birthday

So this last week was my birthday. Despite being on the bench since the 1st and spending the whole week there, I had a nice time. don’t get me wrong, I love that the bench exists, but I don’t much like being on it. I’d rather be a useful Improver.
I took the day off but it wasn’t the best day to do so. I had an appointment I had to do and it was the maids’s scheduled day to come clean so there were things that distraced me from really relaxing.
In other news I got my license suspension sorted out with the VA DMV. That’s a kind of funny story.
So when I moved to Texas back in 2015 I got my license changed, as one does, and moved my car insurance. This of course meant that my insurance in VA was discontinued. But I guess they didn’t get the memo that I wasn’t a resident of VA anymore. In their defense I didn’t go and put that down on their website because I didn’t know I needed to. So they suspended my VA license(which I no longer had at the time, mind you) for failure to have insurance. This went on my record and sat there since 2015 but meant that when I went to renew my license here in 2021 in Texas, that black mark made them not want to do that. I didn’t know about the suspension or that it would prevent my renewall in Texas(becuase it didn’t last time I changed addresses). So now I had to go and get VA DMV to lift my suspension. Their number was so overloaded it took about a dozen calls before I could even get on hold in their system. But I finally did get to talk to a lady who told me that the fine for non-compliance was $500 and the reinstatement fee would be $145. Quite a chunk of change. But if I could prove I had insuance at the time with a document bearing a current date on it then that would suffice and I wouldn’t need to pay the fees. So I got on the horn with USAA, thinking that they’d be helpful as they usually are and provide me with said document. They got me the insurance packet from back then. Sadly this did not bear the current date on it. After a little back and forth I was about to give up and just pay, but then I got USAA to write a letter with today’s date saying I had insurance in 2015. After getting no response for 4 days after sending this letter to VA, I was about to go pay but when I called to pay and casually mentioned my tale to the lady, she decided to check on my documents “before i go take your money.” She found them to be adequate and removed the suspension. So I guess the ‘note-from-my-mom’ from USAA was good enough this time. And now it’s all taken care of, I just need to wait a few days for it to permeate the system nationally. Then I can finally go get my texas license renewwed. Not a bit too soon, as the ‘pandemic license renewal grace period’ ends on the 14th.

pedal_the_prarie

Saturday I went on my first organized group ride. It was Pedal the Prarie and I had a good time. For some definition of good time. My legs hurt a lot afterward, and I think I came down with heat exhaustion by the end of it. I managed to go about 48 miles before I really felt terrible. I noticed my heart rate was in the anerobic state of exercise so I dropped back from my group and took it easy the rest of the way to the finish. I am concerned about my ability to do 100 miles for the MS150 if I felt this way after less than 50. Perhaps if I am more diligent in eating my energy chews and drinking water.
I thought it was interesting how many recumbents were there. I counted 3 ride marshals on ‘bents. 1 using the exacty same model as me, and 2 more were on trikes.
ALso: I identified a number of areas where my long-distance riding can be improved via 3d printed doodads. #1 i need to change how my phone is mounted to my handlebars, and I need a better way to access the energy blok gels that I must consume at a rate of 6 per hour in order to continue over long distances. I have designed holder for these to keep them within easy reach on my handlebars. Then perhaps I’ll design a holder for my water hose to keep it within easy reach.

charachorder_4

I’m up to 17.2 wpm on the charachorder. Using keybr.com for practice now since the trigram thing I think wasn’t giving me as accurate data as far as speed goes, and I’m not quite ready for the lexical training. Or maybe I am.
As per usual, the non-words on keybr are tripping me up some but not as much as they were when I was moving at 80+ wpm in dvorak on my ergodox. I’m doing little bits of practice here and there, not more than 5-10 min or so at a time. I really should dedicate like half an hour to an hour sessions to this.
Still doing some transposition between finger and thumb. Trying to hit ‘space’ but instead hitting ‘h’ since that’s the same direction but thumb stick. Or left-right transposition. Hitting space instead of ‘r’ or ‘e’ instead of ‘t’. I’m only using the right-side space key. I think having two is confusing to me, so I’m ignoring the left side space. Which is kind of unusual, since my ergdox’s have only one spacebar between them but its on the left side. To be clear, that’s due to my mapping. They could have a space on both sides but I felt that was redundant. I chose left to have my only spacebar because its usually jump in wasd-control gaming and I the closer the brain-mapping is the less trouble I’ll have learning.

charachorder_3

I wish to recant my earlier complaint about the second thumbstick on the charachorder. It seems to be for letters that are rarely used. In fact I typed this sentence using it only once. Still kinda slow. But Im getting better.
The problem is im thinking about the keypress instead of just doing it. my hands know where the letters are.
I have noticed two things the more I use the charachorder.
One, these are five way joysticks but the center press does nothing.
Two, some of the sticks are looser than others. I don’t think that I’ve been pressing it too hard, which might make the sticks get looser., but maybe I have. I do have strong hands and am used to hammering away at keys.
I am forced to wonder how many presses these sticks are good for; does it compare to the 50 million(or whatever) presses that the cherry switches in my other keyboards are rated for?

I’m still pretty slow but I’m having fun.

charachorder_2

I spent some significant amount of time practicing with my charachorder. I basically know where all the letters are, but the muscle memory is not quite ingrained yet. I managed to get it integrated into my chair. Wasn’t all that difficult with the CAD file that I got from the charachorder people. I had the hole locations and size of the baseplate, so it was just a matter of designing a flange off of that to bolt it to the 20mm Tslot that makes up my chair.

winner

So we won the gingerbread house contest. Tied for first place, actually.
It was the story that put us on top. I knew we would have the best story out there. It was like several thousand words of epic fantasy and being judged by someone who loves epic fantasy. I feel pretty good about that.
We tied with a gingerbeard house on the theme of ‘Stranger Things’ and they had another house in the upside-down, which I thought was a really neat thing. They were also the fan favorite house.

charachorder

So I just got my charachorder a few days ago.

