Its been a fairly busy weekend, all told. Saturday we went down to Larkspur to get the FishTankFromHell(tm). Thanks to Geoff and Tom for their heroic assistance in that move. We got everything moved, including about 40 gallons of the existing water. I think there were a total of … 15 fish? Something like that. We lost one already, I think just due to the “shock” of the move. We will probably lose one more if my guess is on. But I think, given what they went through to get to my house, that is about as well a result as can be expected. The rest look great, their color has returned, swimming around well, etc etc.

We had our friend Simon come over this morning to try to get some pictures of us and the kids. They were well behaved, but didn’t sit still very well. We’ll see how they turn out. We will post pics once we have them, and of course provide Simon with some advertising for his trouble! Thanks Simon!

I left from DIA at 3:44 bound for Seattle and arrived relatively unscathed. Somewhere in the mix of security scanning and getting to my seat on the plane, I dropped my cash. I didn’t realize it. When we deplaned in Seattle, the lady sitting behind me passed me on the jetway, and handed me something, asking if it looked familiar. It was my billfold, all $150 or so it, plus receipts. I do believe at least some of my faith in honesty is restored. So thank you, nice lady sitting behind me. I do appreciate it.

Taxi to hotel, checked in. Dinner at Buckley’s. I also managed to get in touch with Johnny Rockstar, who I will be dining with on Wednesday evening. He is going to try and coerce Gamber to come along as well, who I haven’t seen in ages, so that would be great, of course. And I should be meeting Susan Ramsey and her beau for a drink or dinner or both tomorrow evening as well. Its good to be the king, is all I’ve gotta say.

Ah Seattle. I do like it here. I like the climate, could do with fewer hills. Could do with not being on a major fault line. But otherwise, I dig it. Now time to finish off my book and head for bed.

Fishtank, next installment

So this is mostly going to be about adding the inline filter in. I might even try to draw some little picture to describe whats going on, since this was such a pain in the ass. Really, I should have taken pictures, but I’m lazy. Meh.

So, first, let me describe the problem. I think I hinted at it in one of my previous posts, but I’ll get into detail here. The players are:

The only real detail you need to know here is this… the inline heater is intended to set in the OUTBOUND line of the filter. This stands to reason. You don’t want the particulate matter coming in from the tank to potentially get all clogged up in there and cause a mess or worse. So having it go through the filter first, and (presumably) get rid of all the crap first, THEN go through the heater just makes good sense.

Ok, Eheim’s tubing is in metric measurements. The INBOUND line on the filter is 16mm/22mm (ID/OD). This roughly corresponds to 5/8″ ID.  in US outdated backwards keep a brother down measuring. I’m not bitter. Really. The OUTBOUND line is 12mm/16mm (ID/OD), roughly corresponding to 1/2″ ID. Ok. The Hydor has 5/8″ compression fittings on both sides.

Now you can see the issue. Outbound line where it needs to go? 1/2″. So that needs to get adjust up to 5/8″, insert the hydor, Fittingthen back down to 1/2″ again. Big ol’ pain in the butt. Ok, so I hit the hardware store after work, and picked up a couple 1/2″ to 3/4″ (OD) barb fittings. They look roughly like the image to the right. I also got some of the screwdown clamps to make sure nothing would leak. Since we are dealing with metric/US conversions, there is always the minute differences that could be enough room for leaks.

Ok, so now let me see if I can get a decent image of how all this played out…Installation
There we go. Ok, so although the image is kind of tiny, you can see the different size hoses, and where the fittings had to be put in. It should be noted that this picture doesn’t include the shutoff valves eheim provides in order to make disconnecting the filter easier. That is, unfortunately, one downside to this, and something I may end up fixing later. Ideally, I’d want to have those quick-disconnects on both side of BOTH the filter and the heater. That way if I needed to take the heater OR filter out temporarily, I could. As it stands right now, if I want to take the filter out, the heater comes with it. Ah well, down the road.

