Splitting a PDF File

I had a pdf file that was too large to email, but I needed to email.  So I quickly broke it up into two smaller files.  I used this command:

$ gs -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -dFirstPage=1 -dLastPage=34 -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=physics1.pdf -f Physics\ Faculty.pdf 
$ gs -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -dFirstPage=35 -dLastPage=68 -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=physics2.pdf -f Physics\ Faculty.pdf 

Cost Per Mile

I have some time to kill before podcast recording tonight.  I was balancing my checkbook and took a quick look at the report it generated for last year.  I noticed that all my auto expenses for last year were $2532.10.  It breaks down like this:

Fuel $839.25
Insurance $806.00
Service $545.16
Registration $222.69
Parking $99.00
Tax (tolls) $20

And since I drove for 10,400 miles last year.  I'm basically paying (253210/10400) 24.3 cents per mile.  This isn't taking into account depreciation or cost of the car because I don't know how to figure that.  Based on just this, each time I bike to work I'm saving 12 * 25 cents or roughly $3.  I didn't bike that much last year, just 1082 miles.  But that's a savings of $3246, which is kind of impressive, I think.  Makes me want to keep biking.  And I'm happy that I biked to tutoring and the library last night, even though it was 5 degrees.  It was a painful (approximate) mile to ride, but I saved myself a quarter.  🙂

Low-Carb it is

About a week ago, I went to the library to return some books.  Since I didn't have any other books on hold to pick up, I head over to my usual aisle (the last one with books about learning different skills) to see if I could find anything to read.  Luckily for me, pretty close to the books on making stuff are books on gardening and cooking.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but totally based on their covers, I grabbed the book "Unbowed" about an environmentalist in Africa (which I haven't started yet) and "Why We Get Fat".  After I read the second one, I thought because you eat more calories than you burn.  How could there be an entire book about that.  I was going to put it back, but I didn't see a more interesting gardening or woodworking book, so I kept it.

I started reading when I got home and basically read it straight-thru for the rest of the day.  The idea is that it's carbs that make us fat.  I probably don't have the details exactly right, but it's insulin that's the problem here.  When you eat carbs, you generate more insulin that stores the fat in your cells.  If you don't eat carbs (even if you eat a lot of food), your body will pull the fat out of your cells to use for energy.  Honestly, I wasn't quite sure that I believed this.  But, I had a very slow weekend and was a little bored.  So I thought I'd do an experiment.

The author said that if you eat a high-carb meal (say like a bowl of cereal with milk and a banana) you're insulin it will store the excess in your fat cells or something like that.  The net result is, your weight will go up.  Since I've been weighing myself daily since 2011, I pretty much know my daily weight.  And I was in a stage where it was pretty consistent.  So that night, I had a small bowl of cereal with a banana for dinner.  The next morning, sure enough, I had gained a pound and a half.

That was interesting.  But then, the next day, I ate low-carb and I ate what I thought was more than usual.  Scrambled eggs with cheese and blueberries for breakfast (minus the tortilla I usually put it on), a salad for lunch and half a rack of bbq ribs for dinner.   I had some nuts at work for a snack as well.   The next day, my weight was down 2.4 pounds.  Hmmm.  Could that have been a fluke?  So I did it another day, down another 1.8 pounds.  The next day, weight stayed the same.  The next day, down 1.1 pounds.  This brings me to today, down 1.3 pounds.  Apparently, this is working.

The bad news is ... this past week I've eaten more red meat than I have in months.  I honestly had been considering becoming a vegetarian lately because I thought it would be good for me and the world.  But right now, I'm not good enough of a cook to become a low-carb vegetarian.  So I'm going to keep eating the meat and then as I learn how to cook better vegetarian meals I'll hopefully be able to shift away from it.  I don't think cholesterol is going to be a problem, but I'll see how it looks at my next doctor appointment.

The good new is ... I feel great.  I have a good amount of energy, my right knee isn't feeling achy and (aside from last night) I've even slept through the entire night.  I know it hasn't even been a full week, but everything the book described seems to be happening.  We'll see how long I can keep it up, but I think that as I learn how to cook different things, it will get even easier.

