Check out my new TESTING page where I hope to continue testing new features. Also, be sure to have a look at my new HIKES site and especially some of the “highlighted” hikes that are listed in bold there.

Note that HIKES used to be a “section” here, but there are a lot of them so I made a site just for them.

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Another very sad evening here… Stitch, our 18-year-old female long-haired kitty has passed, less than a week after Sully. Unlike Sully, this passing was expected since Stitch has been losing weight and becoming increasingly frail for many months. Fortunately, it looks like she just slipped away in her sleep on the sofa, resting between Chris and Mackenzie. Stitch was a gorgeous kitty, very calm and loving. She will be missed by all. 😒

A very sad day here… Sully, our male tuxedo kitty who was only about 8 years old has passed. This was definitely not expected. Our oldest kitty, Stitch, is about 18 years of age and she’s been in poor health for many months, so we expect that she might pass soon, but not Sully. He was an ornery, good boy, and he will be missed by all. 😒

New Announcement Feature

Quite some time ago I added an Announcement feature to the Rootstalk website that I helped design and maintain for Grinnell College. Events of the past week have driven me to implement this feature as part of this blog and one other site, with some minor improvements.

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Last of the Clean-up? - Derecho Follow-Up for September 6

Tomorrow is Labor Day 2020, but it also will mark 4 weeks since the August 10 derecho. Thankfully, I believe today marked the end of the clean-up, at least on my own property. I was going to write this post yesterday after another 6+ hours of work outdoors, but last night we had another storm roll through, and all day the winds have been blowing upwards of 40 mph, so I put in another 6 hours or so cleaning up even more debris.

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Tama-Toledo Parks - Derecho Follow-Up for August 24

So, the Iowa Geocacher’s Organization annual Hike-n-Seek event is coming to Tama County and Otter Creek Lake on Friday-Sunday, September 25-27, barring any more 2020 disasters. πŸ€ The weekend is slated to include September’s Friday Lunch Club (FLC) too, but the restaurant that was slated to host FLC was destroyed in the August 10 derecho. This morning The FLC Committee, aka Borky00, aka Bill, asked me about possible outdoor park settings for FLC as a means of giving folks plenty of room for social distancing.

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Today, Sunday, August 23, 2020, marked the start of what looks like another schorching heat-wave here. So I pitched in during the morning at the home of my “scurry” partners Jeff and Mary Fasse-Shaw, to help with cutting up some of the deadfall along the creek on the west side of their property. We got a good start, but there’s a lot of fallen timber to be cleared there!

Derecho Follow-Up - Saturday, August 22

Almost every day for the past few months I have walked with my “scurry” around Cherry Lake in Tama. We generally walk in the morning before the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes get too bad. We finally got power back on Thursday evening, August 20, so on Friday morning, August 21, 2020, we walked for the first time since the derecho of August 10. It was actually more like an obstacle course than our usual stroll, but we still managed to collect quite a bit of trash, as usual. There were about a dozen places around the lake, a trail that is about 1.33 miles long, where fallen trees required that we climb over or weave around. It’s no fun to do either, especially since the “weaving” sometimes involved venturing off-trail into the poison ivy. Makes me itch just thinking about it.

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Iowa's 2020 Hurricane

It’s been far too long, again, since I posted to this blog, but this time I have a legitimate excuse: we’ve been without power or internet, or much of anything, since about 11:45 AM on Monday, August 10, 2020. So we have now been more than 10.5 days without power. I’m only able to post this because of a portable generator I bought on August 12 (that was an adventure in itself) and the wireless hotspot that my phone has provided almost 24/7 ever since the storm hit.

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Eleven days and seven hours without, but the power is now back on at 104 W. Summit Street in Toledo. I’d estimate that for the duration we burned about 105 gallons of gas just to keep the fridge, my CPAP, one lamp, and two fans running. Glad to be back in the 21st century. Now, what’s all this I hear about a deadly virus and some political scuffles?

It’s the start of day number eleven, and still no power. Checked the forecast and it’s getting hot…so am I!

