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  • 75% of the year is gone

    It’s the end of September, and the year is 3/4 of the way done. The weather is turning cooler here, though the trees have not start turning any sort of color yet. It’s just nice and cool weather where the A/C is not running all the time (or ever lately), and it’s been remarkably dry here in terms of any rainfall. The occasional shower, but I think we’ve had something like a quarter inch total in the past 3-4 weeks.

    The “smart home” experiment is chugging along, with automations based on motion, doors opening, and just time of day working as desired. Haven’t done much in adding anything new. Just making use of what I already have. Still trying to standardize on a platform, and mostly it’s working on SmartThings. Alexa still has some voice control for switching scenes and routines managed by SmartThings and will continue since that’s the only real option at this point, unless I invest in Google Home stuff and essentially throw out all the Alexa stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. Not likely to happen.

    I got my Covid-19 bivalent booster and flu shot yesterday. I haven’t had the same “hit by a truck” feeling that I had with the original vaccination process or the first booster. Slight headache and my arm hurts like heck, but otherwise pretty good so far. A lot better than I was expecting at least. Let’s hope it proves effective.

    Bought a new vacuum cleaner after the Dyson I bought 5-6 years ago just stopped sucking. (Ironically, this is bad for a vacuum.) I got a Shark because it had washable filters, had good seals, and was rated rather highly. It lasted 3 vacuums and then the carpet head stopped working. It still works really well as a standalone canister/extension type thing, but on carpet it does not work. So I bit the bullet and bought another Dyson. The Ball Animal 3. Hoping this one lasts 5-6 years as well. I was happy to see that the filters are washable and easily accessible now. Fingers crossed this one last longer than 3 vacuums.

    And that’s pretty much the update. Not a whole lot has been going on otherwise.

    Back in the dog’s rebellious teen years…

  • Beware the Ides of September

    Or something like that.

    The month is speeding by. Days are noticeably shorter, and it’s nice that the sun doesn’t stay up past 9 any more. Makes it easier to get to bed at a decent hour. Weather is turning ever so slightly. Actually had some mornings in the 50’s, which was refreshing. Daytime highs are generally in the 70’s, with a little stretch in the low 80’s for the next few days. All in all, quite pleasant. No rain or bad weather for something like 10 days is expected. It’s weird.

    The smart home and automation is pretty much complete. Some tweaking here and there, maybe a new component to swap out for what was probably bad choices. But all in all, working mostly well.

    I bought a couple air quality monitors to place around the house. The particulate matter (PM 2.5) is low, which is nice, and CO is holding strong at 1ppm. VOCs are generally under 10, closer to 1 or 2 most of the time. And humidity fluctuates with the weather and how often we open the windows. But nothing crazy wet or crazy dry.

    One thing that really surprised me was CO2 levels. They were elevated. Today, they hit above 1200ppm in what Netatmo considers to be “moderate” territory. So, I was wondering, “Why?” I did some theorizing and noticed that when the AC kicked on, the CO2 levels went up. AC off, they slowly dropped a bit before the AC kicked on again and sent them up. So, I did some thinking.

    CO2 is a heavy gas and it sinks compared to other typical air components (N2 and O2). Half our HVAC air return is upstairs. Other half is floor level in the basement. Hmmm. So, I decided to do the less than pragmatic energy conservation thing and just open the basement door. Placed a couple of fans to kind of suggest where air should go, and waited. I did this for over 2 hours. But the CO2 levels steadily dropped and dropped, and we’re now around 500ppm, solidly in “green” classification, at least according to Netatmo. For reference, 400ppm is considered the baseline as it’s supposedly the average CO2 levels in outside atmosphere for the world or something.

    What is really surprising to me is that my house is not exactly air tight. Lots of air gets in. Lots of air gets out. But I guess since most of that air exchange happens on the upper levels and not downstairs where CO2 probably tends to flow, it was collecting in the basement. I should have put one of the sensors in the basement to measure a before and after, but I was more concerned about getting the normal living spaces back into the green. I think I succeeded. Moral of the story is, use the basement door more often rather than just the upper level ones. Or maybe open a window or something down there. Or get some sort of smart fan powered vent that kicks on when there are elevated CO2 levels. If one exists, I’ll likely find it.

