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The day i started sitting

Today I sat.

I sat a lot.

I quite enjoyed it.

People should try sitting. It's way better than standing.

Those people at work with standing desks... They're just trying to fool you into thinking that they're healthy. They're really miserable. Sitting is so much better.

Your ass is natural padding that your body made just for you. Naturally, it has evolved over time to encourage sitting and make sitting as comfortable as possible. Your feet aren't naturally filled with fat to make standing comfortable. The whole shoe industry is painfully aware that standing is horribly painful and is rolling in the cash because of it!

I really don't like standing. Standing in line. Standing guard. Standing ovations. Blech. Who needs 'em. :)

So, let's all just say, "no" to big-shoe!

Sit and be comfortable, I say!

The Longmont Pothole Project

The city of Longmont, Colorado has a pothole problem and it’s so bad that I’ve decided to try to do something about it.

The city has very thoughtfully provided a pothole reporting page but it takes quite a while to fill out the page every time that you need to report a single pothole.

Initially, I tried to generate some python code to auto-submit pothole filling requests, but the server-side requires a unique token from the initial visit that’s in javascript only and carried with the user throughout the form filling process which was such a big pain in the ass that I decided to just punt and go a different direction.

I called up the City and finally was able to talk with the guy who’s in charge of the team that fills the potholes in the city. He was nice enough to take my call, and I was afraid that he’d be all defensive if I started to rant about how bad the pothole situation in the city was right away. He and I talked for about 15 minutes. I asked tons of questions about how the process currently works, how many people he has working under him, are they filled by-hand or is there an automated truck that does the work, etc.

I felt kinda bad for the guy after talking to him. He is understaffed and only gets a handful of pothole reports a week, so he has to track down and make notes of the potholes himself as he’s driving around the city. I told him about my attempt at creating a system to at least report the potholes on the major streets in the city, and he was very receptive. I asked him if I could submit a map of where I found the potholes, and he said, “sure”.

Attempt #1: android app

I first wrote an android app which I could attach to my car and bring up when I was driving around the city and just hit a button on the app to save and report an email. The app had a second button to send the locations to me in an email once I stopped driving.


Well, it turns out that the locations were all over the place due to my phone’s GPS accuracy (The Google Pixel 6 Pro GPS is apparently not great). Some potholes were in ditches and tens of feet or tens of yards away from where they actually were located. The phone was also inside the cab of my car so the GPS was affected by noise in the car and the frame of the car itself, etc. Also, when I stopped, I noticed that the GPS drifted quite a bit, so only moving GPS data was even semi-trustworthy.

Attempt #2: raspberry pi zero w/ USB accessories

I had fashioned myself a little gadget made from a USB keyboard with 3 keys, a USB GPS that magnetically sticks to the roof of my car and a raspberry pi zero W with the battery hat. The battery gives me about 2.5 hours of driving time (and I can optionally charge it as I drive). The roof-mounted GPS gives me much more accurate location readings at 1-second intervals and the USB 3-button keyboard is small enough that I can hold it in my hand while I’m driving and not take up too much space.

Price all-in was around $40

Here’s the initial version of the code (I’m still kind of tinkering with it though). One thread reads GPS data, one thread reads keyboard input. One file is used to record pothole locations and one file is just the GPS trail. The 2nd and 3rd keys on the keyboard can be used as an “undo” button in case I want to un-flag a false-positive as I drive over the pothole. The files are opened, written to, then closed in case of a power outage, the files won’t have been left open hopefully to avoid any file corruption.

