::::: : the wood : davidrobins.net

My name is David Robins: Christian, lead developer (resume), writer, photographer, runner, gun enthusiast, libertarian (voluntaryist), and student.
This is also my wife Honey Robins' site.

DGR: carrots, and a light/fan timer switch

News, Baby ·Saturday January 20, 2018 @ 06:37 EST (link)

Typing this at 0630 while holding a just-sleeping DGR—after we watched a few episodes of This Old House together. Honey is not feeling well and is sleeping after a long night with him. Some pictures including him having carrots and getting ready to have some rice cereal.


I installed a Lutron MA-T51MN countdown timer switch in our downstairs bathroom for the light/fan (combination unit). It's about $35 and a good energy/time saver; set the timer (5-60 minutes) and let it count down and turn off automatically (can also be set to "on" to stay on normally). When there's a minute left it will turn off momentarily and then the LED will flash faster for the remaining time. If a time greater than 5 minutes is set, the LEDs will move down through the settings as it counts down. I looked at several of these switches online and this was about the only one that didn't look terrible.


Wiring was fairly simple: after turning off the breaker and removing the wall plate, I had to unbundle the neutrals (NEC 2011 requires them to be brought to switch boxes, and they had been, joined with a wire nut) and connect a neutral wire to the switch, and then move the common/load hots from the old switch to the new (new is pickier, common must go to black screw terminal). There is a version that doesn't require a neutral (the non-MN model) and apparently uses a trickle charge to power the LEDs (which may not work with very energy efficient low wattage fans). It works great; I have another one to install in the master bathroom too.

In the continuing workshop power saga, the ground rod has been installed and connected. When I went to install one of my tandem breakers in the 70A sub-panel the first "electrician" (let's call him bozo for short) installed, there was no room since the #2 wires coiled around inside took up too much space. I considered turning it upside-down so the wires would come more directly to the lugs (minor code violation: breaker "on" would no longer be up), but I couldn't get the hot wires back into the lugs, so I opted to move up to a 100A panel: much better fit, and going from 2 to 6 spaces means I no longer need tandem breakers.

I installed a first receptacle, but it was not able to power a lamp. Broke out the multimeter. 16V from ground to neutral; apparently this is way out of spec; max of about 3V is expected. 124V from ground to each hot; 104V/136V from neutral to hots. Something's wrong with the neutral. Probably has something to do with how it's wire-nutted to a much smaller wire using a wire nut thinner than the #2 wire itself (an electrician friend says a split bolt should be used); so it's probably an "open neutral" that shouldn't be too hard to fix—I hope. Measurements at the service panel from the breaker going to the workshop to the (bonded) ground/neutral are the expected ~123V.

Christmas, 2018, workshop power

News, Baby ·Monday January 1, 2018 @ 00:04 EST (link)


We drove back home New Year's day (because some people must see the New York City ball drop amidst a crowd of freezing idiots with no bathroom facilities), had a fine trip drive (although DGR got a little grumpy toward the end), and a little bit of a holiday at home before going back to work on the 2nd.

David Geoffrey got a lot of great new clothing, some of which can be seen above (and in the previous post), like the plaid shirt (onesie) and overalls from aunt Sharon, and some toys (many musical), mostly not shown, although one shows him on the mat with the blue arch and "foot piano" that we got him and there's one of a "sensations ball" with protuberances of different materials that he likes to bite. At time of writing, which is acutally the 12th, he's 15 pounds 6 ounces and 26 inches (and just had his 4-month vaccinations, which did not please him at all)!

Some progress has also been made on getting power to the workshop/shed, although many steps back as well. The "electrician" I hired managed to dig the trench and get the wires across, but left destruction as he went: his digging machine mangled our buried propane pipe (which I'd warned him about in advance), and even after repairing that section it still seems to be leaking (pulled out further down?) and will need further repair—fortunately we do have someone competent that did the first repair and can probably do the rest. Evidence shows no grounding rod installed (no connection to the panel); to put in the connection in the service panel he apparently disconnected our generator transfer switch, and left a gap in another panel, which may need an electrician to repair. He also connected ground from the service panel to the neutral bar in the sub-panel, which is wrong and potentially dangerous (a separate ground bar is required). We will be doing a chargeback and paying competent professionals to finish the work; I brought a grounding rod (8' long 5/8" diameter copper) home (in the Civic—back seat down) and ground bar home today, and hopefully can be back on track this weekend. Even if not, I can rough in the lights and receptacles and not connect them until ready. I also have Ethernet in the workshop (maybe for a security camera), but it needs to be pulled across the garage to the switch; I just wanted to have it put in the trench while it was open.