    So, that’s been my evening. Thanks for visiting. Here’s a dog.

  • If you sell a dried cranberry trail mix product, I believe it is illegal to also sneak in raisins. Nobody wants that.

  • And this is when I decided that maybe my Hue light system is something I should look at just phasing out for more device agnostic options.

  • September Already

    It has been a long time since the last update. Not a lot has happened in my world. Work continues to be extremely busy, occupying a lot of my days and about 95% of my mental capacity, sadly. Doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging. But it’s been a month, I took a day off. Let’s provide some quick updates.

    Fish tanks

    The fish tanks have been rather stable. A few fish fatalities in the older tank, which is honestly to be expected at this stage when the fish have been around for so long. There doesn’t seem to be any root cause I can find, and the vast majority of fish appear to be fine. The new fish tank is showing a good talent for growing algae. I adjusted the number of hours the light is on, and that seems to have helped a bit, but it is a constant battle. Nothing running rampant, but I do have to scrape the glass at least once a week.

    Todo lists

    Everyone’s favorite topic. (That was sarcasm.) I’m still using Todoist for most things. Best characterization is “it’s working.” And I suppose that’s all you really can hope for in a task management solution. I have not had the energy to look at anything else (see above spare mental capacity statement), and frankly, that’s fine. Due continues to nag me for my daily routine items, and it does that quite well.


    Still using Obsidian for most of my brain dumps and PKM related items. It’s fine. It does the job, and there’s something comforting about having everything in platform agnostic file format. So it might actually stick around. The mobile component is a little weak if I’m being honest. It’s serviceable for looking at notes, but it’s not really all that great for any on-the-move capture. Luckily, I still don’t leave the house much, so the laptop is usually nearby. If I do need to capture something when mobile, I can use Drafts and then shove into Obsidian via an action when I get back to the laptop. I’ve also started carrying around a tiny notebook and pen for that old school feel. The pen is great, and the little field books are actually quite resilient; they’ve survived going through the wash and dryer, amazingly enough. And the notes were still there and not blurred or washed away. I’m impressed.

    Smart home

    And now the new thing I’ve been working on this past month, especially in the past week or two. I’ve decided to redo my smart home setup.

    I had been using a mix of HomeKit items (cameras, sensors, lock), HomePods, Alexa devices, Ring cameras, and Hue lights. It was ok, but as one might expect, not exactly efficient. So, I’ve been revamping things.

    HomeKit is pretty much gone at this point. Some things are still hooked up; a couple of cameras pointing out windows and the Hue lights are integrated to be controlled from it If I want. But for the most part I don’t use HomeKit for anything now. I found the app on the laptop to be a mess that hung or crashed 50% of the time. The devices available for HomeKit are very limited, and they usually carry the “Apple tax” to make them more expensive than everything else on the market. Additionally, camera performance was bad and they went offline a lot. So wasn’t really a reliable solution.

    My main thing was lighting, and the ability to turn off lights when not at home. I can do that with the Hue lights, but we don’t have Hue lights in everything, especially those fixtures that are controlled by switches. So, just adding more Hue bulbs was not really an option. I needed a better solution.

    Enter SmartThings. It’s a platform that allows for some interesting automations. You can trigger sequences of events based on multiple conditions. For a simple example, if it’s after sunset and I open the front door, then turn on the front porch light, send a notification, and turn it off after 5 minutes. It seems so straightforward and easy to say, but it’s amazing how complicated or impossible some platforms make this. Really is mind boggling.

    SmartThings in my house is all based on using a SmartThings Hub. It is the brains of the operation, and it can connect to either of the dominant smart home protocols - Zigbee and Z-Wave - natively as well as integrate with other services like the Hue lights, ecobee, etc. Through it, I’ve connected door sensors, smart light switches, and motion sensors. All work in tandem to turn on or off lights based on what triggered it, alert me when certain doors open after certain hours, etc. I’ve only scratched the surface so far, but I’m having fun with it. The main “wins” as far as my better half is concerned is that the kitchen counter lights turn on when she enters the kitchen first thing in the morning and triggers a motion sensor without having to fumble for the switch or use the really bright, jarring overhead lights. Same thing with the living room lights when motion is detected in the early morning hours. And the basement lights as well.

