November 9, 2006

In the Beginning…..

Posted in Aquaria at 12:42 am by jyesis

Ladies and Gennlepeoples….. Allow me to present to you, my first aquarium! Ta da!
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I started this tank about 2 months ago, and finally finished the “basics” last weekend. The display tank is four feet long and holds 75 gallons, and the sump holds 55 gallons (more on that later). My friend Mike and I built the entire stand with a cordless drill and a jigsaw! There’s about 100lbs of Uaniva live rock from saltycritter.com in the tank, and an additional 50 in the sump (still more on that later). Ledge.jpgThe tank has a 3-4 inch live sand bed and is currently home to a Yellow Tang (Z. flavescens), a Royal Gramma (G. loreto), a mix of about 25 blue and red legged hermit crabs, and a handful of snails (Astrea, Turbo, and Nessarius). I’ve also found four “featherduster” worms on the rock and Mike was kind enough to give me a few Zoanthid coral polyps.

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The tank is lit with 2 daylight and 2 actinic PCs, a daylight T5 and an actinic T5. Moonlighting is primarily provided by Current USA’s Nocturnal Blue Lunar lights and a lunar link (four 1 watt LEDs). The tank is not “reef-ready” so I’m using an overflow, which seems to be working beautifully. Circulation is provided by a closed loop consisting of an SCWD and two “snail-go-rounds” (Hydor-flo rotating attachments). I’ll post a video on this later. The closed loop is driven by a 1300 GPH QuietOne 5000. Flow through the sump is provided by an additional 700 GPH from a Mag 7.

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The sump is a 55G glass aquarium partitioned with acrylic and silicone. Water enters through a column of submerged bio-balls, and under a partition into the skimming/filtration chamber. The used Turbofloater-1000 I aquired needed a little TLC,

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but it seems to be working fine now – especially with my brand new OR-2700!
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From the skimmer, water flows over a baffle into a chamber containing 40-50 lbs of live rock.
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sumplayout.JPGThis is the love nest for a bottle of copepods acquired from oceanpods.com. From there we move into an algae ‘fuge with a 6″ DSB and a handful of chaeto. (The rock just looks pretty there.)algaefuge.JPG
Then, it’s over another baffle into a corner ‘fuge for problem fish (solitary confinement). Finally, through a bubble trap to the return chamber with my Mag 7.sumpend.JPG

Heating is provided by two 150-watt “stealth” something-or-other heaters located in the skimmer and return chambers. The two white tubes in front of the sump are homemade canister filters containing activated charcoal and PhosLock in series. Water is double-distilled, deionized stuff that I get from work for free (I work in a research lab).

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We installed this nipple on the drain line from the overflow to make water changes that much easier…..

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As far as water quality…. I’m at 0 ammonia and nitrites, 10ppm nitrates, pH 8.3, specific grav 1.025 and temp between 79.6 and 80.1. I just installed a cooling fan, however, which should keep the temp a little more stable.

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The immediate future will see the introduction of 5 chromis (C. viridis), 2 cleaner shrimp (L. grabhami), and a Coral Beauty (C. bispinosus). Then it’ll be time to upgrade the lighting and save for an RO/DI unit. I’m hoping to work in some simple soft corals (mushrooms and, hopefully, a pulsing xenia) as well. Later down the road I’d love to provide some clowns (A. ocellaris) and a BTA for my beautiful wife (who, incidentally, paid for this entire thing and had put up with my destruction of our living room during construction). There is, of course, a lengthy list of other critters I’d like to add to the mix, but I think a little patience will go a long way on that front.

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Special thanks to my wonderful wife and best friend Michaela, and also to my good friend Mike who has made multiple 5-hour drives to help me build and tweak this system.

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May 3, 2006

American Introspection

Posted in Rants and Ruminations at 9:02 am by jyesis

I have been trolling the internet again, paying particular attention to international forums in various subjects, and I have noticed a marked increase in traffic critical of the United States. As I read these posts, I tried to form rational arguments in favor of the United States, but came up short on many fronts. While I was able to laud America's contributions to the world over the past two centuries, I found that current American action, speech, and policy was much harder to defend. A recent article on slashdot about a study comparing UK and US health statistics resulted in the forum being flooded with responses critical of multiple aspects of American society including healthcare, economy, lifestyle, global perspective, and more. Even after filtering out confrontational (troll) responses, several educated arguements remained that challenged the prevailing self-opinion of America at large.

