown together from stuff around the house and was used for answering the door until his main costume was finished. The mask is made from duct tape and originally lined a plaster mask he had made for theater class. The ghost in the chair is a packing-tape sculpture made around my head last year.

We live in a neighborhood where trick-or-treating is very popular, though our side street is not visited as much as in former years (probably because the first few houses at the bottom of the block were not participating, so kids looking up the block from the main street decided to skip our block). The convention in this town is that people whose porch light (or front-door light, for those without porches) is on are welcoming trick-or-treaters, and those whose front door is dark are not. There is almost no “tricking” here, but it is common for high schoolers to take part by putting on costumes and asking for candy. We had only 50 kids come to the door this year—about normal for a good-weather Halloween in the past few years, but way down from 10 years ago, when we would have had over 150.

Santa costume for Halloween

The main costume that he used for trick or treating was a Santa outfit that his mother made for him. The beard was purchased, and the hat we had had for years, but the body of the costume was made from some red pajamas he had. The "fur" trim came from a plush bathrobe bought at the thrift store. The boots are his mother's Wellingtons, with the trim duct-taped on the inside.

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