Mar 242022
 

I like these gooseneck desk lamps a lot and I’ve had this one for more than 10 years.

For the past 2-3 it’s had a E27 socket to AC adapter powering a USB charger powering a bare ESP32cam dangling out of the head as a really lazy security camera rig. It ran esphome and piped to hassio.

I finally got a wild hare to make it less obviously lazy and popped in a raspberry pi zero W with a camera and a relay controlling the head light The raspi runs motioneyeos and pipes to hassio. The relay fires from the motioneyeos UI and I finally got it to fire from hassio by a shell command switch that uses ssh to run a gpio script on the pi.

I had to remove the base weight to get all the electronic in and that left it a little top-heavy, so I just hot-glued in a half-pound or so of bismuth pellets because I am a person who owns a startling quantity of bismuth for reasons that are probably explained elsewhere on this site.

Mar 082022
 

I felt compelled to address the fact that I stopped posting about silicone lighting stuff and watermeal stuff.

I think I can say the silicone thing has run its course. Unfortunately the balsa dioramas didn’t hold up that well after a year. The clear silicone gets a bit cloudy, not unbearable but mostly it just never stops curing so it shrinks up and air bubbles grow and things shift whatnot. The smaller tubes still look okay but still not as good as they did at first. I have a few more ideas involving LEDs and stuff suspended in clear stuff, but I think if I ever get to them I’ll use epoxy or two-part silicon so if I do that we’ll call that a different project. I think I’ve explored the potential of acetoxy silicone to my satisfaction.

The watermeal… well- the population I started with lasted about 3-4 months before they finally all died. The sugar press mud idea was a total bust, but I still think watermeal could be pretty useful crop. The main problem is I overestimated how much of my one bedroom apartment I was willing to sacrifice to enclosures that leak pink light and make liquidy-bubbling sounds 24/7. Also there was a slight odor from all the wet plant stuff laying around. So I’d still love to mess with watermeal but I’m going to have to put that down unless\until I have a more appropriate living situation.

So that’s a season and\or series finale on those little story-arcs. I’ve been trying to tone down the DIY project compulsion and focus more on writing so hopefully there will be more of that sort of thing for a while, but who knows.

Feb 242022
 

Hi, I’m BJ Beecher, proprietor and head keeper at Meat Honey Farms!

In 1982 my grandpap Beebe Beecham Beecher was selling encyclopedias door-to-door when he got to the V’s and read about the ‘Vulture Bee’, an actual bee that turns meat into honey. Like for real, it’s an actual thing.

Being the enterprising honey lover that he was, he sold his bottle cap collection and moved straight to Trinidad to learn to keep these little beauties himself- and to make the world’s most delicious and probably only meat honey. Which is apparently a lot like honey, just that bees eat meat to make it instead of pollen.

Thirty-five years later I inherited the worlds largest meat honey farm, and I kept my grandpap’s wish of being chewed up and secreted by favorite hive, then his meat honey offered to wild bears as some kind of offering, idk- he was a weird dude.

Today Meat Honey Farms is thriving and growing, refining the traditional methods my grandpap developed with modern materials and technology. Just last year we completed our farm-animal flavor trilogy with beef honey, which has already outselling chicken and pork honeys.

Meat Honey Farms isn’t done innovating and we’re looking for investors to join us in expanding volume production for Industrial and Military grade meat honey stock, as well as targeting niche consumer markets with nuanced animal flavor profiles.

Industrial and Military meat honey orders are currently produced at our original farm in Trinidad. Our hives convert over 10,000lbs of agricultural waste into 500 gallons of low-grade mixed-animal meat honey every week, for 1/10 the production cost of flower honey. Vulcher Bees are far better suited than standard bees for high-volume production, and their honey retains the high-energy content and extreme shelf-life of all honey. These benefits have led to an explosion in demand for meat honey from food producers across the globe. Meat Honey Farms is the only meat honey producer with proven, scalable methods and is poised to grow our capacity to fulfill this lucrative demand.

