My unexpected (but fully paid) vacation: Day 6

This is my little digital journal from the government shutdown.  Today is day 6 (Tuesday Oct 8th), not counting the weekend.  Click here to see all of my government shutdown journal entries.

Today I got up at 8am and got caught up on my Facebook news feed.  Yesterday my weight ended in 7 so I weighed myself again this morning and it ended in 5, so I guess yesterday’s weight was a bit off.  I realize that your body weight fluctuates and there’s no reason to weigh yourself every single day, but yesterday’s weight was a bit alarming, so I wanted to check again today.

I looked over my to-do list and decided to try not to do a lot of physical work today.  Sometimes your body just needs a relaxing day.  But I still wanted to get some to-do items knocked off my list, so I found some things that didn’t involve a lot of sweat and tears.  My first task was to add a guest account to my boys computer.  My 11 year old a couple weeks ago asked me to add a guest account and add a password to the account that he and his brother use every day.  Apparently the boys are a little annoyed when friends come over to play and they mess up their places and scores in some of the apps and games they like to play.

Then I upgraded my blog software, WordPress, on my web server.  You probably didn’t notice since it looks and acts the same.  Then I spent a little bit of time practicing a solo that I was recently given in my church‘s Christmas program.  My wife was out of the house for a few hours this morning, so I was able to launch a YouTube version of the song and sing along at full volume without anyone hearing me.  After that, I worked some more on some VHS video tapes that I’m transferring to DVD.  Once I started to get hungry, I made myself a chicken wrap for lunch and ate it.

Then I drove over to the local fitness center and gave blood.  I had missed a couple opportunities to give blood at work several weeks ago, so I’ve been keeping my eye out for the blood-mobile in town.  Their website has a list of upcoming locations in case you’re wanting to give blood.  You could save a life!


While I was out of the house, I stopped into Firestone and got my oil changed and also got my busted wheel lug replaced.  I had busted off a wheel lug a couple months ago when I was changing a flat tire by hand.  Don’t know my own strength, I suppose.  Then I ran through Lowes for a couple pieces of fireplace trim that I need to install.

Then I went back home and worked on a case mod for my new tiny little Raspberry Pi single board computer.  The board came in a plastic case for shipping, but I added some holes for cables and such.  Once I got it in a case, I felt more comfortable handling it and so I moved it over next to the house modem so I could plug it into the Internet connection and perform some software downloads and installations.  I then wrote a simple program on the Raspberry Pi in Python to turn on and off an output channel on the I/O bus.


By this time, I had run out of time and had to go shower and go to choir rehearsal.  This week is our first week of working on our Christmas program music.  We had a very good turnout of folks who were starting tonight specifically to be in the Christmas program.

After choir rehearsal, I got back to playing with my new tiny computer.  I verified using a digital multimeter that the channel on the I/O connector was actually being set ON (3.3 volts) and OFF (0 volts) by the Python script that I had written earlier.  This allows the operator to energize or deenergize a relay which can turn on and off lots of different things, like motors, etc.  Basically this thing can control a small or not too complex robot or other electronics that you can think of.  I’ve got lots of little project ideas for this little computer, but the first project that I want to work on is controlling devices wirelessly using a web interface from my laptop or from my smartphone.  So after proving that I could turn on and off the channel from the Python script, I installed Apache web server along with PHP and mySQL.

I tweaked my Python script to run from the web browser under CGI, but it would not run successfully because the I/O library that it was using required adminitrative rights to run.  So I turned to another I/O library for the Raspberry Pi called WiringPi that doesn’t need administrative rights.  After installing and playing around with WiringPi, I created a JavaScript web page that calls multiple CGI scripts written in BASH shell depending on which button you press.  This configuration worked great.  I was able to command the Raspberry Pi I/O bus via wireless web browser connection on both my laptop and on my iPhone.  So the next step is to design and create the custom circuit board that takes the various channel 3.3 volt signals and does something useful and fun with them.  That will be a to-do item for another day, though.

I got a lot accomplished today.  It looks like my to-do list now has 25 items on it.  I got a few checked off, but I did a lot of tasks today that were not actually written down on the list, plus I added a couple new items throughout the day, in typical fashion.

What will tomorrow hold for this furloughed government employee? Stay tuned! 🙂


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