Lyndhurst Garden House

Lyndhurst Garden House
Lyndhurst Garden House

Friday, January 20, 2017

Range Hoods

Most of the range hoods I've seen don't make sense, I realize now.  I once liked the sexiness of curved glass range hoods with inner stainless block, like this one

though I have only been looking at the wall mount kind, to replace my fake (no exhaust) system.

But the capture area of such a hood is determined by the inner metal part.  The glass doesn't help much in capture, by the time the smoke or steam rises there it is probably lost, unless the fan is blowing harder than necessary.  What counts is more approximately the area directly horizontal from the air inlets, and not too far out from the last air inlet in any dimension.  Or, if the center is raised, capture area extends as far as the sides continue lowering.

Capture area is what you want to maximize with a range hood.  For efficient capture of the steam and odors, building scientists have determined that you need a hood at least as large as the cooking area, and increased 6" for each 30 inches of rise above the cooking area.

Conventional electric cooktops end around 22 inches from the wall (this specification is remarkably hard to find, and I'm guessing) and this is the spec that matters for range hood depth, because it shows to meet an efficient capture area a hood at 30 inches above cooktop should be 28 inches deep.  I have not seen that, though I do sometimes see hoods at 25 inches or so deep, called "professional" and having very hard to meet residentially 1000 cfm or higher.

There's been a kind of horsepower race in big ranges and range hoods, where the sellers of these things push people to large sizes ("everybody does it now", the familiar self-fufilling claim) so people feel inadequate without the latest 2000 cfm or higher for their 48" range.  (Meanwhile, lifelong cooks for large families say a 30 inch range is entirely adequate...)

If you have a range hood higher than about 100cfm/1000sqft of house space, some say (actually there is a code on this now, and I'm not exactly sure what it says, but possibly something like this) you need to explicitly provide make up air.  And this is still sometimes not done (though less often than before thanks to the code change in 2009).

Anyways, not only do you need makeup air, but it's expensive, so you don't want an unnecessarily powerful fan.

And to get the most clearance of cooking smoke and smells, you can do it one of two ways:

1) have the proper sized hood (as described above, quite deep, in fact unobtainium in residential equipment) combined with the rule-of-thumb sized fan, for example, 10cfm per inch of electric cooktop width (it's a btu number for gas).  So for my 30 inch wide wide range I need (or would need) 300cfm blower (which means I'd need makeup air, but not too difficult with 8 inch dampered duct).

Oh, and optimal hood also includes being 6" wider on both sides, so the hood should be 42" wide in my case... 

2) Have an undersized hood, and a stronger blower fan.  Well of course this is what everybody actually does, and for those that don't bother with such nicieties (and code requirements now) as makeup air, they aren't getting the nameplate cfm anyway, as the house turns to vacuum state and crud rushes in from everywhere.

The typical range hood is 17 inches deep, way inadequate even for electric, very inadequate for gas.

Well I may get get a 22 inch deep Broan Evolution 4 hood anyway, with 440 nameplate CFM hood (and you gotta look for the vertical 7" shaft number...the fan above is actually advertised as 600 cfm, but that's with a particular large rectangular duct only...another form of specification inflation).  I could possibly get by with the Evolution 3 and 330 CFM.

With 440 (instead of 300) CFM, the lack of proper depth and sides is somewhat compensated for, without going overboard.  Anything larger than the above would be way overboard.  I haven't seen reasonably sized fans or designs above 22 inches deep so far.  Also, the hood has to be raised to allow for taller people, especially as the hood gets deeper than 22 inches.

Perhaps a blank slate hood would be 34 inches deep, 7 feet high.  Such a large hood could actually use lower CFM than a typical system, and work as well.

And I'm doing the fan-sensor controlled makeup air system with controlled duct, and outlet hopefully above the refrigerator.  Cold air will sink onto the warm refrigerator coils, hot air will stay around the ceiling.  Muchly.  And it makes sense for the gain or loss to be felt in the kitchen, where the source of the problems is, and the operator can make needed adjustments if going too far overboard.

As long as it doesn't get too cold outside (combined with cooking in the early AM) make up air dumped above the refrigerator should be no big deal.  BTW, otherwise the kitchen is heated to 75 degrees as the rest of the house in my case.  If there were not such general heating/cooling, the makeup air dump there could be more of an issue...and would have to be relocated to some other place chosen to cause the least discomfort...bedrooms and bathrooms worst, living room(s) best.

Generally, in a fully designed system there is balanced ventilation, with fresh air routed to the central system, and continuous exhaust in bathrooms (I suggest also the attached garage have it's own continuous exhaust, which is what I do).  And the ultimate would use something like ERV to obtain energy efficiently, so indoor air temperature is less compromised by the inlet of outdoor air, which can range from far too hot to far too cold.

That cost...the cost of loss of good climate the cost of using too big a range hood fan, ultimately the biggest cost (well, without makeup air, if you had unvented gas appliances, the occupants could suffer with CO poisoning and such...but after  those serious errors, the loss of interior comfort is the greatest reason for designing the range hood right and not using too much exhaust flow.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

New Loveseat

The living room layout is changing.  First, last month, I removed the keyboard and keyboard table (and endless associated stuff) from the back left (north) of the room.  That permitted me to move the existing couch (actually, a large loveseat from the 1950's recovered in the 1980's) to the back of the room.  During the last movie party two guests watched the movie from opposite ends of the couch.  Previously the moving was barely watchable from the farthest end of the couch.

