Sunday, May 20, 2018
Just north of our house, in a field on the east side of State Highway 165, there is a gorgeous group of lilacs. We stopped yesterday to take these photos of it (below). The scent was very intense just downwind, where I stood when taking all of these photos. After standing there for a minute or so, then re-entering our car, the car smelled downright bad! :)
I made more progress on the cabinets as well. I've now unbolted the units so I can work on them separately, and I'm fabricating the bottoms. These are made of 3/4" birch plywood (really pretty stuff) with a 3.5" high “pedestal” constructed of redwood 2x4s underneath it. This pedestal provides a “toe kick” at the bottom of the cabinet, to make it more comfortable to work right at the cabinet edge.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Yesterday morning I took the two units with cutouts over to our deck to test fit the grill components. To my vast relief, they fit perfectly.
The first two photos below show how I cut the plywood tops (from ACX plywood). You have to look close to see that I have two sheets of plywood clamped together there: one 3/4" piece and one 1/2" piece. The two together get me the 1 1/4" thick plywood the granite countertop requires. The saw is a battery-powered Makita circular saw. It's not merely convenient – it makes a very nice cut with just a 1/16" kerf.
The third photo shows how I attached the bottom sheet to the frame (the same way for each frame). I put screws every 3" where the frame touches the plywood. Before I screwed it in, I put down a coat of wood glue on the frame top. That piece of wood isn't going anywhere! :)
The fourth and fifth photos show the glue-up for the top piece on the two units with cutouts. That used a lot of clamps! For the third unit, with just a big flat countertop, I had to do some tricky clamping to make sure the center of the two pieces of plywood was under pressure. Then of course I forgot to take a photo of it.
The last three photos show views of the three units aligned and clamped together, before I drilled the holes for the bolts that now hold the units together. That was the first time I had tested the fit of the three units to each other – I was really happy to see that they fit so well!
Thursday, May 17, 2018
The photos below show work from yesterday and the day before. The first photo is at the request of a reader who wanted to see the pocket screw hole jig in action. Once I clamp the board into the jig, I just drill down until the stop on the drill bit hits the jig, and voila! – the pocket screw hole is done. In the second and third photos you can see what those holes look like. The fourth photo shows my original clamping technique for installing the 45° braces – and the next photo shows my slightly more refined (and much better!) current technique. Finally there's the last two frames after I finished them.
Now I'm headed down to cut plywood for the tops...
We did not expect to see a moose on the canyon bottom in the springtime. Our own experience, plus the wisdom of many locals, tell us that the moose decamp to higher altitudes when the winter is over. Not this one! She had big patches of fur missing, with her black skin showing through. From reading, this is most likely the result of a “winter tick” infestation, although it actually could be mange. Other than the skin condition, she looked healthy enough, and certainly well-fed.
In addition to the moose, we also saw about six bazillion deer – including one herd of eight who tried to commit suicide by running in front of our car. We stopped in time, and in the process learned just how fast a Tesla Model X can stop: really fast! We saw lots of birds: several separate viewings of American dippers, a northern harrier, a single female turkey (weird, that, as they're basically always in a flock), a male Bullock's oriole in full mating plumage, swarms of swallows (three different species), a male Lazuli bunting, and several banded kingfishers. The most interesting sighting was a bird we think is one of several sandpiper species. We didn't have our Sibley's with us, and by the time we got home our memories were fuzzy.
It was a great evening's outing!
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
The science diversity charade wastes extraordinary amounts of time and money that could be going into basic research and its real-world application. If that were its only consequence, the cost would be high enough. But identity politics is now altering the standards for scientific competence and the way future scientists are trained.Read the whole thing here.
The article is primarily about American education, but the same sort of thing is playing out in other parts of the world as well. It seems clear there's only one possible end result of this craziness: America's work force will become increasingly less able to compete in the world.
That leads immediately to the next question: where in the world is this sort of thing not happening? What comes immediately to mind is India (where they have a host of other education problems), China (ditto), and little outcroppings of sanity like Estonia and Hungary.