Meat Honey Farms is also discovering and developing new markets for more specialized grades and blends. In the past 10 years we’ve taken our “MetaHoney” line of deli meat honey flavors from a hand-made niche serving our on-site bed-and-breakfest customers, to an international staple outselling brand-name custard and cottage cheeses.

Our state-of-the-art research facility has installed a pilot production facility capable of lab-growing meat from rare or endangered animals to create collectible or commemorative meat honey lines for any request or occasion.

Meat Honey’s “Unexiprable Bucket-O-Food Granular Human Feed” has become a must-have for disaster preppers.

And as messed up as it is, people have requested the thing my grandpap wanted- getting eaten by bees and all, so we’re going to make money doing that too because why not?

So give us your investment money, we’ll feed it to bees and make money honey!


That happened because I recently learned about ‘vulcher bees‘ and actually thought I’d like to try some meat honey on toast, but that probably won’t happen and even if it technically could idk if I’d want it as a weird novelty. But I like the idea of a more developed meat honey market so writing about one seemed like fun.

Feb 172022
 

It was a dark universe and intelligent species were always dropping dead in mysterious ways.

It’s nothing new to a private xenoanthropology detective. You see things before first-meal that would make most people puke their thorax out until fifth-meal. But no matter how twisted the outcome, I know there’s always an explanation, and I always find it. I’m a zee-pol, a classically trained xenologist or xenoanthropologist, whatever studies alien cultures, but like detective noir style, get what I’m going for?

My secretary AI got the call last quarter-cycle. Started about a story about a planet with a species that had it all- they were living the cosmic dream. Converting all kinds of mass to energy, making copies of themselves, processing information to enhance their survival, a real goldilocks story. They built vessels and lived in space for a while, looked like they were gearing up for a big push to move to other planets. Not an easy achievement for a species that had to build their own wings just to get off the ground.

But just a few dozen cycles later they were belly up, still running around making copies of themselves but struggling just to convert organic mass to energy and barely processing any information at all. Like a ghost of a civilization.

My client had an off-the-books investment in the place and they were looking for answers. Seems a few of the planet’s natives bet big on their species being the next star on the galactic stage, but they went down hard, and somebody had to pay the price. 

Could have been a short scam, maybe one of those natives had another bet on the planet flopping like a space whale in an event horizon, but that would have to be some depraved native. I wouldn’t put it past anyone though, there’s always a nut case willing to sell out their entire species for one lifetime of hedonism. 

Could have been another investor with different interests, but there hadn’t been any notable extractions from the planet, no raw resources, no brain harvest, nothing, nobody took anything from the planet, the natives just stopped being interesting.

My client thinks it could have been sabotage from one of his business associates, and if it is- it’s my job to find out who. 

So I started looking. I start with the simple stuff. I listen, I look through refuse, and maybe snoop around the yard. Their solar system was littered with probes, and each was apparently made for a scientific goal. Some even included strange greetings and information about the species that made it. Very aspirational stuff, seems like they had to have been a species on the move at some point.

There was even more stuff in their planetary orbit, but only a fraction of it was operational at all, and a fraction less was in use. It was a pretty interesting junkyard though. There was a lot more variety in the purpose of the orbital machines, some were scientific, but many were apparently for transmitting enormous amounts of data around the planet. The throughput was mind boggling, yet the available data caches indicated almost none of it was used to transmit scientific, educational, or even useful information. They could transmit all of their species collected scientific data several times a second, yet scientific data accounted for a small fraction of the networks use.

Transmissions from the planet were sparse for a species that once filled their sky with radios, but there were more than a few dense collections of natives doing native things like broadcasting audio and video signals.

I tuned into their feed for a while to get a feel, and right away it felt pretty weird. The weather forecasts made sense but the rest of it was pretty much non stop insanity. There were various competitions, made up stories about people doing things that real people do, made up stories about people doing things nobody does, real stories about people doing things real people do. There were stories about animals, and two dimension people, and lots and lots of stories about people fighting and making copies of themselves. It was the most immersive experience I’d ever had in another species culture, and I’m a xeno-anthropologist. It was fairly mind blowing to find a species that marinated so extravagantly in their own lives.