Feel free to heckle me on my coding style. :)

#!/usr/bin/env python3  
from gps3 import gps3  
import json  
import threading  
import time  
import keyboard  
from datetime import datetime  

logtime = time.strftime("%Y%m%d-%H%M%S")  
lat = 0.0  
lon = 0.0  
gps_time = None  
lat_old = 0.0  
lon_old = 0.0  
gps_old_time = None  
enter_time = None  
new_pothole = False  

def latlondiff(lat1, lat2, amount):  
    if (lat1 > lat2):  
        return ((lat1-lat2)*amount)+lat2  
        return ((lat2-lat1)*amount)+lat1  

def gps_real(name):  
    global lat, lon, gps_time, lat_old, lon_old, gps_old_time, new_pothole, logtime, enter_time  
    gps_socket = gps3.GPSDSocket()  
    data_stream = gps3.DataStream()  
    for new_data in gps_socket:  
        if new_data:  
            nowtime =  
            print("Loc: ", data_stream.TPV['lat'], data_stream.TPV['lon'])  
            lat_old = lat  
            lon_old = lon  
            gps_old_time = gps_time  
            lat = data_stream.TPV['lat']  
            lon = data_stream.TPV['lon']  
            g = open('track-'+logtime+'.txt', 'a')  
            gps_time = nowtime  
            if new_pothole:  
                timediff = (enter_time - gps_old_time).total_seconds()  
                print("TimeDiff (in seconds, should be less than 1):",timediff)  
                    accurate_lat = latlondiff(float(lat),float(lat_old),timediff)  
                    accurate_lon = latlondiff(float(lon),float(lon_old),timediff)  
                    print("pothole at:",accurate_lat,accurate_lon,entertime)  
                    f = open('holes-'+logtime+'.txt', 'a')  
                new_pothole = False  
def get_input(name):  
    global enter_time,new_pothole,keyboard,logtime  
    while True:  
        if keyboard.is_pressed('a'):  
            enter_time =  
            new_pothole = True  
        if (keyboard.is_pressed('b') or keyboard.is_pressed('c'):  
            f = open('holes-'+logtime+'.txt', 'a')  

if __name__ == "__main__":  
    x = threading.Thread(target=gps_real, args=(1,))  
    y = threading.Thread(target=get_input, args=(1,))  

Driving around was pretty inconspicuous

I was able to locate about 250-ish potholes in my first two 40-minute drives around the city. Longmont has about 340 miles of road in total. I’d like to start with most of the primary roads and then if I have time and the nerves to do it, I’ll hit all the residential roads too.

I’m going to continue to use this method of pothole detection for a month or two and see how it goes.

Here’s the live map of the detected potholes around the city if you’re interested in following my progress:

My idea for version #3: seriously over-engineered

If the “click a button every time I drive over a pothole” version doesn’t seem to work out, I’ve got in mind an even nerdier solution.

I bought an XBOX Kinect v2 (the one with higher resolution) and I’ll strap it to the front of my car and drive around the city and literally scan every inch of road. The Kinect has a depth sensor on it and I should be able to generate 3D relief maps of every road that I traverse.

Once I have depth data for every road, I can do some offline processing of the data and generate an image and a 3D profile of each 1-second’s worth of GPS data. Then I could identify the largest potholes and report them as the highest priority to the city leaving the smaller potholes as a lower priority. I could provide a website with each picture and 3D relief map of the pothole. Technically I could even provide the amount of filler that would be needed to fill each hole as well, but I might not actually bother with that.

There are a couple of downsides to this solution though:

  1. The sun. The sun generates enough IR light that it drowns out the IR from the Kinect, so the driving would have to happen after sundown.
  2. This would require a (bunch) of OpenCL code to stitch together the point cloud data and images and then analyse the pothole data to detect the size of each pothole. Also, if the pothole spanned more than one-second’s worth of GPS ‘length’, I’d have to stitch together a much larger area.
  3. I’m sure that curved or bowed roads (roads that are higher in the middle than on the sides) would make the pothole detection more tricky 3D-wise. Also writing some code to ignore normal road features (curbs, etc.) might be difficult.
  4. noise in the sensor or bugs flying around or a dirty lens, all of these real world problems could cause this version to be a huge headache.

I have all the hardware that I’d need to build v3 of the pothole detector, but it seems like it would be a lot of work, so I’m hoping that v2 of the pothole detector will be enough to improve the state of the city’s roads. I’d like to keep it as simple as possible for my own sanity. :)

to be continued …

Growing Tomatoes

My father has always grown a healthy crop of tomatoes every year. Each year he tries a different method and over the years has grown quite a healthy crop … enough to give tomatoes away to everyone he knows and still has a plentiful bounty to keep for himself. He likes tomatoes quite a bit and eats them with almost everything.