So if I let this play out in my mind, the next century's best scientists and engineers will be dominated by citizens of those countries. How will that impact Americans? The last 30 or so years of Greek history provide a model, I suspect: bigger, more socialist government, out of control debt, emigration of the best of us, and so on.
Oh, I get so depressed thinking about this...
Monday, May 14, 2018
Today I have a few calls to make, mainly to get some contractors going – and then I'm on to grill cabinet unit #2!
Sunday, May 13, 2018
This morning I caught an error on my part in the dimensions for the granite. That prompted some very careful measurements, drawing, and double-checking before I fired off an email to our granite fabricator. Next time I visit there, they'll probably throw something sharp and heavy at me!
While we were driving, Debbie and I were reflecting, for the umpteenth time, just how crazy it seems now that we were once worried about being able to find good food up here. Coming from San Diego, we thought we were leaving a foodie nirvana with lots of quality and variety – and headed to a foodie desert with neither. Oh, how wrong we were! Those scallops we had today were superior to anything we were ever able to buy in San Diego, on those few occasions when we even found them. Amazingly, that's true for seafood across the board. We have prime beef in the grocery store, along with bison. Our milk is delivered to our door, and it's better than anything we could buy – at any price – in San Diego. We have three excellent bakeries nearby (and more within 30 minutes drive), so we have terrific bread on our table. There aren't nearly as many restaurants here as in San Diego, but ... we have about ten excellent restaurants in Cache Valley, and who-knows-how-many more in the Salt Lake City area. We have great specialty grocery stores (like Caputo's in SLC, and several Hispanic stores in Logan). It still seems remarkable, but the fact is that on a daily basis we're eating far better food here than we ever did in San Diego...
This morning Debbie spotted the first hummingbird of the year, feasting on the flowers in hanging baskets on our deck. Spring is most definitely here!
Saturday, May 12, 2018
If you look closely at the rock wall, you'll see two separate gradients. The easiest one to see is at the top, between the wet rock and the dry rock - there's a slow transition between thoroughly wet and completely dry. That's the natural distribution of the splashed drops – the higher you go, the less likely that any drop will reach there, so the less wet it is. That gradient looks like a linear density change to my eyeball, but I could easily be wrong about that.
The second gradient is hard to see in the photo (though it wasn't hard at all standing next to the wall). It's a dirt gradient. :) Near the bottom of the wall, there's quite a bit of mud splashed up on the wall, darkening the rock more than just plain water could. As you go higher on the wall, there's less and less mud. Again, it looks like a linear density change to me. I'm making an educated guess that because a splashed droplet containing mud has a higher specific gravity than plain water, it weighs more and therefore can't fly as high.
I'm sure this dual gradient has been here ever since my barn was built, but somehow I never noticed it before. I'm planning to put gutters up there this year, so after this year I don't think I'll see it again...
My friend Mike B. warned me that I had to be careful that the alignment didn't drift apart as I screwed in the special screws, but with the clamp as shown I had no problems at all. He also warned me that the square driver tended to pop out of the screws and into his hand; again, I've had no such problem.
The third photo shows all four main members screwed together. To my surprise, the squareness of the result was perfect – no tweaking required. The fourth photo shows the same side frame with four diagonal pieces put in for strength. That's a completed side.
I then built a second, identical side and a slightly wider frame for the back, using the same general design. In the fifth photo one side is clamped to the back, ready to be screwed in. This was my first attempt at a 90° joint using the pocket screws, and it worked just as well as the other joints. Finally, the last photo shows both sides connected to the back. That's a nice strong frame, and the building of it was easy and fast. This cabinet isn't going to be as much work as I thought it would be!
I have three units to build, all similar but different in the details. Today I'll finish the burner unit (that's the one I've started) and start on the other two. I suspect I'll be all done with the poplar cabinet framing by Tuesday at the latest (tomorrow is ... yuk! ... bookkeeping day). Then it will be time for the plywood tops and bottoms...
Friday, May 11, 2018
While I was spraying one of our neighbor's yards, I did a lot of driving underneath their four glorious apples (below). This was very distracting for me, as I kept wanting to look up at them, with the blue sky making a backdrop. This made for erratic steering. :) The aroma under those trees was heavenly. Plus the noise of the bees was so loud that I could clearly hear it over the putt-putting of my ATV. I'd happily spray their yard just so I could experience this...