But my friend still strongly wanted the couch moved to face the screen (and stereo, etc).  I argued that would not work, as I figured out years ago.  The existing loveseat is not as wide as the existing space, but would leave a useless 18 inches in the corner.  And then a chair couldn't be placed along the opposite wall for 50 inches or more, because of the deepness of the old sofa, and a bit of extra margin.  That would mean the ONLY possible seating along the side wall would be a single chair.  Now 3 and sometimes 5 people can sit along the side wall (up to 4 in couch and one in a side chair) along the north wall, facing as many as 4 people on the inside wall and 2 in the center, for a lively discussion.

So, moving the couch to the back wall facing the screen would destroy the discussion layout, and not provide much for video other (the new side chair would be unuseable for video), just the 3-4 in back, whereas a proper arrangement as I'm achieving will permit 6 or so.

I first researched reduced size loveseats to go on the back wall, permitting the couch to remain on the side wall but jogged out by the bookcase, which conveniently jogs it out for sofa positioning.  Even at, who produces non-oversized furniture, just the basics, 50 inch wide loveseat is the smallest of 3 options.  That would not work, 47 inches is stretching it even.

47 inches is what I ended up getting, in a deep comfortable looking Carmen armless loveseat from Pier1 (discontinued and disappeared from website after I ordered mine).  Measuring 47 inches wide, it just reaches the maximum that will work for me.  The standard Carmen is 63 inches wide, a standard loveseat width.  This is just that, minus the large rounded arms, 8 inches on each side.

Either an armless or a 1-armed loveseat might work, as suggested in an article at Houzz, to fit a loveseat in limited space.  I spent most of my research time looking for one armed loveseat, seeing that to be the perfect compromise.  I came very close to ordering the Carolina Accents model CA5005-DDNL from Mackenzie.  It had a lot going for it.  A one-arm loveseat makes huge sense, since sitter #1 will be the only one mostly, then number 2 will be leaing on #1, and so on.  People described the Mackenzie as being suitable for 1 large adult and two smaller children.  But at a maximum width of 45, and 6 or more lost to the arm, it has barely 40 inches of width.  And it was only 29 inches deep, whereas even the space minimizing furniture of comfy1 is 33 inches deep (and most big box furniture 36 to 40 or more).  It partly achieved this by limited height back, only 28 inches heigh.  So this looks more like "occasional" furniture, much like the "accents" name, for occassionally having a chat with neighbors or kids, not for 6 hours of discussion and movie.

That was why I chose the Carmen, it looked suitable for extended sitting of at least two normal sized people.  I experimented sitting in the middle of the couch for a sense of the "armless" feel...and I think it feels OK.  It may even be an advantage, in this limited space room, in being able to pivot out of the chair.  And finally it allows pulling up a chair on the door side during movie time, making for at least 3 integrated back wall seats, plus the side wall couch in which one can sit slighly diagonally...exactly as one would do in a sectional sofa...but better in my view.

This combination of armless loveseat and sofa actually seems like an inherently adaptable idea, similar to the sectional sofa but better in a way in permitting more normal seating in a limited space.  During discussion, the person at the end of the existing sofa sits square back in their seat, as in a normal sofa, and not like in a sectional.  Only during movie watching does the person turn to an angle, just as at all the other sofa seats, but it's still quite tolerable up the the far end of the sofa.

The other huge advantage of the Carmen over the Carolina Accents was in the fact that the Carmen had actual removeable cushions.  I decided that's an essential advantage, since cushions can be turned or replaced easily.  Without removeable cushions, once the top gets stained or damaged, out goes the entire sofa as repair probably costs more, and is far more inconvenient, than replacement.

Now it turns out I found a review of the Carmen (or possibly appeared in several different forms and places) where the cushions collapsed.  That person actually got their money back from Pier1.  So I figured it probably doesn't happen often, and anyway, hopefully one can just replace the cushion foam.  Now I wonder if the cushions have zippers, making foam replacement or "professional cleaning" easy.  Replacing the cushion foam would be a sort of upgrade one might chose to do on day one anyway.  So I didn't consider this problem or potential problem to be definitive and didn't cancel my order.  At worst I'd have to get zippers added to the cushions, and then new foam.

I got a discount price about 50% off list which is rare at pier1.  I think they never managed to put this item into any serious marketing, it just sat there, and then Pier1 decided to discontinue this item.

That made it a tiny fraction of a US made 50 inch (too wide) loveseat from comfy1.  I wonder about what the extra cost would be to make the comfy1 one armed and narrower.

I did learn, however, about the importance of having removeable cushions at the comfy1 site.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Security Cameras

One of the well known brands of security camera is SECO-LARM.

These are no-nonsense wired cameras.  Some use/require the Zeta OSD controller to use the special features.

Often with security camera, it's hard to figure the field of view.  With SECO-LARM cameras, it appears to be related to the focal length as follows:

2.9mm    is 120 degrees view
3.6mm    is 92 degrees view

The "varifocal" models go 2.8-12mm so from just over 120 to 40 degrees or thereabouts.