Let’s Get It Started

The weather has gotten unseasonably warm and melted all the snow. It's supposed to get cold again, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to bike to work a couple of days this week. The second day was in the rain, so my backpack, jacket and pants all had a huge muddy streak up the back. Fortunately, that came on the ride home, so it was good.

But the wonderful weather has pushed me even more into gardening mode, so I decided to get started. A few days ago, I brought all my garden stuff in from the back porch. Mainly so it could warm up a bit. Then yesterday (and today) I washed all of my seed starting trays. Apparently, lots of diseases can grow in old dirt and you're supposed to wash everything before you start seeds. I learned that because I've been reading tons of gardening blogs and websites. So I did that. Then I found out that some of the vegetables that take the longest to grow are leeks and celery. Just now, I decided to plant three tray holders of each of those. Another thing I learned from all my research is that you should stagger when you start your seeds. This way, you won't have them all being ready to be picked at the same time. Instead, they'll be spread out more over the summer. Since I could never eat as many tomatoes as came up last year, I like that idea. I also decided to start some flowers because I think I'm going to make the dirt next to the garage into a cutting garden. I want to have a ton of flowers there. And it's been so cold that I'm looking forward to some color.

Here's my pile of seed holders drying after I washed them.

And here are a small number of seeds that I started.

Here's hoping for a successful garden!

Starting Off Right

When it was below 0F last week, I saw some people out biking and admired them. I thought if it got above 15-20F, that I would ride too. So this morning, I had a nice, slow ride to work to start the year off right. It's around 27F, so a little chilly, but pretty nice compared to last week. I felt good, though, a second thin pair of socks would have been helpful. But that's ok. I want to start riding to work more and this is part of the process.

My ride in .

2018 Garden Planning

Now that it's 2018, it's time to start preparing for my 2018 garden. The last two years, I've had plenty of success with tomatoes and peppers. Last year, I also got a ton of beans and some great flowers that took no work. I also got some spinach and lettuce. And I got a single pumpkin, watermelon, cucumber and two zucchini. That has pretty much hooked me on gardening. Aside from the food, which is fun. I found it incredibly relaxing to come home after work and pick tomatoes or flowers in the garden. So I want to keep it up.

It's January 7th, so here is how my backyard garden looks right now.

First thing is that I made those sort-of raised beds with wood I found in my basement. The only money I spent there was buying 12 bags of dirt (for $1.50 each) and one bag of mushroom compost for a few dollars. I also spent around $20 on seeds. Since I feel that I'm now getting serious about gardening, I think I could spend a little more money. I want to build up some nicer raised beds. My idea is to build three rectangular raised beds. Perhaps 3' wide by 8-10' long. I want to build them out of cedar, so it will depend on how expensive that is. I'm reading a book called the Vegetable Gardener's Bible that says wide and deep beds are the way to go. So I think I want them to be at least 12" tall. Again, it will depend on how expensive the wood is.

Another plan is that I'd like to orient these beds so that I could possibly enclose them in plastic to make an actual greenhouse for next winter. The cold frames that I'm using now still freeze. Since I'm in zone 6a, I need to be prepared for temperatures down to -10F. A box with a window on top isn't going to do it. But if I put that box with a window on top inside of a plastic hoop house, that might keep the plants above freezing. Another option is to put a compost pile inside the greenhouse to get some natural heat. It seems like this might work and it's crazy enough that I'd like to give it a try.

Anyway, nothing is going to happen in the backyard while it's covered with snow. My January duties involve starting some seeds. Last year, I bought a set of shelves, a cheap led worklight and a timer. It worked fine for starting seeds.

I've read that celery and onions take a long time to get started. So my goal this month is go start some of those seeds so that they'll be ready to go in the garden later.