Yesterday we drove over to Tremonton to finalize the granite for our grill cabinet countertop. It took us an hour or so to do that, during which I got an education from their folks about exactly how they want the plywood under the granite to be arranged. That's all settled now, and our order is placed – when I tell them Go!, it will take about a week for them to fabricate it and deliver it. The slab that Debbie chose has been reserved, and we've planned exactly where (within that slab) the countertops will be cut. I've never built anything with granite before, so it's all an interesting experience for me.
Today I'm going to start actually fabricating the grill cabinet. There will be updates. Should be fun!
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Last week I decided to finally solve this problem. I looked first for an old-fashioned mercury oral thermometer. They're hard to find these days, unless you by antiques on eBay. The few that I did find all had unacceptably bad absolute accuracies (typically +/- 3°F or 4°F). So I ended up going for another electronic thermometer, but this time one of the models actually used in doctor's offices (a Welch Allyn SureTemp Plus 690 electronic thermometer. We received it yesterday. When I opened the package, the first thing I saw was a DVD with operating instructions – that was a little worrisome, as I wouldn't have guessed that a thermometer would need instructions at all! The next thing I found was a little bag of parts, and no assembly directions. No worries, they only went together in one way, and it took less than 60 seconds to have it all put together.
So how hard is it to operate? I can't imagine how they could have made it any easier. To take your temperature, you just pull the probe out of its holder and stick it under your tongue. The act of taking the probe out turns the unit on. It takes about 5 seconds to get a reading, accurate to +/- 0.2°F, and repeatable in my testing with no error at all.
I haven't bothered opening the DVD. :)
Of course I had to open the thing up to see if I could figure out why this temperature measurement was so hard to do. Being a modern digital instrument, I couldn't really tell very much – except that there are significantly more discrete components in this model than in any of the ten dollar thermometers we bought. There are also adjustments, presumably for calibration. And there is a significantly more powerful little microprocessor, which you'd expect with an instrument that has a nice display. None of this, however, gives me any real idea why the temperature measurement seems to be such a challenging thing. In particular, I'm very surprised that there seems to be no thermometers available for prices between the ten dollar thermometers and the $200+ doctor's office thermometers. That seems like a gap someone should be exploiting!
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Rudy's Greenhouse to find some color for our porch and balcony pots. We picked out seven of their hanging baskets, which we're going to just steal the plants from. So pretty! Transplanting these is on the agenda for this afternoon...
I haven't seen any side effects yet at this dose. If I take even slightly more (like 15 mg) I start to have “morning sedation” – well-described in the list of side-effects for diphenhydramine. That's a groggy state that caffeine and a shower won't wake me up from – I have to just let it wear off, which can take several hours. At even higher doses, the morning sedation is deeper and longer lasting. I've tried 10 mg doses, which seems insignificantly different than the 12.5 mg dose I've settled on – and it isn't reliable in letting me fall back asleep in the middle of the night. I'm surprised at the sensitivity of the dosage, but there it is.
Last night is a good example of my experience with this drug. I took my 12.5 mg dose just before I took my evening shower at 9 pm. I took my shower, went to bed, read for a while, and was lights-off and ready to sleep at 10:15 pm. I woke at 1 pm, went back to sleep within a few minutes. I woke up at 5:15 am, got up and felt almost no morning sedation. By the time I took my shower and had my morning tea, I was wide awake. This sort of thing may be normal for most people, but for me it's still quite novel. :)
Saturday, May 5, 2018
Debbie and I are about to jump in our Tesla Model X, trailer attached, and head for Salt Lake City. There we'll be visiting MacBeath's hardwood store. I'm picking up (at least, I hope I am!) a huge amount of lumber to build the grill cabinet. I'm picking up a total of 8 sheets of hardwood plywood, various thicknesses, half of it with two good sides. Then I've got a total of 700 linear feet of a combination of hardwood 1x3s and 1x2s (for framing). That's a lot of hardwood! I'm hoping to get red oak for the framing wood, and Baltic birch for the plywood, but I'll be somewhat at the mercy of what they've got in stock.
