We got a new Christmas present! We realized we don’t actually own a current computer since we mostly use work laptops and our kinda old Mac mini is no longer supported by Apple.
So obviously we weren’t getting a new Mac mini. Macs are cute and shiny and all, but only 2-4 years of OS support is abominable.
And we were going to wait until Christmas to open it, but there was a snow storm and the box was wet so we had to open it and make sure the product wasn’t damaged.
Short story is that we love it. It’s everything we wanted and more. It’s the perfect hybrid between play games, do computer stuff, and look normal/cool. Price point is great.
Last thing I want to say about this computer-console is about the online articles I’ve seen. Why are the loud voices in pc gaming so negative? I don’t really follow that field, but I looked for reviews and opinions before making this purchase. And wow are people out there elitist and condescending! About specs, about ultra high settings, about hardware, about the company and marketing claims.
The product description sounded like what we needed and I’m glad I bought it anyways. The Alienware Alpha really is the way to bring casual pc gaming into the living room and the mainstream. No exaggeration.
A major problem when knitting is that depending on how the yarn is pulled from the ball it can twist and create biased fabric. This is bad for large garment projects because the clothes will be all twisty and not fit right. However, many knitters don’t even realize that this is a problem.
Twist isn’t really only a yarn knitting problem. It happens to DNA, ribbons, tape measures, garden hoses, tubing, toilet paper, everything that is basically a long string. Imagine if you took a roll of toilet paper and pulled from the center instead of unrolling from the outside, you’d have a twisty mess that is not nearly as useful :D.
To combat this problem, there are various yarn lazy susan contraptions I’ve seen around, most of which are crafted out of beautiful wood, cost lots of money, and hold only one ball of yarn or the balls are stuck in place. They also have design features that make them prone to tipping or in combination with unnecessary features to combat tipping that make the devices more unwieldy.
Following up on the toilet paper analogy, I’ve actually been using toilet paper holders for the past year. They are mounted to a pieces of wood bases and yarn balls are threaded onto the spring loaded holders. Looks ridiculous, not very compact, but works.
Since I’ve started color knitting, I think I’m ready for an upgrade. I don’t need the beautiful woodcraft look, but something that:
Holds multiple colored balls
Colors are hot-swapable
Reconfigurable for number of colors in project
Easy to transport / is not unwieldy
Works on uneven surfaces (low center of gravity, distributed load)
Cheap and easy to make
Isn’t bathroom joke fodder
Being the engineer/scientist/whatever it is that I am, I’ve been thinking about this and about how these requirements are met for other twist-prevention applications. And I have designed something I’m pretty excited about.
Well, my love built it and it is great! Almost perfect!
Materials used were:
5″x8″ piece of MDF, 3/4″ thick
3/8″ pex pipe, cut to 12cm pieces
12″ 5/16″ threaded bolt, cut to 4″ pieces
5/16″ threaded insert nuts
1.5″ washers and rubber bands
Yarn axels were made by inserting yarn ball onto pipe with washer held in place by a rubberband. Posts were assembled by screwing threaded bolts into threaded inserts in MDF board. Yarn balls on axels fit over bolts and turn very smoothly!
Nut placement was great for 2 balls at 5″ apart. Nut placement for 3 balls was totally wrong, needed to calculate spacing better. Also need better care in drilling straight holes for nut inserts.
I keep meaning to write up the toekick conversion we did in our kitchen baseboard heat, which I described the motivation in this post.
But it was complicated! And my Massachusetts friends tell me it’s actually illegal to do plumbing work your owns in Mass (but not so in NH).
So I will give a high-level description of what we did, and if one wants to do their own project some additional research will be needed. I will say all information we needed was found in Youtube videos, online forums, and diy articles. This project was still not for everyone, it took us 3 weekends and some mid-week shopping.
Quick problem recap
We wanted to put more cabinets and work space in our kitchen, but the remaining wall was taken up by baseboard heat.
