Avoid Getting Hosed Watering the Garden

Summer is here
and the livin' is easy
fish are jumpin'
and the flowers is high

From George Gershwin’s Summertime with a twist.
Images, author original

Summer temperature shear appears to be a month early with 90F temperatures (33 C) happening in late May rather than in late June. The dew point is low so conditions are very drying, enough so that frequent watering of our newly established ornamental plants is needed.

Last year’s heat found us watering daily using a flower watering wand and shower head. Many plants developed brown spot or powdery mildew. Neither is good.

Brown spot struck in 2020

Brown spot is a fungus disease that affects turf and low ornamental plants during the humid summer months when dew points rise into the 20’s C or 70’s F. The moist humid air hugs the ground creating conditions that promote growth of the fungus. Watering culture is a known factor with evening watering by spray being a risk multiplier.

Much to my surprise, the root stock survived and plants began poking up again in January and most have robust growth. Be sure to remove the mulch before giving up on a location as I found 2 hostas that had not yet emerged hiding in the mulch. These are now exposed and growing nicely.

What started as a quick note about soaker hose has grown into a full-fledged post including the following.

  • A bit of horticulture, specifically mixed-humid fungal disease avoidance
  • An introduction to soaker hoses and their use
  • An introduction to water timers
  • An introduction to the HozeLock connector system
  • A bit about pipe thread hand hose fitting materials incompatibility. Never mix metal colors as brass or bronze and aluminum or zinc love each other way too much.
  • And of course, references.

In this article, I mention several brands and products. I’ve used some of them and others look interesting. I was pleased to note that the HozeLock company that invented the garden hose quick coupling system is alive and well on the Isle of Dogs (UK). Gardena in Germany is also a strong manufacture of lawn and garden care products with international sales.

Note that there are at least 3 hose and fitting standards in use, US ASME, British Standard Pipe, and more ISO standards than you can shake a stick at. When ordering product be careful that it is from the universe in which you live.

Home automation Personal Computing

Air Tags?

I had tried an earlier tracker that worked so well it became E-waste at the end of battery life. Basically, the radios weren’t there yet. A tag in the laundry basket could not be found or heard. Discovery of a tag left away from home relied on the general population running the tag app on their phones. Some did but the coverage in Norfolk, Virginia was truly sparse. Oh, and the battery life was about a month. BlueTooth Low Energy was not so low.

But I also watched the Apple announcement with some interest as I had just laundered one radio car key and cleverly hid the other in pants I’ve not worn for a while. The near death experience of the first key increased my interest in finding the second. I also have a couple of sets of Yubi Keys that unlock several important 2FA things. It would be really bad if they both went missing.


“I came for good”

It’s been over a year! Dismal Wizard and I decided to keep each other. I have a wing-lass, Missy. Although we don’t appear close, I’m her wing man and protector. We perform all of our ZombieSquadHQ duties together. And we chase the rascally rabbit together. Said rabbit always has a plan so we have yet to score.

Audio Personal Computing Video

M1 iMac Pre-Purchase Planning

M1 iMac stock image courtesy of Apple.

I expect Apple Silicon to have a major impact on the functionality of the iMac. The addition of the custom rendering and custom machine learning hardware resources places the desktop Macs on par with the iPads and iPhones opening possibilities for audio and video processing on the new products. So I decided to be an early adopter while my 2017 iMac had some trade-in value.

In this post, I’ll talk about some things to consider in the pre-purchase planning phase.

Personal Computing Video

House of Worship Streaming Video Production System

During COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, my church used Zoom to stream worship services for the congregation. With the easing of pandemic restrictions approaching, the congregation desires to live stream the service in our hall. What is involved?

For one thing, Copyright. As a house of worship, use of copyright material in our hall during service is provided explicitly in the law. Once we start streaming copyright music and spoken word to an open congregation or including it in podcasts, we need to obtain a rights license, keep records or what we used, and report usage to our license grantor.

In this blog, I will examine one possible architecture for live production of worship video for recording and streaming. This system has yet to be built and operated so this design should be considered purely notional.

