Posted by: atomfullerene | April 8, 2009

What I did on my Winter Vacation

It’s been more than a month, but I have finally accumulated enough things to make a monster blog post.  I’ve been at home since December, and at first it was slow going.  I sat around, applied for work, played video games, and whatnot.  But while I had fun digging out my old NES and beating Super Mario Bros., I eventually decided that I’d be better off trying to do something more creative with my time.  So I set off in search of things to do.

cadescove

As I mentioned in my previous post, one thing I did was go hiking more often.  I’ve run around Knoxville and the surrounding area a bit (The above picture is from Cades Cove, in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park).  I saw some rock and read an article, which got me interested in geology.  The article mentioned a book on the subject – Basin and Range – which was very well written.  (By the way, if you are interested in other good books on subjects written by the actual people involved, check out The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter)  Anyway, back to geology- what I really want is to go fossil hunting, but unfortunatly all the fossils are out in middle TN.  I did manage to find some good stuff though, including this salamander, a garter snake (Caryn found it, actually), and several little spring peepers.

salamander

I also managed to get a good deal on an easel, so I’ve been painting a bit.  Several of the things I’ve done are below- the painting I am working on now, and a couple of fish paintings I did before that.  It really helps to have a place set up to go paint in.  If I have to take everything down and put everything up, I tend to just not get around to it.

easle

bethpicevar

zanclus

Speaking of fish- after Christmas the local fish store was having a big sale, and I got a great deal on some fancy new lights.  As a result, I decided to try adding in a few soft corals to my aquarium.  The have done great-far surpassing my expectations!  Here’s a broad shot of my aquarium.

tank

In fact, my inverts are doing so well they are reproducing.  Here’s a close up shot of my mushroom polyp.  I put it in the tank, and a few weeks later it had moved about an inch.  Left behind it, and visible about an inch above it in the picture, was a perfect tiny little mushroom polyp!  (it’s side on in the picture, and looks like a vertical oval)  It must have left behind a little bit of the pedal disk, which grew into a new one.  Isn’t it cute?

mushroom

My other soft corals are doing well too.  They told me green star polyps grew quickly, but I was amazed to see a centimeter of new growth coming out the side of mine scarcely two weeks after I put it in the tank.  Another thing in this picture:  the snails in the tank keep algae from accumulating on the rocks and walls…but they can’t reach their own shells, and all of them are coated with a thick layer of hairy brown stuff.  I find this amusing.

inverts

Finally, a week or so ago I found this old electronics set for 75 cents at my church garage sale fundraiser.  It still had all the parts, more or less, so I bought it and messed around with the electronics a bit.

electronics

I learned enough to inspire me to finish up a robot I’d been working on years ago.  The robot uses two sensors to home in on light sources.  It’s nearly done, but there are a few remaining bugs to work out–I think the motors aren’t getting enough power, so I need to crank up the voltage without frying the electronics.  Or I could try to replace the motors with lower voltage ones.  Right now only one motor goes forward, and the thing spins in circles.  But the circuit works, I have tested it independently!

p1010039

Lastly, I heard back from the University of Alabama about graduate school.  So I may wind up there getting a PhD.  Nothing’s finalized yet, but it looks promising.

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Responses

  1. Great update Adam. I especially like the Cades Code shot.


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