The days before Christmas 2017, West Virginia

News, Baby ·Friday December 22, 2017 @ 12:48 EST (link)

Starring David Geoffrey!


Dressed for church in new shirt and slacks; hanging out with Grandpa and Mommy (Grandma's working during the days, so we'll have to get more pictures of her), and all-around having a good time. Except when he has to have his fingernails clipped or nose unstuffed!

Grandma and Grandpa Robins visit

News, Baby ·Sunday December 10, 2017 @ 08:38 EST (link)

My parents came to visit us for the weekend, arriving Thursday night and staying through Sunday morning; it was their first visit to our house here in Indiana, and first time meeting David Geoffrey.


Young David received many gifts (Christmas and birth) from his grandparents, aunts, and other relatives; lots of new outfits and a few toys like the Fisher-Price Squirrel car shown above.

David Geoffrey: holding objects

Baby ·Saturday December 2, 2017 @ 13:31 EST (link)

He first begins to hold objects, like his set of plastic rings.





Thanksgiving 2017 in WV

News, Baby ·Sunday November 26, 2017 @ 18:02 EST (link)

David Geoffrey's first trip over an hour. He did not like being in his car seat so long, and once cried himself to sleep (ear protection came in handy), but generally did well during the six-hour trip. We headed up Wednesday evening, leaving after my Nikon D850 (finally!) arrived. It no longer takes CompactFlash cards, but I had already bought a couple of XQD cards and a USB reader. These pictures, then, are the last with the D300, and the first time Grandpa Hedrick got to see his grandson:


Now we switch to the D850 (and the next morning, after charging the battery); quite easy to setup; the biggest changes I made were to set it to shoot NEF and JPEG like the D300. The charger is a little different; for one, no cord; there's a "local" plug that attaches directly to the block the battery sits in.


The last picture is of Honey and DGR at her parents' old house; they moved to her grandfather Pollock's house after he passed, about a year and a half ago, and it's for sale, so Honey wanted a picture. I also took some photos of the interior to be shown to potential buyers; it was nice to have my 20mm wide angle "back" for that (full frame vs. DX crop).

We had a great turkey dinner, and also went to see Steve, Peter, and Jack at China One (Bing and Shirley were in China), and ate at Twin Falls park restaurant.

Life with baby (10 weeks)

News, Baby ·Tuesday November 21, 2017 @ 22:59 EST (link)

A few notes about living with David Geoffrey—not to vent or complain. We also refer to him as our "babbisiet" (the etymology is uncertain, but it comes in part from "babby" as a misspelling in a M*A*S*H episode when a Korean baby is dropped off at the hospital).

First, since I'm working full time (and my company gives no paid paternity leave whatsoever—I wish I were still at Microsoft in that regard), I still sleep about eight hours a night; since Honey doesn't work and since she has the food, she deals with the two-hourly feedings, which have gotten somewhat better now. David G. "technically" slept through the night, meaning five hours, for the first time yesterday.

For a little while Honey and baby were sleeping in one of the bedrooms downstairs so I could get enough sleep to go to work, but we moved upstairs when the Penners came, and stayed there. We have a Graco Pack'n'Play next to the bed, but he mostly sleeps in the middle of the bed cradled by Honey. I sometimes get woken up to hold him in spit-up and other emergencies.

He does not like to lie down or sit by himself, very much preferring to be held, and that standing at the shoulder rather than in the more traditional "baby" sling carry. When he gets hungry or really needs a change he'll escalate his cries to a continually repeated "mah" (apparently he breathes through his nose, so he hardly needs to stop for breath, and he takes full advantage of that). He will get sleepy after eating, but will pop open wide eyes if disturbed. Instead, he prefers a walk around and singing (he likes hymns) and "shhh"ing has some effect too.

Like, 10 diapers a day. Did not expect that many. Why aren't there diaper-changing robots yet?

At 10 weeks, he is not very much into objects yet, at all (normal, but surprised me), but he's still figuring out his arms and hands are his and how they're connected. He will hold fingers and can sometimes be convinced to hold his hand around the few toys (like plastic keys) we got for him, but isn't very interested and will drop them quickly. He can hold his head up most of the time and can sit against a support, although he likes to dive to the side. He likes to lean to the side when held, too. When held by midsection, or, lately, hands alone, he can stand up ("The Standing Baby!").