Now let me insert a disclaimer here. I realize that no opinion, action, etc, can be attached to a group on account of the presence within that group of individuals with dissenting or alternative opinions. I speak of the self-opinion of America, therefore, based on the expressed opinions as portrayed by the type and content of articles in the mainstream media, the responses of the vast majority of Americans in the forums I have been browsing (excluding the small handful of worldy Americans with well thought out responses), and the opinions of fellow students and coworkers who have astounded me with their lack of perspective. I have the deepest respect for those citizens who have made the effort to expand their perspectives, including those who are able to form a cogent arguement contrary to my own opinions. This post should in no way be applied to them. It should, however, be applied to that mass of people who believe themselves to be exempted by the above disclaimer but who couldn't find the Ivory Coast on a map or who give confused looks at a question on the merits of a parliamentary system.

Returning to the matter at hand, I will endeavor to summarize some of the broader critiques of the U.S. presented by those living elsewhere. As the article referenced above is healthcare related, let's start there. A common critique is that healthcare in the US is prohibitively expensive and results in a poorer overall national quality of health. For the amount of money the US spends on healthcare each year (ranked among the highest in the world), the quality of US healthcare is abysmal by comparison (one of the poorest of "industrialized" nations) according the the WHO. One poster took this a step farther and questioned the economic model that has led to America's market-driven healthcare system. While his comments are insightful, they offer little in the way of alternatives. Many of the American comments in the same thread indicate a preference for Canadian-like socialized medicine, or UK-like government medicine. I personally think that the German system would work well with a few modifications. All these systems have weaknesses, but I agree with the WHO that healthcare is a right not a service. Unfortunately, too many US responses among fellow students with whom I have discussed this simply shrug and say "we're still the best," or blame it on "statistics skewed by minorities." Ahh….future leaders of America.

One of my other favorite anti-American critiques is brought up in a subthread of the slashdot article which indicates that Americans know little to nothing about other countries in the world. I am ashamed to say that I agree with this sentiment. I'm a year from graduating here at the University of Iowa, and most of my fellow students still can't distinguish Iraq from Iran on a world map. Hmm…..that explains a lot, I think…. One thread offers an explanation (excuse?) for this phenomenon. I can think of NO EXCUSE for this ignorance, particularly if Americans wish to involve themselves so pointedly in the affairs of other nations. Not all of us have to major in geography, but we should be able to locate the Red Sea without Google or Wikipedia. Don't even get me started on American multilingualism. While the US dollar and the logistical power of the US military act much in the same way as the British Navy of old, they do not give America carte blanche to do as they will heedless of future consequences. There is a fine line between the catastrophic collapse (a la Ottoman empire) and graceful decline (a la UK) of a global "superpower". No influence, whatever it's ideals, lasts forever. The US cannot rest on the laurels of WWII any more than the UK could bask in the defeat of Napoleon. The world keeps turning, and constant change renders what was once a revolutionary idea a commonplace concept.

So what's my point in all this? Mainly to draw the attention of "my fellow Americans" to the consequences of willful blindness driven by complacense, righteousness, and arrogance. I also submit that a handful of hard-working citizens who have made an effort to expand their horizons can do much to change the course of history. We must not rest on our laurels either, confident in our education and ability and contributing little to society in return. With education and perspective comes responsibility, and it is our duty to ourselves, our families, and our world to introduce new ideas that contribute to humanity as a whole. 300 years ago a few courageous forward thinkers introduced the (as yet imperfected) concept of individual liberty. 300 years later, it is time for us to introduce new ideals to the world that will forward the cause of compassion and humanity. Once again, I call for change inspired by our daily actions and examples.

March 20, 2006

Just Checking In….

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:52 am by jyesis

Well, it's the end of spring break – classes start up again today. Sorry I haven't posted for awhile (not that anybody reads this thing anyway). This is just a brief line to keep the blog alive. I'm sure I'll find something new to rant about soon. Over break I started exploring some of the lesser known side of the internet and have discovered USENET and gopher. Usenet seems pretty cool, but I still don't have a reliable SMTP server to post from. I can't think of a good use for gopher yet….but I do like the way it's organized. I'd probably use it if .mil computers had a better browser than IE. Oh, and I finally got me a linux shell account. I may be able to provide email service to close friends and family in the near future. That's all for now!

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