We dropped the hot water pipe behind the baseboard under the floor and created a short parallel loop up to the kitchen that fed the toekick fan.
(1) Measure in & out of kitchen baseboard pipe and find supply pipe under floor, access from garage ceiling below.
(2) Figure out zones, supply, and return lines for hydronic heating system to boiler, also other major parts zone valves & pump.
(3) Plan new pipe layout, to describe in Cartesian coordinates (x,y,z): x & y will be same as original baseboard pipe layout except now below floor (we had an L), other z considerations are floor joists for the direction in which the pipe can’t go between joists (we went under joists, then build soffit box around).
Buy materials needed, including monoflow tee (only at plumbing supply store), copper pipe, pipe cutter for tight spaces, abrasive cloth, assortment of elbows, tees, and couplings.
(1) Drain water from system: shut off water supply to boiler, valve between supply & return, and only open zone valve for zone to be drained. Connect hose to drain outlet and open drain valve, remove water from system.
(2) Cut old pipes leading up to kitchen, remove baseboards and old pipe in kitchen.
(3) Cut new pipes for new layout planned in weekend 1, fit the pipes together.
Solder pipes, refill water in system, bleed air, turn on heat.
In the past months, maybe year I have been increasingly feeling sick 1-2 hrs after eating. I get shaky and clammy, sweaty and uncoordinated. I have to lie down and eat something to feel better, but I never really feel normal. This sounds kind of like hypoglycemia . The result is I typically delay eating for as long as possible and then eat every 2 hrs thereafter.
I didn’t have a primary care doctor for unrelated reasons. So I found one off a list somehow and had an appointment. She said my symptoms were not possible, gave me a basic metabolic panel to shut me up, and sent me on my way.
I felt so depressed. Am I a hypochondriac? That little insecure girl in me wanted to hide and cry. The scientist in me said this is stupid, go read some papers and do experiments to make science & evidence based conclusions. MDs just follow flow charts to diagnose.
After a couple days of depression, I did some reading [2,3] and formulated a couple hypotheses:
too much insulin, extended insulin, or hypersensitivity to insulin causes lowered blood glucose
hypersensitivity to epinephrine or too much epinephrine causes hypoglycemic symptoms in the absence of lowered blood glucose
hypoglycemic symptoms can also be brought on by fast fall in blood glucose, regardless of actual glucose values
To test these hypotheses, I went and bought the cheapest blood glucose meter at Target and some strips. Happens I worked on the research and development on the product my first job put of college. Cool!
I chose two tests to emulate :
time course after meal
The fasting glucose will give me a baseline, to understand whether a sharp rate of change is responsible for symptoms (3).
The post-meal time course will show me whether or not blood glucose is actually lowered when I feel symptoms (1) or (2).
Taking the time course is important to me, in case there are some dynamic differences from normal that can be informative. Many patient oriented informational sites only list high end values and single time points. So I had to do some digging to find some normal values to compare my results to (fig 1).
Meter accuracy – test blood glucose twice in a row to see variance inherent to assay.
Fasting – after 8 hrs no food first thing in the morning I measured my blood glucose.
Meal – after meal take measurements 15 min to 3 hrs, half hour intervals and then 15 min intervals after 2 hrs when I expect to feel sick.
Two subsequent measurements yielded the same blood glucose value, suggesting accuracy of testing equipment.
Fasting blood glucose is 122mg/dL.
Meal blood glucose rose to 200mg/dL shortly after lunch and peaked at 223mg/dL approximately 60min post meal. Blood glucose fell about 100mg/dL between 60 and 120min. Hypoglycemic symptoms onset at 120min coincided with sharp fall, but a normal range reading of 125mg/dL. Readings in 15 min intervals thereafter showed some additional decrease but relative stabilization of blood glucose levels. The lowest reading was at 96mg/dL (fig 2). The experiment was stopped prior to the planned 3 hr time course because I had to eat something.