120 degrees is a nice wide angle for my front yard camera.  170 degrees, available in the SECO-LARM EV-1665-N2BQ seems excessive.

So either the EV-1606-N2SQ or varifocal cameras include the EV-C1303-NMCQ look good.

SECO-LARM does not specify that any of their cameras are 960H or AHD.  Perhaps there is little point in getting their higher resolution models for that reason (though I think there would still be some point…the higher the captured density the better noise-reduction and the like processing can be done).  One expert even argues that 960H and the like is pointless anyway.  No matter how good your camera is, forcing the signal through NTSC video means that it has a maximum 340 (!!!) lines of resolution because of the implied horizontal bandwidth of 4.28 Mhz.

I'm not as expert as that person, but I don't think I believe all of that.  For one thing, the actual "luminance" carrier in NTSC has a 6 Mhz bandwidth.  True, parts are carved out for other carriers, starting around 4.28Mhz, but if the filtering is done to specification (i.e., using real comb filtering) I think you can get close to the often claimed 540 lines, or 720 pixels, not perfectly, but closely, just as I have seen tests show the 500+ horizontal lines and they can be seen, if not with perfect clarity, on the best equipment.

Here's another put-down of 960H that doesn't make complete sense.  They say there isn't any more "quality" just an increase in picture area.  But that doesn't make sense, a wider picture of the same density is a higher quality picture in that it captures more information.  This is certainly true if you have 960H recorder which can then display the 960 pixels in a wider image, say 1080p.  Otherwise, on standard video equipment the enhanced horizontal resolution indeed may be lost.

Though I worry that this may not actually be the best choice, given that there are now read IP cameras with true High Definition, I'm tempted by SECO-LARM's best camera , the Elite 3X, because of the Wide Dynamic Range, Defogger, Digital Slow Shutter, and 3D noise reduction (which probably does take advantage of the megapixel cmos, even if megapixel pictures are not actually delivered to the user).

That camera doesn't appear to be widely stocked, however it can be ordered by the largest security camera vendors.

Monday, February 8, 2016

CCTV Security Cameras

I would like something better than the Swann Security DVR I purchased 4 years ago for around $450 with 4 cameras.  I went out of my way to get Swann instead of one of a never ending succession of unknown companies at familiar stores like Smarthome, figuring that Swann would be better.  Now I don't know if it is better.  The Swann unit physically looks like essentially all the other security camera DVR's.  They all look so similar you imagine them all being made by the same Chinese OEM.

Like most computerized devices these days, the User Interface of the Swann system from 4 years ago is deplorable.  But how do you know where to get a better interface?  All these systems are promoted on the basis of hardware and features, and the low price.  Typical 4 camera DVR's sell for $75-$200 now. At that price one can barely expect much refinement.  (Horrid user interfaces are the norm with all these kinds of systems in my experience…I haven't had time to write and describe how horrible they all are.)

As just one example of how horrible the User Interface of my system is:

My system was actually an 8 camera system.  The problem with that is that it defaults to a display with 8 panels--one for each of the 8 cameras.  But if you have only 4 cameras connected, half of the panels will simply show the message "Video Failure".  So with only 4 cameras, half of the screen space is wasted and in the other half the pictures from each camera are only half as big as they should be.

You can go into the software--this is sometimes very tricky--and change it to a 4 camera display.  But that will only stay that way for a week or so.  Because, for reliability reasons, the system reboots itself on programmed intervals from 1 week to 1 month.  When it reboots, your display reverts to the 8 camera display again.  That means, once again, you have to go to the system and change it again.

You'd have thought that they would have thought about this problem, especially as they are selling the system I bought with only 4 cameras.  I emailed Swann and asked if I could make it stay with the 4 camera display after rebooting.  I was glad to get a quick email response from Swann, but the answer was no, you have to reset the 4 camera display after every reboot if you have the 8 channel DVR, and they do recommend the periodic rebooting.

One thing for sure, next time I get the 4 camera system if I'm only going to have 4 cameras.  Well I thought I might soon have 8 cameras, but this didn't play out as expected.  The system with 4 cameras was, I thought then, an incredible bargain for only $450, and I could get more cameras for $100 apiece or less.  What I failed to consider was the cost of actually installing the cameras.  Given that these are wired cameras, they must have wires running all the way back to the DVR.

If you don't want this to be extremely tacky and/or unreliable, you have to have an electrician install the cameras.  They will do it very nicely with a box in the wall where the camera mounts and wires running through your attic.  That can run you about $1000 just to install one camera if you are doing one at a time.  I've installed 3 cameras in two projects and the cost was about $1000.  It was lowest for the first camera because the wire simply goes through the wall and didn't need to get run through the attic, and the other two I did at the same time as other attic electrical work was being done.

I suppose as an alternative you could simply staple the video camera wires to the outside of your house.  Now how secure is that going to be?

Anyway, I'm trying to find a nicer 4 channel replacement for my now 8 channel DVR.  Here's the nicest looking one in print, for $599.  At that price it ought to be better than those which are more typically selling for $100.  But you can't really tell from online information.  It might be just the $100 unit marked up to a higher price.  OK, it does have the nice feature of being able to attach High Definition cameras.  But I don't need that feature as none of my cameras are High Definition.  And this company doesn't offer any unit without that feature.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Are Black Lights dangerous

I'm currently using a Dynatrap indoors for mosquitos.  It has proven to be marginally effective.  If there are a bunch of mosquitoes around, it will vacuum some of them up eventually.  This is basically the best that can be done indoors without having nets or applying repellent chemicals directly to your skin.  It's provably better than nothing, though not much.

