Vultures Sunning

Spotted after pre-season prep at Mary’s Vassar Farms garden:

Vultures sunning
Vultures sunning

It must feel really good up there atop the old barn, even if they’re sunning themselves to kill off parasites.

Taken with the Pixel 3a zoomed all the way in at 7× from a bit over 200 feet:

Vultures sunning - photo range
Vultures sunning – photo range

Then cropped and sharpened just a smidge. Not a great picture, but good enough for practical purposes; the Good Camera + Big Glass takes better pix and is too awkward to carry in my pocket.

Discrete LM3909 Blue LED: Off at 1.0 V

The blue LED inside the radome got fainter as the alkaline AA cells faded away, but remained visible in a dark room until the discrete LM3909 circuitry stopped oscillating with the battery at 1.0 V. One of the cells had flatlined, with the other supplying what little current was needed.

The circuitry restarted with a pair of weak alkalines applying 2.4 V across the bus bars:

LM3909 Blue - 2.4 V alkaline
LM3909 Blue – 2.4 V alkaline

The LED waveform shows it needs about 2 V:

LM3909 Blue - 2.4 V alkaline
LM3909 Blue – 2.4 V alkaline

It’s barely visible in normal room light and strikingly bright at night.

Rust Never Sleeps

Spotted at the corner gas station on a recent walk:

Gas pump barrier - smashed
Gas pump barrier – smashed

Judging from the tire tracks and extrapolating from recent weather, a snowplow driver misjudged the truck’s right-side clearance while backing.

That big steel tube didn’t put up nearly as much resistance as the architect figured after consulting the relevant building codes:

Gas pump barrier - right base
Gas pump barrier – right base

The paint seems to have been the only thing holding the other side together:

Gas pump barrier - left base
Gas pump barrier – left base

Google Streetview suggests the barriers were new-ish in May 2009:

Gas pump barrier - newish 2009-05
Gas pump barrier – newish 2009-05

Steel is a great construction material, but it doesn’t fare well when installed at grade (or above) where it’s exposed to water and salt. On the other paw, they got over a decade out of it, so maybe it’s as good as it needs to be.

123 Block Links: Blackened!

While looking for something else, I came across my bottle of Aluminum Black, so I just had to do this:

123 Block Links - blackened
123 Block Links – blackened

Looks much snappier than the originals:

123 Block Links - trial assembly
123 Block Links – trial assembly

Those are plain old alloy steel cap screws with a black oxide finish.

The Aluminum Black package directions tell you to apply it with a swab, rinse, and repeat, which seemed like a lot of work for a handful of pins. Instead, I poured a little into a pill bottle, dumped the pins in, and gave it a good shake to coat the pins, whereupon the cap blew off as the contents proceeded to boil merrily. A quick cold-water rinse calmed things down, with no particular harm done, although I had to chase the threads with a tap to get the black powder out. A layer of oil prettied them up nicely.

Today I Learned: the reaction between selenium dioxide and bare aluminum is strongly exothermic.

Snow Flow

The recent snowfall arrived on a stiff north wind layering it atop the garage roof and sculpting the corner:

Snow - roof wave
Snow – roof wave

The retaining wall along the driveway accumulated a thick coat that gradually peeled off as the weather warmed:

Snow - wall wave A
Snow – wall wave A

The wave crashed to the driveway in slow motion:

Snow - wall wave B
Snow – wall wave B

It seems to rebound from the wall, even though we know it’s been there all along:

Snow - wall wave C
Snow – wall wave C

This winter has more snow in store for us, but so far it’s been more decorative than disastrous.

One difference between deep snow and strong hurricanes: not much looting after the snow stops falling…

Blog Summary: 2020

You can’t make up results like this for a techie kind of blog:

Blog Top Post Summary - 2020-12-31
Blog Top Post Summary – 2020-12-31

Given my demographic cohort, bedbugs suddenly seemed downright friendly.

Overall, this blog had 109 k visitors and 204 k page views. The ratio of 1.8 pages / visitor has been roughly constant for the last few years, so I assume most folks find one more interesting post before wandering off.

My take from the increasing volume of ads WordPress shovels at those of you who (foolishly) aren’t using an ad blocker continues to fall:

Blog Ad Summary - 2020-12-31
Blog Ad Summary – 2020-12-31

The CPM graph scale seems deliberately scrunched, but the value now ticks along at 25¢ / thousand impressions, adding up to perhaps $250 over the full year. Obviously, I’m not in this for the money.

The ratio of five ads per page view remains more or less constant. Because Google continues to neuter Chrome’s ad blocking ability, I highly recommend using Firefox with uBlock Origin.

WordPress gives me no control over which ads they serve, nor where they put ads on the page. By paying WordPress about $50 / year I could turn off all their ads and convert the blog into a dead loss. I’m nearing their 3 GB limit for media files on a “free” blog, so the calculation may change late next year.

Onward, into Year Two …