The first thing you learn as a xenoanthropologist is- there are no accurate generalizations about intelligent species. Then you learn a bunch of roughly accurate generalizations and a bunch of exceptions. I can’t say any generalization applies to this place, except that in general- intelligent species don’t do that. I’ve never ever heard of a species that spent that much time and effort to transmit images of themselves doing things just for the sake of other people watching them do it. I mean- of course theater, art, sports, all that- they have analogies in most species cultures, but I’m telling you, this species never really passed the ‘mirror self-recognition test’ so much as they just adopted it as a lifestyle.

But that doesn’t answer the question of why they got so boring. They even had some programs about their former glory in space, but I hadn’t seen a single rocket launch since I started investigating. 

I was starting to think my client might be onto something. This is a species with everything it takes to ride into the intergalactic frontier. Yeah- their vain as all get out, but if they put that much metal in space just to make a proverbial giant mirror to look at themselves, imagine what they’re capable of. I’d already seen their scientific curiosity at work at the edges of the solar system. Seems like something had to have gotten in their way or they’d be jamming with the galaxy by now. 

Species sabotage is rare, but it’s happened. The bad news is once it’s done, there’s usually nothing to be done, you just can’t repair the kind of damage interstellar interference can do to a species’ development. If there is any good news, it’s that it’s impossible to do it without leaving a trace. If an outsider threw this species into chaos, they left fingerprints.

Unfortunately the only way to find fingerprints is to get up close. And very unfortunately for me I’m an insectoid creature about a meter long which is absolutely terrifying to this species, so I’ll have to be pretty creative if I want answers. Though I was perfectly fluent in their language, their prejudice to my form made casual conversation out of the question. So I went for a more direct investigative technique. I abducted a half dozen of their species and imprisoned them for a while.

It took about 3 days before any of them could speak to me intelligibly, but we made a breakthrough after I let them order a delivery of food disks. I had to start over with the delivery guy but he settled down after awhile too.

I may have started out a little aggressively, and I regret my professional lapse in allowing my suspicion of sabotage to direct my investigation, because what I learned from these poor, demented, savages, was darker than my worst assumptions.

These people were just dumb, and mean- but not always, sometimes smart and nice, but sometimes dumb and mean while being aggressively smart and nice, and vice versa, almost. But mostly they were really, really indifferent about their species to the point of being kind of dumb and mean. It was weird, and depressing. 

I asked them more explicitly what had happened to their species but they didn’t seem to understand the question, which I guess is fair- to them they just are what they are, they didn’t know what they could have been. It took me a while to piece together the timeline that took them from mounting expeditions to nearby worlds, to wallowing in their own mundane reality, but not because there was some catastrophic event that destroyed their records, it was just incredibly boring, so it took me awhile to even care enough to get the big picture. 

They did fight a lot, and there were a few significant wars that really catalyzed their decay, but mostly it was just long cycles of neglect followed by intense bursts of the wrong kind of energy. They’d get all excited and do some interesting things, then get bored with them, then fight about stupid things, the get tired of fighting and take what they learned from fighting and do a few more interesting things, then get bored and fight again. All the while devouring resources and generating enormous waste. They’re still doing it, just at smaller scales. Sort of occasionally warring city-states that watch each other’s broadcast television.

But that was it, no treason, no sabotage, not even one big war or a big bomb or anything, just lots of small, stupid, decisions that a species made to rob itself of a future in space. Or maybe they never had a future, the xenoanthropologist detective in me says it just is what it is, there’s no guarantees, and no judgements.

But the xenoanthropologist detective in me is in an insectoid, and my species is just flat out better than those morons. Yeah, we’ve got our problems, I eat fellow insectoids sometimes, whatever, but you know what I don’t do? Well… I’m not sure personally, but apparently in general my species is better at not doing things that screw up the entire species chances of doing anything interesting in space, and I know you want to go to space, c’mon… so quit listening to silly stories and go build a spaceship.

Feb 112022
 

Here’s a book I found about 20 years ago. It was in the microwave after a lightning storm, it was a little warm and glowey. It was printed in a futuristic OCR proof font so it took me this long to type it all out, plus I’m lazy. The original was lost in a freak flaming chainsaw juggling accident so no way to verify the quantum signature to see if it really is from the future or another timeline, but I’m assuming it’s legit.