I learned of this device when Improving acquired CodeLaunch, as this was one of the companies ‘launched.’ I’m somewhat of an ergonomic enthusiast, having explored a number of different keyboard input devices.

The Good
I’ve given it some practice. It’s a whole new way to type. 9 4-way sticks on each hand allow the input of characters, and there is some kind of chording mode that I haven’t gotten into yet. I’m just learning the basic way to input a character at a time. I can tell they 3d-printed the backing plate, and it came out well. I’m looking forward to getting proficient with the device and learning how to chord. I did a little bit of steno learning on my ergodox which emulated a steno board, and I found the experience to be quite exhiliarating.

The Bad
I do not like the 2 sticks for the thumb. I guess they needed that many to fit all the characters in, but I feel like using the pinky more would have been better. I’m sure they did studies to find the best place to put each key, but I do find myself annoyed at having to constantly move my thumbs between the two sticks. My thumbs are perhaps the least dextrous of my fingers, having previously been relegated to spacebar duty only. Even on the thumb cluster on my ergodox infinity, its just spacebar/enter and tab/delete. THe other keys on there basically don’t get used by my thumb. only when i shift my hand do I access them with my pointer finger.
The joysticks are a little bit too sensitive. I’m used to hammering keys and this takes a bit more finesse to use properly. Also my hands are slightly too big. I can tell they designed this around an average hand size and mine a little bit bigger than average.

The Ugly
The quick reference guide has an error in it, which I told them about. It also does not accurately reflect the orientation of the thumb sticks correctly. They should be angled on the guide as they are aligned in-line with each other, not staggered as the guide makes it seem. They line up properly with the orientation of the thumb, but the guide makes it seem like they would be angled with ‘axis’ of the thumb. By that I mean the line which the thumb naturally travels along during extension and contraction. Of course opposable thumbs mean this line can move quite a bit but if it were aligned in-line with the buttons, it would lie correctly along the up/down movement of the sticks. In short, its a problem with the graphic, not the design of the device. And the learning software(in beta) does not enlarge itself when changing size of the window. On a 4k monitor with no magnification, this is a slight annoyance. Of course I could just turn on maginification, but I likes my screen real estate.

vacation

So I’m back from my vacation. I took off between xmas and new years, as I tend to do every year. I spent most of the time working on a novel. Its up to 50 thousand words and I’m not quite done wrapping up the plot. If you can even call it a plot.
My process is…odd. I start writing without knowing what I’m writing about. Plot emerges from my writing as it goes along. I think the end result needs a massive amount of editing to remove the nonsensical bits before I’d even consider releasing the work.
I also find that in editing I come to despise my work.
I enjoy the act of writing, the escapism of immersing myself in another world of my own creation. Writing used to be how I coped with unpleasantness in my real life, but I have no significant unpleasantness at the moment. But I still enjoy the act of creation.
Going back over that creation, I see all the nonsensical parts that I wrote before a real story emerged and I have to cut wide swaths of work usually more than 50% ends up being superfluous.
I also find after writing something I don’t want to work with it anymore. So editing is out the window.
And isn’t limited to writing. Once I get a project working, I tend to lose interest in it. Case in point: My most recent project, the chamber heater for my Predator printer, I had to force myself to write about it here. It probably only appears on this blog because it took 25 minutes to get to temperature before I could test it, so I had some time to kill.
I could also point to the inconsistency of the posts on this blog as more evidence of my lack of follow-through/consistency. Fairly certain there’s a trust behavior i’m failing at by not keep up with posting here.
I have another novel in the works, with a lot less nonsense remaining to be removed. I may eventually publish that one. It needs a lot more editing of course so maybe it won’t ever be published.

Heated Chamber 3

I finished my chamber heater project. A 110V fan was the key to making it work. I takes about 20-25 minutes to get to 50 degrees.
There is one minor problem.
50 degrees is not suffucient to stop ABS from warping. I tried printing the following:

Without a brim, the part didn’t get halfway done before warp made it slip off the bed.

I tried doing it with a brim, but for some reason I couldn’t get a good first layer to go down.

Here’s what the final assembly looks like.

Gingerbread House

My workplace had a competition for christmas time to build and decorate a gingerbread house. We took a few liberties with that goal and made a village which included a gingerbread tower, atop which sits a dragon. The tower is a functional dice tower. One can roll a D20(or any size) down the hole in the top and it will come out the bottom.

We took the original flat sheets that were the ‘roof’ of the gingerbread house kit and cut them into about 1” squares. I thought it might be difficult to cut them, but the dremel managed it just fine.

One of the sides of the house kit was cut into an octagonal shape for the top, and then I cut a circle out of it for the dice to go through.

We completed the tower with crenelations of alternating height and stuck a red dragon miniature atop it. Shannon added vines to the tower to make it look more ‘authentic.’

The village was the result of another gingerbread house kit we purchased at walmart. It included i think 8 littler houses for making a gingerbread village with. 2 of them were damaged in the package so we didn’t use all of them.

We wrote a little story about the tower and the dragon and the little hero miniatures. I won’t reproduce it here but it was pretty neat. I learned that the writing styles of myself and shannon are very different. She thinks I’m too technical about it while I find hers to be somewhat simplistic.

In the end, they learn that the dragon is actually kris kringle, cursed to terrorize the land every year for one night, and by defeating the dragon they break the curse and free him. yay save christmas!