Monthly Archives: July 2010

Lathe Project – Pens

I've been noodling around on the lathe at night over the last week, and here's what I've made. These are pretty fun to make. They're a good project for someone new to the lathe, because they are pretty easy to make, and I can take one from a raw blank to a finished pen in a single evening. Plus they're a good way to use up some small offcuts of figured wood that I can't really use for anything else.

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Kepler Discovery

There has been some buzz in astronomical news lately about Kepler, which was a program I worked on at SwRI (my last job). Kepler is a space-based telescope whose mission was to search one area of the sky over a long period for rocky, Earth-like planets. I've been very anxious to hear how its mission was going, and today I say this article - which totally made my day. Here's an excerpt that did it for me:

"...the results so far of the Kepler mission heralded a Corpernican revolution. Just as Corpernicus revolutionized astronomy by publishing data that the solar system rotated around the sun, rather than the earth, so too the data from the Kepler mission would lead to another scientific revolution. Rather than planets like earth being unique or an uncommon occurrence in the galaxy, they in fact are plentiful."

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First Try with the Lathe

Yesterday afternoon, I tried the lathe for the first time. Wasn't really trying to make anything specific - just following the book I've got, and tried practicing with several different chisels and techniques. When I was done, I sanded it and gave it to Carter to play with. Planning to try to make a pen next - might start on it tonight.

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Over the past several weeks, I've re-arranged, re-vamped, and cleaned up the workshop. I added mobile bases to everything, so I can reconfigure the shop for whatever activity I'm trying to perform, and then park all the tools tightly in the corner of the shop when I'm done, which leaves most of the garage free. Two weeks ago, I finally got my review at work, and my raise was retroactive, so I got a nice little unexpected bonus that I used to finally get the last three major tools my shop was missing - a planer, jointer, and lathe. Now I've got every big tool I should need for a long time. I finally got all my clamps collected together and hung in one place on the wall, which is a lot easier than the digging around through cardboard boxes and desk drawers that I was doing before. I also finally did some work on the router table. I bought the lift almost a year and a half ago, but didn't get around to starting to build the table until just recently. The only things left to finish it are to install the router in the lift, and a dust collection port, hook up the electrical safety switch, and assemble the mobile base. The other big thing I did this past weekend was to build a bench for the lathe. It's not quite finished - I still need to add a face frame and drawers for my chisels, chucks, and the like. But it's still useable right now. I built the top from three layers of 3/4" MDF, banded with hardwood and topped with laminate - so it's super-heavy and super-strong. I also added another 150 pounds of sand to the bottom of the bench (not shown - I did that right after I took this picture), to make sure the whole thing is rock-solid and vibration-free.

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Status of the Garden, July 2010

So, mixed - but better - results again this year, so far. This year I smartened up and starting fertilizing everything once a week, with excellent results. Here's the rundown:

Bulb onions, garlic, cucumbers: bust - last year it was too much rain that killed them. This year, it was too little. Next year I will plant them closer to the house so I can reach them with the hose.

Tomatoes: Success! We've eaten a few dozen of the cherry tomatoes already, and several of the larger tomatoes are only a few days from being picked.

Hot Peppers: Unmitigated success! Growing several varities this year, to see what I like best - Jalapeno, Serrano, Pablo Ancho, Cayenne, Hot Banana, Thai, Anahiem, and Chili Red. I've already had to start pickling the jalapenos - they are growing way too fast for me to keep up with eating them, even when I give a bunch away.

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Vacation Hike #5: Diana’s Baths

On our last full day up north, we took the kids to Diana's Baths. For those who have never been there, it a huge, sprawling series of pools, falls, and rocks that is a very popular family spot. It's a little over half a mile in, but I ended going out-and-back twice - five minutes after we got there, Carter claimed she needed to use the potty - which was all the way back at the parking lot. But once I got back, the kids and I built a little dam out of rocks and sticks, to block a tiny waterfall and try to get a pool to form behind it.

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Vacation Hike #4: Echo Lake & White Horse Ledge

Another cloudy, foggy morning - so I don't have any picture from the summit of the ledge. But this shot almost makes up for it. Lori wants to get a print made for our living room.

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Vacation Hike #3: Ethan Pond

Went up to Ethan Pond in Crawford Notch on day three. I've never been up there before, and thought it was worth checking out. It was pretty nice, in fact. I like all the bog bridges they have up there, where the trail starts to get wet. They just look cool to me, for some reason. I also flushed some kind of good-sized bird, but I'm not sure what it is. I'll have to poke around online and try to find a picture to compare to. Filing this hike away in my "do-again" file - the Ethan Pond campsite might be worth an overnight trip sometime.

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Storyland, 2010

Here's a set of cute photos from this year's visit to Storyland. This year was even better than last year, as both the kids were tall enough for every ride, and on top of that they were older, and were better (but I won't say great) about waiting in lines. A brief note about the middle shot in the top row - the kids are karate chopping the mist in that hut. Not sure what gave them that idea, but I thought it was a hoot.

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So Cute

Here's a photo of Carter doing something that happens on occasion - she falls asleep while eating. Her eyes are closed, but she keep putting food in her mouth and chewing it, just super-slowly.

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