I’m bad at transcribing and this thing is riddled with typos so I may update with a cleaner version at some point, but probably not.

Apparently WordPress won’t let me upload EPUB or AZW3 files for ‘security reasons’… so I guess no ebook formats unless I figure that out.

Google Books rejected me because I don’t own the copyright because I’m not doing that.

Amazon let me put it on Kindle Direct Publishing but you can’t set the price to $0.00, minimum is $0.99. So here’s that:

Nov 122021
 

It all started with hurricane Ida, or probably Katrina, but Ida restarted it. I remembered how much it sucks to not have power for a while and how much difference a little ice and a fan makes.

I’ve been down this road before. Katrina sent me down rabbit holes that led to free-piston sterling coolers, peltiers, vortex tubes, and of course evaporative cooling. But life and laziness prevented me from doing much about it until now. Long story short I got a DC portable freezer, an Aplicool C-20 that’s about 20L and supposed to be able to get down to -4F. But I think that’s probably rated in Michigan where 60F is a hot day or something, it struggled in my 76F apartment but it was pretty obviously an insulation problem because the exterior got really, really cold.

I considered ripping the whole thing apart and rebuilding it but I figured there was a good chance that could end with no freezer and a bunch of trash so I decided I’d do something probably crazier and just build more insulation around the cooler. Kind of problematic to insulate 3/4 of a rectangle when 1/4 is generating heat, but I figured it might work, so I built this monstrosity.

And surprisingly it freaking works. Without the extra insulation it will freeze water and get to about 20F, but it’ll stay there and run the compressor forever. With the foam it goes all the way to -4F and cycles the compressor on\off. I haven’t figured out the duty cycle and the actual gains but it’s an obvious improvement.

So yay, I did a thing that worked out the way I semi planned… now what? I don’t really have much use for it in an apartment so it goes in the stack of gear I made but will never actually use. Actually pretty huge addition so it’s at the bottom of the stack… anyway- it is what it is. If\when I get a tinyhome it’ll be great to have.

But the unexpected lesson I learned from this exercise is that this pink foam shit is pretty awesome. Very, very strong and workable and insulates like nobody’s business, and I had like 3 extra 2’x2′ sheets of it.

So I made more mostrosities.

This is a mini cooler that holds 2 square instant Community coffee things. They’re great because they’re square, and I use the coffee anyway. They work sort of like those old hard freezer packs. Not sure why I made this but I kind of wanted to see how long they’d stay frozen with 2″ of foam. The answer is about 3 days in an apartment between 70-80F. I was impressed.

Another one… this one was because I got into the idea of ‘directional freezing’ so I can make perfectly clear ice. But I initially misunderstood the idea so and just thought I was supposed to slow down the freezing, but there’s more to it. So this doesn’t work and it’s basically a really great cooler for about one or two big ice cubes.

I’m still not entirely sure what I’m up to here but there’s a peltier chip involved. I did finally learn that controlling peltiers with MOSFETS is way more trouble than it’s worth and there’s no shame in just slamming it on-off with a relay like a normal human being.

Oct 122021
 

MAD MADaaS has a very redundant name, but it’s for a good reason.

For the unfamiliar MADaaS is Mutually Assured Destruction as a Service. MAD MADaaS’s marketing pitch is that they provide containerized annihilation and extinction services on galaxy scale cloud native infrastructure for a fraction of the cost of on-prem MAD.

MADaaS makes a lot of sense, a lot more than MAD itself really. But if you have an arrangement with another group that if you die, they die- outsourcing the assurance of destruction to a third party is the most reasonable option. Of course most MAD subscribers are primitive cultures unaware of galactic cloud technology services, but there are enough advanced civilized grudges to maintain a thriving MADaaS marketplace.

MAD MADaaS has legacy dominance in the MADaaS market because they really are innately innovative in the field and have reinvented the industry several times across the eons. MAD MADaaS is headquartered on MAD planet. The MAD people are inscrutable in many ways, only the MAD people understand their internal cultural values and practices and they don’t communicate with offworlders about anything but setting up MADaaS contracts, it’s their primary export.

