sun oct 7
When I started on the new deck this summer, the first thing I did was to move the many boxes of kindling that were in the way. And now that the deck is done, I was about to move them back when, in a rare flash of common sense, I realized that would be just plain stupid. Especially since I’d accumulated yet another dozen boxes of kindling in the shop.
I remember when Mom died, and Dad, cleaning up after her, found scores of hypodermic needles (for insulin) and he tried to donate them to a worthy cause, like keeping drug addicts HIV-free, only to find that nobody wanted them. Likewise, I tried to donate my kindling to the local food shelf and the United Way, only to find that they didn’t want it. So I put a ‘Free Kindling” ad on the local online bulletin board and promptly got 14 inquiries.
It’s been divvied up and hauled away, and some neighbors are warm and grateful.
Today was the memorial for Mary’s sister Lisa. At the height of tourist season, they managed to reserve a room at the Woodstock Inn, and the word went out that anyone who knew Lisa was welcome. It was a classy affair, with a large turnout, live music, a slide show retrospective, half a dozen emotional tributes, an open bar and, as befits a renown cheese monger, two of the finest cheese boards I’ve ever seen. (Plus a big bag of cheese-flavored goldfish crackers for the kids.) It’s a tough time for the family, with Lisa gone and two more of them (and Celia’s dog) being treated for cancer. I’m thankful for my own good health.
mon oct 8
My lathe turns on and off with a contactor. For some time now, it’s turned on fine, but you gotta punch the off switch just right to shut it down. Sort of like jiggling the handle on a toilet. But with a 3 phase, 3 horse motor and a big spinning chuck, that’s a safety hazard, even by my standards. So I opened it up, re-wired the switches, tested it, and put it back together. It worked perfectly until I replaced the panel, and then it stopped working again. Shit.
So I opened it up again, fixed it again, tested it again, and replaced the panel again. And it stopped working again. Shit again!
This is not rocket science, so I rinsed and repeated but I got the same shit result.
Clearly, I’m on the wrong track, so I bought brand new momentary contact switches, mounted them, wired them, tested them, and replaced the panel. Still didn’t work!!
Up to now, I’d been focussed on the switches, so I turned my attention to the contactor itself and noticed that it’s got a built-in surge suppressor on the coil! I bypassed it, tested it to show that it clearly works perfectly, replaced the panel, and … it still doesn’t work. There’s something about replacing the panel that messes it up, but I just don’t see the problem.
Then my lathe got to talking to my motorcycle, and the tachometer started making funny noises and bouncing around the dial. I googled it, removed it, lubed the cable, put it back together, and it still bounces. I removed it again and tested the tach with a pencil and a drill motor (don’t ask!) and it worked perfectly, so I bought a new cable, re-installed it, and it worked perfectly when I revved it in the garage. I took it for a test drive in Stowe, and I swear to God the funny noises were turning heads on the sidewalks. I’m sure I’ll figure it out sooner or later, but right now, I just don’t see the problem.
Update: It turns out, of course, that there was a wad of grit in the mechanism, and when you clean the mechanism, it works fine.
Picture yourself opening a can of tuna by un-bending the seam on the can, instead of just using a can-opener. And then, after you’ve made your sandwich, closing the can back up by bending it back to re-create the seam. That’s what I had to do to get at the grit in mechanism.
sat oct 13
I went to an auction today. One of the biggest Cub Cadet dealers in the eastern USA decided to retire, and Everything Must Go! Honestly, this was waaay too big an auction to be crammed into one day. With 2000+ lots, there was too much to sell, and too much time in between the things I was interested in. In the end, I bought a box of wrenches and a shovel, and I left early when I got cold and hungry and it was going to be an hour before the next item-of-interest came to bid.
The auction started early, so I left home early and had to skip my regularly scheduled morning poop. This came back to haunt me after I got myself registered, so I sought out the port-a-potty, locked myself inside, and took care of business. I made sure everything was tucked in, opened the door, and failed to notice that the porta-floor was 6″ above the lawn. I mis-stepped, stumbled out the door, and flailed my way half-way across the lawn before I regained my balance, but I left my dignity in the toilet.