I’ve tried to take up my father’s hobby and found it quite difficult


I bought a commercial “tub” for growing vegetables, and it was a LOT of money. Like hundreds of dollars for everything. My wife kept making fun of me about how much money I was spending to grow a single tomato, and I’ll give her props when she’s right, that was one expensive tomato! I ended up struggling quite a bit with wind, watering every day and just keeping the damn thing from not dying for most of the summer. I grew maybe 4 good-sized tomatoes over the whole summer which was not at all worth it or respectable.

The one take-away from the expensive “tub” system was its wicking system. It had tubes going down on the corners of the tub to feed the water to the bottom of the tub and the soil was packed in such a way that the water would make its way up through the soil through capillary action and feed the roots of the plants and actually cause the roots to grow deeper to where they thought that the water was coming from. This made for some interesting root growth, so I had to carry that idea forward in next year’s plan.


I took a break from the tomato game and just bought tomatoes from the store. BORING


So I bought only one tomato plant in 2023 from Costco for somewhere around $20 and it was pretty mature and strong already, so I figured that I couldn’t screw it up too badly. I wanted to use the wicking system that the “tub” used in 2021, so I got a couple of hoses, a water pump and an old tub that I could use as a reservoir. The pot that it came in already had holes in the bottom (they probably use the wicking system to feed the plants at the place where Costco bought the plants from in the first place, so they should be ok being fed/watered this way). I came up with something like this:

I ended up replacing the pump with just a programmable faucet switch that I found on AliExpress for pretty cheap. I ran one switch to my sprinklers and one switch to my tomato plant. The tomato plant turned on for one minute every day at the beginning of the day to give the plant a good drink of water every day. My bucket also has holes drilled in the side of it just an inch above the ground so any over-watering would drain out of the bucket. This way the plants were watered daily, and with a standard amount of water as to not get over-watered.

This (I felt) was a strong start and for the first week or so, the plants were growing nicely and things were going ok … and then …


I was home when it started to hail, so I was able to run out and rescue the plant from the torrential downfall of little ice cubes of death. We had a bad hail season, and it hailed for several days in the months of May and June. My car got damage. Our roof got damage. Once it started to continue to happen, I figured that I’d make some sort of protective solution for the tomatoes, so I didn’t have to continue to run out at the last second to bring in the plants. This is what I came up with:

Basically a cheap wooden frame and a cheap clear top to still allow sunlight, but not allow hail.

I wrapped some chicken wire around the plant also to keep the squirrels out. I didn’t want them eating my prized tomatoes after all of this effort.

2023 report

I got a couple of dozen tomatoes from the plant over the whole summer. It was a good experiment I thought and good progress without spending hundreds of dollars. The tomato plant was not the type to generate really huge tomatoes so the ones that I got from it were all slightly smaller than a tennis ball in size. Not great, but not horrible either.

2024 plans

My plans for 2024 are to make something more durable for the “pan” that the plants sit in. Maybe something larger to support more plants. Maybe something made out of concrete or something, so it’s more solid and less prone to mold and whatnot.

I’d like to be able to set up a rain catcher too using the hail protector, but since I have the watering system automated, this is less of a priority.

I’d like to re-use/re-capture water if I can.

I’d like to somehow get a fertilizer system in there somewhere, so I can add some fertilizer in a bucket somewhere, and it’ll circulate in the system until it’s absorbed into the soil. Not sure how to do this quite yet. I’m looking into the soil-less solutions like hydroponics because they don’t use soil and have to have some sort of nutrients floating around in the soil at all times. Greenhouses sometimes have live fish as part of their water circulation system and use the fish’s poop as nutrients to the plants.

I don’t think that I’ll introduce fish into the system just yet, but I’d like to have more tomatoes, all protected from hail, with automated water and some fertilizer circulating in the system with it.