Sunday, May 20, 2018

Galton boards, lilacs, and cabinets...

Galton boards, lilacs, and cabinets...  I recently bought a Galton board (from Amazon).  You can read all about it, and see video of it in action, at the preceding link.  This is definitely a most geeky gadget: a mechanical device that demonstrates (beautifully!) a normal distribution.  As one whose nickname (“six sigmas”) is related to the normal distribution and standard deviation, this was irresistible to me. :)  I've yet to work through the math to understand why it works, but watching it work is positively mesmerizing...

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

Grill cabinet progress...

Grill cabinet progress...  At right is the current state of the cabinet: all frames completed, all 1.25" thick plywood tops installed, and the three units bolted together.  The fit of the three units together was practically perfect – I needed a little sanding on some overhanging plywood, but that was it.  The three units are held together with 8 bolts (3/8" x 2").  My plan is to finish all the woodworking part of them in the shop (including finishing them with marine spar varnish), then move them into place on our deck.  At that point I'll assemble them and call the granite folks to come install the countertop.  I think each unit is going to be around 120 pounds, maybe 150 for the longer center unit.  That's quite enough to have to move around – no way I'm moving them with the granite installed!

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!


My dad...

My dad ... would have been 94 years old today.  It's been over four years since he died, but I still miss him every day.  Happy birthday, dad...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Grill cabinet update...

Grill cabinet update...  Bottom line: progress!  As I write this, all three frames are complete and test-fitted to the grill components.  Everything fit, proving once again that measuring actually works! :)  I got delayed a bit yesterday by the need to mow down about 2.5 acres of weeds.  That was made worse by the fact that my mower died about 3/4 through the job – had to borrow my neighbor's mower to finish the job.  This morning I ran that broken mower up to the service facility and  bought the remaining lumber I need for the cabinets – along with about a zillion screws and two gallons of marine varnish.  This afternoon I'll be putting plywood tops on the cabinet units: first a 3/4" thick top, then a 1/2" thick piece over that.  The 3 cm thick granite we bought for the top requires this much plywood as underlayment.

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...

A mangy moose!

A mangy moose!  And a lot of other wildlife – that's what Debbie and I saw on our outing to Blacksmith Fork Canyon last night.  I took a couple less-than-superb photos with my iPhone:


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.

There were many of the shrub at right in bloom along the road.  I don't know what it is, but they grow up to about 15' in height.  The flowers have a mild, earthy, and very pleasant smell – not sweet at all.  There were hundred of bees on this small specimen I photographed – must be a good source of nectar...

The stream at left is a fork from Blacksmith Fork River, coming from the south.  It's running a little bit higher than usual, making all the rapids and waterfalls noisy and beautiful...

It was a great evening's outing!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Well, that was a depressing read...

Well, that was a depressing read...  Depressing, that is, if (like me) you believe engineers and scientists need to be competent.  Consider:
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

Beautiful spring day in Paradise...

Beautiful spring day in Paradise...  As planned, yesterday was a “bookkeeping day” here, and I got it all done by early afternoon.  After a steak-and-asparagus dinner (with crème brûlée for dessert!), Debbie and I relaxed the rest of the day.  It was rainy on-and-off, with a couple of lightning storms passing by us to add some excitement.  This morning dawned mostly clear, but cold (it's 41°F as I write this). 

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

Grill cabinet, continued (and more)...

Grill cabinet, continued (and more)...  I got a good six or seven hours in on the cabinet yesterday.  The first of three units is now completely framed out (at right) and another begun.  The unit you're looking at holds a duplex gas burner unit in the opening at top center.  There will be a sheet of 3/4" plywood on the bottom, inset into the bottom of the frame.  The top will have a sheet of 1-1/4" plywood as a base for the granite; that sheet will be attached to the top of the frame.  The three sides that don't butt up against the center unit (this one is the left-hand unit) will be sheathed in 3/4" western red cedar (4" wide tongue-and-groove).  All of that should be considerably less work than this frame was...

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!

Debbie made her signature broiled scallops for us yesterday, and we both thought they were the best she's ever done.  She doesn't know whether its because the scallops were better, or because she did something different, or both.  Doesn't matter, because DAY-UM those things were good!  She also broiled some asparagus that was excellent.  Afterwards, we drove up to Aggie's creamery and had ourselves some excellent ice cream.  Then we went for a drive in the area round Young Ward, looking for yellow-headed blackbirds – and found them!  That's not my photo, but that's what they look like.  My mom loved this bird; knowing that makes me think of her every time I see one.  We also saw Sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds, pelicans, and lots of geese and ducks.