What is known about the MAD planet is mainly biological. It’s called MAD planet because the planet’s entire ecosystem seems to have evolved in accordance with MAD doctrine. Most biological systems on MAD possess the ability to cause extreme damage to their environment on demise.

There’s a wide range of destructive mechanisms. The semi-intelligent fruiting body of the MAD Worm-Tree can force its pulmonary organ through its digestive organ. This pumps digestive fluid though its optical cavity where catalytic enzymes decompose the digestive fluid into a toxic gas that can destroy any MAD life in the vicinity. Some creatures can emit death-cry like signals which strongly attract dangerous creatures to the area, or even release other biological infestations.

It’s pretty insane by Darwinian standards, though it is still Darwinian. The big difference is the evolutionary pressure of direct predation is pretty rare. That’s not to say things don’t eat each other, they just can’t take any risks that their prey will know you’re about to eat them

So there’s no hunting, not exactly. Even ambush predation is rare because mistakes are just too destructive. There’s an extraordinary amount of camouflage and deceptive markings. Pretty much every creature looks like a few other creatures and can imitate a natural phenomenon or two. In the MAD ecosystem the practice of acquiring another creature’s biological material for consumption looks a lot more like a cross between farming and seduction than the classic hunting or foraging you see on most worlds.

For instance MAD Swift-Bats eat the young of the MAD Mushmouse because infant Mushmouse have not developed the Mushmouse’s ability to violently dissolve into a thick fluid which quickly cures rock hard to permanently immobilize or smother predators. They avoid the parent Mushmouses ire by feeding them and living among the Mushmouse colonies, assuming the role of midwife and caretaker of the young. The mice reproduce prodigiously, and the bats evolved to maintain balance with the Mushmice population so a few young mice aren’t missed. The balance is pretty important because if a bat gets too hungry and tries to eat a grown mouse, or if the mice attack the bat, triggering the bats MAD-reflexive hypergolic chemical explosion, everyone loses.

There’s a lot of that kind of warped harvester-ant kind of interaction going on with MAD planet. A lot of interspecies sexual and reproductive deception too. Lot of things eat each other’s babies, some semi-voluntarily. Of course a lot of that is like seeds and fruits and such because those kind of count as something’s baby especially in ecosystems where things that look like plants also have lungs and stuff, but there’s also a lot of eating eggs and regular babies. That sounds a lot like regular nature, but it works out pretty differently with MAD.

The direct predation that does exist is necessarily based on defeating the other creatures MAD-reflex. Reliance on killing a creature before the reflex can be triggered is still too risky, so the only effective predation adapts to the reflex.

The MAD Tentaclepede’s MAD-reflex involves spontaneous cartilization of its hundreds of tentacled feet into needle sharp protrusions laced with a paralytic neurotoxin, which burst from the body after a final muscular spasm. The MAD Horned-Wheel-Scorpions evolved a hunting technique whereby they roll over a Tentaclepede, puncturing it with its horns, but rolling on to a safe distance to wait for the Tentaclepede to die and expend its legmunition.

An intelligent, generalist species eventually evolved that could take advantage of several different survival strategies. Despite, or perhaps because of their MAD tendencies, they managed to develop a thriving technological civilization. The MAD people are sort of bipeds, but have a couple of long vestigial wings they hop around on sometimes. They might have two heads, or a head and a bulb that looks like a head. Little is certain about their physiology because if you piss one off enough it goes nuclear, very literally. Their thermonuclear-MAD capabilities are due to implanted technology, not biological. It’s unclear what their natural MAD defence is but it’s presumed to be statistically less destructive than their nukes, but probably a worse way to die. The absence of regular nuclear detonations detected on their planet suggests they’re smart enough to stick to their natural MAD at home.

Apparently they started developing an implantable nuclear device alongside their first attempts at spaceflight. It was just assumed they might meet other species and if so they’d need a reliable deterrent. It took a while to develop anything like normal interstellar trade relations. At first nobody even knew there was a new space-capable species around, they just thought there’d been a spate of unfortunate reactor meltdowns in sectors near the MAD planet lately. 