We try to give him some "tummy time" on his front on a blanket during the day to help him experiment with moving and perhaps eventually flipping himself to his back (when he can do that, he can sleep on his front) (he did it once very early, and then hasn't since).

He's had a couple rounds of vaccinations, a few of which made him cry briefly but he was fine soon after (mommy wasn't). He's got a bit of a cold now. He had good birth weight but lost a lot soon after, but now is doing great at 12.6 pounds, and probably a little over 24 inches by now.

I've taken a lot of photos of him, which have been posted here and are automatically synced to my Raspberry Pi digital photo frame at work—a popular Christmas gift suggestion for both sets of parents (need to set up easy touch-based wi-fi configuration, since mine is wired). The new Nikon I ordered is finally arriving tomorrow, so expect videos soon too.

David Geoffrey: the many faces

Baby ·Thursday November 16, 2017 @ 19:34 EST (link)

The many faces of David Geoffrey! Smiling more frequently now….



David Geoffrey: two months

Baby ·Saturday November 4, 2017 @ 22:09 EDT (link)

Technically two months on Monday; more pictures of our Wee Tiny!



A wizard hat for David Geoffrey

News, Technical, Baby ·Sunday October 29, 2017 @ 12:02 EDT (link)

David Geoffrey is about ten pounds now, and at or over two feet tall. Lately he's learning that those arms and hands attached to him are his, and it's making him a little grumpy. Today he went on some errands with us (mostly involving diapers/nappies) and he was mostly happy. He has another checkup Monday, including some vaccinations which we hope aren't too hard on him.


Facing a great rent in my pajama bottoms and guests arriving, I decided to look into automated sewing equipment, as hand-sewing had proven both tedious and ineffective. At first I tried one of those portable battery-operated machines that look a bit like an upside-down stapler, but it was all kinds of terrible (poor build quality, dropped stitches) and I returned it (and I must say the Amazon return experience was extremely painless) in favor of a Singer 4423 Heavy Duty regular machine, which got good reviews and was presently discounted to just over $100. That its dials were mechanical and it had no LCD readouts was a plus to me—I know what can go wrong with embedded peripherals, and would rather keep it simple for my first machine.

So, I mended the tears, and hemmed the pants too since they were large and I was always tripping over them. But that's not all….


Looking for sewing tutorials I found Zab's channel, which, as well as her intro series, had a video on making a Gandalf hat. How could I not make wizard hats for my son and me?

(Me: I also found this video for making a Jedi robe. If I can manage the Gandalf hat, it should be easy!
Honey: Somehow I thought you'd see it that way [instead of starting easy and working up].)


So, for the first time I walked into a fabric store voluntarily, and picked up some felt and lining fabric—and online I added a set of Gingher fabric shears, tape measure, interfacing, and other necessary sundries. Fortunately I had just brought some boxes back from my parents, and as well as Transformers they had my (English) mother's sewing bag, containing useful things like pins, needles, and even some usable thread (unfortunately the first section of the tape measure had faded from use).

The first hat I made was too small. I learned from that, and did better on the second, the construction of which is shown above (the smaller hat is the one sitting on the sewing machine). I had made insufficient allowances for the way is brim is tilted (to give it concavity) and the seams. It's a nice decoration. I also hadn't properly gathered (no pun intended) the idea of pinning and sewing the two curves together, and perhaps tried to flatten them too much, and had to cut some fabric later.

I laid out my sewing equipment on the new kitchen table (my parents' old dining room table, which I rescued from being sold to strangers on Kijiji, which is how Canadians say Craigslist), and there's a TV inset in the wall connected to a computer (a respectible i7 with 8Gb RAM as it turns out—left by former owners) accessible via the hall closet behind. We'd never had occasion to use it yet, but having the video right there while making the hat was as useful as I expected it to be; I installed Arch Linux (over Windows 10), LXDE, and Chromium on it and we added Algaria to our internal network (when I installed cat6 soon after we bought the house, we included a connection to the closet).


So, there's the finished hat on the unfinished wizard; I didn't get to mine in time for Hallowe'en (but will still make one), and I expect by the time it rolls around next year it won't fit any more and I'll need to make another one. I am very happy with how it turned out. And now that I can sew, Honey expects me to hem all her pants, but I'm more the "teach a man to fish" type. If I recall correctly, my grandfather, (H.) Geoff Cater, was also competent with a sewing machine.

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