Joseph Herrin (04-14-2016)
View From My Front Window
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I love the Spring of the year. All of the seasons hold their own unique attraction, but Spring always seems to be full of hope. The grass greens up and begins growing again. The trees begin to put on leaves and soon they are full of blossoms. Blooming trees are a big attraction in this part of Georgia. It seems that every town around here has a Spring festival where a certain type of flowering tree takes center stage. Perry is 15 miles East of me and it holds their annual Dogwood Festival. Perry has a population of about 12,000. The town is the location of the Georgia National Fairgrounds. This is a very nice facility that hosts special events throughout the year. In conjunction with Perry’s Dogwood Festival, a hot air balloon exhibit was held at the fairgrounds. I chose not to go, but my daughter Kristin went and I asked her to take some pictures.
From 5 P.M. to 9 P.M. they had activities for children, leading up to what they called an “Evening Glow” of hot air balloons. They were very pretty when lit up after it became dark enough to appreciate them.
I didn’t miss out completely, for the next day I was sitting at my desk when some motion caught my attention at the corner of my eye. I looked across the field and I saw a hot air balloon sailing by. It was very nice to watch. Other towns around also have their celebrations. Fort Valley is about the same distance North and it holds a Peach Blossom Festival. Macon, Georgia which is about 40 miles north, and the closest bona fide city, population about 80,000, annually holds their Cherry Blossom Festival.
No one holds a pine pollen festival, but my sinuses annually let me know when it is blowing in the wind. And blow it does. There is a double row of pine trees all along the lengthy driveway leading up to the property I have my bus parked on. One day a few weeks back I thought my neighbors were burning some yard trash as there were clouds of what appeared to be smoke blowing from that direction. When I looked closer I saw that it was clouds of pine pollen blowing out of the trees. At its peak, it leaves a coating of yellow dust on cars, outdoor furniture, and most anything that doesn’t move.
I have kept moving, however. Indeed, I have been involved in numerous projects. Spring does that to me as well. A couple weeks ago in a post titled Spring Forward I reported on removing the dinette from my bus which has served as my office space for the past six years, and putting in a real desk.
Ten days ago I mentioned some additional projects around my bus in the article titled Staying Busy.
One of the projects I tackled involved making alterations to the 12 old style school bus windows which are accessible, so that I could more easily open and shut them. This time of year it is wonderful to be able to open up the bus and let the fresh country breezes blow through. I wasn’t satisfied with the end result of my window project. The idea was sound, but the execution was somewhat lacking. So this week I tackled it again, and I am much more happy with the end result. I had mentioned that I had installed what amounted to a small pulley system with a string and wood block to use to raise and lower the windows.
The major deficiency was that the piece of hardware I used for a pulley did not have a channel in the middle, so the string would slip to the side and get stuck. I also deemed the twine I used to be too light weight, and the small eye hook I used to attach the string to the window was somewhat flimsy and I was concerned they would break or eventually fall out. So I went back to the drawing board. I found these little pieces of hardware on Amazon’s site.
These little gizmos are used in windows to aid in their movement up and down. I intended to use them for the same purpose, albeit in a different manner than they were designed for. They are about 2 inches long, which was about half an inch too long for my needs, so I cut off one of the ends with my Dremel tool, and mounted them. I then used some lightweight paracord to replace the twine I had been using. The paracord is very sturdy stuff and is rated to hold 275 pounds. I also did away with the eye hooks and drilled two holes all the way through the window and threaded the paracord through the holes and tied it off.
Close-Up of the Important Stuff
The paracord fits perfectly in the channel in the roller and it makes a great difference. The cord stays centered now, even if I pull the cord from an angle. I am much happier with this set-up.
The paint on the window could use some refreshing. I am in my 7th year of living in the bus since I first converted it to a motorhome, so the paint is beginning to show its age. The fresh air is wonderful, however, and the windows are now easily lowered and raised, so I am content.
Now that I have a real desk, I have seen the possibility of making videos in my bus. Sitting at the dinette was not very conducive to recording videos. I tried making some over at my daughter’s rental home, but setting up and taking down my equipment, and the inconvenience of being somewhere else, kept me from moving forward with that plan. I already had most of what I needed, including a green screen backdrop, and spotlights, a microphone, and camera. I also had some of the software I needed. I was hanging the green screen on a wall at my daughter’s, but that would not work in the bus. I took the green screen material to a local Mennonite seamstress and asked her to sew pockets at the top and bottom so I could run a rod through and hang it behind my desk chair from the ceiling. This sister in the Lord is precious. She only charged me $7 to cut the material to size, double it over to make it opaque, put a hem in the edge she cut, and sew pockets for the dowel rods.