Installing Rails 2.5.0 on Mac OS High Sierra

Since I've just switched to my new laptop running High Sierra, I thought it would be good to update my rails software. The latest version is 2.5.0. I downloaded it and compiled it and got an error message when I tried to install rails.

yo:~ $ gem install rails
ERROR:  While executing gem ... (Gem::Exception)
    Unable to require openssl, install OpenSSL and rebuild Ruby (preferred) or use non-HTTPS sources

I'm using macports, so I installed openssl with:

sudo port install openssl

Then I had to play around a bit to get the ruby installation to find this openssl. The winning command turned out to be:

yo:ruby-2.5.0 $ ./configure --prefix=/Users/maryh/Software/rubies/2.5.0 --with-opt-dir=/opt/local
yo:ruby-2.5.0 $ make
yo:ruby-2.5.0 $ make install

Happy 2018!

Happy New Year! It's 2018! This is the year that I turn 50. I feel like I should mark the occasion somehow. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do the week of my birthday, but I'm not sure about the rest of the year.

Unlike in years past, I can't think of one big, new habit that I'm trying to establish. That one thing that I can use my calendar for to track how well I'm doing. Since I started doing this a few years ago, I've had successes (more biking) and failures (no sugar). I've found that I'll tend to be more successful if I make it about doing something instead of avoiding doing something. That makes sense. Focus on the positive and not the negative. What I want to do here is set up some process that I can follow and be done.

I recently read this book called Ikigai. I liked it a lot. Ikigai is basically about finding your purpose in life and how that leads to a long and healthy life. There were many things in the book that I agree with and some that I already do. The one thing that jumped out at me was that 100% of the people they talked to that lived to 100 had vegetable gardens. I love this because gardening is one of my latest obsessions. Additionally, my diet has never been the greatest because I'm not much of a cook, but I'm trying to improve. So I think my goal this year is to eat at least one vegetable a day. This might not sound like much, but I think it's a good habit for me. I can try to grow some stuff to get a variety and also try to learn different ways to cook vegetables. It's a positive goal. For people who grew up eating a lot of different vegetables, this might sound simple, but I never really cared much for vegetables, so I tended to avoid them and still do.

Now that I have my daily chart out of the way, what else. My new focus on the house is to get the lead water line changed. So I'm saving for that and if I'm lucky can get that replaced this summer.

I still ride my bike a lot, but not as much as a few years ago. I need to get back into the habit of biking to work. And I'd like to take my bike on the train to ride around other cities again. I like exploring cities that way, so I should do it more often.

More DIY projects. The more projects I do, the more skills I'll learn, thus enabling me to do even more projects. Plus, I really like making stuff. It's so satisfying. I have to get a better handle on using my welder this year. And I'd like to learn how to make different types of woodworking joints and get comfortable enough with them that I don't have to review how to make them each time before I try.

Now that I've been gardening for a few years, I want to get better at it. I want to rebuild my raised beds in a more organized manner. And set them up so that I can make a sort of greenhouse around them for next winter. I have some ideas about how to do this and it will require me to spend a little money. I think this will be a good investment, so I'm ok with that.

As I said before, I turn 50 this year. I've read a lot of books that are (like Ikigai) about living a good life, happiness, etc. And just about all of them say that the things in life you do in service for others are what are the most satisfying. Giving away time and/or money for a cause you believe in makes you feel more connected to those around you. In the past few years, I've found this to be absolutely true. And I've tried to make my actions follow my beliefs. I know that most of my actions are completely inconsequential in the larger universe, but I often tell myself to behave as though they are of the utmost consequence. If this year marks the beginning of the second half of my life (because I tell myself that I want to live to 100), I want to kick it off in a special way. I want to feel even more connected to people. So each month I want to do something beneficial to others. I haven't quite figured out what this will be, but it's an on-going project. This was the idea behind signing up for tutoring at my local literacy center. So that's how I'm starting. We'll see how the year goes.

Happy New Year!