I was expecting to find hypoglycemic readings, but instead found that my blood glucose is high to the point of possible pathology accompanied by high variability.
My fasting level of 122mg/dL is near the top end of the prediabetic range at 125mg/dL . Fasting blood glucose greater than 125mg/dL indicate diabetes has developed, rather than pre diabetes condition. I do not meet this criteria for full diabetes, although I am approaching this threshold.
My peak blood glucose level at 223mg/dL 1hr post meal is in the diabetic range and exceeds prediabetic levels .
However, I am able to reduce blood glucose levels from peak back into a normal range. This dynamic pattern is consistent with prediabetes rather than full diabetes .
It is possible that my blood glucose falls into the hypoglycemic range at times due to the sharp fall in blood glucose from peak , but hypoglycemic blood glucose values were not observed here. Likely hypoglycemic symptoms are often due to the high rate of change rather than actual hypoglycemic blood glucose.
A prediabetic condition is supported by the post meal dynamics and most blood glucose measurements. Only my peak post meal blood glucose at 1 hr is alarmingly hyperglycemic supporting full diabetes.
This dynamic pattern suggests a loss of first phase insulin release, which occurs within 2 minutes of first food intake in normal people and prevent rise over 140mg/dL . The second, sustained insulin release appears to be intact which explains the fall in my blood glucose between 1 & 2 hrs. However, overcompensation in the second insulin release due to hyperglycemic conditions at 1hr could explain the subsequent sharp fall in blood glucose and hypoglycemic symptoms .
Loss of the first insulin response is a feature of prediabetes or Impaired Glucose Tolerance . Asians are reported to have higher incidences than Caucasians of developing diabetes, 95% of whom develop type 2 diabetes . Many, if not all, develop type 2 diabetes through loss of first phase insulin response which causes subsequent beta cell loss or dysfunction, impairment of the second insulin release, and insulin resistance in other tissues [7,8]. Loss of both phases of insulin release characterizes full diabetes .
I probably have prediabetes and need to see an endocrinologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. I will probably not return to the primary care doctor who thought I was a hypochondriac. I will probably repeat these experiments for a total of 3 times to demonstrate reproducibility [UPDATE: this doesn’t seem possible because stabbing my finger 1-4x per time point to get enough blood hurts].
I have a lot of reading to do to better understand the normal physiology, pathological physiology, disease progression, underlying mechanisms, population incidences, existing treatments, and relevant drug development pipeline.
Understanding my particular disease development and its treatment may be a challenge because my BMI is 19 and I have hovered on this cusp of underweight for my entire adult life. Most diabetes information and prediabetes treatments focus on slowing disease development by losing weight. It is likely my disease onset is caused by a factor other than obesity-related lifestyle choices since I am not obese, so modifying my lifestyle may have no effect on my disease progression. An additional impediment for me to this common method of treatment is that I cannot really lose weight.
In conclusion, do I have hypochondria? Sadly it doesn’t seem so.
We’ve been rehabbing our kitchen this year slowly*. Some little things like painting the cabinet faces, changing out the hardware, remove wallpaper, new appliances! Ok maybe not so little things. As these things things have been in progress, we come to realize what we really need is more space (and more money but that’s a different problem).
The more kitchen space thing really began when we got a fancy new refrigerator which we love and for which we installed a new water line. The new water line was required to move the refrigerator to a new location. There were two problems with the old location, (1) it was adjacent to the dishwasher which gets hot while refrigerator makes cold = energy waste + bad for refrigerator life, and (2) more counter space would be nice. The new location is along a wall with nothing on it, except a baseboard heater. We can remove the baseboard heat and reclaim the entire wall, thus fixing both energy waste problem and kitchen space problem.
The space reclaimed by removing the baseboard heat effectively doubles the working space in our kitchen!!
Great, but the problem with removing the baseboard heat is that then there is no heat. In Hawaii this isn’t a problem. In New England, no heat is a BIG problem.