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

Gradients...

Gradients...  As I walked out to my barn this rainy morning, this rock wall caught my eye.  This is the rock facade on the bottom of my barn's exterior walls.  We're having a very gentle rain, and there's basically no wind.  Above this wall, the steel roof extends out about 18", and there's no gutter.  That means the drips from my roof fall down in a straight line parallel to the wall, but about 18" away from it.  The roof at that point is 12' high, so those drops are falling pretty fast when they hit the ground.  Every time it rains, a muddy puddle forms along that drip line, and when the drops hit, they splash.

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...

The grill cabinet is started!

The grill cabinet is started!  I was able to put four solid hours into this yesterday, and I got a lot further in that time than I expected to.  The first photo below shows the four pieces of a side frame, after cutting and drilling.  The poplar is very fine-grained, saws beautifully with no splintering, and drills easily and smoothly.  It's very nice to work with.  The second photo shows a horizontal piece (with the holes) and a vertical piece clamped together and ready to be screwed together. 

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

Catching up a bit...

Catching up a bit...  I spent an entire day spraying this week (2,4-D) – our lawn and that of two of our neighbors.  I have a nice spraying rig that I tow behind my ATV.  I sprayed about 6 or 7 acres, and the stuff is working already – the dandelions are shriveling up.  It was satisfying to help out my neighbors.  I got a pretty intense sunburn on my arms in the process, though...

Debbie and I played Mexican train, finishing up a game this week.  Look at that score sheet – I actually beat her!  This is such a rare occurrence that I thought it needed memorializing...

On Wednesday I drove up to my brother Scott's place near Newton, to take him to a doctor's appointment.  The view at left is looking south-southwest from his front porch.  His house sits on a little knoll, and the views all around are really quite spectacular.  The mountains in the background are the north side of the Wellsville Mountains, obviously still snow-capped (the peaks are around 9,000' high).  The water is part of Cutler Reservoir, just south of him.  In the foreground you can see evidence that a “plant person” lives there: compost, manure, and a deer-proof enclosure.   If you look closer, there's evidence of the artist – mainly in the form of collected driftwood, rocks, and found objects that might be used for parts of an art project.  Directly above the windshield of my car, with the water in the background, is the so-far leafless trunk of a Russian olive that Scott sculpted into a very unusual shape – not much in evidence until the leaves come out, I'm afraid.

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

Apparently thermometers...

Apparently thermometers ... are more difficult to make than I'd ever have imagined.  Over the past few years, we've tried perhaps a half-dozen of the roughly-ten-dollar electronic oral thermometers.  None of them worked reliably, nor were any of them capable of repeatable readings (that is, taking the same reading over and over getting the same results).  We also tried one of the infrared through-the-ear thermometers, only to find out that they worked well only if the sensor was actually pointed directly at your eardrum.  We got crazy results with that one.

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

Hardwood and flowers make a nice day!

Hardwood and flowers make a nice day!  Early yesterday morning we set off for Salt Lake City, to visit the MacBeath hardwood store.  This sort of trip was one of the main reasons I bought my utility trailer, and I was very pleased to see how well it worked for the job.  I was hoping to get red oak for my framing wood, but even MacBeath didn't have enough.  In fact, the only reasonably strong hardwood they had in stock in sufficient quantity was yellow poplar.  That's not an ideal choice, but it should be plenty strong enough for my job.  I got 45 pieces of random length 1x4s, all between 11' and 12' long.  That's a lot of hardwood!  I had been planning to use oak 1x3s, but moving to 1x4s will make the poplar frames very nearly as strong as the smaller oaken frames.  Below the poplar sticks are eight sheets of Baltic birch plywood.  These are all “cabinet grade”, meaning no patches, no knots, and no interior voids.  Both faces of each sheet are birch, though one side is better quality.  I only care about both sides on some of the 1/4" thick sheets, and I got lucky on them: both sides of those sheets are darned near perfect.  When I got done loading the trailer, the guy at MacBeath helping me estimated the weight at 600 lbs.  The trailer behaved well, most especially at highway speeds.  For the portions of our trip along I-15 north of Ogden, we were traveling at a steady 80 mph, and the trailer acted like it was glued to the road.  It only got bouncy on some very rough city streets in Salt Lake City.  Very nice!  Oh, and the Tesla didn't feel any different at all driving with the loaded trailer.  I couldn't detect any difference in performance, except for the battery consumption (roughly 20% higher than with no trailer, though only at highway speeds). 

After we got home and got the lumber unloaded, we went to 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...

Enquiring minds apparently want to know...