    The few annoying things I have with SmartThings is around integrations. The Ring integration is kind of basic and poor. I can use cameras for motion detection, but that’s about it. The Hue lights integration does not include all the “scenes” that we’ve added to Hue over the years, so they either need to be recreated manually or just plain done elsewhere. So I still use Alexa for controlling the Hue lights. Scenes from Hue populate just fine into Alexa. Good thing is that Alexa can integrate somewhat into SmartThings, and devices that get added to SmartThings are available to use in Alexa routines. Bad things is this can result in duplicates that need to be disabled/renamed/managed when you have Alexa and SmartThings connected to the same services (like Hue).

    I plan on adding more smart things over the coming months. My next step will be to add a smart switch to the attic light so I can automatically make sure it’s turned off at least once a day when someone cough flips that switch instead of the hallway switch that is unfortunately right next to it. Replacing the attic bulb is not a fun experience based on where it is and how dark it is up there when there is no light. I’m also thinking about hooking something up to the garage lights, though I am limited by the ridiculously slim junction box that was used there when the house was built, so I may be out of luck with that. And if I ever figure out the secret sauce to 3 and 4 way smart switches which are not as straightforward as 3 and 4 way manual switches, I may work on the hallway and entryway lights. We’ll see what other fun stuff I can conjure up.

    Just a note on smart home connectivity and devices. There is a new “standard” that hopefully will be released into the wild later this year. Matter is being pushed by most of the major smart home platforms as a way to achieve an interoperability and common framework so users don’t have to look for “works with Alexa” or “HomeKit compatible” or other things. If it does get traction, that would be a huge step forward for most consumers that just want things to work. HomeKit, Alexa, and SmartThings are all signatories of the Matter standard, so the hubs I have now should be able to support devices in the future.

    And that’s the end of my September rant. And here’s a dog who thinks I spend too much time in the office chair and not enough time playing with him, trying to fix that situation.

  • August has begun

    So here we are in the first week of the hottest month. This week started out ok, but later this week it's supposed to top 90. So, will the electricity grid hold up? We shall see.

    Fish Tank Update The office fish tank is churning along. Algae is growing and requires somewhat regular cleaning. It was inevitable, I suppose, but kind of annoying nonetheless. The water parameters seem to be stabilized, but I'll need more plants to help keep the nitrate levels from growing faster than I would like. It doesn't seem to be too bad right now, but if/when I move more fish over to the bigger tank, it will get more problematic I feel. Maybe not. But I need a contingency plan. Water is mostly clear, but I'll need to do a gravel vacuum in the next week or so. And I should probably clean the pre-filters at some point as they do seem to be collecting some debris.

    The living room fish tank is fine. There might have been some elevated ammonia levels a few days ago, but they don't appear now. Something probably died in the plants, but heck if I can find anything. Water is very clear, fish seem good. The algae doesn't seem to be growing at the extraordinary rate it had been a month or two ago. Fish seem to be happy, or whatever it is that fish are considered when they aren't stressed or dying.

    Task Management Task management system is currently in Todoist, and I'm not really putting much effort into exploring options. I just don't have the mental capacity to undertake that. Also, with Linux being a current plaything, it makes sense. Most of the other tools I've used recently were macOS only. Lock-in to a service is one thing. Lock-in to a platform (Apple, Windows, Linux, whatever) is a completely different beast. Easier to swap out a service than it is to swap out an entire ecosystem. I'm pretty much locked into Apple for things like music and videos, unfortunately, but at least there are apps and such to access those specific parts in other operating systems and devices. But I don't want to make it even more difficult if the time ever comes that I need to divest myself of all things Apple.

    Notes and PKM Notes and knowledge management are one area I've been focusing on lately. Obsidian is a cross platform tool that's been getting a lot of attention in the PKM sphere. In previous posts, I mentioned that Obsidian was something that I should be looking into. And so I have been. It is available on a lot of platforms, but it was built with being local only first. The idea of storing everything as a text file on my local drive is very appealing. If Obsidian disappears or becomes something I don't want, the data is just a bunch of text files, readable in a lot of different apps, using a public and free formatting idea. So, there is data integrity. I'm not dependent on any one vendor.

