Saturday, March 11, 2017

The crazy is taking over the world, part 88,372,119:

The crazy is taking over the world, part 88,372,119:

Paradise ponders, dowels and maple-nut bar edition...

Paradise ponders, dowels and maple-nut bar edition...  A few days ago, Michelle H. (a friend who's a member of the LDS ward that we're in) invited Debbie to an auction being put on by the Ladies' Relief Society.  This auction was something completely new to us.  Everyone attending (all women, I believe) filled out questionnaires.  From Debbie's description of the questions on it, I think they're trying to make a measure of how good and how faithful you are.  The questionnaires were scored, and the points one scored become the currency for the auction that followed.  Additional points were also awarded for things like participating in the song, staying until the end of the auction, etc.  Debbie ended up with a few hundred points, while others had thousands.  As Debbie said, having some was better than nothing, because in the auction she bid on a couple of items and won them!  She brought home two maple-nut bars and two big mason jars of homemade soup.  We only have one maple-nut bar now, as I ate the other one – delicious!  The soup looks fantastic: an Italian sausage soup with a tomato base and orzo.  I may have some later tonight!  All of the items being auctioned were homemade food items (and possibly some craft items, too).  The ones that went for the most points were things like pork ribs and roast turkey – and some homemade fruit pastries from a woman well-known for her baking.  Debbie also got a hearty breakfast out of the event, including samples of some of the aforementioned fruit pastries.  Debbie understood fully why they fetched a high “price”!  The best part of all for Debbie was that she got to meet and spend time with some of the local women.  She had a blast – she was all smiles when she got home.

While she was off stuffing her face and having a great time, I managed to get the next step (literally!) of my stairs project done.  I finished the drilling jig and used it to drill dowel holes in all of the faces to be glued, and I did the gluing and clamping.  The first photo below shows my test of the drill jig and depth setting on the drill press.  The goal was to have the hole depth be just a hair over half the length of a dowel peg, so that the same amount of the peg would be inside each piece.  That worked great.  The second photo shows a test fit of two pieces of the step held together just by the dowel's friction.  That fitting showed no errors of over 1/32", and that I can fix by sanding.  The third photo shows the little mark I made on each glued face to keep the orientation straight.  One arrow points to the upper surface; the other to the end that the jig should be fit onto.  The fourth photo shows the jig clamped to a step piece, ready to be drilled.  The fifth photo the clamps in the process of being set up.  The plastic is there to keep glue from dripping onto the workbench.  Note the two scrap boards that actually touch the clamps; these spread the clamping force more evenly across the face of the boards.  The last photo shows the boards all glued and clamped.  I had to move the end clamps right after gluing as the tops of the boards were pulling together with all the clamps on the bottom.  This will be even more of a challenge on the larger step, and I think I'm going to address that by using all eight of my pipe clamps on it: four on the bottom and four on the top.  Once the glue fully dries on the first, smaller step I'm going to sand out the small misalignments.  Tomorrow I'll tackle the big step!

Fake news...

Fake news...  Remy weighs in...

Paradise ponders, howling dogs and red-winged blackbird edition...

Paradise ponders, howling dogs and red-winged blackbird edition...  Yesterday I was on the phone with Tesla several times – they were working to get my Model X fixed by the end of the day, but didn't want me to drive down there for nothing.  We had a deadline at 3 pm, as that would leave us just enough time to drive down there to SLC before they closed at 5 pm (and on a Friday, of course nobody there wanted to stay late).  Well, we talked right at the deadline and the tech was “very confident” he'd have it fixed by 5 pm, so we jumped in the #$%^(#@( Mercedes CLA 250 and headed down.  That car made us both crazy; we couldn't wait to get back in the Model X!  We made it into the service center just a few minutes before 5 pm, to see our Model X all nicely washed and being charged.  When we walked in the door, a smiling Denise (their front desk person) handed me my fob, took the key for the Mercedes, and we were out the door.  Zero paperwork, zero hassle.  That's really hard to beat!

When I checked my email this morning, I had a “service invoice” from Tesla.  I expected this to be a warranty repair, so I was really surprised and a bit alarmed by that.  Turns out the invoice is for zero dollars (they really should change the name of that!), and really just served to tell me what they did.  They replaced the hinges, as I'd been told, but they also replaced the actuator motor that actually moves the spoiler up and down.  They also put some special lubricant on the hinges that is supposed to keep them from corroding as they did.  We'll see how well that works long-term...

