Friday, July 31, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer project

This spring and summer the big project around the house was book cases.  I've never attempted such a complicated carpentry project like this... but I have a lot of books and either you buy them or you make them!

Here's the before pic...

Five really nice book cases... seven feet tall too!
And, the after pic...

I repair old tube radios as a hobby. The two on the bottom shelf are a 1936 Philco and Crosley.  Both sound great! Yup, NLO, that's your penguin atop the center case!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

These guys are very interesting to watch

It seems that everywhere I go, these cranes follow...  I hear them all the time (there's a pair) as they work the fields near me. 

This is a Sand Hill Crane, native to North America.  These birds stand about 3 feet tall and have a distinctive call.

They can live for 35 years!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weekend camping trip to Madeline Island

Summer has been really nice.  The temperatures are in the 80 - 85F range with occasional rain.  The garden is growing great too.  This weekend I checked out a place I had never been before.  Last winter I hiked the Ice Caves along the South Shore of Lake Superior and could see this island in the distance across the exapanse of several miles of Lake Superior.  The island I camped on is called Madeline Island, it's part of a chain of islands on the Northern tip of Wisconsin.

The island was first settled by French fur traders in the 1600's, and has a very small population.  I actually had a childhood friend who's father was born on this island.  These days, the inhabitants are mostly seasonal but some do stay all year round.  There is a thriving art colony on the island but mostly people visit to hike, bike, camp or all of the above. 

The island has a ferry service that runs every hour until 11pm, if you miss the last one you have to wait until morning to get across!

Crossing the outbound "Madeline" late in the evening.

It took a while to set up a campsite.  I have a 5 man "Squad Tent" that really sets up fast and has a lot of room. There was rain in the forecast, so I put the fly on after this pic.

Soon the campfire kept the bugs away!

In the morning I wandered into La Pointe the only town on the island....

You don't see one of these every day...
This is a pic of "Tom's Burned Down Cafe..." Sort of an unusual dining experience!

This is an amazing bronze casting of a crow!

Not a very complex network of roads! A really nice map can be found here.

Hope you liked the pics!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Disruption in architecture and engineering

I have been working on a post for a while now to continue the discussion on the origin of torsional harmonics... that will post in a few days.  I discovered this really cool news and thought it made sense that the fields of architecture and civil engineering were about to see major disruption.  University courses, faculty, research and the future for bright young people in these fields are about to see huge uptick in demand.  This really underscores that the desperate fields and technologies have been put together in a way that now proves positive energy dwellings are possible at a reasonable cost!

Cardiff University has done something really great here.  We all take it for granted that we must pay a utility bill for power every month... what a paradigm shift to expect a check from the power company to the homeowner every month.  Disruption!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Just a few pics to share...  last night was the annual 4th of July Independence Day celebration in the US.  Thousands of towns and cities celebrated with fireworks displays after dusk.  I'm uploading the video in a new format, if it doesn't work out I'll re-load it.  But the compression is really amazing, so I thought I'd give it a try...

Still getting used to the new camera...

These were all taken on a tripod with around a 1.5s shutter speed and a 200mm Sigma lens

Timing is everything...  the ISO was set to 200.  Still learning...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Old cars...

Summer is a time for camping, canoeing, and wandering around the countryside.  Today I spent a few hours wandering through a vintage salvage yard.  Mostly cars from the 40's and 50's... what a treat!

That got me thinking about all of the cars I've owned over the years... So here's a post dedicated to a lifetime of driving.

The first car I ever owned... a 'big block' Pontiac Ventura

Woohoo, I was in high school working odd jobs and manged to paint this thing RED, swap out the factory manifold with an Edlebrock 4bbl 'high rise' and of course - headers - which I had to literally hammer into place because they shared the same design space with something else... I don't remember what, but I do remember the problem went away after borrowing my dad's sledge hammer and adding a little dent in the right spot...  Ahhh, I can remember turning the ignition off and letting the engine pump a little unburned fuel into the glass packs, then flipping the switch forward and BLAM, spectacular at night...

Then came this rag top... finger numbing cold in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in February!

The un-stoppable CJ-5
Yup, this thing could go anywhere - and I did.  It had a habit of blowing off the distributor cap when horsing your way through mud, swamp and river crossings.  So I got used to jumping out and putting the cap back on after a high rpm slog through the mud.

So now we go to college, and of course we sell the toys and knuckle down to practical transportation...

Uninspired Iron Duke blandness with a story...
So as an engineering student, this got great mileage, blah blah blah... so what do you do with  cheap wheels, a young curious mind and maybe a bit of adventure seeking?  Hmmm, lemme see, the first thing I did was to water inject it to try to boost octane.  I remember showing my father how I cut into the air pump smog thingy to get pressure to pressurize a water tank that went to a spray nozzle into the carb.  I opened the hood very proudly - explaining all the chemistry stuff I had just learned at college then flipped the carb throttle plate and (I had watched the 1 gallon gas tank I was using as a surge tank blow up like a balloon lots of times... never bothered me) as the little 4 cylinder smog pump inflated the 1 gallon gas tank that was holding my water injection supply - my dad bolted from the scene.  Holy cow, "that could explode..." Hmmm, I hadn't taken a machine design class yet, so that part of engineering was still pretty much a mystery to me!

Anyhow, I used to drive this thing on hard packed snowmobile trails in the winter, I managed to float it across the Montreal River 'many' times F=ma man!  and it did float - once - at a boat dock.

The next machine in the stable was a Ford 4x4...

It had a 360 CI V-8 and I could watch the fuel gauge drop as I drove it.
I'm not sure what the inspiration was for this behemoth.  I suppose it drove well in the winter?
Sold it and a canoe, worked in the computer lab and managed to pay for college.

So after I graduated and went to work at Bell Helicopter, what did I buy, but this whacky thing.  What was I thinking?  Somehow a bit of a lapse in judgement brought me to the Oldsmobile dealership and I bought one of these.

I think it was the 105 F heat and the food poisoning...
Next came this very practical vehicle...

You can fit a lot of stuff in one of these!
 Hooper Stanaway Ford... Les and Gar, yeah, practical.

Oops, I almost forgot about this one... given to me along the way.  The K-car was pretty indestructible.

Then came a spark of the old me...

The T-Bird
A little more interesting.  I remember how tight the steering was on this car.  Kind of twitchy on ice, but a really nice ride.

Then there was the Toyota...

Oh what a feeling - TOYOTA...
The engine sludged over around 18000 miles.. part of the VVTI fiasco at Toyota...

I had one of these too...

After the VVTI incident, Toyota was banished from the stable and this went to the neighbor...
One of these too around the Aerostar era... the 7 was a lot less capable than the 5.

Probably my least liked vehicle... giant box with seat warmers.

Rock solid drive train the inline six had a dependable motor too.

Back to good old American Iron... A retro of the Chrysler Airflow of the 30's.

Still motoring along at 200k!
So what's next? Something different me thinks...

Maybe one of these...

Or, maybe not... I do like the Alfa Romeo lines and the rumor is that Fiat will bring the Alf back to the US in 2017!

The mechanics of emotion...