About Time we got a 3D Printer

May 2, 2024 10:39 pm

Every so often I'd poke my head around the 3D printer space to see what was on offer and find excuses why I wasn't going to buy anything. Then I found the Bambu Lab A1 which was released last year. The company seems to have a good reputation and the A1 promises an annoyance-free printing experience. Self-leveling, self-calibrating, self-monitoring--just print things without any fuss. It has multiple connectivity options and works with industry standard formats and their software is open source (and an extension of an existing open source project).

Well, with Jess being excited by board-game organizing, Heather into 3D printing at school, and I out of excuses for why not to buy one; we bought one. It arrived today. Assembly was a bit of work, but the provided instructions were generally very clear and easy to follow.

After dinner I finished setting up and the girls anxiously waited for it to finish its self-calibration routine so we could try our first print.

Opting to keep things simple, I printed the little boat model that comes pre-installed on the SD-card. I am thoroughly impressed. It's much faster and has better detail than I was expecting.

The cats were very concerned. London's in back keeping a wary eye on it.

Here's the completed boat. Took about 14 minutes.

I thought I'd keep my expectations low for my first design. I made this eclipse souvenir and stuck a craft magnet on the back.

The printer in action:

I'm very pleased with it so far. This is what the future feels like. Now we all just have to develop some modeling skills to realize our ambitions.

Solar Eclipse April 2024

April 14, 2024 7:21 pm

As Jess' parents happen to live directly in the path of totality, the girls' Spring Break was the week prior, and the eclipse was on a Monday we decided the conditions were just about perfect for us to head out and hope to enjoy the show.

I booked flights on Southwest months ago as soon as the booking window opened. So on Wednesday April 3 we headed off to San Jose and flew through Denver to Little Rock. Despite seeming to have plenty of time we ended up barely making our flight and they closed the jetway door after letting Jess on as the last passenger. But we made it.

We picked up our rental car and headed off to the house, stopping at Chick-fil-A for dinner along the way.

On Thursday, Corinne and I did a little exploring of the property and found what I presume are cow skulls scattered around the edge of the neighbor's land for....some reason....

Corinne had had a fever and cough for the 3 days before our trip, but was surprisingly fine for the plane rides. Then her cough became pretty much constant. We had told the girls we'd go bowling on the trip and figured we better do that on Thursday before the area got busy with other umbraphiles. So, we went into town for bowling, just as we started the 10th frame Jess' phone appointment with a doctor for Corinne called, so she went off to somewhere quiet to take that call. I bowled her 10th frame for her: I bowled 4 strikes out of 6 throws! 2 almost-Turkeys in a row!

Well, the doctor diagnosed Corinne's cough as croup and prescribed a steroid. This timing was convenient since we were in town already. Heather and Corinne went back to the house with Papa and Bubbie while Jess and I went to the pharmacy for the prescription and a humidifier. Conveniently the prescription was filled in about 5 minutes and we were on our way.

And that was the last time we left the house until it was time to come home. Our plan had to be hunker down on the assumption that everything was going to be crazy busy. We have no idea if that happened though since we never ventured out into it.

On Friday, Cameron & Nichole and kids (+ dog) came up to visit for the weekend too. The girls were enamored of their little kids.

Along with using a humidifier, and taking the steroid Corinne was advised to get some cool night air to soothe her lungs. So on Friday night I bundled her up in layers of blankets and we went and sat on the porch. She was cozy.

On Saturday there was hanging about the house. Corinne did a lot of sleeping as she recovered. Heather played a lot of Stardew Valley. We had s'mores out on the porch that evening.

Sunday was Cal's 2nd birthday, so there was cake and presents. The dog was nonplussed about the whole thing. Heather played more Stardew Valley.

Monday was finally Eclipse Day, but nothing to see until the afternoon. The girls continued to be enamored of the little ones (I'm realizing the infant isn't in any of these pictures so far, but there was also an infant).