Now I'm going to get some actual bug zappers, once again for indoor use.  Because of warm winter, I'm expecting this year to see massive amounts of flying bugs outside.  Some will get inside.  So I need some indoor traps.  Indoors I don't care if I zap a few "beneficial pollenating insects."  They should not be inside.  I agree that such traps should only be used outdoors on a very limited basis so as to not interfere much with beneficial insects.  It is claimed these can catch mosquitoes too, but I'd expect even less performance than the Dynatrap which was specifically designed to catch mosquitoes.

Now the question is, what about the blue bulbs in these lights.  Are they harmful?

The answer appears to be no, or at least not much.  Prudence suggests not staring at or remaining in close proximity to such a light for very long.  But since they produce mostly UVA, and not at huge quantities either, they are not likely to be harmful from casual exposure.

Here's a relevant article which addresses the question about black lights and the blue lights in bug zappers.

It's UVB lights, sometimes used in tanning salons and germ killers, that are more dangerous.  UVA is longer than 315 nm.  UVB is less than 315 nm.

UVB bulbs are considerably more expensive, and potentially unsafe, so it's doubtful they are used in black lights or bug zappers.  A typical wavelength from UVB bulb is 295nm.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Breakdowns in 2015

A key part of my bedroom hifi, a Behringer DEQ 2496 failed, and rather than replace with spare unit intended for 3 DEQ living room system, I temporarily reprogrammed the existing DCX crossover to do same job, though not quite as well.  I will need to replace with DEQ or equivalent for long term plan for bedroom system.  $300 not paid yet since I still have spare unit that needs to be programmed and put into service before I buy yet another.  Plan is to have 4 such units in continuous service, currently I only have 1 in continuous service.

Another key part of bedroom hifi, a Sonos ZP80 from 2005 seemed to be failing and was replaced with brand new Sonos Connect.  Later I determined that older ZP80's aren't as good doing simultaneous line input to several zones, so perhaps the ZP80 wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as the new units.  But that was my original ZP80, which has had more hangups and other problems than any other unit, so I'm glad to be rid of it, and the new Connect has revolutionized my Turntable & Tape zone, which now works perfectly in all modes via Sonos.  $325

Car (2006 Prius with 135,000 miles) started showing red warning triangle and other lights.  I was able to drive to dealer, and paid $500 to replace inverter coolant pump.  This is the first repair I have ever had to pay for since previous repairs were covered by 100,000 mile warranty.  I decided if car needs to be replaced before smaller EV's with 200 mile range become available, I'll lease an EV with 100 mile range.  But I would pay a few thousand, if necessary, to keep Prius going until 2017. $500

13 year old Central Air Conditioner stopped working, and was repaired with a recharge and sealant compound said to be good for 18 months.   Very hot summer follows very cold winter this year and replacement may be required soon.  Variable speed compressors are now available from Trane, Lennox, and Carrier.  My existing service company would be happy to install new Trane, but I want BTU's bumped up which it would seem that kind of system allows, but installers aren't comfortable with that yet. $500

Another key part of bedroom hifi, a Classe CP-35 preamp I purchased used in 2004 died, blows fuses.  Was replaced with brand new Emotive XSP-1 preamp.  $700.

Power amp in SVS subwoofer failed and was replaced with new improved unit from factory.  $400.

Worried that Monster Power surge suppressor in bedroom wasn't working (after two failures on bedroom system, and it had been blinking all lights EXCEPT surge for years, and is the last of 3 now failed Monster Power units) I replaced it with a Brickwall surge suppressor with long warranty and series mode system which works without sacrificial elements.  $250.

Sony 34XBR960 TV from 2005 died.  This was the finest CRT TV ever made, not only with high definition but special SuperFine pitch.  Perfect blacks of course and more beautiful color than just about any LCD TV.  Price paid was $2500 brand new from top local dealer.  Natively scans 480i to 1080i.  The best possible display for old Standard Definition material.  I got my 10 years usage out of it but will try to get fixed.  What I'd like to replace this with would be a 40" (limited by space available) OLED, and those are not available yet.

Ceramic Dental Crown started getting sensitive, then had full on pain.  Dentist fixed without exactly explaining how.  This is the 3rd failure on that crown, though previous failures had not involved any pain.  $200 (including dentist visit, doctor visit, and antibiotic, but not future plans for replacement with gold crown).

Sony 400 disc DVD carousel from 2006 failed, was replaced, sort of, with a new Magnavox MDR 557 in addition to unboxing an older Magnavox MDR 537.  Replacement isn't completed yet because MDR is noisy and I need SSD and other tweaks to make it work quietly.  $300.

10 year old Duracraft Humidifier not working after intensive cleaning--perhaps too intensive.

I guess I shouldn't complain, since most of these have lasted longer than most people even keep such things.  I think it shows that when you have lots of stuff which can fail, you have to expect that there will be continuing repair and replacement costs nearly every year just to keep the same circus going.  So it's one more advantage for simplicity, except I'm not going there soon.  Meanwhile what may be more surprising is how long many things have actually lasted so far and may continue doing for awhile.

