A month or so ago, I noticed a pool of water in our basement, by the floor drain. Given that all of our things, particularly in basements, appear to be hydrophilic, this made me sad, but less so than the recent burst pipe in our wall that ruined carpet and dry wall!

However, the drain issue was some place I could see, and the problem was relatively obvious. There were three pipes running from the furnace, AC and humidifier, and they all just ran along the floor to the general vicinity of the floor drain. I didn’t think to take a before picture, but just imagine three pipes running to the drain, which was smaller than the three pipes side-by-side.

My first plan was to go to the hardware store and buy something that would let me combine the three pipes into one, but, alas, they don’t appear to make such a thing. Well, actually they do make a four-way connector that looks like a plus sign, but by the time you added the right-angles for the outer lines, the whole thing would get really wide.

So, 3D printer to the rescue (and not remotely an arbitrary reason to play). I created a pipe combiner that took the three inputs and combined them into a single output. Here is a shot of the prototype (i.e. the first one I printed where the holes were the wrong size):

You can sort of see how the lines come together inside. Yes, it is a bit more blocky than I would like–straight lines are just easier to create, although the new drain cover is nice and curvy…

Rather than just having the pipe just sit on top of the old nasty drain cover, I went ahead and printed a new cover that would take an angled fitting. You can’t see it so well in the picture, and I didn’t take a picture of it before putting it in place, but here is an image of the 3D model:

I had to do a little bit of trigonometry to position all of the smaller holes, but I like the way it looks:

More important, no more pools of water!

 

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We have a frog in our pond! I can only assume spontaneous generation. He (or she) doesn’t seem to bother the fish (we have 3 goldfish and 3 Koi, which I’m told are different things).

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a shot of the whole pond:

I can’t tell if this is the worst or best marketing I’ve ever seen.

I’d say it was tasteless, but honestly I didn’t try it.

Bad trees, bad trees,
Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
When they rot right through?

Bad trees, bad trees,
Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
When they fall on you?

Another year, another stupid costume for Karvel Kon!

And yes, we sang the song with the actual Cops theme music.

If you’ve not heard of the Cops TV show, then this costume probably doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. On the other hand, if you have heard of the Cops TV show, it probably doesn’t help a lot.

Here’s the back of the costumes:

Although the costumes are fairly simple, there are a few interesting details for those who are interested:

  • Camouflage clothing is usually quite expensive, and we started with Goodwill, but ended up in Walmart. Anna has an app that looks up theĀ actual price of things in their system vs. the marked price. I was pretty dubious, but the trousers were listed for about $12.00, but were actually on sale for $6.00, and the hoodies were listed as $28, and were really only $5.00! We ended up spending more on the fake tree branches than on the clothes (Anna has claimed the trousers for pajamas, and the tops for use when clearing snow, so they live on).
  • It’s a little hard to see in the picture, but The COPSE text on our backs is more-or-less in the same font as from the show:

The font is called Due Date. Anna cut out the letters using her Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine. In theory, she could have taken the image as a file, but it ended up being easier to just scan a printout and then have the machine cut it out of sticky vinyl. We had a little problem with the loose pieces of the C and the E coming off, so had to be a bit careful moving around–we could have applied the letters in a more permanent manner, but Anna wanted to be able to reuse the outfits later.

  • Here is a close-up of our “Bling”:

The bird house was a dollar at the craft store. I 3D-printed the air freshener. Then we just spray-painted them both with a metric-ton of glittery-gold spray-paint. The black chain came from the hardware store (they didn’t have gold). Anna thinks I should hang the air freshener from the mirror in my car.

Last week, the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) sent a letter to the director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, Andre Iancu, and I am one of the cosigners of the letter.

I will probably be talking a lot more about patents (particularly software patents) over the next few years, but I can tell you that the system is broken.

The patent office grants incredibly vague, non-innovative software patents all the time (which is hardly surprising, given that the average patent application only gets about 19 hours of review before being granted). Companies then use these patents as bludgeons against small companies. More than 80% of patent cases last year were filed by patent trolls who don’t create anything–they just shake down companies–most of whom cave, because it is too expensive to fight.

There have been a number of court cases in the last few years that have improved the situation, but there is a big fight to try and undo this progress, both in Congress (that whole pro/con thing is a bit confusing) and in the patent office. There seems to be a genuine lack of understanding of the damage that these patents cause.

And yes, as you can see from the picture, I am also a holder of a software patent (and have another pending). This may seem a tad hypocritical, but in the current environment, they serve a defensive purpose (and only a defensive purpose). I would happily give them up in exchange for fixes to the system.

You can read about the letter here, and see the letter itself here.

Managed to stay up for last night’s lunar eclipse (Okay, it was only until a little after 10:00pm, but I’m a wimp). we had a clear sky, and it was pretty impressive. After my first few attempts at getting a hand-held picture, I finally set up a tripod, and the pictures got a lot better–particularly since I just have a little cheapo camera.

It was not as impressive as the solar eclipse from 2017, but for this one, we didn’t have to drive anywhere, just open the back door–although it was freezing cold last night. I kept having to run back inside to defrost.

The press has been calling this the Blood Wolf Super Moon, which sounds cool–Blood because of the color–caused by light refracting through our atmosphere. Wolf because the January moon is called a wolf moon (or ice moon or snow moon or great spirit moon or Keith Moon). Super because it is the closest full-moon to perigee, so it appears a bit larger – the only time you get to use the word syzygy outside of a scrabble game!

I guess that sounds better than calling it George.

 

The anthology Transcendent just came out, which has one of my stories in it! The theme of the anthology (and its original title) is Dreams, Nightmares, Visions and Hallucinations.

My story is called Little Choices, and would probably be called a horror story. It is also really depressing!

The anthology is quite expense ($24.99), largely, I imagine, because it is huge — there are dozens of stories in there. The whole thing is 614 pages. I just got the e-version of it, but haven’t seen the print version yet. The e-book is only $7.99, and is presumably full of scary pixels (I intend to start reading it soon).

 

I mentioned in a previous post that my story Graveyard printed in Metaphorosis magazine would eventually be available for free on their web site. Well, eventually is now!

Sounds like the story will also be printed in the Metaphorosis end-of-year anthology as well, so there will probably be one more post about the story. Hopefully my next writing post will be about a different story!

 

I have a new story called Graveyard in the November, 2018 edition of Metaphorosis magazine!

Despite the title, it is, at least for me, a fairly upbeat story.

You can buy the magazine from Amazon (print or e-book) if you are so inclined, but the story will also be available for free on the magazine’s web site later this month–they release one story a week, or something like that. Mine will be towards the end of the month. I’ll do a brief post when it hits.

The really cool cover art by Saleha Chowdhury is based on my story too :-).

 

Frankenstein’s monster, posing with some guy in a mask: