Friday, January 2, 2015

new goals

2014 is done, put a bow on it, and lets go 2015! at the beginning of the year I had this list, these goals I wanted to try and accomplish, I did some of them, others not so much, lets take a second to look at what did and didn't happen.

1)learn to program
the prospect of doing something like this in a year with my life now seems a little foolish. I've made some progress but nothing to write home about. I still feel like its a worth while pursuit though.

2)read real literature
Some Sherlock happened, some non-fiction happened, but not a lot of it. I would like to do more of this but not because I want to cross it off of some list, I like to read.

3) spend at least 5 hours a week at the gym

4) Blog at least once a week
I totally thought I was going to be able to do this, my problem is I tend to only write when I feel like I have something worth saying, or a project. I didn't even post about growing hops and making beer with it though. I've got no excuse other than being lazy.

5) save at least $1,000 and hold onto it for at least three months
I actually did this, mostly for the wedding, but this totally happened, I am shocked.

6)plan and complete 4 electronic projects
umm....I planned....and planned...and planned, and didn't execute. 2015 is the year I think starting small and working up is the way to go.

7)Go camping at least three times
2/3rds is better than not at all, but I want to do more of this in the summer of 2015

8)Go fishing at least 6 times
not even once, the closest I got was when I was present when someone else was fishing

9) Hiking!
Once or twice, and some nice long walks. But I still want to do more of this.

10) Take up something creative
this is another think that surprised me, I kind of fell into woodworking as a hobby. There is something rather relaxing about it, look forward to much more I think

11)Develop a plan to get music back into my life
this never happened, in truth I'm not sure where to starting

12)Be an active partner in helping plan my own wedding
I'm calling this ongoing, the date is set for September 26th, 2015. we've got some details, a venue, and some little things. This one will carry over I think

So those were the goals for 2014, some of them happened, others didn't but in truth I don't feel too bad about what did and didn't happen. Life I feel took president and the goals that fit into my life were the once that saw more success.

So onto 2015, Goals!

1) continue to be an active partner in the wedding planning
nine months, there are a tone of details to hammer out, food, guest lists, invitations, a web site, and a whole bunch more. My goal here is to help where ever I can, and mitigate stress in areas I cannot help.

2)Save $2,000
it can be done, I know it can

3)learn to program
it takes so much time

4)spend at least three nights a week at the gym

5) plan and complete at least 4 electronic projects
this one is returning, I'll get the tools together, and I'll do this

6) Go Camping at least three times
I got so close to this last year, it can be done

7)go fishing at least 6 times
The canoe is done, I just need to get out there and do it

8)make something for someone else
I want to make something practical, or beautiful, but I want to make it purely with the intention of giving it away

9)become a better woodworker
I got so many books on the subject this Christmas, I'm looking forward to learning new skills and building new things

10) Blog at least monthly
I fell way short on my blogging goal last year, I'm going to try something maybe a little more realistic.

11)deep philosophical thingy?
I'm not sure what to call this but it comes down to this, it has been for ever since I took some time to explore and figure out my own personal philosophies and codes. These are living evolving things and it makes sense that this is not something that would stay the same over time and I think it should be explored. This not about changing myself though...just understanding myself.

12) 12 brews in 12 months
I got this awesome calender for the year, first of all I haven't had a wall calender since I don't know how long. This one though has a home brew recipe for every month; this month is a black IPA stay tuned.

So there you have it, a monster update post for the new year, and I suspect you will be seeing more from me as time goes on, that is at least what I hope for.

Happy new year, from ITBrewer

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

so I made a list...

At the beginning of the year I laid out a list of goals for myself. The idea was that I was going to try and knock out 12 things over the course of the year. Here we are at kind of the half-way point and it is really a great time to sit down and look at how much progress I have or have not made. So to start with lets go down the list.

1)      learn to program:
I’m going to call this ongoing, I have been working on it a bit but the amount of time this pursuit requires me sitting in front of a computer when I would rather be spending time with my family, or playing video games, or stabbing needles into my eyes makes this one rather difficult.
The big problem I think I run into here is that programing for me at this time requires a lot of attention to details. I miss a period or forget a simple command and nothing works. What people don’t seem to understand about programing is that it is like writing in another language, you it takes a lot of practice before it becomes natural.
2)      read real literature:
I’m working up to this I think, kind of like stretching before running. I’ve read a book on Buddhism, currently working through a novelization of everything wrong with information technology in companies, and some Sherlock. I don’t see me reading war and peace but I may revisit some Steinbeck, or Orwell before the year is out.  
3)      spend at least 5 hours a week at the gym:

In my most optimistic ideals I would have spent 135 hours in the gym so far this year, I might be closer to 10. It was a great idea but it didn’t really take into account my life. I’m not making excuses here, the truth is the biggest reason I haven’t been going is that I really don’t want too and it is exceedingly easy to come up with reasons not to do something when you don’t want to do something.