(Over $3000 in repair/replacement costs for this year, and one big item, TV, hasn't been addressed yet.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October recap

As I first sat down to write this, I didn't feel I continued the rapid achievements of August and September in October.  But some things did get done as well as good times being had.  After thinking about it, maybe a lot did get done after all.

Queen's Bathroom

Biggest change to the appearance and functionality of the bathroom in many years was a small and inexpensive upgrade:

Finally, after 23 years, I replaced the old dingy shower curtain with a new one which is very pretty.  I also repositioned the shower curtain rod, moving it just above the inside of the tub.  Previously it had been 5 inches further out.  This small change means that now no water leaks out onto the bathroom floor.  No water even leaks behind the shower guard now.  I did not imagine it becoming this good from a couple of simple changes.

For years I had struggled with water leakage.  About 3 years ago a virtual pool of water formed outside the bathtub after each shower.   I then bought a shower curtain corner shield at Lowes, but it only lessened the leakage slightly.  It has always been problematical because the corner between bathtub and shower isn't perfectly square (btw: it never is, and the better shower guards you can get online have adjustable angle to fit).  If you press the shower guard against the wall, it pulls up from the bathtub, and vice versa.  I had always figured those inevitable gaps to be the source of the water leakage…but they weren't.  In fact, done rightly as it is now, the shield isn't needed at all.  But when I replaced the shower curtain this month, I kept the shield up and actually secured it to the wall and the tub now using a tiny piece of blue tac adhesive you hardly notice.  Eventually when I'm sure it isn't needed anymore, I'll just remove the thing.

As I had figured earlier this year from the successful new curved rod in the King's bath, the leakage problem arises when the shower curtain is too far out from the bathtub in the corners.  Just get that part right, and you don't need to do anything else: no clips, guards, or other doodads are really needed.

It was also exacerbated in the Queen's bath because the old pink shower curtain had shrunk over the years.  The shrinkage was such that you couldn't pull it fully to both walls at the same time.  Even pulled not quite all the way back, there was some gap in the front.  And even if the front shower curtain hook was secured on the lip of the rod at the front wall, the bottom of the curtain pulled away from the wall by several inches when I brought the back of the curtain toward the back wall.  Sometime earlier this year I clipped the shower curtain to the shower guard.  That kept the shower curtain from pulling away as much from the front of the shower.  But it had the undesired effect of loosening the shower guard itself, leaving it hanging slightly to the side.  So it's hard to explain how weird this all looked.  Dingy shower curtain not fully reaching the front, pulling the shower guard off to one side, the whole thing unstable and wobbling constantly.  My friend called it "ghetto" earlier this month and that was correct and it got me motivated, finally, to fix it right.

For many years I just couldn't get around to replacing the pink curtain because I was so disappointed that you can't find any plain pink shower curtains anymore, and I liked that plain pink color.  It gave the "pinkness" to the room which was otherwise mostly white.  Every time I looked for a new curtain, I didn't find what I wanted and just gave up.

Many years ago I decided to do certain things differently than most people.  About 23 years ago I bought shower curtain advertised as not needing "liners".  These were made of heavy organic cotton.  I hate plastic liners because they look ugly themselves, are impossible to clean, and complicate the shower curtain system.

Sometime years later I replaced the shower curtain in the King's bath, but in the Queen's bath I'm not sure I ever did.  It was the original Organic cotton curtain in pink.  (Or perhaps it was a replacement I got in 2007, I'm not really sure anymore.)

So I never replaced the curtain for two reasons: 1) because I couldn't find a plain pink curtain anymore, and 2) because I figured you needed some special kind of curtain not to need to use a plastic liner.

Well the experience in the King's bath proved that the curtain doesn't need to be super special anyway.  The linerless curtain there was a relatively light and almost transparent curtain now.  Yet it perfectly traps the water.  (Oh, yes, when going without a liner you put the curtain inside the tub.  If you wash the curtain every so often you won't have any trouble with mildew.  I've had very few problems with spotting over the years, and I'd usually go years (!) between washing the shower curtain.  Recently I hadn't been washing the shower curtain at all because I didn't want to put the damn thing in my washing machine, even with the Sanitize cycle, it was so awful.

When looking for shower curtains this month at Bed Bath & Beyond I noticed that only the very heaviest (and most expensive) ones say specifically they can be used without liner.  Most say that a liner is "recommended."  (When something is "recommended" that actually means you can probably get along without it.)  Then the very lightest curtains say that a liner "is required."  I bought a medium weight curtain on sale for which a liner was only "recommended."


Mowing front and back was done in first two weeks.
Edging front was done (somewhat more completely than in September, but hardly perfect)

The NW Viburnum has been showing fungal disease since July.  Finally a friend trimmed rotting branches and we carefully cleaned up dead leaves.  She also added new pre-fertilized soil around the base, which I moved and aerated slightly.

The tree in SW corner was growing out into Lyndhurst.  We cut it back considerably allowing sufficient room to walk around the corner of the building (but not much more now).

My friend and I picked out flowers for the flower boxes on Oakhurst at a nursery and she planted them.  She waters them mostly, or lets the rain do it, but she called and asked me to water it twice, so far, this month.