Lets see, what else. Well… one thing I’m struggling with is that there is really limited space under the tank. Meaning, the stand is pretty space-constricted inside. Getting all of this stuff connected without bending hoses in ways they weren’t meant to be was quite a trick. Also, I think I fixed the leak I mentioned in a previous post! I think what happened is that the quick-connect thinger was not creating a good seal because of the way I was attaching it. Essentially, if you have both of the ball valves CLOSED when you attempt to connect it, you’re creating a compressed pocket of air in there that is inherently resisting your attempts to push the two sides together. Opening one of the ball valves fixes this problem. It isn’t leaking anymore after watching for awhile. HOWEVER, I am getting a leak right below there at the place where the 5/8″ tubing joins to the fitting. This is easily remedied with another screw clamp to fit over the 5/8″ side. So far, I had only used them on the 1/2″ side since that was the side that felt a bit loose. That is a problem that $1.20 can fix. So all in all, I’m pleased. We’ll see how this heater behaves.

Hmm. Ok, so I ordered a few things today. 2 replacement bulbs for the lighting (the actinics are burned out). A power strip that has clock controls to alternate lighting stuff, a submersible thermometer, some water conditioner, and some replacement clips for the filter. Not too bad. I spent some part of the morning looking for an online supplier that was Better Business Bureau Accredited. After four sites failed that test, was not only accredited, but answered the phone for support with a PERSON when I called, and had everything I wanted in stock. I will know next week how they are with shipping and such. Given that part of the order is light bulbs that are quite fragile, this should be a decent test.

Oh, the two pieces of wood I bought the other day are in the tank, and leeching tannins like crazy. I’ll try to get some pictures tomorrow before I do a water change to help that process along. The water just looks really yellow at the moment.

Can’t think of anything else.


I have disabled comments on the blog here. I don’t really see the point of leaving them on. I do imagine that there are a couple of you who pull in my posts here via RSS, and maybe it would be easier to “reply” via whatever reader you’re using. Fair enough. I do, however, crosspost the link to the post from both Facebook and G+. I guess it is my expectation that the “social” aspect, or discussion of a post, if that is going to happen, would happen there. Ideally, I would be able to get rid of Facebook entirely, but I think its probably not something that is likely to happen anytime in the near future. So be it. I can handle two places where discussion can theoretically be generated. For reference, it is not my intent to turn off RSS here. I assume it is working. I don’t subscribe to myself, so I guess I don’t really know. Heh.

Feel free to let me know if you have another preference. I guess I just prefer to consolidate things to the smallest footprint, when possible.


So it turns out that website I found for the fishtank light bulbs has a BBB rating of F and their website doesn’t actually work. *sigh*

Need to find someplace else. Feh.

Fishy overhaul

So my little teensy fishy world might just have received a serious overhaul yesterday. It remains to be seen, but events may be swinging that way.

First, I got an inline heater. Hydor 300H. Problem with that … The Eheim 2217 has a 5/8″ intake tube, and a 1/2″ (well, 12mm/16mm ID/OD) tube outbound. So if I adhere the manufacturer recommendations (which, in thinking about it, make sense), the filter needs to be on the outbound line of the canister. It would stand to reason that you’d want as clean of particulate matter stream of water going through the heater as possible to avoid any kind of chance of it getting all clogged and stuff. I get it. But that means I need to do a 1/2″ to 5/8″ expand before the heater, and then 5/8″ to 1/2″ reduction on the other side. Doable, for sure, just extra parts I hadn’t counted on buying. Assuming Home Depot or Lowes are not completely understocked, I should be good to go.

Also got the black backing for the tank, which is now up, and looks great.

Found a website that carries bulbs for my light fixture as well, which is awesome, especially since it has long since gone off the market. It is a Current USA Compact Flourescent 4x65W 48″ light. Each bulb is 65W, and 24″ (well, ok, more like 22″ long). So I’ll probably order 2x6700K and 2xactinics for it. That’ll run me, … hmm, maybe $100 when I get around to it. Oh, that website is here, for reference. Very happy to have found that. Nice website. Well laid out, reasonable design and good contrast.