    The challenge with a bunch of text files on the local computer is how to sync those to other devices I might use, like a phone or tablet, or in my case, also to a different computer running a completely different operating system. So what are my options? First option was using iCloud Drive and its native sync. Issue is with other platforms outside of Apple. Another idea would be to use something like Dropbox. Issue with that is it's just another OS level service that would be running, taking up resources on any device. Plus, I just have issues in general with the whole Dropbox service. It's not end to end encrypted, which isn't necessarily an issue given that I'm not putting confidential or sensitive data in these notes, but Dropbox privacy protections seem weak.

    One thing I did try was using GitHub to operate as the backend, using private repositories. This seemed good on one level. Rather platform agnostic, but mobile is a pain in the neck. There is no background syncing within the app or as part of the mobile device. It required another app that needs to be run before opening on the mobile device, and then running the app again and pushing any changes. If that is not followed strictly, bad things happen. Using git is not exactly seamless or straightforward. It has its challenges. It's not end to end encrypted, but seems a little more trustworthy than Dropbox. But the usability is what's problematic.

    So what I ended up using in the meantime is the purchased Obsidian Sync service. It's expensive for what it does. Too expensive in my opinion. But it is seamless. And it just seems to work, regardless of which platform I'm on. Took a little effort to get it set up since I already had stuff, but in the end it was easier than using git. We'll see if I renew when the period is up. I'll have to really use Obsidian, and I'll have to see if I still continue to use non-Apple devices like Linux and/or Android. If I retreat back to an Apple only ecosystem, then I'll probably just go back to iCloud sync, even though that means lock-in to a platform. But if I'm not using anything else, little reason to pay that money. Plus, I can always just re-instate it. That's the beauty of text files. You just need to decide how to synchronize them. The rest is agnostic.

    And this is pretty much enough for this entry. I wrote this in Obsidian instead of Ulysses. The publishing to Wordpress is a little more involved. (Ulysses really is nice in this regard even if it is a proprietary database in an Apple only app.) But since I don't do this daily, it should be fine.

    And here's a dog, which I'll have to upload separately.


  • Already the end of July

    I can’t believe it’s the end of July already. This year has been a blur.

    I started playing with Linux again last weekend. I tried Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Kubuntu, but I settled on Fedora, the KDE spin. This is on my old laptop, but it works quite well. Faster than Windows, and just something to toy around with. I settled on the KDE desktop despite having more recent experience with GNOME. KDE just seems lighter and quicker. GNOME is cleaner, but it just seems a little heavy for some reason.

    Just some updates based on the last several posts.

    My task management process is still mainly focused around Todoist. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve stayed with it since the last time. I think it’s mainly because I just haven’t had the mental capacity to think about moving to another system. I’ve achieved “Master” karma status on it, for what it’s worth.

    The office fish tank is humming along. I’ve had one fish death (out of the 40 or so I put in there). No idea why, but it didn’t look diseased or anything. Just dead. I also now have 4 new fish that “appeared” at some point in the past couple weeks. Darn mollies are like rabbits.

    Vacation starts now. No plans; not traveling anywhere. Just taking a break before I go crazy. Anyway, supposedly vacation.

    That’s about it. I don’t have much more to add.

    And the dog, 2 seconds after I step outside and before I can sit down.

  • Just a quick update

    It’s been a couple weeks since I last posted. Nothing earth shattering has happened as of yet, which is probably a good thing. The new fish tank seems to be doing quite well, though algae or the like is cropping up a lot. Not thrilled about that, but it was inevitable. Water has cleared, and nitrogen cycle seems to be established. I have not moved any more fish into the tank, but with the stability of the tank, I might add a few more from the other tank in time.

    I’m hoping this weekend is rather uneventful and restful. I’ve been feeling stressed for various reasons, and I need a break.

    No dog picture as this doesn’t seem to be a real update. If I have time and the inclination, maybe I’ll post a more thorough fish tank update or a pupdate.

  • Interesting article. www.nytimes.com/2022/07/1…

  • Holiday Weekend

    Here in the US, it’s a holiday weekend, and one that the dogs fear the most. Here’s hoping we get through it unscathed. That is, without claw scratches from the furry beats trying to crawl all over us when the loud noises outside happen.