The power is still out here, almost 10 days after the derecho knocked it out. So many power restoration predictions have come and gone, I’ve lost count. Still I’m told that what we need is a one-man, 15-minute fix. Perhaps in the morning I’ll stretch our broken power line across the street and pitch a tent next door until an Alliant truck stops and gets this done. I know they are busy, but 15 minutes of one lineman’s time a week ago, when it was first “promised”, would have been so nice. I fixed my own Mediacom connection more than a week ago, and there’s evidence tonight that their service has been restored. So, if I had power, I think we would also have TV and internet. IF.

Pandemic Pastime: Walking and Picking Up Trash

It’s been far too long since I posted to this blog; I guess I’ve been busy? Nah, not any more than usual, but during the COVID-19 pandemic I have doubled my efforts to get out and walk in the fresh air whenever possible. I’m thankful for my small “scurry” – that’s the term for a collective of squirrels – who not only take walks with me around Cherry Lake, but all around town.

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Been sitting in the endoscopy waiting room at MercyOne DSM since 10:50 AM and they haven’t even called Chris in to prep her yet. 😦 Gonna be a very long day.

β†’ Home Automation ∞

During the COVID-19 pandemic I decided, while working endlessly from my home office, to resurect the hanging bird feeder outside my office window. I like having the birds visit, but I’ve noticed one problem… starlings! They are cranky, bully bastards and chase all the welcome visitors away, if I let them. Well, I don’t intend to let them anymore. 😁 I won’t go into details here but my remedy involves removing the screen from my office window, and occasionally opening the window itself.

There are two issues with the window… it’s a big, double casement window with a pair of crank mechanisms for opening, and the one that I need to open most often is situated behind my mini-fridge. It’s difficult to get to the opener crank, and even hard to open or close it “gently”. The other issue is that while the window is open my office door needs to be closed so that our house cats won’t wander in and decide to “escape” through the open window. 😾 I suppose the cats could provide some extra starling deternt, but they are not as selective as I am. If it moves, they want to catch it. 🐈

The solution, I hope, is to build and install an automated window opener, one that I can control without getting out of my seat. It would also be nice if I had the same option to open, or at least close, my office door. I have a spare Raspberry Pi Zero W and some related parts so that’s a start. I’ve also just purchased a little High-Torque DC Motor and a RPI-compatible motor controller.

Web Resources

This post captures the resources I’ll use (or used, depending on when you read this) to set my plan in motion. The first step, my OneTab that holds my initial web resources:

My Build

Check here for some follow-up soon, I hope.

β†’ Home Automation 01

Launching MacDown from a Terminal

Lately I find that I like to open Markdown documents in MacDown rather than Atom. This is espeically true of things like “” documents that I intend to read, but not edit. This can be done without any special configuration, assuming MacDown is installed and working. To do that use a syntax like this: open -b com.uranusjr.macdown path/to/ A command I’ve been using quite often today is: open -b com.uranusjr.macdown ~/GitHub/dg-isle/docs/install/install-local-migrate.

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Adding "Remote Atom" to My DigitalOcean Server

Last evening and early this morning I completed the addition of a new (to me) package to Atom on my Mac Mini. The package is Remote Atom and I found the configuration to be a little confusing, but in the end it was worth the work. Use The addition and configuration of this package allows me to open an SSH terminal/session from my Mac Mini to my summitt-dweller-DO-docker droplet and, with Atom open locally on my Mac I can issue a command like

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Migrating the Wieting Site in Drupal 8

Migrating the Wieting Site in Drupal 8 Sorry for my extended absence here, I’ve been uber-busy with work, but have also been able to work a little (lots of long nights and weekends) on a long-overdue update of in Drupal 8. It’s true, I have been thinking about moving that site to make it static, almost certainly using Hugo, but I thought before doing so I’d give Drupal 8 one more try.

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β†’ Migration to Lando

β†’ Pegboard 3D Printing

β†’ Raspberry Pi Zero W and inkyPHAT Cases

β†’ Using Watchtower

β†’ Make an Animated Conference Badge with InkyPHAT

β†’ 3D Printing Initial Tabs

β†’ The Compass Rose Band - Development