But none of that is what has turned my world upside-down. Yesterday, an ebay-coworker of mine let me know that he is leaving there, taking a new job that is going to take him out of town, and he is not reasonably going to be able to take his tank with him. Its an active tank, with Cichlids, primarily, right now, and its got to go. Dirt cheap. And its 250gal. *blink*blink*. Yup. 250gal. 8’x2’x2′. *drool*

So now we’re all in kind of a panic mode trying to figure out *holyshitwtfoverbatman* we’re going to do with this thing. In the short term, the fish are going to go in the tank that I’m cycling right now, the tank itself is going to go in the garage, and we’re going to see what the heck we’re going to have to do with our basement to rearrange to make room for it. There is no reasonable way to have it upstairs. Full of water, that will weigh roughly 2200 lbs. We would need to build a substructure underneath it just to support the floor, and .. no. Not gonna happen. So yeah, I need to figure this out.

Fishtank update 2

The remaining substrate arrived yesterday. I hit Home Depot on the way home, and predictably, they didn’t have exactly the kind of peat moss I wanted. They had one kind which was “enriched”, a Miracle-Gro product, which was supplemented with extra fertilizers or something. I’m fairly certain I didn’t want that kind of thing leeching its goo into my tank. I ended up with something that is probably slightly less than ideal, but whatever.

I drained the tank down, which invariably leaves about 1-2cm of water in the bottom of the tank. That complicated laying down the moss since it essentially just floated. Ah well, it just meant that my first layer (Amazonia + Laterite) had to sort of … hold down the moss. It took a bit of playing with, but I think I managed it. Then came the layers of Eco-complete, mixing the red and black bags in to get a decent layering and some attempt to tier it up in the back as well. I think it looks pretty decent. I took a few snaps of it, but haven’t pulled anything off the camera yet.

Since I also got the replacement filters, I also pulled apart the canister and put the fresh ones in. No real issue there, primed it again, got everything going. Unfortunately, in doing so, I spotted a leak down there. Not a major one. For the moment, a towel underneath is good enough, but there will be a part under there that is going to get a new seal pretty soon here.

First snow

I love waking up to the first snow of the season. Stand outside in the early morning, before the traffic really gets going. You get some quiet moments still where all you can hear is the snow falling. Dim light halos coming from every street light or car headlight or porchlight. You can *almost* forget everything else that is going on and believe there is some purity left.


State of the Union

I’m sitting here watching TV. Its some political punditry or another. It doesn’t matter which one, and it doesn’t matter which ideology. If you read deeply enough into my various postings that either dodge around the edge of my political views or state them overtly… you can get a good sense for how I feel about things. But that isn’t the point here.

Here is the point. I think we are in the process of reaching a node. A Pivot Point. A junction in the way that politics, commerce, finance, culture and people function in this country, and… I don’t think I’m stretching too far here, the world.

#ArabSpring, #OccupyWallStreet, the Euro-Troubles (Greece, Italy, Spain), and the last two decades of corruption, war, growth of government control, erosion of our civil right and personal freedoms… I feel like I’m caught in some kind of fucked up novel. I’ve never personally seen something like this. I was born during another one of these points (Vietnam War), but wasn’t old enough to know it was going on, let alone form an opinion about it. Since around the moment when I started becoming self-aware enough to look at the world around me (say, age 10 or so)… I was still too focused on playing baseball, riding my bike, and trading baseball cards with my friends. And then? At that point, in that year, was the beginning of the end that we are now facing. Ok, not “end”, per se… but like I just said… this … inflection point (I steal from the show I’m watching, shamelessly).

My problem with all of this? I really and truly fear what is to come next. I weep… yes, weep real tears, EVERY DAY right now, watching the events unfold in this country. I used to think, not even very long ago, that moving to would fix it. But it won’t. This goes beyond this country. It extends to all the sovereign countries participating in the global economy. All the countries participating in the ideologies of self-righteousness, fear and hatred. I love this country. I truly do. I marvel, in wide-eyed awe, at the institutions, documents, policies and foresight this country’s founders put in place so many years ago. Their durability, flexibility and belief in a dream that has persisted through some of the most trying experiences that nations have ever faced. But even these, so steadfast and resolute in their ability to adapt to changing times, could not stand up to the onslaught of greed, corruption and just flat-out ignorance that has led to where we are now.