* Before diving into the answer to this heat problem, I must put in a plug here for myself :D. The Mr. in the “we” situation here, or shall I say Dr., has been at the start disagreeable to all of this. The Me in our “we” has had to be quite crafty, in addition to leveraging my engineering training, to convince Mr. Dr. to do any of this. First, why don’t we paint the cabinets it is cheap and not too hard? Second, changing the hardware only needs a screwdriver surely we can do that. Next, these appliances are on sale your mom will disapprove of the old ones and love the new ones. Well, now we have this beautiful new fridge with all your beers we can’t put it next to the dishwasher! But now it’s in front of the heaters! Gah!
In our house, we have oil fuel and hydronic baseboard heat. We have an oil tank in the basement, and a boiler that burns the oil to heat water. The heated water is pumped through 3 loops, (1) into the adjacent hot water tank for our household running water, (2) in a loop of pipes that run along the baseboards to heat our first floor, and (3) in a loop of pipes that run along baseboards to heat our second floor. Baseboards are just the hot water pipes surrounded by metal fins that increase heated surface area in contact with air. The problem with baseboards is you can’t really put permanent furniture blocking them because they heat the back of the furniture rather than heating the room. Couches are ok to pull out a couple inches from the baseboards, but kitchen cabinets and refrigerators definitely can’t go in front of baseboards.
Whats to do? Convert the lost baseboard into a toekick heater says the internets. Rather than having a whole wall of hot pipe to heat the room, drop that pipe under the floor and bring just a little loop up into the kitchen to feed a little toekick heater. The toekick fits under just a single cabinet and heats the entire room. Toekicks heat the same room while taking up less space by adding an electric fan to actively blow warm air off the hot metal pipe & fins.
We went with the Myson because internets says they have access panels that make servicing the unit later easy. I figured this would be important since someday permanently installed cabinets would be on top of this little guy.
We bought from Houseneeds because they were shipping from Vermont, which isn’t too far from New Hampshire.
We got the 7000 model based on the length of baseboard we were replacing. We were at the high end for the 5000 or low end for 7000 model, so we went with 7000. One could also calculate BTUs needed for room size, but that seemed too difficult (there’s only three sizes of kickspace and our kitchen is not that big (which is why we need the toekick)).
We went for the EZ model because it comes with the hookup hoses. It also says it has plugin electrical, although it isn’t clear from the web descriptions or the product manual whether the non-EZ models have plugin-type or hardwire electrical.
** I wish I could cite some internets sources here for completeness, but my records are quite crap and I can’t really say which forums were actually any good anyways because I am not an expert in this field so I recommend doing ones own research also.
I did call a plumber to get an idea of cost, and he quoted me $800 including the cost of the toekick unit. We would have to use the toekick manufacturer he provided (don’t recall which), he would need access to run pipes below, and he didn’t do the electrical for the toekick fan which was hardwired. I figured, since we didn’t exactly have access below (garage ceiling is sheetrocked) if we hired out the entire job we would need 3 professionals, (1) handyman to create access below, (2) plumber to do the heating system, (3) electrician to wire the toekick unit. My guess is the total price to hire out would be easily over $1000.
Thinking we were so wonderful after doing the refrigerator line ourselves, we decided to do the toekick conversion ourselves. This was an adventure and is not for the faint of heart. I will write about this experience in another post…
The other day my favorite iPhone browser, iCab Mobile, was updated to version 8.5 and I couldn’t be happier. It has even occurred to me that it’s absence was contributing to my prior dislike for my new iPhone 6.
ICab is a super functional, no-frills workhorse. I can’t possibly talk about all its features, but here’s what I love the most.
Why I like iCab over Safari and everything else
ICab has ad blocking, including those annoying ads that underline word’s randomly in text and look like legitimate links. This feature is indispensable, can’t live without it.