Enquiring minds apparently want to know...  Two people have written me in the last few days to see if my use of diphenhydramine as a sleep aid is still working.  Short answer: yes it is, just as well as when I started several months ago.  I've settled on a dose of 12.5 mg (I chop 25 mg pills in half).  When I can remember (that's infrequently :) to take it an hour or so before I go to bed, that dose is darned near perfect.  With more experience, I have a better idea of why it works for me.  I wake up nearly every night sometime between 1 am and 2:30 am.  Before I started using diphenhydramine, there was an excellent chance (at least 3 of 5 nights) that I would not go back to sleep.  Since I've started the diphenhydramine regimen, I go back to sleep almost every night.  I'm now regularly getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night, and occasionally getting even more (one memorable night a couple of weeks ago I slept for 10 hours – and if that doesn't seem remarkable to you, it certainly is to me!). 

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

14,000 and counting...

14,000 and counting...  The previous post was the 14,000th post I've published since I started this blog over 13 years ago.  It's hard to wrap my brain around having done 14,000 of anything creative, though intellectually I know I've done most of my creative work as a software engineer (something that's very difficult to measure in any concrete way).  It's a milestone of some sort.  Probably of how crazy I am to keep doing this!

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

We see Lily (and her mom, Lizzy) every week or two...

We see Lily (and her mom, Lizzy) every week or two...  Consequently, it seems like there are large changes in Lily every time we see her.  I snapped this a couple days ago when we took Lily, Lizzy, and (grandma!) Michelle out to lunch at Los Primos.  This time we noticed that she sat confidently in her high chair – as opposed to being strapped into a car seat the last time we went out to lunch with her, about a month ago.  She's totally engaged with her surroundings, mainly (so far as I can tell) in an effort to find things to chew.  Her mom, meanwhile, is busy removing all possible chewables from her reach – not, it turns out, an easy thing to do.  Eventually Lizzy was reduced to chewing the edge of the table. :)  She's eating a lot of solid food now, and shared beans, rice, and guacamole with the rest of us.  She really liked the horchata!

Finished!

Finished!  With the trip planning, that is.  Eighteen days, just over 6,000 miles, 84 supercharger stops, and 15 different lodgings.  Whew!  The lodging turned out to be the most challenging part.  Certain parts of the country (I'm looking at you, Yellowstone, coastal Maine, and Niagara Falls!) are damned near impossible to book for the season we're passing through.  Our goal was B&Bs all the way, but in five places I had to compromise on hotels, as there was just no B&B space available.  Also we ran into something new: in many places now, B&Bs have two-night minimums.  I did some research online as to why they were doing this.  The main reason seems to be to eliminate those pesky overnight travelers (like us!), as they're neither as lucrative or as fun as the stay-a-whiles.  When the B&B is in a market where the demand exceeds the supply, it's an easy way for them to sort out the more desirable customers.  That two-night minimum made it really tough to find lodging in some places.

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 up to my neck...

I'm up to my neck ... in trip planning.  We're going on a big road trip in a few weeks – from Utah to Maine and back.  We'll be gone for 18 days, the longest pure road trip Debbie and I have taken in a good many years.  Our wonderful friend Michelle H. will be taking care of our animals and house while we're gone.  That's her car at right, parked in our garage.  While we were on our last trip, she took advantage of the opportunity to park in my Tesla's spot (note the red-and-white sign on my garage wall).  Cracked me up! :)

Yesterday we drove out to Hardware Ranch and didn't see all that much in the way of wildlife.  That dearth was more than made up for by the best viewing of a western meadowlark we've ever had.  It was sitting in the top of a juniper, about 10' high, and 20' away from us.  The yellows and oranges of his plumage were so intense!  That photo at left is not mine, but it gives you some idea what we were seeing.  Even though it was only 20' away, we got our binoculars on him – and at that range, he filled our view with those glorious colors!

I'm hoping to nail down the last lodging this afternoon.  I'm tired of trip planning!  :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Can't believe I forgot to mention this!

Can't believe I forgot to mention this!  While in Lander, Wyoming a few days ago, we spent a delightful couple of hours in the Fremont County Pioneer Museum, and wandering the grounds of the (after-hours) American Museum of the West.  The Pioneer Museum has an amazingly eclectic collection of pioneer artifacts, from optometry instruments to cattle brands.  The displays are very well done, informative, interesting, and attractive.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit there.  Admission was $8 for the two of us – one heck of a bargain!  The American Museum of the West is a collection of old buildings moved to the site, and filled with interesting-looking exhibits.  We got there after-hours, so all we could do was wander the grounds and peek in the windows, but that was enough to let us know that we have to go back someday...