Smoke Detectors for the Shop

This morning I installed smoke detectors in the shop, which are interconnected with detectors in the house. Years of procrastination preceded this action, and the procrastination was coupled with a lack of product knowledge.

The house is modern, and has wired, battery-backup interconnected detectors. If one alarm goes off, they all do. For the shop, I wanted the same. It wouldn’t do any good to have a smoke detector going off in the shop while I was sleeping in the house! I had thought that interconnection would be challenging, as I knew a that all the house detectors were on a single circuit, with a common communication conductor.

After doing the research, though,  I found that it is not complicated. I found battery operated detectors for the shop that can communicate via radio frequency with the detectors in the house. Thus they all become one interconnected system.

I ordered two Kidde RF-SM-DC detectors and one Kidde RF-SM-ACDC detector.  I installed the  RF-SM-ACDC  unit in the house, replacing one of the original interconnected detectors there.   For all three detectors, I simply set them up to communicate on the same radio channel.   The two RF-SM-DC units were mounted in the shop.   The new house unit connects the remote battery operated smoke detectors with the existing house system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After years of procrastination, the issue was remedied in less than an hour with a screw driver and a set of instructions.   I’m impressed, and will sleep well tonight.

 

 

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Solace

Yesterday morning I got up too early. To get some more rest, I went out and spent a half hour in the hot tub. In that short time, I saw two bright, shooting stars. I marveled at their beauty, and went on about my normal day.

As I moved into my day, I knew that it was going to be exceptional. It was my day to tune the Schimmel, a piano I’ve been tuning each fall for years. Made in Germany about 15 years ago, it’s the very best upright piano among my clients. The string scaling of the piano delivers a wonderful rich bass, and the transition from bass to tenor is smooth as silk. I’ve been caring for that piano each fall for the past five years, and I love it!

That particular piano, gained poignant significance to me three years ago. On that day as I got to about C5 in the tuning I got the phone call where I learned of the tragic death of my grand-daughter, Jenna. A few moments later, among my tears, I explained to my very kind, warm client that I couldn’t finish the tuning, but that I would return in a week or so.

Each fall, as I return to that lovely piano, I relive the emotions. When I get to C5, the tears start to flow. I catch the tears, so they won’t land on the key bushings to create havoc, but otherwise I let them do their work. I didn’t know yesterday that it would be the same, but it was. It was, and it was fitting, and it was good.

As I wrote the invoice for yesterday’s tuning, I penned “10/26/2017”. I looked at that and marveled, because I realized it was the 101st birthday of my mother who passed away at 97 just a few weeks before Jenna joined her at 14.

My two, bright, shining stars. And what is it about that piano?

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Time Keeping Automation with TOGGL

For my piano rebuilding business, I do not work by the hour!  I am working on spec projects, or on generally fixed quotes for customer projects.  But it’s nice to know how long a job takes.  On again and off again for the past several years, I’ve used the web service, TOGGL (toggl without an “e”) for the time keeping I’ve done.   On again and off again is a very appropriate description.

When going out to the shop, I’d forget to start the TOGGL task until I was well into it – or not at all.   Coming in from the shop, I’d forget to stop the timer, and then I’d have bad data.    While in the shop, I could generally remember to switch tasks, if I had, in fact, started one.

With a bit of creativity, I automated the starting and stopping of my work timekeeping.   The automation will start a “General Shop Work” time entry when I enter the shop, and stop the current time entry when leaving the shop.   This bit of magic occurs by knowing how many watts of electricity the shop is using.  In other words, my new app senses when I turn the lights on (or off).

This modality was available because I have minute-to-minute consumption data available on a raspberry pi server that collects and reports energy consumption.  So the application was very straightforward and the task was attached to the once-a-minute data collection process.   With a bit more work, I could learn how to query the home automation status, and get the lights on/off status more directly than the energy proxy I am using.

Here’s the python code I wrote:

 

#!/usr/bin/env python
import sqlite3
import requests
import json

DATABASE = ...
GENERAL_SHOP_WORK = ...
TOGGL_API_TOKEN = ...

sql = """
		SELECT
			shopwatts
		FROM
			consumption
		order by ts desc limit 2

	"""
conn = sqlite3.connect(DATABASE)
c = conn.cursor()
c.execute(sql)
now = c.fetchone()[0]
before = c.fetchone()[0]

# Check for transition from <200 watts to >200 watts
if now > 200 and before < 200:
	# Start General Shop Work, because the shop lights went on. 
	payload = {'time_entry': {'pid': GENERAL_SHOP_WORK, 'created_with': 'energyToggle'}}
	r = requests.post('https://www.toggl.com/api/v8/time_entries/start',auth=(TOGGL_API_TOKEN,'api_token'),data=json.dumps(payload))


if now < 200 and before > 200:
	# Stop the current task, because the shop lights went out. 
	# Get current 
	r = requests.get('https://www.toggl.com/api/v8/time_entries/current',auth=(TOGGL_API_TOKEN,'api_token'))
	if (r.status_code == 200 and r.json()['data'] != None):
		#Stop Current
		url = 'https://www.toggl.com/api/v8/time_entries/' + str(r.json()['data']['id']) + '/stop'
		r = requests.put(url,auth=(TOGGL_API_TOKEN,'api_token'))
	else:
		print 'no current entry'

 

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Willapa Hills Trail

Willapa Hills Trail is the former Northern Pacific spur line from Chehalis Washington to South Bend Washington.   The right-of-way has been acquired by Washington State Parks, and now serves as a biking and hiking trail.