We'll be coming straight home, with no stop at the Red Iguana. I don't want to leave a trailer full of valuable hardwood sitting in the their parking lot while we eat – unlike the area where we live, Salt Lake City has an all-too-typical big city crime rate. But that's so sad that we're going to miss that great food! I will probably cry as we pass...
Friday, May 4, 2018
I'm going to be building a cabinet to hold our new grill on our deck. A good friend of mine, Mike B., is a very experienced cabinet maker – so I went to him for some advice. It was very simple advice, indeed: use pocket-hole screws and ignore all the howls of traditional cabinet makers (who generally use mortise-and-tenon or finger joints). So I took his advice, and invested in a set of Kreg pocket-hole jigs. There are many makers of such jigs, but Kreg is probably the biggest and best-known of them. I got the jigs a couple days ago, and yesterday I tried making a couple of simple joints, just to see how they worked and how hard it would be. Bottom line: I can see why Mike swears by them. They are ridiculously easy compared with traditional techniques, and at least as strong. They also allow a few joints that are nearly impossible with traditional techniques, such as angled butt joints. About the only skill required is to cut boards to the right length, and that's just not very hard! It will be interesting to build this cabinet as a first project – it's reasonably ambitious for a first go. There will, of course, be photos as I progress...
Thursday, May 3, 2018
I'm hoping to nail down the last lodging this afternoon. I'm tired of trip planning! :)
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Monday, April 30, 2018
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Friday we spent all day in the Lander area. The big event was visiting Eagle Bronze – the foundry selected by the sculptress (Christine Knapp) who created our mountain lion statue. She'd told us to expect to be there all day, though we had absolutely no idea why. We had the very mistaken idea that sculptures were made by pouring bronze into a mold, letting them cool, then taking them home. That turns out to be very wrong. :)
We spent the next four hours enthralled by the two “patina people” – artists in their own right – transform what you see at right into the statue we took home. They were fine with us watching and asking a million questions, something we both enjoyed very much. The collection of photos below are those I took as they were working. The overwhelming takeaway for me from watching them was that this process is complicated. The photos below are in sequence, and you can see each part of the process – washing, buffing, applying chemicals, using heat, drying, polishing, lacquering, and (the last step!) waxing. I had utterly no idea that there was so much use of color and texture in making a bronze statue! Just a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean. To make the eyes stand out, the orbs were carefully buffed, then polished with jeweler's rouge. For certain areas of their pelt (tip of the tail, back of ears, etc.) the fur is darker, almost black. In those areas, the patina people heated the metal (to open pores in the metal), gently sprayed black acrylic (some of which seeped into the heat-opened pores), then let the metal cool before buffing the acrylic off. The result is a subtly darkened area of the metal, with a nice gradient to the areas that weren't darkened. Watching these two work, and learning from their knowledgeable responses to our questions, was an experience I'll cherish...
While in Lander, we stayed at Lander Lodging, and a very enjoyable stay that was! Our hosts, Don and Laural, couldn't possibly have been any nicer. In fact, they rescued us from an awkward car-charging situation by giving us a couple of rides into town, something we greatly appreciated. Most of all, though, they were “our kind” of people: farmers, animal lovers, full of stories (especially Don!), and dispensing good cheer in all directions. Their little spot in the Sinks Canyon is truly beautiful, with great views, lots of trees, and plenty of animals for us to meet. We particularly enjoyed their miniature horses Star and Indy (below). We learned from Don that the miniature horses were developed specifically to work in mines, pulling carts of ore. I'd always thought they were more modern than that, and developed mainly as pets – not so. These two had very sweet and curious dispositions, and both were jealous if we paid attention to the other :)...
It was a lovely trip, and now our mountain lion statue is parked on our trailer in our back yard. On Tuesday my brother Scott will be here, and with his help we're going to move it into a temporary position until we get its permanent home on a water feature built. Once I get it unpacked and placed, I'll take some photos of it and post them...