Eventually they learned to chill out long enough to not blow everything up long enough to have a dialog, but they also learned they didn’t have much in common with most space-capable species. But they did see a potential market for something they were really good at.

The MAD people’s first interstellar export was the iMAD. It was just a mass-produced version of their implantable thermonuclear devices tailored for various other species physiology. It was an instant hit. It wasn’t the first implantable nuke on the market by any means. But implantable nukes were always sold alongside novelty cyanide teeth and tachyon foil hats and such, they were associated with flat-universe conspiracy nuts and the like. The MAD people found a way to market personal mutually assured destruction as both a cool and responsible lifestyle choice. 

iMAD devices became as fashionable as they were functional. Some custom luxury models could even leave the owner’s monogram in the blast crater. But iMAD had trouble breaking into industrial, military, and government markets. Even for totalitarian regimes willing to implement forced adoption, the relatively small yield of an implantable device just wasn’t enough to move tyrants to commit to large contracts.

Perhaps surprisingly the MAD people didn’t invent MADaaS, that honor goes to a sentient nanite swarm left over from a planet that let their nanotech get away from them and became a planet sized sentient nanite swarm. The nanite swarm started a cottage MADaaS industry, serving only the surviving offworld colonies from its original planet. When the MAD people found out about the idea they committed all their resources to expanding the market potential of MADaaS.

And I think that’s about as far as I can stretch that idea. I could go on about how the MAD people engage in political intrigue to start a bunch of conflict to create a demand for their services but that seems kinda tedious, and obvious, so I guess I’ll just stop here- but I do want to say the MADaaS tagline again in a used car salesman tone so here’s that- 

MAD MADaaS’s provide containerized annihilation and extinction services on galaxy scale cloud native infrastructure for a fraction of the cost of on-prem MAD.

May 032021
 

The boxes have evolved again. I extended one to 600mm high so I can move the light further away to test levels a bit. Also got some coroplast and lined them with aluminum foil for the side panels but still using pizza box cardboard for the top.

I also got a peristaltic pump to test moving fluid around because I think the main problem I’m having is the water is too stagnant. At some point I read that duckweed likes stagnant water, but I think ‘stagnant’ in nature is still a lot more dynamic than a gallon of water in a pan in a box my kitchen. So I’m trying to figure out how to move nutrients around and keep the surface from filming up without disturbing the wolffia too much.

I’ve got a really rudimentary filter system with an acrylic pipe hanging from the basin in the water so I can drop in a tube to pump water from the bottom without sucking anything up from the surface layer. If I stir the water up a little it slowly pulls any algae to the tube and I can pull it up. That seems to be helping keep the algae growth a little bit in check but I need to make a less manual system.

The ‘sugar press mud’ trials have been interesting if not productive. I don’t think it provides enough nutrition for wolffia alone with or without light. But mixed with a little regular dirt it seems to increase growth above just regular dirt. Unfortunately the growth it increases is more than just the wolffia. It turns things into an algae soup faster than regular dirt and kills off the wolffia.

That seems to be the big trick here- limiting algae growth to give the wolffia a chance because everything I do do far that helps the wolffia helps algae a lot more.

I also tried a different species of duckweed called ‘Lemna Minor’ just because. It’s not ‘mixotrophic’ and doesn’t really fit my whole ‘space grits’ concept but I’m still just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I don’t think I like Lemna Minor much so I think I’ll try to find another wolffia variant to play with rather than a whole other species.

I think the next phase of this will be all about not growing algae, which if funny to me considering I wanted to grow algae before wolffia, but this experience is reinforcing the apprehension that kept from actually doing it. Algae is insane. I’m starting to wonder if I should get some little aquarium shrimp because apparently they help with that. I’d rather not because I’ll probably kill them and I want to learn to grow wolffia without critter assistance, but the more I read the more I think that’s probably the way to go at least until I get a better grip on what I’m doing.

Also I’ve moved away from my earlier obsession with time-lapses and microscopy. If I need to keep the water moving to grow them I’ll never get useful time-lapses so I need to rethink my ideas about using computer vision to characterize growth. I’d like to say I could try to ‘train’ a neural network to visually extract growth information from video, but if I was ever smart enough to figure that out I’m way too lazy now.