Chehalis River along the Willapa Hills Trail east of Pe Ell

I’m happy to say that the photo above is not a stock photo, but my picture of yesterday morning!  We are enjoying a Washington trip to see friends, family, and to enjoy the Willapa Hills Trail for the first time.  It was my intent to ride the trail from Chehalis to Raymond (my hometown).  A bit of 65-year-old realism caught up with me.  That realism has been expressed in “pre-arthritic” knees!    So it has become a ride from Chehalis to Pe Ell along the trail.

My daughter Erin came up from Portland to join me on the first leg of the ride.   We rode from Logan Street in Centralia to Rainbow Falls State Park.   I chose to ride from Centralia rather than starting in Chehalis at the trailhead, because Logan Street was the home place of my Grandpa and Grandma Henkel.   Erin and I rode the paved streets of Centralia and Chehalis about 6 miles to the trailhead.  Then we rode the trail from Chehalis to Rainbow Falls.  The trail was a joy.   To see this area, away from the traffic (modest though it may be on highway 6), and at a slow pace, is an experience I’ll always remember, and I’m so grateful that Erin chose to accompany me!

The required selfie as we started out on the trail

The trail from Chehalis to Rainbow Falls is about 15 miles, a distance I often cover at home on morning rides.  But those rides are on paved trails and start at mile zero, not at mile six.   The first five miles of the trail are paved, and the rest of the trail to Rainbow Falls is gravel.   My sixty-five year old knees learned that its not the miles but the total pedal rotations that count to determine endurance.   But we had a marvelous time!

Erin kickin’ it up on a railroad bridge east of Adna

After Erin returned to Portland, the next day I returned to the trail and rode to Pe Ell, where my wife, Terri, met me.  The knees told me I’d rode enough.  My mind tells me I had a wonderful time, despite riding half as far as I had intended.   Perhaps next spring there will be another adventure.

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Artic, Washington

While visiting family in Grays Harbor, we stayed at Artic RV Park. It turned out to be a beautiful place. I suppose that Good Sam Club would give it less than 5 stars, but I’d give it 6. Nestled in the trees, along Highway 101 about 18 miles north of Raymond, Washington, it was a surprising delight. We were greeted warmly by the owners and offered veggies from their garden! Certainly having grown up in Raymond, I never thought that I’d ever spend a night in Artic, but there we were.

This scene makes me think of my Mom, who often told the story of her “dream cabin” just a few miles down the road at Elk Horn.   As she would tell it, she was on a road trip with her parents and her boyfriend (also known as my Dad!).  When stopped at the Elk Horn, she snuggled up to her boyfriend, and said, “Oh wouldn’t that little cabin be a wonderful place to live?”  Not long after, she was living in that cabin, and making a lifelong friend with the owner, Maggie Thornton.   Of course she also said she was very happy to move out, because when the wind blew, the thought of trees crashing into that little cabin scared her to death!   And as the telling goes, a few years later a giant fir destroyed that little cabin.

Some tree hugging with a centuries old spruce tree, and a photo of my intrepid explorer, Terri!

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LaRue McGuire: Oral History Part 2

My Mom, LaRue Dorothy Henkel McGuire was born on October 26,  1916.  She lived a remarkable life of 98 years.  Two days ago, we noted the day that would have been her 100th birthday, with memories, photos and stories.

I shared my blog entry of 2010, which included a transcription of an oral history Mom shared.   At the time, I was planning to transcribe a second recording.   But I never got “around to it”.   That recording has been in storage and waiting for six years.

On this birthday, the recording needs to be shared with family!    Here it is:

Frank Henkel and his girls, Bernice and LaRue, circa 1923

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Life at Steed Pond

My morning walk often passes by Steed Pond. It’s a small bit of nature amidst my suburban neighborhood. This spring, I’ve taken to more walks, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see what’s living there, or at least passing by for the catch of the day.
2016-05-11 06.11.01
This morning four American White Pelicans were fishing there, along with a couple of Double Crested Cormorants and the usual ducks. The pelicans migrate to areas near Salt Lake each spring, and depart for southern destinations in the fall. In years past, I had been amazed to see them on the water at a golf course, but this week was the first sighting within a half mile of home.

I was pleased to see the pelicans, but had to wonder what they were finding to eat. A bit of Google research reveals that the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources annually stocks the pond with rainbow trout. It turns out they are a tasty treat for pelicans. And I don’t think they are respecting the limit of 2 per day!

DWR reports that this year they’ve planted 2807 rainbow trout in Steed Pond. These trout have had an average length of 11 inches. Examining the bill of the pelicans, I’d say the trout are a right-sized snack. It’s fun to watch them fishing.

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Drivemode – A lifesaving app!

Hello.  I’m Duane, and I am a smartphone user who drives a car.

So far as I know, there is not a 12-step program for folks like us, but there is a great app!

feature1

I’ve been using Drivemode for Android, and it enforces good habits for me.   It is feature rich, and here’s how I use it:

1) My cars activate Drivemode via bluetooth when  I start the car.
2) I am appointment driven, and as soon as I start up,  a single tap will initiate navigation to my next appointment!  Marvelous!   Just what I’ve needed for a long time.
3) I’ve set incoming calls to go to voicemail immediately and the caller gets a text saying I’m driving.  Wonderful.   They know I’m operating safely, and I implicitly encourage them to do the same.
4) I’m never tempted to look at an incoming message from SMS or Messenger.   Drivemode just reads me the message.  Cool.

There are many more features.   Check it out:  Drivemode.com.  Be safe!

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Occasional observations of Duane McGuire