4)      blog at least once a week:
My last blog post was on April 3rd, I’m apparently not good at this. The truth is that I am a very private person, and have trouble sharing with others. It is something I have been working on and part of why I started putting my thoughts down here in the first place. Not that I expect anyone reads this thing, but the thought that anyone can is slightly intimidating. So I feel the need to try to make everything I put up here at least slightly entertaining.

I’m going to try to do better here, which means posting about more of what is going on. as well as a much delayed post from makerfair…which was awesome.
5)      save at least $1,000 and hold onto it for at least 3 months:
So this has actually sort of happened in a couple different ways but I feel like I’m cheating a little bit on those fronts. In both cases the money goes where I can’t really get at it, not sitting in my savings account.

I have however for the first time in my life come up with an actual budget, now I just have to live it. If I can keep it up I might actually save this money on my own without any cheating.
6)      plan and complete 4 electronics projects:
Planned yes….completed not so much; these things take time which I haven’t had, tools which I don’t have yet, and space which I need to set aside. But I have some fun ideas.
7)      Go camping at least three times:
Once sort of, other trip planned, just need to come up with a third
8)      Go fishing at least 6 times:
I’ll be getting a license soon, once that is done no stopping me
9)      Hiking! :
Once, but I should do it more, I always enjoy it when I’m doing it but getting up the motivation to go out and do it seems to be a challenge for me.
10)   Take up something creative:
I am planning to build a liquor cabinet, out of real wood and everything. I’ll post pictures of the process I promise.
11)   Develop a plan to get music back into my life:
I’m honestly not sure how to proceed with this one, I might just pick up the guitar here, I know beginner instruments are fairly inexpensive. But I know I will run into that old time problem again.
12)   Be an active partner in helping to plan my own wedding:
It seems like we are a little bit on hold on this one for the summer, we are just too busy to really put a lot of thought into it. Although we have picked the place, and started really talking about what we want it to look like, so I suppose there is that.

So I’m not super impressed with myself on some of these, on others I think I was not super realistic. But I am not giving up on everything just yet, summer is here which is camping and fishing season, dad and I have finished (at last) the canoe which means fishing can happen. I am rather engrossed in the maker movement at the moment which is going to help with the creative endeavors. The point is that I want to put more work into these goals for the second half of the year and see if I can’t make some progress.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fish Garden Version 2.0

So last year I built a small aquaponic garden in my back yard, it worked alright but had all the looks of a prototype and my lack of experience shown through.

you can almost hear it asking me why it must suffer
It was a great proof of concept but it had some flaws. The beds are made up of two 55 gallon barrels cut in half with a third serving as a fish tank, the system fed into the beds by gravity. The beds then drained into the sump with a bell siphon which were then pumped back into the fish tank. The base you see there was actually two cheap raised beds kits from Home Depot stacked on top of each other, the sump is two large plastic storage containers connected together with ¾ inch pipe.

There were a few problems with this design, first we had no access under the beds, so once we filled them with our grow media (red lava rock) we had no way to get under the system to fix something or make changes. Second once rock was in the beds the ends sagged down with the weight, we ended up having to prop supports under them to get them close to level. Third was the siphon which worked but managed to keep pace with the pump (rather than passing it) which meant the beds would drain down and overflow the sump, I lost a lot of water that way.

So a couple weekends ago I (with some help) rebuilt the system, the beds and fish tank and  sump stayed but the Frame went away.

This is not even my final form!
The first obvious improvement is the frame, which along with being taller (36 inches to the top of the corner posts), holds the beds much more level, and allows access underneath. When I built the first garden I rather naively thought I would be able to get two siphons to work in tandem, now I use the plumbing from one to pump water into the beds, which the siphon through the bed at the other end. Speaking of Siphons, the added height along with a pipe below it mean a much stronger siphon meaning the beds drain down much more quickly. I added a fall pipe to make the siphon stronger, the pipe had holes drilled near the bottom which introduce air into the water.

Also I've decided gravity just doesn't work for the system, and added a fill pump to the system. The system cycles much more regularly and I’m rather pleased with it I bought a timer which I intend to use to stretch out the dry time in the beds. My next step will be to plumb the overflow from the fish tank (which has turned into where I’m losing water) back into the sumps to keep water in the system.

I'm still not done with this experiment, cosmetically I’m going to cover the front and two sides of the garden in lattice to hide the inner workings and make it more attractive. On the technical side I’m going to use an Arduino and prototype an automation system for the garden. I want it to shut off the fill pump when the beds start draining and to give me more control over how long it waits to start filling again. Later I want to add sensors for water temp, dissolved oxygen, ph, and fish tank water level. Once things are dialed in with the Arduino I may try flashing my own microcontroller and putting everything on a single homemade board, but that is a ways off for now.