Showing posts from March, 2019

PVC Schedule 40 Flexible Pipe

Anyone who has had to use numerous fittings to connect two pieces of PVC pipe will love the new Schedule 40 flexible PVC pipe. There are a lot of really great reasons to use this innovation in PVC piping: 1. It's virtually unbreakable. Unlike rigid PVC pipe, flexible pipe can withstand a lot of tortue before failing. 2. Instead of using numerous fittings to connect two pipes together, flexible pipe can be connected with nothing more than standard couplings. 3. Water will flow better through a complex join between pipes using flexible PVC since there are no sharp bends like elbows. 4. Even though flexible PVC is more expensive by the foot, it can be cheaper to use since the installation of this material is far simpler since fewer fittings are required. 5. Less fittings means less chance for mistakes and leaks. The only drawback to flexible PVC that I can see is that it costs more per linear foot than rigid PVC. Some pictures of this material in use: Flexible 2"

Zip Code Boundary Maps

In 2005, I wrote one of my first custom mapping projects using the recently released Google Maps API. It was a fairly crude map that used the Census Tiger ZCTA' s (Zip Code Tabulation Area) to display a representation of a Zip Code area. Matt Cutts, at the time, a major player at Google in search, wrote a blog post called "Fun with Zip Codes"  that caused my site to get an average of 70,000 unique visitors a day for about a week. The traffic that Matt's blog post caused made me consider that there could be a market for this type of site so I looked deeper into the issue and learned a number of interesting things. The most important thing I learned was that Zip Codes are not areas. They are delivery routes. The USPS draws these delivery routes based on the efficient delivery of mail and nothing else. They can cross city, county and even state lines if it means the mail gets delivered efficiently. Not every address in the US has a Zip Code. This is not obvious for

Google AI-powered Doodle

Today's Google AI-powered Doodle was fun and entertaining. It's a tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach and allows the user to create their own harmonized tune with the harmony created by AI. Very cool! Interesting video explaining how it was created: The entire story: Here's the one I created: Google AI-powered Doodle

Hawk Likes our Bird Feeder

We've had bird feeders in our yard for many years. Sometimes as many as fifty birds might be enjoying them at once. All that activity has drawn more than birds. Squirrels, chipmunks, opossums and raccoons show up regularly too. Then there are the predators.  Cats are most common. They are either strays dumped in our neighborhood or callous neighbors who let their cats roam freely. They usually don't stay around too long as they get squashed in the road by passing cars. I guess that's a Darwin moment for the owners. We also get the natural predators and one seems to have become quite bold. This hawk has been around for quite a while. When he's (I don't know if he is a he or she but I call him he) in the trees waiting for a meal, I can walk right by and he just looks at me. I've seen him take birds, usually doves, when they are in the driveway pecking at seeds on the ground. He'll swoop down and in a flash, the bird is gone. I've found evidence th

Flyers in the Mailbox Without a Stamp

Pretty much everyone has found a flyer in their mailbox from someone who drove by and physically placed it in their box. This is sort of a right of passage for the young and jobless and also those industrious individuals starting a new business like window washing or lawn service. The problem with people using your mailbox as an advertising vehicle is that it is against US Federal Law and US Postal regulations to do so. These folks might have nothing but good intentions, however, they can also be using this as an excuse to steal your mail. That is why it's illegal. Here's the actual statute from the USPS: From the link: “We know many customers might not object to having a particular item placed in their mailbox from time to time, but the reasons for restricting use of mailboxes is really two-fold,” said Postmaster Keith Jackson. “First, if there is not enough room in a mailbox due to unauthorize

Best Sandpaper for Hand Sanding

I do a lot of finish sanding on every project. A lot more than I'd like to do. It's impossible to get around and having the right bit of sandpaper for the job takes a lot of the pain and suffering out of the task. My old favorite was just a piece of standard sandpaper folded in half. That works reasonably well except that the paper has no strength and can bunch up and crumble into a wad pretty easily. It also wears unevenly and cannot be washed or cleaned effectively. I stumbled onto my new favorite by accident. I was looking for a tough sandpaper with an adhesive backing to make a long (6 foot) sanding block. I needed this for finish sanding edges of stock for glue up. A final edge sanding removed any gaps or bows in the work and makes for a much better job. I bought a roll of Porter Cable resin coated sandpaper for the task and it worked great. The roll is 4 1/2" wide by 30 feet. Lots and lots of sandpaper. A lot more than I needed for my project. Porter Cable

The Saturn 1B Story

This film from NASA is an interesting bit of history and nostalgia for an age gone by when government programs had the "can do" spirit instead of the "better not do" as in today.