Another Rainfall Harvesting Tank Installed

So the front orchard is going to need water. I could have just run the irrigation hose to the back tanks, but noooo that would have been easy. Instead I chose to harvest more water off the front of the house where very little water is harvested.  I already have two 55 gallon barrels taking in water on the front, those water the fig tree. They only catch a fraction of the rain from 1200 sq ft of roof surface during a rain. So I put in another rain downspout, and ran it under the sidewalk. The tank is a 330 gallon IBC tote, painted and with a shade cloth to mitigate algae growth.

Downspout then goes under the sidewalk before turning the corner. The trick is that I met the pipes that lead into the house from the City of Austin and couldn’t bury my pipes deep.

The easy way to tunnel under a side walk is using a water hose with water going full blast and shove it under. It erodes out the dirt and I can reach under and pull out the rocks.  Took 20 minutes to dig the trenches on each side of the sidewalk but only took 10 minutes to burrow under.  So the premise is the water will fill up the pipe, go down, then go back up the pipe and fill into the tank because the tank level is lower than the starting downspout level.

The 3″ lines go to the tank and up, the smaller 2″ lines fill the same trench and will go to the swale downslope.

Then it rained a week later, the tank filled up and then overflowed, because I forgot to drill anti siphon holes on the top of the overflow U, the entire tank drained out. But I discovered that at the end of the rain and fixed it, so the tank filled 1/2 full before the end.

The tank has a 3″ inlet pipe and a 2″ outlet overflow pipe. The slope of the side of the house puts the overflow lines at an odd angle because I only had 45 and 90 degree elbows to use.

The front orchard has 8 trees in it: 2 Texas Persimmons (at least 40 years old), 2 jujubes, 2 Pomgranates, and a VDB fig.

The Texas persimmons turn black when ripe. I measured 19% sugar with my refractometer, but they don’t very taste sweet.

The backyard dual tanks of 660 gallons. Overflow goes to the middle swale in the yard.

The Pomegranates and Jujube trees.


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Why Eratosthenes got it wrong.

Yep, Erathosthenes, that greek scholar who invented the leap year and measured the earth’s circumference, all in 200BC from Alexandria. I have discovered he systemically was set up to have errors based on his assumptions.

He was off by about 15%, and today I figured out part of why he was wrong.  The premise is Erathosthenes read in a book about a well in what is now the town of Aswan. He read this well cast no shadow on a particular day of the year. If you look at the image on wikipedia, it shows the suns rays directly overhead. This is impossible as Aswan is north of the Tropic of Capricorn by 50 miles. It would be approximate, but not truly directly overhead at solar noon on the summer solstice.  The sun can only be directly over head in the band south of the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn.


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Plotting Climate Change On A spider Graph using R

First, this is not original work. I must give credit to Ed on it. He made the original graph here http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/2016/spiralling-global-temperatures/

So I’ve made some tweaks of work by Ed, to automate the data ingest.

Climate Change Spider Graph 2016The code I used was here

list.of.packages <- c("ggplot2", "dplyr", "tidyr","animation","ggvis")
new.packages <- list.of.packages[!(list.of.packages %in% installed.packages()[,"Package"])]
if(length(new.packages)) install.packages(new.packages)
library(dplyr)
library(tidyr)
library(ggplot2)
library(animation)
setwd("~/cloud/R/climate change/")
#Data from https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/
#As well as data read in script
source("read_cru_hemi.r")
url_dat <- "https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/HadCRUT4-gl.dat"
temp_dat <- read_cru_hemi(url_dat)

#temp_dat <- read_cru_hemi("./HadCRUT4-gl.dat")

#remove cover
temp_dat_monthly <- temp_dat %>%
  select(-starts_with("cover")) %>%
  select(-starts_with("annual")) %>%
  gather(month, anomaly, -year) %>%
  mutate(month = gsub("month\\.", "", month)) %>%
  mutate(month = as.numeric(month)) %>%
  filter(year !=2016)

mo <- months(seq(as.Date("1910/1/1"), as.Date("1911/1/1"), "months"))
mo <- gsub("(^...).*", "\\1", mo)

saveGIF({
  
#  for(i in 1850:2015){
  for(i in 1850:2016){
    print(ggplot(temp_dat_monthly %>% filter(year <= i), 
           aes(x=month, y=anomaly, color=year, group=year)) +
        geom_line() +
          #scale_color_gradient(low="blue", high="red", limits=c(1850, 2015), guide="none") +
        scale_color_gradient(low="blue", high="red", limits=c(1850, 2016), guide="none") +
        geom_hline(yintercept=1.5, color="black", lty=2) +
        geom_hline(yintercept=2, color="black", lty=2) +
        coord_polar() +
        annotate(x=1, y=-1.5, geom="text", label=i) +
        annotate(x=1, y=1.5, geom="label", label="1.5C", fill="white", label.size=0) +
        annotate(x=1, y=2, geom="label", label="2.0C", fill="white", label.size=0) +
          ggtitle(expression(atop("Global Temperature Change 1850-2016, East Anglia's HadCRUT4-gl.dat", atop(italic("by McCartney Taylor 11JUL16"), "")))) +
    #    ggtitle("Global Temperature Change 1850-2016 using University of East Anglia's HadCRUT4-gl.dat") +
        scale_x_continuous(labels=mo, breaks=1:13) +
        scale_y_continuous(labels=NULL, breaks=NULL) +
         ylab("") + xlab("")
       
  )}
}, interval=0.1)
  

And you'll need to download and create read_cru_hemi.r

# read_cru_hemi.r
#
# Reads a CRU-format hemispheric average file, as provided at
# http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature
#
# Format has two lines for each year.
#  1) monthly mean anomalies plus an annual mean
#  2) coverage percentages
#
# Returns a data frame with columns:
#  year (1850 to final year)
#  annual (mean annual anomaly)
#  month.1 ... month.12 (mean monthly anomaly)
#  cover.1 ... cover.12 (percentage coverage)
#
read_cru_hemi <- function(filename) {
  # read in whole file as table
  tab <- read.table(filename,fill=TRUE)
  nrows <- nrow(tab)
  # create frame
  hemi <- data.frame(
    year=tab[seq(1,nrows,2),1],
    annual=tab[seq(1,nrows,2),14],
    month=array(tab[seq(1,nrows,2),2:13]),
    cover=array(tab[seq(2,nrows,2),2:13])
  )
  # mask out months with 0 coverage
  hemi$month.1 [which(hemi$cover.1 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.2 [which(hemi$cover.2 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.3 [which(hemi$cover.3 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.4 [which(hemi$cover.4 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.5 [which(hemi$cover.5 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.6 [which(hemi$cover.6 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.7 [which(hemi$cover.7 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.8 [which(hemi$cover.8 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.9 [which(hemi$cover.9 ==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.10[which(hemi$cover.10==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.11[which(hemi$cover.11==0)] <- NA
  hemi$month.12[which(hemi$cover.12==0)] <- NA
  #
  return(hemi)
}

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Amps pulled by Dewalt Sawzall

Been building out an external power pack for my Dewalt tools. A 5S8P (5 series by 9 parallel) Lithium Co pack of old laptop 4.2v 2.2ah batteries.  Version 1.0 got the 18ga wire warm, which surprised me. So I upgraded to 16ga wire and added another 2P to make the 2.0 version of the current 5S8P that should put out at 1C about 16amps (2.2ah x 8amps – degradation).  And about 30amps if pushed to 2C.   I sense no warm up now.

But I wanted to know how many amps the Sawzall, so I hooked up a analogue amp meter and saw it pulls 9.5 amps steady state, no load. On the ramp up to steady state it jumped to 15amps+ for a moment but my amp meter only went to 15.external pack external pack2


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Call for Doctor Who volunteers!

Greetings! I bear good news!

Yes, our efforts as the Gamemasters of Gallifrey running the TARDIS game has earned us another invitation to the WhoFest in Dallas on 24APR15.   This time, we will have more time for planning and preparation. So we’ll be adding some dimension to the game this year,  more interactive and awarding the odd medal here or there for exceptional players.

132_0419We are seeking:

7 NPCs – In game characters who need some acting capability and the maturity to stay ‘in character’ for the whole game (2 hours) .  Some characters will be kind, some maniacal, some dead serious UNIT staff, and one convincing Brigadier.

1 Volunteer co-ordinator – Offload volunteer co-ordination from our feeble shoulders.

1-2 Sceneographers – Someone whose job is to add depth to our game by dressing up our UNIT HQ room. This will require us to talk weeks in advance and tell us what we need to buy.

1 Floater –  someone to help our with anything that the Gamemasters need, from securing pens, to logging times during the timed game.

1 Videographer/photographer – We’d really like to videotape the game next year and make a snazzy video.

Requirements:

1. You must pay your way into the WhoFest

2. Volunteer for 1 hour at minimum, but the cool games will need 2 hour minimum commitment.

3. Over the Age of 20

4. NPC actors will need to be able to adlib parts true-to-character where we have no script and the players ask something weird. .

If you are game to help out with our TARDIS game, contact me on my contact page!

We have created a TARDIS game design page for explaining what will happen at the game. As well as a TARDIS Game NPC guide.

Karma Earned:

Invitation to the Lunch pizza party for the winners, and the gratitude of the Gamemasters.  You also will be permitted a photo while standing in our TARDIS, something we normally don’t allow.  And any volunteers will be on the short list for volunteering with us at  other Cons we may go to, like Comicon.

132_0423

Thanks!

-mccartney


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Pondering Pomplamoose’s Success

There are may talented musicians. From all around the world. This pair, Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn collectively known as Pomplamoose somehow have risen to the top of my “A” list.  The real question is why have this dynamic duo risen in popularity faster than other talented musicians?  Well, from what I can tell, it boils down mainly to the power of video.

You can tell they are having fun. You can tell they are humble and happy.  The pure emotional energy combined with the authenticity of their playfulness resonates with their fans. Sure, they aren’t as polished as a $50,000 music video, but these two engage the audience as *real*, a beautiful voice and a brilliant goofball musician. After each song, they chat with you, even dragging in their pet cat, or sister who just made soap to discuss news of their world with you.

Both Jack and Nataly have solo careers, but their respective videos don’t capture that raw playfulness as they do when they are Pomplamoose. Jack comes across much darker, harsher, yet brilliant while Nataly more aloof and set back from the audience. Quite different from the intimate musical videosongs of Pomplamoose. Perhaps it is the innate need of joy in our lives that resonates with the audience and is delivered with harmony and catchy chords that makes it all so easy to ingest with eyes and ears.

When they put out their Do Not Push video, which showed a fictional argument,  there was quite a visceral reaction from their fanbase. Some member wrote “Jack and Nataly do not fight!” and others were quite upset that the duo had crossed a line and violated an unspoken rule that Pomplamoose are to be our source of happiness and not confrontational. That video served as a watershed moment to me and I think to Pomplamoose. They understood more about their audience than any other they had done, as they quickly made a sequel video that was happy and playful. They even called in fans to come in as extras for the filming.

Lauren O’Connell, who teams up with Nataly as ‘My Terrible Friend’ also has a wonderful voice and clear talent. But she doesn’t engage the camera like Pomplamoose or My Terrible friend. She often doesn’t even smile for the camera. Like most musicians she mostly chooses to ignore the camera forget that the camera is actually thousands of people watching. So therein lies the secret to the success of Pomplamoose, the duo uses the camera to bring the audience into their world and laugh and sing with them.

All I can do now, is wait till they invite me over for their next song…


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A little blue box

TARDIS took damage, now have to rework corner hinges, replace windows, and worry about repainting.

The night before the TARDIS took damage, we had to rework corner hinges, replace windows, and worry about repainting. Eventually we just got it working, gave up on repainting and the hauled it to the con.

It is just a little blue box, but clearly it has deeper meaning.  People were practically worshipping it.

We showed up at 8:30pm at the hotel, and began to assemble it for the convention weekend. In under 5 minutes, we had a crowd of 15 around us, within half an hour it was a mob of 30. Gleeful, joyous, chatty and engaging. Chris and I were heros, we had brought a TARDIS to the con.  We were instantly ‘cool’.

The next day was Thursday,  our trial by fire – keep people from stacking inside the TARDIS and trying to keep fans in line from stepping on the weak fractured base that we didn’t have time to fix.  That wasn’t all, we had invented a Dr Who scavenger hunt game ‘Don’t Blink’ that spans 3 days (1.5 hour per segment) and we had half the props in hand and 3/4 the rules in our heads. But we were going to launch the game no matter what.

But no help from the con. We were encouraged to bring the TARDIS but were unofficially sanctioned with ‘plausible deniability’ in case it flopped.  So we weren’t in the program, no mention in the schedule, on the wall, or the boards. We didn’t exist. Getting players could be a problem, this could really flop, like other half-assed projects I’ve done.

But quickly we had volunteers show up, too many in fact, a total of 14 which is more than we needed but we found a way to use them. Then the players showed up, ejecting other competing seminars from their busy schedule to help save the Doctor.  Buy the time the game started, we had 30 players, all who co-operatively we divided into teams of 4 to try to recover parts of the Transmitter the Doctor sent forward in time to override the Weeping Angels jammer.   1.25 hours later and the teams returned.    At the debrief of “What did we do right, and wrong” they gave us a high grade, and then proceeded to give awesome ideas how to improve it further.

The Doctor got tapped by a weeping angel. These players helped save him.

The Doctor got tapped by a weeping angel. These players helped save him.

Day 2 of Don’t Blink went just as Ad Hoc as day 1. Twenty players this time, many repeats from day 1. But this time Chris was in charge of it, and better organized. I was greatly appreciative of him. My blood pressure had been rising.   The game was more of a ‘live clue’ this time, where players interviewed 5 holographic projections from the TARDIS core library. Each team only got to put forth one question per interview before going on to the next hologram.  The players were giddy, it appeared. Something about being able to immerse and interact with the Whovian world. Perhaps a personal fantasy of helping the Doctor was involved, but I don’t know for sure.  The winning team didn’t even care for a prize, helping the fictitious Doctor seemed to be reward enough. But we gave them jelly babies anyway.

Day 3 game was really the agile development of day 1 game. We’d added in what people liked, and culled what they didn’t. Spiced it up with an active Weeping angel who could sneak up on players, tag them and send them to the game-master to be put into time-out for 3 minutes. All pieces in their possession are forfeited to the Angel.  The players looked nervous, watching their backs, in a I’m-having-a-blast kind of way. Team Black-Hat cornered the Weeping angle on the stairs, and held her in dimensional lock for 10 minutes, there was a sigh of relief, but then she got loose when all the teams thought she was still trapped. Tap. Tap. Tap.    In the end, enough peices were found to complete the power supply, power the transmitter up and permit the Doctor to recall the TARDIS and return.  Just in time to help with the wedding of a wonderful couple who wanted to be married at the TARDIS by the doctor.

Just in time for the wedding.

Just in time for the wedding.

Just a little blue box. I may not understand it until I’m 900.   (A shout out to my awesome wife for helping make this happen!)

(Oh – and if you have a con that needs a TARDIS, contact me. The audio and video portions of the TARDIS should work by then.)

 

121_0348 121_0349


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How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

I’m just really sick of the Hollywood treatment of zombie tales. Not the zombies themselves, mind you, it is the survivor behaviour that is so terrible. I find myself screaming at the TV for stupid decisions they make. “What? You’re going to send 2 guys to take on 500 zombies because Bobby needs medicine from that hospital?”