I have to give a nod to MakersLED t-slot LED heatsink housings. It just comes with the sink parts and fan, you supply the LED, power, and wiring. Really decent little kit here and works great with the 80/20 frame. I put a little thermal paste on, screwed down a COB LED, wired in an AC-DC converter for the fan and voila- a nice, modular little LED lamp and I can swap in whatever chip I want. I like these a lot. I got two of them running 50W LEDs.

Apr 022021
 

So this is a bucket of ‘sugar press mud’ or ‘belt press mud’. Provided courtesy of Louisiana Sugar Refinery in Gramercy, LA. They also provided a PDF with a chemical analysis but I’m not sure if it’s okay to post that and nobody but me reads this anyway so I didn’t.

It’s a byproduct of sugar cane processing. My understanding is it’s what came from bagasse but just wasn’t awesome enough to become molasses. It looks, smells, and sounds indistinguishable from dirt. I haven’t tasted it but I can guess. It feels almost like very rich topsoil, but disturbingly sticky. Like dirt sprayed with watered down syrup. My keen scientific intuition tells me that is probably related to the fact that sugary things tend to be sticky and this is made from the thing that makes sugary things sugary.

The first thing I did was roll up a little ball of it an drop it in a watermeal jar. I admit I was slightly disappointed it didn’t immediately overflow with watermeal growth like mentos and diet coke, but if it actually had that would have been weirder. It does roll up pretty nicely- kind of of a crumbly, semi-chunky dough.

So this is short post because I have no idea what’s next with this stuff. I’m not really in control, some force is making me want to grow watermeal and it made me think sugar press mud was how to do it so I got some. Weirdest psychosis ever, but it’s pretty innocuous and distracts me from the old familiar ‘existential paralysis’ brand of psychosis so I’m just going with it.

I’ll probably freeze some because it’s definitely going to become a fungus\mold extravaganza soon. I’m not really into growing mushrooms but I can’t help but wonder if there’s an opportunity there too. But unless\until some force makes me want to grow mushrooms too I’ll just keep wondering.

Mar 282021
 

I’ve tried a few more nutrient cocktails and so far the clear winner seems to be boiled dirt. Just dirt works too but then you have little critters zooming around eating the watermeal, boiling first puts a stop to all the zooming. I’ve tried most of the easy DIY fertilizer suggestions I’ve found online plus some additives to try to capitalize on the mixotrophy, not that I know how to do that or anything, by why not. I can’t tell if adding sugar helps the watermeal any yet since mold seems to eat it all first. Still really curious about the sucrose angle and I’m supposed to pick up a bucket of ‘sugar press mud’ from a sugar mill next week so we’ll see how that goes.

Since a lot of learning to grow watermeal means leaving it alone I’m spending a lot of time thinking about and fussing with the little grow boxes. That’s probably become the real reason for all this. I’ve had a bizarre affinity for boxes since I was a child and somehow making and fussing with these is just tremendously satisfying.

So I got some more 80\20 and built a second one and I have most of a third but ran out of parts to attach the light. I removed the pi controls for now since I’ve already decided that needs an overhaul. For now it’s all just on a power strip toggle.

The cardboard panels leak light quite a bit but I’m going to add some foil baffles at some point. The foil lining on the inside probably helps a lot with the light but I haven’t metered it yet. One box has a 50W and the other has a 20W LED.

This is the kitchen-lab-garden at present. You’ll notice one box has actual potted plants- those are two jimacas and something that’s growing where I planted a muscodine seed, but doesn’t really look like what I thought a muscodine looked like. I have two more jimacas outside. Of 20 jimaca beans only 4 germinated so I’m pretty proud of these little guys. Not sure what’s up with muscodine guy but we’ll see. Since there are 4 jimacas and another thing I’ve named them Terry, Korvo, Yumulack, Jesse, and Pupa.

I switched up the BlueBox to be sort of a macro-time-lapse thing to give me imaging data to figure out how to maybe visually quantify growth.