Debbie had made us reservations at Current Fish & Oyster, which is the first nice restaurant in SLC we've tried other than Red Iguana.  It was so hard to make ourselves deliberately go someone other than Red Iguana. :)  But we did it, and we were very glad: we had a fantastic meal.  We started with a pair of appetizers: crab cakes and mussels.  We both love crab cakes, and these were good – but as it turns out, they were the least impressive part of the meal.  The mussels were simply wonderful.  There were a dozen or so fat mussels, slices of an excellent chorizo (spicy Mexican sausage), and slices of a really good, doughy sourdough bread grilled in spiced butter.  There was a sauce poured over the whole thing that was aromatic and full of mussel flavor.  That appetizer was so good that we ordered a second one to share for dessert after our meal (really, we did!).  Debbie's entree was a fish stew (first photo below), mine was roasted scallops (second photo below).  Both were awesome.  Mine had a carrot-ginger sauce that was so good I had to sop it all up, and a rice cake in the middle that was darned near as good as the scallops themselves.  The vegetables included a new one on me: purple carrots, slightly less sweet than a normal carrot.  All of those veggies were delicious.  Debbie's sauce was just a bit too spicy for me (it included jalapenos), but then, I'm a spicy food wuss.  I tried one of her shrimps, and it tasted like it had just come off the barbie – really good.  Debbie had a glass of wine; I had their homemade ginger ale.  That ginger ale, presuming that you like ginger (I love it!), will make your brains fall out.  I'd go back there just for that!  We shall return to Current for another meal, for sure...

Yesterday while waiting for Tesla's service, I was planning to go to the next step on my stairs project.  That didn't happen, because I discovered that I'd messed up my jig: two parts that were supposed to be glued at a right angle were actually at about 80°.  That wouldn't do at all!  So I ripped the jig apart, re-routed the slot for the 1x6, and redid the glue job.  So this morning I'm right back where I thought I was yesterday morning.

On Wednesday morning we heard the songs of red-winged blackbirds.  These are our reliable harbingers of springtime, so we were very happy to see them.  We have the spectacular yellow-headed blackbirds in the valley, too – but about ten miles north of us, not here, darn it.  There are several dozen of them that stay near our irrigation canal, which is filled with water all summer.  Usually at this time of year it's empty, but this year, with all the snow and rain, it's running about half full just from the runoff.  That must make the blackbirds very happy!  Soon our barn swallows will return, too.  Some robins stayed through the winter, but the spring cohort is starting to arrive as well.  A pair of Canadian geese landed in the field north of our house yesterday, possibly the same pair that nested in an adjacent tree last year.  They were here this morning as well.  Lots of bird song around the place now!

For the last few days (and in the forecast for at least the next ten days) we've had highs in the 50s and 60s.  The snow is melting at a prodigious rate, both in the valley and up the mountain slopes below about 8,000' altitude.  Starting in a week, the forecast calls for frost-free nights, too.  Our “mud season” has begun!  Many of the fields around us are largely clear of snow, and some of the alfalfa fields are already greening up.  The only deep snow left on our property is the giant piles on the north side of our house, made by snow sliding off our roof, which this time of year are shaded all day long.  Some of those piles are still 6' high!

This time of year the sun is rising just south of due east of our house.  There is a small mountain peak in that direction from us, and that means we're in shadow in the early morning, while the valley both north and south of us is in the sun.  This morning when I looked toward my neighbor to the north, his trees were brightly lit.  They're all deciduous trees, so it was the branches and twigs that were lit – and he's got two weeping willows with bright yellow twigs, and a tree I don't know with bright red twigs.  Both of them were striking in that bright morning light, especially as seen from the shadow I was in.

A reader (Glen B.) wrote me this morning wondering why I haven't mentioned our puppies recently.  Well, there's no good reason other than my cranial density!

The two puppies, Cabo and Mako, are really not puppies any more.  They're a year old, and they're starting to get their adult personalities.  Cabo is much smaller than Mako – she's the smallest adult field spaniel we've had, and Mako, I'm pretty sure, is even bigger than Mo'i was.  Cabo is especially affectionate.  She loves to deliver kisses and ear nibbles, even while she's trying to chew a hole in Mako.  Mako is also affectionate, but in a lunky sort of way that involves leaping onto you, trying to claw his way up into your arms, etc.  Cabo, on the other hand, is very gentle.

The two of them sleep in crates in our kitchen at night, while Miki and Race have the run of the kitchen.  In the mornings, right about eight hours after we put them up for the night, Cabo and Mako make it known that they want out.  The way they do this has us laughing at them every morning.  Somehow they've developed the habit of using some highly creative canine vocalizations to get us up.  I think maybe they hear us laughing at them, and are encouraged by that.  We've never heard dogs making sounds like they do, so it's hard for me to describe.  I'm going to have to figure out a way to record them, so I can post them here.  Mako, in particular, is very good at these exotic dog sounds.

Anyway, those vocalizations are my cue to get up and let them outside.  But when I open the crate, the first thing they do is jump on me for attention.  By the time I've let them outside and I walk back into the bedroom to take my morning shower, my face, hands, and arms are covered with dog slobber – the detritus of ten million “Good morning, papa!” dog kisses.  Never fails to start my day in a cheery mood. :)