King's Bathtub

After a fabulous birthday date with friend (Nursury, Dinner, Swan Lake Ballet, Presents) and on a Sunday night no less, I started cutting with the Exacto knife and removed almost all of the grout/caulk (at least half caulk it seems now) around the tub and in the corners.  I removed about 5 times more stuff than the tile contractor (who barely scratched the surface--though he make have taken out the harder initial grout layer).   Some parts are now picture perfect and ready for caulking, and the progress is hard to believe, but there are still some small hard bits of grout and some trimming around the floor needed which will take another day of work.


I've been battling mosquitos inside the house.  At first I figured they were coming in because I was leaving the back and/or front doors open too long while letting augie in or out (he sometimes takes almost forever to go through the doorway).  I brought the blue light Mosquito Trap out of storage and set it up in the Gym, which is at the beginning of the hallway that leads to the bedrooms.  When that wasn't dealing with the situation in the King's bathroom well enough, I moved it into the King's bath itself.  Then finally one day the King's bath itself seemed loaded with mosquitos and I figured the trap was attracting them and I moved it back to the Gym (converted part of Garage).

It was about that time I realized they must be coming in through the gaps around the bathtub created by removing all the old grout and caulk.  If they can get inside the wall through gaps outside, they can then escape from the inner wall to the room through gaps around the bathtub.  So one night I used painter's 2 week tape to tape all around the tub where grout is removed.  That seemed to help but not immediately eliminate the mosquitos.

I've been getting better at using my insect paddle.  It fries insects that fly through it.  Last night (Oct 29 am) I killed 4 mosquitos, which is pretty good.  Many nights I've swung and swung and caught nothing.  It often seems that once I bring out the paddle, they hide.  Anyway it has become a very useful tool in eliminating mosquitos.  I'm unsure my Dynatrap does much at all except attract mosquitos.

I've also been running the King's bedroom fan in reverse, blowing air from the bed to the ceiling.  This seems to repel mosquitos.  Running the fan the normal way, blowing air down onto the bed when I am laying on it, seems to immediately attract mosquitos.  I've been keeping the fan running 24 hours now because it seems (very limited data) actually to eliminate mosquitos.  It may be stressing or dehydrating them.  This may be more hope than results, but you get to a point where you want to try everything that might work.  Except I don't want to smear DEET on before going to bed.

New Smartphone and Smartphone service

Somehow I got obsessed this month with updating my 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 phone.  After talking to people and visiting Apple store where I had originally intended to buy iPhone 5S, I decided to buy iPhone 6S Plus.  It seemed to solve the issue of accidentally pressing the side off button because that button is just slightly out of my reach when I grasp the phone from my pocket.  Plus being great in other ways, and I strongly appreciate the better software ergonomics of iPhone.  I ended up buying this from Sprint just-in-time to get the now expired $60 unlimited rate (which was good because I gave up my grandfathered $30 unlimited data plan from AT&T in the process) which rose to $70 on October 16.  The Sprint store couldn't sell me one on time because they didn't have any in stock, and they couldn't order any either.  So I ended up ordering over the phone from Sprint just hours before the cutoff.  This was one long and difficult phone call, not helped by the 10 minute delay getting emails at work in the late afternoon when they start doing backups.  But in the end it worked out!  I received the phone the next Tuesday while I was still sick at home.  I had it programmed to my phone number at the Sprint store the following Monday.  So far, I love it.  I am actually renting the phone through iPhone Forever which allows me to upgrade as new phones come out at no charge.  The key problem with my earlier iPhone 3G was that I didn't upgrade until 2013 and by that time it hadn't kept up with changes like the new maps applications.  Though it's not clear if regular upgrades are going to be as important in the future as they were in the past.  Before and after I did much online reading ("research") about phones and especially iPhone.  I now think I had been inspired to buy a phone because of all the iPhone buzz coming out with the introduction of the 6S and 6S Plus in September.  Rarely am I so up with things, but now I'm once again (as when I bought my Prius) up with the stars and the gods, it's October and I have the latest iPhone.

Car Service

I did the 140,000 mile service.

Car Repair

A week after 140,000 mile service, warning lights were flashing, and I took my car to the dealer for repair that evening.  They did it while I ate at a nearby mall (and loved the Strawberries Romanov at La Madeleine).  $500 for new inverter water pump.  This, at 140,000 miles, is the first mechanical repair I have had to pay for on my 9 year old Prius.


I caught cold on Friday, the day after ordering the iPhone, and a couple days after repairing the car.  I was out sick through the following Thurday and still have some slight chest congestion.  I slept and rested well during the peak days I was taking off work, and it has probably been the mildest cold ever, though the runny nose for 3 days was very annoying.  I chose to not take any antihistamines or decongestants, which was easier because I was staying home and mostly resting.