My New MacBook Pro

As noted, with the new year, I'm starting to use my new MacBook Pro full-time. Last night, it took a few hours to copy everything from my old backup to this new laptop. Did it work perfectly, of course not. Plus, I don't like copying everything from my old laptop to my new one. There is a lot of stuff that I could throw away, but it takes time to go through it all. So I copied just my old home directory, but not the Applications directory. I know there's lots of stuff that won't run or that should be updated, so I installed all that stuff manually.

Anyway, here's the info about my new laptop.

So it's not a current laptop. I bought it off the clearance section because I wanted a laptop that still had usb connections. The idea of carrying a bunch of dongles to plug stuff into a usb-c connection fills me with dread. I'll still have to do that for my network connection, but I do have usb and can still use my old chargers with an adapter. That's good because I didn't want to have to buy an extra one so that I could have one at home and work. I also bought a new 1tb hard drive and installed that myself. I couldn't customize the laptop because I bought it in the clearance section, so it came with a 128mb drive, which is laughable. It also comes only with 8gb of ram and I can't upgrade that. That's sad because my old laptop had 16gb of ram and I wanted one with even more, but Apple has decided that we don't need that much ram.

In my mind, I'm hoping this laptop takes me through retirement. And if that's the case, this will perhaps be my last mac. I'm not liking the direction that their hardware is taking and if I don't have to support macs at work, I really won't need one. I'd be fine with a linux laptop.

Took me a while, but my point of this post is to note that I'm moving from a 15-inch laptop to a 13-inch laptop. Yes, this new laptop is much lighter than my old one. But the screen feels really small as well. One place where I really notice it is in my calendar. The cells are all much smaller so that I can't see all my events. This may change how I use it. Now, I put lots of notes and reminders in my calendar. But if I can only view two or three events, I may stop putting items there. I'm already noticing that I don't really pay attention to the line that says 2 more... or 3 more..., meaning if I don't see them in the monthly view, it's like they're not there.

Another spot where I've noticed the smaller screen is in watching nhl games. It's changed the arrangement of how things are laid out. I'll probably get used to it, but my immediate reaction of course is that I don't like it. Oh well, change is inevitable.

2017 Year in Review

The years just seem to be flying by. 2017 went by pretty quick. I have no complaints because I know how lucky I am. I'm in pretty good health. There are people who like to hang out with me, though I'm never really sure why. And while I'm not crazy wealthy, I can afford to do what I want and still give to causes I think are important. So, life is still definitely good. Let's look at the details of how I hoped by year would go with how it actually went.

My big idea for the year was to not eat any sugar. I started the year out pretty good and did ok for about four months. However, by the end of April, it was basically over. I tried to get back on the wagon, but by September, I had pretty much given up. And that's ok. It was an epic fail, but I'm ok with failing. In my attempt, I did discover a few interesting things to eat and learned a bit more about myself. So, as long as I'm learning from failure, I'm happy to keep failing.

My DIY projects went fine, though I should have done more of them. I made a bunch of beer flights for my brother's brewpub and those were fun. This past week, I finally started learning how to do finger joints in wood, which is cool. When I didn't have a specific project in mind, I did just glue up some boards together so that I'd have them available if needed. And I set up my cousin's sewing machine for a special project that I'm working on. I'll be working on that later today as well. I really enjoy making stuff, so I need to just do it more. I've cut back on a lot of the youtube videos I watch and now I just need to start doing more of my own projects. I did buy a welder and set it up in my garage. I tried welding once and it didn't go so well. I need to put some regular practice time in on it and I think I'd get better at it. Though the thermometer in my garage shows it's 20 degrees F in there, so this will probably wait until spring.

I didn't read that much over the year, but as the weather got colder, I did stay inside and read a few more books. That's good. I tended to stick with non-fiction because that's what I like. And a few books were about gardening, which is quickly becoming a new obsession. So much so that I even took some cuttings of my Mom's gardenia plant to see if I can get them growing here. Not sure if it will work, but it doesn't cost much to give it a try.

Let's see I also was going to work on my book. That didn't happen. Though I did sign up for a class about learning how to write a book and sell it. As of right now, I basically wasted that money. I wanted to tune my tools. Didn't do that, but I know I am getting more comfortable with them. Watch my language...I haven't really kept track, but my guess is I'm still swearing up a storm and there's really no reason I should be.

