Studio711

You Shook Me All Night Long

Last night just before 3am all three of us woke up to the house shaking. It was bad enough that it even woke up Elijah (“Mommy! Daddy! What’s happening?!”), but it wasn’t bad enough to shake anything off the walls or make it difficult to move. Tyla got Elijah back to sleep pretty quickly and after walking around the house to look for any damage, I hopped online to see how bad it was. As I sat down there was a smaller aftershock.

Within a few minutes, the quake information was available on the USGS website and I had a notification in my inbox. If you’re not familiar with that site and you live in an earthquake zone, I recommend you spend some time there. Here’s the page for the main quake last night which was a 4.6 and both it and the 3.5 aftershock were between Lake Stevens and Monroe (less than a 30 minute drive from my house). They were 25-30km deep and lasted 10-15 seconds.

Not only does that site get very quick assessment of the intensity of the quake but you can also fill out a quick survey to help them assess the potential damage. Strangely it looks like their notification service page is broken right now, but when it’s working, you can set your own alert levels. So for example, I get an email alert whenever anything bigger than 2 hits the Pacific Northwest and anything bigger than 5 hits the west coast. Check back on the site later and look for the Earthquake Notification Service.

So that site gave me some instant calm as I realized it was a pretty mild earthquake and then Twitter helped some as I didn’t see any reports of damage or injuries. After about 45 minutes, the TV stations finally started picking it up. Kiro 7 had a story about how the newscaster’s teenage son was up watching TV and he said their cat sensed it before it happened…

We haven’t found any damage around here and none of us are hurt. So after the gallons of adrenaline that instantly flooded our system finally wore off, we were able to go back to sleep.

Mesh Networking

As I wrote back in 2016, our house is just big enough and the WiFi band is just crowded enough that we need two access points to get good coverage. Back then I chose to dive into Ubiquiti networking gear. You can kind of think of their stuff as consumer grade equipment with enterprise an level feature set (and learning curve!) I installed some of their stuff at church with great success and it worked ok around here, but I was having to reset it more and more frequently. Plus the router we had was also flaking out periodically. It was either time to beef up my Ubiquiti game or go a simpler route. For once in my life, I chose the easier, less geeky route.

Mesh networking is the hot new(ish) trend. Multiple devices are spread around your house and they work together to service all your wireless clients. They automatically hand clients off to the access point with the best signal. Some of the more popular brands are Orbi, Eero and Google WiFi. I chose… none of those. Instead I went for Synology’s offering largely because a group of people at work were singing their praises and it looked a bit more configurable and was cheaper to expand as needed.

For my main router, I chose the Synology RT2600ac and for the extra access point downstairs, I got a Synology MR2200ac.I think I could have saved a little money by just getting two MR2200’s but I opted for the beefier RT2600ac because I have a lot of wireless and wired clients in my house and I figured the extra horsepower wouldn’t hurt.

The system was pretty simple to configure (though not as straightforward as products like Orbi) and I have been happily roaming around my house for a few weeks without ever dropping my signal. I have great coverage everywhere inside, out in the driveway (useful for checking traffic while I’m sitting in the truck) and out in the cul-de-sac. Oddly the only place I’m having trouble is on the back patio. I’m not sure what the deal is there but I’ll have to either place with the placement of my devices or add a third access point to completely blanket my property.

The interface for the RT2600ac is very impressive. It’s basically a full windowed desktop environment inside your browser. You can enable plugins, get traffic reports emailed to you, and toggle feature switches to your heart’s content.

If your existing wireless setup is working well for you, don’t bother changing it, but if you’re in the market for a new system, this Synology gear gets the thumbs up from me so far.

Strawberry Tower

This is the last year for our planter boxes along the driveway. We decided to pull them out but we still wanted to have a few strawberry plants around. The back yard seemed like a good place to help avoid the deer so I put together a simple design for ladder style planter boxes. The whole thing is on wheels for now so we can move it around, but eventually the plan is to put them along the fence. I might have to move one of the plants to make room for it.

The structure is made out of 2×6 cedar and 1×10 cedar. The boxes are lined with plastic with some drain holes drilled through and then covered with landscape fabric. I also had some of the old fence stain laying around and since it’s going to be up against the fence eventually, I slapped on a quick coat.

If I made them again, I’d probably make a few changes to try to decrease the cost a bit, but overall I think these will serve us well for years to come.

First Baseball Season

Last winter, Tyla and I thought Elijah might enjoy trying out tee ball so I started doing some research and not only had we already passed the age group for tee ball, but it was almost too late to register for the upcoming season! Since Elijah and I have played a bit in the yard, I thought he’d be ok making the jump straight to a pitched ball.

Because of his birthday, Elijah was one of the youngest kids on the team and since he hadn’t played tee ball, he was a bit behind many of the other kids. It was a challenge at times but overall he had a good attitude and worked hard to catch up.

Pitching was done with a pitching machine. It was fairly consistent which was nice but some of the machines really ripped the balls in there. Elijah had a tough time figuring out the mechanics of swinging a real bat and hitting a real ball at that speed. He did get a few hits over the season.

He did learn a ton about the game. He knows where the positions are and has some idea of where to throw the ball if it gets hit to him. At the end of the year, his coach said he was the best ground ball fielder on the team.

It was fun to see him learning and being part of a team. I got a front row view for it. I wasn’t one the official coach or assistant coach but I helped out with many of the practices and all the games. Coaching was a challenge for me because it’s hard to watch kids throwing their gloves in the air and playing in the dirt. How do you draw the line between teaching them and constantly nagging them?

It will be interesting to see if he wants to continue when the next season rolls around. Hopefully he’ll want to continue practicing hitting over the summer as well.