And then, finally, it was time! Sunday had been overcast all day and a storm front was forecast to move in Monday evening, but luckily Monday afternoon was just some wispy clouds. They could have been anywhere else in the sky, but we weren't that lucky.

I set up the camcorder to record us figuring future us might care about seeing the people there rather than the sun, but I really do wish I had grabbed it and swung it around the area and shown the sky. Oh well. Next time. In 2045. Here's how the five minutes around totality went for us:

And after 3 minutes and 25 seconds of totality--it was over. It was pretty cool. We could see what was presumably Venus and at least one star. Looking up at the sun was like someone had taken a hole punch and just punched a hole through the sky where the sun was supposed to be. Just a jet black "hole" surrounded by a ring of fire.

We brought some games with us and over the course of the visit played a
couple games of Wyrmspan, a game of Kodama, and a game of Ex Libris. I
also played some Exploding Kittens and Cobra Paw with the girls. And Corinne and I completed the Minecraft puzzle she got for her birthday.

Cameron and Nichole headed home that evening and the next morning we were off to the airport.

Which was not without its own adventure though. About 45 minutes into the drive Corinne threw up all over herself (she had also thrown up Monday night at dinner time, but after getting cleaned up felt fine and ate dinner). She also felt nauseated Thursday morning and stayed home from school, was okay during the day, and was nauseated again that evening (she's been okay the last couple days). No idea what that was all about.

We were on the highway in bumper-to-bumper traffic heading into Little Rock with no resources beyond our luggage, so we got off the highway and found the closest gas station (which was not exactly nearby). I bought a roll of paper towels and filled up a water bottle and cleaned up the car as best I could while Jess worked with Corinne to get her out of her clothes (to the dumpster they went) and get clean clothes out of the luggage.

I figured we'd be paying a cleaning fee, but when I dropped off the car and told them what had happened the response was "Yah, that happens sometimes. We have a guy who details them, thanks for cleaning up as much as you did." So I said, "Okay, just make sure they clean down in the seat-belt buckle well or come summer someone's going to leave the car in the sun for a few hours and then they will not be happy." And that was that (maybe we'll get a cleaning fee later, who knows).

With Corinne Dramamined for the flights home we proceeded back across the country via Las Vegas and then we were home that evening.

Christmas 2023

December 28, 2023 2:37 pm

With Christmas on Monday this year it, again, felt like a sprint to the finish. The girls had Friday off from school, but I was still working. So Saturday and Sunday were filled trying to get everything ready.

I used the weekend to bake! Peanut-butter blossoms, sugar cookies (the girls cut and decorated them), chocolate-cream pie, and crème brulée for desserts. Rolls for Christmas dinner, and baguettes to dip in cheese fondue for Christmas-Eve dinner. It took all day both days, but I got it all done.

For dinner on Christmas Eve we had our now-traditional cheese fondue with fresh baguettes, vegetables, apples, and whatever else we decide to dip. Corinne and Heather read a couple of stories, I played Christmas songs on my trombone (fairly poorly, but with all the baking I hadn't had time to practice that weekend or warm up), and Jess read a story.

This year, in an effort to help the girls develop the ability to consider the interests of others, we had gone to Barnes and Noble and had them select books for each other as gifts. And then Jess and I switched off with them to select gifts for each of us. So after our songs and stories we all opened our books from the girls, drank hot chocolate, ate cookies, and read a little from our new books while listening to Christmas music. With the fake fire glowing in the fireplace, just needed some snow falling outside the window to make it a perfectly pleasant evening.

The girls set out eggnog, cookies, and carrots for Santa and his reindeer and then they were off to bed.

In the morning we were up at dawn (which is the girls' usual time) to see what transformation had taken place in the house overnight.

Thanksgiving 2023

November 23, 2023 8:30 pm

Thanksgiving was a quiet day at home. I took the week off. On Wednesday, I helped the girls make a pumpkin pie.

We played part of a game of a new board game I got on Wednesday from a Kickstarter called Familiars and Foes. You play as the familiars of a group of captured witches/wizards. You have to work together to defeat the foes and rescue the witches/wizards.