Streaming hardware and services are in rapid flux. The pandemic has spurred investment in new products and services that didn’t exist a year ago. For example, Black Magic Design has optimized many of its products for volunteer use in house of worship and similar environments, ProPresenter 7 supports streaming and capture, and services such as Resi provide robust content delivery to identified endpoints.

In a future blog, I hope to talk about our lessons learned cobbling together a video production workflow. The equipment is the easy part. Volunteers are the hard part. As with all systems of this type, the people investment is larger and more valuable than the stuff they are using. But good stuff is easier to learn and operate reliably.


Bladder cancer update 2

Last week I was in the hospital for outpatient treatment of my bladder tumors. The March look-around found new polyps and other growths that required biopsy. So off to Leigh Sentara to do that surveillance and treatment. The pathology results are back indicating that my disease is becoming more active although it is still confined to the inner skin.

Cancer treatment is condition based. each round begins with inspections and tests to determine if the disease is increasing or changing in character. Surgical treatment follows up to trim off the bad bits and send them off to the pathologist to figure out which cells have gone wrong and to confirm a disease free margin. It is typical of bladder cancer to present as polyps for the malignancy to slowly evolve as I’m experiencing. Since the lining only is involved, longevity prospects remain good.

Home Economics

Duvet Filling

Have you ever tried to wash up a Duvet? Have you ever tried to reassemble it afterward? Did you say bad words? Most likely.

Dismal Wizard consulted with aunts who confessed that they gave them to the Salvation Army after washing. Great shades of the Superman 3 villain played by Robert Vaughn.

Dismal Wizard figured out how to do it finally. He calls his secret technique “The Jelly Roll”.

Home Economics

Mattress Time to Live

Featured image courtesy of Casper.Com

Dismal Wizard has determined that the service life of a mattress is shorter than 35 years. About the time he retired in 2013, the back ache began. Was it stupid technique schlepping yard debris or something more sinister. Most likely both.

The Dismal not-so-big bed was a nice Simmons mattress set bought around 1985 before vulture capital swooped on Simmons, Sealy, Serta, well all the domestic mattress makers, to optimize them into a tidy profitable monopoly. American mattress quality promptly went to hell in a hand basket as verified and denounced by Consumer Reports product evaluations. So I was reluctant to trade the trusty old mattress for new.

Meanwhile Consumer Reports reader surveys determined that mattress life was about 10 years, give or take. And the Dismal Back started complaining that it was time with siatica, and hip tendon pain. Some experimentation determined that sleeping posture was involved.

Image courtesy of Rocky

Two things affect sleeping posture, Rocky and saggy mattresses. It was easier to replace the mattress so I started there.


The Dismal Snake

Dismal Wizard was diagnosed with low grade cancer of the bladder lining about 16 months ago. American Cancer Society, The Mayo Clinic, and the British National Health Service have good clinical guides describing the disease and its treatment.

Bladder cancer involves well, the bladder so not much is written about the patient experience. After searching high and low for survivor experience, I found little to tell me what to expect on this journey. So to help those following in my footsteps, I decided to write a journal about my run-in with the disease. As always, the juicy stuff follows the led. And always, see your urologist for medical advice and remember that each case is unique.

Home automation Personal Computing


A number of manufacturers of interesting kit have chosen to stay out of the smart home universe among them Ubiquity. Others like Nest play only in their own proprietary environment. HomeBridge is an open source software project that creates an environment in which Apple HomeKit bridges may be built. Smart home enthusiasts have developed over 2000 product plugins supporting popular devices.

Here at Dismal Manor we have two bridges, a Starling for Nest gadgets and Home Bridge on a RaspberryPi 4b that brings in the UniFi Protect camera RTSP streams.

The Starling is a commercialization of the Nest HomeBridge plugins. This product makes sense with the Thermostat and the cameras. It is less useful with just Protects.

In this article, I’ll describe my experiences setting up a UniFi Protect gateway and making the Ubiquity UniFi Protect cameras visible in HomeKit. UniFi Protect is one of the few camera systems having a Verified HomeBridge plugin.