    The new fish tank is still in the process of fully cycling. I have not noticed any kind of appreciable ammonia reading, despite having around 40 fish, mostly smaller, transferred over. I have, however, gotten a bloom from the bacteria that break down organic material in the tank. These are different than the nitrifying bacteria which I assume are at least present and working since no ammonia readings. So, trying to get the cloudiness cleared up, which unfortunately, just takes time and making sure not too much organic matter accumulates. I cleaned the gravel a bit and added some finer filter media, but to be honest, there isn’t a whole lot of waste to clean up.

    The plants are not doing much of anything. I’ve been fertilizing and adding plant growth hormones to the mix to help them, but they’ve been just siting there, looking poor. If I see any more degradation, they’re being pulled. I’ll just have to figure out something else if that happens.

    Short entry this time as it’s early, and I’ve been neglecting my normal household chores to “play” with the fish tanks. No updated fish tank pictures yet as I want to wait for the water to clear a little more, so here’s the requisite dog picture.

  • Today’s fun power issues are brownouts instead of the full on blackouts. Which is actually worse because it reaches certain voltages and then things die randomly.

  • The greatest trick the devil ever played was getting companies to think styrofoam is great as a packing material. Little ******* balls of foam everywhere…

  • Happy 25th of June! Which is apparently celebrated with loud fireworks or gunfire? (My dogs are not happy.)

  • Another Fish Tank Update

    So, this is another fish tank update which also happens to be about another fish tank. Yep. I bought another one.

    Since the current 26 gallon tank is a little on the small size for however many mollies exist in there now, I bought a second tank. A nice 38 gallon one. The living room would have been my first choice for this sized tank, but that wasn’t going to fly with the other half. So, it’s in my office. It actually makes for a nice background for conference calls. Since I didn’t buy it as a kit as I already had filters and such, it wasn’t too bad in price. The stand I had to get to hold it was more expensive, and actually took more time to set up.

    Since it is in my office, I don’t have the same aesthetic restrictions that I do in other rooms. I can do whatever geeky thing I want. And to start I’ve picked Star Wars. My goal is not to cram the tank full of trinkets and decorations (or even plants), but to provide some nice open space for the fish to swim. I want to try and keep it mostly uncluttered. Mostly because I like cleaner looking tanks, but also because the fewer hiding spots there are, hopefully fewer new mollies. We’ll see.

    So far I have a Millennium Falcon, a mini mostly destroyed looking Death Star, and some knock off of the AT-AT - it’s listed as Robot Dog - Large. The official AT-AT was just too darn expensive, and I’m not so deep into this hobby that I’d drop a c-note on a single aquarium decoration. Knock off it is.

    The tank is still in the process of getting ready. I have the water, substrate, filters, heater, and initial decorations in, though probably not in final resting places. Spent a lot of time cleaning the coarse sand (or tiny gravel, however you want to look at it), so the tank didn’t need more than a few hours to actually clear of any dust. Still debating the filter media configuration and contents. I have two filters on it, so I can mix and match whatever. Boatload of bio media in one, maybe finer filtration and any chemical filtration I may want in the other. Not sure what I’ll end up with, but I have options, none of which should result in fish death. fingers crossed

    The plan is to gradually move the fish over in batches. We’ll still leave some in the old tank in the living room as it’s still a good tank, and I like looking at fish. But we’ll probably end up replacing it at some point later this year with a smaller tank, maybe 15-20 gallons that my wife can mess around with and “isn’t an eye sore because it sticks up above the landing divider.”

    On another positive note, in talking with the local fish store, they take donations of “live bearer” fish, so if I want to unload some there, I can. I don’t know what they do with them, and the fewer questions I ask, probably the better. But it’s an option to having to buy a third tank or watching them suffer from overcrowding.

    I know we usually end these with a dog pic, but an aquarium pic seems more appropriate this time.

  • Hottest day of the year so far, with warnings and air quality alerts and sorts of stuff. And the power just went out. It’s going to be a hot, muggy night.

  • Fish tank update

    I’ve been kind of getting into the whole aquarium thing again. I’ve been testing the ammonia at least daily, and it seems to have settled into the 0.25-0.5 range. Usually, that’s still considered bad. But! Since I really haven’t been paying pretty much any attention to the water for the past few years, the pH has dropped drastically. It’s registering about 6.5-6.8. My tap water is alkaline by default (above 8), and I’ve been adding some pH down drops to get it close to 7 before going in the tank. I’ve been using pretty much the same formula for I don’t know how long. Again, not really testing on a regular basis for a while.

