The Misadventures of Allergy Hat 2

A few weeks ago, I built a top hat that is also an air purifier. Last week, I stated building a second one. I wanted to improve on the design, and take photos of the process to show to the rest of you.

I was hoping for this to be a triumphant post about how I built a great hat, but, well… you'll see.


[Photo: a pile of various materials, described below.]
  • A bunch of scrap cardboard.
  • Cloth with a flowery pattern, to cover the finished hat.
  • A bit of an old sleeping pad.
  • A USB cord with one end missing.
  • A 5V 40mm static pressure fan (NF-A4x20 5V).
  • A 6"x4" HEPA filter.
  • A box of cut-to-fit pre-filter, which I cut to the same size as the HEPA filter.
  • Some thin nonporous foam, for making things airtight.
  • Some white glue.
  • Some clear packing tape.

Out of these materials, my only significant costs were for the fan (about $16) and [...]

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Saddlebags 2.1

The same day I finished Saddlebags 2.0, we had a great idea for how to improve the design:

[Photo: Me, wearing Saddlebags 2.1 around my hips. They are two cardboard boxes at my sides, connected by a strap.]

I didn't actually need a clever system to keep the pouches from swinging. The swinging was only a problem when they could slap against the fronts of my legs while I ran. But these boxes are always flat at my sides, so they don't get in the way.

I can comfortably run and bicycle while carrying 10 pounds (4.5kg) of encyclopedias in these. They also held up to walking with a load of 25 pounds (11 kg). These pouches are slightly smaller, so I didn't go up to the 32 pounds I tried in 2.0, just because it was hard to fit that much stuff in them.

[Photo: a pile of corrugated cardboard in various shapes.]

Compared to 2.0, these are much more [...]

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Saddlebags 2.0

My original saddlebags were built using a piece of aluminum. But why use regular old aluminum when you can use modern-day supermaterials?

[Photo: a pile of corrugated cardboard in various shapes.]

That's right, corrugated cardboard is a supermaterial. It's easy to build with, lightweight and strong. People have built chairs and even bicycles out of it. And on top of that, it's absurdly cheap and biodegradable. It's so cheap that I don't even have to buy it directly – I can just reuse the cardboard they use as packing materials when I buy other things.


[Photo: Me, wearing Saddlebags 2.0 around my hips. They are a rectangular-ish cardboard contraption that supports two cardboard boxes at my sides.]

I call these Saddlebags 2.0. They're a lot bulkier than saddlebags 1.0, but they are heavy-duty. I was able to walk around while carrying 32 pounds (15.5 kg) of encyclopedias in [...]

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Eli status: December 2016

I've been sort of sick for a few days, so I'm not up to writing a serious blog post. So instead, I'll take this time to give an update on what I've been doing recently.

My hands

In my last status update, I mentioned that my adductor pollicis hadn't been doing its job. Since then, we've discovered that the same thing happened with my first dorsal interosseous muscle, which also helps the thumb move. Training that muscle has given me another big improvement in how well my hands work. A couple weeks ago, I actually drew for 30 minutes straight, which was manageable (although close to my limit at the time). They're not feeling quite as good now, but they are normally worse when I'm sick, so they may still be improving overall.

My projects

Writing The 23 Days Cult turned out to be a much bigger project than I had planned for. It left me pretty burnt out, and I didn't manage to get excited about another project for the month after that. I did manage to do some work on a game modding thing in Wesnoth, which is fun, but it's not one of the Great Works Of I also randomly learned how to livestream games on Twitch. Here's my Twitch page, if you're interested in that kind of thing.

But yesterday I think I finally got excited about something again – continuing work on [NSFW] Hexy Bondage. I actually made a couple changes to the rules, more than a year ago, but I never published the changes, because my original publishing process was INCREDIBLY inconvenient. So first I was thinking of improving the publishing process. But now I'm also hoping to make an online version of the game, which you could play on a computer or smartphone or whatever. I'm not sure if I'll stick to this project – we'll have to see how I feel when I'm not so sick. But I'm pretty excited about it so far.

– Eli

Eli status: August 2016

Here's a quick update on how things are going for me right now.

My hands

I've been having various problems with using my thumbs for years, since I injured them through overuse. However, 6 weeks ago, I finally figured out the cause of most of my current issues. It seems that my adductor pollicis was going completely unused (in both hands). That meant my other hand muscles had to do extra work to compensate.

For the last 6 weeks, I've been deliberately exercising the adductor pollicis, and my problems have gotten MUCH better. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to draw again within [...]

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An Illustrated Guide to the Biscuits

I'm continuously updating the process for making my biscuits. A few batches ago, I took photos!

Me holding two one-pound bags of beans over a counter; a metal pot is in the background.

I start with these one-pound bags of beans (two cups dry). For this batch I used two bags, but now I usually use three. I put the beans in the pot, then fill it with water to about three times the depth of [...]

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I was overheated and unproductive, but now I'm not

So, I said I wanted to post an awesome thing every week. That didn't happen. Instead, I got overheated.

I don't handle heat well. If it's above about 72°F (23°C), I stop being able to focus, I become very lethargic, and I get sleepy more easily, but I don't feel rested after sleeping. If it cools down again, I get better fairly quickly. I'd say it takes about 20 minutes to change my mental state, in either direction – although it's hard to measure.

Our house is normally cooled by a heat pump water heater. The one we had was broken. Then we replaced it. But I missed about a month's worth of work between when the heat started and when it cooled off.

Now I'm better, mostly. I've been working on a Javascript game project for the last week, although I don't have anything I can show to people yet.1

I'm still tired, though. When I go for a month without being excited about anything, it takes a while to get excited again. I'm not even impatient to finish VC, although I'm sure that feeling will come back before long.

I'll try to do the “post an awesome thing each week” thing again. To start with, I've done more experiments with biscuits that I should tell you about. Stay tuned.

– Eli

  1. I'm partially doing it as a prototype for part of Lasercake. So I'm working hard to make it robust internally, rather than making showy things. back

The carrying contraption

I used to carry my stuff – about eight pounds (3.6 kg) of it – like this:

A picture of me carrying a laptop case with a single shoulder strap over my right shoulder, with the case at my left side.

Or rather, it looked like that, except that the case was puffed up more from all the stuff in it. I did that for about four years. Then on March 1, 2013, I started having some pain in my chest. The pain got worse the more I [...]

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I made biscuits!

Following my last experiments, I've been trying to put my bean/oil/eggshell mush into a more convenient form. I'm now eating this stuff for all my meals except breakfast each day.

At first, I tried baking using just the bean powder. The results were too crumbly to be practical, so I added wheat flour. A family member suggested that, instead of dehydrating the cooked beans and then re-baking them, I could just mash the cooked beans in with the other ingredients before baking them. That also saves the trouble of grinding them. I tried it and got this:

A cooling rack with about 16 lumpy biscuits on it

(The colors are a bit off in that photo; the one on the far right is the closest to their actual color.)

These were pretty good - they're crunchy and a bit hard to chew, but [...]

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The Food Experiments

Inspired by Rob Rhinehart's “Soylent” project, I've been changing my diet. I'm trying to improve three aspects: Nutrition, portability, and price.

I've always had problems with eating. I don't like eating food, so I often don't eat enough of it. And I'm extremely sensitive to taste, so most foods are overwhelmingly strong and I can't eat them. Between those two things, I don't try new foods very often.

Previously, the main parts of my diet were rice, cheese, apple juice, and a multivitamin. For such a limited diet, that's not bad. But it's not great either. I think I was [...]

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