So many zombie movies and post apocalyptic tales, and none of them really seem to show rational decisions by the survivors. Nor do any seem to realistically outline what American life will be like.  The best I’ve seen for realism of technology was the pseudo science show “The Colony” which showed how much tech a group of survivors can cobble together to improve their lives.

Let us think of likely scenarios and areas likely to have survivor bases.

  1. The military aren’t wussies, some bases will stay intact, these are Safe Zones and will have everything going for you as a survivor.   They will have radio so you may be able to hear from them on FM or AM bands.
  2. Fort Sumter, South Carolina is both an island and a stone walled fort. Both a safe refuge, and with enough land to grow crops. Most likely going to become a Safe Zone.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Sumter#mediaviewer/File:FortSumter2009.jpg
  3. The Navy is top dog during a Zombie Apocalypse. They have floating  Safe Zones called Warships. They have arms, discipline, tactical training and will be able to raid into coastal cities for food, water, and intel. They also have radio and a chain of command with other surviving institutions.
  4. Small islands will have police and weaponry to keep an Outbreak under control. So parts of the Florida Keys, the Virgin Islands, and many Caribbean Island states as well.  Forget Haiti, no matter what happens in the world, Haiti is always fucked. Never trust French colonies to endure, it is always the English colonies that survive.

Surviving the Apocalypse: Phase 1 – Live thru the Outbreak

Estimated time frame:  2-24 Months

First things first, the initial survival phase. In the event of an epidemic that is fatal and makes the infected want to eat your brains, you will want some basic things quickly. These are Maslowian needs, I believe:

  • Access to clean water
  • Access to reliable food
  • Protection
  • Mobility
  • Locate other survivors
  • Information

Water is a really, really important commodity. Americans don’t really appreciate this. However, after some time spent in east Africa, I realize how critical water is to civilization.  I passed thru villages where women walked 6 kilometers both ways to fetch their daily water. That is alot of time lost.   Any survivor will need a nearby secure source of water, at least for the first month while they get their bearings and come to grips that there is an apocalypse.

Food. Gotta have it. Survivors will consume canned food fairly quickly. Canned food is heavy, and the locations that will have lots of canned foods, will be also with a high density of zombies. Eventually, they will need to make it into the countryside to live off the land and ultimately begin life anew in an agrarian role.

Protection is broad term. This includes firearms and melee weapons to deal with zombies. It also includes a place to sleep in safety. Zombie herds will be the biggest problem.  Ammunition will be a scarce commodity, but Walmarts, sporting good stores, and military posts should have it in large volume. Of the choices, military posts will also have generators, and a nice perimeter that will keep the hoards at bay. The problem is all those zombies in uniform roaming the compound.

Mobility. Part of Protection is swift movement away from danger and to resources.  There should be no question here that a fuel efficient vehicle will be ideal. There may or may not be time to add a cowcatcher to push zombies out of the way without damaging the vehicle.

Survivors means manpower. Manpower is key to survival. Find survivors and you have a bigger force, more knowledge, more information, better reasoning. More guns.

Survival Plans for Phase 1

Note: When I say drive, that just means travel. In a real crisis the roads may be jammed, and a motorbike or bicycle will be the ideal form of travel.

Plan A:  Get to a Houseboat

Get to water, find a houseboat.  Houseboats can be out on the water and don’t need power. Many houseboats have generators or solar panels. Even a working shower! You can sleep safely there, use it as a base, add a simple mast and sail around a bit doing recon for how bad the world has gone to hell.  Food is easy – you fish.  Water is easy – you boil it.  Both require some shore leave to get supplies of fishing tackle, and wood for fires.  On the boat, you can put together your antenna, radio, and transmitter and be able to power it all.   Do be sure to test if  zombies can float out to you. No surprises allowed.

Once you have your boat, you need to do foraging trips to find survivors, and also resources to survive.

Be prepared for Plan B and pick out high ground with water and food that can hold you.