    So I know you’re thinking, “The tap water changed and I’ve been actually over acidifying it.” Nope. But one water quality I rarely paid attention to before and absolutely didn’t pay attention to the last few years: carbonate hardness. The tap water essentially doesn’t have any for whatever reason (I tested it). And the whole nitrite/nitrate thing wore down what little I had in my tank. The carbonate hardness acts as a pH buffer. Helps keep water from wild swings in pH as well as keeps it kind of alkaline. I had none. So, as the nitrogen gets processed, it turns the water acidic. And with the carbonate buffer essentially gone, boom, acidic tank.

    The positive of this is that the acidic nature of the tank ionizes the ammonia (at least so I’ve read a few places). The ionized form of ammonia is not toxic like “free” ammonia. So, that’s probably why I didn’t see death and destruction.

    But, I probably should get the carbonate levels back up to something healthy. So, that’s the next step. I could get some crushed coral or other things. But I’m taking the easy way out and just getting an alkaline buffer in a bottle. I’ll need to slowly start adding and raising the pH so as not to shock the fish. Apparently, the mollies prefer pH in the range of 7.2-7.8, and acidic tank water can actually cause discomfort. Wouldn’t know it by the fact that they’ve multiplied to the point of overcrowding. But anyway, I should get the tank closer to the slightly alkaline pH it should be as well as build up that buffer.

    I’m also switching product lines. I had been using API Stress Coat+ as my water conditioner for a while. But the aloe they use really doesn’t do anything based on what I’ve read. Plus the recent bottle from Amazon seemed suspect as it had a different viscosity than the previous bottles. So I switched to Seachem Prime for my dechlorination needs. And got some Seachem stress stuff as well just in case, but I’m not going to use it with every water change. The Seachem Prime is really concentrated. I had to buy an eye dropper to properly dose my 5 gallon bucket. Literally 2-4 drops per gallon. The 500ml bottle should last a long time.

    The water is much better than it was a couple weeks ago, though I’m still fighting a little bit of cloudiness. I’m trying Seachem Purigen as of today to see if that does anything. It’s some sort of resin that binds and capture itsy bitsy particles. You’re supposed to be able to “recharge” it once it gets used up/dirty by soaking it in bleach for a while. But there’s a problem with “some” stress coat products. If the stress coat contains amines, then the whole process results in essentially poisoning the entire tank with chloramine. So, if this does work and I decide to use it longer term, I’ll be buying new stuff just in case the API (or Fluval) conditioner/stress coat would result in a toxic reaction. It’s not expensive and lasts longer than carbon, so hoping it won’t be cost prohibitive. It’s been about 8-10 hours, and it doesn’t look to have made any kind of improvement. But we’ll see. I also have some Seachem Clarity if I want to try that. It “binds” the little particles into bigger particles which can be trapped by the sponges/mechanical filtration.

    So that’s been all the excitement in my life lately. Aren’t you glad you read this?

    Note: After writing this, I discovered more than one report of API's ammonia test never reporting below 0.25, even on just pure water (distilled or whatever). So my 0.25 might actually be 0 in actuality.

  • “ASAP” is not an acceptable due date when a specific due date is requested.

  • I didn’t get to watch the WWDC keynote today. Probably will watch later this week. Too many things going on, but the Lock Screen enhancements sound like a step in the right direction. That’s about all I had time to read about today.

  • Why isn’t New Years on one of the soltices or even equinoxes? Seems like such an obvious choice.

  • Another Weekend

    And so another weekend starts. I got a few hours head start today, and I filled it with exciting summertime activities like picking up the backyard and mowing! Do I know how to live or what?

    It’s not too bad of a day. It’s 75° (F), sunny, slight breeze, and generally quite enjoyable in the shade. I think I’ve spent more time outside this afternoon than I have the rest of the year combined. Of course this is just commentary on how much I just don’t go outside unless I’m doing something, like mowing. Or bike riding.