You can see the Green Screen rolled up and out of my way when not in use. All I have to do is lower it when I want to record at my desk. Then I can change the background to something more picturesque than the wall of my bus.
Green Screen Lowered
It is important to properly illuminate the green screen in order for the effect to work well. I had some halogen flood lamps and stands which I used at my daughter’s, but there was no room for stands in my bus and halogen lamps get too hot for a small space such as the inside of a motorhome. So I purchased an LED flood lamp that is only 10 watts, but puts out an amazing amount of light. I mounted it on a flexible arm which I already owned. I had purchased the arm some time back when I was recovering from a leg injury and had to stay in bed. I used it to hold a Kindle Tablet, but it works just fine holding a flood lamp over my computer to shine on the green screen. You can see it in the image above.
These flood lamps are available on Amazon for $11.50, which I deem to be a bargain. LED is really the way to go as it uses far less electricity for the light emitted, and does not put out the heat of an incandescent bulb. The light comes with only about 12 inches of wire sticking out the back, and no plug on the end, as most people purchase them to wire up outside directly into an electrical box. The wire is 3 conductor, and much smaller than standard appliance wiring as it carries very little current. I could not find any similar wire at any of the hardware stores, so I stopped by a local computer repair business and showed a young man what I needed. He came back with an exact piece of wire about 6 feet long, and said he would not even charge me for it as he had plenty of it laying around. I gave him $5 anyway for his trouble, for it was worth something to me. There is an excellent video on YouTube showing exactly how to wire one up, though the wire colors are European code, not American, so you have to factor that in.
I will post another blog about the software solution I arrived at for converting my books and other writings to videos. I tested it out a few days ago after I had everything I needed. My mouse sits directly under my microphone, and dragging it across my desk was very noisy and distracting on the recordings. I tried some things to quiet the mouse, but was not satisfied with the results, so I opted to replace my mouse with a trackball. I have never used a trackball before, but may people prefer them to a mouse and I am confident I can adjust.
This is one model of a trackball produced by a company called Kensington. I like the scroll wheel feature on this one as I do a lot of scrolling on the Internet, in documents, and when working with the prisoner newsletter database. You just move the scroll ring back and forth with one of your fingers to move up and down, which seems an elegant solution. The ball on top of the trackball is used to move around the screen, and the buttons perform the same functions as on a standard mouse and are programmable as well. Users report that the trackball is practically silent since you don’t have to slide it around the desk like a mouse.
One final thing I will mention which completes my desk workspace is the chair I am using. Having a good chair is quite important when you work at the computer as many hours as I do. I did not have a desk chair the past six years as I sat at the built-in dinette in my motorhome. When I went to purchase the desk from a local man I contacted through Craigslist, I asked him if he had any chairs for sale. He was a businessman who had recently closed a flooring company that had been open for the past 30 years. There were a couple of office chairs in the store. On the surface they did not look too impressive. They evidently had been used a lot. They both had duct tape on the arm rests where they had become worn.
The man told me I could have either one free of charge. I accepted his offer gratefully, knowing I would need something to sit on, and I figured it would suffice until I could get something better. When I went to move the chair I was surprised at how heavy it was. It had about five levers underneath to adjust the chair up or down, the angle of the chair, the height of the back rest, the height and width of the arm rests, and I don’t know what else.
When I got it home I looked at the chair and, other than the arm rest which was taped up rather badly, there was nothing wrong with it. It looked like it had been an expensive chair, so I found the manufacture ID # and looked it up online. These chairs retail for $375. I found some replacement arm rest covers for less than $20 on Ebay, and received them a few days later. They fit perfectly and now the chair is flawless. I also ordered some larger rollers for the chair to raise it a couple inches since I also raised my desk. I am in awe of Yahweh’s provision, for the chair is worth more than I paid for the desk, and I also got a good deal on the desk.
On a closing note, Girlfriend’s puppies are 9 days old today. They should have their eyes open soon. They are fat and strong. Girlfriend is a good mother. She is very attentive to her puppies. Her appetite has greatly increased as she is now eating for 9 (One of the two white puppies died around day 4 or 5. I am not sure what the cause was, as it appeared healthy.) I caught a puppy yawning in the following photo.
They pretty much eat and sleep right now, but should be more active once their eyes are opened. Surprisingly, I have had three people locally say they would like to get a puppy when they are weaned. I had not even told anyone about them, but a couple different neighbors had noticed that Girlfriend was nursing and expressed interest in getting a puppy. It is looking like it will not be too difficult to find homes for them when they are old enough to give away.
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Montezuma, GA 31063