Shame on us. Not all of us. That would be unfair. But alot of us. I count myself among those to blame. I was … lazy, unwilling to push my stake in the ground and stand up for the things that might have made a difference earlier. It is arguable that nothing I could have done in the past decade (or more) would have changed any outcomes. It could also reasonably be argued that I did, in fact, participate in the more local, philosophical ways that I did. But I don’t want to dwell on the past. What is more important is what is happening now.

We live in a broken system. Nearly every aspect of our lives is dictated by corruption and greed. Please. Now is the time. Stand up for what you believe in, talk to everyone around you. Get people motivated about making things right. Whatever the mechanism of change will be… participate in it.

ObjectDock, again

So after not really getting any better feedback about a way to organize desktop clutter from thar Interwebzorz, I went back and took another look at ObjectDock. I still own a license. I believe it had upgraded at least once since I last used it, but not to any significant degree.

For those that aren’t aware of it, imagine the Mac dock, expanded into a “tabbed” interface so that you can create categories of icons. I can make it do the funky glowing, expanding icon thing on it if I want when I mouseover, but honestly, I’d just prefer not. The icon does grow very slightly (maybe 5-10% again above normal size), but I ignore it.

Most icons can just be dragged up into the new bars/tabs, and everything just works. A few things, notably Steam games, don’t work “out of the box”, and you have to manually redo those. The URL wasn’t something it grokked, since they use a funky Steam:URL format, like “steam://rungameid/57900”, for example (that one is Duke Nukem Forever). So I had to redo those by hand, but otherwise it just works. My desktop is once again clutter free. Phew.

Fishtank update 1

The first batch of substrate made it to my LFS. I think I mentioned in the last post that they recommended, and I went with Activ-Flora. I did some looking into it, and it seemed a reasonable choice. Not my first choice, but reasonable. Went there to pick it up. Box opened… Eco-complete. Huh? Um. Pointed this out to the guy, he pulls out the catalog… Activ-Flora. I point to the label… Eco-complete. Hrmph.

I will still use it. But please, LFS guy… understand that I am an educated consumer, and I choose products for good reasons. If I order A, and you deliver B … as a general rule, I am not going to be pleased about it, and will certainly reconsider any future purchases at your store. Seriously, how unreasonable is that?

– me

Fishtank Redux

So over the last month, roughly, we’ve been thinking about and investigating the idea of getting the freshwater fishtank going again, and under a strict budget.
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I was going to post about Steve Jobs. I may still. I’m sitting here just sort of stunned, despite the knowledge that he was ill, had been for some time, and that this was coming. I certainly can’t do justice to what he has done for technology, an industry, and how he has enriched our lives over the years. Maybe I’ll get around to that at some point, but right now… I’m just going to let my mind wander through my memories and ponder it all…

Rest In Peace, Steve. Your legacy remains.

Website Optimization

So yeah, on this topic. Here are some of the things I’ve been reading recently on that:

Which led me to several websites detailing how to optimize performance:

And then the online tools to help you identify your site’s problems:

Analysis showed my page lacking in several areas. CSS Sprites and js/css/html minify being the most notable.

Interesting, wot? Maybe y’all have been paying more attention than I have, and you’re all like… yeah? So? Thats old news. yeah? Well? Not to me. So yet another area to do some learning on, which is always a good thing. Blogs have a few things that can be easily optimized, and some that can’t. But (aforementioned static hosting aside <- provide link) I’m going to give it a go on this blog and a few other sites I own or host, and see what I can do about optimizing them. I think I should be able to get their “ratings” for optimization up to an A.

I’ve moved stuff around, and all the primary site images (essentially, the brilliant buttons) are all now actually one image, with the CSS taking care of the positioning. Took awhile to get right, not the least of which time was because PSP crashed on me. More fool me. Please, Corel, just fix the goddamn thing.

I did install plugins for wordpress that help you with the minify and consolidation, remove whitespace, etc. I’m now scoring much better on those testing tools. Pagespeed now has me scoring a 69/100, nearly a 40 point improvement!

Static Gallery

As part of all the aforementioned effort to make my online life more simple, I’ve also experimented in getting a gallery to be static content as well.
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openLDAP on EC2

So, adventure #1. As mentioned in a previous post, I’m trying to use Amazon’s free service to its maximum extent. Here is how that went down: Read more

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