Continued bonding, we feel safe around each other mostly now, I can pick him up without feral cat gloves, and I now usually feel safe going around the house in my underwear, though cat has tapped me with claws (not hard and no mark was left) once this month, and tapped me with paw several times.  I like it when he rubs and just leans on me.  He also likes to lick me a little, I have mostly pulled back fearing it would lead to a bite (it once did a few months ago), but in last few days have even let him lick (my foot or leg) for more than a couple seconds.  I'm feeding him a bit of canned food 4x daily and my friend also does 1x, and we refill his crunchies 3 times daily.  He never bothers me after bedtime until I'm just getting up (he wants that first spoon of canned food).  He never bothers my friend and me when we are together, though he has a special play relationship with my friend ("his mother").  He often sleeps on couch during the day.  His clawing has always been limited to things of lesser importance and toys, which he now spends most clawing time with.  He came out all by himself near the end of the monthly party.  He can still can be threatening several times daily, and occasionally wails inside.  As I am writing this, he had insisted on going outside after dinner, and was outside, but I just opened the back door and he ran back in.  He's incredibly good in many ways, but still bad sometimes in a few.

Testing, Returning, and Replacing the refurbished Keithley Distortion Analyzer

My refurbished Keithley meter from Parts Connexion in Canada arrived in late September just before a party and I quickly tested the AC and DC voltage parts, but didn't get around to testing the distortion analyzer until the XCSSA meeting for October.  I made measuring distortion my XCSSA presentation for the month.  It only interested a couple of people, and them not much.  Anyway it did force me to print out the relevant part of the manual and actually figure out how to use the distortion analyzer.  And I found that the generator part of the meter was not entirely working correctly.  I emailed Parts Connection and within two days they had sent a replacement meter.  I picked up the new meter then re-used the same box and padding to send the bad meter back.  I tested the new meter and, as they had said, it was working correctly.  I rarely do things like this so efficiently.  Often I end up stuck with broken stuff, like the Technics SL-1000 I bought last year.

KPAC Recordings

I've made several now, and finished a very complex editing job on the broadcast of the Rodrigo concerto.  It's now on my server.

Priscilla Recordings

I finally did critical comparison of the Zoom recordings and the monaural R0DE/Masterlink recordings.  IMO the Masterlink recordings have much more dynamics and passion.  So I decided to go ahead with the editing job I had already done, though I did edit out one track from the Zoom recordings to do the test (and had initially been planning to use that, as it had the unclipped first take).  I made two "master" CD's of the edited Masterlink version on my Mac/Plextor, and diff'd them on my SmartNFriendly duplicator where I will burn all the customer copies.  I needed to get the duplicator connected to the living room conditioned power (it hadn't been used in years).  I was all set to start burning copies for interested people, and then I decided I was coming down with cold and didn't want to get my germs on them.  I had planned to go to the audio society meeting to give them out, but skipped the meeting also because of illness.

Work ($)

Passed annual review.  It's been an interesting and/but very good month and things are looking good.  Learned about matrix multiplication optimization.


Paid Home Insurance (getting really high, but I'm glad I can still buy it) and County Tax.  Didn't bother to wait till January to pay tax, or installments, just sent a check for the whole thing so as not to forget, etc.  But that was half of what the insurance cost.  Funny I also got an insurance rebate check of $250, which was about how much higher my insurance was this year.  School tax hasn't arrived yet.

The Party

Four Guests, including my friend.  My friend made baked chicken, which was well received, along with some other contributions.  The topic was good and generated good discussion, though curiously the friend I expected to be the most argumentative was pretty much in agreement with me now.  The movie was very well received and perhaps one of the best I've ever shown, dealing with a chapter of history few people learned much about.  Because of the chicken dinner, instead of me having to make sandwiches for 30 min, the majority of the party was over early which was nice given the early darkness.  Very successful!

Credit Union and Work Timecard

In both cases I found my self locked out.  I went to the credit union and they reset something and I could log in again.*  It wasn't just me not remembering my "first employer", their software was screwing up in multiple ways, I'd follow all the steps correctly and then just find myself locked out again and again.)  In both cases I have the passwords written down now, and I hope they've taken "First Employer" off the list.  The "email temporary password" feature doesn't seem to work at all on any Mac I've tried.

WRT timecard database at work, it wasn't sending the password reset emails either, so I could just never reset my password.  Every time you go through this, it won't let you select the same password, or even one with more than a few matching letters.  This makes it extremely difficult to both formulate a new password and remember it, which you inevitably find yourself doing in extreme haste to be sure you get your timecard in on time or check that your bank balance is high enough.


The car was flashing warning lights, including the "Red Triangle of Death", but seemed to run normally.  Turns out the Yellow triangle may be worse, but the combination of red and yellow triangles would mean to have the car towed, or anything related to brakes (fortunately not).  I brought it to the dealer that same day and got it fixed for $500.

The Classe CP-35 preamp in my Turntable and Tape pod is not showing any LED's.  It does not have an on/off switch anywhere that I can see.  It was running normally the week before.  This looks like power supply failure, though it could just be a blown internal fuse.  I think there was a storm during the interim but I have (1) Whole House Surge Protector and (2) all bedroom audio is plugged into a Monster Power 2000.  Actually the Monster has been clearly defective (flashing lights) for several years now, I'd just been assuming the surge still had something left, but maybe not.  The Classe is a key part of my household system.  I have replacement preamps, but nothing with super-accurate balance and digital volume.  I'll need to see if I can fix it, or get replacement (another Classe, Levinson 380, or Emotiva XSP would do).  This is at least the second audio breakdown this year, the first was the DEQ in the bedroom, which had my long-evolved bass correction.  I've only done a quick correction in the DCX to replace the now-missing DEQ, but it's nothing like the same.  Actually my latest plan was to have two DEQ's in the bedroom because they have digital output.  I have one spare now but I need to get a bunch.  And/or I also need to re-do the bass correction now on the DCX using REW, which I haven't used since the living room audio system tuning in January, which itself was fairly quick and rough.  When you have a system with as many aged and often preowned components as I do, quasi annual breakdowns may be inevitable.  In the pat 10 years, EQ's have failed twice, the Sony PSX-800 has failed once (twice since purchased), the Linn Sondek has failed once (twice since purchased), the Krell FPB 300 failed once, got repaired, and a year later I took it out of service for 3 years thinking it had failed again (but it just normally thermal cycles wildly).  Some things have just had certain functions fail: the Tact RCS 2.0 has a failed optical input.