    Which is something I haven’t done yet this year. The knee is coming along I guess. It’s still sore, and it’s definitely weaker than it was before this whole knee thing happened. But hopefully I’ll get there. One of the things I’ll be doing before I actually get back on the bike is swapping out my pedals for something that doesn’t clip in. I have a feeling that the twisting motion you do to get out of the pedal just won’t work well with my current situation. So I’m going for what most people would call just plain old pedals. Mine will have some additional grip to keep my foot from slipping off if I’m really pushing, but I fully intend to go back to my SPD pedals at some point this summer. I just need to get some rehab work in without worrying about falling over or twisting my knee awkwardly. So that’s the current plan. No idea when I’ll put that plan into action, but it’s a start.

    So, about that task thing. Yeah. I’m playing with Todoist right now. It’s not perfect, but there are some things about OmniFocus that aren’t, either. Don’t know if I’ll stick with it or if I’ll go back to OmniFocus. It could go either way right now. Todoist has natural language entry, which is fine in most instances and maddening in others, especially trying to find the right combination of words for repeating tasks that aren’t every week or month or whatever. It still uses due dates only and doesn’t use start dates, which annoys me to no end, but I’m trying to see if I can make it work without too much effort.

    So why did I change? I don’t really know. Todoist has more integrations with things. It works with Fantastical, which I’m using right now mainly for the iPhone and iPad widgets; I don’t use 75% of what Fantastical can do. Todoist integrates with services like IFTTT and Zapier. Only thing I’ve done with IFTTT is to have it create a task to shovel the driveway when snow is forecast. Kind of cool, but not sure it’s a critical item. Todoist also works on more platforms like Android, Windows, and Web. I generally like apps that are multiple-platform when they are a service. But again, only if it works as well or better than the alternatives. Not sure it’s there. Only been a few days, so, still in the honeymoon phase. Time will tell. Probably before next weekend with my current tendencies.

    I’ve been working on the fish tank lately. My wife was criticizing the recent cloudiness of the water, so I did a cleaning (which I do at least every other week anyway) and broke out the water test kit, which apparently expired 2 years ago. I should probably check the water more often. Anyway, the ammonia was through the roof according to the kit. The fish weren’t displaying any signs you’d normally see with high ammonia levels. Reddened gills, death. So I changed more of the water than I usually do. Still off the scale. I was beginning to wonder if this was the end of the great fish tank experiment which started over 10 years ago.

    So through some aggressive water changes, more thorough cleaning (a couple of times), a couple doses of ammo lock, and some “quick start” stuff that supposedly has the nitrifying bacteria in it, the tank seems much, much better. Ammonia is down to 0.25 ppm. Just above the ideal “zero.” I also changed the filter unit I was using. The old one had replaceable cartridges which you swapped out regularly. Problem is, a lot of your bacteria live there, too. So every time you throw away the filter cartridge, there goes a whole host of good bacteria. Plus, I was in the habit of changing the filter when I did water changes. So even more bacteria literally down the drain. It was not a good process I had.

    The new filter assembly doesn’t use cartridges. It has a large “bin” that you build up what kind of filtering material you want in there. So, I have a “sponge” or mechanical filter to filter out the you know what. I have a big bag of carbon to help with clarity and smells. And I have a “bio bag.” It’s just some porous ceramic cylinders that the bacteria can grow in, on, and around. When the filter gets clogged, I just rinse it out in some discarded aquarium water (not tap water) to get rid of the crap but hopefully still leave a lot of the bacteria that are clinging in there. Same with the bio bag and/or carbon. And I can mix and match. I can put twice as much bio material and leave the carbon out. I can rely on the pre-filter sponge and replace the inside sponge (which I won’t do, because there’s a boatload of fish in there right now). It’s a better solution I hope. At least I won’t be throwing away all my bacteria when I do a cleaning.

    So, taking a wait and see approach. I did get a new water test kit that wasn’t expired. So, I’ve been monitoring it daily for ammonia and maybe every other day for nitrites and nitrates, both of which are fine. If I see a spike in ammonia, then I’ll need to figure something out. The tank is overpopulated by most metrics. Darn mollies multiple like rabbits. So, I’ll probably need to monitor more than my current pace of once every couple years.

    And a dog from the past, enjoying a head scratch. He was quite an interesting boy, and I doubt I’ll ever see a dog with his personality again.