Real file uploads on almost any website, with any file. Grab any kind of file, not just photos, from your Dropbox or PDF app or wherever. Use ‘open in iCab’ and then the file shows up in iCab’s ‘Downloads’ list. From there upload it on any website. Real life saver. No other iOS browser I’ve tried has file uploads. This feature alone makes the iPhone and iPad keep me from having to lug around my laptop all the time.
Super customizable UI, move any button anywhere and change menu entries for any menu. Choose your search engine, search suggestion engine, browser ID, practically everything. Also full screen. I do wish I could export and save my settings file for posterity. Or post settings to share because maybe I haven’t figured out the optimal configuration but somebody else has?
So I did originally feel at best ambivalent about my new iPhone 6. It was really hard to adjust to the bigger size. I still miss my iPhone 5 size.
Some new things have gotten better, and aren’t really unique to the iPhone 6. And some new things are iPhone 6 only and I don’t think I could go back now.
Before anything further, I have to say the new iOS 8 and maybe the iPhone 6 has bugs. Way more than I was used to and they are annoying. Mostly screen rotation gets stuck sideways and Bluetooth doesn’t work right or at all. I tried calibrating the compass to fix the screen rotation issues, not sure it helped but maybe.
Here is wot I LOVE:
– it is fast!
– camera takes great pictures, focuses fast
– 128 gb holds all the doggy pictures!
– TouchID is amazing
– TouchID with 1Password is amazing
I also kind of like seeing more on the bigger screen. But I hate holding the bigger screen so I won’t admit that one.
Now that my favorite apps are getting updated and maybe less buggy things are getting happier!
Here are the apps I’ve been using:
– iCab Mobile
– Fleksy keyboard
And others that aren’t so terribly exciting to me today.
All in all, getting happier with my new phone. Let’s be honest, because it’s all about the doggy pictures :D.
I wanted to move the refrigerator to the other side of the kitchen, opposite the sink. This meant running water to the new location somehow. Here is what we did and what we learned:
Run a new line, don’t snake the old one
Moving the refrigerator was easy, cleaning the old location was gross, and dealing with the water line was not easy.
For the water, the best way is to find the nearest cold water pipe in the basement below and run a new line from there. Water should come from below, not snaked around or over from the old place.
Of course if the refrigerator is near the sink then go from the sink. Our sink is on the otherside of the room so we went from the basement.
Strategy for adding a new line
Once I identified a nearby 1/2″ cold water pipe in the basement, there were two ways advised to add the new refrigerator water line:
Use a saddle valve that clamps on and pierces an existing pipe
Cut the pipe to install a tee for the new line
The saddle valve option may be ok but it looks and feels really flimsy. I was worried that if the line were accidentally yanked, there would be a random hole leaking in the pipe. Thus we went with the second option.
So the plan is…
Cut 1.25 inches out of our existing copper pipe in the basement, fit the tee, add a short length of PEX pipe, then a stop valve (sometimes we might want to shut off water only to the refrigerator), and last is 1/4 inch copper pipe snaked up to the new refrigerator location.
It was not that easy.
20′ of 1/4″ flexible copper refrigerator pipe (distance from existing 1/2″ pipe in basement to new refrigerator location plus 6-10′), $20
Sharkbite 1/2″ tee, $10
Sharkbite 1/2″ to 1/4″ quarter turn stop valve, $10
A short (6″) piece of 1/2″ PEX pipe to connect the tee and stop valve, free or almost free
Pipe cutter with a short enough handle to fit 360 degrees around existing pipe (between nearby joists and pipes), $20
Compression cap and brass collar for connecting 1/4″ pipe to refrigerator intake, $2
Total monies: around $60
First, basic stuffs I learned:
Water pipe 101
Most pipe in the basement is copper and most copper pipe is 1/2 inch. Some pipe is PEX, which is a tough plastic that is slightly flexible. Compared to PEX, copper is not flexible. Refrigerator pipe is typically 1/4 inch outside diameter and best is flexible copper. We have plastic pipe in our condo and it breaks and leaks annually, it is bad.