Plan B: Drive to a Walled Compound

You’ve already planned for the contingency if the boat sinks, or a rival survivor gang wants it and will kill for it.  Therefore, at your home marina you have a vehicle prepacked with a full tank of gas, 1 week of canned food, weapons, maps, rechargeable batteries,  a spare ham radio.  The target location can be many places, depending on your location:

  1. Farther upriver to a vacation house or a marina with other houseboats.
  2. A prison
  3. A military base
  4. A walled in retreat/school
  5. A remote mountain cabin

Part of the pro/con judgement call would be:

  • Is it defensible from a Zombie Herd?
  • Does it have solar panels? Generator?
  • Does it have a good sound roof and strong walls?
  • Is there protected space inside to grow crops?
  • Is there a gutter/water system that can be adapted to a cistern?
  • Is there a defensible perimeter from human raiders?

Plan C:  Drive to the mountains

Get to a low population zone in the mountains.  The ideal case is to find a valley or ridge that has 1 or 2 choke points and build zombie barricades to hold off the zombies. The valley is big enough to house the survivors and has the capacity to hold crops.

A note on weapons

So let us assume walking-dead type zombies. Here we want weapons that have high capacity, 9mm pistols, excellent sniper rifles. The problem is the noise, it draws the zombies. So think about melee weapons. Pikes and halberds are easy to make, keep the zombies at arms length, and are quiet.   The redneck from Walking Dead has it right, use crossbows, too.  Available and sporting good stores. Ammo is cheap.   Bolts are easily made, green sticks, some tree sap, and feathers for fletching.  Somewhere in there you should mix up your weaponry and add in a grand piano, Zombieland showed us how important it is to maintain morale. Zombie-Kill-Of-The-Week #239

 

Surviving the Apocalypse: Phase 2 – Permanent Safety during the Zombie Apocalypse

Estimated time frame:  2-24 Months

So you’ve survived this far. Great. Now what to do?  Well, hunker down and try to improve your quality of life. Learn new skills. Build a support network of friends. Get laid. Better yet, get hot water for showers.

To sum it up, here is the short list:

  • Food and Water Security
  • Social Re-establishment
  • Rebuilding Quality of Life
  • Find Survivors and get organized.

Food and Water security. By this time, you know you need to move to a walled compound.

Food – Plant victory gardens to survive winter and food shortages that are coming.  Crops need to be easy to preserve. Beans, corn, grains.  Wild game should be smoked or jerked to supply you with winter food.  Come to grips that your supply of chocolate is going to run out. On the bright side, Twilight is no longer a TV show.

Water – You’ll need to install giant cisterns to catch and hold rain water

Quality of life is another thing.  This would be getting hot water for showers, wind turbines putting out power, a generator adapted to wood gasification  (fairly easy to do – common in WWII Europe),  installing solar water heating  and building pot bellied stoves for winter.

By now, someone will have set up a ham radio and be broadcasting every day at noon for a few minutes on how to find your location.

Your survival crew will possibly have a mountain bike squad that goes around and bumps off the area zombies every week.  Sound is critical. Cars may be a bad idea, so an electric car may be a good choice. Be sure to bring solar panels.

 

Surviving the Apocalypse: Phase 3 – Restoration Of Quality of Life after the Zombie Apocalypse

Estimated time frame:  2-10 years

  • Establishing a government and social order
  • Preparing for the future

At some point, people get philosophical and realize that there are greater things in life than just survival. They want to rebuild society.

Likely the survivors will declare the Constitution is still the law of the land and impose civil order and punishment for those who want anarchy.  This gives a great sense of hope of returning to normalcy.

In the end, these 3 phases of Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse are as realistic as I can get. If anyone has better ideas, let me know.


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Greatest Boatlift in History


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Deep Web research site created

Deep Web is something I’ve been fascinated by for years. It is simply the part of the internet that search bots can’t index and therefore engines like Google can’t find. Normally dynamically created pages from database. ie. an image archive of Spanish manuscripts from 1635. You have to search from the database portal page, but the spider bots can’t crawl the results therefore you can’t find the document you seek via Google.

So I’ve put together a website and built an extensive deep web search engines page. Eventually, I’ll put together a comprehensive research guide.


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