This summer has been a good time for learning shades of gray and how to navigate the gradient between black and white. I can let myself feel tired and not collapse; I can do solid work without running myself to the edge of exhaustion. I can do a little making, a little of a project, and then stop to pick it up later instead of heading full-steam-ahead until it's done; I can have emotions without exploding, I can be awake and energetic without being hyperactive.

I still have a strong tendency and preference for sprinting, for slamming hard and running into one side or another of an energy spectrum, whether that's work or physical or emotional, mental or school, anything. I do find I operate more optimally with a variety of sprints, or rather a high proportion of crazy-sprints to little-bits-of-constant-work, but it's good to be able to operate the slider switch in positions in between, even if I may not end up using them that often once the school year kicks into gear.

There's both too much to do and too little right now; my apartment is in shambles (I'm waiting for my vacuum to be repaired) and I want to plunge with more vigor and momentum into... something. A project that has my heart and soul. I'm trying to keep moving and learning until I look up and realize I've already got it, but I'm also trying to respect that I'm in a new environment and that I'm going to move more slowly for a while as I learn it. I'm a student again, in a new town and a new school with new people; my team at work looks very different now than it did a month ago, I live geographically closer to more of my family than I've been since I was 2 years old, and that's heralding some really interesting shifts in my relationships with them...

I'm doing a lot of reading, an increasing amount of walking, and writing when there's something coherent enough to write down.

One little project is an edible indoor garden. Mo warned me away from the incredibly proprietary Aerogarden, but the thought of having fresh herbs and vegetables year-round intrigued me. I'm trying to read up on hydroponics, because in a tiny space, fast growth and high yields will be important. Budget for this project is tight until I get my finances sorted out again (they're fine, it's just hard to keep track of everything between my Red Hat hours changing and my grad school fellowship starting and the ridiculous amount of summer finance backlog that I have to clear from work, because everything went through my corporate credit card). And that's probably a good thing, because it constrains progress that should be constrained due to my utter lack of knowledge on how to get anything to grow. Otherwise I'd run out and buy $500 worth of equipment that's completely wrong for what I'm trying to do.

So far, I've purchased and assembled a metal kitchen shelf ($50). This will be the garden shelf. (Actually, the top half of it will be the garden shelf. The bottom half holds my rice cooker, etc.) I'm looking at various hydroponic kits while simultaneously checking out component parts to see if it'll be easier and cheaper to build my own, because "control water and nutrient solution to a bunch of plants" is one of the easiest embedded engineering projects one could possibly imagine, meaning it's a good one for me to de-rustificate and learn on.

The stuff I've yet to figure out are the specifications for how the water and nutrient needs to get pumped... how much fluid, how fast, and in what sort of on-off cycle? I suspect the pump will be the hardest thing to source, because I know nothing about pumps and want to get something that's quiet and has low energy consumption; I wonder if it would be more efficient to set up a drip system and have the pump only operate occasionally, at faster/higher volume, to fill the reservoir a few times each day. I wonder if I need to clean the pump every so often. I wonder how the water chemistry will change over time, and what I should do to monitor and respond to it.

Same thing for lights, which I plan on hooking to the same control; my apartment has a single window in a "bedroom" it's too small to do much in, so we're talking "artificial and electric" here (I may purchase a lamp even before getting plants because my kitchen needs more light). I wonder if LED lighting would be okay; it would certainly run cooler and with less electricity. A white LED doesn't approximate sunlight at all; it's got a different profile across the visible light spectrum, way more blue and way less red than sun... but maybe that's okay, because I read somewhere that the blue light is what makes the foliage grow, and for the most part that's what I'd be eating.

Musing. Learning. Planning. And in the meantime, starting to do sprouts as a first quick win to give me some momentum and fresh food. I wonder what the agriculture clubs and departments at Purdue know about hydroponics...