2 lectures this month!  The first was David Eagleman giving a preview of his new PBS series on the Brain.  My friend joined me to see this (she hasn't gotten out to Trinity lectures as much as I have).  The second was about global warming denialism, and I sat next to two friends.

Social Activities Summarized

Eagleman lecture.  XCSSA meeting.  Birthday date with friend.  Swan Lake Ballet.  Missed audio society due to illness.  Second lecture.  Monthly Party.  Halloween at Home (I had just cleaned up front and put out lighted fake pumpkin when the rain started, and it rained heavily 7-9, so I was all ready but no kids showed up).


I subscribed to Tidal uncompressed internet radio, and upgraded my Pandora subscription to paid.  As I am writing this, I am listening to Rhapsody, which has very nice artist Channels and might be worth keeping just for that.

Minor Repairs

First tightened (that worked) then replaced Halogen in front fixture.  I was hoping 150W LED's would come out, as that might be the ideal bulb.  But this is my second cheap Halogen bulb.  The first lasted just over two months.  The "0.9Y" specification on the box is for 3 hours per day.  Well if it's 12 hours per day, that's just over two months.  But the real cost is electricity not bulbs, even with Halogen's slightly increased efficiency.  LED would be ideal, but the largest commonly available are 100W equivalent, which is what I have now, true, but I want more (though it's seeming most recently the front light is sufficient, though barely).

Patched, then put screen door back on track.  This probably needs replacement.

Removed and took cover off Classe CP-35.  It has blown fuse, everything else inside looks OK (though that can be misleading).  I ordered new fuse online.   I'm already thinking that an Emotive XSP might be better anyway, if the CP-35 can't be easily fixed.

Put battery in RF meter so I could do some tests.

Fixed wifi on Halloween night after storms preceding days.  This required not only shutting down Linksys wrt54g router (tried that, didn't work) it required also disconnecting ethernet cable from big Dlink switch while power cycling Linksys.  (I hated the idea of powering down switch, so I tried just disconnecting it and that worked mostly...).  I also had to reboot two Sonos nodes which got confused apparently.  No doubt about it, the Linksys should be on a big UPS.  I have such a thing in Lyndhurst but it may need new batteries.

Adjusted bedroom stereo bass

After adding audio spectrum analyzer to new iPhone, I used it to do some minor fine tuning of bedroom system.  Previously there had only been a 2dB boost at 111Hz.  Now it has 3 PEQ's, a 3dB Q=1.4 boost at 25 Hz,  (Siri told me the Q for a one octave filter, which was apparently what this needed), a 6dB Q=3.5 cut at 50 Hz, and a 3dB Q=3 boost at 111 Hz.  I also made both high and low pass LR48.  The PEQ's are all done on the stereo input channels, so they apply both to subs and to mains.  I listened to Spanish Harlem and some bass enthusiast tracks to ensure it was good, and it is much better (especially without that 45-50 Hz boom).

New Apps for iPhone

I installed Web Albums so I can send photos to Picasa for use in Blogger.
Audio Spectrum Analyzer
NET toolbox, SpeedTest, and Wifi Finder...but none of these do what Wifi Analyzer on Android does (and it was Wifi Analyzer that helped me fix wifi by showing conclusively that it was down, and it's also cool for measuring wifi RF levels).

Of course, Weather Underground, Sonos, and Pandora.

El Capitan

I upgraded kitchen Mac to El Capitan.  Seems fine except I don't like the missing bookmark bar in Safari.  I see I can access my files on the laptop now--which I'm not sure I was able to do before because Laptop has 10.6, and IIRC that didn't like to talk to 10.7-10.9 (or maybe I was confusing when kitchen Mac only ran 10.3, anyway I forgot about being able to do this now).  I tried copying a huge folder from laptop to kitchen mac via wifi.  But I didn't like the idea of 18 hours of high throughput wifi from the laptop right next to where I sleep.  I could in fact measure the RF coming from the laptop during transfer, and see it become unmeasurable when I shut down wifi.  The laptop seem to emit more than other devices, though I didn't test phone on cellular (which I understand emits hugely more RF than wifi).

Next Month:

1) Finish removing caulk and grout around tub.

2) Do caulking around tub.

3) Fix or replace Classe CP-35

4) Edge and mow again.

5) Finish off-loading videos from Sony DVR so as to be replaced with Panasonic.

6) Repair patio door screen (much clawing, even ajar this afternoon).

7) Be sure to get Priscilla CD to friend of Priscilla's father.

8) See about replacing screen door