For professional plumbers and large jobs, people use copper fittings that require soldering. I have soldered me electrical boards in electronics class and lab, but the addition of water makes things more difficult.
At Home Depot, they recommended these Sharkbite fittings which have fancy o-rings that allow push-in connections without soldering. The Sharkbite fittings cost about 10x more than copper fittings, but $10 vs. $1 is a great trade-off when you only need one or two parts and you’re saving yourself hiring a plumber (=$hundreds) and you have little skill with plumbing. I imagine for a more complicated project and depending on one’s mechanical ability a real professional should be hired (I have a degree in engineering).
For this refrigerator water line project, I bought a Sharkbite 1/2 in tee and a 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch quarter turn valve.
Now, basic stuffs I messed up:
I should have googled this before buying anything. For one, our house already came with a pipe cutter I just didn’t know what one looked like and didn’t know we had it until after the fact. A pipe cutter looks like a rotary cutter on a clamp. Actually, that’s what it is. From scrap booking to plumbing, same deal. The rotary blade is on a clamp because you clamp the cutter around the pipe, then turn.
After buying an adjustable cutter with a long handle that looked like it would be easy for a weakling like me to apply torque, I found that that was not smart. The long handle did not fit between the joists and other pipes. I mangled the pipe ends trying to jam the cutter around existing joists and not knowing how tight to make the clamp. I ended up having to go back and buy another smaller cutter.
To use the adjustable pipe cutter, position the clamp around the pipe then tighten the clamp just so that the blade touches the pipe. Turn the knob just a quarter or half turn more. Don’t crush the pipe. Spin the whole cutter device around the pipe multiple times to cut all the way through, tighten knob slightly more as necessary.
So before cutting any pipe, I first turned off the main water supply and opened the faucets to drain as much water as possible. Then positioned a 5 gallon bucket under the pipe to be cut. You will get wet, water will come out of the pipe when you cut. Also, if you’ve never cut pipe before I suggest buying a practice pipe for a few extra dollars; we didn’t do this but in retrospect…
Prepping the cut end
The cut ends need to be smooth and round, not squished. Special deburring tools are sold, but the guy at Home Depot suggested just filing or sanding with abrasive mesh or cloth sold in the plumbing section. This step is incredibly important for the Sharkbite push system.
How much to cut, getting the tee installed
The Sharkbite tee we bought had three 1″ long fittings and a section 1.25″ intervening, so I cut 1.25″ of pipe. Pulling apart the existing pipe to get the tee in was not easy. I was not strong enough.
It turned out that cutting a little more, say 1.5″ or 1.75″ (1/4″-1/2″ more) made getting the two pipe ends apart enough to fit the tee much more doable. We also had to loosen some nearby brackets to get the 1/2″ copper to give enough .
VERY IMPORTANT: draw a mark 1″ in from the end of the pipes to indicate how far in they will go into the Sharkbite fitting before trying to attach any Sharkbite anything. This way you will know if the pipe has been pushed in far enough or not.
Compression fitting are the general way that 1/4″ pipe for refrigerators etc are connected to anything. For copper pipe, you just need a brass collar and the screw cap with a hole in the top of the pipe to fit through. Basically you put the 1/4″ pipe in the hole of the screw cap, then the collar around the end of the 1/4″ pipe, and screw the whole thing into wherever.
In our setup, we had two compression connections: (1) to the stop valve, and (2) to the refrigerator.
It should have been easy, but we had some combination of missing parts (you need the collar), extra parts (for PEX pipe but not copper pipe you need a little insert that goes inside the end of the pipe), and no googling (what is this compression thingy?).
It’s great! It took us one stressful evening, $60, 3 trips to Home Depot, and now we have a new refrigerator with tasty water and ice!!!!