This year I did get a free drill press from Mick. And I bought myself a new bike that I'm really liking. Financially, I did pretty good. I didn't save as much as last year, because I did have two pretty big purchases. As mentioned, I took the class on writing/publishing a book which cost around $1800. And I also bought myself this new laptop that I'm working on. That was a little more than $2000. The laptop was a good investment because my old one was over five years old. And I use this laptop on a daily basis, both at work and at home. My savings for this year was around 36%. Last year I did better at 46%, but that's ok.

One thing that I think I've finally fully embraced is to "trust the process". You can set goals, but it's the day-to-day habits that will get you there. I had refinanced my house four years ago and I just checked that I'm right on schedule to have it all paid off in four more years. I told myself that I would pay a consistent extra amount each month and I've been doing that. So my process is working. I'm not financially independent yet, but I'm getting there. I joined the park fitness center a little over a month ago and I'm trying to get myself in the habit of going 2-3 times per week to lift weights. I think if I just follow this process, my strength and flexibility will improve. And if I'm lucky, perhaps I'll lose a little weight in the process. On that note, today I weigh about two pounds more than I did at the start of the year. That's nothing to beat myself up about.

One interesting thing this year was I had a small bout of depression in the fall. For part of October and November, I just didn't feel like myself. It was very odd. However, I could tell what was happening and I just kept telling myself that it would pass eventually, which it did. It took a bit longer than I thought to break out of it, but that's ok. I joined the gym soon after that because I think staying active is a very good way to combat depression. And especially in winter, I tend to be a hermit, so I want to keep myself going out.

Another new thing I decided to to this year was to try volunteering again. There's a literacy center about four blocks away and I signed up as a tutor. I'm helping an older Mexican woman learn english. I don't know that I'll be able to help her much, but I'm going to give it a try. I had to volunteer for four months, so we'll see if this works out.

I did do some travel this year. I flew down to Arizona to hang out with my friend Ellen which was fun. And Mom and I drove to Florida to spend a week with Mary and Mickey at their place there. If I count the trip to LA in November 2016, my last three trips have been south. They were all fun, but I reinforced the idea in my mind that I'm a city girl. My favorite places were when I was in bigger cities. I might like to go back to Savannah because Mom and I spent one night there on the drive back from Florida. It seemed like a neat town.

I still ride my bike a lot, but I didn't ride very much this year. My total for the year was 1082 miles vs. 1720 miles last year. I will note that this year, I didn't turn on my cyclemeter app for every little ride to the grocery store or library. And I'm very good about riding to places in my neighborhood. But I should have biked to work more. I'll try to improve that next year. As for driving, I think the odometer was around 44,800 miles. (John and Ted have the car right now, so there will be a few more miles put on it.) But roughly, that means that I drove around 10,400 miles for the year, which is almost exactly what I drove last year. Since I didn't take any major driving trips, I think the bulk of those miles were from driving to work. So I can get that down next year for sure.

I didn't work on the house at all. And I'm not planning on doing any work until John and Ted move their stuff out. I did find out this year that I have lead in my water. The city replaced the water main in the street and were looking for people who would let them check the water before the change and then after. I signed up and that's when I found out I have lead. After a bunch of testing, it was determined that the lead is only a problem when it sits in the lead water line coming into my house for a long time (like overnight or after I'm at work). The quick solution is to run it for 10-15 minutes and then fill up a bunch of gallons of water to keep in the frig. The longer term solution is to replace the lead line to my house. I've heard this could cost around $12k. So my next immediate house plan is to save up that money so that I can get that line replaced. If I'm lucky, I'll have the money to do that next summer.

I think that's about it for the year. 2017 was an ok year. Pretty quiet in fact. No major issues. I'll think about it for today and tomorrow will post some things that I'd like to do in 2018. Since that's the year I'll turn 50, I feel like I should try to do something special.