I’ve had two batches of hard cider fermenting in buckets under the deck for 2 weeks. Last year, my sanitation was poor and the temperature was too high, and I got 10 gallons of vinegar for my troubles. This year, I’m doing better, and the yeasty foam had subsided, so I needed to proceed to the secondary fermentation. This boils down to siphoning the cider from a plastic bucket to an airtight glass carboy, but by the time I did all the sanitation procedures, it took me almost 2 hours.
tue oct 16
If you don’t weed the garden in the fall, you’ll usually be sorry in the spring, so I weeded the garden. There were a lot of weeds. The potato patch started out good, but weeds soon followed. And because most of the ‘weeds’ were actually volunteer tomatillos, my thinking was that if I just let the tomatillos take over, maybe I could get both tomatillos and potatoes out of the same patch of garden. And I wouldn’t have to weed! Can’t beat that!
Nothing doing. The tomatillos came in too dense and crowded themselves out. I got maybe six tomatillos total. And the potatoes were pretty paltry too, because they were shaded by the tomatillos.
What was I thinking?
My tooth got infected because of bone loss.
My bone loss happened because I didn’t take care of my gums.
I didn’t take care of my gums because I didn’t have any cavities and, as I understood it, “No cavities? No problem!”
Now, my tooth is gone, and it’s my own damned fault.
mon oct 22
One thing I finally had to decide for c3pr is how big it’s got to be. “About the size of a Chinese ping pong player” isn’t very helpful, so I went with: “as big as I can make it in my shop.”
It turns out that the vertical working height of my mill is 16″, so that’s how big the biggest piece is going to be.
wed oct 24
Everyone I know has been sick. If they weren’t sick just before the funeral, they were sick just afterward. I got sick and then I got well. Then Mary got sick, and she’s still at it.
Mary is really good at being sick. She stays medicated in bed, just like a doctor would order. Her coughing and nose blowing reverberate into the basement, so I know she’s still alive, if only barely.
I was hungry and went to ask her if she wanted some lunch. She looked up and she looked miserable.
“Oh, no no no,” she moaned, and I headed back toward the kitchen.
“Are you making yourself lunch,” she asked weakly?
“Well, I thought I’d heat up some soup. You want some?”
“Oh, no no no. No soup for me. My gut is like …. (sound effects)”
“Ok, well, I’ll check in on you later.” And I headed back toward the kitchen.
Cough. “Did you get yourself some bread?” Wheeze.
“Yeah. I’m all set for bread. You want a sandwich?”
“Only if you’re already making one.” Blows nose. “But if you want soup, then just go ahead and I’ll be fine.”
“What kind of sandwich do you want?”
“Oh, whatever kind you’re making is fine.”
“OK,” I said, and I headed back toward the kitchen.
“We’ve got cheese,” she said.
“A cheese sandwich,” I said, and I headed back toward the kitchen.
“Do we have any ham?”
“A ham and cheese sandwich,” I said. “Coming up,” and I headed back to the kitchen.
She coughed and blew her nose. “Brrrr. It’s cold in here.”
I made her a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and she ate the whole thing.
thu oct 25
The cider is sitting in the window, in the dark, in a box, at a constant 61 degrees. Even though it’s in a window, I think of it as my ‘cider cave.’ The airlocks are poking out of the boxes, and if you have time on your hands, you watch them, and every 30 seconds or so, they go blurp! and a little bit of CO2 bubbles out.
It’s just like in the textbook, so it’s looking good.
sun oct 28
It takes a lot to get me to worry about safety, much less do anything about it.
Even so, I made it a point to fix the lathe’s Off switch because, you know, if you can’t turn off a 3000# machine, someone could get hurt. It took me 4 tries, but I finally got it right.
And just in time, too, because I crashed the lathe the other day. I have no excuse. It was definitely my fault for pulling the wrong lever at exactly the wrong time, which gave me about three seconds to think very fast, pull the other lever, and then hit the Off button. By then, it was too late, and the whole system had ground to a crunchy halt, but at least the motor stopped groaning when I hit Off.
It was a very sobering experience, and I spent the rest of the day clearing brush with a chain saw, contemplating how easy it is to get hurt.
wed oct 31
I have entirely too many cardboard boxes piled everywhere, so I decided to organize my life. Simplify! Reduce my CB2 (CardBoard Box) footprint, if you will. I started with all the boxes that “looked at all electrical”, dumped them all in a big pile, and then sorted out the pile. I’m not saying I threw much out, but the new pile is much more compact.
Wow, I have a lot of leftover electrical! If I were to re-wire part of the shop, I could put a box on every stud, and it wouldn’t cost me a cent. Just a thought.
I did a lot of work on c3pr this month. I got the shoulder and waist built, and I’m waiting on parts to put them together. I decided to ditch Modbus in favor of Ethercat and I decided to ditch type L belts in favor of type XL. (Would you believe it? In the timing belt industry, a type L belt is bigger than a type XL!)